This is a subseries of Bible passages from the Book of Job, which, incidentally, is a valuable read for anyone who wonders whether the Bible really does say that individual Christians will be rewarded by God with prosperity, and that loss of prosperity and suffering are a sign of God's disfavour or punishment for wrongdoing. It's part of a series of Bible passages on what the Old Testament says about suffering.
This is part 3 of 3 in section 13, 'The suffering of the good man Job, - counterbalance to the rest of the Old Testament'.
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Contents of the sections
The story continues as the very good man Job, who has been allowed by God to suffer the loss of his children, wealth and health, responds to his friends who have judged that he must have done something sinful to deserve it.
Job chapter 9 (NLT)
1 Job spoke again:
2 ... how can a person be declared innocent in the eyes of God? 3 If someone wanted to take God to court, would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times? 4 For God is so wise and so mighty. Who has ever challenged him successfully? 16 And even if I summoned him and he responded, he would never listen to me. 17 For he attacks me without reason, and he multiplies my wounds without cause. 18 He will not let me catch my breath, but fills me instead with bitter sorrows. 19 As for strength, he has it. As for justice, who can challenge him? 20 Though I am innocent, my own mouth would pronounce me guilty. Though I am blameless, it would prove me wicked.
21 "I am innocent, but it makes no difference to me - I despise my life.
22 Innocent or wicked, it is all the same to him. That is why I say, 'He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.' 23 He laughs when a plague suddenly kills the innocent. 24 The whole earth is in the hands of the wicked, and God blinds the eyes of the judges and lets them be unfair. If not he, then who? 27 If I decided to forget my complaints, if I decided to end my sadness and be cheerful, 28 I would dread all the pain he would send. For I know you will not hold me innocent, O God. 29 Whatever happens, I will be found guilty. So what's the use of trying?
32 "God is not a mortal like me, so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial.
Job chapter 22 (NLT)
1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
4 "Is it because of your reverence for him that he accuses and judges you?
5 Not at all! It is because of your wickedness! Your guilt has no limit!
6 "For example, you must have lent money to your friend and then kept the clothing he gave you as a pledge. Yes, you stripped him to the bone.
7 You must have refused water for the thirsty and food for the hungry. 8 After all, you think the land belongs to the powerful and that those who are privileged have a right to it!
9 You must have sent widows away without helping them and crushed the strength of orphans.
10 That is why you are surrounded by traps and sudden fears. 11 That is why you cannot see in the darkness, and waves of water cover you.
12 "God is so great - higher than the heavens, higher than the farthest stars. 13 But you reply, 'That's why God can't see what I am doing! How can he judge through the thick darkness? 14 For thick clouds swirl about him, and he cannot see us. He is way up there, walking on the vault of heaven.'
15 "Will you continue on the old paths where evil people have walked? 16 They were snatched away in the prime of life, and the foundations of their lives were washed away forever. 17 For they said to God, 'Leave us alone! What can the Almighty do for us?' 18 But they forgot that he had filled their homes with good things, so I will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking.
19 "Now the righteous will be happy to see the wicked destroyed, and the innocent will laugh them to scorn. 20 They will say, 'Surely our enemies have been destroyed. The last of them have been consumed in the fire.'
21 "Stop quarreling with God! If you agree with him, you will have peace at last, and things will go well for you. 22 Listen to his instructions, and store them in your heart. 23 If you return to the Almighty and clean up your life, you will be restored. 24 Give up your lust for money, and throw your precious gold into the river.
25 Then the Almighty himself will be your treasure. He will be your precious silver!
26 "Then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and look up to God. 27 You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him. 28 Whatever you decide to do will be accomplished, and light will shine on the road ahead of you. 29 If someone is brought low and you say, 'Help him up,' God will save the downcast. 30 Then even sinners will be rescued by your pure hands."
Job chapter 29 (TEV)
1 Job began speaking again.
Job chapter 31 (CEV)
1 I promised myself never to stare with desire at a young woman. 2 God All-Powerful punishes men who do that. 3 In fact, God sends disaster on all who sin, 4 and he keeps a close watch on everything I do.
5 I am not dishonest or deceitful, 6 and I beg God to prove my innocence. 7 If I have disobeyed him or even wanted to, 8 then others can eat my harvest and uproot my crops.
9 If I have desired someone's wife and chased after her, 10 then let some stranger steal my wife from me. 11 If I took someone's wife, it would be a horrible crime, 12 sending me to destruction and my crops to the flames.
