Psalm 8

The name of God refers to the revealed Person of God, encompassing all of His attributes. It is an enthusiastic and powerful expression of praise, a “wow” moment, a moment of amazement and awe. His name is above all names. All of creation bows down to him. 

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heavens
Psalm 8

 For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David.

Lord, our Lord,

    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory

    in the heavens.

Through the praise of children and infants

    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,

    to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens,

    the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

    which you have set in place,

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,

    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels

    and crowned them with glory and honour.

You made them rulers over the works of your hands;

    you put everything under their feet:

all flocks and herds,

    and the animals of the wild,

the birds in the sky,

    and the fish in the sea,

    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,

    how majestic is your name in all the earth!


To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David.

Though the bulk of the psalm describes man and his dominion over the universe, the first and last verses make clear to the reader that the psalm was written primarily to exalt the Creator. “A little lower than the angels” (verse 5), is literally “a little lower than God” (the Hebrew word “Elohim” is used, which is the normal generic word for God). The Septuagint translated the word as “angels”, however, and this translation is quoted (in Hebrews 2:6-8). The word may be taken in a loose sense,” divine beings”, in which case it could refer to both God and the angels. Three interpretations of man’s position are described (in verses 5-8):

(1)  It refers only to man’s original condition (Gen. 1:26-28);

(2)  It refers to man’s present, actual position, though ruined somewhat by the Fall.

(3)  It points to man redeemed and restored in the future to his exalted position.

The second view is preferred since the psalmist seems to be observing life as it is in the present. The words “When I consider”, being the give away (verse 3).

The theme of Psalm 8 is “how excellent” is the creator. It blazes across this Psalm from start to finish (8:1, 9). The psalmist wants to understand that their meaning starts and ends with the glory of God and who He is.

The beginning and ending of the psalm suggest that it is essentially a hymn of praise. Yet, a major portion qualifies it as a so-called nature psalm, i.e., a psalm of creation. There is also a significant focus on the importance of man in God’s eyes.

 

Another instrument is referenced in this title, most probably a guitar-like harp associated with Gath in Philistia. Maybe he used music from Gath.

As a young man or even as a boy, David had kept sheep. He would have very likely been with the sheep in the hills at night and able to see the stars in the sky. Perhaps this is something that inspired this Psalm fuelled by thoughts of the vastness and beauty of the night sky. It’s rare to see the fullness of the stars in the sky above London but on occasions when I have been able to spend time out of the city and in more rural areas I have seen a night sky that is breathtaking and beautiful and in those moments can be filled with wonder and in awe of God as well as being aware that I am merely dust, water and gas.

Verse 1 offers direct address to God with the use of twin nouns, the first is His specially revealed name Yahweh (Exodus 3:14), and the second puts an emphasis on His sovereignty.

The name of God refers to the revealed Person of God, encompassing all of His attributes. It is an enthusiastic and powerful expression of praise, a “wow” moment, a moment of amazement and awe. His name is above all names. All of creation bows down to him.

The Psalmist acknowledges that there are enemies of God and yet they are levelled through the simple praise of children. The introductory irony about children sets the stage for a contrast between the dependent and the self-sufficient.

The question about the value of man in God’s sight is brought to the table. What is man that you are mindful of him? What can he bring to you? If the whole universe is diminutive in the sight of the Divine Creator, how much less is the significance of mankind! Even the word for “man” used in verse 4 alludes to his weakness.

Verses 5-8 consistently emphasise the significance of man, who was created in the image and likeness of God to exercise dominion over the rest of creation (Genesis 1:26-28).

The psalm closes with the same sentiment that it begins with.

 

 

 


Reflections from my original journal notes in August 2015

Psalm 8
Lord, our Lord. How majestic is your name in all the earth

Today’s Psalm had nothing of special relevance but I love the way we sing the song as a congregation. I am not a fan of many songs / hymns that we sing but this one I love. My other favourite is “Be still my soul” to the tune of “Finlandia” by Sibelius. I found myself singing them both this morning.

I went to find a Church that had been recommended to me by our local minister. Our movement had come out of this movement, we were vaguely related, sharing key doctrinal positions.

It appeared that they had no access to their building and decided to meet on Wanstead flats. I felt very insecure. I am an introvert by nature but usually a confident introvert. My confidence has been smashed by everything being exposed but it will be rebuilt through authenticity.

Some of my insecurity was about the culture of the congregation. It was an all black congregation. I am used to a mixed cosmopolitan congregation that at least resembles some of the demographic of the city that I live in. In time a second white person appeared. I sat on the outside of the group, didn’t talk to anyone and no one talked to me. It was a strange experience. The sun was out though and it was nice to be on Wanstead flats.

I met the chairman of the board of my former employers that I had stolen all the money from. He kindly bought me lunch and once we started to talk it was very easy talking with him. He asked me about my awareness of what I had done and the impact of it.

I told him that apart from the obvious financial hole I have created, I am sure there is a lot of hurt, anger, disappointment, sense of betrayal and broken trust. Inconvenience, potential damage to the reputation of the organization and it’s relationship with it’s stakeholders. I hadn’t connected with the full gravity of that because I am in the early stages of processing myself and I had not been privy to people’s reactions.

I said that my intent at this point is to repay the money and do all I can to repair the relational and other damage. I am long way from being in a position to do either and because of the nature of my emotional, mental health and “addiction” I could not guarantee that I will do this.

In my experience of working with addicts about 40% at some point or another find recovery too overwhelming and they bolt. I could be one of the 40%. I don’t believe that I am today because already everything is exposed and I think I have enough in my emotional tank to do the repair work. My spiritual training has perhaps equipped me to handle a lot more than the average addict and the fact that I have a better spiritual grounding but the truth is I don’t know if I will fulfil this.

It would be a better conversation to have in 12 months time. Today I intend to do this. It has been my intent since the beginning. He also asked if prison would help me or hinder me from recovery. I said that I really don’t know. I think I stand a better chance outside of prison because I have great support and I feel I am making slow but steady progress. I would lose that in prison but who knows what that would bring up. Maybe it is what I need, maybe I will meet someone there who would be a great support, maybe God will refine me more there. Prison scares the life out of me. I have been in prisons assessing potential clients and representing the organization I was working for and it really intimidated me even as a visitor. Last time I was in Brixton prison, a couple of months back I thought I could be here soon as a resident. That thought actually went through my head as I was contemplating coming clean. In the end the meeting with my former employer was seasoned with grace and positive.

I was still wrestling with the idea of going to the SLAA meeting in Brixton. The thought quite overwhelmed me and the guy I had spoken with the previous day had left me a message in the morning reminding me of the meeting which triggered “Old school” heavy accountability thoughts in me. I felt a sick feeling in my stomach. I went home and went to sleep.

I woke up just in time to go to the meeting and I decided out of curiosity that I would go. There was also a part of me that thought at least when he calls tonight I can say that I went, there was also a part of me that thought if I try this then at least it shows good intent to others who have a vested interest in my recovery or are watching me in judgment. These however were not my dominant thoughts. Curiosity was my primary motivator. As I set out I started to worry about being in Brixton that I would meet former clients or volunteers.

I read the SLAA beginners pack on the journey to the meeting. A lot of the material I was very familiar with, perhaps too familiar with for it to have any impact because being around this stuff in the rehab made me very familiar with recovery jargon, slogans, tag lines and philosophy. This causes a loss of the “Wow” factor …if indeed there is one.

