Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 comments: Nothing filled the void for Solomon

1 ¶  I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity. 2  I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it? 3  I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. 4  I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: 5  I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: 6  I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees: 7  I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me: 8  I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. 9  So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. 10  And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. 11  Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

It is a common sentiment to describe things “from the heart” and does not take any real struggle to understand when someone tells you that their heart told them to make a certain choice or take a certain action. It is personal and central to our being, our most private thoughts. In no way should this be used by some skeptic to say, “aha, we know we think with our brain and not our hearts!”

“Go to,” or, “go to now,” might come to our minds in this century in common everyday speech as, “Listen up,” or, “Now, get this,” among other possibilities, which I am sure you can imagine if you try. Those phrases are used often in the Bible.

Solomon tried to satisfy himself with laughter and pleasure, hedonism before the Greeks ever even thought of that philosophy. Maybe he was like the person who sits on the internet going from one funny video or comedian to another just looking for laughs to fill the void. It didn’t satisfy him either and didn’t solve any of his questions. He tried alcohol as a way of cheering himself up and we can imagine he drank a lot. It didn’t help. He wasn’t a worthless drunk as he tried to keep that keen edge of understanding, he says, as he dove headfirst into foolishness. He wasn’t trying to anesthetize himself like so many of us were doing but he was trying to expand his wisdom and looking at it from all angles. Is just having a good time my purpose in life, he asks?  But, no, his answer wasn’t in wine. I imagine Solomon was a pretty sad drunk.

So, as king, he went on a spending and building spree. Some of you try to occupy your time with beautiful landscaping and making your home as much a showpiece as possible. You spend great gobs of money from home equity loans and credit cards to make your home look special as you try to satisfy an emptiness in your heart. Solomon did so as well. Gardens, fruit orchards, ponds, and the like made his palaces remarkable to look at, I am sure, but it didn’t answer his questions about the purposefulness of life.

Being busy can be a way of trying to cope with that hole in your spiritual heart. I have even talked to fundamentalists who never miss a beat; attend every church service, pray at every meal and before bed, knock on the doors of unwilling homeowners, and will break every promise they’ve made to employers, friends, and family to attend a revival meeting, and even go to church services when they go on vacation, but ask themselves painful questions in the early morning as they lay on their beds. Many have no real compassion for the lost, nor love for their brothers and sisters in Christ, and no love for God, but are just going through the motions and doing what they have been told is their duty, their service to Christ.  As these Super-Bowl Christians go from one emotional high to another with emptiness and questioning in between they ask, “Is this it? Is this all there is to it?”

Solomon, being wealthy, had male and female servants in abundance with generations born in his house. Remember, he ruled for 40 years and was a wealthy heir to the throne before that.

1Kings 11:42  And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years.

He had immense herds and flocks and tremendous wealth, reminding us of Job.

1Kings 10:23  So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.

He had choirs of singers and perhaps orchestras of musicians to occupy his time and to entertain him. Imagine the person who watches incessant television; sit-coms and sporting events, or one movie after another to try to fill the void in their heart of hearts or even the constant din of popular music, top-40, jazz, hard rock, whatever, playing in their ears all of the time. I was like that, raised with the television on as my most faithful babysitter, addicted to incessant rocknroll as a teen, and, as an adult, renting as many as five movies at a time for a weekend’s viewing as I struggled to find meaning and purpose even as a Southern Baptist Christian fundamentalist.

Even with all of that he was still able to focus his wisdom and understanding in asking the big question, “what’s it all about?” But he denied himself nothing. Whatever his eye desired he took pleasure in.

1Kings 11:1 ¶  But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 2  Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3  And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4  For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

But, he looked around himself at what he had and what he had done and was still unsatisfied like the American homeowner who surrounds himself or herself with a beautiful home and yard, the smoothest ride, the newest gadgets with the most bells and whistles, fascinating TV shows, movies, and music, politics, religion, philosophy, family, and even pornography and yet says in his heart, “is this it? Is this all there is?”

All is vanity and vexation of spirit, isn’t it?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 comments: Solomon's fundamental frustration

12 ¶  I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13  And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. 14  I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. 15  That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. 16  I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17  And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18  For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Solomon was king over the people of Israel in Jerusalem.

