Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Job 1.7: The wife we nevet met

Job 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.
2 And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

Seems like we’ve been here before. There is one slight difference though in the first verse; before it merely said that Satan came among the Sons of God, almost as if he wandered in or as one commentator disagreeably concludes ‘pushed his way in’, but here it makes clear as we inferred earlier that Satan is himself presenting himself as he is one of the Sons of God.

Job 2:3 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

Again we see, God does not say “he holdeth fast…though you tried to destroy him…” God does not (and he has no need to) deny his sovereignty in the matter. We try to blame Satan in this, and certainly he deserves no kudos for wanting to set up the situation, but the fact is in smiting Job he did nothing wrong because God told him he could. Satan was acting in the bounds that God established when he attacked, and God himself attributes the damage to himself, “…me…to destroy without cause.”

Job 2:4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

Remember, so far Satan has not been able to attack Job directly, but even now only his flesh can he attack. Again the terms for ‘put forth’ are more easily understood, “draw back your hand and strike.” Also understand, that God never rescinded the power over all Job possessed. Between chapter one and chapter two, there is no relenting of circumstance. We don’t even know how much time has passed between the two, but presumably it is not a long time or else we would think Job’s three (four) friends would show up sooner. God is adding to Satan’s permission, but he still cannot take Job’s life.

That last detail is kind of ironic to me now that I think about it. God is causing this suffering, but he won’t let Satan take Job’s life even though as we know it would in fact end his suffering. We often think of this as God’s protection over Job, but wouldn’t it be more protecting to let him take his life? In fact the word here rendered save is ‘shamar’ (H8104) which in fact is more often rendered keep, as in guard. God isn’t telling him to spare Job’s life, he’s commanding him to preserve it. Why? Why is God preventing escape from this nightmare? He can’t escape the circumstances in life, and now he can’t escape in death either.
God in the book of Job, is truly the God who is not a man.

Job 2:7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.
9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

A new power is attributed to Satan. He can move pawns, call down supernatural fire, control weather and now we learn he can give illness. Before, pawns of the Devil attacked and stole from him, now though Job’s wife is provoking him to curse God. Or so it seems; as we are about to see there is something very interesting about what Mrs. Job actually has to say. But first let us consider how we approach her, whether or not she was part of Satan’s tactic, we don’t know, but it does illustrate how if we’re not careful we can become tools in his war. We know nothing of this woman’s character beyond this brief excerpt, and honestly I am inclined to think she is more noble character than we might assume.

It would be easy to think that this woman is a foolish unfaithful woman—I know because I’ve done this—but you have to remember besides the current bout of boils she’s endured everything Job has. She’s lost her financial security through him, most of her servants, and her family. We could speculate that there were other wives, but we don’t know so; I would assume based on Job’s life span that this is the wife that bore him ten children. I’d remind you again to ask yourself what if you knew God was taking away everything? Your one thing?

Also, we would think that Job would have been careful when he chose her, or that his parents would have. We can tell from her words that she saw Job’s integrity, so before all these tragedies she must have seen the blessing of protection that God had wrapped about them. I put to you that she’s probably as faithful a believer as many believers today.

Honestly, verse 9 has had me stumped for the last three weeks. I’ve read this probably a hundred times and never known what was actually being said. And since understanding that much, I have been struggling with what it means. The strange truth of this verse is that his wife is not telling him to curse the Name, and kill himself. That’s right, despite the English translation that is actually not what the Hebrew says.

Literally she says “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Bless God and die.” This may come as a shocker, but the word rendered curse is ‘barak’ (H1288) which out of 285 times is rendered in some form of the word bless 279 times. Twice it is rendered blaspheme in 1 Kings 21:11 & 13 in regards to a man falsely accused of ‘blaspheming’ the King and God. The other times that it is rendered curse are all located in Job in these first 2 chapters. Why is this the case, especially when there are an abundance of others words that can be rendered curse?

It seems that in the case of 1 Kings this is a euphemistic use of the word barak, based on purity of word. What do I mean by that? The idea is that the writer(s) of Kings and of Job were so upright themselves that even to write a phrase appearing to curse the Name was undoable. So instead of writing it, they wrote “bless God” with the context giving the understanding that it was actually the opposite that was meant. Is this born out in scripture?

If you search the scripture for combinations of curse, blaspheme, or other forms of either, you will find that there is no appearance in the Tanach (Hebrew ‘old’ testament) of such a phrase.

The closest you will find is:

Exo 22:28 Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.

The word revile here ‘qalal’ which is rendered curse in:

Lev 24:14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.

But even in this case if you look at the Hebrew, the phrase is exactly “curse NOT God.” The point is that all of the Hebrew scriptures are so adamantly careful about not cursing God that it would be unthinkable to even write a phrase that appeared to do so. When the idea must be discussed, the writers might say “cursed the Name,” “curse NOT…”, or in the case of Kings and Job “bless God.”

But now, this presents a problem; how do you know when the translation is euphemistic and how do you know when it is exactly as it is written? The first few cases in Job are fairly simple.

Job 1:5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

Obviously there would be no sin if Job’s sons had in fact blessed God.

Job 1:9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

Again, since the challenge against God is that Job only blesses God because God blesses him with good; it would make no sense for Satan to say take everything and Job will ‘bless’ God. The same applies to Job 2:5 when Satan issues his second challenge.

But now we get to the hard one, what about Job’s wife? Did she mean bless or curse? In the other two cases we have a clear disjoint of reasoning that demonstrated the meaning couldn’t make sense as truly blessing, ie there’s no sin in actually blessing God, and there would be no victory for Satan if Job continued to do what he had always done, ie bless God. One might the argument that the same is true here, afterall why would Job end himself after blessing God?

On the other hand, if we assume the euphemistic interpretation then we must make several assumptions about Mrs. Job. Firstly, that she is of weak character because obviously she’s been witness to how God blessed them because of Job blessing God. And secondly, that she is a very bitter and uncompassionate wife towards Job because she can see he’s obviously hurting and it is when he is physically assaulted, and sitting in ashes that she comes to allegedly tempt him, and to tempt him to do something that certainly cannot make him feel any better. I mean, when was the last time that you were hurt by someone and cursing them made you feel better? When has God given you a trial and cursing made you feel better?

So let’s examine the assumptions.

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.

Note from Job’s own words that he has a generally high appraisal of her character. “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women…” He does not label her as foolish, merely that she is speaking as the foolish, implying it is out of her character. He believes she’s at the end of her rope and he rebukes her, not devalues her. What does this indicate, if not that she has generally been of good character?

Secondly, we assumed she is almost lashing out at Job. Saying in paraphrase, “____ God and kill yourself.” But it doesn’t say that, it just says “and die.” If it’s an imperative as it appears, than she is telling him to commit suicide. Why would she do that? It wouldn’t make her any better off. It’s not like it would avoid a complicated divorce so she could collect insurance or her half of the estate.

