Job 40

speak out storm

Job 40:1-5
40 The Lord said to Job:
2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!”
3 Then Job answered the Lord:
4 “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
5 I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more.”
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God challenged Job to answer his questions. Of course God did not need to know the answers but he wanted Job to acknowledge his position in all of this and who he was speaking to.

Job spoke to his friends confident that he had thought carefully about his suffering and that he was perplexed despite having wisdom and knowledge of God.

But then God spoke …And Job’s ideas did not seem so important.

Job’s immediate response was one of confessing his insignificance in the presence of the Lord.  He had no answer. How could he answer the living God? All his complaints against God were empty and futile.
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Job 40:6-14
6 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm:
7 “Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
8 “Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
9 Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like his?
10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendour,
and clothe yourself in honour and majesty.
11 Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at all who are proud and bring them low,
12 look at all who are proud and humble them,
crush the wicked where they stand.
13 Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
14 Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you.
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God again spoke from the whirlwind, daring Job to try running the universe according to the retribution principle. If Job could do it, then he would vindicate himself. Job had partially capitulated to his friends’ perspective on retributive judgment.

In his speeches, Job spoke as if he were wiser than God. Job even made a list of things that God should do. Job could not explain why God was not doing such things. So Job would complain about God’s behaviour.

God had given Job space to speak or answer his questions, Job had nothing to say, so here  God resumes the argument.

God unleashed another torrent of crushing rebukes to Job, in which He mocked Job’s questionings of Him by telling the sufferer that if he really thought he knew what was best for him rather than God (verse 8), then he should take over being God! (Verses 9-14).
God pointed out Job’s main error. Job imagined that God was unfair. Job said that he himself was right, rather than God.

So it turns out that Elihu’s opinion about Job was correct (Job 32:2). Elihu may not have delivered it in a particularly helpful way but he was right.

Firstly, God reminded Job about God’s great power. Job was not as powerful as God (verse 9).

God is at all times “clothed with majesty and strength” (Psalm 93:1). “With glory and beauty” (Psalm 104:1). He “decks himself with light as with a garment” (Psalm 104:2). Job is challenged to array himself similarly.

In verse 10 God was describing his own dress. He is Majesty and Strength at all times. God is engulfed in Light so bright, it is above the light of the sun. God showed Job that he could not dress himself with such as this. God had dressed Job in his robe of righteousness however.

Then God gave a list of how Job would like God to act (verses 11-13). God can do such things. But Job could not do these things. So Job was in no position to be telling God to do these things.

Job could not and would not try to right all the wrong in the world. That is of course God’s work. So God uses humour in verse 14. If Job could carry out his great ideas, then even God would respect Job!

God in effect was saying that he would turn over the universe to Job and see if he could do better! It’s really so unbelievably absurd and inconceivable that man should run the universe and yet that is exactly what we have tried to do and is the core of our sin problem. We choose to be God because we either don’t trust that God will do it the way it should be done or that he will not act with our best interests at heart.

Things have not changed that much since the time of Job. Even the righteous amongst us have the same issues as Job himself. The gap between those that are perceived righteous and those perceived to be wicked is very fine line indeed. We invest a lot of time investigating this micro divide when there is an impossible chasm between all of us and God. It may benefit us somewhat to spend more time looking at the chasm than the hair that separates us as humans.
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Job 40:15-24

15 “Look at Behemoth,
which I made along with you
and which feeds on grass like an ox.
16 What strength it has in its loins,
what power in the muscles of its belly!
17 Its tail sways like a cedar;
the sinews of its thighs are close-knit.
18 Its bones are tubes of bronze,
its limbs like rods of iron.
19 It ranks first among the works of God,
yet its Maker can approach it with his sword.
20 The hills bring it their produce,
and all the wild animals play nearby.
21 Under the lotus plants it lies,
hidden among the reeds in the marsh.
22 The lotuses conceal it in their shadow;
the poplars by the stream surround it.
23 A raging river does not alarm it;
it is secure, though the Jordan should surge against its mouth.
24 Can anyone capture it by the eyes,
or trap it and pierce its nose?
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The rest of the speech is taken up with a description of “behemoth (40:15-24), and “leviathan (41:1-34). I assume that these are most likely literal, rather than mythical, creatures since they are observable and because the rest of the God’s questions deal with real animals.

There has been much speculation and many suggestions about the identity of these creatures, with the most likely being the hippopotamus and crocodile, respectively.

The descriptions of both are filled with hyperbole: “he drinks  up a river” (40:23); “a flame goes out of his mouth (41:21), compare the earlier hyperbolic description of the horse in 39:19-25.

The point of referring to these animals is this: if Job cannot master just two marvels of physical strength within God’s creation, how can he expect to stand as a combatant humbly and trusting in a God who knows infinitely more than he.

Behemoth is a generic term used commonly in the Old Testament for large cattle or land animals, the description in this passage suggests an extraordinary creature, the hippopotamus as a result of the details in the passage (verses 19-24).

However, the short tail of a hippo is hardly consistent with verse 17, where tail could be translated “trunk”. It could refer to an elephant, who could be considered “first” or chief of God’s creatures whom only He can control (verse 19). Some believe God is describing a dinosaur.

The word is a transliteration of a Hebrew word that means “super-beast”. No person could contend with such a creature. So how could Job pretend to be God’s equal when he could not even control what God had created?