1Kings 1:39  And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon.

Solomon was eager to be a man of learning and wisdom for the sake of his people. He requested this of God. This was not just for himself, for his own ego or personal satisfaction.

1Kings 3:9  Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

God promised that He would do that very thing, and much more.

1Kings 3:10  And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11  And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; 12  Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. 13  And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.

And God gave it to him and more.

1Kings 4:29 ¶  And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. 30  And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31  For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about. 32  And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. 33  And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. 34  And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.

Did this wisdom and knowledge produce joy and contentment in him? No, it did not. It only made him realize the pointlessness of it, as the more he learned, the more unsatisfied he was. The more he learned, the more his ignorance became apparent. Learning in all of its forms cannot change the human tendency to wickedness and pride. In fact, it can increase it. His advanced education, his understanding, could not change the spiritual nature of those over whom he ruled.

He thought that his knowledge and wisdom could produce great benefits for his people and perhaps, physically, it did, but there is a deficiency in such efforts that shows its weakness. Great leaders who wanted to accomplish things for their people like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for instance, could try to relieve their people’s misery and discomfort but they could never get past the fact that mankind’s heart is inherently wicked.

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

And without the Creator’s direction and instruction mankind stumbles along blindly.

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.

Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

So that the government can provide us with an education, our basic food needs, shelter, and even healthcare and we will still destroy our lives and the lives of our children with our sin and carelessness. Government cannot change the human heart.

Solomon’s wisdom gave him much grief and his understanding much sorrow in how his efforts to seek out and search out wisdom left him frustrated and his vision of his rule unsatisfied.

The fundamental weakness of human government is its inability to effect a change on the inside of a person. Only an individual’s personal relationship with God can affect that change. A wise leader, an understanding ruler, no matter how brilliant he is, cannot elevate the human heart by law or judgment, welfare or compassion.

The founders of American government believed through the teachings of philosophers like Locke and Montesquieu that they had created a workable government that would be of the most benefit for the American people, at least the ones that were not in chains or being driven out of their own lands. But, human government, for all its good intentions, if there be any, cannot substitute for God. God is our three branches of government in a verse never quoted in the debate over the Constitution of the United States.

Isaiah 33:22  For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.

This verse does not say that the Supreme Court is our judge, the Congress is our lawgiver, and the President is our king, does it? Do you honestly believe, like the Christians of the 19th century did, and the American socialists of the 20th, that you can insert government for LORD in that passage? A great preacher once said that the only difference between civilized men and savages are some nifty buildings.

Imagine Solomon’s frustration and disappointment, and even his sense of failure.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 comments: Solomon's introduction

1 ¶  The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2  Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. 3  What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

This is about our existence on earth. It is very practical in purpose and very temporal. The first words of this book called Ecclesiastes gives us the identity of the author. It has long been accepted that Solomon wrote the book. His first words underscore the final point he makes in chapter 12.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 ¶  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14  For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

 Vanity is an oft-used word in Ecclesiastes. It signifies something that is basically pointless and without value and nothing of worth when used regarding things, events, or attitudes.

Isaiah 40:17  All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.

It has all the substance of the wind.

Isaiah 57:13a  When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them

There is no profit in a thing of vanity.

Jeremiah 16:19  O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.

Although there are other uses of vanity in regard to speech as being deceitful and a lie, for our purposes here we can say that a thing of vanity is a thing of no value, a pointless effort at a thing of no value.

The Book of Job taught us that God is in control of every event, even ones we find painful or disastrous, from the most seemingly insignificant event on earth to the greatest, most majestic display in the heavens. God’s sovereignty is absolute.

Solomon in Ecclesiastes teaches us that everything besides God, everything besides God, is vain and empty, devoid of meaning compared to Him.

Jesus told us about the value God places on the things we humans hold up and esteem; from our education to our wealth to position, social status, your movie stars, your football teams, your musical celebrities, your governments, and your career.

