Discussion Guide for Job 20-21
Do the wicked prosper? In chapters 20 and 21, Zophar says no while Job says yes.
I’m guessing they didn’t have the internet back then because all it takes is a glance at the news to see evil men prospering all day long. The same can be said throughout history.
For an easy example, go to China and visit the tomb of Mao Zedong. Mao was a ruthless monster who was directly responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of his own people. Yet he is still venerated by the government and people of China today.
The discourse between Job and Zophar is still a heated argument in philosophy today.
Google “the problem of evil” to find plenty of websites associated with schools like Stanford and Princeton presenting meticulous arguments about whether the presence of evil in the world means there is a God who may not be in total control of the universe.
At this point, Job is likely experiencing a deep crisis of belief in God. We saw in the previous chapters that he maintains a bedrock foundational faith in the salvation of God. Now Job speaks to his friend, but makes the point that he is not really arguing with people. He is actually arguing with God.
Job’s thought process seems like this:
“My friends and I have always been taught that God rewards good people and punishes bad people. But I am making a mockery of that system.
“Here I am experiencing something worse than death. Meanwhile people who actually oppress the poor and mock God are living the good life, having fun with their kids, and will die in peace with everyone talking about what great people they are.
“Seems like God kind of missed something, doesn’t it?”
The only way that we can make sense of God’s justice is to look beyond the immediacy of life here and now. We have to look to what God will do in the future after we are all departed from this earth. That’s where we see the full victory of the cross.
Read Psalm 73 together.
- In what ways do you see Psalm 73 as a parallel to Job 21?
- How do you think Psalm 73 might provide vindication to Job in his debate with Zophar?
- Why does this world often seem to make heroes out of evil people?
- Have you ever been angered by evil being rewarded?
- Does it make a difference whether God himself is your reward for faithfulness rather than the things that God can give you?
- Why is it sometimes hard to wait on justice?
- Do you really believe that justice will be perfect someday after death?
- Does it take faith placed in you by God to believe that?
End with prayer for your group.
I want us to begin making an effort in our small groups to pray for God’s mission around the world. I have included a link to a news story about persecution of the unofficial churches in China. Be sure to pray for our brothers and sisters who are facing obstacles to gathering for worship.