Saturday, August 30, 2014

Job 9:22-24 comments: God isn't laughing at your pain

22 ¶  This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked. 23  If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent. 24  The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he?

Job’s friends have said that the wicked suffer and the righteous prosper. Job argues that both the wicked and the righteous suffer. What he says here is true. Bad things happen to everyone and good things happen to many and there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason, in many cases. When a typhoon hits the Philippines or an earthquake hits California God’s people and the wicked both suffer. To deny that is to live in a sense of unreality, a fantasy world where Eliphaz and Bildad are correct and if something rotten happens to you whether it be cancer or a bad storm that knocks a tree down on your house it must be because of something you have done specifically to deserve that judgment.

Do you have evidence that no faithful Christians suffered in a tornado that razed a neighborhood in Oklahoma or that no Godly, Christian missionaries or native, faithful Christians suffered in an Ebola outbreak in Africa? What is your evidence? “I just know it’s true,” doesn’t count as evidence.

Christians will point out that God delivered the Hebrews from the plagues sent on the Egyptians. They will say that because of Jeremiah 24:5,9 God delivered the good Israelite and punished the bad. But, these were specific, purposeful acts of God’s will which He warned about ahead of time. These weren’t mysteries or seemingly random occurrences that weren’t preceded by a prophet’s announcement.

But, Job’s lamentation is a bitter indictment of God’s sovereignty. In his grief he cries out that God destroys the upright and the wicked and even laughs at the trial of the innocent. Solomon, in his progress of understanding what is important in life said, at one point;

Ecclesiastes9:1 ¶  For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them. 2  All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. 3  This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

Christians see people who reject God prospering in this life, full of riches and self-satisfaction, and common, ordinary Christians trying to please God suffering reversals of fortune and being forced to suffer with every inflationary period of rising rice prices in Liberia or in America any shrinking of the economy due to greed on Wall Street or incompetence and greed in Washington.

But, Job’s cry that no one can find a judge who isn’t blind to sort all of this out because God Himself has blinded them or that God laughs at the suffering of His people, is an absurdity not supported by the Bible.

God does cause blindness to come upon the wicked who choose not to accept His rule on their lives (Isaiah, chapter 29, Romans, chapter 1, & 2Thessalonians 2:11). They continue in their wickedness because of their choice as it has been said, sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. But that is not Job’s statement.

So, while Job’s statement that evil comes upon all, good and bad alike, is true, his statement that God laughs at the innocent person’s suffering is based purely on his hopeless situation and not understanding and wisdom just as your belief that nothing can go horribly wrong for you because you are, “faithful,” is based on your experience and self-righteousness and not on God’s word or on the truthful life and death story of millions of Christians who perished in natural disasters and disease epidemics throughout history.

“The earth is given into the hand of the wicked,” because of man’s sin and rebellion against his maker. Satan is the god of this world, little g, because of that rebellion. Death and suffering are man’s plight because of that sinful condition of man. We suffer because we live in a fallen world in fallen bodies because of sin and our natural destination is a burning Hell and an eternal lake of unquenchable fire unless we are born again spiritually.

Bear with me while I quote a few verses for you to consider.

2Corinthians 4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Romans 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans  6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 8:22  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

Matthew 25:41  Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

John 3:3  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

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.

But, God doesn’t have pleasure in the destruction of  even the wicked as many of you do.

Ezekiel 18:32  For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

Ezekiel 33:11  Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Much less, how could He have pleasure in the destruction of the innocent?

And importantly, it is not our exemption from life’s suffering that reveals our relationship with God. It is our response to our suffering and the suffering of others, including the wicked lost, that reveals that relationship.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Job, chapter 9:14-21 comments: our problem with God's sovereignty

14 ¶  How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with him? 15  Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make supplication to my judge. 16  If I had called, and he had answered me; yet would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice. 17  For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause. 18  He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness. 19  If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong: and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead? 20  If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. 21  Though I were perfect, yet would I not know  my soul: I would despise my life.

Job goes on with, what can I say against God?

Zechariah 2:13  Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.