Luke 16:15  And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

Your Democratic Party, your Republican Party, your Harvard and Yale, your United  Nations, your Prosperity Gospel, your  Replacement Theology, Your Calvinism, your Southern Baptist Convention, your Vatican, your Baptist distinctives, your Hollywood, your Nashville, your Armies, your Navies, your European Union, and, yes, your White House, the Halls of Congress, and even the beloved Red, White, and Blue are all manure, just so much dung, a Biblical word.

Philippians 3:8  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ…
They are totally meaningless and without value and like your job, your 1200 square foot rancher in the ‘burbs, the overpriced jalopy you drive, your television, your computer, and even the little WWJD paperweight on your desk are all just so much junk.

Compared to God there is nothing of value in your life. Period. Nothing.

Job taught us that God is all powerful, even to the destruction of your flesh, the death of your family, and the loss of every penny you have in the bank or stuffed under your mattress.

Solomon teaches us that everything, in comparison to God, is worthless and has no value. Think about those propositions for a thousand years or so.

    4 ¶  One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. 5  The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. 6  The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. 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. 8  All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

Generations come and go but the earth goes on and on. The sun comes up, the sun goes down, over and over. The wind travels in the paths that it takes and the rivers run into the sea which is never full, and is evaporated and goes again to where it began in a process called the Hydrologic Cycle. Mankind looks, he studies, he ponders, and he imagines and still does not completely understand it and his eyes are never satisfied with what they see nor the ears with what they hear. The more curious we are, the more inquisitive, the less satisfied we become. Or, as Matthew Henry said, our senses are never satisfied.

Vacations, art, entertainments like movies and television, sporting events, our favorite foods, never satisfied, never sated, never filled. Always more, always more.

    9 ¶  The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10  Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. 11  There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

What was, will be. That which has been done shall be done again, as well. There is nothing new under the sun. Everything we do, each day, has always been done by people before us. It has been said that the news never changes, only the names attached to the events do. No one can say, “this is new.” It’s already old. We don’t remember our ancestors and how they lived, much like us, with different toys and tools, but in the same way, and no one will remember us.

            After you die and the generation that knows you dies, it will be as if you never existed. You’ll be completely forgotten except as a name on some record somewhere or on a decaying tombstone in a cemetery. I know the names of my male forbears back to the sixth generation, when the first Widdowsons came from Plumtree, Nottinghamshire, England. I don’t know what they laughed about, what their favorite food was, what made them angry or sad, or what their greatest fears were. They are like vapors of smoke the wind blew away, for all the long, hard years they worked, loved, bled, laughed, hoped, and cried.

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.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Job 42:10-17 comments: the end of Job

10 ¶  And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11  Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold. 12  So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. 13  He had also seven sons and three daughters. 14  And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch. 15  And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. 16  After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations. 17  So Job died, being old and full of days.

So, the Book of Job is ended. As many believe, this is the book of the Bible that was actually written first and the Hebrews would have had this before they had the writings of Moses, the first five books of the Bible called the Pentateuch.

When Job prayed for his friends God restored twice of the things he had lost. His family and friends who were standing aloof from him came to his home and broke bread with him and gave him money, lamenting what had happened to him at the hand of God. Job was wealthier than he had been before and he had an abundant family although one can be certain the new children did not take replace in Job’s heart those who had died but were loved as much. Notice that only the daughters are named and that they received an inheritance as their brothers did. Job then lived to be a very old man, seeing several generations of his family living on the earth and I presume, seeing his deceased children in Heaven with God Himself.

There are many possible ways to study Job; from the point of view of science, of prophecy, and of historical context. All of these things are interesting and tickle the ears of Christians who hear them. There have been many books about Job from different points of view. I chose to underscore that which I think will help most Christians in their daily lives. Understanding God’s sovereignty and His hand in every detail of life and existence is of fundamental importance. Paying attention to what He is saying through the circumstances of life is something we often do not do. God, right out of the gate, tells us, His people, that bad things will happen to good people and they may never know why they happened on this earth. The reason may have nothing to do with anything they have specifically done wrong. But, don’t worry, He’s got it all under control, every moment of time is in His hands. Don’t presume that you know things you do not and do not offer advice out of ignorance or self-righteous presumption. Paul tells Christians in the context of the joy and the suffering of others;

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

What God expects from Christians is not hard to understand. It is hard to do. Job, in his fit of self-righteousness, gave us a very important point to understand and to attain unto and to wrap our mind around.