13 When my servants complained against me, I was fair to them. 14 Otherwise, what answer would I give to God when he judges me? 15 After all, God is the one who gave life to each of us before we were born.
16 I have never cheated widows or others in need, 17 and I have always shared my food with orphans. 18 Since the time I was young, I have cared for orphans and helped widows. 19 I provided clothes for the poor, 20 and I was praised for supplying woolen garments to keep them warm.
21 If I have ever raised my arm to threaten an orphan when the power was mine, 22 I hope that arm will fall from its socket. 23 I could not have been abusive; I was terrified at the thought that God might punish me.
24 I have never trusted the power of wealth, 25 or taken pride in owning many possessions.
26 I have never openly or secretly 27 worshiped the sun or moon. 28Such horrible sins would have deserved punishment from God.
29 I have never laughed when my enemies were struck by disaster. 30 Neither have I sinned by asking God to send down on them the curse of death.
31 No one ever went hungry at my house, 32 and travelers were always welcome.
33 Many have attempted to hide their sins from others-- but I refused. 34 And the fear of public disgrace never forced me to keep silent about what I had done.
35 Why doesn't God All-Powerful listen and answer? If God has something against me, let him speak up or put it in writing! 36 Then I would wear his charges on my clothes and forehead. 37 And with my head held high, I would tell him everything I have ever done.
38 I have never mistreated the land I farmed and made it mourn. 39 Nor have I cheated my workers and caused them pain. 40 If I had, I would pray for weeds instead of wheat to grow in my fields.
After saying these things, Job was silent.
Job chapter 32 (TEV)
1 Because Job was convinced of his own innocence, the three men gave up trying to answer him. 2 But a bystander named Elihu could not control his anger any longer, because Job was justifying himself and blaming God. (Elihu was the son of Barakel, a descendant of Buz, and belonged to the clan of Ram.) 3 He was also angry with Job's three friends. They could not find any way to answer Job, and this made it appear that God was in the wrong. 4 Because Elihu was the youngest one there, he had waited until everyone finished speaking. 5 When he saw that the three men could not answer Job, he was angry 6 and began to speak.
I am young, and you are old, so I was afraid to tell you what I think. 7 I told myself that you ought to speak, that you older men should share your wisdom. 8 But it is the spirit of Almighty God that comes to us and gives us wisdom. 9 It is not growing old that makes us wise or helps us to know what is right. 10 So now I want you to listen to me; let me tell you what I think. 11 I listened patiently while you were speaking and waited while you searched for wise phrases. 12 I paid close attention and heard you fail; you have not disproved what Job has said. 13 How can you claim you have discovered wisdom? God must answer Job, for you have failed. 14 Job was speaking to you, not to me, but I would never answer the way you did.
15 Words have failed them, Job; they have no answer for you. 16 Shall I go on waiting when they are silent? They stand there with nothing more to say. 17 No, I will give my own answer now and tell you what I think. 18 I can hardly wait to speak. I can't hold back the words. 19 If I don't get a chance to speak, I will burst like a wineskin full of new wine. 20 I can't stand it; I have to speak. 21 I will not take sides in this debate; I am not going to flatter anyone. 22 I don't know how to flatter, and God would quickly punish me if I did.
Job chapter 33 (TEV)
1 And now, Job, listen carefully to all that I have to say. 2 I am ready to say what's on my mind. 3 All my words are sincere, and I am speaking the truth. 4 God's spirit made me and gave me life. 5 Answer me if you can. Prepare your arguments. 6 You and I are the same in God's sight, both of us were formed from clay. 7 So you have no reason to fear me; I will not overpower you.
8 Now this is what I heard you say: 9 "I am not guilty; I have done nothing wrong. I am innocent and free from sin. 10 But God finds excuses for attacking me and treats me like an enemy. 11 He binds chains on my feet; he watches every move I make." 12 But I tell you, Job, you are wrong. God is greater than any human being. 13 Why do you accuse God of never answering our complaints?
14 Although God speaks again and again, no one pays attention to what he says. 15 At night when people are asleep, God speaks in dreams and visions. 16 He makes them listen to what he says, and they are frightened at his warnings. 17 God speaks to make them stop their sinning and to save them from becoming proud. 18 He will not let them be destroyed; he saves them from death itself.
