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The Hand of the Lord Has Done This

Job  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:12:23
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Sometimes we say foolish things in the middle of a debate. Especially in the middle of a heated debate. Remember when you were kids and you would get into one of these kinds of arguments.
“My dad is better than your dad”
Classic argument- also one that can get very heated. Do you remember how the arguments went? Usually something like this:
“My dad is a thousand times better than your dad. Well my dad is a million times better than your dad. Well my dad is infinity times better than your dad. Well my dad is infinity plus 1 times better!”
Then the stunning logic and sound reasoning would get even better and sound something like this:
Naa Auhh! Yaa Huhh! (Repeat endlessly)
Bad arguments, faulty logic, heated emotions, and a prideful insistence that you are right can lead to some dangerous pitfalls. Yet even as believers, sometimes we allow our thinking about God to be clouded by these kinds of arguments. And it can lead to some dangerous conclusions about how we view God.
Job 12 picks up in the middle of a heated debate. We must keep in mind what Zophar has just said to Job in order to understand the emotional climate that so weights Job’s words with meaning.
Zophar: (Paraphrase of Job 11:1-6)
Job close your mouth! You are a man full of empty words. It’s my turn to tell you what is right.
You are full of babbling, and you are nothing but a mocker.
You claim “” My doctrine is pure, I am clean there is nothing wrong with me
Oh I wish that God would come down and teach you a thing or two so that you would finally have a little understanding.
Know this Job- you got less that what you deserved. God should have punished you even more, so be quite and just be thankful already!
It is in this climate that Job now replies to his friends. This is the second longest speech by Job (12-14). He is fed up with the unhelpful counsel given by his three friends. He is fed up with the faulty logic and reasoning given by his three friends. He is fed up with the unhelpful solutions given by his three friends. So- Job is going to let them have it.
But worst of all is that Job is standing on the edge of a terrible pitfall in his thinking about God.
Andersen, 112. “Job’s whole life had been built on the belief that God helps the good and hinders the bad. [pp]. This is the teaching that all the friends will affirm in one way or another. It is also Job’s belief. They cannot say anything else without suggesting that moral effort is not worth while or that God is somehow unfair. But a terrible pitfall is not far away from all of them. The friends must infer from Job’s suffering that he has sinned; Job must infer from his innocence that God is unjust.”
This is the danger that haunts Job’s thinking- God is unjust.
Job 12:9 KJV 1900
Who knoweth not in all these That the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?
Here is Job’s complaint. The hand of the Lord has done this to me. And what is the dangerous pitfall that Job is standing at the precipice of? God is unjust.
What is so clouding Job’s thinking that he is in danger of making the accusation that God is unjust?

I. Bad Counsel

A. Their Superiority

Job’s opening statements bleed with sarcasm.
Job 12:1–2 KJV 1900
And Job answered and said, No doubt but ye are the people, And wisdom shall die with you.
Layton Talbert
Beyond Suffering: Discovering the Message of Job Job: Go Soak Your Heads (Job 12–14)

An imaginative paraphrase of 12:2 might run something like this: Truly you are world-class wise men! Whatever will mankind do when you die? For wisdom will vanish from the face of the earth with you! Go soak your heads!

Job 12:3 KJV 1900
But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: Yea, who knoweth not such things as these?
Here Job is refuting Zophar’s special pleading argument.
No, actually Zophar, you do not surpass me in wisdom. You speak as if you are the only wise person left on the planet, but I am every bit as intelligent as you are.
“Indeed, what they speak is such common knowledge that their wisdom fails to offer him any insight into his sufferings.”
Hartley, 206.
Zophar:
Job 11:7 KJV 1900
Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
The implication is- Job you can’t because you lack understanding. But I have plumed deeper into the wisdom and the knowledge of God and I know better.
Job 11:12 KJV 1900
For vain man would be wise, Though man be born like a wild ass’s colt.
The Book of Job (a) Job’s Self-Defense (12:1–3)

Sensing that Zophar has implied that he is lacking in wisdom, Job counters with the assertion that he is in no way inferior to (nāp̄āl)

His friends have implied that there wisdom is superior to Job’s wisdom. They don’t give any good reasons why that is however. It’s a “I’m better than you are” argument. I’m superior so you have to listen to me. And Job is saying, wait a minute! I also have understanding. I am not inferior to you. In fact what you have told me is such common knowledge that every one already knows it. Retribution theology was so common that it was familiar to everyone. It’s like Job is saying to them, “You have not given me some new kind of deep wisdom from God, so stop pretending that you are superior to me.” This is bad counsel.