It might ease his pain though, putting him out of his misery. And while that would be misguided, it would not be uncompassionate. And what if we take it as prediction “and you will die,” that’s even more compassionate because it’s like she’s offering him a way out.

I do not believe scripture supports these assumptions. It’s perhaps a fine line, but let’s try looking at it another way. Mrs. Job sees her husband rich and great, prospered seemingly as a direct consequence of his continual righteousness. Suddenly, God takes it all away, and Job still blesses God. Then Job is attacked with boils, and though he still blesses God, she can see by his actions that he is dejected. On the edge of crumbling completely. Can you picture this old man robbed of everything, sitting in ashes scraping at his ulcers for some relief? Do you picture him as the radiant image of joy? I feel sorry for him even though I know the ending!

Job’s wife comes up to him at this point and asks a question. “Are you still retaining your integrity?” We tend to assume this is actually meant to mean “I can’t believe you’re still doing that?” But going based on the understanding that she has seen the time of blessing and that Job regards her as generally a wise woman, what if we take it as an actual question? Job was blessing God in his prosperity/blessedness/happiness, now Job has received evil from God so is he really having integrity by continuing to bless God as if nothing has happened? Doesn’t in fact having integrity demand that he do the opposite or at least not bless God?

Granted when talking to Satan, God showed that the integrity God valued is the kind that exists between our fear of him in our hearts and in our speech and actions, which Job still has. But from a human standpoint it is reasonable to question his integrity since his apparent demeanor shows the 18 inch distance between his heart and his head.

So if we take this to be actually as it is written, she first is questioning whether he is in fact acting with integrity then saying as a consequence “bless God, and you will die/you will end yourself.” She sees him suffering, torn up inside but continuing to utter blessing despite it all. She’s saying he’s not really acting out of integrity, instead he’s basically being a religious automaton going through the motions, and because of this disconnection, if he continues to bless God it will kill him.

Contrasting the two views; on the one hand we have the commonly held belief that she is a bitter, broken woman wishing blasphemy from her husband and death, not to mention that the scripture is actually saying the opposite of what is written (a sarcastic question and an inverse euphemism).

And on the other hand, we have a view of a woman who is generally wise, now suffering, who sees her husband in unexpressed, unanswered pain, bottling it up and putting a band-aid over it with words he doesn’t feel, and she says that this bottling up will kill him. And the scripture means exactly what is written.

I for one favor the second view. How does Job respond? As we’ve already seen, he accuses her of a moment of foolishness, a rebuke that makes more sense than if you hold the first view. If she was in fact tempting him to blaspheme and commit suicide, does it make sense that he responds with a comparatively gentile rebuttal? I would have simply told her to get away from me, I wouldn’t have bothered to even explain myself. I pretty much would have written her off on the spot, but then Job is a better man that me…But this would hardly be a subtle temptation, so it would seem to rate a blunt rebuke.

Not only that, but if we fast forward a few verses to chapter 3:

Job 3:1 After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.

At the end of 2, Job’s friends show up but say nothing but sit and mourn with him. The last person to speak to him was his wife, and now the scripture reads “After this…” After his wife spoke to him, despite his rebuking her he now does curse. He doesn’t ‘bless’ God yet (though that’s very close as we’ll see). But the blessings do stop, and the cursing begins. If we take the view that his wife was directly tempting him, than we have to take the view that he is falling for that temptation. So far, he is still blameless. So is he starting to give in to his wife’s call for blaspheme, or is he simply starting to voice the hurt inside?

One more fast forward before we continue with the passage:

Job 1:5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

It was specifically recorded that the sons and daughters were feasting, but Job in his routine only makes offerings for his sons, not for his wife or daughters. Was Job a chauvinist, possibly, but I want to point out how his mind is bent towards his sons in the beginning.

Job 42:13 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.

In the beginning, he thinks of his sons and rebukes his wife for her words. In the end, after he is headed towards (or actually committed) blasphemy because of his wife’s temptation or because he has listened to her words in voicing his hurt, then he has new children and only the names of his daughters are recorded or any quality of them!

If that’s not a nod to his wife, what is it? And if it is a nod, it certainly cannot be because she tempted him to blaspheme. I think if we take the scripture as it is written, and consider the details, we find that his wife’s advice is actually warning that disconnecting his words (blessings) from the alignment of his heart (grief), will kill him. So it is a call basically to vent, to voice the pain. Which is what he does, and looking back afterwards, he appears to salute her for a warning, not a temptation.

So then what about Job’s response?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Job 1.6: Picking a fight

Job 1:11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
Job 1:12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

Notice what Satan is saying, he is challenging God to pull away his hand and to strike Job. People look at this and point out how our enemy cannot move without our Father’s say so, and this is an important truth. It again demonstrates that Satan and his are not God’s enemies, they’re ours. God is in complete control at all times, even as in verse 12, when God gives Satan the permission to do as he wills, he is giving permission, Satan cannot go beyond his permission. He is on a leash that God never loses.

This is a matter of great consolation to those who have experienced the Devil’s fury, but it leads to one troubling conclusion that many believers are not prepared to face. God is in control. Satan didn’t break out of the pen, sneak past some dozing angels and pounce on Job; or you; or anyone who experiences evil. God opened the gate and let him loose.

Good intentioned believers attempt to hide this fact by saying “God doesn’t want this for you,” or “He’s only allowing this to happen,” or “This isn’t of God, it’s of the enemy.” But the fact is that you can’t proclaim the sovereignty of God and simultaneously try to make him irresponsible for the evil that comes into your life. This would be obvious if the orderer of events was anyone other than God. If a bully went after a kid, and beat the snot out of him while his Dad stood there watching, you would be outraged at the Dad. If a Cop watched a mugging of some old lady and did nothing to intervene, you would want his badge. But because it’s God, we give him a pass. We say “Oh, well its different here. It would be unrighteous to question him, or hold him to the same standard. He’s not responsible though he has the power to intervene and does nothing.”

It seems like a spiritual position when you’re in it, but objectively it’s absurd. And worse, it misses the entire point of what the book of Job is trying to teach us. The Devil is saying, no one will love you (God) unless you bribe them (give them good). God responds to the Devil’s challenge by giving him the power, allowing evil into Job’s life. Though God doesn’t say it, the implication is clear, I can give him evil and he will still praise me. Why then, when we read this do we try to say that God isn’t responsible for the evil? He has to be responsible for the evil, or the entire ‘experiment’ is invalid. The whole point is that God is responsible for the evil! The Cop isn’t letting the mugger mug, he’s giving the mugger a target and letting him out of the car.

Armed with God’s blessing to do evil upon Job, sparing only the man himself, Satan proceeds to do his worst.

Job 1:13 And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

These three verses and the ones that follow, speak volumes about the Devil and Us. Remember the order of wealth before? Relationship with God; Family; Possessions (in this case, both cattle and servants). While that is God’s evaluation of wealth, Satan chooses to attack the bottom first. Possessions before Family. Why?

