Thursday, November 27, 2014

Job chapter 29 comments: Job's great example of goodness


1 ¶  Moreover Job continued his parable, and said, 2  Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; 3  When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness; 4  As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle; 5  When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me; 6  When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil;

Job goes into a time of remembering the good old days. Solomon reminded us;

Ecclesiastes 7:10  Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.

We do this after a tragedy in our lives, remembering with perhaps a bit of the proverbial rose-colored glasses the former days. Job was, indeed, riding high at one time, a big family he loved, wealth, and health. All that appears to be over for him.

Oil and butter signify abundance. You can understand that in a culture that depended on animal and plant products not only for survival and but also as the source of its wealth. Oil was used for, among other things, light and for imparting some special significance.

Exodus 25:6  Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,

    7 ¶  When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street! 8  The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up. 9  The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth. 10  The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth. 11  When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: 12  Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. 13  The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. 14  I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. 15  I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. 16  I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out. 17  And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth.

Here Job shows us his position in his culture, a position of leadership and judgment. Those who ruled and judged sat in the gate and the gate of the city is the place from which judgment was issued.

2Samuel 15:2  And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel.

Amos 5:15  Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.

These are just two of many verses about judging in the gate. See also Genesis 19:1; Ruth 4; 2Samuel 18:24; 19:8; 2Chronicles 18:9; Daniel 2:49 and others. This gives us the sense of the verse following which means that the judgments of Hell will not prevail against the church.

Matthew 16:18  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Verses 8-11 reveal Job’s place of respect and power, perhaps even his kingship, in his culture. In 12 and 13 he remembers his own good deeds and his compassion. This makes you mindful of the Christian’s true expression of his faith, what James called undefiled, pure religion.

James 1:27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Verse 14 has some interesting cross references;

Psalm 132:9  Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.

Isaiah 61:10 ¶  I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

Revelation 19:8  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

This also represents an interesting take on the purpose of government in God’s eyes. First, we can look at Romans 13, that government is to punish evildoers. We can look at Joseph and his Pharaoh’s relationship with the welfare of the people in disastrous times and in preparing for those times. We can also see here in Job the requirement of good government to punish oppressors and to help the powerless.

    18 ¶  Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand. 19  My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch. 20  My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand. 21  Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel. 22  After my words they spake not again; and my speech dropped upon them. 23  And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain. 24  If I laughed on them, they believed it not; and the light of my countenance they cast not down. 25  I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in the army, as one that comforteth the mourners.

Back in the day, Job thought that all of his goodness would produce a long life with prosperity and happiness. He did not look toward any complications or think that his expectations would be frustrated. Job speaks here of his wisdom and the reaction of people to it.

Here, Job speaks of himself by way of simile, using as, like a king and someone with the authority to comfort the poor and helpless. Was he a king? We don’t know but he certainly seemed to be some type of ruler, even if by virtue of his wealth only.

Notice in verse 18 the hyperbole where Job compares his expected days of life to the sand. This is obviously not literal as no one imagines that Job thought he would live for trillions of years on this earth in his present state. Here, hyperbole is used again in the Bible regarding sand.

Hebrews 11:12  Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

While some would argue that this may be true in eternity as a prophetic statement it is certainly not literally true now.

From verse 19 we can cross reference to see how men are compared to trees elsewhere.

Psalm 1:3  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

And should give us a point of study in how the branch is used in Job elsewhere and in prophecy how Jesus is THE Branch.

Job 8:16  He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden.

Job 14:7  For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.

Job 15:32  It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green.

Job 18:16  His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off.

Isaiah 11:1  And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

Zechariah 3:8  Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.

Trees, branches, and roots are the center of very important comparisons made in the Bible, much like stones and rocks. It is a good idea to make a study of them that would not be appropriate here.

As we approach the end of Job’s arguments we see how Job spends a great many words exalting himself and reminding his friends of what a great man he really was. His speech continues as he manifests one trait of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, the belief that if they live a Godly life, by their definition of Godly, then nothing bad should ever happen to them. If they were truthful about it they would admit that they think they’ve made some kind of deal with God. “I’ll be good and you, God, be nice.”