I pasted some quotes (in italics) and my reflections on them, from the section about “Withdrawal” that really resonated with me.

“The addictive experience has been so mind altering for most of us that, once enmeshed in it, we have lost track of ever wanting to be out of it!”

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To think about sex and love addiction being mind altering is a bizarre thought when I think about the comparison with drugs and alcohol but really it is and perhaps more intoxicating in some ways because it is a legitimate need and the shift from fulfilling the legitimate need to addiction flies under the radar, it’s harder to detect and therefore more subtle. It used my normal feelings and in some ways a normal human social experience to give me a hit. It’s a lot more deceptive and a lot harder to recognize the problem. I knew what I was doing was morally wrong and wilful sin but at the same time the feelings were seemingly authentic feelings, perhaps more intense and more passionate than normal but nevertheless authentic “real” feelings underpinned by deluded sense of entitlement that said I deserve this. Everyone should be able to feel this. Those feelings of course were manufactured by fantasy and imagination, fuelled by the fact that I knew I could never really possess this love or this intimacy or this passion however I viewed it in the moment. I really didn’t want to be out of it until I began to see that it was unsustainable and becoming increasingly demanding on my emotional and physical resources.

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There is great truth to this. Usually, however, by the time we let the concept of withdrawal into our thinking, the addiction was not reliably delivering the oblivion or pleasure we sought so ardently.More and more energy had to be poured into the emotional and sexual activities just to break even, let alone “go to the moon.” It was as though an inner voice was saying, as we embarked on each new sexual or romantic episode, “Wherever I’m ‘going’ with this new face, or body, or mind, I’ve already ‘been there’ a thousand times before!”

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And this is the bottom line of the beginning of my recovery journey. It really was no longer delivering. The cost of breaking even emotionally was crossing over from a well managed and contained double life that I skillfully kept secret from everyone and bleeding over into my real life.

The amount of money I needed to sustain it was increasing, the communication level demanded of me in this latest relationship was unsustainable. It was causing greater problems with my time and exposing me to greater risk. The time away was harder and harder to justify. It was becoming increasingly difficult to sustain the lies and even make them consistent. The problem was that I was at the point that the addiction, the mental obsession and compulsion to act had gripped me like it never had before. I can pinpoint many opportunities where I could have walked away from the double life along the way and the fall out would have been minimal. I even contemplated it at times and I am sure I could have prevented myself from acting out in such an extreme way. I remember stopping for months at a time between 2011 – 2013 but I never really engaged with the idea that this was an addiction for me, so I kept open doors and opportunities to go back to it again. I think in the end it had to crash and burn in the way that it did so that everything could be exposed and I could be stripped of everything, so I am in a position to restore the real me.

By May of 2015 I was beginning to let out subtle cries for help in the form of half truths and I talked about this woman  first with my wife and a handful of others. By June I was depressed and almost suicidal as I was attempting withdrawal. I went to the doctors and asked for a mental health assessment, my behaviour was erratic and I was sure that I was having some kind of breakdown. I started entertaining the idea of just pressing the destruct button and exposing all and started to look at ideas on the internet about how possible it is to run away to a foreign land and live an anonymous life. In this modern age it’s really not easy to do that. Especially from such a well protected border as the UK.

I would need a lot of cash, no contact with anyone and either a fake passport or someone who could give me safe passage to somewhere. The problem was that I was in the grip of addiction. I had met my match in this latest encounter. I now think that she has the same problem so there was ongoing manipulation, obsession and compulsion both ways and everything was turbulent, chaotic and destructive between us but I was at a crossroads.

I had two choices (1) Come clean about everything and risk losing everything … family, friends, job, addiction (yes, there is a grieving in that), freedom or (2) Give myself over to the addiction fully and risk losing everything. The problem was that I could not decide. I did not want to lose anything. This intoxicating relationship was pushing me to decide and in the same way that heroin beckons the drug user …she promised everything and I was confused. Of course I knew she would not deliver, my experience of her up to now had already proven that. This was the addiction calling and I was sitting right on the fence. I knew about powerlessness and this was it. The only way now was to be impulsive and see where it landed me knowing that it wasn’t going to be pretty.

I wanted to please my mistress, I wanted to please my wife, I wanted to keep my family, I had lost interest in church but I wanted to somehow find my way spiritually again, I wanted to be a musician again and I saw that opportunity in this country I kept travelling to to fuel my affair, I had lost my passion for the work I was doing in the rehab. I began to feel more like a political figure to connect the church and charity than someone helping people. Always my favourite moments in the rehab were with the clients. I hated playing politics and trying to meet and impress stakeholders. I had begun to trust one of the members of staff and I desperately wanted to draw closer to him. I saw in him someone who could help me but he was too close to home but perhaps he could find me a therapist that could help me so I started to give him half truths of my story. I desperately wanted out of this but at the same time I felt I was being sucked in deeper. I knew that the end was near.

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In “going public” with those whom we had routinely deceived about our activities, the motive was not to punish. We were relying on these people, and their reactions to the disclosures of our shoddiness, in order to guarantee that we would encounter the consequences of our actions right away. We were choosing to pull the rug out from under our inclinations to cover up, segregate, or manage our intrigues and liaisons. It was often the cumulative result of these consequences in our relationships with those people who mattered to us which finally forced us to an awareness of the lack of control in our behaviour, and the need to label it as addictive. This inner commitment to sustain a stringent standard of honesty with others about our sexual and emotional behaviour seemed to be sufficient, in itself to start the inner process of self honesty which finally delivered us over into unconditional surrender and withdrawal.

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My wife was always going to be the first person I told. I did not have the courage to bring everything in one go but knew that it all would have to come out in the end. Whilst all this was happening, my mistresses pursuit of me was getting more intense as she began to sense that she was losing me. I was being pulled back in by the lure of more and the possibility of escape and running away. I was feeling the pull in both directions and my head was gone. I was one moment longing to have my old life back and in the other being lured by a false promise of something more exciting, more thrilling, more creatively engaging and I was trying to appease both women at the same time whilst I consider my choice. I wasn’t in a stable enough mental state to make any choice. I feel intense sadness when I think about how cruel I was to my wife. The truth is that I was cruel to both women and the other women I encountered in these years.

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Of course, to speak of “ways” of entering withdrawal from active sex and love addiction is a bit misleading, because we are not really the conscious architects of how we get there. Most of us can identify with some parts of each of these paths into withdrawal. Finally, it is important to emphasise, again, that however honest we became through any last ditch efforts at “control,” our sobriety did not really begin until the last reservation had been let go, and we gave up the right, for one day (or one hour) at a time, to have “one more” liaison with our addiction.

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It’s hard to speak of sobriety days as we do in NA or AA. Abstinence from a substance is a lot easier to quantify and measure than abstinence from a sex and love addiction.

Perhaps it is easier as a Christian because I can use the Biblical standard as my guide. The bottom line for the Christian is lust which I have heard defined as “the second look” which doesn’t really do it for me. It’s more about entertaining thoughts. If I use that as my standard then I am not yet fully in withdrawal but the process of withdrawal has begun. The thoughts are less frequent and the grip of my mistress is no longer there though I have moments where I am tempted to fill the void with a new “adventure” I know also that it would be the death knell for all I am trying to achieve.

If I allow myself back into this I will lose myself completely. The addicts mindset is one of “the next time will be different. I can manage it better” …and even more so after some sobriety and feeling well for a bit. I don’t want to go back but the call of addiction is there. It’s present. It’s alive promising an easier life, a more fulfilling life and a life where I will feel more “alive” but I know the reality and I know that sin when it is full grown gives birth to death. Today I am resolved to not act out, not entertain and focus on recovery.

