22 ¶ This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked. 23 If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent. 24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he?
Job’s friends have said that the wicked suffer and the righteous prosper. Job argues that both the wicked and the righteous suffer. What he says here is true. Bad things happen to everyone and good things happen to many and there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason, in many cases. When a typhoon hits the Philippines or an earthquake hits California God’s people and the wicked both suffer. To deny that is to live in a sense of unreality, a fantasy world where Eliphaz and Bildad are correct and if something rotten happens to you whether it be cancer or a bad storm that knocks a tree down on your house it must be because of something you have done specifically to deserve that judgment.
Do you have evidence that no faithful Christians suffered in a tornado that razed a neighborhood in Oklahoma or that no Godly, Christian missionaries or native, faithful Christians suffered in an Ebola outbreak in Africa? What is your evidence? “I just know it’s true,” doesn’t count as evidence.
Christians will point out that God delivered the Hebrews from the plagues sent on the Egyptians. They will say that because of Jeremiah 24:5,9 God delivered the good Israelite and punished the bad. But, these were specific, purposeful acts of God’s will which He warned about ahead of time. These weren’t mysteries or seemingly random occurrences that weren’t preceded by a prophet’s announcement.
But, Job’s lamentation is a bitter indictment of God’s sovereignty. In his grief he cries out that God destroys the upright and the wicked and even laughs at the trial of the innocent. Solomon, in his progress of understanding what is important in life said, at one point;
Ecclesiastes9:1 ¶ For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them. 2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. 3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
Christians see people who reject God prospering in this life, full of riches and self-satisfaction, and common, ordinary Christians trying to please God suffering reversals of fortune and being forced to suffer with every inflationary period of rising rice prices in Liberia or in America any shrinking of the economy due to greed on Wall Street or incompetence and greed in Washington.
But, Job’s cry that no one can find a judge who isn’t blind to sort all of this out because God Himself has blinded them or that God laughs at the suffering of His people, is an absurdity not supported by the Bible.
God does cause blindness to come upon the wicked who choose not to accept His rule on their lives (Isaiah, chapter 29, Romans, chapter 1, & 2Thessalonians 2:11). They continue in their wickedness because of their choice as it has been said, sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. But that is not Job’s statement.
So, while Job’s statement that evil comes upon all, good and bad alike, is true, his statement that God laughs at the innocent person’s suffering is based purely on his hopeless situation and not understanding and wisdom just as your belief that nothing can go horribly wrong for you because you are, “faithful,” is based on your experience and self-righteousness and not on God’s word or on the truthful life and death story of millions of Christians who perished in natural disasters and disease epidemics throughout history.
“The earth is given into the hand of the wicked,” because of man’s sin and rebellion against his maker. Satan is the god of this world, little g, because of that rebellion. Death and suffering are man’s plight because of that sinful condition of man. We suffer because we live in a fallen world in fallen bodies because of sin and our natural destination is a burning Hell and an eternal lake of unquenchable fire unless we are born again spiritually.
Bear with me while I quote a few verses for you to consider.
2Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
But, God doesn’t have pleasure in the destruction of even the wicked as many of you do.
Ezekiel 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Much less, how could He have pleasure in the destruction of the innocent?
And importantly, it is not our exemption from life’s suffering that reveals our relationship with God. It is our response to our suffering and the suffering of others, including the wicked lost, that reveals that relationship.