But Job is insisting upon his injury as an innocent man. He repeats what God had said to Satan, even though he didn’t hear it. He says that God, “multiplieth,” his, “wounds without cause.” Job laments that he cannot argue with God, that God has broken him and Job isn’t even allowed to catch his breath. He blames God for filling him with bitterness. Job acknowledges that he has no words with which to justify himself before God, as none of us do. The very act of trying to justify ourselves before a Holy and Righteous God condemns us as perverse. Even if Job were without sin he would not argue to save his miserable life.* All a man or woman can do with God is to throw themselves at his feet and plead for mercy.

We have something wonderful today that Job did not have access to in his time. We have the Holy Spirit of God living inside of each of us who believe.

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Romans 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

    10 ¶  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Romans 8:26  Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Any man or woman who realizes the wretched state that they are in as a human being, a state of inability to please God, to honor God, to glorify God, and to love God by virtue of their sinful condition can come to Christ and be saved. Only the person who realizes that they are morally bankrupt in and of themselves will come to Christ and depend on His righteousness and not their own to have eternal life. This is one way to spiritualize the following verse from Christ’s popularly named, “Sermon on the Mount,” and claim it for yourself.

Matthew 5:3  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

That Spirit can comfort us, as I’ve quoted verses before showed, in a way that Job did not have the ability to call upon.

Job acknowledges that he cannot justify himself before God but then proceeds to declare that he has been unfairly picked on and that the bitterness that fills him is God’s fault. Here we are approaching a difficult lesson for the modern Christian, particularly the American Christian, about God’s sovereignty and absolute authority to dispose of him or her and the issues of their lives as He sees fit. It is a very disturbing doctrine. I can understand why successful people, gifted people, handsome people, pretty people, popular people, accomplished people, and people  who have acquired great material possessions might, in their exaltation of their own godlike self-view, reject the God of the Bible as their enemy. Indeed, they would be the enemy of God. Can you, who don’t believe you need God, hope to contend against Him? What do you hope to accomplish?

Who here, who has experienced a great and seemingly needless and senseless tragedy, even if they point at things they did or didn’t do that might have led to it, has not said, “God, why did you do this to me?”, or, “God, why did you let this happen to me?”

You screamed and cried with many tears, “God, I know I didn’t do the right things, the needful things, but I did what I knew, what I was told by society, your preachers, and my parents, and this happened anyway!” Or perhaps you believe you did the right thing, the Godly thing. “God, I was in church every time the doors were opened. Maybe I didn’t have regular family devotions. Maybe we didn’t read the Bible and pray together every day but my children heard lots of good preaching and were around Godly men and women. How could you let this happen?”

We are broken with a storm, a tempest, as Job put it, and God seems to multiply our wounds without cause. Some of us are so angry at God if this happens that we want to kill ourselves and are in grave danger of doing so.

We have such a hard time with God’s sovereignty in those times, as did Job.

(*Note: The soul’s and the body’s fate are spoken of often in the Old Testament as the same. What happens to the body happens to the soul, a death and decay that is never-ending (Isaiah 66:24). However, when a person receives Christ as their Saviour and has the Holy Spirit of God indwelling them their soul is cut from their flesh and the soul does not receive the judgment the flesh must.

From the Old Testament;

Ezekiel 18:4  Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

And from the New the only type of the former Jewish circumcision (not baptism), a spiritual circumcision;

Colossians 2:10  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11  In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Job, chapter 9:1-13 comments: Job begins his answer to Bildad

1 ¶  Then Job answered and said, 2  I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? 3  If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand. 4  He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered? 5  Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger. 6  Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. 7  Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. 8  Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea. 9  Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. 10  Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. 11  Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not. 12  Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou? 13  If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him.

Job replies and talks about God’s justice, wisdom, and power. He makes an important point that it is pointless to set yourself against the one who created you and expect to benefit from it. God’s power is underscored in this paragraph as well as the wisdom of his creative work. This God, who is invisible to us, is beyond our understanding in power and wisdom. Who can prevent Him from doing His will?

There are so many verses in the Bible about God’s strength and wisdom. We need to understand that we are a created thing, a creature, not unlike, in certain limited respects (and all types fail at some point), a computer program, or a complicated machine that is foolish to resist its maker who can alter it at his will or pull the plug, if he so desires. And yet, we are precious to God and, if we are saved, will one day share in eternal life with Him. There are many things that can be said about the star systems such as Orion referenced, many amazing things, that don’t apply to my purpose here so they will not be discussed but….

