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.

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