19 God corrects us by sending sickness and filling our bodies with pain. 20 Those who are sick lose their appetites, and even the finest food looks revolting. 21 Their bodies waste away to nothing; you can see all their bones; 22 they are about to go to the world of the dead. 23 Perhaps an angel may come to their aid- one of God's thousands of angels, who remind us of our duty. 24 In mercy the angel will say, "Release them! They are not to go down to the world of the dead. Here is the ransom to set them free." 25 Their bodies will grow young and strong again; 26 when they pray, God will answer; they will worship God with joy; God will set things right for them again. 27 Each one will say in public, "I have sinned. I have not done right, but God spared me. 28 He kept me from going to the world of the dead, and I am still alive."
29 God does all this again and again; 30 each one saves a person's life, and gives him the joy of living. 31 Now, Job, listen to what I am saying; be quiet and let me speak. 32 But if you have something to say, let me hear it; I would gladly admit you are in the right. 33 But if not, be quiet and listen to me, and I will teach you how to be wise.
Job chapter 34 (TEV)
5 Job claims that he is innocent, that God refuses to give him justice. 6 He asks, "How could I lie and say I am wrong? I am fatally wounded, but I am sinless." 7 Have you ever seen anyone like this man Job? He never shows respect for God. 8 He likes the company of evil people and goes around with sinners. 9 He says that it never does any good to try to follow God's will.
10 Listen to me, you men who understand! Will Almighty God do what is wrong? 11 He rewards people for what they do and treats them as they deserve. 12 Almighty God does not do evil; he is never unjust to anyone. 21 He watches every step we take. 22 There is no darkness dark enough to hide a sinner from God. 23 God does not need to set a time for us to go and be judged by him. 24 He does not need an investigation to remove leaders and replace them with others. 25 Because he knows what they do; he overthrows them and crushes them by night. 26 He punishes sinners where all can see it, 27 because they have stopped following him and ignored all his commands. 28 They forced the poor to cry out to God, and he heard their calls for help. 29 If God decided to do nothing at all, no one could criticize him. If he hid his face, we would be helpless. 30 There would be nothing that nations could do to keep godless oppressors from ruling them.
31 Job, have you confessed your sins to God and promised not to sin again? 32 Have you asked God to show you your faults, and have you agreed to stop doing evil? 33 Since you object to what God does, can you expect him to do what you want? The decision is yours, not mine; tell us now what you think. 34 Any sensible person will surely agree; and the wise who hear me will say 35 that Job is speaking from ignorance and that nothing he says makes sense. 36 Think through everything that Job says; you will see that he talks like an evil man. 37 To his sins he adds rebellion; in front of us all he mocks God.
Job chapter 35 (TEV)
9 When people are oppressed, they groan; they cry for someone to save them. 10 But they don't turn to God, their Creator, who gives them hope in their darkest hours. 11 They don't turn to God, who makes us wise, wiser than any animal or bird. 12 They cry for help, but God doesn't answer, for they are proud and evil. 13 It is useless for them to cry out; Almighty God does not see or hear them.
14 Job, you say you can't see God; but wait patiently-your case is before him. 15 You think that God does not punish, that he pays little attention to sin. 16 It is useless for you to go on talking; it is clear you don't know what you are saying.
Job chapter 36 (TEV)
1 Be patient and listen a little longer to what I am saying on God's behalf. 3 My knowledge is wide; I will use what I know to show that God, my Creator, is just. 4 Nothing I say to you is false; you see before you a truly wise man.
5 How strong God is! He despises no one; there is nothing he doesn't understand. 6 He does not let sinners live on, and he always treats the poor with justice. 7 He protects those who are righteous; he allows them to rule like kings and lets them be honored forever. 8 But if people are bound in chains, suffering for what they have done, 9 God shows them their sins and their pride. 10 He makes them listen to his warning to turn away from evil. 11 If they obey God and serve him, they live out their lives in peace and prosperity. 12 But if not, they will die in ignorance and cross the stream into the world of the dead. 13 Those who are godless keep on being angry, and even when punished, they don't pray for help. 14 They die while they are still young, worn out by a life of disgrace.
15 But God teaches people through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes. 16 God brought you out of trouble, and let you enjoy security; your table was piled high with food. 17 But now you are being punished as you deserve. 18 Be careful not to let bribes deceive you, or riches lead you astray. 19 It will do you no good to cry out for help; all your strength can't help you now. 20 Don't wish for night to come, the time when nations will perish. 21 Be careful not to turn to evil; your suffering was sent to keep you from it. 22 Remember how great is God's power; he is the greatest teacher of all. 23 No one can tell God what to do or accuse him of doing evil.