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Job chapter 28 comments: God's control over natural processes


1 ¶  Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it. 2  Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone. 3  He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death. 4  The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men. 5  As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire. 6  The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold. 7  There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: 8  The lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it. 9  He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots. 10  He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing. 11  He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light. 12  But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? 13  Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.

In this first section of Chapter 28 Job discusses man’s efforts to dig into the earth as mining has a very ancient history and prehistoric mines have been located in Serbia, Swaziland, and Hungary, as well as other places. In verse 1, the word, “fine,” used to mean, among its other meanings, to make purer as in the word, refine. Here in the first two verses of chapter 28 we have precious metals and useful metals. Man goes to great length and is very clever in drawing out of the earth the treasures it holds for him.

Man makes great effort to bring light into the earth to see to search out anything precious and valuable in the rocks and travels in place where no beast has gone. He spares no effort to obtain that which he wishes in the earth. Fire setting and water had ancient uses in the efforts to mine the earth’s treasures and early man was quite clever and accomplished in his work to obtain them.

But, wisdom and understanding he has failed to find. Man doesn’t know their value and he cannot find them in this life.

Here, wisdom and understanding are shown to be synonymous, similar in meaning. There are over 50 verses in the Bible where wisdom and understanding are linked and there are also cross references between the two. For example, how did the men who wrote the Bible write? By what process?

2Timothy 3:16a  All scripture is given by inspiration of God…

Job 32:8  But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.

2Peter 3:15b  …even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

We are told to mine for wisdom and understanding deep within us.

Proverbs 2:2  So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4  If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Psalms 51:6  Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

The interior of a human being is likened to the heart of the earth where precious and useful things are found by God, something that can bring Him glory, the raw material on which the Holy Ghost works by the Spirit.

Psalm 139:15  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

But, man cannot find wisdom in this life without God.

Proverbs 16:16 ¶  How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

Ecclesiastes 8:17  Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

    14 ¶  The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me. 15  It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. 16  It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. 17  The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. 18  No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. 19  The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

Wisdom is not hiding in the depths of the earth, in some deep mine with gold and silver. It is not found at the bottom of the ocean. Man cannot purchase wisdom with gold or silver or precious stones. You can’t put it on one of your many credit cards.

Acts 3:6  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Christ is our wisdom.

1Corinthians 1:24  But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God…30  But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

And He cannot be bought with money.

Acts 8:18  And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19  Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20  But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

Job’s statement in verse 18 is repeated in Solomon’s Proverbs.

Proverbs 8:11  For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

    20 ¶  Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? 21  Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. 22  Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears. 23  God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof. 24  For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; 25  To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure. 26  When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: 27  Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out. 28  And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

Job asks rhetorically, from where does wisdom come? Where is understanding found? It is hid from the eyes of all living things. Destruction and death, whom he personifies here, as he did with the depths of the earth and the sea earlier in a metaphorical way, do not know of wisdom firsthand.

God knows where wisdom is and He knows where understanding resides. One of the doctrines of God is not only His omniscience, knowing all things, but His omnipresence, being able to exist in all places, which is similar to immanence, being near to us at all times, while at the same time being transcendent or apart and above all things.

Here are some important points about science. Why do things seem to operate by order, by rules, most of the time and yet sometimes seem to defy those rules? How is that possible? There are many explanations when it comes to argument but the one explanation the Bible repeatedly makes is that God causes or God allows at all times and in all ways. He does not just set up a pattern. The pattern would not function without His intervention. God is not a watchmaker who wound up the universe and walked away. The sovereignty of God means that he not only made the watch but makes it operate, makes the gears turn so that physical laws only function as such because of God’s operation and that miracles or exceptions to those laws occur by the same fashion.