B. Their Humiliation

Job 12:4 KJV 1900
I am as one mocked of his neighbour, Who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: The just upright man is laughed to scorn.
I am “mocked” (lit. a victim of ridicule i.e. laughingstock) of my “neighbor” (lit. a person you know well and regard with affection and trust, i.e. friends).
I am the laughingstock of even my own friends.
This could well be a reference to Zophar’s earlier comments
Job 11:4 KJV 1900
For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, And I am clean in thine eyes.
You can easily hear the mocking tone that Zophar may have used to deliver these words.
Job 11:12 KJV 1900
For vain man would be wise, Though man be born like a wild ass’s colt.
Job you are a stupid man and you will as soon get wisdom when a man is born as a wild donkey’s colt. That is humiliating and insulting. It is also not hard to picture Eliphaz and Bildad having to hid a smile behind there hands upon hearing Zophar’s insult.
Me, the one who called upon God and He answered me, a just and an upright (blameless) man, I am laughed to scorn. It’s just not right, it’s just not fair.
Have you ever been made the object of humiliation by someone else? Worse, these are Job’s friends. Yet they mock him and ridicule him. And notice Job’s implication- it’s just not fair. The bad counsel of these friends instead of helping Job, have made matters worse. And they have pushed Job towards that dangerous pitfall of believing that God is unjust.