Psalm 19:1 ¶The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 2  Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. 3  There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. 4  Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 5  Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. 6  His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

    7 ¶  The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8  The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10  More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11  Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. 12  Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. 13  Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. 14  Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Note verse 7 and how this foretells much later events in Joshua;

Joshua 10:12  Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. 13  And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. 14  And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.

…and this part of a threat against Egypt….

Ezekiel 32:7  And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. 8  All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD.

The important thing to remember, although books have been written, sermons spoken, and hymns sung about God’s power, is;

Genesis 1:1 ¶  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

This separates everyone who believes the Bible from everyone who believes that fairy tale for atheists and philosophical Christians we call the Theory of Evolution. I mean by the Theory of Evolution that belief system, that “thought experiment,” that insists without scientific proof that matter, energy, and eventually life began by blind, random processes that accidentally came together in a self-organizing fashion, something the Bible says did not happen. It also means, in the popular mind, that one kind of animal, say an ape-like creature, eventually became a man, or a dragon/dinosaur eventually became a bird, something the Bible says is impossible.

You either believe one or the other. You can’t believe both. You either believe that the physical image of God, Jesus Christ, as the WORD, translated from John’s use of Logos, which the Greeks believed was the creative force of the universe, created all things or you don’t. You either believe that Christ, not Dark Matter or Energy, sustains or holds all things together or you don’t.

John 1:1 ¶  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2  The same was in the beginning with God. 3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Ephesians 3:9  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

Colossians 1:15  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

It all boils down to that either you accept that God is sovereign over all matter, energy, time, and space and that He can change or alter it as He sees fit or you, in believing in blind, random forces and your own intellect’s ability to perceive them, manipulate, or even control them, believe that you or mankind in general is the only god there is.

Of course, that is what the god of this world wants. He wants you to doubt the ultimate primary source, the record that God has left for us of Himself.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Job, chapter 8 comments: Bildad's advice to Job

1 ¶  Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, 2  How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind? 3  Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice? 4  If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression; 5  If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty; 6  If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. 7  Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.

Another friend speaks up. Bildad wants to know how long Job is going to go on being a windbag, full of hot air, so to speak. Job referred to his lamentations as so much wind in 6:26. Bildad challenges Job. Are you saying that God perverts judgment and justice? If your children sinned, and the assumption here is they did, and God killed them for their sins, and you pleaded with God as a pure and upright person would, God would make it right, and restore your wealth to you, at least.

What is right in here is that God never does wrong. He sets the standard for right and wrong. When a modern conservative or libertine Christian questions God’s goodness he or she is placing themselves in the place of God.

Note that a sin and a transgression are arranged in verse 4 as synonyms. Also, see in the following.

1John 3:4  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Now, the Law has not been given to Moses as yet for the Hebrews. So, there must have been an understood standard of life and worship that existed before the inhabitants of Canaan began on their path of child sacrifice, bestiality, and perversion in their religious practices. This is important to consider as in Noah’s time there are animals listed as clean and not clean long before the Law given to Moses. Read Genesis 7. There must have been a standard set after Abel began sacrificing in Genesis 4. Was the Law given to Moses actually a new thing or was it the reaffirmation of an older standard that God had set that mankind was abusing and ignoring?

The phrase, cast away, is significant in verse 4. It sometimes means to remove from God’s favor.

Luke 9:25  For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

Romans 11:1 ¶  I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2  God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew…

As Job’s messengers came to him with bad news so his friends come to him with bad opinions, foregone conclusions, already set by their self-righteous lack of compassion for his plight. Job, your children must have done something very bad. They got what they deserved because God never does wrong. If you were really as good as you think you are you’d turn to God in prayer and he’d restore you. It’s simple warped doctrine, typical of many conservative Christians, error drawn from truth.

You draw the wrong conclusions from the truth. We do it all the time. We know certain things from God’s word and we see certain things, the causes of which we don’t know. So, we assume knowledge we don’t have based on the truth we do have, instead of focusing on what we are called to do as a response to circumstances.