What about weighing the winds and weighing the waters? The air moved by the wind has weight and mass, an authority from the Argonne National Laboratory states at; http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/wea00/wea00206.htm

Water vapor is an important component of the earth’s atmosphere and the atmosphere is the context of verse 25. It has weight varying by temperature and humidity. Of course, my explanations are simplifications of complicated processes of which, apparently, Job and his culture were aware.

Verse 26 explains that the water mentioned in the previous verse, evaporated water that condenses to form clouds that release water, as rain operates under God’s rules that He has put in place and upon which He acts. Job states the modern understanding of the relationship between water vapor and lightning, with thunder’s relationship to lightning, those relationships having been the source of much speculation throughout history. Verse 27 insists that God is the source of this activity. Remember the storm that killed Job’s children in chapter 1, verse 19. For wind and storm being synonymous see 21:28 and 27:21 and;

Mark 4:37  And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

And also in Luke;

Luke 8:23  But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.

This information about water in the atmosphere, rain, and lightning understood so long ago should not surprise the reader as Solomon refers to the hydrologic cycle in his writings.

Ecclesiastes 1:7  All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

The point Job makes here is very important for the Christian to understand. Natural events do not happen by themselves but are a direct consequence of God operating from the spiritual world in the physical world. So, the next time you hear a preacher or a scientist talk about either God putting in place processes that just work on their own without His touch or about the randomness of things like a tornado or a typhoon be aware that they are ignoring the Bible that insists that God acts constantly in the physical world to make things happen in ways we don’t understand but must acknowledge. We are not given the knowledge of a great many things but as we discover more and more details about natural processes more and more questions are raised. At the end of this part of Job’s argument he states something also of fundamental importance to mankind. Notice a comparison with verse 28 and Solomon’s Ecclesiastes 12:13 under the Law given to Moses.

The fear of the Lord, which is awe (Psalm 33:8), honor (Malachi 1:6), reverence (Hebrews 12:28), plus dread for many who live in disobedience to Him (Isaiah 8:13), is wisdom and to depart from evil, which is malicious speech (Ephesians 4:31;1Peter 2:1), causing trouble (James 3:16) , violent intentions (Genesis 37:20; Psalm 11:5), and even sin against God (Genesis 50:17) is understanding.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Job chapter 27:7-23 comments: a Christian's biggest problem


7 ¶  Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous. 8  For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? 9  Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him? 10  Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God?

Job uses a proverbial statement here in the beginning of verse 7 similar to the following;

1Samuel 25:26  Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing the LORD hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.

2Samuel 18:32  And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.

David 4:19 ¶  Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.

Job says to let those who oppose him suffer the fate of the unrighteous and the wicked. Let those hypocrites, and we can presume this is a backhanded stab at his friends, realize that they have gained nothing when God has taken their souls, which is quite a threat.

As Jesus said;

Matthew 16:26  For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Matthew 10:28  And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Verse 9 is a warning.

Psalm 18:41  They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.

Speaking of verse 10, remember how King Saul disobeyed God and then could not get God’s blessing on what he did because of his disobedience and how paranoid and miserable he became. In this context the modern Christian must be aware that every time he or she gives in to the sin that so easily besets them, whether it is based in pride or even lust, they have a hard time experiencing the closeness they feel to Christ at other times. Each time the hypocrite falls to their own weakness for sin while pointing their fingers at others they feel more and more separated from grace and mercy. It is inevitable. They may still talk a good game, come to meet with the church, and give liberally of their money and time but they become more and more wrapped up in their own self-righteousness and their own convictions as the standard for how they judge other people’s behavior. You might even find them harping on a particular sin like homosexuality repeatedly and vehemently. If you turn over THAT rock you may find what THEY are being consumed by.

    11 ¶  I will teach you by the hand of God: that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal. 12  Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it; why then are ye thus altogether vain? 13  This is the portion of a wicked man with God, and the heritage of oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty. 14  If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword: and his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread. 15  Those that remain of him shall be buried in death: and his widows shall not weep. 16  Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay; 17  He may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver. 18  He buildeth his house as a moth, and as a booth that the keeper maketh. 19  The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered: he openeth his eyes, and he is not. 20  Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night. 21  The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth: and as a storm hurleth him out of his place. 22  For God shall cast upon him, and not spare: he would fain flee out of his hand. 23  Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place.

