All the False Arguments: Job 11 – 34


You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

I knew that Job’s unhelpful friends had misrepresented God in their discussions with Job. God came right out and said so, and surely he is the ultimate authority on himself.

After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.  Job 42:7

I also knew from previous study of this book that Job’s friends made one glaring logical fallacy the cornerstone of their criticism of Job. They reasoned that since God judges and disciplines sinful people, then because Job was suffering he must be a sinful person. This false argument is called affirming the consequent. 

If (God) comes along and confines you in prison and convenes a court, who can oppose him? Surely he recognizes deceivers; and when he sees evil, does he not take note? Job 11:10-11

But the more I read the criticisms of Job the more false arguments I found. You could say the book is a primer on logical fallacies. Here are a few of the ones I saw.

Straw Man Argument. Instead of refuting Job’s statements directly, his friends changed his statements into a form that was more easily rebutted.

You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight.’ Job 11:4

Job had certainly stated his righteousness, as God himself had declared Job to be righteous, but Job never claimed to be completely pure, nor had he said that all his statements were without error. He said he was blameless, not sinless. But by changing Job’s statements his friends made it easier to attack them.

Appeal to authority. Job’s friend Eliphaz claimed that age was on his side, and because wisdom comes with age his statements were wiser and more accurate.

What do you know that we do not know? What insights do you have that we do not have? The gray-haired and the aged are on our side, men even older than your father. Job 15:9-10

Advertising relies heavily on the appeal to authority, as popular stars speak on behalf of a product. This tactic may be convincing but that does not make its statements correct.

Ad hominem argument. This literally means “against the man.” Instead of refuting the opponent’s statement, the opponent himself is attacked and belittled. Unfortunately, this action is all too common in today’s society.

Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless? You demanded security from your relatives for no reason; you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked. You gave no water to the weary and you withheld food from the hungry… Job 22:5-7

Appeal from Anecdotes, and Cherry Picking (plus affirming the consequent). Job’s friends repeatedly emphasized that the wicked always suffer. In fact much of the Bible says just the opposite. But they were taking an example from their own experience, an anecdote, and stating that it was always true. As Job pointed out, one only had to look around to see many examples of the opposite, that the wicked often live long and prosperous lives. This harvesting of examples that are favorable to your argument while ignoring those that weaken your argument is also called cherry picking. Job’s friends took their anecdotes or cherry pickings and used them to affirm the consequent: Job is suffering because Job is wicked.

Surely you know how it has been from of old, ever since mankind was placed on the earth, that the mirth of the wicked is brief… Job 20:4

Personal incredulity. Just because something is, in your mind, completely unbelievable, does not make it logically false. Elihu could not believe Job’s argument that God was making him suffer without cause, and Elihu then used that disbelief as a basis for his rebuttal of Job’s statement.

It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice. Job 34:10

God was up to something very different than Job or Elihu knew, but there was no logic in Elihu using his own disbelief as a weapon against Job.

Circular reasoning. Also called begging the question, this false argument states as its conclusion something that is assumed from the beginning. Job’s friend Eliphaz concludes that Job’s words are sinful and worthless because they come from a sinful mouth, or that because Job is sinful he speaks sinful words. There is also some of the ad hominem argument at work here.

Your sin prompts your mouth; you adopt the tongue of the crafty. Your own mouth condemns you, not mine; your own lips testify against you. Job 15:5-6

These are the false arguments I was able to uncover in a brief study this week. I believe there are others. Can you find them?

Eliphaz not only heard Job’s words, but he saw where those words led… If everybody believed as Job believed – that God does not always punish the wicked and reward the godly – then what motive would people have for obeying God? Religion would not be worth it! But this is the devil’s theology, the very thing that God was using Job to refute! If people serve God only for what they get out of it, then they are not serving God at all; they are only serving themselves by making God their servant. Their religion is only a pious system for promoting selfishness and not for glorifying God. – Warren Wiersbe

About this blog

During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered Job 11 – 34. Next week I will write about Job 35 – Psalm 25. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering Job 11 – 34.

Would you speak for God? Job 13

Born to die: Job 14

When God is silent: Job 19

Purified by fire: Job 23

The hidden treasure – Wisdom: Job 28

A laundry list: Job 31

Sincere, and wrong: Job 34

God and Satan, in secret and revealed: Nehemiah 10 – Job 10

You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

The tremendous contrast between the book of Esther and the book of Job lies in the visibility, or invisibility, of God and Satan. Famously, God is never mentioned in the book of Esther. Yet God’s providence is ever active in the lives in the lives of the heroes of the story. God raises up Esther to be queen through the petulance of her predecessor. He elevates Mordecai to a position of favor through a king’s insomnia and a random record in a musty old book. He lets Haman hang himself through his eager efforts to avenge a grudge. In all these events God is the secret agent orchestrating the preservation of his chosen ones. In a similar fashion Satan, though hidden, works through the hatred of men to try and foil God’s plans and prevent the coming Messiah.

