Summary of the Dialog in the Book of Job

TRP = "Temporal Response Principle" = The principle that God will respond to those who sin and do evil with punishment in this life and He will respond to those who obey Him and do good with reward and blessings in this life. This is a highly simplified version of the argument Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar present in their argument with Job.

All references are to the book of Job unless otherwise noted

Eliphaz Bildad Zophar
1st Conversation Chapters 4 – 5
The TRP is true based on supernatural revelation (4). As clearly demonstrated throughout history, man’s nature is for trouble (5:1-7) and Job should repent (5:17-27).
Chapter 8
TRP is explained (8:3-4) and supported using natural examples reasoning inductively: effect to cause. If you are being punished, you must have sinned (as necessitated by the TRP) (8:20).
Chapter 11
God is way more complex than even Job realized (11:7) and repentance is the TRP’s means to get favor from God (11:13-20).
Job's Rebuttal Chapters 6 – 7
[talking to Eliphaz] Job emotionally (6:1-7) wishes for death (6:8-13) as his friends are not helping but are just scared and have not pointed out any specific sin in Job (6:14-30). [talking to God] Job questions God’s compassion by pointing the frailty of man (7:1-10) and the bothersome meddling of God (7:11-21). If Job really has sinned, he wishes that God would just pass over his sin (7:20-21).
Chapters 9 – 10
God is way more complicated than Bildad claimed as seen in creation and isn’t governed by cause and effect (9:4-10), the wicked and righteous are ultimately treated the same way and there is no way for Job to find or talk with God, so he wishes for a mediator (9:30-35). With God’s goodness in question (10:3), Job points out that the TRP makes God look maniacal (10:8-18).
Chapters 12 – 14
Job is smart enough to understand the TRP and has an appreciation of the complexity of God (12:1-12), yet he gives many examples of ‘world-view failures’ with the TRP (12:17-25). Job’s friends are accused of twisting the truth to try to defend God (13:6-12) and Job pleads that God would not see him as an enemy and that God would be shown to be good (13:20-28) because man is finite and death if final (14:1-12)...unless God could resurrect man and then we could know that God cares (Job wishes for this) (14:13-17).
2nd Conversation Chapter 15
Job has no wisdom because his lips have shown him to be guilty (15:1-6) and he is no smarter than us (15:7-10). History has shown that the TRP is true and has shown the traits and symptoms of the guilty man (15:17-35), which Job is demonstrating.
Chapter 18
The world is a closed, deterministic system with internal mechanisms that force an outcome (18:5) which means that Job is not an exception (18:4). One such outcome is that things can backfire and the trap that the wicked lays will come back to ensnare him (18:5-10) which will cause him to follow a chain reaction that will lead to death (18:11-21).
Chapter 20
It is ancient wisdom and a well known fact that the wicked man is punished in this life (20:4-5) and follows a life cycle (20:6-11) in which God punishes him and causes his wealth to become a poison that destroys him (20:12-29).
Job's Rebuttal Chapters 16 – 17
[talking to Eliphaz] Job points out that his friends are the ones with the problem in this situation because they are just scared (16:1-5). God is the one that has made Job look guilty (16:6-17) so Job wishes for a day in court and an advocate (16:18-22). [talking to God] Job claims that God is the one who framed him (17:1-5) and makes him look hated before men (17:6-10) so that there is no hope for Job because no one realizes that Job has been framed (17:11-16).
Chapter 19
The one who is trapping Job is God (19:6) which implies that the system is not as closed as Bildad had argued because God is intervening and is active in this ‘closed’ system. In fact, God is working and has done many things that do not fit Bildad’s theory of a closed system without exceptions (19:7-22). This is why Job wishes that God would make him a new system in which his words would be recorded and not forgotten and that Job would get a chance to see God after death (19:23-29).
Chapter 21
Job addresses Zophar’s idealistic claims by pointing out that the wicked “live, continue on, also become very powerful” (Job 21:7). The wicked do not suffer the fate Zophar described, but instead become prosperous (Job 21:8-16). Given that the wicked prosper, does God judge the wicked or their children (Job 21:17-21)? Even though Job can identify what appears to be a problem, he can’t teach God anything (Job 21:22). Also, death is final for both the evil and the good which means there appears to be no justice (Job 21:23-34). This means the TRP is wrong.
3rd Conversation Chapter 22
Job is punished and is therefore guilty (22:4-5). The list of his sins is long (22:6-20) and the results are terrible (22:10-11). Repentance of sin is the only way to solve the problem (22:21-30). In fact, once restored, Job might even become the mediator he desired for someone else who is suffering (22:29-30).
Chapter 25
Job does not understand that God is so holy (25:1-3) that righteousness before Him is unattainable (25:4). Compared to God, even the moon and stars are nothing (25:5) so how can man think himself anything (25:6)?
Job's Rebuttal Chapters 23 – 24
In order to get an answer, Job wishes that he could find God Himself, who would be personal and compassionate enough to listen and answer Job and yet just and righteous enough to support Job and settle his case (23:1-7). The problem is, Job does not see or know where God is (23:8-9) but God knows all of Job’s ways (23:10-14) so Job can’t talk to God (23:15-17). The question is, where will God’s power come into play? Will God’s power side with His compassion or with His justice, or both? Job questions God’s justice because there are many injustices (24:1-17) for which Job, sarcastically, is glad the wicked are punished (24:18-25).
Chapter 26
Job points out that his friends are no help and asks how, or from what source, Bildad got his information (26:1-4). He goes on to point out that God is much higher and more mysterious than Bildad realizes and that God has amazing power to bring things about in creation that man cannot even fathom (26:5-14).

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