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We can not go through your withdrawal for you, nor would we, if we could. Who would ever knowingly volunteer to go through it again? Certainly none of us! Yet the pain of each withdrawal is unique and special, even precious (although you probably don’t now think so). In a sense, the experience is you, a part of you which has been trying to surface for a long time. You have been avoiding or postponing this pain for a long time now, yet you have never been able to lastingly outrun it. You need to go through withdrawal in order to become a whole person. You need to meet yourself. Behind the terror of what you fear, withdrawal contains the seeds for your own personal wholeness. It must be experienced for you to realise, or make real, that potential for you and your life which has been stored there for so long. There are different ways sex and love addicts have started this process. The end result is the same: addictive sexual and emotional behaviour, on a daily basis, stops.

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I am beginning to discover myself again. There are little green shoots surfacing in the dirt. I can see them. Though the embers are still burning and the smoke is still rising from all of this, the flames are subdued and new life is already emerging. Of course it would not take much for a spark to ignite it all again and destroy everything. I have moments where I feel the pain of withdrawal and there is an emptiness, a sadness, a grieving for what I have lost. The grieving is in part about the loss as a result of the consequences of my life and part the loss of the addiction itself as my coping mechanism to deal with the emptiness and void in my soul. I know that walking with God is the true solution to that puzzle. Even the 12 steps recognise that. I remember sitting with one of the recovery clients after supporting him with a court case three months after completing treatment and he told me that praying was an alien concept to him at the beginning of his recovery journey but now it was the most important part of his day and he knows that without prayer he cannot survive.

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It also does not matter what the specifics of your own pattern of sex and love addiction have been, although it is important that you do identify your own pattern. Some of our patterns have included “one night stands,” frantic sexual liaisons with no emotional tics, or manic masturbation, exhibitionism and/or voyeurism. Others have involved obsessive intrigue with, or dependency on, one or many people (serially or concurrently) with the conviction that without an “other” we would be at death’s door. Regardless of which pattern is yours, it has to stop. No matter how powerfully your thoughts and feelings are tugging at you to continue indulging, you cease acting on them. It is this point when you finally stop that really signals the start of your recovery

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The acting out has stopped. I could say that this is my first clean day (after yesterdays relapse) if acting out is the benchmark. The intention to act out has stopped and the more I reflect and engage in spiritually focused reading and writing, my head is beginning to become more quiet with the obsession I have.

I went to the SLAA meeting.I am not sure if it was helpful or not. I was bored for much of the meeting. There was a lot of rambling as people shared. I don’t know that much of value was shared. I found myself judging people.

There were some very attractive women there that made me feel quite uncomfortable. One of them shared very vulnerably and started to cry and I could feel myself being drawn to her. She was sitting next to me. This is an area that I was very skilled at connecting with emotionally vulnerable women. I felt a strong temptation but made a decision not to make eye contact with her or talk with her in the fellowship afterwards. I am mystified at the wisdom of having mixed meetings for people with sex addiction issues, but then some of the participants were gay and there was at least one transsexual person there.

Another thing that made me feel uncomfortable was the presence of a former rehab client and volunteer. We did not acknowledge each other. Everyone read from one of the SLAA books. The focus was around Step 6 and everyone shared something that connected with them from the passage that they read. I read and shared candidly and honestly. It felt very therapeutic to share so vulnerably …at least all I could pack into the three minutes allowed. Overall I came away thinking that I am not sure if this is for me. I didn’t really enjoy the meeting. I felt uncomfortable in the presence of attractive women sharing this stuff and hearing them share. I felt the expected commitment reminded me of the church and considered that when I do get on my feet I want to be part of a fellowship that helps me to connect with Jesus.

On the way home one of my good friends and confidants called me and I am glad he did because what we talked about was everything that I had been subconsciously thinking but not fully processed at this time. He suggested that perhaps I was doing too much and trying to systemize my recovery. We talked through my rebellion as a result of my conversation with the guy from SLAA. We talked about doing things because people suggest them and though it’s not necessarily a bad thing I need to think through do I really want to do that. Will it be helpful and is it what I want to do? I thought about it and saw that God was putting assertive, even domineering people in my path to test my resolve.

I really want to be someone who is his own man and makes decisions because I believe in something or I want something and not simply to allow me to fit in. I want to belong and not fit in.

I spoke to the SLAA representative on the phone when I got home and though he was very persuasive and at times I felt a strong desire to appease him and tell him what he wanted to hear I told him that I was not certain that SLAA is for me. I want to work the steps and I may attend a couple more meetings to see but I would initiate any further contact with him should I desire it. He was quite pushy for a bit but softened a bit when I explained my situation and saw that he would not move me on this. I felt good.


Reflections two years on

This was written just over a week into coming to something that might resemble my right mind. The journey back was not pretty but repentance is rarely anything less than a bumpy ride. It is amazing that we are made a little lower than the angels, it is amazing to me that I am chosen, I am picked to share in God’s work on this earth and that this God who created the universe thinks of us flawed, broken, rebellious humans as the crown of his creation.

The truth is that God works in the most amazing way through human darkness. Once we know and accept that our demands for our own autonomy have failed then we are in a position to be moulded into something more Christlike, something more in line with the original intent of being in the image of God.

Job 41

IMG-20170715-WA0005 (2)

Okay, so I know the picture is not a leviathan. Hang in there with it. The picture has some relevance. Besides, the leviathan images I looked at were a bit too influenced by mythology and fantasy animation. 

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Job 41:1-2

41 “Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook
or tie down its tongue with a rope?
2 Can you put a cord through its nose
or pierce its jaw with a hook?
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One commentary puts it like this:

“Leviathan is a symbol of evil, drawn in part from Ugaritic myths about a fire-breathing sea dragon (Psalms 74:14; 104:26; Isa. 27:1). Dr. Henry Morris points out that the “Leviathan” was evidently the greatest of the marine reptiles or dinosaurs, something like a plesiosaur, perhaps, though modern commentators tend to call it a crocodile.” Ultimately, Leviathan points to Satan, the paragon of evil, whom Yahweh has in control and one day will destroy (e.g., Isa. 27:1; Rev. 20:1-3).”

That seems quite a credible explanation. Most modern translations use the word crocodile and most mainstream commentators will also refer to the crocodile.

The crocodile of course is an animal of great strength and an extremely dangerous animal which cannot be tamed by man and cannot be controlled. The point is that God controls it. He has power and authority over it.

Leviathan is a large sea creature, whose exact identity is unknown.

“Leviathan appears in 4 other Old Testament texts (Job 3:8; Psalms 74:14; 104:26; Isaiah 27:1). In each case Leviathan refers to some mighty creature who can overwhelm man but who is no match for God. Since this creature lives in the sea among ships (Psalm 104:26), some form of sea monster, possibly an ancient dinosaur, is in view.

Some elements of the description match the idea of the crocodile, which had scaly hide (verse 15), terrible teeth (verse 14), and speed in the water (verse 32). But crocodiles are not sea creatures and clearly this one was (verse 31).

Some have speculated that it is a killer whale or a great white shark, because he is the ultimate killer beast over all other proud beasts (verse 34). It could also have been some sea going dinosaur.

Whatever it is, God is speaking of the unlikelihood of catching one on a hook, or of tying his tongue down with a rope.
Job imagined that God was responsible for Job’s troubles. But chapters 1 and 2 explain that, in fact, the accuser called Satan was responsible.