Job’s going to teach his friends a lesson, he promises. He’s not going to hold anything back from them. Remember what Paul told the elders of the church of Ephesus when he told them of how he instructed them going from house church to house church in that city teaching.

Acts 20:20  And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 21  Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

You yourselves have seen this and you have no excuse for not knowing what I am going to tell you, he says. What a wicked man has to look forward to, his heritage, is the death of his children by war or famine. When they die their widows won’t even mourn for them they will have been so wicked. The wicked man, and in Job wickedness is often referred to regarding those who have gained wealth at the expense of their poorer brethren, can heap up wealth for his children but others will benefit from it. God’s judgment will destroy him in this life and other men will mock his sorrow. So, here Job is agreeing with his friends on the fate of the wicked while all the time insisting he is not in that number.

Job and his friends both agree to what they consider to be fair and just treatment of the wicked in this life. Although, Job has stated that often the wicked seem to prosper, as did other Bible writers, he and his friends state with certainty that, in the end, the bad will lose and the good will win. Job’s struggle is with his own appraisal of his goodness and how what has happened to him causes him a crisis of faith. How many times would Christians say in their heart of hearts when a child dies, they lose their job and their home and their credit standing, or when a horrible disease comes knocking, “oh, Lord, this is too much to bear. Why have you done this to me?” or perhaps, “how can there really be a God if this is allowed to happen to me, as faithful as I’ve been?”

The issue at hand is the sovereignty of God and His right to all facets of your life, whether it be your worship, your submission, your loved ones, your wealth, or your health. We have a problem with a sovereign, absolute God, whenever we see an Islamist radical beheading, a riot in the streets of an American city, or a court ruling we don’t like just as much as we have a problem with that same sovereignty when someone we love dies young, we are scammed in an internet sting, or our doctor tells us we have cancer.

The problem lies with us, not with God.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Job chapter 27:1-6 comments: unteachable


1 ¶  Moreover Job continued his parable, and said, 2  As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul; 3  All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; 4  My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. 5  God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. 6  My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
Here is something to consider. Your life is a parable, a story that teaches something. What does your life teach? What is God saying through you and is anyone listening?
Job accuses God of having taken away his reasoning ability and oppressing him, one definition of vex.
Exodus 22:21  Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Judges 2:18  And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.

Job declares himself so righteous he has the spirit of God, lowercase s, the understanding and wisdom of God, in him and Job’s greatest weakness and most egregious sin, his self-righteousness, is apparent.
Job promises that he will speak no wickedness nor will his tongue be used to utter deceit. But, he has no intention of admitting that his friends are right in their assessment of him. His argument remains, that he is a righteous person and he will not criticize himself.

I know people who are unteachable. Whatever bad things happen to them they are incapable of doing anything but blaming someone or something else for their trouble. We know Job did nothing in particular to merit the suffering he has endured but we also know that Job’s weakness is that he is self-righteous in the extreme. At no time will he consider that there is something he can learn from all of this other than that God has picked on him unfairly.

There are people in your life whose only ability to admit wrong on their part is that they were wrong for letting someone else do something to them, or for trusting the wrong person. They are always innocent, always the victim of circumstance, and they cannot accept their own culpability in any matter. Even when they are truly innocent of any specific wrong they are unable to learn any valuable lessons from what happens to them. It’s always going to be someone or something else’s fault, whether a bad, stupid person or just the wind, that causes them to fail. And don’t think you are going to change them.

There are Christians in churches just as self-righteous as Job and unteachable as the example I gave.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Job, chapter 26, comments: the earth in space


1 ¶  But Job answered and said, 2  How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength? 3  How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom? and how hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is? 4  To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from thee?