C. Their Contempt

Job 12:5 KJV 1900
He that is ready to slip with his feet Is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.
This is a challenging verse to translate. The word translated “lamp” in the KJV can be divided into a preposition plus a noun which would then be translated as “for misfortune”.
So the verse would read something like this:
The thought/opinion of those who are at ease is contempt for misfortune, as one who is read to slip with his feet.
In other words, “ Zophar and his friends could afford to be smug because they were rich and healthy. For them it was easy to advise and even berate Job, who lacked both health and wealth.” Alden, 150.
Again, Job views his situation as unfair. It’s easy for you to look down on me, to consider me worthless, or deserving of your scorn, because you are not in my shoes. You are not suffering- you are wealthy and healthy. You have no idea what it is like being in my situation. And you have not really tried to understand what I am going through. Instead your bad counsel has shown me nothing but contempt.
Remember Zophar’s words, “God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.”
This is bad counsel. This is treating Job with contempt. And again instead of encouraging Job to put his trust in God, their bad counsel drives Job to the edge of that dangerous cliff. Job’s thinking- “This is not fair”, which is not far from “God is not treating me justly.”
Illustration:
Does this kind of faulty logic and bad reasoning still take place today?
Think of your favorite sports team. Now think about some of the reasons that people might give to argue that their favorite team is the best team.
Why do you cheer for that team?
Because they are from the state I live in.
Why are they the best team?
Because I live in that state. (Superiority complex anyone?)
What is a common tactic when you want to make another team look bad? Come up with some kind of insulting name for them. Instead of the Vikings its the what? Vi-queens. Instead of the Packers its the Slackers. See my team is better because I thought up a funny name for your team. (Humiliation anyone?)
Now, most of the time this kind of logic for arguing over which sport teams are the best is fine because it doesn’t matter. We get into trouble when we allow this kind of faulty logic and bad counsel to affect our spiritual lives.
Refutation:
Pastor Jon, that kind of argumentation doesn’t go on amongst believers. Absolutely it does. Because I wear a suit or a skirt, because I part my hair this way or that I am more spiritual than others therefore my insight into the Biblical matters is superior. It may be that someone with a normal hair cut and more conservative clothing is farther along in their walk with God, or it may not be the case. But too often we tend to get an air of superiority about us and instead of hearing what arguments other people have to say and responding with well articulated Biblical reasons we dismiss them out of hand.
People on both sides of the spectrum would reply as Job did.
Job 12:3 KJV 1900
But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: Yea, who knoweth not such things as these?
2 Corinthians 10:12 KJV 1900
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
Application:
1. Obviously we want to avoid this kind of bad counsel when we attempt to help others. We need to be aware of these kinds of logical fallacies that can creep into our arguments with other people.
2 Timothy 2:15 KJV 1900
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Don’t think of yourself as superior to others, especially others that may be suffering greatly. Do not think that you are more spiritual than other people, because that can effect the advice you might give them.
1 Corinthians 15:9–10 KJV 1900
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Galatians 6:3 KJV 1900
For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
Don’t resort to name calling and ridicule when others do not agree with your position. Examine the evidence and speak to the facts rather than trying to humiliate someone into coming over to your side of the argument.
Proverbs 16:24 KJV 1900
Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, Sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
Don’t treat others with contempt. No one is worthy of our scorn. Don’t treat people with contempt, but rather with compassion. Try to put yourself in their shoes, and attempt to understand what they are going through so you might help them bear up under their burdens.
Galatians 6:1–2 KJV 1900
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
2. If you are on the receiving end of this kind of bad counsel do not let it effect your thinking about God.
Have you been made to feel like you are inferior to others? The truth is we are what we are solely because of the grace of God. Don’t fall prey to someone’s bad counsel or bad theology because of their position. Examine the truth of God’s Word and rightly divide His truth. And do not be tempted to believe that God is treating you unjustly especially if you are suffering.
2 Corinthians 12:9–10 KJV 1900
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Have you been the object of humiliation or ridicule? Have you ever been looked down on with contempt? Do not become angry with God because he did not take the humiliation away from you. Do not think that your situation in unfair.
Matthew 26:39 KJV 1900
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
It may be that God has called you to endure humiliation or ridicule for His sake.
Philippians 1:29 KJV 1900
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Do not be tempted to doubt God’s faithfulness, or His goodness, or His justice. But rather even through the humiliation and the ridicule and the contempt believe that God will work even those things together for your good. God is working in your lives in ways you cannot possibly imagine in order to conform you to the very image of Christ. Our job as believers is to trust God even in the shadow.
Hebrews 10:36 KJV 1900
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
Do you know what the very next verse in Hebrews says?
Hebrews 10:37 KJV 1900
For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
Right now God is working His marvelous will out in your life to change you in Christ’s very image. One day He that shall come will come, He will no longer tarry. And do you know what Christ will do for us on that day?
Philippians 3:21 KJV 1900
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
On that day we will be made in the exact image of Christ. All our our sorrow and suffering, our ridicule and our humiliation, our scorn and our contempt will be gone.
Ephesians 2:7 KJV 1900
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
But it may be that right now God has called you to suffer. Don’t let the bad counsel of others- the humiliation or the contempt that they might show- cause you to doubt the grace of your Amazing God. He is perfectly just and you can trust Him no matter what you are going through.

