Job 29

Spirit


Job 29:1-6
Job’s Final Defense

29 Job continued his discourse:
2 “How I long for the months gone by,
for the days when God watched over me,
3 when his lamp shone on my head
and by his light I walked through darkness!
4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime,
when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house,
5 when the Almighty was still with me
and my children were around me,
6 when my path was drenched with cream
and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.
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Job’s concluding monologues present a summary of his righteousness and an appeal for justice.

Job was coming to a spiritual realization as the verses at the end of chapter 28 seem to indicate but here we see him lamenting for how life used to be and harking back to his wonder years and that God blessed him and took care of him.

He harked back to his successful life
·     God was protecting him and providing for him (Job 1:10).
·     Job became rich (Job 1:3, 1:21).
·     He had a large family (Job 1:2).
·     It appears that he had a productive, fruitful and successful farm with an abundance of cream and olive oil.
He longed for the days when he knew that God was present and on his side. What he perhaps wasn’t so clear about was that God was still with him and on his side in this difficult time even when his friends were attacking him, even when he was struggling with his health and feeling despair. God was just as near him in this time as in the successful times.

These are poignant words as I feel quite low at the moment (May 2017) about work and how I really find it hard to want to be there as it’s become quite a negative atmosphere and all I hear all the time is that our performance is not good enough, we need more, there needs to be more intensity about what we do.

I can find myself longing for the days when I was successful but for whatever reason God is here and present and sees fit that I should go through this difficult time. On a scale of hardship it doesn’t compare with anything that Job was enduring but that’s not the point.

This is about God being present in the good, the bad and the ugly of life. God allowing something in life to shape us.
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Job 29:7-11

7 “When I went to the gate of the city
and took my seat in the public square,
8 the young men saw me and stepped aside
and the old men rose to their feet;
9 the chief men refrained from speaking
and covered their mouths with their hands;
10 the voices of the nobles were hushed,
and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.
11 Whoever heard me spoke well of me,
and those who saw me commended me,
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These verses within Job’s lament give us some further insight into his life before his troubles came.

He was clearly an influential man. He was respected as a leader in his community, perhaps even a judge.

In patriarchal times, walls would surround a city. There would be a square by the city’s main gate. People would gather there for meetings. The leaders of the community would make decisions there and the judges would hold court.

Job attended the meetings of the rulers. He was considered a wise man with some authority.

There was a healthy fear and respect of his wisdom from old and young alike. He had a reputation as a fair man and was a known figure.

Whilst Job’s fall from the pedestal he was on was undeserved, he had done nothing wrong. It had a purpose that he nor others knew anything about. It was the result of something happening in the heavenly realms.

I know the same situation for different reasons. I did not just fall from a pedestal, the pedestal was completely smashed. It was also a result of something going on in the spiritual realms but it was caused by my dishonesty, lack of authenticity, the resultant thievery, sexual immorality and everything else that was hidden in my life. God will not be mocked. Everything that was propping me up had to come down with a crash.

I spoke at conferences throughout the UK and overseas, I received a lot of affirmation for my insightful style of preaching, teaching and speaking. I was part of an influential leadership team and was well known for various aspects of spiritual life in our international community of churches. It had to go. My ego was bound up in it. 

Do I lament that influence? Occasionally I will remember something and feel a mixed feeling about it. I will feel sad about what was going on underneath and that at that time I couldn’t handle “success” with authenticity. I genuinely no longer desire that mantel of “being somebody”. I enjoy living quietly getting on with life and find joy in my family, my close friendships, simple things of life and my creative pursuits. I wouldn’t trade my walk with God that I have now for anything …any level of fame or fortune. To feel peace every day, to have a clear conscience every day and to feel connected every day is a great blessing.

Not every day is a good day. I have my lustful moments when I notice a woman and I have temptations towards dishonesty which usually comes in the form of wanting to cover up mistakes I have made at work, I have the desire to run from difficult situations quite often or escape into something more palatable than face the difficult situation but I make the right decision more often than the wrong decision and I have learned to U turn when I head in the wrong direction.

In my former life when I had the opportunity to U turn I just ran faster. On some level I identify with some of Job’s lament and there is something that causes me to grieve about my former life but it’s mostly … I wish I could have handled it differently.

Today I am blessed. Life is different. It has taken a few different turns in my 54 years. Life is far from the utopian freedom that I sometimes long for but it is good. God is good.

Job knew that God is good. He struggled to reconcile this with what happened to him and searched his soul to understand it. This lament is part of that process.

We don’t always get we want but always we get what we need for our spiritual health and the best opportunity that we can have to know God and connect with him. He knows us intimately. He knew that Job would benefit from this and he knew what I needed to go through for my heart to be in a place where it could respond to God at a deeper level and ignite my desire with a more enduring flame.
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Job 29:12-17

12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help,
and the fatherless who had none to assist them.
13 The one who was dying blessed me;
I made the widow’s heart sing.
14 I put on righteousness as my clothing;
justice was my robe and my turban.
15 I was eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame.
16 I was a father to the needy;
I took up the case of the stranger.
17 I broke the fangs of the wicked
and snatched the victims from their teeth.
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In these verses we read about the Poor, fatherless, ready to perish, widow’s etc.,

All over the ancient Near Eastern world, a man’s virtue was measured by his treatment of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society. If he protected and provided for this group, he was respected. Job had been accused if not doing such things and this being the cause of his suffering and yet Job had indeed taken this responsibility seriously.

Taking care of the vulnerable and the poor is to carry the very heart of God. Contrary to the accusations of the 3 friends, Job went beyond the standards of the day to care for the widow, the orphan, the poor, the disabled, and the abused. Job saw to it that they had their needs taken care of. If he even heard of someone in trouble, he searched them out, and helped them.
Job was saying that he was just as tough on the wicked, as he was kind to the innocent. He was a champion and upholder of justice.

He carried the very heart of God in his being as best as he could with his human limitations. It is interesting that the words in verse 13 about putting on righteousness as clothing echoes down the millennia to Galatians 3:27 and being clothed in Christ or Ephesians 6:10-18 putting on the full armour of God. There is a recognition that his righteousness was not his own and that it came from God.

These are stirring words and his heart for the poor challenges me. I feel a love and compassion in some moments and certainly when I was working with the guys in the addiction recovery programme that I ran. I would feel it or if I bother to stop and talk with a homeless person I might find a connection or if I see suffering.

