Summary: Zophar’s answer to Job’s situation is to tell Job to pick up his performance - work harder and all will be well. But this is not a correct portrayal of God.
You can listen to the full message here:-
“The Answer of Zophar – It Could Be Worse”
We live in a very performance based society.
QCS and OP (university entrance score)
Expand:- Everyone is ranked
Quoting for a job
Expand:- Best value at lowest price
In one way or another everyone gets what they deserve, and they deserve what they get.
That is the world we live in.
That also the world that Job lives in. And now Zophar, the third of Job’s “friends” to speak, takes that philosophy and applies it to Job’s situation.
Read Job 20:4-19.
Wicked people have shorter lives.
Wicked people are not fulfilled.
Wicked people will see their efforts come to nothing.
If they don’t change God will make it worse for them.
That is Zophar’s philosophy. And he is pointing straight at Job and saying ... Job God is going to make it worse for you if you keep going down this wicked path.
In one way I want to relate to Zophar.
If people step out of line I want God to make their life miserable.
Expand:- Driver hooning in suburban streets.
Blow up his car God.
Expand:- Madeleine Pulver – fake bomb strapped to her.
God strike down that man.
Expand:- Bashar al-Assad – killing own people
God strike down that man.
Everyone gets what they deserve and deserves what they get. We can relate to that can’t we. It’s a good mathematical ... logical ... formula.
Well Job sees this argument for what it really is.
Read Job 21:7-16
Wicked people don’t necessarily have shorter lives.
Japan has the highest average life expectancy of any country in the world.
Only about 1% of Japanese people call themselves Christians.
Wicked people do find fulfilment.
The people of Denmark are the world’s happiest people.
Only about 5% of the people there are Christians.
Wicked people have accomplished great achievements.
Maybe you have heard of the 7 Wonders of the World.
The Egyptian Pyramids are one of those wonders.
Ancient Egyptians were not followers of Job’s God.
The life of the wicked is not necessarily made worse by God.
It just doesn’t work like that does it?
We might like it to work like that.
Everyone gets what they deserve and deserves what they get.
Zophar’s God is a performance-based ... results-driven deity.
Believing in a performance-based, results-driven deity will lead to confusion.
Expand=> relating the story of Rick and Kaili who have been faithful missionaries for 20 years ... yet who have nothing.
It’s a great performance which is going unrecognised.
That could be confusing couldn’t it.
Believing in a performance-based, results-driven deity will lead to constant regret.
Expand=> we will live our lives constantly looking for a cause-and-effect ... being worried that our past decisions have brought about a terrible outcome.
We will get stuck in the past.
And regret it all.
Believing in a performance-based, results-driven deity will make us judgemental.
Expand=> sometimes finding ourselves thinking ... this is a great sermon--for that person.
We start to compare our performances.
All of the sudden a lot of people start to fall short.
That is Zophar’s God. You don’t want a God like that.
Talk about puppeteers.
They make the puppet do whatever they want.
It’s all about giving the audience a performance.
Zophar’s God is nothing more than a puppeteer. We become the puppets.
How hard can I push you?
How much can I make you sweat?
How guilt-ridden can I cause you to be?
How many doubts can I sow?
That’s Zophar’s God. And the only answers that Zophar can give to Job in the middle of this terrible situation are these:-
Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.
Do you know what Zophar is saying? He is saying, “If God remembered everything your life would even be worse than it is now.”
What a useless friend.
What else can Job loose except his life?
And all Zophar can say is, “Come on. Pick-up your game. You’re putting in a poor performance. You need to refocus. You need to get back on track. Otherwise it is just going to get worse.”
I’m so glad that the God which Zophar is talking about is not the God of the Scriptures.
The God of the Scriptures is a God of grace.
God does not deal with us on the basis of our past
Focus on questionable histories which we have as a congregation.
Yet here we are.
God does not deal with us on the basis of the present
How well we know our weaknesses.
Use specific example of parenting and messing up.
And there are many other issues.
Yet we can move forward.
So when we are going through difficulties the answer is not:- pick up your game.