Then the book of Job turns everything around and puts the secret workings of heaven on display for everyone (except Job) to see. Here Satan comes openly to accuse a man and seek his destruction. God demonstrates his sovereignty clearly, giving permission for Satan’s activity but also limiting it to his own purposes. We see that righteous behavior is no guarantee against adversity, that men misconstrue God’s intentions mercilessly, that self-righteousness is an ever-present danger, and that mystery marks suffering more than any easy explanation.

But both books are full of redemption. God redeems Esther, Mordecai, and all the Jews through his own providence and the bravery of Esther. Job longs for a redeemer to plead with God for his deliverance, and in the end he finds deliverance and redemption through a personal encounter with God. God still acts providentially today, and personal encounters with God through the redeemer, Jesus Christ, are still our door to deliverance.

About this blog

During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered Nehemiah 10 – Job 10. Next week I will write about Job 11 – 34. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering Nehemiah 10 – Job 10.

Should I tithe? Nehemiah 10

Making room for the enemy: Nehemiah 13

Secret agents: Esther 1-5

Speak up! Esther 10

Why? The question we all ask: Job 3

True Friends: Job 6

If only God were a man: Job 9

Inside the wall: Ezra 1 – Nehemiah 9

houses made of sones along a narrow cobblestone street

Photo by Adrien Olichon on

You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

Together Ezra and Nehemiah cover a period of 100 years, from the return of the first exiles to Jerusalem in 538 BC, to the completion of the temple in 516 BC, to the arrival of Ezra with the second group of exiles in 458 BC, and to the arrival of Nehemiah and the completion of the wall in 444 BC. It’s easy to think these chapters are mostly about the building of the temple and the wall, but more important than any construction project is how God works inside the wall on the hearts of the people.

Overcoming Opposition. The work of rebuilding faced opposition from the beginning. The people could have given up during the long years when the Persian kings prevented the building of the temple (536-520 BC). Nehemiah and the later inhabitants of Jerusalem could have quit when they were threatened by non-Jews who opposed the building of the wall. But God gave them grace to remain faithful to the work and they accomplished it.

Individual Impact. Both Ezra and Nehemiah record roll after roll of individual Israelites who participated in the effort. Why? Individuals make a difference. Institutions are the “lengthened shadows” of individuals. Looking back to the efforts of their ancestors inspired the current workers. Their work glorified God and God wants us to know that he remembers them.

Sheltered Sins. There was trouble inside the wall as well as outside it. The sin of the people was a great threat to the survival of the nation. Both Ezra and Nehemiah fought against the tendency for the people to marry unbelievers and begin to worship other gods. Nehemiah also had to overcome the abuse of lending that led to Israelites impoverishing and enslaving their own brothers and sisters.

Word Proclaimed. There was repeated preaching of the whole word of God. The preaching did not fall on deaf ears but led to observance of the commands of the law including the annual celebrations.

The result of these actions inside the wall was the reestablishment of the nation of Israel, secure in God’s care beyond the power of any man-made wall. With the nation in place, and with idol worship forsaken, the way was prepared for the coming of the Savior.

About this blog

During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered Ezra 1 – Nehemiah 9. Next week I will write about Nehemiah 10 – Job 10. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering Ezra 1 – Nehemiah 9.

Don’t despise discipline: Ezra 3

When you face opposition: Ezra 4-7

Should I date or marry an unbeliever? Ezra 10

Powerful Prayer: Nehemiah 1

What’s inside the wall? Nehemiah 5

Intimidation: Nehemiah 6

Pioneer Spirit: Nehemiah 7

The power of the Word: Nehemiah 8

Failing to Finish Well: II Chronicles 13 – 36


You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

Chronicles was written to inspire the returning Jewish exiles by retelling the rich history of their nation. Many times it does so by exalting the good things that happened, but in the remaining chapters it sounds a different theme. Over and over we read of leaders who prospered when they followed God, only to fail when they finished by abandoning him.

Asa. For 36 years he ruled wisely and followed God’s counsel. Then, when faced with a weaker threat than others he had faced, he turned for help to the king of Aram (Syria) rather than God. The final five years of his life were filled with war and personal sickness.

Jehoshaphat. He won many great victories by trusting in the Lord, and brought religious reforms to strengthen Jehovah worship. But he also made disastrous agreements with wicked King Ahab (marrying his son to Ahab’s daughter) and with King Ahaziah of Israel.

Joash. The boy who began ruling at age seven was shepherded in his early years by Jehoiada, the priest. During these years Joash prospered and accomplished great things for God. But when Jehoiada died the king turned away from God to idol worship, even allowing Jehoiada’s son to be stoned to death for prophesying against the king. Soon Joash suffered military defeat, injury in battle, and assassination.

Amaziah. God gave him a military victory, but in return he worshiped the idols of the nation he defeated, leading to his defeat and imprisonment by Israel. Later he was assassinated.

Uzziah. He ruled Judah for 52 years. “He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.” (II Chronicles 26:5) “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.” (26:16) Uzziah was struck with leprosy and lived isolated for his remaining years.