Well, he can’t attack Job’s character directly because one, God won’t allow him to touch him, two as we’ll see later even when allowed with the prohibition over death, Satan cannot directly touch his character. Satan cannot take our free will. Our ability to choose in reaction to the events taking place around us, cannot be stolen. This is very encouraging; our enemy cannot supersede the sovereignty of God over creation, and he cannot supersede over our choices. Our souls are fortresses that cannot be breached from the without.

Being unable to attack the top of the wealth pyramid, why then doesn’t he attack family? Because the importance of family is next in God’s measuring, but not necessarily ours. Possessions are very powerful with people. Think about how many times; a car breaks down; a job is lost; or some other material thing is taken away and in a moment of weakness or even in a pattern of behavior we lash out at our friends and family. Whether we like to admit it or not, possessions are often a very easy way to unravel our resolve. It’s not that we consciously try to make possessions more important, but they represent our time and our energy that we will never get back. To be robbed of something earned, is to steal the purpose of our efforts.

Again, the Devil shows his tactical understanding in how he attacks us.

Job 1:16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
17 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

The devil’s first blow came at the hands of men, so we can know that men are at times his agents, but now we see that he can also summon supernatural attacks. Such that his fire is mistaken for the fire of God. One thing we must consider though is that it might actually have been the fire of God. If you read scripture thoroughly you might be surprised how often God speaks of his creations as extensions of his power. Ie when a foreign nation attacks Israel while they’re in sin, he often says “I have struck you.” Or when God allowed a lying spirit into prophets of the kings it is recorded that he “sent an evil spirit.” The point is not whether or not the fire was God’s or the Devil’s own power masquerading, the point is it could have been either.

Also, notice how there is always one survivor. Do we treat this as coincidence? Certainly not. And Job would do no less; I’m sure he must have seen the pointedness of this assault. He knew this was not happenstance that all of this is happening on the same day, reported at the same time, each by a sole survivor.

Job 1:18 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
19 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Finally, Satan attacks the family. Wiping them all out with elemental fury. When given permission, Satan has a full arsenal of natural and supernational attacks to include human pawns and the environment.

It’s easy to rush over these verses and think of it just as history, but stop and consider what this would mean to one of us. Your sixty years old and your car is totaled says the reporting officer, you have no way to get to work. In fact the car was your work so you’re now unemployed. That’s not too bad, you can afford another car and you were close to retiring anyways. The bank calls, all of your accounts are zeroed out and there is no net to catch your freefall. You are old, jobless, and penniless. But one of your employees calls, he was driving by the apartment complex where all your children live…when it collapsed and killed everyone. Your entire legacy has just been destroyed. And worst of all, the God you have served all your life has orchestrated your downfall.

How would you feel?

How would you feel towards God?

Job 1:20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Job does not deny the hurt. He admits his loss and grieves as his actions show. But this man is truly the things that God said, remember it was God who laid those four qualities on him. It wasn’t another man that exaggerates or Job himself being conceited, God himself esteemed these qualities in him. So what does he do? He shows his quality. In mourning, he falls down and worships…the word for worship means also to revere, and revere to fear. He still fears God even though everything has been taken from him.

And he does not say “I am under spiritual attack,” though that was true. He does not say “How could this happen, Lord, I thought you were in control?” He names God as the originator of the events. “The YHVH gave…the YHVH hath taken…” He knows that God is sovereign, so he knows God sent this, but what does he do with that? “Blessed be the name of the YHVH.”

Then the scripture says in conclusion, that Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. Do you see that? He did charge God with responsibility, but he did not charge him with guilt or villainy. What should this teach us about our own sufferings? It’s hard to say. I’d like to make some conclusion like “If we trust in God everything will be alright,” but that would be the very type of cliché this book is against. The truth is that Job at the end of this chapter is still decimated, and God has not answered his suffering.

What we can say, is that God is in control. In good or evil, he is in control. That’s little comfort to those mired in evil, but it’s a start. The other thing we can see is that God picked the fight, the champion, and the terms; the Devil only issued a challenge. What does this mean? God didn’t say “Hey Devil have you seen Jesse Clark? He’s not so great, his faith is pretty weak, and a lot of times he fears men instead of me, but I’m going to give you the power to take everything from him…” God provoked the Devil’s challenge because he did know Job’s qualities, and he set the terms knowing Job’s qualities.

Going back to our analogy of the kid with the Dad (because it’s better than the cop, given our Father’s qualities), the Dad steps aside and tells the bully ‘Go ahead, my son’s the one in green with the black ballcap. Just don’t kill him.’ The bully runs off with a gleam in his eye, he’s gonna make the kid hate his Dad. He lands the opening blow; the kid is stunned. Another, and he falls. The bully kicks him in his side. Spectators gather round and their wanting to rush in, saying ‘how could this happen? Why is his Dad allowing this?’ The Dad has a quite grin, and holds out his arm to stop them. Then he says ‘Wait, he’s got this.’

We don’t know what the Dad’s point is, or what our Father’s is with us or with Job, all we know for sure is that he’s in control and he picked a fight that he knew we could win. And really, he picked the fight because he knew we could win.

Job 1.5: Introduction to the Enemy

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

One interesting thought to consider as we continue, that of why Satan is allowed among the sons of God at this muster is that by the definition as we’ve seen it, Satan is a son of God. This may seem just a provocative statement at first, but if you think of this ’presentation’ of the sons and that obviously no one can barge into God’s throne room, the odd truth is that Satan was supposed to be there because he was one of them.

This strikes me as very expressive of the total authority of God. We often give Satan too much credit. While I would not deny his power or pretend that he was of any insiginificance, God clearly does not treat him as we would treat enemies.

Job 1:7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

Do you hear the tone of this conversation? This setting? If I had the power to destroy an enemy without hinderance or cost to me, I would do so. But God does not, and it should make us consider this.

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

We are commanded to love, bless, and pray for our enemies. Why? So that we may be the children of our Father. Why? Because He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on them both. Why should we treat our enemies this way? Because our Father does.

This is the example of God to Satan. Here we have the most vile, seditious being in all time, and our Father shows him love. Invites him into his presence, into his home. Think about that, there are people we avoid in life because in our eyes they aren’t worth saving; aren’t worth the time and effort to show them love; aren’t worth our time. But whose time is worth more than God’s? And who is less deserving of love than Satan? And yet HaElyon does not in anyway attack or neglect this creature. Though scripture does not ever mention it, from these few passages I would be surprised if God has not made a way of salvation offered even to the fallen angels that we are not privy to.

Continuing in the throne room, having been summoned to be among his brethren, Satan is asked where he’s been. This is perhaps the first of the oddities of Job.

Like with Adam and Eve, God asks a question to which he must know the answer. Well if he’s not asking to get information, what is the purpose of the question? To offer his creation a choice and by making them consider the truth of their standing. Think about another implication, a question is a desire for dialogue. God asks because he wants to have a conversation, he wants to have a relationship with his creation.