I pray for a softer heart towards the vulnerable and the poor, to carry the heart of God to the hurting and needy. I am selfish at the core of my being and I have moments when the light goes on and my heart softens but day to day I don’t really think too far beyond myself  and that’s not a great way to live.
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Job 29:18-20

18 “I thought, ‘I will die in my own house,
my days as numerous as the grains of sand.
19 My roots will reach to the water,
and the dew will lie all night on my branches.
20 My glory will not fade;
the bow will be ever new in my hand.’
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Job had experienced a lifelong intimate walk with God and his life had been one of vitality, health, energy and living with God’s blessings of fruitfulness and family. He expected to die a satisfied old man surrounded by family. This was his expectation and was the common expectation of a righteous man in his day.
He had no sense that this was coming, no hints, no clues. His world was turned upside down in a very sudden and immediate way.

Sometimes God changes our lives. Something comes out of the blue, stops us in our tracks and we are faced not with the life we were expecting but a very different life. It’s hard to compare any personal experience with Job in this sense. 

Certainly once my great unravelling began I knew that life would be different from now on and didn’t quite know exactly how different it would be. I might go to jail, I might not be able to repair my relationships with my family or my close friends, I might live in exile to the spiritual family, I might head further down a self destructive path. It was a time of fear and uncertainty but it was also a time of great blessing and relief. The pressure was off, I was no longer running away, hiding in the shadows, faking anything. I had to deal with shame first and though that was not my intentional thought, a good friend recommended a book called “the gifts of imperfection” which I read whilst living in my car and sofa surfing during August 2015.
All of this was sudden but it wasn’t unexpected given what had happened. My life would change. God had a different plan than I had previously thought for my life. In some ways I knew there was great challenge ahead and great suffering in the present for those that had been hurt, betrayed, let down by my actions but there was also a freedom emerging from a self imposed prison of a double life underpinned by dishonesty and play acting. Multi talented insightful spiritual leader with a gift for preaching on the outside and a secret life of sexual sin, flirting, deceit and financial ruin on the other. A man who lied, cheated and blagged his way through life.

However we look at life changes whether sudden or surprising, brought on by our own actions or events outside of our control. We can be sure that God is present, that he is involved and he wants to do something with our cooperation that will be fundamentally for our good. Countless Biblical stories are evidence of this and Job is one of those stories.

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Job 29:21-25

21 “People listened to me expectantly,
waiting in silence for my counsel.
22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more;
my words fell gently on their ears.
23 They waited for me as for showers
and drank in my words as the spring rain.
24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;
the light of my face was precious to them.
25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief;
I dwelt as a king among his troops;
I was like one who comforts mourners.
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Job reminded his friends that there had been a day when no one had rejected his insights. He was known as a man of depth and profound understanding. His walk with God was well known and he was respected as a spiritual and wise man. His leadership galvanized people and inspired loyalty.

Once Job spoke the debate was over. His words made sense. He was very influential..

Now he was in a situation where his friends would not agree with anything that came from his mouth. Bildad said that he would prefer to listen to the wind (Job 8:2).
Job had not changed. Only his circumstances had changed.

Job 15

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Job 15:1-6
Eliphaz

15 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
2 “Would a wise person answer with empty notions
or fill their belly with the hot east wind?
3 Would they argue with useless words,
with speeches that have no value?
4 But you even undermine piety
and hinder devotion to God.
5 Your sin prompts your mouth;
you adopt the tongue of the crafty.
6 Your own mouth condemns you, not mine;
your own lips testify against you.
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Eliphaz returns to the conversation and this time around he launches into a scathing attack on Job.

He began by accusing Job of sinning that involved attacking God with his complaints. He felt Job was guilty of empty words and had not exhibited godly fear and righteous prayer (verse 4), but rather was sinning in his prayer (verses 5-6). He was accused of being full of wind and of being rather bombastic.

..So the heat is turned up.

Job said that he was as wise as his friends (Job 12:3). He even said that they could learn from his words (Job 13:5-6). This caused a strong reaction in Eliphaz.

Eliphaz begins with a question. There are over three hundred questions in the Book of Job which is more than in any other book in the Bible. They express the viewpoint of wisdom and the search for understanding. Their constant use in the book clearly reflects it’s Near Eastern origin.

Eliphaz was criticizing Job for his talking, referring to it as “unprofitable”. He thought all of Job’s talk was in vain. He thought that God regarded it no more than he would the blowing of the wind. The east wind in that part of the world was the most “blowy” and “blustery” of winds.

Job claimed and reasoned that good men often have things that are not good in life and that evil men often prosper (Job 12:6). Eliphaz did not agree. He believed that God rewards good and punishes evil. Job’s words appeared to be disrespectful to his creator. He believed that Job was not showing reverence toward God and that he was hindering other’s prayers to God.

Eliphaz now accuses Job of “iniquity” and being “crafty” deceitful, whereas in his first speech he seemed to assume Job’s sincerity. 

Now even Job’s own words were condemning himself, there was no need for further testimony! The accusation levied against Job was of being irreverent and blasphemous in his speech. This is a shadow of the accusations levied against Jesus much later in time.
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Job 15:7-13

7 “Are you the first man ever born?
Were you brought forth before the hills?
8 Do you listen in on God’s council?
Do you have a monopoly on wisdom?
9 What do you know that we do not know?
What insights do you have that we do not have?
10 The grey-haired and the aged are on our side,
men even older than your father.
11 Are God’s consolations not enough for you,
words spoken gently to you?
12 Why has your heart carried you away,
and why do your eyes flash,
13 so that you vent your rage against God
and pour out such words from your mouth?
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True wisdom is not necessarily linked to age but to consistent trust and obedience to God’s ways (Psalm 119:99-100). Wisdom comes from walking with God and discovering that his commands are trustworthy and true (Deuteronomy 4:6; 1 Timothy 4:12).Solomon was reportedly the wisest man that ever lived. He was granted wisdom in his youth (1 Kings 3)

In verses 7-1,  Eliphaz condemned Job for rejecting the conventional wisdom, as if he had more insight than other men (verses 7-9) and could reject the wisdom of the aged (verse 10) and the kindness of God (verse 11). It was a serious charge against Job. He was saying that Job was going against conventional wisdom, the society norm and accepted culture and beliefs of his elders.

The common belief was that an older man was wiser (Job 32:7). Eliphaz said that many of the respected elders believed the same ideas as Eliphaz himself. Their forefathers had the same ideas. They thought that someone inflicted with illness or disease must be opposed by God because of some sin. Even Jesus’ disciples had a similar worldview (John 9:2). But Jesus challenged this (John 9:3).

