Job 12

Job 12:1-3
12 Then Job replied:
2 “Doubtless you are the only people who matter,
and wisdom will die with you!
3 But I have a mind as well as you;
I am not inferior to you.
Who does not know all these things?
Job had enough of his claims, he somewhat sarcastically stated that all “wisdom shall die” with them.

Zophar and the others didn’t have exclusivity on wisdom; Job was also a wise man who trusted fully in the ways of the Lord. He said that he would continue to look to God for forgiveness, protection, and provision.

In verses 12:1 – 14:22: Job responded in his defence with strong words, completing the first cycle of speeches.

In chapter 4, Eliphaz told a story about a spirit. And he explained that nobody is perfect.
In chapter 8, Bildad preferred traditional ideas. He explained that God only punishes evil people. In chapter 11, Zophar chose to speak about secret wisdom. He thought that Job deserved an even worse punishment for his evil deeds. All Job’s friends agreed that God would not bring such punishment and calamity a good man. So when they saw Job’s troubles, they accused him of secret sin.

Zophar said that he knew some secrets about wisdom (Job 11:6). But Job did disputed this claim. Zophar’s words were too simplistic. He reminded his friends that he understood the principles of which they had spoken (verse 3), but they were irrelevant to his situation. On top of that, he grieved at the pain of becoming a mockery to his friends. He protested his innocence (verse 4).

Job was not morally or intellectually inferior to his friends. He was effectively saying “Who do you think you are?”
Job 12:4-5

4 “I have become a laughingstock to my friends,
though I called on God and he answered—
a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!
5 Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune
as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.
It’s always hard to know what to say when someone is grieving, it’s perhaps even harder when they themselves are going through unprecedented suffering.

Probably the most helpful thing we can do in those times is to just be there, listen and connect. Jobs’ friends persisted in their insensitivity and continued to correct him for something they had imagined!!

He had been a well known community pillar of the region and now he was a laughing stock …on top of all the tragedy. It must have been hard to comprehend and accept. He shifted from one life to another in a very short space of time.

This happened to me in the summer of 2015. It was my own doing after the stupid decisions I had made. Decisions of infidelity, borrowing money from a pot of petty cash in my workplace that evolved from “borrowing” into theft, decisions of deceit and dishonesty  began to escalate around the beginning of 2015 and by the summer of that year they came crashing down on my head. The brief period of homelessness that followed was challenging and emotionally hard but defining for me.

I remember thinking a lot about the trauma I brought on my family and walking past the house to see if I could get a glimpse of them. I longed to be back in their presence.

Job’s loss was greater, he had his friends set against him for no apparent reason except a naïve view of what God was doing and he was plagued with boils and illness. It’s hard to imagine how I would be in that situation. I knew I deserved what I was going through and somehow even managed to embrace it in some small way despite the self pity, sadness and uncertainty but Job deserved none of what was going on for him.
Job 12:6-10
6 The tents of marauders are undisturbed,
and those who provoke God are secure—
those God has in his hand.
7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
9 Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.
Job noticed that birds and animals also suffer troubles without any reason. He observed that things seemed to work and be sustained. He was convinced that the animals, the birds and fish would testify to the hand of God sustaining them if only they could talk.
But his question was why do marauders and robbers appear to succeed and benefit from life whilst the righteous and innocent appear to suffer for no reason. It did not make sense.

