Zophar says, “Hey, sure, Job, it might seem like the wicked are happy and prosperous and well fed, but it’s going to be short-lived. God will totally take them down a peg and then they’ll see how wrong they were.”
Job says, “Uh… no. The wicked are fat, happy, and prosperous and they die that way. The righteous are afflicted, poor, and suffering and they die that way too. They both go down to the grave together and are eaten by worms. What’s more, the wicked assholes are often honored and not forgotten by the next generation. “
Eliphaz says, “Come on, Job, you’re really a wicked person. You’ve loaned money for interest, neglected the poor, and ignored widows and orphans. The wicked will totally suffer and the righteous will mock them. So repent and go back to God and He will restore you.”
Job said, “Yeah, I would love to go see God. I’d like to plead my case before Him, but He’s not exactly there, is He? I don’t see Him, do you? And even if we did see Him, my heart would fail, because I am terrified of Him for what He’s done to me.”
Job continues, “There are a lot of prosperous assholes out there. People who lie, cheat, steal, murder and they live at ease. Sure, they will die eventually and be forgotten, but it’s not like God is out there raining down lightning bolts on them.”
Bildad says, “Well, Job, you just don’t understand. God is holy and powerful and we’re all nothing before Him, but filthy sinners. None of us are pure, so you kind of deserve whatever evils God dishes out, don’t you?”
And yes, I’ve heard this argument from Christians today to justify the suffering of good people.
Job says, “Wow… what profound wisdom! What marvelous counsel! How helpful you are to the weak! Jackass… Sure, God’s really great.
“I am a righteous man. Says so right back in Chapter 1. I will hold fast to my integrity until I die.”
And then Job kind of agrees with his friends, “The wicked prosper, but will meet a bad end from God eventually.”
That’s kind of weird when the book has up to this point been presenting that argument as false, but okay, maybe the author needs to believe that to maintain his faith in divine justice, even it doesn’t fit his overall ruminations on the problem of evil.
Job goes on for a little while longer, so I’m going to stop here and pick it up again tomorrow.