Jesus said;

Matthew 5:7  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Paul said;

Romans 12:15  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

2Corinthians 1:3 ¶  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

When you see a brother or sister engaging in sin you rebuke and correct and this is good, out of love, and for their sake. But, being unable to separate circumstance from behavior renders you a useless comforter. Let’s use a hypothetical situation to explain this. You see a brother or sister smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, a lifelong habit they haven’t broken free from since being saved. You rebuke them for their self-destructive ways and remind them of the fate of cigarette smokers, perhaps lung cancer, offer to pray with them and for them for deliverance, and promise to be there in their struggle. Another brother or sister, who never smoked, or maybe quit years ago, is told they have lung cancer. You suggest in word or thought that God is punishing them either for the sin that was forgiven long ago or you insist that they must be guilty of some other wickedness for which God is judging them, something that, in their case, you have no way of knowing because I am certain God didn’t tell you.

In the first case you did well to, “warn them that are unruly.” (1Thessalonians 5:14). In the second case you were like a friend of Job, rather than taking the opportunity to do God’s work for you of comfort and mercy, choosing to be a sanctimonious boor. Beware of the worst you assume about others when you have no direct knowledge.

    8 ¶  For enquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers: 9  (For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow:) 10  Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart? 11  Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water? 12  Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb. 13  So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish: 14  Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider’s web. 15  He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure. 16  He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden. 17  His roots are wrapped about the heap, and seeth the place of stones. 18  If he destroy him from his place, then it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee. 19  Behold, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow.

Bildad explains to Job the destruction due to the hypocrite who is struck down in the prime of his life with nothing that he depends on for support as being of any value to help him. Search history, Job, and ask of the past. We haven’t been around long and don’t know much. Our day comes and goes quickly. But, there are some facts of history and human nature you should know.

Something to know about people and nations;

Psalm 9:17  The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

Some things to know about humankind.

Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Jeremiah 10:23  O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

And when the wicked and the hypocrite are brought down others rise up to take their place.

    20 ¶  Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers: 21  Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing. 22  They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought.

Bildad, in his mostly true, but oversimplified view of how God deals with humans, says that, like Eliphaz who said bad things don’t happen to good men, God will not refuse to help a perfect man, which we saw in the first chapter refers to an upright and righteous man. God will also not help the wicked. Bildad promises victory to Job, if he is righteous, and the destruction of his enemies.

This is advice that sounds a lot like it comes from a modern, conservative Christian’s mouth. If you do right, come to church every week, be an active soul-winner, get all prayed up, read the Bible as if it was Emily Post’s Etiquette, don’t swear, or drink, he says, bad stuff won’t happen to you. Bad stuff only happens to bad people. I say this not to discourage you from doing right but to discourage you from doing right for the wrong reason. You cannot make a business deal with God. I’ll be good and you be nice, God.

Good people, faithful Christians, suffer persecution, pain, and even are murdered around the world today, as in all times of history in the last two thousand years. Bildad’s simplistic view of life doesn’t take this into account as he, like so many, is regarding his own experience as the standard by which to judge life. Truthfully, Bildad did not have the Scripture record we do. We read that the Christian is promised tribulation and that trouble will come his or her way.

Romans 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

But, more importantly, for our purpose, here we must understand that natural calamities, apart from persecution for being a Christian, can befall the faithful follower of Christ. Note the condition and the response of the Christians in the following.

Acts 11:27 ¶  And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 28  And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29  Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30  Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Their response was to send their brothers and sisters relief, not to send someone to tell them how they were probably being judged by God for some wickedness on their part. If a modern Pharisee, a fundamentalist, was around back then he would have told the churches in Judea that if they would just get right, even though the failure of harvests and the resulting famine were everywhere else, they’d have plenty.

Remember, your calling as a Christian for those who are in any distress.

2Corinthians 1:3 ¶  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

I would put forward my opinion here that one reason you are permitted to suffer, when it is not a direct result of your sin or negligent living, is so that you can minister to someone else who is suffering and understand what Eliphaz and Bildad cannot, the agony of the person to whom you are ministering. Empathy and compassion are more important than a judgmental know-it-all attitude on our part to God.