Eliphaz charges Job with these words…
“Are you older than the hills?” As wisdom herself is (Proverbs 8:23). “Did you exist before the earth was created?”

He was accusing Job of believing that he had supernatural intelligence. He was also asking Job if he was the firstborn of God. In other words he was saying, are you trying to compare yourself to God.

The words are harsh, condemning, full of judgment and misunderstanding.
“Are you privy to the secret council of God?”

No mortal man had ever been included in the counsel of God, and yet that was what Eliphaz was saying that Job believed he had done. He was suggesting Job thought he was the only wise man on the earth and accusing him of great pride and arrogance.

Eliphaz defended the position of the friends. It appears that at least one of Job’s friends was as old as Job’s father. It probably would have been Eliphaz, because he always spoke first.

Job said that he wanted to meet God. He wanted to reason with him because he could not understand his troubles. It went against his belief system so he was wrestling with and struggling with the common belief that suffering equals a result of sin. He could not fathom it. It was a sincere wrestling. Eliphaz misunderstood this and assumed that Job was angry with God.

Eliphaz was insisting that he and his friends had offered a solution to Job. He should repent of his sins and seek God with all his heart, and then perhaps God would stop the punishment against him. 

His conclusion was that Job was rebellious and too proud to admit his sin against God.

I wonder how Job must have felt under all this judgment and condemnation on top of his grieving and immense suffering. I know that if I am mildly sick I can barely engage with normality, let alone emotive dialogue.
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Job 15:14-16

14 “What are mortals, that they could be pure,
or those born of woman, that they could be righteous?
15 If God places no trust in his holy ones,
if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes,
16 how much less mortals, who are vile and corrupt,
who drink up evil like water!
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In verses 14-16, Eliphaz delivers a strong but accurate statement about the sinfulness of man (Romans 3:23), the statement attacked Job’s claim to righteousness. Verse 15 refers to holy angels who fell and brought impurity into the heavens (Revelation 12:1-4). Whilst it is true and theologically accurate that all men are sinners it is quite irrelevant to the context of  Job’s complaint and question. His suffering was not due to any sin.

Eliphaz and his friends primary moral code and philosophy was one of retributive justice. They could not distinguish the difference between the fact that all suffering is a result of our sinful nature but not all the suffering is loaded proportionately on the being whose acts are sinful. Cause and effect is not necessarily delivered with equality. Such is the nature of a fallen world. The innocent sometimes suffer and the wicked sometimes get away with it but at the end of all things God will sort it out.

I remember myself and one of my younger brother’s being sat on a stool in the bathroom whilst my dad sorted out a particular issue that had occurred in the house. It’s a very simplistic illustration but in the end God will sift through it all and bring it back to perfect judgment.

Eliphaz was saying that if even the heavens, and the angels in heaven were not clean, the earth and its inhabitants were filthy. They were filled with iniquity.

Theologically accurate but completely unhelpful. Sometimes it’s good to think beyond being right and start thinking about being effective. Eliphaz was completely ineffective in his counsel of Job.
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Job 15:17-26

17 “Listen to me and I will explain to you;
let me tell you what I have seen,
18 what the wise have declared,
hiding nothing received from their ancestors
19 (to whom alone the land was given
when no foreigners moved among them):
20 All his days the wicked man suffers torment,
the ruthless man through all the years stored up for him.
21 Terrifying sounds fill his ears;
when all seems well, marauders attack him.
22 He despairs of escaping the realm of darkness;
he is marked for the sword.
23 He wanders about for food like a vulture;
he knows the day of darkness is at hand.
24 Distress and anguish fill him with terror;
troubles overwhelm him, like a king poised to attack,
25 because he shakes his fist at God
and vaunts himself against the Almighty,
26 defiantly charging against him
with a thick, strong shield.

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Eliphaz continues his rant about Job’s sin being the cause of his suffering. To support his relentless point, he launches into a lengthy monologue about the wicked and their outcomes in life, drawing many parallels to the sufferings of Job. He had pain, and didn’t know when his life would end (verse 20). He suffered from fear, every sound alarmed him, and he thought his destroyer was near (verses 21-22). He worried about having food (verse 23). His suffering made him question God (verses 24-26). 

Once well-nourished, housed and rich (verses 27-29), he would lose it all (verses 30-33). Eliphaz concluded by calling Job a hypocrite (verses 34-35), saying that this was the reason things were going so badly.
Eliphaz again asserts his personal experience as his authority: “from what I have seen.” He then surveys the judgments that fall on the wicked,  implying that Job is to be numbered among them.

Verse 18 refers to the oral tradition of the time. There were few or quite possibly no written records during this period. 

Knowledge among the ancients was communicated chiefly by tradition from father to son. They had few or no written records, and hence, they embodied the results of their observation in brief, pious sayings, and transmitted them from one generation to another.

Eliphaz said that even the wise men of old and the fathers had warned their children of the punishment that came to those who sin. These were not secrets but common knowledge.

Verse 19 alludes to the idea that the land they lived in had been kept safe from foreign invasion, cultural invasion or religious invasions. It seems evident that Job’s time was the time of the Patriarchs most likely after Noah and Abraham.
Eliphaz warned Job not to accuse God. He should not argue but just accept that he is guilty.

I have been on the receiving end of counsel like that and I have also delivered counsel like that. It is unhelpful and hurtful to the recipient and if my experience it is anything to go by delivering that type of counsel it only serves to make me feel better about myself, take my focus off my own shortcomings and place myself above the person I am giving counsel to in my imagined hierarchy. It doesn’t seem that there is anything fruitful or productive in that.
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Job 15:27-35

27 “Though his face is covered with fat
and his waist bulges with flesh,
28 he will inhabit ruined towns
and houses where no one lives,
houses crumbling to rubble.
29 He will no longer be rich and his wealth will not endure,
nor will his possessions spread over the land.
30 He will not escape the darkness;
a flame will wither his shoots,
and the breath of God’s mouth will carry him away.
31 Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless,
for he will get nothing in return.
32 Before his time he will wither,
and his branches will not flourish.
33 He will be like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes,
like an olive tree shedding its blossoms.
34 For the company of the godless will be barren,
and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes.
35 They conceive trouble and give birth to evil;
their womb fashions deceit.”
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Job had observed that many evil people are successful (Job 12:6). Eliphaz argued that their success was temporary. Their wealth would not last. Soon, they would lose everything (verse 29).

Job had spoken about a tree that someone had cut down (Job 14:7-9). This idea gave hope to Job. Perhaps God would allow Job to live, even after death. Eliphaz rebutted what he perceived as a stupid idea. If someone burns a tree, that tree will not live again (verse 30).