The word in Hebrew is really the natural plural of behēmāh, which means domestic cattle. And this fact would suggest the idea that more than one animal may be meant in the description (Job 40:15-24).

There is a word in Coptic (p-ehe-emmou, meaning water-ox), used for the hippopotamus, which may, perhaps, lie concealed in behemoth. Then the difficulty is to make the description answer throughout to the hippopotamus (e.g., Job 40:20), since the hippopotamus does not frequent mountains, neither does it exactly eat grass like an ox (Job 40:15).

But the hippo behaves as God describes. It is a large animal that lives near the river. It is strong (verse 16). It eats plants (verse 15). It is not cruel to other animals (verse 20). And the hippo can swim (verse 23)

Verse 24 suggests that it would be difficult to snare him. It would be almost impossible if he saw you coming. He would fight with his nose. This would be true of either the elephant or the hippopotamus.

Whatever the animal is supposed to be whether a dinosaur, hippopotamus, elephant or some mythical creature it is something of an impressive beast that has great strength and would be fascinating to observe.

Job does not even measure up to that and yet God created it and controls it!

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Job 32

intervention


Job 32:1-5
Elihu

32 So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. 3 He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him.4 Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. 5 But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused.
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Job’s final defence provoked a response from a fourth friend – the young man “Elihu.” You get the impression from the text that these speeches were quite intrusive and were born out of listening to what was going on between the friends. They do however prepare the way for even more “intrusive” speeches from God himself!

Elihu was a “Buzite”. His ancestry can be traced to the Arabian tribe of Buz (Jeremiah 25:23). The “family of Ram” is unknown.

“Elihu” means He is my God. “Barachel” means God blesses. These names both indicate that Elihu was a believer in the One True God.

Elihu took a new approach to the issue of Job’s suffering. Angry with the other 3, he had some new thoughts, but was very hard on Job. Elihu was angry, full of self-importance and verbose, but his approach was refreshing after listening repetitiously to the others, though not really helpful to Job.

After Job had finished his speech which was met with silence from his friends then Elihu stepped in.

There are differing opinions about Elihu. I have read a lot of commentary that suggests that Elihu was foolish and merely repeating what Job’s friends had already said but packaging it slightly differently but it appears that he was more balanced, fair and accurate without the bias of Job’s friends. He exercises some wisdom and eventually introduces God himself.

Elihu’s main idea was that God is fair. Job’s other friends said that they believed this. But they themselves were unfair to Job. However, Job was not always sure that God is fair. If God was always fair, it did not explain his trouble. In all this however, Job did feel sure that God would be a fair judge.

Job wanted a friend who would act like a lawyer (Job 9:32-35; Job 16:19-21). He needed someone to intercede with God on his behalf. He hoped that God himself would step in and sort this out. We know that ultimately this is fulfilled in Jesus.
In the context of all of this Elihu acts like this lawyer. The book of Job is written in such a way that it seems as though Elihu arranged for Job to meet God. There was nothing special about Elihu, he was not a prophet as such or anything more than an ordinary young man but his words were from the Holy Spirit (Job 32:8; Job 36:4).

Elihu was probably one of a number of onlookers who witnessed the debate between Job and his friends. In the six chapters devoted to his speeches, the emphasis seems to be fourfold:
1. Absolute reverence for God,
2. Sensitivity to sin
3. Purpose in suffering
4. The danger of spiritual pride

In this early part of Elihu’s intervention he lives up to the caricature of “angry young man”. The word “wrath” occurs four times in verses 2-5. He explains that he has kept silent because of his youth, but now feels compelled to speak.

This was actually stating that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had run out of things to accuse Job of. Job knew that he was not guilty of the things they had accused him of. They thought Job was righteous in his own sight. Job had not made that statement. He had only defended himself from their accusations, which were untrue.

Elihu was angry with Job for self-righteousness, and with the friends for false accusations and unsuccessful arguments.

Elihu was polite. He respected the older men. He did not interrupt them.
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Job 32:6-8

6 So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said:
“I am young in years,
and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
not daring to tell you what I know.
7 I thought, ‘Age should speak;
advanced years should teach wisdom.’
8 But it is the spirit in a person,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
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Elihu makes a very refreshing introduction. He had waited for his elders to speak assuming that they would impart wisdom. He clearly had some strength of opinion about the whole situation but his first step was to listen carefully to all that was being said. James’ letter in the new testament informs us that we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. That is wisdom in of itself. In highly charged situations it takes a lot restraint to avoid jumping in.  There is a lot of wisdom in listening and attempting to understand different perspectives.

There is also a big difference between worldly wisdom and spiritual wisdom
(1 Corinthians 1:18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:27). The Holy Spirit teaches us about the ways of God (1 Corinthians 2:9-12). Job had complained that his friends were not speaking by the Holy Spirit (Job 26:4). Their statements about God were not always accurate (Job 25:6).

Elihu had listened, reluctant to speak but in the end decided that he had something to say. God had somehow put it on his heart to speak knowing that it is the breath of the Almighty that ultimately gives understanding.

There have been plenty of occasions when I should have said something but instead kept quiet and many occasions when I spoke and it would have been better to listen.

