(I’m taking a survey of the word “hope” in the Bible. Check for other posts on this topic).
When next we see the word “hope” used, it is fast on the heels of where we left off. Right after Zophar chastises Job, he continues in Job 11:20,
“But the eyes of the wicked will fail,
And there will be no escape for them;
And their hope is to breathe their last.” (NASB)
Zophar uses the word “hope” except this isn’t a true hope kind of hope. Zophar uses it as in “their only hope is death.” (NLT) He means, “The only thing the wicked can expect that is good is death because it will relieve them of their pain.”
Basically, Zophar is concluding that Job isn’t going to change his mind and that all he has said to Job will fall on Job’s deaf ears. Since Job won’t repent from his error, Zophar decrees that Job’s only hope is death, in order to get out of his misery and pay for his wicked heart by dying.
Now, as Christians, we do believe that there is no hope for unbelievers based on the Gospel and we are very glad that we have a hope of God’s work both now and after death. And that also motivates us to share with unbelievers so that they will have a living hope. So Zophar’s words are not applicable to us and actually not applicable to Job because the first few chapters of Job’s story determined that God considered him righteous and blameless. His trials have nothing to do with him deserving them.
This is the same old theme we’ve been going over in the book of Job. Job is being falsely accused of unrighteousness and he is standing firm against it. And thankfully so because falling for the lie would make him focus on himself rather than God’s grace.
Interestingly, I’ve talked to several lately about how some people in their lives were accusing them of being unrighteous—specifically, not having enough faith—and that was why their loved one wasn’t being healed. The barbs of “if only you would do it right then he would be healed” cuts to the core. Even though my friends know these ideas are wrong—in their minds; in their hearts they were caught up momentarily wondering if they actually are responsible for their loved one not being healed.
Such thoughts, just like the ones Job was facing from Zophar, take the focus off of God and make it all about us. Instead of depending upon God’s will, it becomes our efforts and performance that cause God to work according to our will, not His.
This is what Job was facing. The messages of Zophar and his other “friends” didn’t offer true hope based on God but hope based upon Job doing it right.
Surely, God wants us to be holy in His power. That is His call upon our lives. But it’s not us working hard to do it right; it’s relaxing in trust knowing God will do it within us and also heal or not heal according to His will.
Job stood firm in his belief that he hadn’t done anything wrong and that God was working for His benefit even in these tragedies. Job knows he’s not one of those wicked people who Zophar is describing whose only hope is death. And in the end, Job is vindicated and God tells Job to pray for his friends! Talk about a stamp of approval.
Do you have a “Zophar” in your life telling you wrong ideas? I would be the first one to encourage you to evaluate your life to see if there’s any sin. But if God hasn’t convicted you, then listen to God, not me! Your “Zophar” will try to convict you where the Holy Spirit of God isn’t convicting you. Choose the Spirit’s leading, not a man or woman. Only God’s Spirit can see your heart and know the truth.