Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb. — Job 21:32
Operation Lifesaver, a public information program dedicated to reducing collisions, injuries, and fatalities at highway-rail crossings, provides a startling statistic on the homepage of its corporate website: someone is hit by a train about every three hours. Perhaps even more startling is the fact that most of the fatalities are caused by risk-takers. Research has shown that hearing a train whistle will cause people’s minds to indicate they should increase their speed. About forty-three percent of the accidents occur at crossings equipped with flashing lights and bells or gates, because many drivers will go around or under the gates. They know the risk, but they think they can beat the oncoming train and somehow avoid a collision — but with tragic consequences!
All of us know that we will die someday. Death is inevitable unless the Lord comes first, and we do not know when either event will occur. Yet, while many people are aware that there is danger in failing to prepare for eternity, they put off making their peace with God. They ignore the “flashing lights and bells” that warn of the danger and proceed recklessly through life, seemingly giving little thought to the hereafter. What a terrible risk they are taking!
In today’s text, Zophar and Job debated the subject of death. Zophar declared that the death of the wicked is premature and immediate as a sign of God’s judgment. Job contested Zophar’s words, insisting that the wicked do not die any sooner than the righteous, nor are their lives on earth necessarily any less prosperous, successful, or healthy than the lives of those who live in a godly manner. Job was right. But in the midst of this heated dispute, it is interesting to note that the two men agreed on one point: death occurs for both the righteous and the wicked.
Like Job, we do not fully understand why at times good people suffer and the ungodly prosper. However, we are assured, as Job was, that final justice will not come in this life but in the next. In the meantime, we want to be sure to prepare for eternity.
Chapter 20 is the second speech that Zophar directed to Job. Since Job’s viewpoint had already been stated by Eliphaz and Bildad, as well as by himself, Zophar offered nothing new to the discussion. Like the others, he continued to ascribe guilt to Job and to attack his position. He gave a fiery “sermon” focused on the way of the wicked, with the obvious motive of forcing Job to admit he was suffering because he was being rightly judged by God.
In chapter 21, Job gave his last reply in the second cycle of discussion. He seemingly no longer hoped for words of comfort from his friends, but expected their continual mockings. In response to Zophar’s faulty premise regarding the wicked, he offered the opposing perspective, attacking Zophar’s points and disproving them with evidence. He declared that, while the wicked may prosper in this life, God will ultimately judge them in eternity. In this speech, Job did not address any remarks to God. By the time he concluded, he seemingly felt he had completely refuted the arguments of his friends because what they had said had no proof in real life.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The solution of Job’s three friends
C. The second cycle of speeches
5. Zophar’s advice (20:1-29)
a. The transitory state of the wicked (20:1-11)
b. The judgment of God upon the wicked (20:12-29)
6. Job’s answer (21:1-34)
a. The wicked do prosper (21:1-16)
b. The wicked are rarely cut off (21:17-26)
c. The rejection of their premise (21:27-34)
While death comes to all, we can heed the warnings of Scripture and be prepared for eternity.