Job is going to finish his argument in these next few chapters. He first retorts to Bildad with a rhetorical question asking him how he has helped someone who is powerless. The implication is that he and his friends haven’t helped at all. They’ve offered nothing to Job, who has been reduced to nothing, and given him, whom they insist is bereft of wisdom, no counsel. He casts doubt on the truthfulness of their arguments against him. Job questions whose spirit came from them, with the implication that it wasn’t God’s Spirit speaking through them.

When Caleb and Joshua insisted that the Hebrews could take Canaan if they attacked immediately God spoke of Caleb having another spirit in them than the spirit that the other spies, who were fearful, had in them.

Numbers 14:24  But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

Paul, in the context of talking about the possibility of the Corinthian Christians being deceived by Satan, as Eve had been, says,

2Corinthians 11:4  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

    5 ¶  Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof. 6  Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering. 7  He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. 8  He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them. 9  He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it. 10  He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end. 11  The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof. 12  He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud. 13  By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent. 14  Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?

Verse 5 of Chapter 26 is one of the most intriguing verses in the Bible. In the context it is reasonable to assume that this is a reference to Hell, the holding place, the jail, if you will, in which the wicked are assigned before their final incarceration in the horrible prison of the Lake of Fire for eternity.

You are aware of your suffering in Hell. Your soul, which maintains the shape of your body and its basic functions, has eyes, hands, a tongue, etc.

Luke 16:23  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

To say people are living in Hell is perhaps to stretch the meaning of the word living. But the vast majority of human beings who came of age in history, particularly those who rejected God’s revelation of Himself and His plan for mankind’s redemption, certainly inhabit it.

Another take on that verse can be inspired by the reference to dead things being formed under the waters. For instance, these are things, not human beings, and when they are formed they are already dead in our sense and understanding of dead. They have no life. They inhabit this place of reference under the waters.

We have a limited understanding that there is a large amount of water in space. The European Space Agency theorizes from their observations that there may be enough water vapor created in the Orion Nebula to fill the earth’s oceans sixty times over each day. (31)

Genesis 1:6 ¶  And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7  And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8  And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day… 14 ¶  And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15  And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16  And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17  And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18  And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19  And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

There are some other things to consider about this. First, we understand from the Bible that there are three heavens.

2Corinthian 12:2  I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

The heavens include the first heaven where birds fly and clouds move, the second heaven would be the firmament of outer space with stars, nebula, and galaxies, and the third heaven would be the abode of God and the blessed dead.

We also know that Satan is called the prince of the power of the air in Ephesians 2:2. There are verses that tell us that the rulers of the spiritual darkness of this world, not flesh and blood, have their existence above us.

Ephesians 6:12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

So, there is some great evil in outer space, some network or empire of wickedness that is physically between us and God. The things that are formed there under the waters at the far reaches of our universe are dead things and spiritual beings with which we must contend, even in our ignorance.

We cannot go through them to God so He came for us and will again.

Nothing is hidden from God. Not even Hell itself.

Psalm 139:8  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

Verse 7 reveals that in spite of any belief which may have been held to the contrary the earth is not on the shoulders of a giant or on the back of a turtle. It hangs in space without visible supports, another scientific prediction made by the Bible that has been observed by people in space. The Cern Courier: International Journal of High-Energy Physics reported of a giant void or empty spot, devoid of galaxies a thousand million light years across. (32)

Verse 8 brings to my mind the nebulae or vast interstellar clouds supposedly consisting of dust and gas such as the Magellanic Clouds and the Orion Nebula. Of course most would just consider this a reference to storm clouds threatening rain. Still, the context makes one pause.

The reference to God’s throne in the heavens in verse 9 implies we are not talking about an earthly occurrence. Verses 11 and 13 also seem to indicate that the reference to the sea in 12 is not on this earth. God says that we are like fish in a sea.

Habakkuk 1:14  And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?

And Christ calls His apostles, fishers of men.

Mark 1:17  And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

God, by His spirit, being the lowercase s not being the Holy Spirit but indicating an attitude or wisdom, has placed the crooked serpent there, in the heavens.