James 2:13  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

While Bildad and Eliphaz are out telling a brother, “the truth in looovvvve,” they could have been putting medicine on his wounds and helping him get back on his feet, encouraging him and praising God. But, then, we wouldn’t have had this great lesson from which to learn.

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.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Job 6 comments: Job's reply to Eliphaz, part 1

1 ¶  But Job answered and said, 2  Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! 3  For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up. 4  For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me. 5  Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder? 6  Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg? 7  The things that my soul refused to touch are as my sorrowful meat.

Job replies to Eliphaz, wishing that his pain and the circumstances he has suffered were looked at fairly. He is overwhelmed with grief. He feels that God has singled him out for punishment, comparing it to a poisoned tipped arrow shot into him, or as the terrors that God can cause lined up in battle array against him. He insists that the very thing he tried to avoid by his expression of religion has befallen him, comparing it to unclean food he avoided but was forced to eat.

Maybe, Job is asserting, Eliphaz does not understand just how much he is hurting or how awful  this thing is. Job wonders if maybe he has not described his pain well enough or if he even has the words to describe it. Have you ever felt that way when you suffered a loss so enormous and so feared that you were, as we say, consumed with grief?

    8 ¶  Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! 9  Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! 10  Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One. 11  What is my strength, that I should hope? and what is mine end, that I should prolong my life? 12  Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh of brass? 13  Is not my help in me? and is wisdom driven quite from me?

The emotional intensity of Job’s anguish is made all the more violent by Eliphaz’s unfair rebuke. Again, he pleads to have his agony ended by God in death. He uses the phrase, cut off, again with the word, destroy, referencing his desire to die.

It is not that we are to imitate Job in his lamentations but to learn from the despair he is expressing and perhaps to gain more compassion for those who are suffering. Notice that at no time does Job offer to take his own life. It is a request that he makes of God. We are not justified in any torment we suffer to relieve ourselves of this earthly existence. Yes, Christians commit suicide and yes, none of the characters in the Bible who do kill themselves either directly like Samson or through a proxy like Saul, are condemned for that act. Judas’ condemnation is for his betrayal of Christ not for his self-murder. But, it is never in God’s will that you end your own life. It is certainly not an unforgiveable sin but it is a sin nevertheless. Job doesn’t seek that solution, although we would not be shocked if he did speak of it.

If Job did not have a clear conscience, though, he would not have spoken of his expectation of death as being a comfort and a release. He declares that he has been faithful to God’s revelation of Himself to Job and pleads for God’s mercy in securing Job’s death almost as a medicine applied to his suffering.

Why should I go on, he says. I can’t do anything to help myself. Am I insane, have I lost my mind? Just kill me. Anyone who has entered that dark night that descends on you when your child dies, or the wife or husband you loved dearly, the parent you depended on for so much, or the human or animal friend that was your constant companion through many years may know something of Job’s despair, particularly when they leave suddenly, unexpectedly, and even violently.

We don’t want to think of our children dying before us. It makes the universe seem out of order, as if all that is right is turned upside down and nothing will ever be right again. Don’t even imagine it if you’ve never had it happen. It’s too terrible to even contemplate. Job has lost all of his children whom he loved dearly. He believes that God has given him something harder than he can handle. I don’t know of anyone who could handle it.

    14 ¶  To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty. 15  My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away; 16  Which are blackish by reason of the ice, and wherein the snow is hid: 17  What time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place. 18  The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish. 19  The troops of Tema looked, the companies of Sheba waited for them. 20  They were confounded because they had hoped; they came thither, and were ashamed. 21  For now ye are nothing; ye see my casting down, and are afraid.

Job states that someone who is suffering like he is suffering should expect pity from his friend and that Eliphaz has turned away from the fear of God by his unfair and unreasonable rebuke. Here, Job is foretelling in a way what God Himself will say later to Eliphaz and his friends.

Job 42:7  And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.

Eliphaz has not only been unfair but he has also been dishonest. He has promised like a brook that dries up comfort and consolation but has given nothing but rebuke and accusation. Like  armies or merchant caravans from Tema and Sheba with expectations of fresh and abundant water from brooks that dry up instead, Job expected kindness from Eliphaz but, in the end, has been offered nothing but more pain.