Eliphaz seemed to think that a person’s spirit dies with that person. He thought that the only new life after death would be through our children. They would be our only hope for the future. An evil man would have no children (verse 33). As Job’s children were dead, Job’s own death would be his end.

In verse 27 Eliphaz accused Job of gluttony, coveting and greed and yet he lived in ruin. Surely God took away his riches. Maybe Eliphaz had been jealous of how Job had been previously blessed and was now gloating on his disaster.

He believed that Job had to be a hypocrite. Job had proclaimed faith in God. Eliphaz said Job’s faith was just for show and that he was corrupt, prideful and greedy.
We don’t know what was behind such a disproportionate response.

Job 13

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Job 13:1-12
13 “My eyes have seen all this,
my ears have heard and understood it.
2 What you know, I also know;
I am not inferior to you.
3 But I desire to speak to the Almighty
and to argue my case with God.
4 You, however, smear me with lies;
you are worthless physicians, all of you!
5 If only you would be altogether silent!
For you, that would be wisdom.
6 Hear now my argument;
listen to the pleas of my lips.
7 Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf?
Will you speak deceitfully for him?
8 Will you show him partiality?
Will you argue the case for God?
9 Would it turn out well if he examined you?
Could you deceive him as you might deceive a mortal?
10 He would surely call you to account
if you secretly showed partiality.
11 Would not his splendour terrify you?
Would not the dread of him fall on you?
12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;
your defences are defences of clay.
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Job’s patience with his three friends was wearing thin. He understood everything they were saying, he had lived and taught these things. They refused to believe that he had not sinned and brought this upon himself.

Zophar thought that he had superior wisdom (Job 11:6). And Eliphaz’s advice came from a spirit (Job 4:17). But they did not explain anything that Job did not already know.
Job used the words “I am not inferior unto you” which indicated a growing resentment towards his friends. They were attempting to teach him to repent. He already knew how to do that!

Job had experienced a litany of wounding words from his friends. He declared them a bunch of useless physicians of no value, and all the more desired an audience with God.
Job trusted God. He believed that God is fair and that he would explain Job’s situation.
He was saying that he would rather debate the matter with God than with his friends. He was not afraid of presenting his cause before him, because God would know his heart and his integrity, and would not deal with him in an unmerciful manner as his friends had done.

Job had no intention of trying to prove his innocence to anyone, but God.

In verses 4-19: Job addressed his ineffective counsellors. Silence would be wisdom for them and he would be quite capable of addressing God and presenting his case himself.
Job now turned to the friends and asked them of their own motives. He would like to know if they were examined as closely as he had been, would they be able to stand. They were mocking Job. They should consider their own faults, before they began to find fault in others.

Maybe he accused his friends of becoming his friends, because of his high standing. He had been a wealthy man, when they became his friends. Perhaps he was questioning their motives in becoming his friends. Had they been his friends because of their great admiration for his belief in God, or were they his friends because of his wealth?

Job and his friends were sitting on ashes. And Job was using a piece of pottery to scrape against his boils and give him relief (Job 2:8). Ashes are not useful for any purpose. And cheap pots are not much use either. So Job was suggesting that his friends’ speeches like the ashes and broken pottery were hopeless.

Ashes are easily blown away. They had forgotten the good that Job had done. They were just clay and ashes.

It’s easy to be consumed with what other people think of you. Especially people who you may count as friends. There is a deep desire in all of us for acceptance. I struggled for many years and continue to struggle with how I am viewed by others. Thankfully that particular rug has been pulled from under my feet and I am no longer on some kind of pedestal so I don’t have anywhere to go with that. It is a blessing. The pressure is off. The pedestal was always imaginary anyway.

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Job 13:13-19
13 “Keep silent and let me speak;
then let come to me what may.
14 Why do I put myself in jeopardy
and take my life in my hands?
15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;
I will surely defend my ways to his face.
16 Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance,
for no godless person would dare come before him!
17 Listen carefully to what I say;
let my words ring in your ears.
18 Now that I have prepared my case,
I know I will be vindicated.
19 Can anyone bring charges against me?
If so, I will be silent and die.
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Job’s friends warned him not to argue with God. They believed that his issue was one of needing to repent of some hidden sin.

Job  however, was confident enough of his position to have no fear in taking it to God and reasoning with him. Job was saying, “I will not be a hypocrite and try to be something that I am not”. He did not wish to be silent and die. He needed to say something.

Job was not absolutely sure what the outcome would be but he needed to be heard and his wrestling with this would not allow himself to just accept it as it was.
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Job 13:20-28
20 “Only grant me these two things, God,
and then I will not hide from you:
21 Withdraw your hand far from me,
and stop frightening me with your terrors.
22 Then summon me and I will answer,
or let me speak, and you reply to me.
23 How many wrongs and sins have I committed?
Show me my offense and my sin.
24 Why do you hide your face
and consider me your enemy?
25 Will you torment a windblown leaf?
Will you chase after dry chaff?
26 For you write down bitter things against me
and make me reap the sins of my youth.
27 You fasten my feet in shackles;
you keep close watch on all my paths
by putting marks on the soles of my feet.
28 “So man wastes away like something rotten,
like a garment eaten by moths.
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Job asked God to take the pain away, so that he would be able to speak to God as his judge.

He wanted to question God about his sin and wrongdoing. He felt that he had the strength of a windblown leaf or dry chaff both easily blown away by the wind.
He talked about wasting and rotting away maybe thinking about his illness. Perhaps insects were attacking his boils. His body seemed so weak. He was sure that he would die soon. He just wanted to face God and get some answers!

Job 10

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Job 10:1-7

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

———————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job 10:8-12

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

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

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

Job 10:13-17

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

———————————————

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

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

Is this a foreshadowing of the need for a messiah?

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

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

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

Job 10:18-22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job 9

hard_road_treasure__1300_39x67x2_a

Job 9:1-13
9 Then Job replied:
2 “Indeed, I know that this is true.
But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God?
3 Though they wished to dispute with him,
they could not answer him one time out of a thousand.
4 His wisdom is profound, his power is vast.
Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?
5 He moves mountains without their knowing it
and overturns them in his anger.
6 He shakes the earth from its place
and makes its pillars tremble.
7 He speaks to the sun and it does not shine;
he seals off the light of the stars.
8 He alone stretches out the heavens
and treads on the waves of the sea.
9 He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.
10 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.
11 When he passes me, I cannot see him;
when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.
12 If he snatches away, who can stop him?
Who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’
13 God does not restrain his anger;
even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet.
———————————–
Job did not disagree with Bildad’s speech. But he thought that Bildad’s advice was too simplistic. Bildad seemed to think that a man, by his good behaviour, can force God to help him. Of course, nobody can control God.