Job 13:15a  Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him...

A resurrection is coming, as Job himself was aware.

Job 19:26  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

What we are called to do, as Christians, in regard to Christ and our expectations of His imminent return is very simple and clear.

Titus 2:11 ¶  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ...

Monday, January 26, 2015

Job 42:7-9 comments: God's sovereignty made plain

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. 8  Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. 9  So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.

God accepts Job’s repentance for his speaking out of ignorance and tells his friends that only a sacrifice and prayer from this innocent man will prevent God’s judgment on them. In type Job here takes the place of Christ, offering up Himself for a sacrifice and praying for mercy for mankind’s ignorance and arrogance. Types are imperfect analogies and always break down at some point but they point you in a direction. Notice it is not Job who is called to forgive God for what Job has lost. God did not deem to explain to Job the conversation He had with Satan. It is Job who needs God’s acceptance, His approval.

This brings us to the obvious point of this book, what is considered the oldest book in the Bible by many. We are talking about God’s sovereignty and the evil that can come into your life and how you are called simply to trust God, that He has it under control.

First, let’s look at one definition of evil. Evil is not always simply sin. It is trouble, disaster, tribulation, pain, and suffering as well. It is a malicious event that hurts you physically and emotionally. For those who don’t believe that God can have any hand in evil events, as if He is some kind of absentee landlord whom you must call to let Him know the plumbing has burst or a big brother who is ignorant of your suffering at the hands of a bully but will rise up when you tell him, read this;

Isaiah 45:7  I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Do you dare deny the word of God? Even Job, in his self-righteousness, acknowledged this truth.

Job 2:10  But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

God doesn’t tell Job that Satan was the author of Job’s problems. As far as Job is concerned God was the author of His trouble and, as He permitted those troubles to happen within specific limits that He set, God was the author. When David wanted to perform a census of his people it is difficult to determine who was the cause. Here are the contrasting accounts of the ultimate reason for that census.

2Samuel 24:1 ¶  And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

1Chronicles 21:1 ¶  And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

Now, you who believe that there is a good God and a devil, who is kind of bad god, and that God is waiting on the sidelines to deliver us from the devil’s shenanigans which He knew nothing about and was incapable of preventing him from performing have a problem. The problem is the Bible. The book of Job has taught us very clearly that there is no event, from the tiniest unseen to the most majestic, that God doesn’t either cause to happen or permit to happen, usually for reasons we know nothing about in this life. Why do bad things happen to so-called good people? Outside of our obvious reaping what we sow we often don’t know and misrepresent God when we pretend to know why suffering has come to someone’s life.

“Oh,” you say, “he was in a bad car wreck and died because he was called to the ministry and rejected the calling.” You liar. You misrepresent God like Eliphaz and his friends. You have no idea why that young person died at an early age. He didn’t smoke. He didn’t drink. He didn’t curse. He tithed. He was faithful to church. He was a soul-winner. He was all the things that you respect.  He was saved. God says things will happen that are evil events in our lives and we may never know in our lives why they happened, whether He caused them directly or allowed them to happen. The physical result is the same. We are to trust Him, even if He takes our lives and the lives of those we love. Eternity, a time a lot longer than our finite biological life, awaits us.

We are to trust God one day at a time. The trouble, the calamity of each day is enough to be concerned with. Jesus said;

Matthew 6:34  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

And what our response to tribulation should be is clearly laid out.

Romans 5:1 ¶  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4  And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

He comforts us by His word, if we believe His promises.

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.

We are not promised a trouble or pain-free life but we are promised something that most faith traditions have never read in their sacred scriptures; God’s love and eternal life with Him.