24 He has always been praised for what he does; you also must praise him. 25 Everyone has seen what he has done; but we can only watch from a distance. 26 We cannot fully know his greatness or count the number of his years. 27 It is God who takes water from the earth and turns it into drops of rain. 28 He lets the rain pour from the clouds in showers for all human beings. 29 No one knows how the clouds move or how the thunder roars through the sky, where God dwells. 30 He sends lightning through all the sky, but the depths of the sea remain dark.
31 This is how he feeds the people and provides an abundance of food.
Job chapter 37 (TEV)
11 Lightning flashes from the clouds, 12 as they move at God's will. They do all that God commands, everywhere throughout the world. 13 God sends rain to water the earth; he may send it to punish us, or to show us his favor.
14 Pause a moment, Job, and listen; consider the wonderful things God does. 15 Do you know how God gives the command and makes lightning flash from the clouds? 16 Do you know how clouds float in the sky, the work of God's amazing skill? 21 And now the light in the sky is dazzling, too bright for us to look at it; and the sky has been swept clean by the wind. 22 A golden glow is seen in the north, and the glory of God fills us with awe. 23 God's power is so great that we cannot come near him; he is righteous and just in his dealings with us. 24 No wonder, then, that everyone is awed by him, and that he ignores those who claim to be wise.
Job chapter 38 (TEV)
1 Then out of the storm the Lord spoke to Job. 2 Who are you to question my wisdom with your ignorant, empty words? 3 Now stand up straight and answer the questions I ask you.
4 Were you there when I made the world? If you know so much, tell me about it.
5 Who decided how large it would be? Who stretched the measuring line over it? Do you know all the answers?
16 Have you been to the springs in the depths of the sea? Have you walked on the floor of the ocean?
17 Has anyone ever shown you the gates that guard the dark world of the dead?
18 Have you any idea how big the world is?
Answer me if you know.
19 Do you know where the light comes from or what the source of darkness is?
26 Who makes rain fall where no one lives?
27 Who waters the dry and thirsty land, so that grass springs up?
28 Does either the rain or the dew have a father?
29 Who is the mother of the ice and the frost, 30 which turn the waters to stone and freeze the face of the sea?
33 Do you know the laws that govern the skies, and can you make them apply to the earth?
34 Can you shout orders to the clouds and make them drench you with rain?
35 And if you command the lightning to flash, will it come to you and say, "At your service"?
Job chapter 39 (TEV)
13 How fast the wings of an ostrich beat! But no ostrich can fly like a stork. 14 The ostrich leaves her eggs on the ground for the heat in the soil to warm them. 15 She is unaware that a foot may crush them or a wild animal break them. 16 She acts as if the eggs were not hers, and is unconcerned that her efforts were wasted. 17 It was I who made her foolish and did not give her wisdom. 18 But when she begins to run, she can laugh at any horse and rider.
19 Was it you, Job, who made horses so strong and gave them their flowing manes?
26 Does a hawk learn from you how to fly when it spreads its wings toward the south? 27 Does an eagle wait for your command to build its nest high in the mountains?
Job chapter 40 (NLT)
1 Then the LORD said to Job, 2 "Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God's critic, but do you have the answers?"
3 Then Job replied to the LORD, 4 "I am nothing - how could I ever find the answers? I will put my hand over my mouth in silence. 5 I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say."
6 Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind: 7 "Brace yourself, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. 8 Are you going to discredit my justice and condemn me so you can say you are right? 9 Are you as strong as God, and can you thunder with a voice like his? 10 All right then, put on your robes of state, your majesty and splendor. 11 Give vent to your anger. Let it overflow against the proud. 12 Humiliate the proud with a glance; walk on the wicked where they stand. 13 Bury them in the dust. Imprison them in the world of the dead. 14 Then even I would praise you, for your own strength would save you.
15 "Take a look at the mighty hippopotamus. I made it, just as I made you. It eats grass like an ox. 16 See its powerful loins and the muscles of its belly. 17 Its tail is as straight as a cedar. The sinews of its thighs are tightly knit together. 18 Its bones are tubes of bronze. Its limbs are bars of iron. 19 It is a prime example of God's amazing handiwork. Only its Creator can threaten it. 23 It is not disturbed by raging rivers, not even when the swelling Jordan rushes down upon it. 24 No one can catch it off guard or put a ring in its nose and lead it away.