Shall you go to your friend who is hurting from the loss of their child and make their plight worse by giving them advice? By suggesting that it was theirs or their child’s sin that caused their death? We are guilty of such ignorant musings all the time. How many times have you heard of a young person dying in a car accident late at night or early in the morning and just assumed that they were drunk or on drugs before you knew anything of the sort. We don’t normally consider that a person might have been coming home from a late shift or from a trip or even an emergency. Before we even know any facts we assume.

But, Eliphaz and his friends have done worse. They have talked this out and come to this conclusion. This is planned. It is agreed upon with the three to confront Job. As the next verse makes clear, verse 22, tying it in with verse 21, when Job was doing okay these men’s friendship was important, but now that he is broken they have nothing to offer him. In fact, he accuses them of being afraid that he will ask something from them now that he has nothing.

    22 ¶  Did I say, Bring unto me? or, Give a reward for me of your substance? 23  Or, Deliver me from the enemy’s hand? or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty? 24  Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. 25  How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove? 26  Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind? 27  Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless, and ye dig a pit for your friend. 28  Now therefore be content, look upon me; for it is evident unto you if I lie. 29  Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yea, return again, my righteousness is in it. 30  Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things?

Job didn’t ask them for anything, not for money, not for physical help against an enemy, and not for sacrifices to redeem him from an angry God. He dares them to tell him how he has wronged them? He admits that the right words can convict and rebuke but denies that their argument reproves anything because he has done nothing wrong. In truth, even God, as I pointed out before, acknowledged this to Satan for God was moved against Job, “without cause.”

Job accuses his friends of something along the lines of taking advantage of an orphan, having, in so many words, dug a pit for their friend. Their pretended support gave him liberty to express his innermost sorrow but that liberty was turned back on him. If he had not been among friends perhaps he would have not expressed his grief in such extreme terms. David said;

Psalm 39:1 ¶  « To the chief Musician, even to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David. » I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.

Job suggests that they think about his plight again, reconsider it. Or, as Matthew Henry noted in his commentary on this chapter; “A just cause desires nothing more than a just hearing, and if need be a re-hearing.” (14)

(14) Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (1706 repr., Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2008), Kindle edition, Job, ch. 6.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Job 5:17-27 comments: Eliphaz, the Pollyanna Christian

17 ¶  Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: 18  For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole. 19  He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. 20  In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword. 21  Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh. 22  At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth. 23  For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. 24  And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin. 25  Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth. 26  Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season. 27  Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.

Verse 17 reveals a great truth, if we can handle it. First, when a person is happy in the Lord they are blessed.

Genesis 30:13  And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.

We are happy or blessed when God deals with us through answered prayer or changing us by speaking to us through His words.

God corrects those who are His children, who belong to Him.

Deuteronomy 8:5  Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

Proverbs 13:24  He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Hebrews 12:6  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

Paul, in speaking to the Corinthian church about taking the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper commemorating Christ’s sacrifice, reveals that some chastening of the Lord can even result in our physical death.

1Corinthians 11:27  Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30  For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

 This is an important point for Christians because, as God has saved you and, like Israel, even when dealing with your rebellion will not turn His back on you, your willful disobedience may result in your physical death. You are saved once and you are saved forever but He can first deal with your willful sin with conviction, then, if that is ignored, chastising you through some earthly pain or loss, and finally, if you are that hardhearted, a coffin awaits your flesh. This is necessary because of your eternal security in salvation. You cannot lose your salvation if you believe, He has given you faith, and you are saved. But, you can lose your life.

Eliphaz here is talking about the chastening that affects a man or woman’s family, their possessions, and their health but stops short at the loss of their life, which is exactly what has happened to Job although Eliphaz is in great error in attributing this loss to the consequence of sin on Job’s part. Remember that God has already told Satan that Job suffered, “without cause.”

When we are wounded because of God’s chastening, we should not hold that judgment in contempt, but learn from it. God will allow calamity to come to a believer’s life but He will also heal and restore that person when repentance is manifest.