This appeared to be less a response to Bildad and more a direct response to God. Here, he introduces a need for a “mediator” to stand before Yahweh to plead his case. Job wanted an occasion to speak to God about the injustice of his suffering.

Job counter argued Bildad’s arguments about God’s nature, he began to rationalize something about which he would later admit he knew dangerously little.

Job concluded that God is holy, wise, and strong (verses 4-10); but he wondered if He is fair (verse 22) and why He wouldn’t make Himself known to him. Before the mighty God, Job felt only despair. If God is not fair, all is hopeless, he thought.

Job expressed his sense of futility about finding vindication before God. He could not dispute God; he could not discern God’s ways; and now he was unsure whether he could depend on God.

In verses 2-5 it is useful to note that the “sea” was viewed as a force of evil in the ancient world (38:8-11) and the “Stars” were objects of worship for some. Job realized that the greatness and wisdom by which God created the world were the very things that would prevent any mere mortal from winning a case against Him (Psalm 104:2-3; Isaiah 40:22).

That God does not “pervert justice” (Job 8:3). But even though he was certain of his own righteousness, how can a mere man assert his right, and “be just” with God.
Job complains that a man cannot argue with an infinite God about justice; God could ask a thousand unanswerable questions.

If a man would be so foolish to try to contend with God, the man would not be able to answer one of a thousand things that God would ask.

Job makes his theological position clear.
Who is man that he should contend with God? God is all powerful. He is the source of all strength. He is Wisdom at its most complete. No man who hardens his heart against God could ever prosper.

In order to show how vain it was to contend with God, Job refers to some examples of his power and greatness. The “removal of the mountains”  alludes to the changes which occur in earthquakes and other violent convulsions of nature. This illustration of the power of God is often referred to in the Scriptures (Judges 5:5; 1 Kings 19:11; Psalms 65:6; 114:4; 144:5; Isaiah  40:12; Jeremiah 4:24 are a few examples).

The main thing we see in this section is that God is in total control of all the elements of the earth. Job knew this.

“Pillars tremble” in verse 6 described the supporting power that secured the position of the earth in the universe. Job is using the figurative language of the day.

Job’s narrative expresses the greatness of God in a beautiful poetic way. This is the God that he knew. He adopted the words of Eliphaz (Job 5:9). Job knew all of the greatness of God that his friends had mentioned, and even more. He never questioned the greatness of God.

Verses 11-12 are an expression Eliphaz had used in Job 4:15. Here in words of great sublimity Job depicts the unapproachable majesty of God omnipotent, but invisible, and shows the utter hopelessness of entering into judgment with Him.

If he decides to take away from any man his children, or servants, or estate, who is able to restrain him from doing it? Or, who dares to challenge him for it? And, therefore, Job says far be it for me to quarrel with God, this is your true accusation!

Verse 13 mentions Rahab. This is not the Rahab of Joshua 2 but rather could be translated as “proud”. Most English translations translate it as a name.
It is a reminder that no enemy can successfully oppose God. (See also Psalm 2).

Some translations refer to an ancient mythological sea monster in verse 13.
And God does not restrain his anger. Even the monsters of the sea are crushed beneath his feet. – New Living Translation
According to the Jewish Encyclopaedia a Rahab is an ocean dwelling dragonish creature. Which is also known as Tiamat.

(Whatever the interpretation of Rahab, the point is that God smiting the proud was a poetic way of saying that if the mythical monster of the sea (a metaphor for powerful, evil, chaotic forces) could not stand before God’s anger, how could Job hope to? In a battle in God’s court, he would lose. God is too strong (verses 14-19).

When the anger of God is toward those who rebel against Him, there is only one outcome.
———————————–

Job 9:14-20

14 “How then can I dispute with him?
How can I find words to argue with him?
15 Though I were innocent, I could not answer him;
I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.
16 Even if I summoned him and he responded,
I do not believe he would give me a hearing.
17 He would crush me with a storm
and multiply my wounds for no reason.
18 He would not let me catch my breath
but would overwhelm me with misery.
19 If it is a matter of strength, he is mighty!
And if it is a matter of justice, who can challenge him?
20 Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me;
if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty.
—————–
Job realised that God is the greatest judge. Job wanted to explain his problems to God. But Job struggled in knowing how to approach him and did not know what to say to him.

In these verses it is apparent that Job was unaware of God’s intimate involvement in his life. He could not even imagine that God might speak to him. Or, that God might help him in his trouble.

Job thought in verse 17 that God might use a terrible storm to punish him. He was aware of his power and awesome nature. There would indeed be a storm before God spoke in Job 38:1. But this storm was not a punishment for Job. Instead, God used the storm to teach Job about God’s great wisdom (Job 38:34-38).

Job was having great difficulty even in breathing. Somehow, he was beginning to be filled with bitterness toward life itself.
Job would not have said such things if he knew God’s words in Job 2:3. The truth was that Job would not need to explain his troubles to God. God already knew Job’s problems. God cared. And God would rescue Job in the end (Job 42:10-17).

Job was theologically on point to some degree as he asserted that God is so perfect even an innocent man would feel guilty.
God is so holy that even his special servants in heaven cover their faces (Isaiah 6:2). But, what Job didn’t seem to have a clue about was that in the future, we shall live with God (Revelation 21:3). We shall know him perfectly, and we will be in awe of that moment of great unveiling (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Job was affirming again that his suffering was not due to sins he was not willing to confess. Even at that, God found something to condemn him for, he felt, making it hopeless, then, to contend with God.

He lived in a Holy fear of the Lord understanding that he was awesome and powerful beyond comprehension. He understood that to approach God would be futile.

What he did not understand was God’s intimate interest in his life and his desire for relationship with his people.
—————–

Job 9:21-31

21 “Although I am blameless,
I have no concern for myself;
I despise my own life.
22 It is all the same; that is why I say,
‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
23 When a scourge brings sudden death,
he mocks the despair of the innocent.
24 When a land falls into the hands of the wicked,
he blindfolds its judges.
If it is not he, then who is it?
25 “My days are swifter than a runner;
they fly away without a glimpse of joy.
26 They skim past like boats of papyrus,
like eagles swooping down on their prey.
27 If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint,
I will change my expression, and smile,’
28 I still dread all my sufferings,
for I know you will not hold me innocent.
29 Since I am already found guilty,
why should I struggle in vain?
30 Even if I washed myself with soap
and my hands with cleansing powder,
31 you would plunge me into a slime pit
so that even my clothes would detest me.
——————————————–
The problem of suffering comes up often in discussion about faith and religion. It’s a major question that atheists and those who have trouble understanding the existence of God bring to the table and is in fact a fair question to ask.