Satan considers and apparently chooses to be honest and relays that he’s been walking to and fro. Whether or not Satan was literally striding on legs is unclear, but what this does demonstrate is that Satan is finite. He is bound by both space and time, he cannot be in two places at the same time.

Job 1:8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

If Job could hear this conversation you could imagine him saying "Don’t bring my name into this!" God knows what’s about to transpire so in essence he’s picking a fight for his servant Job. But firstly, think how highly God puts Job "there is none like him in the Earth…" Not only this, but this further reveals something about the relationship between God and Satan.

Job 1:9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.

God says look at this guy he’s hot stuff in my book, and Satan says yeah he’s hot stuff because of what he gets from you. It’s as if there’s an unspoken or previously voiced sentiment that no one will love God for who he is. Man will not worship and serve without tangible exchange. In other words, it’s not love. It’s commerce, exchange. Two questions are being suggested, will anyone love God without getting something in return? Or is Man so unflawed that he won’t worship God without exchange?

If you think about it, this is the same premise that Satan used in the Garden of Eden. In Eden, he called doubt upon the truthfulness of God’s word. Which in reality, is calling doubt upon the character of God. Is God good? Or is he just someone whose really rich and buys our admiration, our friendship, love, and fear? Would or should God get our worship if not for the position he put us in? In fact it’s a valid question to ask ourselves, do we only love God because he gives us prosperity in our life and the promise of a New Heaven and New Earth, or do we love God just for who he is?

Switching gears a bit, we’ve been pretty loose with our wording. But the Devil is not. Consider that he is ’the’ Adversary as his very name means. He is our best enemy. Not God’s because there is no comparison. So we must approach him as such. A strong Adversary knows his opponent; his strengths and weaknesses. This means that the area he devotes his attack to, reveals his understanding of our weaknesses.

Remember God identified Job as being perfect, upright, fearing God, refusing evil. How do we evaluate those qualities? Among the four, which is most important? Well, being content sounds good. Certainly being upright. Isn’t doing the right thing the most important? Or not committing evil, not breaking, being edifying in everything isn’t that very important? Those are all very good, but the Adversary’s chief concern is with fearing God.

This is very provocative considering what we’ve seen of the nature of godly fear. Modern understanding has taken the trembling out of it and reduced it to contemplative awe, and yet it is the beginning of wisdom to have it. And it is this quality that the Adversary considers as the lynch pin. He could have said is he content, it’s obvious since you’ve given him everything. That would have been the way I’d have approached it. But he shows that the hedge God put up, explains his fear more importantly than his contendedness or conduct. Why is this true?

He should be content because God has given him everything and he is the greatest in substance—material, familial, and spiritual—of all the men of the east. But if he has that because God protects him, than he should fear God all the more because He can take it away. The higher God builds us the farther we can fall, and the more we should realize that we are dependent on him.

So the Devil makes his proposition, his wager. Job won’t praise God if his substance, the bribe, is removed. Instead, he will curse God. If this is hard to understand, think of some blessing in your life, or some blessing that you are earnestly praying for. What would happen if it was taken from you or the door was forever shut? We depend on God, and to an unconscious degree we do fear him because often when we pray, we’re really praying that God will see it our way because we know he’s in control and are afraid that he’ll do something evil.

A personal example, there have been times that I have looked around and seen all my friends getting married and starting families, having children, and it reminded me that there was nothing on this Earth that I wanted more than to have that same blessing. But God has not granted it to me. And there was a time that I began to lower my standards to try and make something happen. I knew for example that it was unwise to pursue someone whose understanding of scripture excluded torah or to change physical boundaries to try and seal the deal. But I did, and it didn’t work out. Afterwards, I realized how far I’d slipped. I was ashamed of my weakness, though God had been gracious and his Spirit intervened to salvage me. Afterwards, he lead me to understand the source of my weakness.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe God would provide me with wife and family that I would like or in my time. It was that I hadn’t accepted that God might never give me one. What if God denied me the one thing that I had always wanted? What if I went the rest of a long life not having the one thing that I wanted? If I wouldn’t accept that answer from God, then I really wasn’t accepting God. I was saying "No, you’re not good enough alone. You have to give me this thing or I won’t love you."

What if God took your one thing?

The Devil says we’d curse him.

Job 1.4: Sons of God

Job 1:2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
Job 1:3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

Here we get a glimpse of just how prosperous Job was. I think it’s telling of God’s priorities that the number of his family is listed before the inventory of his things. This is a considerable number of children when you realize that only one wife is mentioned in the story, though he could have had more, either way he is blessed by God in this.

In terms of wealth, I haven’t been able to find number regarding what a sheep, camel, oxen, she-ass, or menservants were worth at the time, but we can understand his wealth in terms of the phrase "so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east." Scale of wealth is often relative. If you think about it, Americans are the richest people in history. Even our poor are rich compared with the poor of other countries…or even compared with the rich of some countries. So then think of the richest person in America, that was what Job was like.

This again identifies Job as worshipper of God in the east, Israel is considered the west. This again indicates that Job was probably a contemporary of Abraham or before him and as we are about to see Job makes offerings, but after the children of Israel enter the land there are no more burnt offerings permitted outside of the Aaronic priesthood (Lev 17:8-9).

Job 1:4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

Notice, Job is not only blessed, but his children also. Yet though they have their own houses and perhaps their own families, he still intercedes for them even for actions he does not know if they have committed.

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

This is where things start to get very interesting, and strange. First we’re introduced to the protagonist of the story, a man who is content, blameless, fearing God and turning from doing evil. And chiefly because of his character, then because of his family, and finally because of his possessions he is the greatest of his whole region, his blessings are so great that they spill over onto his children along with his continued spiritual protection.

Now enters the villain. We all boo and hiss, but there should be an obvious question here. Why is Satan allowed to come up at all? The setting is a presentation of the Sons of God—in this usage is consistent with the rest of the tanach/original testament, they are an unclearly defined group of the heavenly host—the description is one of having audience with or perhaps a military commander overlooking his troops to give orders. This is very interesting timing if you think about it. Did Satan happen to stroll on into Heaven at the same time the Sons of God were there? Or is Satan there because he’s a Son of God?

Now this could seem very near blasphemy or at least heresy, I mean if Yeshua is the Son of God, then to say Satan is a Son of God is kind of like saying they’re brothers, which if you’re familiar may sound like a mormon doctrine. However, this is not a heretical question since the present scriptures have referred to some plurality of beings that are called Sons of God. The question we should address, is who are these Sons of God?

The phrase is beney ha’elohim. Literally Sons of The Creators. I say Creators because Elohim is plural. The Creators refers to himself as one as in the Shema, "Hear O’Israel, the Lord our God (Elohim), the Lord, is one (echad, plural unity) Lord. But cannot have an actual son as in the produce of procreation. Why not? For one thing God has no other god with which he could ’mate.’

