Job Complains of God's Indifference to Wickedness
24 1 "But if Judgment Day isn't hidden from the Almighty, why are we kept in the dark? 2 There are people out there getting by with murder - stealing and lying and cheating. 3 They rip off the poor and exploit the unfortunate, 4 Push the helpless into the ditch, bully the weak so that they fear for their lives. 5 The poor, like stray dogs and cats, scavenge for food in back alleys. 6 They sort through the garbage of the rich, eke out survival on handouts. 7 Homeless, they shiver through cold nights on the street; they've no place to lay their heads. 8 Exposed to the weather, wet and frozen, they huddle in makeshift shelters. 9 Nursing mothers have their babies snatched from them; the infants of the poor are kidnapped and sold. 10 They go about patched and threadbare; even the hard workers go hungry. 11 No matter how back-breaking their labor, they can never make ends meet. 12 People are dying right and left, groaning in torment. The wretched cry out for help and God does nothing, acts like nothing's wrong!
13 "Then there are those who avoid light at all costs, who scorn the light-filled path. 14 When the sun goes down, the murderer gets up - kills the poor and robs the defenseless. 15 Sexual predators can't wait for nightfall, thinking, 'No one can see us now.' 16 Burglars do their work at night, but keep well out of sight through the day. They want nothing to do with light. 17 Deep darkness is morning for that bunch; they make the terrors of darkness their companions in crime.
18 "They are scraps of wood floating on the water - useless, cursed junk, good for nothing. 19 As surely as snow melts under the hot, summer sun, sinners disappear in the grave. 20 The womb has forgotten them, worms have relished them - nothing that is evil lasts. 21 Unscrupulous, they prey on those less fortunate. 22 However much they strut and flex their muscles, there's nothing to them. They're hollow. 23 They may have an illusion of security, but God has his eye on them. 24 They may get their brief successes, but then it's over, nothing to show for it. Like yesterday's newspaper, they're used to wrap up the garbage. 25 You're free to try to prove me a liar, but you won't be able to do it."
Bildad Denies That Man Can Be Justified with God
25 1 Bildad the Shuhite again attacked Job: 2 "God is sovereign, God is fearsome - everything in the cosmos fits and works in his plan. 3 Can anyone count his angel armies? Is there any place where his light doesn't shine? 4 How can a mere mortal presume to stand up to God? How can an ordinary person pretend to be guiltless? 5 Why, even the moon has its flaws, even the stars aren't perfect in God's eyes, 6 So how much less, plain men and women - slugs and maggots by comparison!"
Job Declares God's Sovereignty
26 1 Job answered: 2 "Well, you've certainly been a great help to a helpless man! You came to the rescue just in the nick of time! 3 What wonderful advice you've given to a mixed-up man! What amazing insights you've provided! 4 Where in the world did you learn all this? How did you become so inspired?
5 "All the buried dead are in torment, and all who've been drowned in the deep, deep sea. 6 Hell is ripped open before God, graveyards dug up and exposed. 7 He spreads the skies over unformed space, hangs the earth out in empty space. 8 He pours water into cumulus cloud-bags and the bags don't burst. 9 He makes the moon wax and wane, putting it through its phases. 10 He draws the horizon out over the ocean, sets a boundary between light and darkness. 11 Thunder crashes and rumbles in the skies. Listen! It's God raising his voice! 12 By his power he stills sea storms, by his wisdom he tames sea monsters. 13 With one breath he clears the sky, with one finger he crushes the sea serpent. 14 And this is only the beginning, a mere whisper of his rule. Whatever would we do if he really raised his voice!"
Job Describes the Portion of the Wicked
27 1 Having waited for Zophar, Job now resumed his defense: 2 "God-Alive! He's denied me justice! God Almighty! He's ruined my life! 3 But for as long as I draw breath, and for as long as God breathes life into me, 4 I refuse to say one word that isn't true. I refuse to confess to any charge that's false. 5 There is no way I'll ever agree to your accusations. I'll not deny my integrity even if it costs me my life. 6 I'm holding fast to my integrity and not loosening my grip - and, believe me, I'll never regret it.
7 "Let my enemy be exposed as wicked! Let my adversary be proven guilty! 8 What hope do people without God have when life is cut short? when God puts an end to life? 9 Do you think God will listen to their cry for help when disaster hits? 10 What interest have they ever shown in the Almighty? Have they ever been known to pray before?
11 "I've given you a clear account of God in action, suppressed nothing regarding God Almighty. 12 The evidence is right before you. You can all see it for yourselves, so why do you keep talking nonsense? 13 "I'll quote your own words back to you: "'This is how God treats the wicked, this is what evil people can expect from God Almighty: 14 Their children - all of them - will die violent deaths; they'll never have enough bread to put on the table. 15 They'll be wiped out by the plague, and none of the widows will shed a tear when they're gone. 16 Even if they make a lot of money and are resplendent in the latest fashions, 17 It's the good who will end up wearing the clothes and the decent who will divide up the money. 18 They build elaborate houses that won't survive a single winter. 19 They go to bed wealthy and wake up poor. 20 Terrors pour in on them like flash floods - a tornado snatches them away in the middle of the night, 21 A cyclone sweeps them up - gone! Not a trace of them left, not even a footprint. 22 Catastrophes relentlessly pursue them; they run this way and that, but there's no place to hide - 23 Pummeled by the weather, blown to kingdom come by the storm.'
Man's Quest for Wisdom
28 1 "We all know how silver seams the rocks, we've seen the stuff from which gold is refined, 2 We're aware of how iron is dug out of the ground and copper is smelted from rock. 3 Miners penetrate the earth's darkness, searching the roots of the mountains for ore, digging away in the suffocating darkness. 4 Far from civilization, far from the traffic, they cut a shaft, and are lowered into it by ropes. 5 Earth's surface is a field for grain, but its depths are a forge 6 Firing sapphires from stones and chiseling gold from rocks. 7 Vultures are blind to its riches, hawks never lay eyes on it. 8 Wild animals are oblivious to it, lions don't know it's there. 9 Miners hammer away at the rock, they uproot the mountains. 10 They tunnel through the rock and find all kinds of beautiful gems. 11 They discover the origins of rivers, and bring earth's secrets to light. 12 "But where, oh where, will they find Wisdom? Where does Insight hide? 13 Mortals don't have a clue, haven't the slightest idea where to look.
14 Earth's depths say, 'It's not here'; ocean deeps echo, 'Never heard of it.' 15 It can't be bought with the finest gold; no amount of silver can get it. 16 Even famous Ophir gold can't buy it, not even diamonds and sapphires. 17 Neither gold nor emeralds are comparable; extravagant jewelry can't touch it. 18 Pearl necklaces and ruby bracelets - why bother? None of this is even a down payment on Wisdom! 19 Pile gold and African diamonds as high as you will, they can't hold a candle to Wisdom.
20 "So where does Wisdom come from? And where does Insight live? 21 It can't be found by looking, no matter how deep you dig, no matter how high you fly. 22 If you search through the graveyard and question the dead, they say, 'We've only heard rumors of it.' 23 "God alone knows the way to Wisdom, he knows the exact place to find it. 24 He knows where everything is on earth, he sees everything under heaven. 25 After he commanded the winds to blow and measured out the waters, 26 Arranged for the rain and set off explosions of thunder and lightning, 27 He focused on Wisdom, made sure it was all set and tested and ready. 28 Then he addressed the human race: 'Here it is! Fear-of-the-Lord - that's Wisdom, and Insight means shunning evil.'"