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. 

—————————————

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?
————————————-
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.
————————————-

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?
_________________________
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.

———————————————
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.
———————————————

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.
——————————————
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.

——————————————

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.
————————————–
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 …

————————————–

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.
————————————–
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..

————————————–


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.
—————————————-
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.

—————————————-

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.
————————————————
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.

————————————————

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).

Advertisements

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.”
———————————————-
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.
———————————————-
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.
——————————————————
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.
——————————————————
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?
——————————————————–
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!

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!!!

—————————————

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.

—————————————
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.

—————————————
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.”

——————————————

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 37

abstract-contemporary-art-oil-painting-by-artist-todd-krasovetz-titled-phalo-whale1
Job 37:1-13

37 “At this my heart pounds
and leaps from its place.
2 Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice,
to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
3 He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
and sends it to the ends of the earth.
4 After that comes the sound of his roar;
he thunders with his majestic voice.
When his voice resounds,
he holds nothing back.
5 God’s voice thunders in marvellous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.
6 He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’
and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’
7 So that everyone he has made may know his work,
he stops all people from their labour.
8 The animals take cover;
they remain in their dens.
9 The tempest comes out from its chamber,
the cold from the driving winds.
10 The breath of God produces ice,
and the broad waters become frozen.
11 He loads the clouds with moisture;
he scatters his lightning through them.
12 At his direction they swirl around
over the face of the whole earth
to do whatever he commands them.
13 He brings the clouds to punish people,
or to water his earth and show his love.
———————————
In the preceding chapters Job and his friends had been conversing about the nature of God and in reality clutching at straws as if any of us can truly describe the nature of God or second guess his actions and reasons for specific actions.

They were about to have an encounter with the almighty. God himself would speak to Job. Then the men would start to see him with awe and holy fear!

It appears that Elihu was led by the Holy Spirit to express some things about God that the friends had been off point about and then to usher in the presence of God. Elihu was sent to “introduce God”.

But God is too great for a mere man (Job 33:6) to introduce him. Nobody can control God (Job 36:23). Nobody can force God to act (Job 34:29). So in reality, God introduced himself.
God is on record as speaking to people in many different ways (Job 33:14). Elihu described a dream (Job 33:15) and a servant of God (Job 33:23). Sometimes God has spoken to people in a whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13). But God spoke to Job from a storm (Job 38:1).

Before God spoke Elihu described the storm. He described it’s awesome power and noise. It’s impact on people and the livestock, the fact that it cannot be controlled or managed, it will not necessarily do what you expect it to do. In the storm and indeed the weather system there is great complexity. God is more than this.

To look at a storm can be breathtakingly beautiful but at the same time extreme storms can be extremely frightening. I know there have been times when I have been sailing with my dad and I have been afraid because we were at complete mercy of the weather.
God is more…
———————————
Job 37:14-18
14 “Listen to this, Job;
stop and consider God’s wonders.
15 Do you know how God controls the clouds
and makes his lightning flash?
16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?
17 You who swelter in your clothes
when the land lies hushed under the south wind,
18 can you join him in spreading out the skies,
hard as a mirror of cast bronze?
————————————

Elihu appears to be demonstrating that everything is in control and God has it all covered. He wanted Job to believe that God caused this trouble for him because he was not faithful to God and that God’s did this to give Job the opportunity to repent. We know of course from the intro to the whole book in the opening chapters that this occurred because of the opposite that Job was fiercely loyal to God and was counted as a faithful servant.

Perhaps Job’s greatest error was that he was too focused on himself. It’s not surprising when you consider what he was going through. His speeches seem to have focused on the fact that he was innocent and his own rights. (Chapters 29 and 31). However, God is always right (Job 32:2). Job should have really been focused on God’s greatness but instead preferred to speak about himself. Like most of us, he was the centre of his universe.

