Monday, January 5, 2015

Job 37:14-24 comments: man's finite understanding

14 ¶  Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God. 15  Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine? 16  Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge? 17  How thy garments are warm, when he quieteth the earth by the south wind? 18  Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass? 19  Teach us what we shall say unto him; for we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness. 20  Shall it be told him that I speak? if a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up.

Elihu admonishes Job to consider God’s amazing works, to focus his mind on them. Elihu declares that Job does not have complete and perfect knowledge of God’s activity in natural processes. Job, and mankind in general, don’t understand why or even how God does things. The Bible is not a science manual, explaining how processes work, but explains why processes work, in that God causes them to do so. It is the task of mankind to attempt to understand the intricate details. But, when man assumes the first cause or the background of why a process functions cannot include God then mankind shuts himself off from understanding.

Elihu, in speaking in terms and phrases that would be understandable to a man of Job’s time but seem rather poetic in our jaded age of science textbooks and instruction manuals, asks Job to render a better explanation than what he has given. Our knowledge is imperfect. God’s knowledge is immediate and complete. What can we tell Him that He doesn’t already know? How, can we, in our ignorance, even address God?

Science is about understanding by what method a thing is done. Science, due to the finite and limited capacity of man, is wholly incapable of determining why. When a scientist delves into the realm of speculating on what happened that cannot be measured or studied by the method of science; observation, experimentation that can be repeated by others, and a constant reevaluation of the most basic, foundational principles of his or her theories, then he drifts into guesswork and even makes a scientific matter an issue of faith. “It is true because I believe it,” is not a valid scientific argument and neither is, “all of our future beliefs must be based on this foundation of atheistic evolution and nothing contrary can be considered or taught.” We have now come to a point where a leading geneticist has declared the insane theory that human beings came about as a result of the mating of a chimpanzee and a pig due to the difficulties they admit to man descending from an ape-like creature but the terrifying fear that other possibilities may lead to God. (38)

 The same goes with the science of Bible translation. I have read statements in many books and scholarly journals in debates on Bible translations the phrase, and forgive me for paraphrasing it in my own understanding, “This verse must be mistranslated because I cannot believe the writer would say such a thing.” This hardly constitutes a negation of what Christians have believed for hundreds of years anymore than saying, “there cannot be a God because I can’t accept the idea that God exists,” is a matter of scientific certainty. It has been said that a conclusion is the place where you have stopped thinking.

Surely, mankind who rejects God’s revelation will be swallowed up in astonishment and blindness, and eventually by God’s very wrath.

(38) Eugene McCarthy, “The Hybrid Hypothesis: A New Theory of Human Origins,” Macroevolution. (accessed 1.5.2015).

21 ¶  And now men see not the bright light which is in the clouds: but the wind passeth, and cleanseth them. 22  Fair weather cometh out of the north: with God is terrible majesty. 23  Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will not afflict. 24  Men do therefore fear him: he respecteth not any that are wise of heart.

Men see only in a limited fashion what is the inconceivable majesty and glory of God. The storm will always pass and fair weather will come. You can sit and scratch your head and try to understand why this happened or why that happened, look for a reason as you might, but you cannot find Him out. We don’t understand His power or His dispensation of judgment and justice as things seem so random and arbitrary at times. Like Job’s friends we always assume reasons and explanations for what we see without accurate knowledge. It is overwhelming. But we have His promises that He doesn’t afflict us without a reason nor does He take pleasure in our suffering but wishes for us to repent.

Lamentations 3:32  But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. 33  For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

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

Men who have true wisdom and understanding fear the Lord, as that is the beginning of wisdom, understanding and knowledge.

Job 28:28  And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

Psalm 111:10  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

Proverbs 1:7  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 9:10  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

And, God has no regard for the so-called wise men that are filled with the self-conceit of the person who rejects God as the first and primary cause of all things.

Psalm 14:1  « To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. » The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

Psalm 53:1  « To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David. » The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

In this passage Elihu may be hurrying to finish his argument as he realizes that God Himself is about to speak. Whatever the case, God does take over and speaks directly to Job, which is what the righteous Job pleaded for throughout his arguments. We’ll see if Job will make his own case, as he promised he would do if he could stand before God.

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