Suffering is part of life. It can be caused by our own bad decisions or the bad decisions of others around us in a broken world, it can be caused by natural disaster or even something going on in the spiritual realms that we have no idea about, as was the case of Job. 

Suffering can actually be a blessing through which we discover growth and a renewed spiritual life.

Job now blamed God for the inequities of His world. He accused God of treating all the same way, unfairly (verses 21-23), and of even covering the eyes of earthly judges so that they would not see injustice. These are the charges that bring about God’s eventual rebuke of Job (chapters 38-41) and in turn Job’s repentance (Chapter 42:1-6).

At this point in the dialogue, the ills of the world were now pinned on God. Job blamed God.

In verses 25-27, we read about couriers running with messages, ships cutting swiftly, and eagles swooping rapidly. These illustrations all convey the blur of painful, meaningless days of despair that move by.
Job could hardly remember the time when he was successful. And he thought that he would die soon. So his life seemed very short and fleeting.

Job was saying that it appeared that even as a person’s life began it was headed for the end. Job was so despondent at this moment, that he saw no good in life.
The description of “Swift ships” were ships of reed. These skiffs, constructed of a wooden keel and the rest of reeds, are the “vessels of bulrushes” ( noted in Isaiah 18:2). They carried one or two people, and being light were extremely swift. The ancients were familiar with them.

Job was speaking of the swiftness of the passing of his life here. The ships leave the port, not to be seen again for a long time. The eagle swoops down and gets his prey and flies away.

In the latter verses of this section we read that Job knew that God was his judge. But he thought his situation was hopeless and did not think that he could defend himself.
He believed that God had already judged him and found him guilty of some sin he was not even aware of. He was asking, why he should labour to try to find out what he had done, if he was already condemned?
He was saying that all the cleansing in the world could not make him clean with God. This was a point of being despondent and without hope.

I have had times when I felt that God was against me and that I was without hope but this was always because I knew that I was in a darkness of my own doing, usually sexual sin, dishonesty, some violation that left me feeling less than authentic. 

The focus in those moments has been on me to get “good again” and that of course is futile. The focus is all on me to “get better” but this is not possible. It has to be an acceptance of who I am before God and a humble approach to God to say “here I am, broken and flawed …please accept me, I have nowhere else to go”

Job here seems to be certain of his  own goodness but is struggling to see the goodness of God.

One of the biggest problems with the outside world accepting Christianity is the Christians themselves adopting a mind set of “I used to be bad but now I have changed” and dismissing their continued brokenness and the ongoing redemption story in their lives.
——————————————–

Job 9:32-35

32 “He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him,
that we might confront each other in court.
33 If only there were someone to mediate between us,
someone to bring us together,
34 someone to remove God’s rod from me,
so that his terror would frighten me no more.
35 Then I would speak up without fear of him,
but as it now stands with me, I cannot.

—————————————————-
This is an amazing passage. Job wanted someone, like a lawyer, to help him to speak to God. He longed for a mediator to approach the unapproachable God.

When Job said, “for he is not a man, as I am”, he did not anticipate that one day God would become a Man – a mediator, to bridge the gap that Job so painfully described. Fully God, Jesus could reach out one hand to His Father in heaven. Fully man, He could reach out His other hand to humanity.

“We should come together in judgment”: Job acknowledges that, as a mere man, he had no right to call on God to declare his innocence or to contend with God over his innocence. Job was not arguing that he was sinless, but he didn’t believe he had sinned to the extent that he deserved his severe suffering. Job held on to the same simplistic theology of retribution as that of his accusers, which said that suffering was always caused by sin. And he knew he was not sinless, but he couldn’t identify any unconfessed or sin that he had not repented of. “Where is God’s mercy?” he wondered.

God is not a man, except in Jesus Christ who took on the form of man that He might experience man’s problems.
The word used for mediator in verse 33 means a court official who sees both sides clearly and understands the source of disagreement.

Job cries out for an advocate or impartial judge who could arbitrate the case between himself and God. His yearning was for Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

These verses describe Jesus’ work. Jesus is God (Hebrews 1:3). But he became a man (Hebrews 2:14). He suffered like us (Hebrews 2:18). He is the great priest who helps us to meet God (Hebrews 4:15-16).

This is the work of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). Job expressed his yearning revealing what was to come in the future.
We are in a position where can come before God with confidence and approach him with boldness, because Jesus opened the way for us. Job admitted he was not in such a position with God at that time.

Job 8

Mutant-spiders-produce-bullet-proof-webs

Job 8:1-10
8 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
2 “How long will you say such things?
Your words are a blustering wind.
3 Does God pervert justice?
Does the Almighty pervert what is right?
4 When your children sinned against him,
he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.
5 But if you will seek God earnestly
and plead with the Almighty,
6 if you are pure and upright,
even now he will rouse himself on your behalf
and restore you to your prosperous state.
7 Your beginnings will seem humble,
so prosperous will your future be.
8 “Ask the former generation
and find out what their ancestors learned,
9 for we were born only yesterday and know nothing,
and our days on earth are but a shadow.
10 Will they not instruct you and tell you?
Will they not bring forth words from their understanding?
—————————————-
Eliphaz does not respond to Job’s reply, instead Bildad enters the discussion and immediately questions his parenting of his seemingly wayward children. He wastes no time getting to the heart of his argument. He accuses Job of being full of hot air (“like a strong wind,” verse 2). If Job is to be exonerated, then God would be unjust, and that cannot be (verse 3).

Eliphaz had talked about his strange experience with a spirit. His ideas were new ideas. But Bildad’s ideas were traditional ideas.

This is almost a parody of how theology develops. Tradition is not always correct and so we get a pendulum swing into a completely new direction which can also be way off the mark. It’s also how most progressive thinking develops with things that we don’t fully understand. Something no longer fits our worldview because some evidence contradicts what we believe so there is a knee jerk reaction. Our thinking shifts from evolutionary to revolutionary.

