In Zophar’s estimation, Job refuses to see the obvious. Even if Job were granted what he requests–an open debate with God–God’s justice would consume him immediately. Job is an exaggerator and an impatient man. But Zophar has missed Job’s point and now mocks his friend. What Zophar cannot grasp is that Job is bewildered. His outbursts are not self-justification, but a heart-felt lament. But then Zophar’s theory of divine justice allows no room whatsoever for the sincere heartfelt lament of a sufferer like Job. Zophar’s logic now gives way to a series of self-righteous opinions. According to Zophar, all Job needs to do is to get his act together, repent of his sin, and then God will restore him. In verses 13-20 we read:
“Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor. But the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp.”
Job’s friends have had their say. Job is suffering. Therefore Job must have sinned. His horrible plight is simply the fruit of divine justice. Yet, despite the self-righteous lectures, Job has not budged one bit. He will not confess sins he has not committed. He submits to the will and power of God, but Job cannot understand why God would put him through all of this, since he has done nothing wrong. He demands a trial–even though he knows God can bring an overwhelming case against him. And so in chapters 12-14, we find one of the longest speeches in the book as Job not only dismisses the arrogant criticism of his friends, but as he responds to Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, we begin to see a glimmer of hope and a longing for a mediator who will stand between himself and God so as to make peace.