[From December 24, 2015]
"Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves."
There's an interesting saying, "With friends like that, who needs enemies!" Job can relate. The poor guy has had his life turned upside down. For no apparent reason, Job has lost his property, possessions, children, and health. He was faithful, upright, and kind. But calamity and misfortune struck nonetheless. Now he's having a hard time figuring out why.
One of the prevailing notions "back in the day" (ie. biblical times!) was if misfortune befell you, it must be God punishing you for your sin. Job has 3 "friends" come over to commiserate with him. Each of them spouts the prevailing wisdom: "What did you do to deserve this, Job?!?!" Friend #3 (Zophar) is the harshest. It was clear to him that Job was a sinner (aren't we all!). "Just confess it and everything will be right!" he chides Job. In fact, Zophar goes so far as to say, "Know that God exacts of you less than you guilt deserves!" Meaning, be happy... you could have had it much, much worse!
Some (many?) people still have Zophar's mindset. If bad things are happening, it's God's punishment. In the end, the book of Job leaves us with the message that somethings we'll just never understand. Stuff happens. Often without rhyme or reason. But Zophar's statement is true: God does exact less than our guilt deserves. That's where Jesus comes in. He took our guilt away. Merry Christmas!