I think to some degree wisdom about when to speak and when to listen comes with age and experience but true wisdom comes from God. I know men my own age who I struggle to listen to because everything is bound up in their own opinion and worldview and they deliver a warped view of the way things are or should be with such strength of conviction it’s hard for others to ask honest questions let alone disagree. At the same time I know people half my age who have considerable wisdom. A few weeks ago when a young 19 year old and my own 17 year old son delivered the sermon at church I was blown away at how articulate they were and the measured wisdom of the message as well as the way that they delivered it. It was delivered with such calm maturity.
James 1:5 informs us that if we lack wisdom then we should ask God who gives generously without finding fault …
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Job 32:9-14

9 It is not only the old who are wise,
not only the aged who understand what is right.
10 “Therefore I say: Listen to me;
I too will tell you what I know.
11 I waited while you spoke,
I listened to your reasoning;
while you were searching for words,
12     I gave you my full attention.
But not one of you has proved Job wrong;
none of you has answered his arguments.
13 Do not say, ‘We have found wisdom;
let God, not a man, refute him.’
14 But Job has not marshalled his words against me,
and I will not answer him with your arguments.

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Elihu continues with this refreshing approach as he simplifies the notion of wisdom to “doing what is right” and the aged do not have the monopoly on that.

Elihu spoke like a lawyer. He had listened to the other speeches. He thought carefully about them. But the three friends’ arguments did not impress him. He saw that they had no evidence to accuse Job. He believed that Job’s speeches were better than theirs.

The three friends had failed to prove that Job was guilty. But they were still accusing Job (verse 3). They did not say, ‘We were wrong.’ Instead, they said, ‘God will prove that Job is wrong’ (verse 13). Elihu thought that they were unfair to Job. But Elihu would not be unfair.

This mysterious character appears to initially level the conversation with fairness and impartiality.
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Job 32:15-22

15 “They are dismayed and have no more to say;
words have failed them.
16 Must I wait, now that they are silent,
now that they stand there with no reply?
17 I too will have my say;
I too will tell what I know.
18 For I am full of words,
and the spirit within me compels me;
19 inside I am like bottled-up wine,
like new wineskins ready to burst.
20 I must speak and find relief;
I must open my lips and reply.
21 I will show no partiality,
nor will I flatter anyone;
22 for if I were skilled in flattery,
my Maker would soon take me away.
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Similar to the Old Testament prophets Elihu felt a heavy burden to say something. Sometimes this burden is described as a heavy weight (Nahum 1:1; Malachi 1:1). It was the work of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the Spirit is described as a wind that was blowing through them (John 3:8). The Hebrew word for ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ are the same.

Elihu spoke like a lawyer. He promised impartiality and fairness and was aware of his responsibilities before God.

Job 28

Metal ore

Job 28:1-2

Interlude: Where Wisdom Is Found

28 There is a mine for silver
and a place where gold is refined.
2 Iron is taken from the earth,
and copper is smelted from ore.
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Job’s poem about wisdom
Though Job had agreed with his friends that the wicked suffer (27:13-23), he asserted that in his case it did not explain anything or make sense of his own trauma and suffering.

So Job brought to the table the idea of considering that God’s wisdom was beyond their comprehension. This chapter is a poem about wisdom. The wisdom of God is not gained by natural or theoretical knowledge. What God does not reveal, we can’t know.

It begins with a description about how laboriously man works to extract the ores and precious metals from the earth (verses 1-11), Job raises the ultimate question of the sufferer: “where can wisdom be found?” (verse 12). It cannot be purchased with earthly wealth (verses 13-19), but true wisdom is attained only through “the fear of the Lord” (verse 28). This concept of the fear of the Lord unites all the wisdom books (compare Proverbs. 1:7; Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Job poetically affirms the nature and “value” of biblical wisdom. As precious metals are mined from the earth by men who take great risks in their personal safety, their comfort, their time and their resources so wisdom may be mined from creation by true searchers and seekers – but only if their quest centres around a “fear of the Lord”.

In verses 1-19 we see a shift from the language of condemnation to a discourse on “wisdom” which is abrupt but not surprising, given Job’s shifting emotions. 

Human ingenuity cannot unearth wisdom or properly value it because it takes more than human intellect and intelligence. It demands humility and spiritual perspective. It demands aligning our will to the will of God.

In verses 1-11, we see references to mining silver, gold, iron, sapphires and flint, as well as smelting copper. Tremendous effort is made by men who seek precious metals (compare Proverbs 2:1-9). The process needed great skill. It began with a search for the right rocks. Then they would burn the rocks in a furnace which would result in a tiny amount of pure metal. A lot of energy was extended for the smallest amount of return on investment of effort and time. This is what made such metals precious.

The most precious metals, silver and gold, may be found in a distant,  dark and deep in the earth. It may take an unprecedented amount of resources to pull a small amount of metal from the earth but such a place is known, men penetrate to it, they find the metal, they bring it to the surface, they refine it and they have their precious commodity.

Iron and brass (copper) are products of nature. Both iron and brass were plentiful in the areas around the Mediterranean Sea. Iron does come from the earth, and brass has to be melted out of stone. Again both metals can be found by man and with some effort made useful for life.

The antithesis is presented in Job 28:18, The question is asked “Where shall Wisdom be found?”  And where is the place of understanding? The answer is that it is found in no place known to man.
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Job 28:3-4

3 Mortals put an end to the darkness;
they search out the farthest recesses
for ore in the blackest darkness.
4 Far from human dwellings they cut a shaft,
in places untouched by human feet;
far from other people they dangle and sway.
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The pursuit of precious metal involved descending into darkness, going underground into caves, men would lower themselves attached to ropes and go to places where man had previously not been. Light would enter the darkest places as man cut a hole in the ground and metals that had previously only been in darkness were brought to light.