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. 27  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

29 ¶  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

    31 ¶  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God’s sovereignty is, however, a bitter pill to swallow for those of us who are not submitted to Him.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Job, chapter 42:1-6 comments: Job's acknowledgement

1 ¶  Then Job answered the LORD, and said, 2  I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. 3  Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. 4  Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. 5  I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. 6  Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

God did not explain the circumstances by which Job had suffered his great losses. He did not relate the events before the throne of the first part of this book directly. Job acknowledges here that there is nothing that God cannot do and no thought that is hid from Him. We are told;

2Corinthians 10:5  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

The fact that God knows our thoughts is expressed throughout the Bible. Before the Flood in Genesis 6:5, under the Law in 1Chronicles 28:9, with Jesus, because He is God, in Luke 5:22, and the Scriptures themselves in Hebrews 4:12.

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

There is no such thing as a human mind-reader and Satan does not know your thoughts. However, astute persons and Satan are great judges of human character or lack thereof and can anticipate how we will respond to temptation because we are so predictable.

Job also acknowledges that he has spoken about things of which he did not understand. We really don’t understand God’s sovereignty or the deeper doctrines of the Bible like the resurrection of the dead. Paul admitted that and that he hoped to know and understand Jesus as Jesus knew and understood him. Keep in mind in the next verses that, “attain unto,” is to wrap your mind around, to comprehend, defined in Psalm 139:6 and Proverbs 1:5, and although apprehend is only used in the next verses one of the early meanings of that word was, to understand or to know, which you can confirm by Dr. Samuel Johnson’s dictionary or the Early Modern English Database cited previously. “To attain unto,” and to, “apprehend,” then have similar or synonymous meanings as evidenced by how they are used in contrast to each other in the following with, “know,” as the foundation for interpreting the passage;

9 ¶  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect*: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

 Job finishes this passage by declaring that he abhors himself and repents of his self-righteous ignorance in dust and ashes, the statement of any understanding sinner saved by grace. We cannot stand before a holy God except by virtue of our faith and trust in Christ’s resurrection and in His deity. That is the fundamental proposition of Christianity.

The comparison we must make is not between ourselves and another person. We aren’t judged by our relative goodness or evil. We are judged purely by Christ’s righteousness and our faith in and acknowledgement of it, His resurrection, and His deity. Compare yourself to God and you will fall flat on your face.

*Perfect does not always mean to be without sin or taint. It means to be complete, finished, entire, lacking nothing you should know or possess. See 2Chronicles 8:16; Galatians 3:3; James 1:4; and Colossians 4:12.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Job, chapter 41: a description of Satan's appearance

1 ¶  Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? 2  Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn? 3  Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee? 4  Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? 5  Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? 6  Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants? 7  Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears? 8  Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more. 9  Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him? 10  None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me?

The word, leviathan, is found elsewhere in the Bible. First, in what appears to be a mysterious reference to the Hebrews crossing the Red Sea and possibly spiritual events that accompanied the physical.

Psalm 74:12 ¶  For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. 13  Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.14  Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.

A reference to a large sea creature, great fish, or whale.

Psalm 104:26  There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

And a connection to the Devil in Revelation, chapter 12, by cross reference.

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.

The leviathan in chapter 41 of Job here is huge, untamable, and unconquerable, at least by man. On one level this, too, as behemoth, appears to be a reference to a dinosaur, a dragon. If this creature is so great and fearful and God created him, then who can stand before God? In the next verses we can see how this is the example, the beginning, of all of the great legends over the earth, from China to Europe of the dragon. The dragon is a common memory of man celebrated in folklore and mythology, almost universally. The Greek, drakon, refers to a huge serpent.

But, as this next passage moves forward the description travels from the view of a fearsome creature to something more. At no time has God revealed to Job who has initiated the awful terrors that have visited him, but here we have, perhaps, a description of Job’s true adversary, Satan.

First, a picture of Satan, or Lucifer, is painted in the Bible. Beginning in the Garden of Eden. Keep in mind that serpent is also an historical name for a dragon.

Genesis 3:1  Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

It is confirmed later that this was indeed Satan in the Garden of Eden as God pronounces judgment on him as he likens the King of Tyre to him.

Ezekiel 28:11 ¶  Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 12  Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13  Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14  Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15  Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

What iniquity was it that was found in Satan? He questioned God’s words. Why? We have our clue as to that here as God has the prophet, Isaiah, cast a prophecy against the king of Babylon which includes a reference likening him to Satan. Lucifer is a title which means light-bearer.