Job chapter 41 (NLT)
1 "Can you catch a crocodile with a hook or put a noose around its jaw? 2 Can you tie it with a rope through the nose or pierce its jaw with a spike? 3 Will it beg you for mercy or implore you for pity? 7 Will its hide be hurt by darts, or its head by a harpoon? 8 If you lay a hand on it, you will never forget the battle that follows, and you will never try it again!
9 "No, it is useless to try to capture it. The hunter who attempts it will be thrown down.
10 And since no one dares to disturb the crocodile, who would dare to stand up to me?
11 Who will confront me and remain safe? Everything under heaven is mine.
Job chapter 42 (TEV)
1 Then Job answered the Lord. 2 I know, Lord, that you are all-powerful; that you can do everything you want. 3 You ask how I dare question your wisdom when I am so very ignorant. I talked about things I did not understand, about marvels too great for me to know. 4 You told me to listen while you spoke and to try to answer your questions. 5 In the past I knew only what others had told me, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. 6 So I am ashamed of all I have said and repent in dust and ashes.<
Job chapter 42 (NIV)
7 After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."
9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer.
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.
12 The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.
13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.
Incidentally, some Bible critics consider the Book of Job to be a depiction of cruel and unreasonable injustice on the part of God. But they fail to see the purpose of the book. Most of the Old Testament concerns God's punishment on societies for sins such as violence and oppression of the poor. It does not say that every incidence of such suffering is a punishment from God, and it does not address the reasons for the suffering of individuals. However, it may have been easy to extrapolate that when individuals suffered tragedy, they were being punished for something, so their suffering was their fault. Thus, we have the disciples of Jesus asking him when they saw a man who'd been blind from birth, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" The Book of Job is an essential corrective to this mistaken belief, since it's about how suffering can happen to the best of us for no obvious reason. If it wasn't for the Book of Job, a terrible stigma could have grown up against people who suffered tragedy, because other people might have been mistakenly considering that the Bible shows that they must be suffering as a result of God's punishment. Thus, the Book of Job could have prevented the suffering of many who might otherwise have suffered the effects of judgmentalism on top of the tragedies they were already suffering. Of course, the prophets who spoke of the impending suffering of societies who didn't repent of their sins could have made a point of admonishing against judging individuals who suffered. But a handful of passages in the midst of so many others could easily be overlooked. It's more difficult to do that with an entire book.
Also, the Book of Job may well have been a solace to thousands or even millions going through suffering over the centuries. Job's poignant words can give people the comforting feeling that at least they're not going through their suffering alone. They can give people a healing catharsis or soothe them with a sense that feelings they can't articulate or that are bothering them are being expressed. The Book of Job can give people hope that their suffering will end and that their fortunes may be restored, and renew their confidence in God. It might have been of especial comfort to Israelites caught up in the aftermath of the Babylonian invasion of Israel and their exile to Babylon, which the Old Testament prophets had said was punishment for the sins of their society, but who hadn't personally committed sins worthy of such a punishment. They may have gained solace from a book about how suffering isn't always a punishment for sin despite the personal accusations people may make, and hope that God was looking out for them despite the way things appeared and would restore their fortunes at some point.
If the Book of Job has been a comfort to thousands or millions over the centuries, and has prevented a cruel stigma growing up against those who suffer tragedy, then Job may well consider that his suffering was worth it, even the loss of his children, especially if he'd see them again in the after-life, which is only a point of speculation, but a possibility.
The main Bible pages on this site:
|Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories|
|Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites|
|Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.|
|Or go directly to the next in the series: The Return Of Some Of The Israelite Exiles And Their Rebuilding Of The Temple In Jerusalem That The Babylonians Destroyed.|
The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.
Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).Other initials:
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There are a lot of pages on this website with quotations from the Old Testament on them. Many of these are unfortunately rather gruesome, since the main theme of the Old Testament is warnings and stories about how it says societies were punished for mass lawless and hurtful behaviour, even to the extent of having war brought on them by God, that seem to have been designed to scare societies where crime and violence were rampant into behaving more ethically. In case there is any misunderstanding, it should be understood that this website does not endorse war as anything other than a last resort. The position of the website owner can be gleaned from the articles:
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