Saturday, August 23, 2014

Job chapter 7 comments: Job's response to Eliphaz, part 2

1 ¶  Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling? 2  As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work: 3  So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me. 4  When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day. 5  My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome. 6  My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope.

Verse 1 shows us that the time we have on earth is set, ordained by God, as someone who is hired for a certain work with a start time and an ending time.

1 ¶  Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?

Psalm 39:4  LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.

This does not mean that God doesn’t have the power to extend that life.

Isaiah 38:5  Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.

Or, presumably, to end it before the set time.

1Samuel 2:6  The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.

We assume that we can shorten our time by bad behavior or lengthen it by healthful living. It would seem to be true as modern methods of sanitation and hygiene as well as nutrition appear to have prolonged our lives. It is a weighty theological and philosophical question to ask, “have I really added one day to my life by exercise, not smoking, and not being overweight, or, am I simply fulfilling the time set for me as my life was established in this particular time in history and in this location?” The doctrine of God’s omniscience, His knowledge of the future, both potential and real, tells us that God knows exactly when we will die and how. This brings up the age-old question of, “is foreknowledge predestination?”

The Book of Job reveals that we do not have all the reasons and causes available to us that we wish to have or even think we have regarding issues of life and death.

Job speaks of the servant who looks for sundown and a hope of the end of his labors for the day and the hired person who hopes for the time he gets paid. Notice here that the old custom was to pay a person at the end of the day for his work that day. Read the parable of the householder in Matthew 20.

Job says he is reduced to just waiting for his life to be over. He waits expectantly like a servant and a laborer for the day to end and he waits longingly for the night to end. His body is broken and his hope is gone. There is no joy left in life for him. Vanity in verse 3 is emptiness, nothingness, and meaningless.

David said;

Psalm 144:4  Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.

Solomon said;

Ecclesiastes 1:2  Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

The famed playwright, Shakespeare, or at least the person who wrote under that name, had one of his characters, whose plans fell apart around him and whose wife died, say;

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing
. (15)

(15) William Shakespeare, Macbeth, (1606, repr., New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013), Kindle edition, Act 5, Scene 5.

    7 ¶  O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good. 8  The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I am not. 9  As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. 10  He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more. 11  Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. 12  Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me? 13  When I say, My bed shall comfort me, my couch shall ease my complaint; 14  Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions: 15  So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life. 16  I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity.

James said;

James 4:14  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

King David said;

Psalm 39:4  LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. 5  Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.

Maschil said;

Psalm 89:47  Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?

Peter said;

1Peter 1:24 ¶  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

Job is certain that he has seen that last of any goodness in this life and that life holds nothing more for him. He is going to die, he hopes, and those that know him will not see him again. The dead have nothing to say, no more part to play in this life, except by the memory of them which grows dimmer with passing time. In a couple of generations, for the common man at least, it will be as if you never existed, as you are forgotten and those who remember you will also go down to the grave. We try to have power over others after our death with legal instruments like Wills and Life Insurance but we really have nothing to say about what goes on when we are gone. So, if you want to express your opinion or play with your toys, stick around.

Solomon considered, in his contemplation on the meaning of life, that the dead are not, as popular belief would have it, watching over us from Heaven.

Ecclesiastes 9:4 ¶  For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5  For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6  Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

Consider, though, how Paul appears to say something a bit different in the context of talking to the Jewish Christians of his time about the faithful Old Testament saints.

Hebrews 12:1 ¶  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Job, here, in his sorrow and bitterness, is not speaking of his resurrection, or Heaven, but only his relationship to the land of the living. As Solomon muses on death on his way to understanding man’s duty and purpose you cannot draw conclusions from an incomplete thought. Those who say that neither Job nor Solomon believed in life after death are only yanking verses out of context. The proof of Job’s belief in a resurrection comes later.

Job says in verse 11 that he’s not pulling any punches, so to speak. He has a complaint to make and he’s about to address God directly. Here, Job begins his error. It is better to die with prayer and praising on your lips than with complaining and arguing with God.

“Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?”

Psalm 89:9  Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.

As I said previously, a whale in the Bible represents a large creature, specifically a sea creature, but any large creature from the whales that we know, to a great fish, to a dinosaur, formerly called a dragon. Is Job so mighty and powerful, so dangerous and strong, that God must contain him and constrain him, keep him back, dominate him lest he cause disaster? What’s the deal, God?

Job says, when I think about resting, if I can just get some sleep, maybe some of this will pass for a brief time, but you, God, bombard me with nightmares and I cannot get any rest. I’d rather die, he says. I once heard someone who was suffering from the consequences of their sins say, “I just wish God would leave me alone.”

Again, Job here is expressing his wish to die. His life is empty now. But, he is starting what some do when faced with insurmountable grief and confusion by questioning God’s sovereignty and authority over him. People get angry with God when a loved one dies and think that it is all so unfair. How could God do this or allow this to happen to them and their loved one, even if neither party acted like they gave any regard for God when they lived. But even devout Christians can harbor resentment towards God that they don’t express. Some stay angry the rest of their lives.

    17 ¶  What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? 18  And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment? 19  How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle? 20  I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself? 21  And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.

Psalm 8:4  What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

Psalm 144:3  LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!

So, Job says how is it that I, a weak and frail human being, merit such consideration from you, oh God, that I must be the target of your arrows? Why is it so important to focus on me and to make me suffer every moment?

Note the use of the word, visit. God’s visitation upon the world of men and women in the Old Testament, under the Law given to Moses, before the indwelling of the Holy Spirit upon God’s people, was a time of judgment, despair, and destruction or it was a time of part of God’s purpose fulfilled.

Jeremiah 50:31  Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord GOD of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee.

Genesis 50:24  And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Job acknowledges that he has sinned, perhaps in sarcastically yielding to Eliphaz’s point. This is before the Law of Moses. After the Law is given here is what Solomon said.

1Kings 8:46  If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;

Ecclesiastes 7:20  For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

And Paul.

Romans 3:23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Okay, he says, I’ve sinned but Job asks why God doesn’t pardon his sin and take it from him? This is not done in humility but is spoken in bitterness. You must not let your grief cause you to defy God. Suffering should bring humility, not anger. Once again, we are thinking about God’s sovereignty over our lives.

Job notes that God should pardon his sins now as what good would that do once he is dead. If I am not pardoned while I live then I am lost forever if I die without God’s forgiveness. This is an important doctrine of the Bible. Receive Christ’s forgiveness now. There is no hope after you leave this mortal existence.

John 8:21  Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come….24  I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

John 3:36  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

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