Isaiah 14:12  How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Satan, as we saw in Ezekiel is a cherub, the anointed cherub. Cherubs are creatures that have the appearance of animals in Ezekiel, chapters 1 and 10, and appear around the throne in Revelation, chapter 4. Satan can appear as an angel of light to deceive, as in 2Corinthians 11:14, but is not one of that number. He leads or led fallen sons of God, angels, in rebellion but is not one of them.

Satan is the fire-breathing dragon of human mythology and literature. Mankind remembers Satan physically but has marginalized him as simply a force of evil and not having an individual identity. Satan appears to be preoccupied in history with keeping himself out of sight and making human beings think they are serving God by serving him. Such is most of the history of Christianity, particularly state-church combinations, the list of wrongs and egregious sins committed in the service of Satan, but in the name of God. It is no coincidence why the dragon featured prominently in medieval heraldry and symbol and as a cultural icon as a link to mankind’s true motivations and with whom his heart really lies.

    11 ¶  Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine. 12  I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion. 13  Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to him with his double bridle? 14  Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about. 15  His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. 16  One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. 17  They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered. 18  By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. 19  Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. 20  Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron. 21  His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth. 22  In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him. 23  The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved. 24  His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone. 25  When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves. 26  The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon. 27  He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. 28  The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble. 29  Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear. 30  Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire. 31  He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment. 32  He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary. 33  Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. 34  He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.

God has described the appearance of the individual who came before God along with the sons of God in the beginning of this book. He capped off his physical description with the statement that shows that this is more than just an ordinary dinosaur. “He is a king over all the children of pride.”

Satan tempts us with questioning God’s word and with the same three things with which he tempted Eve.

Genesis 3:6  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

1John 2:16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Paul showed us to whom we belonged before we came to Christ.

Ephesians 2:1 ¶  And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2  Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

As Jesus noted a fact about the paternity of the men of His time on earth.

John 8:44  Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Perhaps a reference to Cain’s true paternity, whether the reference is spiritually, physically, or both.

1John 3:12  Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

And so, chapter 41 ends with a physical description of man’s great adversary, who usually goes unnamed, but works behind the scenes, anonymously, to ruin everything we would try to accomplish for ourselves or for God, working through our flesh, but who can do nothing to us without God’s permission. This is a being who works through natural events and wicked people to achieve his ends as well as craft and subterfuge. There is no one more subtle and clever.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Job 40:15-24 comments: behemoth

15 ¶  Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. 16  Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. 17  He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. 18  His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. 19  He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. 20  Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. 21  He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. 22  The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. 23  Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. 24  He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.

Unlike modern Bibles, the King James Version translators relied on what modern Bible translators call Formal Equivalence. A term coined by the Bible translator, Eugene Nida, Formal Equivalence refers to a word-for-word translation. Today, translators use Dynamic Equivalence, based on what they think the original writer meant to say rather than on what he did say, although the phrase preferred now is Functional Equivalence. The modern translator views himself as the gatekeeper not only of the word of God but of its meaning, this purpose being outlined in a series of essays entitled The Challenge of Bible Translation edited by Scorgie, Strauss, and Voth.  The KJV translators, in effect, translated the word faithfully and left it up to the Holy Spirit and you to discover its meaning based on context, cross-referencing, etc.

The King James translators not only translated word-for-word but also, typically, the Hebrew syntax, or the order of words. At its height, the English of the translator’s day, was very similar to Hebrew in construction, as noted by Tyndale and other translators, and as even critics of the King James Bible have noted. (46)