Deu 4:35 Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.

Deu 4:39 Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.

1Ki 8:60 That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.

Isa 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

The message of scripture is that God is peerless. Well maybe God doesn’t need a mate, he’s God so maybe he can just have a son without anyone else. Well that problem is that a son is of the same kind and likeness as the father.

Gen 5:3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

God creates Man (both male and female man) in his own image, but the sons of Men are in the image of Men. Sure Man as a species is in the image of God, and therefore each individual is also in the image of God (read Genesis 9 about why we should not kill each other), but we are also in the image of our fathers and mothers. This is obvious from a genetic standpoint. And it follows the pattern that God established.

Gen 1:11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind…

Gen 1:21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind…every winged fowl after his kind…

Gen 1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind…cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind…

Everything that God created that lives or grows, reproduces after its own kind. If we then, who reproduce our kind, are made in the image of God, then wouldn’t it suggest that a Son of God must also be of his kind? So this is why God cannot reproduce or create a son in the truest sense, why because the fact that there was before a son and that that son was not self-existant would immediately make a reproduced son not of the same kind as a self-existant, eternal, God without beginning. Doesn’t this deny the sonship of Yeshua then?

Not at all. This why I said God cannot have a son as in the products of procreation. For him to have a son, his son must be self-existant and eternal since that is the very identity of God himself. Well what do we know about Yeshua?

Joh 14:8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

Yeshua and the Father are one. If you’ve seen Yeshua, you’ve seen the Father. In other words? I am in the likeness of my Father, I am after his kind. And not in the reproductive sense, because "I am in the Father and the Father in me…" If God cannot change then Yeshua was always in the Father, therefore as the Father is self-existent and eternal, so is the Son.

Heb 7:1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

The priest Melchisedec was without beginning or end, father or mother, made like the Son of God. In other words The Son of God has no beginning or end.

Heb 7:21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)
22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

Yeshua was The Son of God, the only Son of God that was after the kind and likeness of God because he was God himself. Logically, this is the only possibility. The only way for God to have a Son, is to be his own Son. Not like putting on a hat, as though he were playing a part, the Son was always there as a person of the Tri-une God.

So what of these other sons of God? After their first appearance in Genesis as ones who came to the daughters of men and had children, they appear in Job as beings who have the ability to go into Heaven to assemble before him apparently as a regular event. They appear later in Job also:

Job 38:6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,
10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,
11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?

The inferrance from this mention is that Job was not there when these things happened, and if we recall from Genesis, the stars appeared on day four, but the first ’breathing life’ creatures that appear are the following day, and the only recorded beings that bear God’s likeness appear on day six. This shows three things, firstly there are at least these Beney HaElohim that are unrecorded in creation. They are older than the stars. And lastly if you read the Genesis account carefully you see that there are several brackets of creation such as "God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth… every winged fowl… and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind…and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth…"

What I mean to point out here is that the Earth and everything brought from it and living upon it are created together in a circle of life if you will. By that I mean everything made from the Earth is put under the dominion of the Man made from Earth, and every creature of the Earth is given food of the trees and plants that grow of the Earth. There is a very noticeable interconnection between all the things of Earth.

Firstly there is this link between the Heavens and the Earth whose creation sometime before the command to bring forth light, but these Heavens and Earth if they include the Spiritual Heavens or ’third Heaven’ as Paul counts it. However, the account here seems to be exclusively of the first and second Heavens. Genesis 1:1 mentions the creation of Heavens (plural) and Earth. The Earth is then clarified as something physical that is unshapen and covered with water. Then along comes verse 7-8:

Gen 1:7 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.

This first definition of what a Heaven is, is a firmament/expanse/space between water below and water above. This could be the either the space between Earth with its waters and the clouds above with its waters, or the water vapor canopy that some scientists speculate may have once existed. Either way, this first Heaven lies just above the Earth, but at that time below an expanse of water. This is why the first Heaven is considered to be the atmosphere.

Gen 1:16 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,

This division of space where the sun, stars, and moon abide is known as the second Heaven. A simple reading really treats these two Heavens as one, but this can also have a plural sense. For example, the Heaven of atmosphere and Heaven of stars are really just different degrees of one whole (everything that is above the Earth), just as the Earth has many lands even though all land is connected to all other land and thusly is really one land.

But how do we know that these distinctions are valid?

2Co 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.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

In the New Testament or Brit Chadesha, the Apostle Paul confirms the understanding of what was already termed the ’third Heaven’ which was understood to be the spiritual realm, specifically the place where God dwelled as in the book of Job. The Tanach’s way of expressing this concept is found in Deuteronomy:

Deu 10:14 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.

Neh 9:6 Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.

Notice that this ’Heaven of Heavens’ is enumerated separately from both Heaven and Earth.

So what is my point in all this, and what does it have to do with the Sons of God. My point is that if you have an understanding of these three Heavens; atmospheric, celestrial, and spiritual/paradisiacal—then when you read the creation account you find that mention of the Spiritual realm is completely absent. We have no idea when the Heaven of Heavens was created, and likewise we have no idea when the host of that Heaven was created. In contrast, the Earth and all things made of Earth and connected to the Earth have a set time frame of creation, some 6,000 years ago over the course of six days.

So if the things of Earth we’re being created then, who would have been around to fulfill the passage in Job that says the Sons of God sang for joy at the appearance of the stars? The Heavenly host. Angelic beings of undetermined species.

So far we have determined one being, and one group whom God called sons.
Yeshua, God himself; and the Heavenly host. But there are two more.

Luk 3:38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

Whether or not "the son" was inserted by translators, the implication is the same since it follows the pattern of the genealogy. And the final group is in fact the followers of Yeshua:

Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

So the question should be, what do all these four have in common? Their origin.

Joh 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The sons of God are ’of God.’ They don’t come about by any cause but God himself. The creation of God’s will. Adam is a Son of God because he was the originally created man. Angels are the Sons of God because they had no one before them, they were directly created by God. Followers of Yeshua are Sons of God because our re-creation at believing on the name of Yeshua, is a re-creation out of God’s will not of blood or of the will of flesh (created things).

Now someone might say, but that doesn’t hold up because Yeshua was not created. But in fact this is not true. God is Spirit, not flesh, but Yeshua is by definition a Man and Man is a creation. If God alone is self-existent than by contrast, man cannot be self-existent. Now, this does not mean that the Son of God is not self-existent and fully God. As we have already seen, to be The true Son of God he has to be God himself, but these verses speak to this meaning:

1Jo 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

Yeshua came in the flesh, and as we saw he made a point of establishing that his flesh rose from the grave with him and that he continues to exist in flesh as the God-Man our Messiah and King forever. However, the implication is that if he came in flesh, he was not always flesh.

Heb 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

Yeshua the God-Man was a union of self-existent eternal God and the creation Man. That should be something all the more awe inspiring to think that God didn’t just lower himself to put on the flesh of thing, but he lowered himself to put on flesh of his own creation. The difference is not like a King becoming a peasant, it is of a Writer stepping into his own story to save it. That it was what love looks like.