In verse 18 Elihu has a bit of a dig and implies that Job thinks he is equal with god in terms of his knowledge. This sounds absurd but in reality we all assume that position at some point. It is our core problem, that we think we know better than God and therefore do things our own way rather than his way.
————————————
Job 37:19-24
19 “Tell us what we should say to him;
we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.
20 Should he be told that I want to speak?
Would anyone ask to be swallowed up?
21 Now no one can look at the sun,
bright as it is in the skies
after the wind has swept them clean.
22 Out of the north he comes in golden splendour;
God comes in awesome majesty.
23 The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;
in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.
24 Therefore, people revere him,
for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?”
————————————

What would Job do if he had an audience with God, Elihu was asking an excellent question. He reasoned that the wisest thing would be to remain silent for what can we bring to the presence of God that is worth anything at all? To speak in the presence of God may invite judgment!

He uses a lot of irony on these verses and is goading Job on with provocative words. He reasoned we can barely look at the sun, let alone stand in the presence of God.

The men had argued about who was the wisest. This is amusing when you think about the scenario with the disciples in Mark 9:30-36 when they were all arguing about who is the greatest. Human nature has not really changed, We all want to be one better than those around us. There is something comically ugly about this.

Job 5

Accusation 1


Job 5:1-5

5 “Call if you will, but who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn?
2 Resentment kills a fool,
and envy slays the simple.
3 I myself have seen a fool taking root,
but suddenly his house was cursed.
4 His children are far from safety,
crushed in court without a defender.
5 The hungry consume his harvest,
taking it even from among thorns,
and the thirsty pant after his wealth.
———————————————–
According to Eliphaz, Job was abandoned and heaven would not answer his “call” for assistance because of his assumed wrongdoing.

If God did not help Job, there was surely no help available to him from the heavenly realms at all.

An evil man is angry because he hates God. So, God punishes the evil man for his behaviour. This is why the evil man dies is the explanation given by Eliphaz to explain Job’s misfortunes. He insinuates that all his misfortunes were owing to his folly and weakness, or to his sin.

Eliphaz believed that Job had placed his trust in something, or someone, other than God. He couldn’t figure out with his mind what was happening to Job, and he was seeking logical ideas about this.

Eliphaz was convinced that ‘trouble” always starts somewhere; it does not just “happen”. He was saying that he had seen people who dealt foolishly with God, and were destroyed. The emphasis was that something Job did  or didn’t do had caused God to turn on him.

All of Job’s suffering, his loss was his own fault. This was a consequence of his sin according to Eliphaz.
———————————————-

Job 5:6-7

6 For hardship does not spring from the soil,
nor does trouble sprout from the ground.
7 Yet man is born to trouble
as surely as sparks fly upwards.
—————————–
Here, Eliphaz linked his dream (Job 4:12-21) with his story (Job 5:1-5). If nobody is innocent, then everybody deserves trouble.

Eliphaz’s mistake was that his speech was too simplistic.  God’s punishment is rarely immediate. His heart is that we learn from error and grow. He is slow to anger and abounding in love. Eliphaz thought that God was punishing Job for some evil deed.
Eliphaz was still trying to say that the evil that Job had done was like a seed that brought in a harvest of affliction.

Eliphaz was telling Job that man was evil, and that it was inevitable for trouble to come. Just as sure as a spark of a fire goes up and not down, the troubles come to all.
He was getting what he deserved. This of course was not God’s perspective. The lesson here is to be careful with how we judge a situation. Who am I that I can discern the mind of God?
—————————–

Job 5:8-16

8 “But if I were you, I would appeal to God;
I would lay my cause before him.
9 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.
10 He provides rain for the earth;
he sends water on the countryside.
11 The lowly he sets on high,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
12 He thwarts the plans of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.
13 He catches the wise in their craftiness,
and the schemes of the wily are swept away.
14 Darkness comes upon them in the daytime;
at noon they grope as in the night.
15 He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth;
he saves them from the clutches of the powerful.
16 So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts its mouth
————————————————————
Speaking in spiritual platitudes, Eliphaz presumed to know the cause of Job’s suffering. Eliphaz also told him if he would just submit to the chastening of the Almighty”, Job would reap a harvest of blessing. This was a speculative but common thought about the nature of God.

The whole of Eliphaz’s argument is based on the moral perfection of God, so he went into an inspiring poetic narrative about God’s greatness and goodness.

