[Optional Reading:Job 22–24]
Last year, Florida pastor Zach Zehnder broke the world’s record for the longest sermon. It clocked in at 53 hours and 18 minutes, raising money for charity and breaking the previous record by nearly five hours. Zehnder combined about 45 sermons and preached on God’s commitment to His people, from Genesis to Revelation. Despite such a wonderful topic, few of us would like to sit through such an interminable sermon!
As we begin round three of the debate between Job and his friends, you might be feeling the same way. Haven’t we heard this before? Will it never end? In his third and final speech, Eliphaz escalated to the only place left to go—directly accusing Job of sin and firing off a volley of unsupported accusations (22:5–11). Job was generally wicked and had oppressed the poor. He was greedy, harsh, unjust, and exploitative. As far as Eliphaz was concerned, the tragedies that had happened to Job were irrefutable evidence of this. Retributive justice was simply the way it was—the righteous get blessed, the wicked get punished (22:12–20)—and had been obvious since the Flood. Job should stop acting like an idiot and repent (22:21–30).
Sowing what you reap is true (see Gal. 6:7–10)—but it is far from the whole truth. The friends erred by thinking one truth could be isolated to explain the entirety of how God works. They therefore badly misunderstood God’s moral governance.
Job rejected Eliphaz’s charges, asserting that he would “come forth as gold” by God’s standards (23:10). If only he could gain a hearing, God would agree he was innocent and suffering undeservedly. God might seem absent and inexplicably passive about doing justice, yet Job was confident He would vindicate him in time. Though confused and frightened by his suffering, he continued to call upon the Lord.