Isaiah 27:1  In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.

Revelation 12:9  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

And Job says that these are just a part of God’s ways. How little we know. Modern man’s viewpoint that all knowledge can be revealed by science and that anything that science is unable to reveal, call into being, or experiment on cannot exist is not only arrogant but foolish in the extreme.

(31) European Space Agency, “Galactic Water in the Orion Nebula,” ESA Science and Technology, last modified August 24, 2005, http://sci.esa.int/iso/31372-galactic/.

(32) Marc Turler, “WMAP's cold spot shows giant void in space,” Cern Courier: International Journal of High-Energy Physics,” (September 19, 2007), http://cerncourier.com/cws/article/cern/31185 (accessed November 11, 2014).

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Job, chapter 25, comments: Bildad interrupts Job to defend God's sovereignty


1 ¶  Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, 2  Dominion and fear are with him, he maketh peace in his high places. 3  Is there any number of his armies? and upon whom doth not his light arise? 4  How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? 5  Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. 6  How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?

Bildad interrupts Job to defend God whom he apparently feels is having His sovereignty attacked by Job. He uplifts God’s sovereignty or dominion. Here is an example of parallel thought in a verse that defines dominion for us.

Genesis 37:8a  And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us?....

Bildad reinforces the fear of God and His control over the world of nature and the spiritual world. Notice the reference to high places. People often talk about whether or not there is life elsewhere in outer space than on earth.

Ephesians 6:12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

He is sovereign over all spiritual entities and over the physical universe. He is in control. This is fundamental for Christians to understand as it is an unpleasant truth for the carnal and rebellious at heart who believes, like Job, that he or she deserves something really nice for being on God’s side and doing things that justify themselves in their own minds while saying it is for God.

In verse 3 Bildad speaks of God’s limitless power and how there is nowhere to hide from Him. He does not argue against what Job is saying about the seeming success of wicked men but interjects a point about how God is all-powerful, perhaps thinking that Job is questioning that power.

In verse 4 he brings up the oft-repeated question that goes something like this, how can a man, a seemingly insignificant and weak mortal, being be justified with God? That is a great question of theology for all religions and at all times in history. The answer is in God coming to earth and living as a man, dying for the sins of the whole world, and then rising from the dead, with man being justified by his belief and faith in that act.

Who can be justified with God? How can a man born through the normal process of life, born of a woman, be clean?

Proverbs 20:9  Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

The answer is that a person, man or woman, must be born of those natural processes, born of water or born of the flesh, as it is put in parallel thoughts in the following, and, in addition, must be born a second time by the Spirit of God.

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. 4  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

In verse 5 Bildad makes a very scientific statement. The moon does not give off light of its own. It is not a generator of light but reflects the light of the sun. This knowledge, dating to the early second millennium before Christ, predated the Greek philosopher, Anaxagoras, who in the late 400’s BC, determined that the sun and the moon were giant rocks with the moon reflecting the light from the sun, called a, “red-hot stone.” (30) This presents us with a very valuable metaphor in that the Christian has no light of his or her own but must reflect the light of Christ. If the Christian claims his own light he is none of Christ’s. How can we justify ourselves when the only good in us is that which God has implanted there?

The stars are not pure in God’s sight. Theologically we would say that all creation is marred by man’s sin.

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

Everything in the physical universe will eventually face a process of decay. In fact, it can be said that when we are born we start the process of dying.

Genesis 2:17  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

This is the most significant barrier that mankind has ever faced.

Hebrews 2:14 ¶  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

It is not solved by anything scientific that man can come up with but the problem of death is solved only by Christ.

Romans 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Verse 6 also has a very clear double-meaning, with Bildad’s comment first in its literal sense as its meaning between him and Job and then its significance as a reference to what Christ became.

2Corinthians 5:21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus directed us to this Psalm from the Cross itself by quoting its first verse.