Reconciling a fair and just God and an unfair life is a difficult question that almost everyone asks at some point. Perhaps it is too simplistic but the Bible describes a perfect world early in the book of Genesis. The perfect world became imperfect at human intervention as we asserted our own sovereignty over God’s sovereignty. The result was death, beginning with the death of an innocent animal (Genesis 3:21), the result of that has a knock on effect down the generations and the earth still suffers (Romans 8:22) but God’s plan is a plan of restoration and redemption (Revelation 21:3-4).
Job 12:11-25
11 Does not the ear test words
as the tongue tastes food?
12 Is not wisdom found among the aged?
Does not long life bring understanding?
13 “To God belong wisdom and power;
counsel and understanding are his.
14 What he tears down cannot be rebuilt;
those he imprisons cannot be released.
15 If he holds back the waters, there is drought;
if he lets them loose, they devastate the land.
16 To him belong strength and insight;
both deceived and deceiver are his.
17 He leads rulers away stripped
and makes fools of judges.
18 He takes off the shackles put on by kings
and ties a loincloth around their waist.
19 He leads priests away stripped
and overthrows officials long established.
20 He silences the lips of trusted advisers
and takes away the discernment of elders.
21 He pours contempt on nobles
and disarms the mighty.
22 He reveals the deep things of darkness
and brings utter darkness into the light.
23 He makes nations great, and destroys them;
he enlarges nations, and disperses them.
24 He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason;
he makes them wander in a trackless waste.
25 They grope in darkness with no light;
he makes them stagger like drunkards.
Old age was respected and revered in Job’s day. The old were wise and were to be listened to (see Job 32:6-7).

The initial verses are speaking of the senses of man being in tune with God as well.
The school of hard knocks is a good teaching ground and perhaps the only way most of us grow and learn. Older people are seasoned by life, they learn how to overcome challenges. Understanding comes from accumulated experience and learning.
Job, despite his questions about his suffering, affirms that God’s power is visible in nature, human society, religious matters, and national and international affairs. Job, however, expressed this in terms of fatalistic despair. Job knew all this and it didn’t help (13:1-2); so he didn’t want to argue with them anymore – he wanted to take his case before God (verse 3).

While his distress clouded this truth at times, Job knew deep down that God was the ultimate reality in his life.

God builds up and God tears down. This is evident the story of the nation of Israel. God made Israel great. He made Solomon the wealthiest man who had ever lived. He became unfaithful to God and God took the kingdom away from his family. Israel fell and was taken into captivity because of their unfaithfulness.

There is no human or spiritual power that can usurp God or be a successful voice against him. He is sovereign and ruler of all nature. God controls the weather … He withholds rain from heaven (Deuteronomy 11:17; 1 Kings 8:35; 17:1), the springs shrink, the rivers dry up, and a fruitful land is turned into a desert. And famine stalks through the land.
He caused the famous flood in Noah’s day. An extraordinary event in the history of the world, so much that traces are found in the traditions and stories of almost every race of man.

God is much more powerful than any ruler. God gives power to rulers (John 19:11). And God causes their power to end (Daniel 2:21). God appoints new kings (1 Kings 19:15-16). God humbles the proud (Luke 1:51-52).

The wise counsellors, or politicians, kings and kingdoms he can lead away as captives in triumph. Their wisdom can dissipate as a result of their own pride and God’s intervention, power and dignity can be removed in an instant.

Kings are king, because God ordained it. When a king becomes evil, God may send another king to put him into captivity. It is God who allows him to aspire to greatness, and God who binds him as a common criminal. Israel’s captivity in Babylon is a prime example. God led the king of Babylon to take the king of Israel. Later on, God had another king to overthrow the king of Babylon.

The Kings and judges of the earth must remember that they will someday stand before the Judge and King of all the world.

All of mankind is God’s creation. Both the deceiver and deceived are his. Everything in heaven and under heaven is in his hands. Job’s struggle was why doesn’t he intervene to ensure that justice and fairness reign true.

There are no things planned by men that God does not know. They may have planned it in some secret place, but God knows all of their plans. He used one such plot to be the pivotal point in human history!

Israel became almost three million people while they were slaves in Egypt. Just over seventy people went into Egypt and almost three million came out. This same three million were reduced to just a remnant by God for their unfaithfulness.

Human power, leadership and authority is ordained by God for his ultimate purpose and is removed for the same reason. He knows what he is doing. There is an eternal picture here. The problem with Job, the problem with his friends and the problem with us is that we see the here and now about as far as what’s immediately in front of us and we make a judgment against other humans and even about what God is doing on that basis alone without consideration for the eternal and allowing God to do all the judging.

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