This is a continuation of the previous verses about the efforts that man would go to in order to pursue treasure and precious commodities. 

A man would go to a place where men had not previously been, they would take great risks to pull some of this metal out of the earth. There were many dangers in underground caves.

Wisdom is more precious than metals such as gold, silver and copper but it also takes a special effort of pursuing God and his ways. Wisdom could only be obtained from God and the realms where man cannot tread.
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Job 28:5-11

5 The earth, from which food comes,
is transformed below as by fire;
6 lapis lazuli comes from its rocks,
and its dust contains nuggets of gold.
7 No bird of prey knows that hidden path,
no falcon’s eye has seen it.
8 Proud beasts do not set foot on it,
and no lion prowls there.
9 People assault the flinty rock with their hands
and lay bare the roots of the mountains.
10 They tunnel through the rock;
their eyes see all its treasures.
11 They search the sources of the rivers
and bring hidden things to light.
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In these verses Job speaks of the wonders and mysteries of the earth. The fascinating make up of our planet and the environment God has created for us to sustain life.

The soil where plants grow seems so ordinary. But nothing is ordinary underground. The beasts of the air or earth do not live in such places. But men have learned the skills to go there. They have invested enormous effort to discover precious commodities buried deep in the earth.

This is all a continuation of the discourse about God’s wisdom which is more precious than all of these commodities put together. It is more valuable, more enduring and his hidden from man in such a way that it demands us to mine for it, to make similar effort if we are to gain from it’s treasure but Job’s point is that although we risk life mining for gold and precious stones we don’t put the same effort into pursuing what is really precious.

I think about things that are important to me. If I am to think about things that are non relational but are earthly things, I think about my creative life and making music. I can put enormous effort, energy and focus into a music project and barely think about the sacrifice involved because I love it.

The question comes. What about my relationship with God? What about the pursuit of God’s wisdom? What about the intimate knowledge and understanding of my maker? I think that’s the question that Job is bringing to the table.
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Job 28:12-18

12 But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
13 No mortal comprehends its worth;
it cannot be found in the land of the living.
14 The deep says, “It is not in me”;
the sea says, “It is not with me.”
15 It cannot be bought with the finest gold,
nor can its price be weighed out in silver.
16 It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir,
with precious onyx or lapis lazuli.
17 Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it,
nor can it be had for jewels of gold.
18 Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention;
the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.

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Despite the incredible achievements of human endeavour, in Jobs time mining was an incredible wonder of man’s ingenuity. In our day we can look at scientific, medical advancements, discoveries in space and the earth and be filled with wonder about our own efforts and perseverance.

Job’s argument is that this does not bring us wisdom. Wisdom comes from God. It is not discovered through the application of human skill and industry. It cannot be bought with precious stones.

Wisdom cannot be labelled with an earthly price tag or afforded any worldly value at all. No amount of human effort can find it and it cannot be found in the land of the living! It is not an earthly commodity but something that is given by God!

Like Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, here Job asserts the source and true value of wisdom.

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Job 28:19

19 The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it;
it cannot be bought with pure gold.
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Cush is sometimes translated as Ethiopia but this could be quite misleading and is probably more likely the Midian. The point is that the precious stone and rare commodity of Topaz from a distant land does not compare with wisdom and neither does the most pure gold. Job is emphasizing the value of wisdom over worldly things.

I put way too much stock and value in things that give me pleasure in this life. Usually experiences, events, things I enjoy doing. True treasure is found in relationship with God. The most fulfilling satisfying engagement with the gift of life is our encounter with God and our pursuit of his wisdom.

We easily get thrown off the path and distracted by things that glitter or glisten, things that may look attractive on the outside but leave us empty. Job knew that the wealth he had gained through life was meaningless and his sadness was not about his wealth but his feeling of disconnect from God and that is what he was wrestling with.
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Job 28:20-22

20 Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
concealed even from the birds in the sky.
22 Destruction and Death say,
“Only a rumour of it has reached our ears.”
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Topaz (verse 19) may be beautiful. But it is not useful. God and silver (verse 15) are valuable. But money cannot teach us how to trust God. So wisdom is better than all these things. But wisdom is not something that you can just discover. In fact, wisdom does not even belong in this world. It is part of God’s spiritual DNA and formed in the spiritual realms.

In verse 21, Job spoke about things that are alive. In verse 22, he spoke about people who are dead. Wisdom is elusive to the living and impossible for the dead.

It is an immaterial commodity, but man cannot even conceive of it, because its nature transcends him. Physical eyes cannot see the things of God. The things of the Spirit are not discerned in the physical. 2 Corinthians 4:18 springs to mind. Visible things are temporary but the invisible is eternal.

The Hebrew word for death that is used is Abaddon. Abaddon is Sheol, the realm of the dead, here personified, as also is Death. Compare Revelation 1:18; 9:11, Job 26:6. This was speaking as a place of destruction, death of those who were never saved. They heard a glimmer of it, but it was too late.

The point is that wisdom can only be found in God and the pursuit of God. It is from the spiritual realms.