Deuteronomy 32:39 ¶  See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

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

Psalm 147:3  He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

Don’t forget that God is absolute sovereign of the universe. There is no war between God and Satan. Satan can do nothing without God permitting him through God’s permissive will or unleashing him in Satan’s blind fury against mankind through God’s directive will. Satan is the author of rebellion and his fate is fixed by his pride. He hates us. But he cannot act independently of God’s will or in opposition to God’s will.

 Note that Christians who were unrepentant could be turned over to Satan for the, “destruction of the flesh.” Christians are too quick to afford Satan more power than he has and to give themselves power over him which they do not possess.

God is sovereign and in absolute control of the universe, physical and spiritual. What He allows to happen for a reason we may not know disturbs us greatly, at times.

Isaiah 45:5 ¶  I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: 6  That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. 7  I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Satan, when dealing with us, mixes truth, half-truth, and outright lies to deceive us. Here, in his argument, he uses many true premises to draw a false conclusion. Correlation is not causation. Just because Job has suffered and Eliphaz assumes that good people cannot suffer like Job has he draws the conclusion that Job has done great evil to deserve this and if he had been truly submissive to God and not sinned his life would have been hunky-dory and none of the bad things that befell him would have happened.

Eliphaz’s “Pollyanna” view of the life of God’s man or woman is common among American Christians who live in a country where they have been so blessed with abundance and social safety nets. Eliphaz represents the Christian who says to other Christians who might be suffering through no fault of their own that he knows something about their situation that it is impossible for him to know. And his self-righteous and mean-spirited pronouncement does more to harm than to heal.

Eliphaz concludes through verse 27, and I am going to apply this to the Christian today, that if you, Christian, had done no wrong, then your life would have been a bed of roses and you would die very old surrounded by your many children and within the security of your prosperity because bad things don’t happen to good people. Have you ever heard that before? I have. Not being a good person and having had great calamity happen to me because of my sin I have the perspective of being shocked at seeing people who tried to do right and to live their lives in the right way get crushed by circumstance. Then, I have heard self-righteous, sanctimonious Christians imply that they must have done something really bad to deserve it, even if they don’t have the bad manners to say it to that suffering person.                                                                                                                     

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Job 5:6-16 comments: people who are too clever for their own good

6 ¶  Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; 7  Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward. 8  I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause: 9  Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number: 10  Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields: 11  To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety. 12  He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise. 13  He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong. 14  They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night. 15  But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty. 16  So the poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth.

Eliphaz continues to say that disaster doesn’t just come for no reason, out of nowhere, as a random accident of things. Man is born to it. This is a great and true statement that, “man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” Life can be very difficult at times, even for the person who lives their life trying to please God. But the sinner cannot blame his troubles on the stars or the seasons or things outside of his own sinful nature. Man is born to sin and therefore born to trouble as Matthew Henry pointed out in his commentary on Job.

Then Eliphaz goes on to say that if this had happened to him he would submit to God’s will and accept God’s will. Job should accept God’s judgment on him and stop his whining. Eliphaz points out how great God is and how merciful and good He is. God is gracious.

Paul declared;

Romans 11:33 ¶  O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

God is merciful to all, even to those who oppose Him on earth. Jesus makes this call to His followers in the, “Sermon on the Mount.”

Matthew 5:43 ¶  Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45  That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

In the context of verse 11, God has the power and the will to protect those who are in any danger, if it be within His purposes. A Psalmist said;

Psalm 46:1 ¶  « To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. » God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2  Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3  Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4  There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

    6 ¶  The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. 8  Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. 9  He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

As Eliphaz in verse 12 points out, God can foil the intentions of the cleverest of men and women who are too clever for their own good;

Psalm 33:10  The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

Eliphaz’s statement in verse 13 is quoted by Paul in 1Corinthians 3:19. It may have been a well-known saying even when Eliphaz said it.

Paul also wrote for us;

1Corinthians 1:19  For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

Examples would be Ahithophel, Sanballat, and Haman. Look them up.

But God favors the poor among His people. 

Psalm 12:5  For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.

Those who dominate and exploit God’s poor will be silenced.

Psalm 76:8  Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still,

9  When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah.

What Eliphaz is saying is true. How does it apply to Job?