There are some similarities between Satan and Leviathan

· Nobody can control Satan, except God. The same is true of leviathan.

· The devil is a fierce enemy. A crocodile or leviathan never tries to escape from trouble. It does not retreat, its reaction is always to attack.

· A person cannot defeat the devil by his own skills or intelligence. We need divine assistance from God. Even the most skilled experts in reptile behaviour will have trouble restraining the crocodile!

· Satan is filled with pride and arrogance. The crocodile behaves as if it is the proudest animal.

So whether we are talking about some fantastic mythical beast or a crocodile or some other fearsome animal, the point is that there is some comparison to Satan whom man has no power or authority over but God can comfortably restrain and manage.

Job had no place to stand before God and tell him that he was unjust or unfair or ask why all of this happened. In the big scheme of eternity, the heavens and the passages of time …this was trivial stuff even though it was huge and monumental to Job. There really was no case to answer because God knows what he is doing, when he is doing it, how he is doing it and why he is doing it. Everything is for ultimate good and is motivated by his love for his people and his creation.

If our earthly lives are all there is then these questions of Job’s seem justified but we are created to be spiritual beings that will ultimately live eternally with God in harmony with his purposes and his Kingdom.

Satan will do what he will do and many things in life cannot be controlled by human effort. We are not in control even though we think we are.
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Job 41:3-5

3
Will it keep begging you for mercy?
Will it speak to you with gentle words?
4
Will it make an agreement with you
for you to take it as your slave for life?
5
Can you make a pet of it like a bird
or put it on a leash for the young women in your house?
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The idea of taming or domesticating the leviathan or crocodile is absurd. It is presented here almost as sarcastic. Job is asked if he would have it as a pet !!!
God could control it but Job certainly would have no control over such a beast.
_________________________

Job 41:6-11

6 Will traders barter for it?
Will they divide it up among the merchants?
7 Can you fill its hide with harpoons
or its head with fishing spears?
8 If you lay a hand on it,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
9 Any hope of subduing it is false;
the mere sight of it is overpowering.
10 No one is fierce enough to rouse it.
Who then is able to stand against me?
11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me.

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Overpowering the leviathan or crocodile is near to impossible for one man, fishing spears would be ineffective. It would be futile and certainly a man would be worse off for trying. Fighting God is as futile. God has no problem subduing or restraining such a beast but Job wanted to contend with God and question him over his suffering.
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Job 41:12-17

12 “I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs,
its strength and its graceful form.
13 Who can strip off its outer coat?
Who can penetrate its double coat of armour?
14 Who dares open the doors of its mouth,
ringed about with fearsome teeth?
15 Its back has rows of shields
tightly sealed together;
16 each is so close to the next
that no air can pass between.
17 They are joined fast to one another;
they cling together and cannot be parted.
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These verses almost certainly describe the crocodile… impenetrable skin, scales, fearsome teeth. God’s variety in creation is amazing and what is even more amazing is how the whole eco system works in perfect balance to sustain life on earth in all of it’s variety and complexity.

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Job 41:18-21

18 Its snorting throws out flashes of light;
its eyes are like the rays of dawn.
19 Flames stream from its mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.
20 Smoke pours from its nostrils
as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.
21 Its breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames dart from its mouth.
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These verses are dense Hebrew poetry and filled with metaphor but it is easy to see why people have been led to believe that God is describing a dragon or some other mythical creature. Unfortunately one of the common misrepresentations of scripture is to misunderstand literary genres. This is poetry and as such it should be read as poetry.

This is a description of something fearsome and unbridled or unleashed out of control and impossible for man to control. The emphasis is that this creature surrenders to God’s ways and is obedient to God’s design.

The variety in God’s design is amazing. It is breath taking. He has described a number of animals in the book of Job. I watched a documentary last night about deep sea creatures in the darkest parts of the ocean. The Mariana trench etc., and some of those seem otherworldly.

The amazing thing is that all of nature is true to it’s design …except us. We decide that we want to live by our own self imagined design and assert our ways over God’s ways and yet God lavishes us with affection.

amazing …

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Job 41:22-25

22 Strength resides in its neck;
dismay goes before it.
23 The folds of its flesh are tightly joined;
they are firm and immovable.
24 Its chest is hard as rock,
hard as a lower millstone.
25 When it rises up, the mighty are terrified;
they retreat before its thrashing.
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The poetic description of the leviathan continues. Our translation doesn’t really do it justice but it captures an image of a fearsome beast whether crocodile or otherwise. Whilst we don’t really get animals in this country that we need to fear too much. Myself and my wife had an encounter with a herd of cows yesterday was quite scary. There was a point of realization where I knew if they ran at us we would not stand a chance and they were definitely not too pleased by our presence.

We went out to the depths of Essex, somewhere near Thaxted and attempted a walk that to be fair we were warned was not very well signposted. We managed to get off track and back on track on a couple of occasions the most notable being a dramatic encounter with some aggressive cows (see attached pic). According to the walk instructions we were to climb over a stile and walk diagonally across the middle of the field to a gated a bridge to reach another bridge and then a peaceful meadow and riverbank. Sounded fantastic and though the field was full of cows, I have never been too bothered about cows as long as you treat them respect and proceed with caution.

However, the cows had another idea as we began our journey towards them. They herded together and began to walk towards us. That’s okay we thought, we would navigate our way around them and keep our distance. They were having none of it. They decided to move rather speedily towards us (as speedily as cows move without looking undignified). They picked up pace a little but perhaps the scariest part of it was their solid conviction in their eyes that either we were going to get out of their field or they were going to fight to the death. These cows meant business. We moved back towards the stile as the cows edged closer towards us, with us scrambling over the stile whilst they were merely feet away. They then stood staring at us by the stile pretty much telling us don’t even try to pass. This is the moment I took the picture.

It was a close shave that took us back to the road and the long walk back to base, adding possibly a good thirty minutes to the walk. We did however have a fantastic time and enjoyed sending the story to the rest of the family on whats app with pictures.

We had the last laugh. I made a corned beef curry last night as we had friends over to eat with us.  

The point is that God has carved out the most amazing detail in creation and every part does it’s work. Crocodiles do a lot to ensure that rivers are clean by eating carcasses of other species and keeping population of other species down they are in some ways guardians of certain rivers ensuring that everything runs smoothly.

There is incredible design in nature. Day to day we might observe a few things that inspire us but the deeper we dig, the level of detail is fascinating.

Yesterday on our walk apart from the cow encounter we saw flowers that we had not seen before and blue dragonflies hanging around stinging nettles … great swarms of them. I also saw a red beetle like creature feeding off the pollen of a large daisy as well as hover flies and other flying things that looked like they were pretending to be wasps. Amazing..

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Job 41:26-29

26 The sword that reaches it has no effect,
nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
27 Iron it treats like straw
and bronze like rotten wood.
28 Arrows do not make it flee;
slingstones are like chaff to it.
29 A club seems to it but a piece of straw;
it laughs at the rattling of the lance.
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All weaponry is completely useless against the leviathan or crocodile. This is a fearsome beast that cannot be overcome by man and his weapons of war. Some commentators have suggested that this is an allegory for Satan. I am not sure that it is, but if it is then it would carry a similar meaning that only God can subdue Satan. Man is powerless against such a force. Satan devours without any fear of man.