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Job 28:23-26

23 God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,
24 for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he established the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,
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God is the source of all wisdom and whilst it is impossible for man to attain wisdom by his own effort, God freely gives it as a gift (James 1:5). He knows the way to wisdom. He is the way to wisdom. Jesus of course said “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) … wisdom is bound up in that single statement!

Job and friends have probed God’s wisdom 3 times round by this point and have landed nowhere near the truth of the matter. These verses are pivotal.

Job made the point clearly that the divine wisdom necessary to explain his suffering was inaccessible to man. Only God knew all about it because He knows everything (verse 24). True wisdom belongs to God (verses 25-26). We can only know wisdom if God reveals it to us (compare Deuteronomy 29:29).

Verses 25-28: Creation itself is evidence of the vastness of God’s wisdom (Psalm 104; Proverbs 3:19, 8:22-31, Romans 1:20).
In the gospel of John Jesus is having a conversation with a group of Pharisees, they are questioning his identity and he is pushing their buttons with his answers to their questions. In chapter 8 verse 31 we read these well known very familiar words … perhaps over familiar

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus was speaking to those in the group who believed him. Some of the Pharisees had a hard time with what he said but some in the group actually listened, accepted what he was saying and here after claiming very clearly that he was from God he gives us these words on the way to discover and live wisdom. Hold to his teaching and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. In other words live it to experience it.

God is the source of wisdom, the way to wisdom and to experience it in a visceral, haptic, intimate way we are to live it. If we don’t live it we are left with knowledge and knowledge alone is one dimensional and pretty useless.
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Job 28:27

27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.
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Wisdom is not merely the thoughts of human minds or clever ideas. Wisdom is in the DNA of creation and part of who God is. God created the universe and everything in it. Everything is held together with supreme wisdom and works within an ordered framework. When we tap into wisdom it informs behaviour and how we live life. Wisdom is more than knowledge. It is application. It has been tested by God and is to be tested by us.

Job is acknowledging that wisdom is more than anything he and his visitors could reach in their moral debates as they exchanged their theological viewpoints and made various assessments and judgments about Job’s suffering. 

Job knew that it was beyond comprehension because God had not revealed it but wisdom was at work here because God was at the centre of whatever was going on. It was hard to accept but that didn’t stop it from being true.
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Job 28:28

28 And he said to the human race,
“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.”
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This final verse of chapter 28 is reminiscent of Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 3:5-6.

It was also Jesus’ message as recorded in Mark 1:15.

Wisdom is found in obedience to God.
Job had made the connection that the others did not. While the specific features of God’s wisdom may not be revealed to us, the alpha and omega of wisdom is to revere God and keep his commands, live his way (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10).

Unanswered questions are God’s business and trusting him with our obedient submission is our business. 

This is the wisdom expressed in Proverbs 1:7 – 2:9 and Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. This is the thread that unifies the wisdom literature. We may never know the reasons for life’s sufferings. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be curious and pursue understanding of such things but if that is our obsession over and above trusting God then we will miss the beauty of life and our ultimate purpose in living this life, walking with our God.

Job 27

page0-breath_of_godJob Job 27:1-6
Job’s Final Word to His Friends

27 And Job continued his discourse:
2 “As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice,
the Almighty, who has made my life bitter,
3 as long as I have life within me,
the breath of God in my nostrils,
4 my lips will not say anything wicked,
and my tongue will not utter lies.
5 I will never admit you are in the right;
till I die, I will not deny my integrity.
6 I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it
my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.
———————————————————–
Jobs final words on the matter protest his innocence in terms of righteousness. He refuses to compromise his integrity and give in to pressure from his friends to think otherwise. 

Job maintains his authenticity despite being emotionally and physically weak due to sickness, trauma and relentless emotional pressure from his friends. Job places his righteousness in context of divine judgment. The wicked are those who separate themselves from having faith and the fear of the Lord. Job does not qualify in this context.

Job had suffered intense trauma and trouble. He supposed that God caused this but still trusted God.

In Job 23:1-7, Job explained that he wanted God to be his judge. Now in chapters 27-31 he was speaking with certainty that God was already his judge.
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Job 27:7-23

7 “May my enemy be like the wicked,
my adversary like the unjust!
8 For what hope have the godless when they are cut off,
when God takes away their life?
9 Does God listen to their cry
when distress comes upon them?
10 Will they find delight in the Almighty?
Will they call on God at all times?
11 “I will teach you about the power of God;
the ways of the Almighty I will not conceal.
12 You have all seen this yourselves.
Why then this meaningless talk?
13 “Here is the fate God allots to the wicked,
the heritage a ruthless man receives from the Almighty:
14 However many his children, their fate is the sword;
his offspring will never have enough to eat.
15 The plague will bury those who survive him,
and their widows will not weep for them.
16 Though he heaps up silver like dust
and clothes like piles of clay,
17 what he lays up the righteous will wear,
and the innocent will divide his silver.
18 The house he builds is like a moth’s cocoon,
like a hut made by a watchman.
19 He lies down wealthy, but will do so no more;
when he opens his eyes, all is gone.
20 Terrors overtake him like a flood;
a tempest snatches him away in the night.
21 The east wind carries him off, and he is gone;
it sweeps him out of his place.
22 It hurls itself against him without mercy
as he flees headlong from its power.
23 It claps its hands in derision
and hisses him out of his place.”
————————————–

In these verses Job seems to agree with some of his friends allegations. The principle of what they had been saying was true but their allegations had been against him . He characterized his friends as enemies who would also be judged by God for their cruelty and hypocrisy.