Eliphaz seemed to be a man who knew a great deal about God. His real error was in judging his friend. Sometimes people who mean well, say insensitive things to those they love. I know that many times I have given erroneous counsel as a result of misunderstanding or assuming bad motives rather than attempting to truly understand someone’s heart. To judge externals alone is naive. The externals are always a symptom of a deeper issue. If we are to assume the role of counsellor or leader it is important to grasp this otherwise we will never truly reach people and certainly never galvanize hearts to facilitate change.

It appears that Eliphaz was saying, that Job’s wisdom was not wisdom at all. That he was crafty and scheming to get where he was. God would tear down such an enterprise, but we know that this was a huge assumption and misjudgment. .
Eliphaz implied that Job’s light had gone out, and that he was groping around in the dark even though the sun was up outside.

This was a reprimand of Job for complaining of his plight. Eliphaz said that God had stopped the mouth of Job.
…and all the time he was innocent.
————————————————————

Job 5:17-27

17 “Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
18 For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal.
19 From six calamities he will rescue you;
in seven no harm will touch you.
20 In famine he will deliver you from death,
and in battle from the stroke of the sword.
21 You will be protected from the lash of the tongue,
and need not fear when destruction comes.
22 You will laugh at destruction and famine,
and need not fear the wild animals.
23 For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field,
and the wild animals will be at peace with you.
24 You will know that your tent is secure;
you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing.
25 You will know that your children will be many,
and your descendants like the grass of the earth.
26 You will come to the grave in full vigor,
like sheaves gathered in season.
27 “We have examined this, and it is true.
So hear it and apply it to yourself.”
———————————————————–
Eliphaz thought that God was teaching Job about his errors. So, he urged Job to learn discipline from God.

It’s actually not bad theology in some ways (Hebrews 12:5-11). But we are fortunate to have a bigger picture and know that this was not the case with Job.

Eliphaz put a positive spin on his advice by telling Job that it is a blessing to receive God’s discipline. “If only Job admitted his sin, he could be happy again” was the advice.

This was a true statement but it did not apply to Job and his situation. I am sure that Job was aware that God chastens those he loves.

I wonder how many pat religious answers I gave over the years without any thought to them being helpful or effective.

One very good friend told me once that leadership is not about being right it is about being effective. I happen to believe that. There were times that I would deliver the truth with no thought to how it would be received and sometimes I would package the truth up with so much positive spin that it lacked sincerity and the sharpness of the truth was less a double edged sword and more a blunt butter knife. Both of these responses came from fear. Fear of someone thinking differently and feeling threatened by that, so having to manage them with vehemently strong words or fear of upsetting someone. 

Neither are helpful. Great leadership is about connecting, understanding and asserting the truth all in equal measure with love, compassion and the other persons best interests at heart.

Verses 18-27 hint at the language of Leviticus chapter 26 promising the blessing of a faithful covenant relationship with God. If Job confessed, he would have prosperity, security, a family, and a rich life.

Verse 25 is reminiscent of God’s promise to Abraham. See Genesis 12:2; Genesis 15:2-5; Hebrews 11:11-12.

Telling Job what he already knew may have felt patronizing or condescending. Eliphaz was calling Job to repentance. He had made assumptions about Job that were inaccurate and had attempted several tactics to get him out of his grieving.

Grieving is a heart issue not an intellectual or theological problem. Using head knowledge to deal with grieving is using the wrong tool for the job. If it is a condition of the heart then it needs to be met with the heart. 

Job 2

chaos-lauren-luna


Job 2:1-8

2 On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
———————————————

This is a nearly identical replay of the scene in 1:6-12, except that this test would be focused directly on Job. Satan’s phrase “skin for skin” falsely accused Job of sacrificing his children, his animals, and his servants in order to preserve his own life.

These verses are similar to Job 1:7-8. But God also accused Satan at the end of verse 3. God said that Satan had no reason to oppose Job.