Here, in this short section God speaks of a very large creature, by the description of it, which is called here Behemoth. The Hebrew word and the English word are only used once in the Bible. Before the word, dinosaur, was coined in the early 1800’s, the word dragon was used to specify the large reptiles of mythology. Other words were used, as well, in secular writings and in the Bible, referring to these large reptiles, such as serpent and worm. I take the view that this is a description of a type of dinosaur. After all, traces of blood have been found in dinosaur remains, which is clearly evidence of their more recent existence, not the fantastic 80 million years of the atheist’s guess. (47) In addition, dinosaurs were traditionally dated to the estimated layer of dirt or rock in which they were found, not by the scientist’s dating methods, as it was assumed by them that those dates were accurate. However, recent Carbon 14 dating has suggested that dinosaurs lived as recently as 30,000 years ago, well within the atheist’s guess of mankind’s walk on the earth. (48) I do not accept the authority of the dating method, though. It has been calibrated to certain supposed known historical events, for instance, of Egypt, whose corroborating dates are also based on assumptions that have been challenged.(49)

For modern Bible translators who use words like hippopotamus to insert here for behemoth, the description alone renders that an absurdity. Hippos don’t have tales they move like a cedar tree nor could he imagine, if given the understanding, that he could drink up a river. God challenges Job to consider this magnificent creation of which many artifacts of archeology show existed along with mankind. Rock art, sculptures and engravings, as well as written accounts, show what we think of as dinosaurs co-existing with mankind.

(46) Walter R. Betteridge, “The Accuracy of the Authorized Version of the Old Testament,” The Biblical World, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Apr., 1911), pp. 262-270. (accessed 1.22.2015).

(47) Helen Field, “Dinosaur Shocker,” Smithsonian Magazine, May 2006, (accessed 1.21.2015).

(49) Immanuel Velikovsky, a Russian Jew, a psychiatrist, and co-founder of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, challenged traditional dating methods for the ancient world as based on presumptions and willful distortion of evidence. He wrote Worlds in Collison, Ages in Chaos, and Earth in Upheaval, among other books. Although most scientists discount his sometimes wild theories he, at least, serves to show that there may be inconsistencies with traditional dating methods.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Job 40:6-14 comments: God's challenge to Job

6 ¶  Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 7  Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. 8  Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? 9  Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? 10  Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty. 11  Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him. 12  Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. 13  Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret. 14  Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.

Here, in essence is God saying, “get a grip, Job.” God has used commonly understood terms and sarcasm in other places and venues talking to man directly and not in some spiritual-speak so prevalent among Christians. Look at the following passage from Isaiah and see how God expresses amazement at how stupid idolatrous man is. Your skilled craftsmen make a molten image or cut down a tree, make a fire with it, warm your hands, bake your bread, and then you worship what’s left as your god? What gives? Are you nuts?

Isaiah 44:9 ¶  They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed. 10  Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing? 11  Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed: and the workmen, they are of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together. 12  The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint. 13  The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house. 14  He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it. 15  Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto. 16  He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire: 17  And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god. 18  They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand. 19  And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? 20  He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?

Here is another example of God speaking plainly to rebellious and foolish human beings.

2Kings 21:13  And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.

God tells Job, very clearly, to do what God does and express the power that God expresses, and then, and only then will God acknowledge Job’s power as equal. Of course, this is an absurdity. Job knows he can’t save himself. If he could he wouldn’t be in the situation that he is. God is teaching Job about His sovereignty, His dominion, His rule over Job which Job has been questioning.

The Bible teaches God’s sovereignty in great detail and shows man that he is very weak and powerless in comparison and that mankind needs to lean on God’s wisdom, depend on His power, and seek His mercy and grace to survive and prosper. Christians try to resolve their problem with God’s sovereignty by limiting that dominion in saying that this or that was a matter of good or bad luck, this or that was a random event, or that God set up natural processes which basically function on their own without His direct intervention. These are all blasphemous insults against God and a denial of what the Bible is clearly teaching.

The Book of Job teaches that there is not a breeze, not a cloud in the sky, not a nova exploding a million light-years away that God has not been intimately involved with in its manifestation. Every process of so-called nature and the physical universe, in every moment of time, is an act of God. People have defined miracles as God interrupting the, “natural order.” However, the Bible teaches us that existence itself and every function of it is a miracle, a singular act of God, while a miracle is an event caused by God as a sign, a warning, for a specific purpose out of what we ordinarily expect that shows God’s power over that process to us. The reality of God’s sovereignty is disturbing and, indeed, staggering to ponder.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Job 40:1-5 comments: Job acknowledges his standing

1 ¶  Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said, 2  Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. 3  Then Job answered the LORD, and said, 4  Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. 5  Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.