So in conclusion of this thought, we have established that the Sons of God, is not a title that we can appropriate to whom we will, only God can grant it. And He grants it to those being that are the direct creation of his will, only four groups and the one covered in Job are the group of the Heavenly host.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Job 1.3: Evil

Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

Lastly, he eschewed evil. Now this phrase struck me because I have always thought this meant that he hated wickedness, but is this the primary meaning? Eschew is easy enough, it is sur (H5493) which essentially means to be revolted by or turn off from or to decline from doing. Job looks at evil and he is revolted by it. The word evil though is not so straightforward, and often misapplied from its biblical meaning.

Evil (ra’ ra’ah H7451), means primarily bad or evil, naturally or morally and is rendered as such more times than any other way. It comes from the root ra’ah meaning to spoil or literally break. The first appearance?

Gen 2:9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

This is very interesting. The word for good is tobe (H2896) which simply means good as a noun in the widest sense, and what root does it come from? H2895 tobe the verb meaning to do or to make good or well. So we have this contrasting knowledge (the noun form of the word ’to know’) in the tree. The knowledge of making and the knowledge of breaking. The knowledge of doing good (making) and the knowledge of doing evil (breaking).

Does this perhaps explain better the cause of God’s command? Think about what God first introduces himself as? Eloheim (literally creators), he makes things.

Granted its much different in that when Eloheim makes something he has the option of doing so out of nothing, or of reforming something that he has already called into being. But he makes things. What did he make? Good. Everything from Day one to the Sabbath, God calls good.

Gen 1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Gen 1:10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

Gen 1:12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Gen 1:18 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.

Gen 1:21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Gen 1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Gen 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

God makes six things on six days and each is good. The only thing that wasn’t good was a brief time on day six when man had no companion and God said that wasn’t good, but by the end of the day God is saying that everything he made was good. Light, darkness, sun, moon, stars, land, sea, fish, whales, birds, beasts, man and woman, all very good. God creates good.

So why does God who made Man (including Woman in Man) in his own image, not want Man to eat of something that would give us the knowledge to do good? Why does he deny us the knowledge to Make?

Deu 6:18 And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers,

Deu 12:28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.

Deu 10:13 To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?

God commands us to do good, and he commands us for our good. So why then did he deny Man the knowledge to do good? I think it is perfectly illustrated in the presentation of the tree. There is not two trees of knowledge, one of good and one of evil. It is one tree that is the knowledge of both. You cannot learn the knowledge of Good/Making without the knowledge of Evil/Spoiling or breaking. So what do we know about man and evil?

Gen 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

God did not regret making man for his propensity to do good which he had the knowledge to do…

Exo 23:2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:

Deu 17:7 The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.

Deu 31:29 For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.

We are commanded to do good, and to not do evil, to make and not to break. So God originally commanded us not to have that knowledge of how to do either by not eating of that tree. This thought will be important later in the chapter.

So what do we know about Job? He is a man who is complete and content. He acts according to God’s will. He is afraid of God, but that does not exclude worship and love. And he is revolted by doing evil/spoiling/breaking. Now we can move on.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Job 1.2: Meet the man

[Note: I have not written all this in the last day or so, I'm just posting it recently.]

With that said, let's meet Job:

Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

There are four things that scripture says about Job right off the bat, regarding his character. It is interesting to me, because any of those four would seem to encompass the other, but the word is never needlessly wordy.

Firstly, the word perfect is tam (Strong's H8535), meaning complete or full; or pious. It's first use in scripture is referring to Jacob as a plain man who lived in tents (Gen 25:27). In Exodus 26:24, 36:29, it is rendered coupling. You get the sense of things joined together to make something whole, full. In Proverbs 29:10 is contrasted against the 'bloodthirsty' who hate the tam, but the just (yashar) seek life.

Why do the bloodthirsty hate the upright? Well hate is sane (H8130), and the first time it appears in scripture it is as a blessing against those who hate Rebekah, but the second time is Isaac speaking about some people who had driven his shepherds and flocks away each time he reopens a well. They are jealous of God's blessing Isaac with these wells so they take them, and he calls this a sign of hate. Later in Exodus, God says He is a jealous God (20:5), and therefore not to bow down to idols because He hates it. I think that this is a general truth, that hate is often tied with jealousy. Can you think of a time that you hated someone and it wasn't out of jealousy? Remembering of course that jealousy is not always wrong, only when it is jealousy over something that is not yours by right. One can be jealous as God is jealous of things they have rights to, such as when a man is jealous for the affection of his wife. We hate because someone has or is trying to take something that is ours, or we believe is ours. Someone might say, "No, I hate so and so because they wronged me." But this is still jealousy, when they wronged you they violated your rights. You have the right to be treated justly and fairly, you are jealous of that right. Think about when you receive a bill that you did not incur, you are indignant and very protective because someone has stepped on your rights. If there is not amends, if there is not satisfaction, than unless we forgive this trespass, we breed hate. Think of why Yeshua phrased in his teaching on prayer, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

So what does this have to do with tam/perfection. Back in the Proverbs passage, the just are concerned with life, something they should hope and want for. But the bloodthirsty hate the upright because obviously God is giving all good things (since he is the giver of all good things) to those who are upright. They are jealous of God's blessings, and this causes hate. Think about how those who are far from God are never satisfied, always craving to fill that void, and how the world seeks to destroy those who are satisfied. I think you'll see this is true.

So then, the point of this first description is that Job is complete, he is full, he is satisfied. He is not jealous of others, others would have reason to be jealous of him. So if he is not jealous of others, then another way to put that is that he is content.

1Th 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

This passage much exemplifies what perfection means. The phrase "lust of concupiscence" is an old way of simply saying desire for something you ought not to have. In other words? Don't fornicate, possess yourself and don't serve the desire/jealousy for things that aren't yours, in this case specifically of a sexual nature, but this can easily be speaking of anything that you ought not to have. To the end that you don't cheat your brother in any matter! Notice what Paul's next thought is, "he that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God…" In his mind this cheating, stemming out of lust, is linked with despisement. After praising them for their love, he rounds out the passage by telling them to be quiet or peaceable, mind your own business, and do actual work.

This is the first descriptor of Job in a nutshell. Being perfect means not being jealous of others, being content with what God has given you and where you are, which as a natural outcome makes you peaceable and not meddlesome and not idle.

Think about this, are people who meddle often peaceable? No, they're always wrapped in drama; they definitely do not have peace. Are people who are not idle often meddlesome? No, because they have purpose; when you're busy with your own destiny you aren't interested in messing with someone else's (obviously this is referring to the self-pleasing meddling, not loving interaction). And are peaceable people idle? No, idle people are restless, purposeless, not working therefore not being satisfied by their work.

Job was a purpose driven, working, and content individual. This is a perfect man.

Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

And he was upright (Yashar, H3477). A little less subtle, meaning he was right or straight, direct. The idea that comes to mind is one of someone setting up a line or perhaps hanging a picture and says "it's straight." Meaning it is as it should be based on a perspective, as when Adonai says

Exo 15:26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

Or in modern vernacular when someone says "you've got that upside down." Meaning your perspective is backwards, when it's right-side-up or "upright" it's the way it should be.

Deu 12:8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.

It's a matter of perspective, upright in God's sight means lining up with how he says it should be. So Job is the way he should be in God's sight. He is complete, unjealous, man who aligns himself to God's will.

Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

He also feared God. This is a concept that I think is much misunderstood. A common idea held among believers is that this is to be a reverence or respect for God, rather than fear as we often use it in our everyday language. However the word here yare (H3373), meaning firstly to fear and secondly to reverence, but let's an interesting note that in the entire Tanach/Old Testament it is never actually rendered as revere. Instead, let's see how it is used when it isn't being used of God.

Gen 32:11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.

Deu 7:19 The great temptations which thine eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm, whereby the LORD thy God brought thee out: so shall the LORD thy God do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid.

Jdg 7:9 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand.
10 But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:

Deu 20:2 And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people,
3 And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;
4 For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.
5 And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.
6 And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it.
7 And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.
8 And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart.

Did Jacob revere Esau or was he genuinely afraid he might get killed? Did Israel respect their enemies or were they afraid of getting slaughtered? What about Gideon? It is clear in these passages that motivating idea is normal, self-preservative fear, not some lofty respect.

I put to you two thoughts then. Firstly, if all other uses of the word are connotative of the normal sense when dealing with scenarios of conflict with other men, then it is unwarranted and illogical to assume that the idea when placed in reference to the All-powerful who can give or take life without resistance or hinderance should be degraded to a lesser form of the same idea.

Secondly, I think we read into an old word like 'revere' something that was not intended at its translation. We think of revering someone as holding them with a respect, in awe of them, some lofty idea where we see them in a heavenly glow and nod our heads and say 'amen.' But the word revere means something else. If you look in an etymological dictionary you will find the forms of revere linked with phrases like "stand in awe of, fear," "to regard with reverence, or profound respect and affection, mingled with awe or fear." In fact the farther back you look the more fear you see, while the more current you find the word meaning almost a respectful love. This is not to say that love and respect are not implied or that they are somehow excluded, but if God's word says "fear" we should not be hasty to change it to something more palatable. Consider for example:

Exo 9:20 He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses:
21 And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field.

Did the Egyptians have a loving respect for Adonai? Or had they not just seen him reign down six plagues on a national scale?

Jdg 6:21 Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.
22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.
23 And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.

Consider what happens when Gideon realizes he's seen the Lord. What does God says? "Fear not," why? Because "Thou shalt not die." Gideon was afraid that because he had seen God even in a veiled form, he was going to die. This is not a loving awe, this is self-preservative fear of imminent demise.

Deu 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:

Psa 47:2 For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.

Is the word terrible (from the word terror and in Hebrew is the same word for fear that we have been discussing) also a term of revering awe?

Joe 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Is the day of God's outpoured wrath something to be loftily considered or something that should strike deep terror into the heart of those with whom he will deal?

The point of all this is not to instill a terror at the name of God (and yet it should be), or to somehow revive images of an angry and vengeful, hateful God, no but instead this goes back to what I've been saying from the beginning. We have a tendency to try and rewrite the identity of God to fit our own comfort. He is loving and merciful, the same one who so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son to die on the cross for our sins. But this does not change the fact that he is also the great judge, to whom all souls must answer. He is all those wonderful things we like to think of him as, but he is also the many terrible things that we would like to pretend he is not. Not bad things, not unrighteous things, but the same God who gave us Eden and Heaven is the same God who prepared a place for the Devil and his followers. He is worthy of love, praise, and fear.

And lest we suppose that the tanach is somehow deficient in presenting this idea consider the breadth of the NT:

Mat 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.

Despite many cartoonish caricatures Satan does not rule in hell or have any authority there, it is a prison for him, so it is not he who can ruin body and soul there. Also consider that here it is even more obvious because the greek word is phobeo (G5399) from which we get phobia. The meaning includes firstly 'to frighten,' 'to be alarmed,' 'to be in awe of,' and 'fear (exceedingly).'

Mat 28:2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

True this is an angel, though this could also be THE angel, but it stands to reason if the sight of an angel is fearful to look upon, than their Maker must be more so. If you doubt this consider Ezekiel in the early chapters, the difference between his response to the Seraphim and his response to the sight of Eloheim.

Luk 1:49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

The fear of God is still shown to be of importance as it was before.

Phi 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Heb 12:20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:
21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)

Rev 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

If all we take from passages like these, which are few of many, is a plain reading, how can we miss that our God is both loving and fearful? If even Moses trembled at his presence, if even the multitude of Heaven fear him in the same way, how can we say we worship him, not have that same quality?

But then again, the question comes to mind, what of all the times people were told to fear not? Doesn't love cast out fear? How can we call him Abba/Daddy, if we are afraid of him? I think the answer is that those are all things that are true and to be done. What does that mean? It's simple, we must get away from the idea that God who is infinite and transcendent must be confined by our perceptions of what a thing means.

An example is, God is love, so people say that he does not hate; but the truth is God says he hates some things. Or how the word Eloheim is plural creator-God, but the shema (Deu 6:4) tells us that YHVH Eloheim is echad (plural unity) YHVH. Or that in God is no darkness, so people think that darkness is somehow a demonic thing as though the Devil had created; but then they have trouble with Isaiah:

Isa 45:6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.

God is not like us. We are made in his image, but an image of something and an actual thing are vastly different.

That's a huge concept to wrap our minds around, that God can be two things at the same time just as easily as he can be two places at the same time. The only thing that limits God is his own character, not out perceptions. God cannot be unrighteous because God cannot be unrighteous. God can be a paradox even if we can't imagine one.

So how does this apply to fearing God? I'd say the best analogy that can be imagined (if it is analogy at all), is one from scripture:

Heb 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
29 For our God is a consuming fire.

Ironically, here the word is not the stronger phobeos. Instead the word for reverence merely means downcast eyes and the word for godly fear means caution primarily, but also fear. But though this is a milder choice of words, the other words were still written and I think the picture holds true.

Fire can be very destructive when it rages, when it's out of control. Think of the firestorms we have in the US each year. Millions of acres lost, billions of dollars in damage. They say if your indoors fighting a new fire with an extinguisher, and you don't put it out by the time the extinguisher is drained (a matter of seconds) you should escape.

Yet, if you put fire in a hearth or a camp ground fire pit and crowds will be drawn to it because it is fixating, warm, and lightening. This is the picture God gives us of himself. When he descended on the mount it burned. When he answered Elijah it was as the God who answers by fire. Here, he is the consuming fire.