Job refused to be a hypocrite. He knew that God would not listen to hypocrisy.
Some of the words here are similar to Zophar’s words in Job 20:29. And Job’s ideas in verses 14-22 are also similar to Zophar’s ideas in chapter 20.

Whilst Job’s friends were technically correct on a number of matters they missed the point on so many and completely misunderstood who Job was and what kind of heart he had.

This is something I have been very guilty of as a religious leader. I have made so many assumptions about the condition of an individual’s heart or spiritual condition based on external evidence. The truth is that we cannot know what a man’s heart is like by external evidence. The rebellious heart could equally be a wounded or hurting heart, the angry heart could be a grieving heart. I have been on the receiving end of misjudgements like this and delivered many judgments. Job’s friends appear to have categorized him on his circumstances rather than his behaviour.

An evil person is evil at home as well as out there in the world and his widow will not miss him. Even in my case and my years of darkness I deceived my family. On the surface everything looked good to my family and even to those around my family within the community of believers but had I died in this period the full weight of my darkness would have been upon them without the possibility of closure. It would have been a most cruel outcome.

In verse 16, the word clothes is an inaccurate translation. It misses something of an important point. The correct translation is “raiment” . This is not merely clothing for everyday use, but rather for pomp and show. Raiment was part of the treasure of great men. The phrase signifies that he might have such a variety of raiment, and such large quantities of it, that it would be valued no more than a quantity of clay. His riches would be polluting and troublesome. The Septuagint version reads “gold” instead of “raiment” (as in Zechariah 9:3), where similar expressions are used in reference to Tyre.

When the wicked man dies, other people will receive his possessions. It is as if God is storing these possessions to give to other people.

A moth destroys. It is fragile itself and lasts but for a moment in time. The booth spoken of here, was a temporary shelter that was erected at harvest time. It would be torn down after harvest. This was saying, the house of the evil man was temporary.

In other words, the wicked man might seem powerful. But his life is weak. He can die in a moment (Matthew 7:26-27; Luke 12:16-20).

In Job 3:16-19, Job thought that death is like sleep. But in Job 26:5, Job had a different idea. He described how the dead are in deep anguish.

Some believe that verses 19-23, are descriptions of hell. When the wicked man wakes in hell, God has taken away that man’s wealth. The home in verse 21 is like that man’s body (see verse 18). But the man’s spirit has left his body. The man’s body might seem calm (Job 21:32-33). But his spirit is afraid and in anguish.

Another idea is that verses 19-23, Job was describing the wicked man’s life after God had disciplined or punished him.

It sounds to me like a description of the suddenness of death. It seems to flow better with the context of the passage and fit with the writing style. Remembering that this Hebrew poetry and poetry is not a literary type that you can safely build a doctrinal position from.

Job 23

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Job 23:1-9

23 Then Job replied:
2
“Even today my complaint is bitter;
his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.
3
If only I knew where to find him;
if only I could go to his dwelling!
4
I would state my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.
5
I would find out what he would answer me,
and consider what he would say to me.
6
Would he vigorously oppose me?
No, he would not press charges against me.
7
There the upright can establish their innocence before him,
and there I would be delivered forever from my judge.
8
“But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
9
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.

————————————————-

Job’s response to Eliphaz is not simply a rebuttal but a grieving over his fellowship with God or apparent loss of fellowship. He is expressive about his deeply discouraged state and longs for an understanding as to why it is happening this way.

Despite his frustrations with Eliphaz and his other friends, his dispute was not with them but with God.

This is Job’s final speech which now runs to the end of chapter 31 apart from a brief interruption from Bildad in chapter 25. Some scholars think that Job 26:5-14 is also Bildad and that Job 24:18-25 & 27:13-23 are by Zophar. The speakers are not named in these sections which leaves us to assume that it is Job as the speakers are consistently named in the book of Job.

Job again expresses his desire for an audience with God as his judge and he was confident of a fair hearing and that he would finally understand and accept what had happened.

Eliphaz had urged Job to repent and return to God, Job was expressing that there was nothing he longed for more than the presence of God.

Job felt as though God was not present and he could not understand this. He felt abandoned by God and wrestled with feelings of abandonment as he struggled to see God’s presence in his suffering.

Some times I struggle to see the presence of God when things are not going the way I think they should be going and I forget that I live in broken world that is also a domain of Satan’s influence.
————————————————-

Job 23:10-12

10 But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
11 My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.
12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
———————————————
Job was aware that this was some sort of test and that he would come through it as in the process of refining gold in a furnace where everything burns away except for the gold, he had followed the ways of God and not strayed from the narrow path. 

This was a declaration of faith, not the response that his friends had expected.

———————————————


Job 23:13-17

13 “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him?
He does whatever he pleases.
14 He carries out his decree against me,
and many such plans he still has in store.
15 That is why I am terrified before him;
when I think of all this, I fear him.
16 God has made my heart faint;
the Almighty has terrified me.
17 Yet I am not silenced by the darkness,
by the thick darkness that covers my face.
———————————–
Job loved God but felt terror about what God may do if he approached him. There is a different between a fear of God that produces reverence and respect to a fear that produces terror which is the opposite of faith and trust. Because of what had happened and the fact that Job did not understand why he was in the camp of terror. This grip of fear prevented him from being bold with God but he still was not silenced by it. There was enough fight to keep him wrestling with the situation even with such small strength.