We can then be presented with a situation are those holding to the tradition even though it doesn’t quite fit anymore and those who reject the tradition and suddenly throw out the baby with the bathwater. They start to present new ideas without properly testing them or thinking them through. I would definitely be in this camp but I know that I need people around me in the first camp that can anchor me in what is known otherwise I can be off with the daisies. What is needed in these kind of situations is objectiveness, humility and the pursuit of mutual understanding of the real issues or gaps of information. Assumptions are dangerous and can escalate to conflict very quickly.~

This happens in science, politics, theology, corporate culture, church culture and all kinds of situations. We have seen this polarity in our church, we have seen it in politics with Brexit and Trump in America.

Such extreme responses are rarely carefully considered but rather emotional responses usually driven by fear and we are divided often into two camps. The old worked for me so I need to hold onto it no matter what the evidence suggests or the old didn’t work for me and there is no way I am going back to it … the world is my oyster I need to think beyond this.

Anyway, these are mere observational side points. Let’s get back to the story…

The conversation now escalates, Job’s drama has sparked an emotive response from Bildad who is sorry that Job had even spoken and would prefer to listen to something that had more meaning, like the sound of the wind!!

Rather than offering a theological theory as Eliphaz had done, “Bildad” saw things in a much more black and white fashion. He bluntly attacked Job’s character.

Job knew about his children’s behaviour (Job 1:4-5). Bildad took Job’s claims for innocence and applied them to a simplistic notion of retribution. He concluded that Job was accusing God of injustice when God must be meting out justice to Job.

In effect he was saying that Job, his sons and daughters must have deserved what is coming to them, as God’s justice is without error. This of course was a shallow judgment on the situation that lacked the broader spiritual perspective.

Bildad advised Job to pray. This is always good advice (1 Thessalonians 5:17) but would have perhaps been received as condescending on the back of such an accusation.

We read in verses 8-10 that Bildad harked back to words handed down by spiritual ancestors who taught the same principle – that where there is suffering, there must be sin.

Tradition is not necessarily correct. The past is perhaps best viewed as a rudder to guide rather than an anchor to secure a position. The old school like to use it as an anchor which may hold the position or may keep you going round in circles with tidal or wind movement and the new school usually dispense with the rudder as well as the anchor which of course leaves you vulnerable to every wind and tide. This is what we have seen in the past 14 years of our own church history.

Bildad reminds Job “for we were born only yesterday and know nothing,
and our days on earth are but a shadow.” (Compare Job 14:2; Psalm 102:11; Isaiah 40:6).

This is a deep truth of our transience, our days really are brief and fleeting that they can scarcely be called a reality. This is all the more poignant knowing that Job was most likely from the patriarchal period where longevity of life went into the hundreds of years. He lived a further 140 years after his fortunes were restored (Job 42:10-17).

Bildad believed that he had made errors that could have been avoided, had he studied his ancestors and listened to their wisdom.
—————————————-
Job 8:11-19

11 Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh?
Can reeds thrive without water?
12 While still growing and uncut,
they wither more quickly than grass.
13 Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
so perishes the hope of the godless.
14 What they trust in is fragile;
what they rely on is a spider’s web.
15 They lean on the web, but it gives way;
they cling to it, but it does not hold.
16 They are like a well-watered plant in the sunshine,
spreading its shoots over the garden;
17 it entwines its roots around a pile of rocks
and looks for a place among the stones.
18 But when it is torn from its spot,
that place disowns it and says, ‘I never saw you.’
19 Surely its life withers away,
and from the soil other plants grow.
———————————-

Bildad explained his ideas with three stories that supported his simple logic of cause and effect. These are all illustrations from nature.

·     The first story is about plants that grow near the river (verses 11-13). Without water, such plants die quickly. Such plants are like people who do not obey God. They forget that their lives are God’s gift (John 1:4).

In a spiritual sense, this is telling Job to draw water from his roots. Water in this particular sense, would be his relationship with God.

It grows and flourishes in a rich greenness up to a certain point; if no one touches it. But the water fails from the root, and it fades, collapses, and is gone.

“It withers before any other herb”: The ground may be all green around it with ordinary grass and other herbs, since they only need a little moisture , but the water-plant will collapse unless it has its full supply.

This was speaking of a time when it had grown to its greatest height. When the land dried up where it was planted, it quickly died. At the peak of the greatness of Job, this terrible calamity had come. He was accused of forgetting his source.

·     The second story is about a spider’s web (verses 14-15).  A web might seem to be strong but it is fragile. People who forget God may seem to be strong. But they are leaning on a spiders web. So their lives are weak. Jesus said that such people’s lives are like buildings without a proper foundation (Matthew 7:24-27).

A spiders web is formed with great art and industry, and may be a snare for it’s prey but it is fragile, and easily swept down, or pulled to pieces, and unable to defend the spider that made it. The application is obvious.

He was accusing Job of building upon something other than God. He was actually accusing Job of building on shifting sand.

·     The last story is about a plant in a garden (verses 16-19). This plant has everything that it needs. So it grows well. Then the gardener removes the plant. He leaves the plant to die. This story was rather like Job’s life. Formerly Job had been successful. But now, like the plant, Job was dying. The plant was like a man who does not obey God. Job’s prayer (Job 7:12-2) caused Bildad to think that Job was turning away from God.

The hypocrite, or ungodly man (verse 13), is as a rapidly growing plant, which shoots up at sunrise with a wealth of greenery, spreading itself over a whole garden, and even sending a beautiful spray of colour to look at, and full, apparently, of life and vigour.
He was alluding to the prosperity of Job, which was well known by everyone. He was prospering in every way. It was visible and splendid.

Then suddenly it’s place remembers it no more. He shall be so utterly crushed and destroyed, that there shall be no footstep, nor name, nor memorial of him left there.
This was speaking of the sudden calamity that came upon Job, just as this plant was suddenly uprooted.

Bitter irony.

A fresh crop of weeds always springs up in the place of those torn up. Each plant lives for a short time, and then another takes its place. That was what Bildad was saying here. Job would be replaced by another person. He will be forgotten. Bildad’s attempt to sermonize was insensitive, Job’s problem was not a hypocritical relationship with God. Pious words and spiritualizing only cause further damage. True friends seek to understand rather that condemn. There is no condemnation in Christ.
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Job 8:20-22

20 “Surely God does not reject one who is blameless
or strengthen the hands of evildoers.
21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy.
22 Your enemies will be clothed in shame,
and the tents of the wicked will be no more.”

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Bildad held out the possibility of restoration to Job, but it must have been cold comfort after the wave of insults.

Bildad was sure that God is fair. He offered religiously simplistic and condescending advice even if it was technically correct. Job should do the right things. God would rescue Job.