Psalm 22:6  But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

 (30) J.J. O’Connor and E.F. Robertson, “Anaxagoras of Clazomenae,” University of St. Andrews (February 1999), http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Anaxagoras.html, (accessed November 8, 2014).

Friday, November 7, 2014

Job, chapter 24 comments: the wicked seem to get away with it


1 ¶  Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days? 2  Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof. 3  They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox for a pledge. 4  They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together. 5  Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children. 6  They reap every one his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked. 7  They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold. 8  They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter. 9  They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor. 10  They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry; 11  Which make oil within their walls, and tread their winepresses, and suffer thirst. 12  Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them.

Job expands on his former argument that the wicked are not always punished in this life and we often don’t see what happens to them. It is incorrect to say that good always wins and bad is always punished. People are aware of God’s standards and judgment and still continue to do great evil.

Job lists some things that were issues in a world of herds and flocks and land.

Deuteronomy 19:14 ¶  Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.

Proverbs 23:10 ¶  Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:

Taking something that was put up as a guarantee against a loan from a poor person, if it was his or her livelihood or needed for their survival, was wrong by God’s standard.

Deuteronomy 24:6  No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man’s life to pledge…12  And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge: 13  In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee: and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the LORD thy God.

The point is of this passage in Job that wicked men do all of these wicked things and often get away with it, or seem to, as, “God layeth not folly to them.” It is na├»ve and foolish to have a old-fashioned Saturday morning children’s television show view of the world in thinking that the good always win and the bad are always punished in this world.

    13 ¶  They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof. 14  The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief. 15  The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth his face. 16  In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light. 17  For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death.

No further explanation is needed of this passage from a literal standpoint. Many verses throughout the Bible speak of how the wicked lay in wait for the poor. The wicked person often makes his fortune by deceiving and manipulating the poor. Sometimes he just commits outright murder. One characteristic of both the murderer and the adulterer is believing that under the cover of darkness no one sees them.

Psalm 10 is a plea for judgment against these people.

  1 ¶  Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble? 2  The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. 3  For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth. 4  The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. 5  His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them. 6  He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity. 7  His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity. 8  He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor. 9  He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. 10  He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones. 11  He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.

    18 ¶  He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth: he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards. 19  Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which have sinned. 20  The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; he shall be no more remembered; and wickedness shall be broken as a tree. 21  He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not: and doeth not good to the widow. 22  He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth up, and no man is sure of life. 23  Though it be given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes are upon their ways. 24  They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn. 25  And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?

Like a flood the wicked descend on their prey. They hold in contempt the honest labor of the vineyard. They do no one any good. Even the mighty are drawn into his influence and no one’s life is certain or safe when he is about. Here, Job remembers the eventual demise of the wicked who profit for a short time but then descend into the grave. Job knows the things that his friends have been telling him and does not deny that even though the wicked seem to prosper for a time they will all come to the same fate. If Job is not speaking truth he dares his friends to argue with him.

We have, in these verses, many interesting things to note about the mark of a wicked man. He cares nothing for honest labor and is always seeking an advantage over others which is something forbidden to the Christian. He does no good to those who are lacking as the Christian is called to do good. No one is safe in his presence which is the opposite of how people should feel around a Christian. The Christian does not care to influence the powerful but by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It has been said that life on earth is about power. We are fascinated by the boxer with the most knockouts, the baseball player with the most home runs, who is the wealthiest, the most influential, the power-broker in politics, the nation with the mightiest army. In our personal relationships there often appears to be a struggle for who gets the most attention, who gets what they want, who is in charge.

Wicked people want to control others. They want to be in charge. They have a pathological need, a lust, to tell others what to do and how to do it. They can disguise their wickedness by saying that it is for a good cause, even for Christ. They will exploit and manipulate those around them. The Christian does not seek to control others. He seeks to be an example, a testimony of faith, and submission to God’s will. He leads by example and draws others to Christ. He does not drive them like a slave overseer with a whip.

