Why does it seem that evil wins so often? Is there no justice?

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Zophar’s Second Response to Job

Job 20

1. Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:

2. “I must reply because I am greatly disturbed.

3. I’ve had to endure your insults, but now my spirit prompts me to reply.

4. “Don’t you realize that from the beginning of time, ever since people were first placed on the earth,

5. the triumph of the wicked has been short lived and the joy of the godless has been only temporary?

6. Though the pride of the godless reaches to the heavens and their heads touch the clouds,

7. yet they will vanish forever, thrown away like their own dung. Those who knew them will ask, ‘Where are they?’

8. They will fade like a dream and not be found. They will vanish like a vision in the night.

9. Those who once saw them will see them no more. Their families will never see them again.

10. Their children will beg from the poor, for they must give back their stolen riches.

11. Though they are young, their bones will lie in the dust.

12. “They enjoyed the sweet taste of wickedness, letting it melt under their tongue.

13. They savored it, holding it long in their mouths.

14. But suddenly the food in their bellies turns sour, a poisonous venom in their stomach.

15. They will vomit the wealth they swallowed. God won’t let them keep it down.

16. They will suck the poison of cobras. The viper will kill them.

17. They will never again enjoy streams of olive oil or rivers of milk and honey.

18. They will give back everything they worked for. Their wealth will bring them no joy.

19. For they oppressed the poor and left them destitute. They foreclosed on their homes.

20. They were always greedy and never satisfied. Nothing remains of all the things they dreamed about.

21. Nothing is left after they finish gorging themselves. Therefore, their prosperity will not endure.

Job’s Seventh Speech: A Response to Zophar

Job 21

1. Then Job spoke again:

7. “Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful?

8. They live to see their children grow up and settle down, and they enjoy their grandchildren.

9. Their homes are safe from every fear, and God does not punish them.

10. Their bulls never fail to breed. Their cows bear calves and never miscarry.

11. They let their children frisk about like lambs. Their little ones skip and dance.

12. They sing with tambourine and harp. They celebrate to the sound of the flute.

13. They spend their days in prosperity, then go down to the grave in peace.

14. And yet they say to God, ‘Go away. We want no part of you and your ways.

15. Who is the Almighty, and why should we obey him? What good will it do us to pray?’

16. (They think their prosperity is of their own doing, but I will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking.)

17“Yet the light of the wicked never seems to be extinguished. Do they ever have trouble? Does God distribute sorrows to them in anger?

18. Are they driven before the wind like straw? Are they carried away by the storm like chaff? Not at all!

19“‘Well,’ you say, ‘at least God will punish their children!’ But I say he should punish the ones who sin, so that they understand his judgment.

20. Let them see their destruction with their own eyes. Let them drink deeply of the anger of the Almighty.

21. For they will not care what happens to their family after they are dead.

22“But who can teach a lesson to God, since he judges even the most powerful?

23. One person dies in prosperity, completely comfortable and secure,

24. the picture of good health, vigorous and fit.

25. Another person dies in bitter poverty, never having tasted the good life.

26. But both are buried in the same dust, both eaten by the same maggots.

27. “Look, I know what you’re thinking. I know the schemes you plot against me.

28. You will tell me of rich and wicked people whose houses have vanished because of their sins.

29. But ask those who have been around, and they will tell you the truth.

30. Evil people are spared in times of calamity and are allowed to escape disaster.

31. No one criticizes them openly or pays them back for what they have done.

32. When they are carried to the grave, an honor guard keeps watch at their tomb.

33. A great funeral procession goes to the cemetery. Many pay their respects as the body is laid to rest, and the earth gives sweet repose.

34. “How can your empty clichés comfort me? All your explanations are lies!”

Bad things happen to evil people? Are we sure about that?

I love this exchange between Zophar and Job. I can relate so much to what each man is saying.

Zophar is convinced that the devastating misfortune Job has endured is on account of Job’s own sin and wickedness. His proof is the his perspective that bad things happen to bad people.

This is a pretty commonly held conviction, especially today. This passage might as well be the hopeful zeitgeist of the Occupy Wall Street movement:

Job 20

640px-Occupy_Wall_Street_March_2012_foreclosure_banner(Zophar is speaking…)

19. For they oppressed the poor and left them destitute. They foreclosed on their homes.

20. They were always greedy and never satisfied. Nothing remains of all the things they dreamed about.

21. Nothing is left after they finish gorging themselves. Therefore, their prosperity will not endure.

However, just as we discovered from the results of the protests of Occupy Wall Street: the wicked DO get away with it. We can rail and cry for justice all that we want. It simply doesn’t happen. Zophar was naive. Not naive in the sense that being wicked is a good thing, he was wrong about the earthly consequence of being wicked. Often the wicked of our earthly temporal realm don’t suffer at all for their actions, which is why it is so appealing to humanity be wicked at times!

Job gives tremendous voice to this lamentable reality, and to the frustrations of countless people since Job who have lost everything and, yet, at heart are good and decent people. They then are forced to live in misery as they witness the wicked of the world living in relative ease, honor and luxury:

Job 21

man-with-money(Job is speaking…)

30. Evil people are spared in times of calamity and are allowed to escape disaster.

31. No one criticizes them openly or pays them back for what they have done.

32. When they are carried to the grave, an honor guard keeps watch at their tomb.

33. A great funeral procession goes to the cemetery. Many pay their respects as the body is laid to rest, and the earth gives sweet repose.

We Must Persevere for the Sake of Justice Now

We must never give up. We must never stop fighting for restorative justice in this world. We must never stop proclaiming what is right.

We cannot give in to hopelessness and despair. We cannot stop fighting for justice and equity now!

The worst we can do is give into the idea that all will be set right “later”. The day we stop fighting for what is right and good in this life in favor of postponed-justice in the life-after is how evil wins today, over and over.

We must have faith that, like Job’s restoration, God’s justice and restoration can happen in this lifetime. That the wicked can be called to judgement and enter into the fire of God’s restorative justice. We must have faith that God is loving and wise. Never losing hope for change in this life. Repentance can come in this life for all of us.

Job 28

(Job is speaking…)

28. And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’”

Homeless_ManThe inequity and wickedness of this world is not the fault of God’s, it is our own. We allow it. We turn a blind, apathetic eye to atrocity. We even praise it.  ”Greed is good”, although obnoxious to many of us, has become the rally cry of much of modern humanity.

Yet hope remains that God will strengthen and sustain those of us crying out through hardship.

Never give up. Never stop striving for God’s truth and restorative justice. Never stop caring about others, no matter how hard life becomes for you. And never, no never blame God for the despair, inequity, hardship and torment we have created and caused to each other.

Job 40

(God is speaking…)

8. “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

Trig Bundgaard About Trig Bundgaard

Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your feedback, thoughts and ideas about what I've written. Especially if it's contrary to my views!

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Grace and peace to you!

Romans 5
"18. Therefore just as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man's act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.
19. For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous."

Comments

  1. Joshua Berkley says:

    Ahhhh so in Job 28 it states to fear The Lord is a good thing true wisdom it says not bad fear but good fear rather..very interesting I think I’m Picken up what your layen down brother keep it comin! Do Good just for the sake of good. The wicked are being deceived by their victories in this life. So it makes no sence for them to be punished and convicted for their actions by the rest of us, but instead we should battle their evil deeds with love and compassion towards them to truly show them our lords perfectly pure light!

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