Sunday, October 19, 2014

Job 20:10-22 comments: Zophar implies Job has oppressed the poor

10 ¶  His children shall seek to please the poor, and his hands shall restore their goods. 11  His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust. 12  Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue; 13  Though he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still within his mouth: 14  Yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him. 15  He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly. 16  He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper’s tongue shall slay him. 17  He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter. 18  That which he laboured for shall he restore, and shall not swallow it down: according to his substance shall the restitution be, and he shall not rejoice therein. 19  Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor; because he hath violently taken away an house which he builded not; 20  Surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly, he shall not save of that which he desired. 21  There shall none of his meat be left; therefore shall no man look for his goods. 22  In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits: every hand of the wicked shall come upon him.

The wicked man of power, Job for instance, will try to make up for his wickedness by buying off the poor folks he has oppressed. This can be done for political reasons, to buy votes, or it can be for the sake of guilt. Certain modes of thought in twenty first century America burden people who have been successful with a load of guilt for having more than others even if they worked hard to get what they have. The most liberal political party has the wealthiest people in its upper ranks, I’ve read in news stories. Much of the justification for liberal, social politics is about collective guilt; guilt for poverty, for slavery, for the conquest of the native inhabitants of America, and for any number of other reasons. Whether the outcomes of such thought are good or not is not the point. The point is the reasoning behind the thought, whether one’s behavior is motivated by greed, guilt, or just a need to create a dependable voting bloc.

Zophar says in verse 11 that the wicked man carries a load of guilt from the sins of his youth. His bones are full of it and he’ll carry it to his grave.

Psalm 25:7  Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.

What are the sins of youth? The works of the flesh in a person’s life are clear.

Galatians 5:19  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

The Book of Proverbs is filled with warnings to the young to avoid the pitfalls of sin and the self-destruction that comes from them. These sins have consequences that stay with a person a lifetime; sexually transmitted diseases, broken heartedness, broken families, financial ruin, and a bad reputation. They can also travel from generation to generation. One lie can affect a family over those generations. I am reminded of a person who promised his wife-to-be in 1922 that their children would be raised in her faith tradition in order to obtain her consent to marry him. His not honoring that promise resulted in generations of apostasy, superficial religion, and eventually widespread unbelief in their grandchildren and great-grandchildrens’ generations.

Verses 12 to 15 show us that while sin often is sweet to the taste the person who consumes it will become violently sick. Verse 16 compares the fruits of his labor to the venom of poisonous snakes. 17 shows that he will not get what he expected and hoped for from his wickedness. He’ll have to give back what he has stolen and more of his own.

Remembering that Job may have been the wealthiest man of his world Zophar is implying that one reason he has suffered, perhaps the essence of Job’s wickedness, is that he has oppressed the poor and stolen what little they had. Zophar declares that not only will the wicked person, like Job, suffer great loss and experience great want but that other wicked men will take advantage of his downfall.

God’s protection of and revenge for wrongs done to the poor is evident all throughout the Bible. Under the Law given to Moses it was forbidden to charge them interest on a loan and there were rules about providing for the poor.

Exodus 22:25  If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.

Le 23:22  And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 15:7  If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: 8  But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.

Wicked people prey upon the poor.

Psalm 10:1 ¶  Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble? 2  The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. 3  For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth. 4  The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. 5  His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them. 6  He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity. 7  His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity. 8  He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor. 9  He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. 10  He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones. 11  He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.

    12 ¶  Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.

God defends the poor.

Psalm 72:4  He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.

Helping the poor among the brothers and sisters of the church and for other churches in distress is an essential quality of the church organism, the body of Christ on earth. This concern is one of the proofs of faith.

Romans 15:26  For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

James 1:27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

    2:1 ¶  My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2  For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3  And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4  Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5  Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6  But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7  Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?...

        …14 ¶  What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

God’s promise to the one who helps the poor is not a tax write-off or a smug feeling of spirituality. Much more than that is implied in God’s promise.

Proverbs 19:17  He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

Job’s will defend his actions toward the poor. Zophar’s accusations are important in laying down the reason for that defense.

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