The Tragic Consequences of Generational Sins (Job 20-21)

Heart of a Shepherd

Jan 29, 2023



Las consecuencias trágicas de los pecados generacionales (Job 20-21)


Die tragischen Folgen von Generationensünden (Hiob 20-21)


Le tragiche conseguenze dei peccati generazionali (Giobbe 20-21)


Трагические последствия грехов поколений (Иов 20-21)


نسلی گناہوں کے المناک نتائج (ایوب 20-21)


As trágicas consequências dos pecados geracionais (Jó 20-21)


Les conséquences tragiques des péchés générationnels (Job 20-21)

The Tragic Consequences of Generational Sins (Job 20-21) 

Scripture reading - Job 20; Job 21


Our study of the trials and troubles of Job continues with today’s Scripture reading (Job 20-21). Admittedly, the text is dark, but the insights we gain from our study are illuminating. The chapters before us are lengthy, and at best, time and space permit only a brief commentary. As you read chapter 20, remember Zophar (the third of Job’s friends) is coming from an earthly, human vantage. His purpose was not to impart spiritual wisdom, but to assert that Job’s afflictions were the reward of the wicked.

Job 20

Job 20 is the record of the second and final response of Zophar the Naamathite (his first speech was recorded in Job 11). Zophar was offended by Job’s admonition in the closing verses of chapter 19. Job had maintained his innocence, and warned his “friends” would face God’s wrath for their harsh judgments (Job 19:28-29). Zophar’s rebuke came swift and furious (Job 20:1-3).

The Fate of the Wicked (Job 20:4-29)


Like his friends, Zophar inferred Job’s afflictions were to be expected by those who are wicked. His contentions revealed three erroneous opinions concerning the state and reward of the wicked.


First error: The wicked always come to destruction. (Job 20:4-11)


Zophar suggested the rejoicing of the wicked is brief (Job 20:4), the honors bestowed on them perishes with them, and they are soon forgotten (Job 20:5-8). Neither of those statements are necessarily true. In fact, the wicked often live out their lives enjoying ill acquired wealth, and their funerals and tombs are often grand spectacles to behold.


Second error: The wicked do not prosper. (Job 20:12-23)


Continuing his erroneous observations, Zophar suggested the prosperity of the wicked is brief (Job 20:12), inevitably bites like a poisonous viper (Job 20:13-16), and he dies in want.  The error in Zophar’s observations is evident when we remember the LORD’s parable of a rich fool (Luke 12:16-21). Beguiled with the pleasures of his riches, the rich man ordered his barns be torn down to build greater barns, and said to his soul, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19).

Rather than die in want, the rich fool died as he lived, enjoying his wealth until he heard in eternity that he was the poorest of men: “(20) But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? (21) So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20–21).


Third error: Only the wicked suffer devastating sorrows, and catastrophic losses. (Job 20:24-29) 

Zophar maintained the wicked are struck down (Job 20:24-25), and all he has is destroyed (Job 20:26).  He declared the wicked feels everything is against him, until his riches are consumed by God’s wrath (Job 20:27-28). (While it may be argued how the wicked often suffer loss; I suggest it is more often true they are rewarded by the system of this fallen world, and hailed for their ill-gotten gains, John 15:19a). 

Of course, the implication of Zophar’s argument was that Job’s sorrows were a wicked man’s afflictions, and such is the lot or “heritage” God has “appointed” for the wicked (Job 20:29).

Job 21 – Rather than Suffer, the Wicked Prosper

Job 21 recorded Job’s response to Zophar’s fallacies. He demanded his friends be silent that he might speak, and challenged them, sarcastically, after he had spoken, “mock on” (Job 21:1-2). Job confessed his struggle was with God, and not with men (Job 21:3-6).

Contrary to Zophar’s assertions, he observed the wicked and their children often live long lives, and enjoy prosperity (Job 21:7-13). He contended the riches of the wicked cause their hearts to be calloused, and “they say unto God, Depart from us; For we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. (15) What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?” (Job 21:14-15) The wicked fail to acknowledge they deserve nothing. Indeed,  all they have is a testimony of God’s grace and longsuffering, and the prosperity of the wicked moves them to reject God (Job 21:16).


Closing thoughts (Job 21:17-34) - Warning: Do not assume the wicked go unpunished.


The consequences of sin are inevitable, and the wicked are “as stubble before the wind, And as chaff that the storm carrieth away. (19) God layeth up his [the wicked’s] iniquity for his children: He rewardeth him, and he shall know it” (Job 21:18-19).


Generational Sins: Children are not punished for the sins of their parents; however, they often suffer the influence of their sins (Jeremiah 31:29-30; Deuteronomy 24:16). Three times the Law stated: “The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation” (Numbers 14:18; Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9).

Warning: The consequences of your sins may be borne by your children.


Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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