God asks Job if Job thinks he can give God instruction, if he can critique God. We, today, often challenge God with our statements and questions. “How can a just God allow [name the event] happen?” Of course, the age-old, “why do bad things happen to good people?” comes to mind. When a terrible typhoon or hurricane makes landfall Christians are curious as to how many Christians suffered or died because in our business bargain with God we want assurances that bad things won’t happen to His people. Atheists and agnostics will say they can’t believe in God that would let [name the event] happen. We are always trying to tell God what He should or shouldn’t do, should or shouldn’t allow. Even when we pray we not only ask God for something but we want to tell Him how to give it to us, what color wrapping paper and how to fold the ribbon.

Job acknowledges in his awe that he is vile. Vile is trash and unworthy in 1Samuel 15:9. It is base in 2Samuel 6:22. A vile person in Isaiah 32:5,6 is a churl, speaks villainy, his heart works iniquity, he practices hypocrisy, speaks error against God, and does not relieve the suffering of the hungry and thirsty. To be vile is to be rotten in Jeremiah 29:17, like bad fruit.

Job is going to put his hand over his mouth and shut up. He realizes there is nothing he can say against God and that he has already said too much. He’s done. Job, like you and me, is a wicked sinner with imperfect knowledge and finite understanding. There are things we must understand about our natural condition, apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

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.

Isaiah 64:6  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Without Christ, the believer is absolutely incapable of getting past these barriers.

John 15:5  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

We have no basis with which to challenge or question God. In the 20th century alone mankind killed more than a hundred million of his own, let countless millions more die because of greed, and drove millions from their homes. If a person wanted to ask God why He allowed such things, God would be justified in asking the person the same question. Mankind is utterly vile without Christ as his Lord, His teacher, His example, His Saviour, and His reason for being. One of the problems with much of Christianity is that rather than follow Christ, live with His attitude, and pay heed to His words we have opted to talk a lot about Him and accuse other people of not doing what we’re not doing.

Christians would do well to talk less about how holy they are and act like Christ more.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Job 39:13-30 comments: Ostriches, horses of war, and eagles and hawks

13 ¶  Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich? 14  Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust, 15  And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. 16  She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers: her labour is in vain without fear; 17  Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding. 18  What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider.

God goes on to challenge Job as to who designed these creatures, who gave them their features. Obviously, God did, not Job. Ostriches lay their eggs in a common pit, dug into the ground by the male. Eggs from many females go into the pit and the more dominant females remove the weaker females’ eggs. Less than 1 in 10 nests survive the “care” they receive and very few Ostriches survive to adulthood.

God here underscores that animals aren’t given the wisdom and understanding of human beings. Although Ostriches will run away and feign injury, they have been known to put up a fierce fight and even to kill larger predators such as lions. Here the Ostrich is said to not have fear of the horse and his rider. Obviously, there must have been instances where a hunted Ostrich turned and fought against the mounted hunter. It is known that one kick from an Ostrich can disembowel a human.

19 ¶  Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? 20  Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible. 21  He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. 22  He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. 23  The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. 24  He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. 25  He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

I remember reading an article about someone who had witnessed retired war horses on a farm in England who, of their own accord, would assemble and then simulate a cavalry charge, without riders. I can’t cite it now but it was something I found very curious at the time. It was what they were used to doing and apparently found it comforting. Who can say?

Here is clearly a statement that makes it sound that, as I have read that racehorses love to race, that war horses were excited by the battle, and in my own thoughts, probably not understanding the danger. A thunderous cavalry charge could be a terror to inexperienced infantry.

    26 ¶  Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south? 27  Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? 28  She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. 29  From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. 30  Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she.

Here God asks Job if birds of prey, specifically hawks and eagles, get their behavior and the understanding they have from Job or from God. This underscores man’s inherent lack of authority over the basic functions of nature and God’s sovereignty.

For verse 30, notice;

Matthew 24:28  For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Eagles are known to eat carrion, dead and decaying flesh. At the end of human history it is said;

Revelation 19:17  And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18  That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.