Here, Job is expressing what we all know, that wicked people do great harm with seeming impunity, and go to their graves without fear. Often, their wickedness is forgotten after them and we remember them as being good, even as philanthropists or Godly men and women.

History is replete with great men who were incredibly evil men who abused the weak and the poor, which God repeatedly says He hates, and yet are called into public memory as great political leaders, generous philanthropists, brilliant generals, captains of industry, captivating thinkers, and men of renown. These individuals are burning in a sinner’s Hell now for their rejection of Christ and worship of Self but we remember them as great ones. They exist at every level of humanity, on every layer of success, and in every government office building, every school, every church, and in every family. And they seem to get away with their wickedness.

A famous quote made about leadership in history was; “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” (29)

(29) John Dalberg-Acton, “Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, April 5, 1887” published in Historical Essays and Studies, edited by J. N. Figgis and R. V. Laurence (London: Macmillan, 1907).

Job will go on, after he is interrupted, to lift up his own righteousness and to proclaim that he is not one of the wicked but a just man, sorely treated.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Job 23:13-17 comments: cut off before the darkness


13 ¶  But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. 14  For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him. 15  Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am afraid of him. 16  For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me: 17  Because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither hath he covered the darkness from my face.

In the context of God providing giving the believer righteousness as opposed to the believer’s own sin James said;

James 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

In the context of guarding sound doctrine Paul said;

Hebrews 13:8  Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

God spoke through Isaiah in expressing the very words that Job has put forward as He spoke against worshipping man-made gods.

Isaiah 46:9  Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10  Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11  Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

There are many other verses in the Bible that speak of God’s steadfastness of purpose and of His unchangeable will in regard to eternal decrees, things set in stone. We have to remember always that Satan can do nothing to us without God’s permission.

Job acknowledges that there is a level of determinism in his fate, that God has appointed him to certain things. Something being appointed by God is mentioned elsewhere. In a comparison with Christ’s one sacrifice for all sins Paul made this statement;

Hebrews 9:27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28  So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

In reference to the appointment of those who disobey God to stumble at His word Peter said;

1Peter 2:7  Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8  And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

And those who believe and trust in Christ are appointed not to experience the Great Tribulation;

1Thessalonians 5:9  For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10  Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

In reading verse 15 it is easy to be reminded of this verse in a psalm of Asaph.

Psalm 77:3  I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

Job is in awe of God and in fear of Him. God did not take Job from the living before giving him a vision of the darkness in the misery he suffered.

Verse 16 made me think of this verse in a psalm.

Psalm 88:16  Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.

As for verse 17 there were others in the Bible who were spared the darkness that awaited those who came after. In the following verse, Huldah the prophetess, the wife of a man named Shallum, who (Huldah) resided at the college of prophets in Jerusalem, preached this as part of a message to representatives sent to her from King Josiah. In this passage she is speaking for God to the king.

2Kings 22:19  Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD. 20  Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.

Also in Isaiah, speaking on God’s behalf, he says;

Isaiah 57:1 ¶  The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.

Those of us who have seen their own children die before them would wish that they themselves had died before that happened. Job was not spared the misery of losing all his children, all his wealth, and his health. He was not given that blessing, up to this point, of going to the grave before experiencing his nightmares in the flesh.

Some of you have been spared his grief by God’s singular mercy. You have even seen your children snatched from the jaws of death. Rejoice and be glad that you have been spared the agony of seeing your child buried in the ground in front of your eyes, of seeing them lying dead on a hospital gurney, of knowing you will not hear them laugh again in this life, have children, or call your name again here on earth. To have a huge rip in your soul that brings tears to your eyes whenever you are reminded of what could have been or even what was is a vision of darkness.

Job was not spared and yet he, unlike most of us who have lost children, livelihood, and health had done nothing wrong, had left nothing he knew to do out, and sacrificed and, it is assumed, prayed often for his children.

And yet, all of this came on him. Some of you will think you’ve been spared because you are so good, so righteous, so faithful and obedient. But think about Job. Would you not have everything in common with him except the grief and agony?