II. Bad Theology

A. A Simple Observation

Job 12:6 KJV 1900
6 The tabernacles of robbers prosper, And they that provoke God are secure; Into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.
Job was now sensitized to how prosperous the wicked really could be (6)
(1) Marauders (such as those who destroyed Job?) dwell safely in their tents.
(2) Evil people seem to provoke God and get away with it.
(3) These evil people also engage in false worship (“their god is in their hand”).
The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain
Into whose hand God bringeth abundantly- God allows these wicked to prosper abundantly.
Their God is in their hand- pocket sized idols (False worship)
Their gods = their swords
Marauders believe themselves to be as powerful as God.
(4) [compare 11:15-19]
Job 11:20 KJV 1900
20 But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, And they shall not escape, And their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.
“Job points out that if they considered the freedom and success of plunderers, forces of terror widely feared in the ancient Near East, they would discover that the secure are not always the righteous. In reality the wicked enjoy repose without any hindrance from God” (Hartley, 208).
Job could now see how often people are not judged immediately for sin because those who had hurt him had gone free.
Job 12:7–8 KJV 1900
7 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; And the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: 8 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: And the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.
Certain truths are so obvious, just from simple observation, that even the animals and the birds and the fish could show this to be true.
Job 12:9–10 KJV 1900
9 Who knoweth not in all these That the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? 10 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind.
Here Job points out the simple truth that has been lurking behind his entire argument.
The hand of the Lord has done this. This is an obvious truth! God controls all which happens on the earth.
The tents of the robbers prosper, yet I, the innocent righteous man suffer, and it is God’s hand that has done this.
What’s the implication? God is unjust. But notice, the implication is there, only because the bad theology is there too. It is retribution theology that Job still clings too that pushes Job toward the ledge of believing that God is not just.
Job 12:11 KJV 1900
11 Doth not the ear try words? And the mouth taste his meat?
Even common sense demonstrates the truth of what Job is saying (11) “Just as the palate tastes food and decides whether it is savory or foul, so the ear tests words to ascertain what is reasonable or irrational, pleasing or discordant, true or false. The ear with its discriminating ability enables one to discern the credibility of words.” (Hartley, 210).

B. A Sound Objection

Here Job is going to expound some pretty good theology. Wait a minute Pastor Jon this point is titled bad theology. So which is it? Well both- I find it fascinating that Job can have such a high view of God, yet because of one of his presuppositions (Retribution theology), can at the same time be tempted to believe that God is treating him unjustly.
In the rest of Chapter 12 Job is going to object to the idea of God that his three friends have portrayed.
Here, Job will refute Zophar’s argument (‘if only you knew what God was up to’) by offering proof that they have a drawn a portrait of God that does not square with reality. “People become victims of catastrophes regardless of their social status or moral standing. Therefore it is with this God that Job must settle his complaint, not with the God of the comforters.” (Hartley, 212)

1. God is the absolute controlling force in the universe (12-16)

Job 12:12 KJV 1900
12 With the ancient is wisdom; And in length of days understanding.
Here Job is building on the accepted idea that wisdom belongs or resides in the ancient ones in the community.
He uses two titles
“The Aged One” and the “Long-lived One” both in reference to God Himself.
The Book of Job (2) Interlude: God’s Sovereign Rule (12:12–25)

The longer one lives, the wiser one becomes. Since God is the oldest by far, he certainly is the wisest.

So Job makes this connection in v. 13
Job 12:13 KJV 1900
13 With him is wisdom and strength, He hath counsel and understanding.
The Book of Job (2) Interlude: God’s Sovereign Rule (12:12–25)

All aspects of wisdom—connoted by the four terms wisdom (hoḵmâ), might (ḡəḇûrâ), counsel (ʿēṣâ), and understanding (ṯəḇûnâ)—reside in God (cf. Isa. 11: 2). That is, God possesses both the wisdom to plan the best course of action and the might or power to carry out that course.

“In ancient Near Eastern myths the qualities of wisdom and power often resided in different gods. The strongest gods, not being the wisest, did things that often had terrible consequences. And since the wisest god was not the strongest, he could be rendered inept before the ferocity of the mighty gods and would have to resort to magic to counter their ill-conceived designs.” (Hartley, 213).
So because God is the source of all wisdom and power
Job 12:14 KJV 1900
14 Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: He shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening.
He irresistibly destroys whoever He will. If God breaks down something, no power on earth can rebuild. If God locks a man up, no force in the universe can open that cell.
Job 12:15 KJV 1900
15 Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: Also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth.
God is in control of the water itself. Most weather disasters are a case of too little or too much of a good thing.
Mrs. Pett- house under water, here at the church not a drop. God moves in the weather as He wills.
Job 12:16 KJV 1900
16 With him is strength and wisdom: The deceived and the deceiver are his.
Both the deceived and the one doing the deceiving are all under God’s control.
God is the absolute controlling force in the universe