If Job was a righteous man, God would not cast him away. God would once again fill his mouth with laughter, and his lips would rejoice.

Verse 22 is similar to Psalm 132:18. The idea that Job’s repentance would silence his enemies and those in judgment of him. Bildad closes on these words.

Job 7

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Job 7:1-5
“Do not mortals have hard service on earth?
Are not their days like those of hired labourers?
2 Like a slave longing for the evening shadows,
or a hired labourer waiting to be paid,
3 so I have been allotted months of futility,
and nights of misery have been assigned to me.
4 When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’
The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn.
5 My body is clothed with worms and scabs,
my skin is broken and festering.
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Job’s words now turn away from Eliphaz and turn back towards God as his lament continues. The language here is similar to the language that Solomon uses in Ecclesiastes. There is an evident wrestling going on as he attempts to reconcile his plight with a gracious and loving God.

Job complains that even a slave has relief from his labour and masters control at night, that even a slave is rewarded for his work but his suffering knows no end.
Like the worker and the slave, Job waited. But Job was waiting to die. Job’s death was the only reward that Job expected.

He could not sleep at night such was his suffering. He would long for dawn which would only bring more suffering but his night terrors would at least subside.
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Job 7:6-10
6 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
and they come to an end without hope.
7 Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;
my eyes will never see happiness again.
8 The eye that now sees me will see me no longer;
you will look for me, but I will be no more.
9 As a cloud vanishes and is gone,
so one who goes down to the grave does not return.
10 He will never come to his house again;
his place will know him no more.
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Job uses metaphorical language to convey life’s transience. The words are similar to those found in the Psalms (Psalms 39:4-6; 62:9; 89:47-48; 144:3-4). The reality of life and death drove the psalmist to God. In contrast Job spoke as one without hope.
The weaver’s shuttle spins rapidly. In the same way, life appears to pass quickly.
All our lives are but a breath, this does not just refer to Job and his predicament but me too. Life is fragile, very precarious and uncertain. It is a “vapour”, a mist, easily broken and dissipated. It soon vanishes.

It is like the “wind”, noisy and blusterous, full of stir and tumult but then it swiftly passes and sweeps away, and does not return.

I think about people I knew who are no longer with us. My grandparents, my Vicki my first wife, my friends and fellow band members John & Chris and the list goes on. I think about Bayo a great friend from my early Christian days up until his untimely death a few years ago, I think about Juvarne who sang beautifully at our wedding.

I think about even well known people who died in the last several years …Michael Jackson, David Bowie and many others. They all made some kind of noise in my life for one reason or another but they are mist. They make no more noise. Life has gone. The same will happen to everyone.

The idea of never coming to his house again is an interesting and somewhat haunting thought. Sometimes I have had the opportunity to revisit houses I used to live in or even simply go past them. So many memories were created in those places and yet to see them again, they are inhabited by someone else who has no attachment to those memories that are mine. The houses are changed. A cutting from my grandfathers grapevine that I planted in my house in Braintree is gone. It is no more. The story has ended.
We are a mist but something greater awaits.
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Job 7:11-16
11 “Therefore I will not keep silent;
I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep,
that you put me under guard?
13 When I think my bed will comfort me
and my couch will ease my complaint,
14 even then you frighten me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
15 so that I prefer strangling and death,
rather than this body of mine.
16 I despise my life; I would not live forever.
Let me alone; my days have no meaning.
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Job now turned his lament toward God, with questions that are focused on his prolonged misery. If Job’s life was a breath that would inevitably expire one day, why did God bother guarding him like some monster of the “sea”? Why not train His eye elsewhere and let Job slip this mortal coil? Is this some macabre game or experiment?
The use of the word “therefore” indicates a conclusion on the basis of all he had said in verses 1-10.

Job had decided that since his life seemed to be so hopeless, he would complain. He had not previously revealed his bitter feelings. Now was time to open up and express his hurt.

He questioned God about the issue of attempting to control him like some sea monster.
“Is it so needful to watch me as you would watch a threatening sea monster?”
Job was not an animal, or a sea monster that had no control over their lives. He was a man with feelings. He was restrained as if he had no thoughts or feelings. He felt as if God had forgotten him.

The agony Job experienced was constant. He could barely sleep, yet when he did, he was haunted by nightmares he believed came from God. He longed for death to relieve him of this terror.

The word for “no meaning” is the same word “hevel” often translated “meaningless” or “futile” in Ecclesiastes. It is frequently used in scripture to describe transience of life, that life is a vapour or mist (Ecclesiastes1:2-4).

Man does not live in this body forever. Job wanted to know why he could not just die now and cut the time short. It appears that Job does not have a sense of the eternal in these early chapters and it makes me wonder if that is the point of the wisdom literature …to point us to eternity.
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Job 7:17-21
17 “What is mankind that you make so much of them,
that you give them so much attention,
18 that you examine them every morning
and test them every moment?
19 Will you never look away from me,
or let me alone even for an instant?
20 If I have sinned, what have I done to you,
you who see everything we do?
Why have you made me your target?
Have I become a burden to you?
21 Why do you not pardon my offenses
and forgive my sins?
For I will soon lie down in the dust;
you will search for me, but I will be no more.”

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The language in verses 17-19 resembles that of Psalm 8:4, except that Job associates God’s excessive attention with testing.

Job is now immersed in self pity and darkness. It’s really not surprising when you consider the torment and suffering he is experiencing but he questions God about why he is so important, , that God would spend all this attention on him? Why did God cause all this misery to someone so insignificant?

God refines us through suffering, he use it to shape us, to form Christ in us and to increase our trust in him (Hebrews 12:7-11) (Romans 8:28-30). This lesson would become clear to Job later (Job 23:10).

Why God should take a pleasure in his daily suffering? Why does not God allow one morning, or one moment, to pass without inflicting pain on a creature so feeble and so frail?

These are raw but honest questions.  In the bigger picture there is an authentic wrestling going on much like the wrestling we see in the Psalms. Many of the Psalms follow a pattern of “why are you doing this to me God? Why are you against me?” but finish on a point of surrender and trust “I will praise your name forever”, “Your unfailing love is amazing, I take pleasure in your presence”. The book of Job is effectively doing the same thing across 42 chapters.

The expression “Till I swallow down my spittle” is a strange statement. It was an Arabic proverb, indicating “a brief moment”. Job was asking for a moment “to catch his breath”.

This section ends on a resignation of him laying down in the dust and blotted out from the presence of God and any connection with God.