Job 16

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Job 16:1-6
16 Then Job replied:
2 “I have heard many things like these;
you are miserable comforters, all of you!
3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?
What ails you that you keep on arguing?
4 I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you.
5 But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief.
6 “Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved;
and if I refrain, it does not go away.
———————————–
Job tells his friends that they are miserable comforters. What had started out as a seemingly sincere intention to help and support had turned into a rancour littered with sarcasm and had only served to frustrate all parties involved. Job asserts that if the situation were reversed he also could make lengthy speeches with fine sounding words but he would have been a lot more encouraging, comforting and generous with his words.

This whole discussion had now degenerated into an exchange of insults and name calling. The expression “Shake my head at you” was a common statement of  derision (see 2 Kings 19:21; Psalm 22:7; Isaiah 37:22; Matthew 27:39).
———————————————-

Job 16:7-18

7 Surely, God, you have worn me out;
you have devastated my entire household.
8 You have shrivelled me up—and it has become a witness;
my gauntness rises up and testifies against me.
9 God assails me and tears me in his anger
and gnashes his teeth at me;
my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes.
10 People open their mouths to jeer at me;
they strike my cheek in scorn
and unite together against me.
11 God has turned me over to the ungodly
and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked.
12 All was well with me, but he shattered me;
he seized me by the neck and crushed me.
He has made me his target;
13     his archers surround me.
Without pity, he pierces my kidneys
and spills my gall on the ground.
14 Again and again he bursts upon me;
he rushes at me like a warrior.
15 “I have sewed sackcloth over my skin
and buried my brow in the dust.
16 My face is red with weeping,
dark shadows ring my eyes;
17 yet my hands have been free of violence
and my prayer is pure.
18 “Earth, do not cover my blood;
may my cry never be laid to rest!
——————————————-
Job thought that God caused these troubles and cruelly turned him over to the ungodly. He said that his enemy attacked him like a wild animal. It was as if he was being cruelly tortured.

Job’s lament of his suffering pointed his frustration towards God. Some of the greatest spiritual change comes about through authentic wrestling with God. It makes me think of Jacob wrestling all night (Genesis 32:24-32) and the result being a change of identity, Peter arguing with God became a metanoia moment (Acts 10:9-16). 

The constant wrestling in the Psalms seems to indicate that it is this kind of relationship which facilitates growth and greater understanding of God and our place in the presence of God and his creation.

My own greatest moments of enlightenment have not come through peaceful meditation or “quiet time” insight but in the raw wrestling of my soul in the crucible of life. In moments of suffering or the consequences of personal darkness. That’s usually when the light goes on. The passages of peace are a blessing to be enjoyed but the real work is done in the turmoil and the storms of life.
——————————————-

Job 16:19-22

19 Even now my witness is in heaven;
my advocate is on high.
20 My intercessor is my friend
as my eyes pour out tears to God;
21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God
as one pleads for a friend.
22 “Only a few years will pass
before I take the path of no return.
—————————————————–
Job had expressed his desire for advocate to represent him before God in chapter 9:33. This demonstrates an internal longing for Jesus in his life. It is a deeply moving passage. Here we see a shift in his faith where there is a certainty that this advocate is present in heaven bringing his case before God!

The words describe the character of Jesus. He sympathises with our struggles (Hebrews 4:15). He prays for us (Hebrews 7:25). He is our priest (Hebrews 7:24).

Job knew that he could not fully rely on his earthly friends for the support that he needed and now he begins to look for this from a heavenly friend to meet these needs. It was a paradigm shift.

Job was so sick that he felt death was very near.

Job 10

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Job 10:1-7

10 “I loathe my very life;
therefore I will give free rein to my complaint
and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.
2 I say to God: Do not declare me guilty,
but tell me what charges you have against me.
3 Does it please you to oppress me,
to spurn the work of your hands,
while you smile on the plans of the wicked?
4 Do you have eyes of flesh?
Do you see as a mortal sees?
5 Are your days like those of a mortal
or your years like those of a strong man,
6 that you must search out my faults
and probe after my sin—
7 though you know that I am not guilty
and that no one can rescue me from your hand?

———————————————

In this chapter, Job shifted his thinking from himself and started to focus on God and why God had done such a thing.

He begins this by saying that he really did not want to live in the pain and suffering. His worst pain was that of his heart feeling that he might have displeased God. He was sick in his soul with bitterness toward his hopeless life.

He could not explain God’s attitudes. God carefully designed Job’s body. But now God seemed to be punishing him without any reason. He was struggling to find meaning and purpose in his suffering.

He did not know what to say to God (Job 9:14). He was afraid of God’s great power (Job 9:17). But he was not afraid that God might kill him. is suffering was so great that he wanted to die.

Why was God opposing Job and why were those who had no regard for God doing okay? It just didn’t make sense.

Job wanted to know what God had condemned him for that he might repent. He loved God and wanted to be back in fellowship with him. 

In verses 4-7 it is very evident that he believed he was innocent. He now quite facetiously, and somewhat sarcastically, asked if God was as limited in His ability to discern Job’s spiritual condition as were Job’s friends. He concluded by affirming that God did know he was innocent and that there was no higher court of appeal (verse 7).