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Job 41:30-32

30 Its undersides are jagged potsherds,
leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
31 It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron
and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 It leaves a glistening wake behind it;
one would think the deep had white hair.
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The crocodile leaves when it chooses to leave. Nobody can tell it what to do. Its legs are short, so its body leaves a track in the mud.

It stirs the water as it returns to the river. And the crocodile also leaves a track of bubbles (called foam) on the surface of the water.

The beauty and artistry observed in nature is beautiful and awesome when you stop to think about it and pause to contemplate what is happening.

The movement of the leviathan is expressed in a very poetic way here. There is much poetry in nature. It’s important to me to slow down and just take in what is actually happening in a moment. We live life too fast in general.

We talk sometimes about how life would be if civilization collapsed when we are on our walks. It’s something that I think about quite a lot. I am quite certain that although our years would be less in number, time would feel as though it were going more slowly.

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Job 41:33-34

33 Nothing on earth is its equal—
a creature without fear.
34 It looks down on all that are haughty;
it is king over all that are proud.”

—————————————–
We close the penultimate chapter of the book of Job with the final words of God to Job. He leaves him with much to ponder about the world around him, creation and where he fits into the big scheme of things.

The leviathan or crocodile will bring down the proudest of creatures. You cannot help to look at him with reverence and fear

The words imply, that he is created not to be afraid; he has no dread of others. In this respect he is different from other animals. The Septuagint says, “He is made to be sported with by my angels.”

So God has demonstrated his wisdom and power in the context of creation known to Job.

This wisdom and power of our creator prompts a response of reverence and humility. We don’t understand why God’s providence allows certain events to occur but we have no choice but to accept that they are wisely and justly ordered if we are to accept that God is a God of love and our part is to submit to his divine order of things.

Psalm 104 is similar to Job chapters 38-41. Psalm 104 also describes various animals:

· Psalm 104:11 and Job 39:5-8. These passages are both about the wild donkey

· Psalm 104:18 and Job 39:1-4. These passages are both about the wild goat.

· Psalm 104:26 and Job chapter 41. These passages are both about the crocodile or leviathan.

· Psalm 104:7-9 and Job 38:8-11. These passages both describe how God made a boundary for the sea.

· Psalm 104:21-22 and Job 38:39-40. These passages both describe how God provides food for lions.

There are also other similar passages.

In Job chapters 38-41, God was testing Job (Job 38:3; Job 40:7).

Psalm 104 is like an answer to Job’s test. The Psalm praises God, who did all these things by his wisdom (Psalm 104:24). He will punish wicked and bring about justice in his own way and on his terms (Psalm 104:33-35).

Job 39

Job 39:1-12

39 “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
    Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?

Do you count the months till they bear?

    Do you know the time they give birth?

They crouch down and bring forth their young;

    their labour pains are ended.

Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds;

    they leave and do not return.

“Who let the wild donkey go free?

    Who untied its ropes?

I gave it the wasteland as its home,

    the salt flats as its habitat.

It laughs at the commotion in the town;

    it does not hear a driver’s shout.

It ranges the hills for its pasture

    and searches for any green thing.

“Will the wild ox consent to serve you?

    Will it stay by your manger at night?

10 Can you hold it to the furrow with a harness?

    Will it till the valleys behind you?

11 Will you rely on it for its great strength?

    Will you leave your heavy work to it?

12 Can you trust it to haul in your grain

    and bring it to your threshing floor?

—————————————
The wonders of the animal kingdom are put before Job and further questions that he would have no answer for.

Job had at one point reasoned that God did not really know his situation. The reason that he had not yet been rescued was because perhaps God was unaware. God clearly knows the details of how the complexity of his creation works and he knows the small details of Job’s life.

The diversity of creation is brought to the table. Every animal has it’s own personality and instinct. This is true of each individual human being too, The variety and complexity in creation is astounding,

Jesus taught a lesson in Matthew 10:29-31 that he knows even when one sparrow falls to the ground and that we will not be forgotten, God knows the details of our lives, He knows everything that has shaped us and caused us to act in ignorance and fear. He knows why sin has surfaced in our lives, He understands this and has compassion for our pitiful plight.

In verses 1-12 we read about goats, donkeys and oxen. On the farm these animals are domesticated and managed but here he speaks of wild animals before they are tamed. They behave as God intended them to behave and not to obey the instructions of men.

Wild goats are shy, they live in the mountains. The young goats are not loyal to their mothers, they quickly gain their independence and go off on their own.

A tame donkey is a loyal animal that is easily managed and can carry heavy loads. A wild donkey however is completely different, it will not obey any man’s orders. It is completely unmanageable.

An ox has incredible strength. Job used to own 1000 oxen (Job 1:3), they are very useful in agriculture because of their strength.

I have seen verse 9 translated as unicorn before but the Hebrew word just means an animal with horns. The idea is an animal that cannot easily be domesticated. Ox seems better to convey the idea. It is an animal of great strength. However, it would be of no use to the farmer if it cannot be tamed. It might wander into the fields and instead of being useful to the farmer it would destroy the crops.

A wild ox would be happy to take the crops but instead of taking the crops to the farm house or the barn it would eat the crops itself!

The question being asked of Job and his friends is what do you really know? Who are you to question my ways and my purposes? You have no idea about the complexity of creation and why I have done what I have done or the point of all this. Just be quiet!!!

Good point. I am too quick to lose my gratitude and perspective and act as though all that matters is whatever is in front of my nose. There is a big world out there beyond my needs, my wants, my desires, my issues and problems. 

God is God, I am not!!!

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Job 39:13-18

13 “The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully,     though they cannot compare     with the wings and feathers of the stork. 14 She lays her eggs on the ground     and lets them warm in the sand, 15 unmindful that a foot may crush them,     that some wild animal may trample them. 16 She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers;     she cares not that her labour was in vain, 17 for God did not endow her with wisdom     or give her a share of good sense. 18 Yet when she spreads her feathers to run,     she laughs at horse and rider.

————————————————-

In his description of the ostrich God lets us know about the diversity in creation. Some animals are created to be wise and clever, others are created with other impressive traits but are not so bright. The Ostrich is a mixture of foolishness and strength. Ostriches have been known to chase horses and scare them off!

The variety in creation is astounding. There are some bizarre creatures out there and some very majestic creatures. The ostrich has wings but does not fly. It runs extremely fast and has incredible strength. Some birds are extremely careful about their eggs and care for their young but ostrich eggs are left in vulnerable places and it does not appear to have any sense of maternal instinct.

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Job 39:19-25

19 “Do you give the horse its strength     or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? 20 Do you make it leap like a locust,     striking terror with its proud snorting? 21 It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength,     and charges into the fray. 22 It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;     it does not shy away from the sword. 23 The quiver rattles against its side,     along with the flashing spear and lance. 24 In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground;     it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds. 25 At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’     It catches the scent of battle from afar,     the shout of commanders and the battle cry.

———————————-

From the ostrich we move into a magnificent, vivid picture of the war horse.

A war horse is more fearless than a loyal soldier.

Ostriches are like cowards! They run away from the battle. But army horses do the opposite. They race into the battle.

The Ostrich has physical strength but the horse represents mental strength and courage as well as physical strength.

Man did not give the horse strength, God did.

An army set for battle is set rigid with discipline and focus to hem back the fear that may be felt. The horse however, is impatient and engaging, it cannot stand still, but rises up with his fore feet and paws and prances. it digs the earth and makes it hollow, by a continual striking upon the ground. It feels no fear and has no hesitation.