Fire can be beautiful and attractive, but that doesn't mean we can't simultaneously have fear of it. Something can frighten you without you even being afraid of it, like something that startles you. Or you can be afraid of something (like being burned in a fire) without being frightened of it. Think of a good parent, a child of a loving parent loves them back even if they know and fear them for their ability to discipline. That fear is still there even if it isn't aroused.

In the same way, we can fear God without being repulsed by fear or that fear overwhelming love. A perfect example:

Luk 7:15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.
16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.

Yeshua (Jesus), just raised someone from the dead and the people's answer is fear and glorifying God. Why? Because God had visited his people. Do you think any of them in their fear lost sight of the fact that a dead man had been raised?
So Job was a complete and contented man, who lined with God's vision, and who had true fear of God, notice though that that doesn't conflict with the fact that he was contented.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Job 1.1: Introductions


I began this study, actually as a spin-off from a discussion a friend and I were having about evolution, and whether or not dinosaurs fit into scripture. I immediately attested to the Behemoth and Leviathan of Job, but then the conversation turned to the book's main subject matter. Job has always been one of my favorite books, the only Biblical text that supersedes it readily in my mind is Revelation because in my mind it is a book of hope. People sometimes ask me why when the book is full of the outpouring of God's wrath and the deaths of huge percentages of the human race, my answer is because of the ending. All other books end with the promise of something more to come, ie Genesis promises a Messiah to save us from our sins. The latter books of Torah promise a future hope for Israel. The prophets speak intermittently of end times and a conclusion of things, but it is mixed, diluted even for lack of a better word, with the present persecution of the Jewish people. But Revelation is the last revelation of Yeshua HaMashiach. It's the end of the story and we see without any doubt or subtlety, the hope of all creation. Redemption and an end of all the devil's works.

But Job, is my second favorite. Because it presents Elyon, as someone who does not conform to our vision of how He should act. I remarked to a friend that all the gods of the world's religions act essentially human. Each idol promising a particular trait of the true exaggerated to the exclusion of His wholeness. The Allah of Islam is merciful and just, but these traits are completely arbitrary as he has no means to atone for wrongs done thus his mercy and justice are essentially cheating the numbers, he has no promise of salvation. Buddha offers wisdom and peace, but at the expense of your humanity; instead of answering desire with designed fulfillment, desire is shunned to the point that the highest endeavor is merely contemplation of things as a machine might do. Even the shallow perceptions of mainstream Christianity work to limit God down to someone who is all merciful, but requires nothing of us—which sounds good for a moment until you realize that it's the same as a parent who offers their child no discipline and no boundaries. Where those are lacking, love is lacking.

The point being that people have a tendency to elevate certain facets and traits of God either by making idols that are not at all God or by ignoring less desirable qualities of God—one might even argue that to neglect a trait of God knowingly is to deny His identity, therefore it is not Him whom you worship, but in fact an idol called by His name. But Job, flies in the face of this tendency. As I think we'll see as God leads us through this poetic account, this book portrays God as wild. I mean this in the sense of C.S. Lewis when he analogized God in the character of Aslan saying "Is he safe? Of course, he isn't safe…but he's good."

For all its answers and portrayals the book is still very problematic. Here you have God seemingly dumping evil on a good man simply for the point of a bet with the Devil? And if that is the case how did the bet go? God seems to win round one and two, but if you read on it looks like Job does curse God, so does that mean God lost the bet? If He knows all, why would He make a bet that He would lose? In fact why did He make a bet at all?

These are just a few of the problems that occur to someone familiar with the account. These were a few of the issues that I wished to resolve for myself, and also partly because I find myself in a season of pain. Not my own, I would be a fool to deny that God has richly blessed my substance, and though I am a habitual complainer, I have little to complain about and nothing to complain about to people. Not my pain, but I know people who are dying or know people who are dying. People suffering from broken homes, broken hearts, and this is what Job is really about from where I'm sitting. What do you do with pain? What is the point of it? I think as a result of their perceptions of God being small and limited by the traits they magnify at the expense of others, many in the body of Messiah come up with trite answers of their own like. "God didn't do this, he only allowed it." "Maybe God is trying to teach you something by letting you experience this." "God allowed you to go through this so that you can comfort others who are going through this." Not that those are bad answers, I think they can each be true, or perhaps even all be true, but I think they are pulled out of a can that comes from a poor idea of the identity of God and that they are therefore ultimately unsatisfying.

This book is among the oldest, if not the oldest biblical book in terms of the age of manuscripts found. In fact it is so old, that copies found from the Essean community of Qumran, have been found written in Paleo-Hebrew script . This is the script used before the Babylonian exhile which is the familiar form used today. This is the same script used for the older copies of the Torah. While the authorship is debatable, the Talmud at least attributes it to Moshe (Moses), and all agree that is of considerable age. Some also debate whether it is to be understood as allegory or historical.

For my opinion, I believe this was recorded either by Moshe or before Moshe. My reasons being that here the place he lives is known as Uz. The Uz from which the land got its name Uz was the son of Aram, an ancestor of Abraham who lived after the flood. The exact boundaries of Uz are not well known, but it was the location of the people of Edom which was located in what is modern day Jordan (capital was modern Bozrah). I say this points to its age, because after the rise of Edom, Uz as a land is rarely spoken of. Next, Job is considered to be great in years by the youngest of his visiting friends, if we assume generously that he was merely 40 years old, then he would have died at 180 (Job 42:16), however God said in Genesis 6:3 that man's years would be limited to 120. So while God can and does make exceptions to some general rules for his own purposes—such as that man is only supposed to die once, or how even in modern times we have had people who lasted longer than 120 years—, Noah broke the standard, so did Shem, Salah, Eber, Reu, etc…but these were all very close to the time frame of the flood. Once you get further from God's decree of 120 which is around the same time as the flood, you find lifespans drop off rapidly. And the last of the old line to break the record is Jacob the son of Issac at 147. Afterwards, there are only few and far between that do so. So either Job was one of the exceptional or he was blessed, but not hugely outside of the norm for someone around the time of Abraham. Also, it would make sense because there is no mention of the temple, the Torah, or the covenant in the book.

And as for whether it is allegory or no, I say that it is 100% historical as evidenced by the rest of scripture:

Eze 14:13 Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it:
14 Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.

Eze 14:20 Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

Here you have a real situation, real sin, and the promise of God's very real judgement. And he then notes three heroes of righteousness of the scripture, this grouping would make no sense at all if Job were not only a literal person, but also someone whose righteousness was literal. And if it was not that same righteousness presented in the book of Job, than what would be the point of using his name? It would be the same as me saying "The three most important people in Christianity/Judaism are Abraham, Yeshua, and Mickey Mouse." There is no sense in it. It would be meaningless then for YHVH to swear by His own name in the context of an event happening that couldn't happen since Job wasn't really the Job that these people knew.

Jam 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

I say that the account of Job is true and literal because God and his servants treat him as true and literal.