Hezekiah. He re-established temple worship and the observance of Passover. He humbly prayed for God to overthrow the invading Assyrians, and God gave victory. “In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.” (II Chronicles 31:21) Yet following deliverance from the enemy, and personal deliverance from deadly illness, Hezekiah grew proud. Chronicles says he “did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.” (32:25) Among his mistakes was showing Babylonian envoys the treasures of his kingdom and failing to raise up a godly son.

Josiah. Another boy king, who began reigning at the age of eight. He reformed the worship of God and his efforts to restore the temple led to the discovery of the long lost Book of the Law. He led Judah to practice the commands of the Law and God had mercy on Josiah and the kingdom because of his humble response. But in the thirty-first year of his rule he chose to intervene in the march of Egypt’s king against Assyria. There may have been bravery in the attempt, and even loyalty to his current ally, Assryia, but there was also a lack of wisdom, and perhaps outright opposition to the will of God (Egypt’s king said so). Josiah was mortally wounded and died on his return to Jerusalem.

In contrast to these leaders who failed to finish well there was one king who began badly and finished strongly: Manasseh. After years of wickedness Manasseh was captured by the king of Assyria, and the one who seemed beyond redemption repented and was restored to the throne. Sadly, the damage had already been done to the kingdom. Chronicles focuses on the positive and overlooks it, but in Kings we learn the result:

Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. II Kings 21:11-12

Our charge is to stay strong to the end. The Christian life requires perseverance. God gives us his grace in order to be able to persevere and to finish the good work which he began in us.

 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. Hebrews 6:11

Guys who finish strong are, to quote the old hymn, stayed upon Jehovah. And guys who are stayed upon Jehovah consistently do four things. They stay in, they stay close, they stay away and they stay alert. They stay in what? Well they stay in the Scriptures. They stay close to a friend they can’t con. They stay away or keep their distance from women other than their wives. They stay alert to the schemes of the enemy. Now if I can remember those four stays, then you can remember them, even if you have attention deficit disorder. One guy put it this way in Psalm 119, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against Thee.” Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, gentlemen. – Steve Farrar

About this blog

During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered II Chronicles 13 – 36. Next week I will write about Ezra 1 – Nehemiah 9. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering II Chronicles 13 – 36.

Whom do you rely on? 2 Chronicles 16

When you fast… 2 Chronicles 20

The power of influence: 2 Chronicles 22-24

Starting strong, ending badly: 2 Chronicles 26

Leadership: 2 Chronicles 29-31

Grace and consequences: 2 Chronicles 33

Done, but not through: 2 Chronicles 36

Three Thrones: I Chronicles 18 – II Chronicles 12


You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

Bruce Wilkinson has given a famous illustration of discipleship called the three chairs. In the first chair sits a Christian who came to belief in God through a radical transformation, from great sin to blessed redemption. The first chair’s personal experience of deliverance fuels a lifelong devotion. Their child grows up surrounded by the observance of faith, with Bible lessons, prayer, and attendance at worship services, but because they never have a personal experience of transformation their religious life is only one of habit rather than devotion. They sit in the second chair, and their child grows up and witnesses their tepid faith, their religiosity without conviction, their sometimes hypocritical actions, and this third chair child rejects the faith.

Substitute three thrones for the three chairs and you have the story of this week’s chapters. David sits on the first throne. His personal experience of God’s repeated acts of deliverance produces a lifelong devotion. Though far from perfect, and famous for certain failings, he truly was a man after God’s own heart. He was wholly given over to the worship of Jehovah. Near the end of his life, he proclaimed the following psalm as he made preparations for his son to build the temple:

Praise be to you, Lord,
    the God of our father Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
    and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
    for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
    you are exalted as head over all. I Chronicles 29:10-11

Solomon sits on the second throne, and though blessed by God with great wisdom, and used by God to build the temple, he falls far short in his devotion. He holds on to the trappings of Jehovah worship, but his heart is turned away to worldly pursuits and idol worship. Chronicles highlights his accomplishments in order to further its goal of inspiring the discouraged returning exiles, but we can find better accounts of his worldliness in Kings.

He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. I Kings 11:3-4

Solomon’s son Rehoboam sits on the third throne. No doubt he had observed the hypocrisies of his father, and we can only speculate what discipleship, if any, he received from his father. Chronicles sums up his relationship to God in this way:

He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord. II Chronicles 12:14

The lesson I learn from these three kings and Bruce Wilkinson is the importance of discipleship. Training in godliness must include personal experiences of God acting to deliver. We need to teach our children or those we mentor the truths of God’s word, but we also need to guide them through situations where they must depend on God in order to see God deliver them. Then God will become real to them, and their faith will not suffer the fate of the three chairs.

About this blog

During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered I Chronicles 18 – II Chronicles 12. Next week I will write about II Chronicles 13 – 26. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering I Chronicles 18 – II Chronicles 12.

Don’t be afraid; the LORD will do what is good: 1 Chronicles 19

A father’s advice: 1 Chronicles 22

Friends: 1 Chronicles 27

It all comes from God – 1 Chronicles 29

Shekinah: God’s presence – 2 Chronicles 5

How to find help: 2 Chronicles 7

Good or Bad Advice? 2 Chronicles 10