Horses are not able to reason that they might be going to their own death in battle. They just want to do what horses do. This is the wonder of God’s design.

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Job 39:26-30

26 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom     and spread its wings toward the south? 27 Does the eagle soar at your command     and build its nest on high? 28 It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night;     a rocky crag is its stronghold. 29 From there it looks for food;     its eyes detect it from afar. 30 Its young ones feast on blood,     and where the slain are, there it is.”

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The hawk’s strength of wing is extraordinary, and one of the most majestic sights is to see a bird of prey in flight. Human ingenuity has not been able to master flight so majestic.

Even young hawks manage such precision navigation in their migration.

The sight of a bird of prey is razor sharp, When it spies it’s prey, it flies with incredible swiftness and accuracy, even like an arrow out of a bow.

Eleven of God’s creatures, six beasts and five birds, are presented for Job to explain. God cycled through all of these subjects, and when He finished, Job had not answered one question.

We have nothing to answer in creation. What can we say?

Job 38

a creation

Job 38:1-3
The Lord Speaks
38 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
—————————————–
Job had requested to meet God. He assumed that God would act like a judge by vindicating him and explaining the reason for his suffering. However, he believed that God had caused his trouble. He wrestled with the idea that God may be a cruel enemy(Job 16:9-14). He argued that he himself was right and that God was unfair (Job 32:2).
God now enters the dialogue out of the storm and instead of giving the answers that Job requested he lists a number of things that Job could not explain or comprehend.

Job had spoken of his own greatness and had taken the position of advising God (Job 23:13-17; Job 24:1). Hearing God’s speech however exposed his erroneous thinking (Job 42:1-6).

God’s speech is a little reminiscent of Jesus words in Luke 12:13-15. A man asked Jesus to act as a judge. The man wanted his fair share of his inheritance. But Jesus refused to be the judge. Instead, Jesus used it as an opportunity to teach the man about where he should place his security.

There are a total of 39 questions in chapter 38, which easily ranks it as the chapter with the most questions in all the Bible. When added to the 20 questions in 39:1 – 40:2, the total comes to 59 questions that God asked Job in the first cycle of interrogation. The second cycle 40:6 – 41:34) contains another 24 questions. The significant thing about these questions is that Job cannot answer a single one! God answers to no one.

Some are the same questions that Elihu had asked Job. Now, God demanded Elihu to answer the same questions. If he knew God better than Job, then he could answer the questions.

Verses 38:4-38: The questions cover a wide range of the marvels of God’s creation, with the emphasis placed on the inanimate world: earth (verses 4-7), sea (verses 8-11), the dawn (“dayspring” verses 12-15), unseen wonders (verses 16-21), weather phenomena (verses 22-30), and heavenly bodies (verses 31-38).

In verses 4-11 we will read how God challenged Job’s wisdom immediately with an inquiry about Job’s lack of omnipotence and omnipresence. Proverbs 3:19-20 and 8:22-31 reveal the connection between God’s wisdom and creation.

In verses 4-38 God asked Job if he participated in creation as He did. That was a crushing, humbling query with an obvious “no” answer.

In verses 4-7 Creation is spoken of using the language of building construction.
——————————–
Job 38:4-7
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
——————————–
Suddenly everything that has been brought to the table in the discussion about God’s ways and his intervention with Job is put in it’s place with this first question alone
Job was not there at the creation. But Job had spoken as if he was wiser than God (Job 23:13-17). He knew nothing of how the world was formed or of the heavenly realms. His friends also knew nothing.

What about me? I am quick to decide that God has caused or allowed something to happen because of a certain observation or judgment I have made but my understanding is so unbelievably limited. I would not count myself as wise as Job and yet sometimes I can act as though I know the mind of God or have some special insight.

I should probably shut up and let God be God. He is better at it than me. He’s been doing it a lot longer and he has never made a mistake in his entire existence. My life however is littered with mistakes, erroneous judgments and dishonesty to cover my tracks.
——————————–
Job 38:8-11

8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?

—————————————

God’s power over the sea by raising the continents is described. God set the laws of nature in motion which restrains even the sea!

We get a little more insight to the DNA of creation in Job’s encounter with God. Centuries later when Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples asked the question “Who is this that controls the wind and the waves”. They would have been familiar with this passage in Job. They perhaps were asking a rhetorical question!

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Job 38:12-15
12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
15 The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.
————————————————
I am such a morning person. I love the break of day when first light appears and most days I am lucky enough to see it and experience it. I love the quiet and the peace and seem to experience a very special connection with God and my own spirituality in those moments. There is something special about the early morning. One time I remember driving through the Highlands in Scotland just as day is breaking we experienced some of the most breath taking sights. A stag looking very majestic watching us from a distance, mist on a beautiful lake.

and No, I have never been able to give orders to the morning or shown the dawn it’s place. At the break of day and first light everything looks new and untarnished but you see it’s imperfections as the day moves forward and interacts with humans.

Dark activities take place at night when they cannot be seen. Most of my extreme behaviour either took place at night or was schemed during the night. Daylight brings clarity and focus.

The point in these verses is that as dawn rises it brings light and exposes the evil deeds in the same way we take the edge of a cloth and shake it to get the dirt out of it.
In the darkness everything is seen in shadows but the detail can be seen when light breaks
————————————————
Job 38:16-21

16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.
19 “What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
20 Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
21 Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!
————————————
A series of unanswerable questions continues as God challenges Job and his friends with what do you know?

The sources or the depths of the sea? Do you know where they are? Have you been there?

Job had wrestled with what happens after death in chapter 3 and chapter 26 but of course God knows exactly what happens after death. Job barely knew anything about the earth, the planet he lived on let alone what is outside of that.

Where does the sun go at night? What happens to the darkness during the day? Are older people really wiser … Job you are really not that old at all !

We may know a little more than Job did in his day but still the more we know and discover, the more we are baffled and filled with wonder about the things we don’t know about or the complexity and perfection of design in the universe.

————————————
Job 38:22-30
22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
26 to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?
—————————————-
God controls the weather. End of story. We have no control over the weather, we barely can predict the weather. He is in control of wars and battles.

Job was not sure that God would act as judge (Job 24:1). Later he remembered that every evil person will die (Job 24:18-24). In a situation where death intervenes he can no longer cause trouble. Therefore death is like God’s judgement. The result being that the evil man is snuffed out and those that are still here are no longer under his tyranny.

There is a lot of war recorded in the Bible. War is established under the designs of man for reasons of control, power, fear, pillaging resources and whatever else causes war. In these wars, God would be impartial (Joshua 5:13-14). Instead, God would use them to serve his own purpose and will.

God intervened in some spectacular ways in some of these battles. In Joshua 10:13-14, God delayed the end of the day. In the same battle, he caused large hailstones to fall from the sky (Joshua 10:11). These were a clear display that God’s people did not win the battle by their own strength. God won the battle.

God controls the weather. And he uses the weather for his own purposes. He even waters the grass where nobody lives (verse 27). A man would not choose to water that grass.

Everything is under his sovereignty and he is in complete charge. This is a world where rivers flow to the sea but the sea does not get over full, rain comes down, water turns to ice … Job and his friends had no clue how all that occurred or how this complex and beautiful world is synchronized to provide perfect living conditions with incredible provision.