He tried to wrestle with another explanation. Perhaps God had a plan that people could not see. He knew that God could see beyond the physical and into a man’s heart and soul. The judgment of men is always on the outward.

He asserts that the conduct of man in strictly marking faults, and in being unwilling to forgive.  He wrestles with the idea of whether it is possible that God could be governed by such feelings as these.

He wrestled with the idea that God’s judgment was as harsh and flawed as man’s judgment. I think this is something we all wrestle with from time to time when things don’t go the way we want them to go or expect them to go.

“God is punishing me” we might say when actually every act of God is an act of love. Even a so called punishment is an act of discipline rather than an act of condemnation.

Yesterday, as I walked to the corner shop and back early in the morning after having my quiet time I thought about how free and at peace I feel. I thanked God for it and thought about how much pressure I have put upon myself since my early 20’s. 

Pressure of being a certain way or in a certain mold, trying to prove myself at work, in music, to family, in the church … trying to be somebody and through all that time I never really felt that I was anybody but today I do. I actually do feel fully alive and fully authentic. Far from perfect, far from even good. I am a dark minded, melancholic, fearful, self focused man with a huge ego and an obsession for sex that if I allow it to run loose can take me into very dark places.

I don’t feel guilty about that, I don’t feel any condemnation or shame. It’s just who I am and what I have to contend with in my life. Other people have to contend with different things but these are the things that I have to contend with. I’m okay with that. It’s not a case of “I used to be this and now I am better” … no, I will always be this but at the same time “I am clothed with Christ” because these things are no longer my identity. They have a place in my story and I don’t wish to live in those spaces anymore but they are still present and I am always just a decision away from allowing them to reign in me again. 

Today, however it is Christ that reigns. Peace and freedom are in this space that was once occupied by turmoil and condemnation. There is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1)
———————————————

Job 10:8-12

8 “Your hands shaped me and made me.
Will you now turn and destroy me?
9 Remember that you moulded me like clay.
Will you now turn me to dust again?
10 Did you not pour me out like milk
and curdle me like cheese,
11 clothe me with skin and flesh
and knit me together with bones and sinews?
12 You gave me life and showed me kindness,
and in your providence watched over my spirit.

———————————————
Job knew that his being was a complex creation. He was fearfully and wonderfully made. He knew that his body was a miraculous wonder as was all life. He knew that God did not cause Job to live by accident. He knew that God had blessed his existence but could not fathom why God had given him life, cared for his well being only to destroy him in what seemed to be very cruel. He compared it to the idea of a cheese maker pouring out milk only to allow it to curdle and having to discard it as useless.

These facts made Job’s problem seem even stranger. Surely, God would not cruelly destroy the person that he made so carefully. Job was wrestling with this but could not find meaning in it.
———————————————

Job 10:13-17

13 “But this is what you concealed in your heart,
and I know that this was in your mind:
14 If I sinned, you would be watching me
and would not let my offense go unpunished.
15 If I am guilty—woe to me!
Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head,
for I am full of shame
and drowned in my affliction.
16 If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion
and again display your awesome power against me.
17 You bring new witnesses against me
and increase your anger toward me;
your forces come against me wave upon wave.

———————————————

Job continued to wrestle with the meaning of what had happened and was happening to him.

Perhaps God had a secret plan. Perhaps God was using him to prove that all people were evil. So God made Job. He was much better than other people; but everybody does wrong. So God punished Job in public to warn everyone about their evil deeds.

Is this a foreshadowing of the need for a messiah?

In verse 16 we read that God is compared to a lion who savagely pursues his prey. In the NT the devil is given the same comparison by Peter as he writes to the churches in Asia Minor (1 Peter 5:8)

It seemed to Job that everything was happening to him at once. His animals and servants were lost in a war of sorts. His own friends had spoken against him. The indignation of God seemed to be upon him, things just seemed to be escalating from bad to worse.

He was struggling to make sense of this and all the time God was silent!
———————————————

Job 10:18-22

18 “Why then did you bring me out of the womb?
I wish I had died before any eye saw me.
19 If only I had never come into being,
or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave!
20 Are not my few days almost over?
Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy
21 before I go to the place of no return,
to the land of gloom and utter darkness,
22 to the land of deepest night,
of utter darkness and disorder,
where even the light is like darkness.”
—————————————————-
Job returned to the question of why God allowed him to be born. This time he was not just lamenting the day of his birth, but he was asking God for the reason He allowed it to occur.

Job realised that he could not explain his troubles. His pain was intense. He wanted to die.

A short existence would have been the next thing to no existence at all, and would have equally satisfied his wishes.
Job’s big question to God was “Why was I ever born”?

I remember saying the same thing to,my mum as a teenager in a rage about something. I don’t remember the subject of the rage except that I am sure it was something about the fairness of life. I do remember mum being very offended at the question and tearing a strip off me for it.

Job knew that all life comes from God. Without God, Job would die. So Job prayed that God would leave him. Then, Job’s troubles would end at least for a brief moment. And so Job would die.

Job had some erroneous ideas about death. He thought only about the death of the body. He saw how dead bodies slowly disappear into the earth. Nobody can disturb a person who has died.

He may not have grasped the full eternal implications of what happens to our spirit at death but his talk of darkness and chaos was one of despair and his words to God were words of “why delay it? Just let me go on and get this over with.”