Satan contended that what he had done to Job so far was just touching the skin, scratching the surface. Job endured the loss of all that he had, even the lives of his children, but would not endure the loss of his own well-being. If God allowed Satan to make the disaster a personal matter of his own physical body, the Adversary contended, job’s faith would fail.

Life threatening illness does cause some to turn from God but others it draws closer to God. I remember a friend who came back to God having been diagnosed with cancer and died in peace even though the illness ravaged his body and he endured many months of discomfort and pain with broken bones that would not heal due to the illness.

The “boils” could have been the same affliction that plagued the Egyptians in Exodus chapter 9. Job’s disease was not merely painful but life-threatening (2 Kings 20:7, Isaiah 38:21). Scraping himself with broken pottery was for momentary relief and sitting among the “ashes” was a way of publicly demonstrating his intense state of grief (Jonah 3:6; Esther 4:3).

Although the nature of Job’s affliction cannot be diagnosed exactly, it produced extreme physical trauma (2:13; 3:24; 7:5, 14; 13:28; 16:8; 19:17; 30:17, 30; 33:21). Job’s conversations throughout the book are not simply a dialogue with God but actually a dialogue under extreme physical distress without medicine or pain relief.

I have prayed at times under extreme emotional distress but not with the intensity of physical trauma that would have been endured by Job. I know that on the few occasions in my life when I have been in extreme physical pain I have not been able to focus on anything but the pain. Severe toothache, headache, a fractured rib, broken leg, a stinging wound.

Through all of Satan’s carnage, God is confident that Job will respond favourably but it will be a soul searching journey that many of us will have to go through in life. Few of us will have to endure such severe circumstances but suffering is synonymous with drawing close to God. Sometimes it is suffering of our own doing as a result of sin and sometimes it is suffering of circumstances that are around us in a broken world. One thing is for certain. God is nearby.
——————————————–

Job 2:9-10
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
——————————–
Different circumstances but Job’s wife hints at a parallel with the occurrence in the garden of Eden. She attempts to persuade her husband to fall into Satan’s hands and doubt the goodness of God. On this occasion Job stands firm and is not swayed by his wife’s emotional response.
Job asserts that she is talking like “foolish” woman. 

In this instance foolish does not mean silly or ridiculous, but an act of rejecting God and his will. The word is used to describe the unwise in the Psalms (14:1; 53:1) and in Proverbs (30:22). She is not seen nor heard of again in this book, except indirectly in 42:13-15.

Job’s actions demonstrated his confidence in God. It is easier to trust God’s sovereignty in difficult moments when your conscience is clear. That’s my experience. Negativity, blame and bitterness come from Satan when we engage in his schemes. We stop trusting and start to take matters in our own hands.
——————————–

Job 2:11-13

11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

————————————–

So having maintained his integrity in the presence of God and also in the presence of his wife, Job was about to encounter three friends. All this in the midst of great suffering and pain. I think I would struggle to want to see anyone at all.

“Eliphaz” seems to have been the eldest and most prominent. He was from Teman, a well-known Edomite city where wise men lived (Genesis 36:4, 11; Jeremiah 49:20; Ezekiel 25:13; Amos 1:12, Obadiah verses 8 and 9). 

“Bildad the Shuhite” lived in the same general area inhabited by the descendants of Shuah, one of Abraham’s sons by Keturah (Genesis 25:1-2, 6). 

“Zophar” also lived nearby in the area of Naamath. This is an unknown location probably in Edom or Arabia, although some have suggested Naamah on the Edomite border (Joshua 15:41).

Little is known about any of these men. This is a very touching scene, as Job’s friends came to comfort and commiserate with him in his pain, They expressed all the traditional gestures of grief. The intensity of their mourning, from the moment they saw Job and during “seven days” of silence, was appropriate for the devastation he had experience (Genesis 50:10; Romans 12:15)

“Eliphaz” means struggle against. “Bildad” means son of contention. “Zophar” means chatterer.

Job’s illness was very severe. So severe that his friends did not immediately recognise him.

This was extreme suffering and grief. Job just wanted to remain silent. His friends respected this. So they were silent until Job spoke.

The literal seven days is questioned by some scholars but there is no reason to really question this.