Really, what could they bring to God? What could they offer him? What can they question him about? What about me? Here I am complaining about work and life and tiredness and yet God has given me all I need and taken care of me in a way that is way more than I deserve. Incredible.
—————————————-
Job 38:31-33

31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

——————————————-
Pleiades, Orion and the Bear (Arcturus in some translations) are stellar constellations of the stars. What does Job and his friends know about the operations of the heavens? What do we know? Again we may know more than the ancients but everything newly discovered brings with it many more unanswered questions.

The stars were of great use to the ancient world and they would be watched with great care. The stars are like a calendar, because different stars appear in each season. The stars also helped travellers with their navigation.

Job and his friends would have known the patterns of stars but would not be able to explain how God arranged them or how they came into being.

There are millions of stars that we cannot see and don’t have much idea about. The distances between the stars are immense. God created the stars. Scientists and astronomers have discovered a lot about the stars and the data is mind blowing. We can celebrate our brilliant minds that filled with the ability to work out all this data but we are only describing what God has already done. The description of Gods handiwork .
——————————————-
Job 38:34-38
34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
36 Who gives the ibis wisdom
or gives the rooster understanding?
37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
38 when the dust becomes hard
and the clods of earth stick together?
————————–
Job and his friends had just watched a storm. It had given them insight into the power of God. The lightning was a visible reminder of God’s power. The rain changed the solid ground into mud. Job had said that God’s power was like the power of a storm (Job 26:14). Of course a great storm is a mere shadow of God’s power. Some storms are spectacular and even scary.

I can remember one time when I was about 18, I visited Yugoslavia on holiday with my family. I experienced the most incredible thunderstorm all around the mountains. I had never seen such a scary storm. English storms seemed tame by comparison. The dramatic setting of the mountains and the sea and the ferocity of the storm was a combination that made me think about God and his power. There are times the weather can make us feel vulnerable and exposed and be aware that all we have to protect us is God. Even our most brilliant engineering and clever structures and buildings can be crushed by the weather or a flood or some natural force that reminds us of God’s power. We have no control over the weather.
————————————————-
Job 38:39-41
39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
and satisfy the hunger of the lions
40 when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in a thicket?
41 Who provides food for the raven
when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?
————————————————-
God switches his discourse from the control of the cosmos to the provision of food for wild animals. Job does not even have any part to play in taking care of the beasts of the earth.

God has taken care of all the minute details in creation and the sustainability of the earth to ensure that all of creation is taken care of.

Lions lay in wait for God to provide their food, ravens do not wait for their food to come to them, they make a lot of noise and go searching for their food but God takes care of the raven and the lion.

The point is that God has taken care of all of the details of provision throughout creation in a way that everything has been perfectly balanced. What has Job done? What does he know about the eco system and perfect sustainability? Evidently not much.

Job 26

storm clouds


Job 26:1-4

26 Then Job replied:
2 “How you have helped the powerless!
How you have saved the arm that is feeble!
3 What advice you have offered to one without wisdom!
And what great insight you have displayed!
4 Who has helped you utter these words?
And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?
———————————————
In verses 1-4 Job responded to Bildad’s lack of concern for him, showing that all his friends’ theological and rational words missed the point of Job’s need altogether and have been completely unhelpful.

Job himself has virtually said much the same as Bildad (Job 9:2; Job 14:4), so he makes no further comment on his remarks here, but merely asks how he has helped him with such words, or others like him in a weak and helpless condition.

In six sarcastic questions Job tells Bildad that God would be in a great deal of trouble if Bildad had not been there to help God! Then Job outdoes Bildad in describing the majesty, power and greatness of God.
Job had studied wisdom (chapter 28). So Job believed that words about God should not merely come from the human mind. Rather, such words should come from God’s Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

In chapter 25, Bildad’s speech seemed to describe vast spaces. He spoke about heaven. He spoke about the moon and stars. He spoke about the soil. And he referred to graves. Job’s reply seems to describe even more vast spaces. Job spoke about hell as well as heaven. He spoke about the sky and the clouds. He spoke about mysteries of the day, for example the horizon and the rain.

Job also spoke about some events which we will look at in verses 12-13. We do not know much about these events. We may not even be sure whether these are past or future events. But the Bible seems to mention the same events elsewhere. Some people think that Job was referring to stories from other ancient societies. Possibly, stories from Mesopotamia.
———————————————

Job 26:5-14

5 “The dead are in deep anguish,
those beneath the waters and all that live in them.
6 The realm of the dead is naked before God;
Destruction lies uncovered.
7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;
he suspends the earth over nothing.
8 He wraps up the waters in his clouds,
yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.
9 He covers the face of the full moon,
spreading his clouds over it.
10 He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters
for a boundary between light and darkness.
11 The pillars of the heavens quake,
aghast at his rebuke.
12 By his power he churned up the sea;
by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces.
13 By his breath the skies became fair;
his hand pierced the gliding serpent.
14 And these are but the outer fringe of his works;
how faint the whisper we hear of him!
Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”
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Job used three words to describe the place of the dead: “the waters, hell,” and “destruction”: This is his way of saying that if God sees what is going on in the world of the dead, He certainly knows all the world of the living. God has authority over the realms of both the dead and the living.

In verses 5-14 as before in chapters 9 and 12, Job showed that he was not inferior to this friends in describing God’s greatness. He understood that as well as they did. He described it as manifested in the realm of the dead called Sheol and Abaddon, or place of destruction (verses 5 and 6), the earth and sky (verse 7), the waters above (verses 8-10) and below (verse 12, and the stars (verse 13).

The Hebrew word is the Rephaim, who were among the aboriginal inhabitants of the south of Palestine and the neighbourhood of the Dead Sea.
It is used to express the dead and the inhabitants of the underworld generally. The translation is awkward but it seems to imply that they are pierced through with terror, or they tremble.

All the secrets of this mysterious, invisible, and undiscoverable world are naked and open before God. The grave lies naked and destruction is uncovered.

Job described hell. Elsewhere, Job was not sure whether hell exists (Job 3:13-14; Job 21:22-26). But in these verses, Job was not explaining his own ideas. Instead, he was speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Bildad had thought of God as dwelling in heaven alone. He did not realize that God was omnipresent. God is not only in heaven but on the earth as well. This could be speaking of hell that is under the water.

Even hell is within the view of God. It is also under the control of God. God is not controlled by anyone or anything. Even Satan has to answer to him and cannot leave his presence.

In verses 7-10 and 13: With great accuracy, Job described the world as it is – created out of “nothing” by the Maker of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1). This is especially remarkable since the Book of Job predates the Book of Genesis. He speaks of the Holy Spirit’s role in Creation. (Genesis 1:2, 26). 

This is breath taking and inspiring. We all need moments to stop and take it in. Our modern world is too fast paced for us to sometimes stop and be inspired. We live behind too much concrete and in too much artificial light. We are too full of our human ingenuity (which God gave us) and can lose sight of God’s awesomeness.
Many ancient people thought that the earth was on poles. Even Job mentions these poles elsewhere. But Job’s words here are correct. Scientists have proved that an empty space surrounds the world. God balances the world on nothing.

It was by God’s hand that the stars were scattered into space. Of course, all planets, the moon and sun, were created by God, and placed in the empty space of the sky; and told to stay in their places. The earth is not hanging or sitting on anything. It is in the open sky, where God put it and told it to stay.

God’s design of this world is amazing. We need the rain. Nothing holds the rain in the sky. It doesn’t make sense that something as heavy as water can be held in the sky and poured out at an appropriate time. Of course we have scientific explanations for it but the design and system behind the science didn’t come from a human mind. 