2. God’s acts seemingly affect people indiscriminately (17-25)

a) He confounds the most noble of human officials (17)
Job 12:17 KJV 1900
17 He leadeth counsellers away spoiled, And maketh the judges fools.
b) He subdues the most powerful rulers (18)
Job 12:18 KJV 1900
18 He looseth the bond of kings, And girdeth their loins with a girdle.
c) He humbles even privileged religious leaders (19)
Job 12:19 KJV 1900
19 He leadeth princes away spoiled, And overthroweth the mighty.
d) He confuses the rhetorical ability of the greatest orators (20).
Job 12:20 KJV 1900
20 He removeth away the speech of the trusty, And taketh away the understanding of the aged.
e) He brings to light that which appears to be hidden (22).
Job 12:22 KJV 1900
22 He discovereth deep things out of darkness, And bringeth out to light the shadow of death.
f) He establishes and destroys the great powers of earth (23-25).
Job 12:23–25 KJV 1900
23 He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: He enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again. 24 He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, And causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way. 25 They grope in the dark without light, And he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.
(1) Though great, they have no sense of direction.
(2) Though powerful, they stagger like wandering drunkards.

3. None of these acts are explained as judgments on the wicked

In other words what Job is saying flies in the face of retribution theology. These destructions are not explained as judgments on the wicked, so that God’s justice is vindicated. Rather the point is that all of these great people are puny figures compared to God. God is in supreme control over all His creation and the way He acts many times is contrary to retribution theology. God acts as He will including sometimes allowing the wicked to prosper, and the righteous to suffer.
Here is where Job gets into trouble with a faulty theology. Instead of saying God in His perfect wisdom, sovereignty, and goodness acts as He wills in the lives of men to accomplish his over plan, both for our good and His glory. Instead of saying my job as a follower of God is to trust Him, that He knows what is best. Instead Job teeters on the edge of the cavern by implying that God is treating him unjustly. Why? Because although he sees the faulty logic of retribution theology he still holds on to bad theology. And because his thinking about God is wrong- his attitudes, actions, and behaviors will also be wrong.
Illustration:
Pastor Steve Berg- son-in-law from Asian country. Disappointed that he was wasting the fish remains. Boiled them and eat everything but the bones- including the eyes. Apparently the eyes are a delicacy, you suck them out of the head, they are saved from important visitors. Our reaction to that is, gross! Why? Has anyone every tried fish eyeballs? How do you know. You have a presupposition, because of the culture that you live in, that they would be disgusting. It wouldn’t matter if the best Asian chief were here cooking them, and you have a group of native people telling you how delicious they were, you would still believe they were gross. What we think, what we believe has a powerful influence over us.
Job saw with his own two eyes the fallacies of retribution theology, he had a right high view of God’s sovereignty, yet he still clung to his retribution theology, he believed it and it has a power influence over him. Even causing him to doubt the justice of his God.
Tozer: “I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God. It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God . . . is so decadent (corrupt) as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually to constitute for professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity (disaster).”
Paul says in Romans 1 that man has the capacity to become vain in their imaginations about God, and that humans can and will change the glory of the uncorruptible God, and who also change the truth of God into a lie.
We must be so careful in our theology, in what we think about God. Bad theology can lead us to the precipice of becoming vain in our imaginations about God, we too can change the truth of God into a life if we are not so very careful about what we believe.
Paul, speaking to his son in the faith Timothy, commands him to study to show thyself approved, right dividing the word of truth.
No only was Job dealing with bad counsel, he was also plagued by a bad theology. Those two things combined pushed Job into doubting the justice of God. Instead of trusting that God knows what is best, Job felt that God had treated him in an unjust matter.
What we believe about God is the most important thing about us. (Tozer)
Do you know what you believe about God? Have you studied to show yourself approved, can you rightly divide the word of truth? Do you know your theology? Have you seriously studied it? Read up on it? Learned it? Can you defend it?
Or are you like Job, something bad happens in your life, and your response is- the hand of the Lord has done this.
God is good, and He is just, and He is working things out in this world according to his mysterious purpose, and our job is to trust Him. God is worthy of our trust just because of who He is, no matter what He chooses to bless us with, or what He allows us to suffer.
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