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Sabbath School Lessons on Job
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 7: Retributive Punishment *
Introduction: I love logic! So, does Bildad, one of Job's friends.
Bildad knows his theology, he knows his logic, and he deduces that
Job's children deserved to die. You could call that real "Retributive
Punishment." Sometimes logic lets us down. Sometimes our view of how
God operates is mistaken, and thus our logical deductions are also
wrong. Let's dig into our study of the Bible and find out about love,
logic and retributive punishment!
- Blustering Wind
- Read Job 8:1-3. Bildad, one of Job's friends, enters the
picture. What is Bildad's goal? (It is not to comfort Job.
Rather, he wants to vindicate God.)
- Let's back up and see what Bildad thinks is
"blustering wind." Read Job 7:19-20. What is Job
saying? (That he does not deserve to be a "target" of
God's punishment. If he has sinned, it has not harmed
- Why is Bildad so upset about that? (It makes God
appear to be unjust. Bildad thinks that Job knows
what he has done, he just refuses to admit it.)
- Why is Bildad so certain that Job has sinned?
(Because he shares the Deuteronomy 28 view we
discussed in earlier lessons - if you obey you
prosper, if you disobey you are harmed.)
- Read Job 8:4. How harsh a blow is this to Job? (Read Job
1:4-5 and Job 1:18-19. This is the worst thing Bildad
could say because it reflects Job's private thinking. Job
may have known about himself and sin, but he did not know
for sure about his children - especially after a party.)
- What is wrong with Bildad's statement about Job's
children? (Bildad is making a deduction based on his
understanding of theology. He is not making a
statement based on his actual knowledge of sin. If
Bildad's theology is wrong (in general it is not), or
it does not apply in all circumstances (which is the
case here), then Bildad has added to Job's
- Read Job 8:5-7. Do you think Bildad believes these are
words of encouragement?
- How would you react if you were Job?
- Read Job 8:8-10. How does Bildad believe we should
understand God's actions today? (By looking at history.)
- Do you agree? (I do.)
- Is this why God included the book of Job in the
- Read Job 8:20-22. Is God as simple and predictable as
- Read Job 9:1-4. How does Job respond to Bildad's view of
God in history? (He admits the general rule is that good
people prosper and bad people suffer, but Job sees God as
being complex. "His wisdom is profound, and His power
vast." By predicting what God will do in all situations,
Bildad made God just like him. What a mistake.)
- Zophar's Answers
- Now we hear from Zophar, another "friend." Read Job 11:4-6. Is Zophar right that there are always two sides to a
- What "side" does Zophar think needs to be explained?
(Job's lies about being "pure" need to be exposed.
Job is so sinful that "God has even forgotten some of
- Let's go back and find out why Zophar feels this way. Read
Job 11:1-3. What is Zophar's goal? (He believes he should
- Why? (Both Bildad and Zophar feel an obligation to
vindicate God's character. They think that Job is
falsely accusing God of violating God's rules.)
- Are there really "two sides" to this story? (Zophar
says there are two sides, but he does not really
believe Job's side is valid.)
- Read Job 11:7-9. What is Zophar's view of God's
intelligence and knowledge? (Limitless.)
- Read Job 11:11-12. What is Zophar's view of Job? (He
suggests that he is "witless." Clearly, we do not have
"two sides" in Zophar's mind.)
- What does Zophar teach us is the wrong way to
approach these kinds of disputes over God's will? (To
think that the other side is stupid, and to say just
- Job's Response
- Read Job 12:1-3. How does Job respond to the charge that
he is a witless? (Job says that he is as smart as Zophar.
In addition, he also knows about the rules of the universe
that Zophar and Bildad have been stating.)
- Read Job 12:4-5. Job maintains that he is "righteous and
blameless." Why does he say that Zophar and Bildad cannot
see this? ("Men at ease have contempt for misfortune.")
- Let's consider whether what Job says is true. Do
people who do not share your problems think your
problems are your fault?
- Is it generally true that our problems are our
- Read Job 12:6. Are "marauders" bad people? (Of course.)
- What is Job saying? The rules do not always apply
- If Job is really saying that, he is denying
justice. Justice is even-handed. Do you have a
different explanation for the marauders' secure
- Read Numbers 16:1-3. Do you agree that some leaders set
themselves above the rest of the religious community?
- Read Numbers 16:4-7. Moses is the leader who Korah and the
Levites were challenging. What is Moses' reaction to this
rebellion? (He humbly turns to God. He says "let God
- Read Numbers 16:28-33. Could Zophar and Bildad have
- Could you have predicted this outcome for Korah and
- We have previously discussed God's "automatic" rules
of the universe, but here we see God's active
intervention to punish rebellion. How much of that do
you think goes on now?
- What Should We Conclude?
- Let's see how all of what we have studied applies to us.
Clearly, we will have disputes over what we think is God's
will. I can think of a big dispute in my own church right
now. Korah thought Moses was wrong. Bildad and Zophar
thought Job was wrong. What is the first question we
should ask in situations like this? (Do we really think we
have a better grasp of God's rules and God's will? Do we
really think we are smarter or more faithful than those
with whom we disagree?)
- What do we learn from Moses' approach? (Moses did not
say, "I'm smarter or I'm the leader." Instead, he
humbly turned to God and said, "Let God decide.")
- Will that still work today?
- What other questions are appropriate for us to ask
when we have a dispute? (Are we really sure that this
is God's will in this particular instance? We might
know God's general rules, but is it possible they do
not apply here?)
- How will we know when the "marauder exception"
( Job 12:6) applies? (I don't think the
marauders were an exception to God's rules, I
think they show us that God acts in His own
- Look again at Job 8:4. What rule do you think should have
been applied here? (Read 1 Corinthians 16:14. Bildad is
not showing love to Job because there is nothing Job could
do to change the death of his children.)
- Friend, when you get into a dispute over God's plans or
His actions in the universe, will you first turn to God in
prayer? Will you ask yourself if you are smarter, if you
are sure about the rules in this instance, and if you are
showing love? Why not, like Moses, let God vindicate
- Next week: Innocent Blood.
* Copr. 2016, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.