As a mere observer in the days of Job when science was not so advanced it would have filled with wonder and if you stop and engage with nature and even think about it in some detail with it’s complex eco systems … it’s just mind blowing.

Verse 9 reminds us that We are dealing with the King of Kings, the only true king. We may not see him but it doesn’t stop him from being king!!!

The theme of God’s power over the sea (“water with bounds”) is common to the poetic genres in the Bible (Psalm 104:7-9; Proverbs 8:27-29; Jeremiah 5:22). For God to have power over the chaos of the sea symbolized that He has power over everything that seems chaotic and evil to humanity. Imagine the disciples reaction when Jesus calmed the storm or walked on water. They would have been familiar with these verses. I shiver runs down my spine as I imagine the situation. I imagine whispers of  “Who is this rabbi that is with us?”

This describes the earth as a circular sphere, a scientifically accurate statement before it’s time in human history.

In verse 11 we are reminded that no one can usurp God’s power. Satan’s best attempt will leave him destroyed at the end of all things. God created the world by his word (Genesis 1:3-26). Psalm 2:4-6 has feelings and emotions. When driven by human emotion we can be very powerful and influence a lot. Passion is a great galvanizer. How much more the passion of an unlimited God? Nobody can successfully oppose God.

Verses 11-13 seem to describe a particular event.
·     The enemy in verse 12 is called RAHAB in Hebrew. This word is also in Isaiah 51:9. Isaiah seems to be describing a terrible sea animal. This however is a symbolic description of the army from Egypt. Or, as a description of the sea. God’s people were tapped by the sea but God parted the sea to allow the Israelites to escape (Isaiah 51:10). The Egypt army drowned (Exodus chapter 14).

·     The enemy in verse 13 is NACHASH in Hebrew. This word usually means a snake or serpent. In the garden called Eden, the devil appeared as a NACHASH. This word is also in Isaiah 27:1. Isaiah described the same event as Job 26:13. But in Isaiah, the NACHASH has another name too. This name is leviathan. The word leviathan is in Job 3:8 and Job chapter 41. We have translated leviathan as ‘crocodile’, which seems to be the animal that God described in Job chapter 41. But in both Isaiah and Job, leviathan could potentially by symbolic of Satan.
So, in the end, God will punish the devil (Revelation 20:10). This is the event that Isaiah described in Isaiah 27:1. But the words in Isaiah 27:1 are similar to Isaiah 51:9. So we think that Job was describing the devil’s final punishment in verses 11-13.

In the closing verses of this chapter Job offers a perspective that all he had cited about God’s unrivalled power over the grave, over nature, over the earth and skies, was a faint outline of His infinite, incomprehensible sovereignty.

Poetic language reminding his counselors that all that could be said and understood by man was only a glimpse of the nature and power of God almighty!

We know that thunder is connected with the voice of God frequently. When Moses had the Israelites at the foot of the mountain to hear the Commandments, the voice of God was spoken of as a thunder. It gripped the Israelites with fear.

Job 14

a_plant-new_life

Job 14:1-6

14 “Mortals, born of woman,
are of few days and full of trouble.
2 They spring up like flowers and wither away;
like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.
3 Do you fix your eye on them?
Will you bring them before you for judgment?
4 Who can bring what is pure from the impure?
No one!
5 A person’s days are determined;
you have decreed the number of his months
and have set limits he cannot exceed.
6 So look away from him and let him alone,
till he has put in his time like a hired labourer.
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The Book of Job carries a lot of reference to the brevity of man’s life. This is especially true of chapter 14. Man “is of few days” (verse 1), “Like a flower” (verse 2) etc.,

In verses 1-12 Job embraced the fact of God’s control over the issues of this life, but challenged their meaning. 

Life is short (verses 1-2), all are sinners (verse 4), and days are limited (verse 5), then comes death (verses 7-12). In light of this, Job asked God for grace instead of such intense judgment (verse 3), he requested rest from the pain (verse 6), and suggested that a tree has more hope than he did (verse 7).

This is very reminiscent of Ecclesiastes.
Life is short. Job said that we are like flowers. The life of a flower can last only a few hours. He also said that we are like shadows. A shadow is active but disappears in a moment.
A life can be active like a shadow or beautiful like a flower but it can be gone in an instant.

Job expresses some perplexity at why God would be concerned with a creature of such brevity and such impurity.

He knew that God determines our lifespan and days on earth and he knew that there was some kind of purpose to that but he was questioning the purpose.

His request is to be left alone to get on with what he is supposed to do until it’s the end of his days.

It’s a hard wrestling when you think that God might be against you and you don’t understand what is going on or why it is happening.
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Job 14:7-17

7 “At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
8 Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.
10 But a man dies and is laid low;
he breathes his last and is no more.
11 As the water of a lake dries up
or a riverbed becomes parched and dry,
12 so he lies down and does not rise;
till the heavens are no more, people will not awake
or be roused from their sleep.
13 “If only you would hide me in the grave
and conceal me till your anger has passed!
If only you would set me a time
and then remember me!
14 If someone dies, will they live again?
All the days of my hard service
I will wait for my renewal to come.
15 You will call and I will answer you;
you will long for the creature your hands have made.
16 Surely then you will count my steps
but not keep track of my sin.
17 My offenses will be sealed up in a bag;
you will cover over my sin.
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Job had talked about flowers and shadows. His life seemed weak and fragile but he also considered the life of a tree and that seemed a little more mysterious to him.

You can cut down a tree. Its branches become mere wood. And the tree has no leaves. The tree many seem dead for many months. But that tree can grow again. You might expect such a tree to be very weak. But in fact, the new branches have renewed strength. The scent of water will revive the roots of a tree. The roots appear to be dead, but come back to life, when water gets to the roots.

The thought about the tree gave some hope to Job (verses 13-17).

Job did not appear to have a grasp on eternity but he longed for some future state of being (Job 7:2; 14:13). It was a vague hope with no great assurance.

Job thought about the death of the human body. That body simply returns to the earth. Maybe Job did not remember that God created man from the dust (Genesis 2:7). Job yearned for something that had not yet been revealed to him but now we know with certainty (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

Then Job thought about sleep. A person who sleeps will wake. A dead body does not wake. But Job’s longing was that his dead body would wake. And this thought gave him hope that he would meet God.
Job asked to die and remain in the grave until God’s anger was over, then be raised to life again when God called him back (verses 13-15).

His hope was that God had a bag that he put his sin into and sealed them up, so they could be disposed of an forgotten about.
All of this reminds me of the verse in Ecclesiastes 3:11

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
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Job 14:18-22

18 “But as a mountain erodes and crumbles
and as a rock is moved from its place,
19 as water wears away stones
and torrents wash away the soil,
so you destroy a person’s hope.
20 You overpower them once for all, and they are gone;
you change their countenance and send them away.
21 If their children are honoured, they do not know it;
if their offspring are brought low, they do not see it.
22 They feel but the pain of their own bodies
and mourn only for themselves.”
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Job’s observation of a tree gave him hope (verses 7-9). But then he thought about the earth itself. Even mountains do not last always. Job saw how rocks can fall from mountains. The rain causes erosion of the soil from the mountains. And the soil goes into the sea.

The turbulent waters wear away the stones of the river by their constant action.

He reverted to a hopeless mood, speaking about death as inevitable (verses 18-20) and causing separation (verse 21). He was painfully sad to think of it (verse 22). It all seemed hopeless and he was helpless.

We can get many insights into life and death when we look at nature and creation. We closer I look at creation the more amazed at who is