Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Job 4:6: God has faith

Job 4:17 Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker? 
18 Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: 

  Then comes the lie…the hook in the worm. Suppose you’re walking along at work one day, and your coworker—a peer—says “The boss wants that TPS report done by today.” Later on another referring to your boss, the same coworker says “Bill is having a barbecue on Sabbath are you going to come?” Wasn’t he referring to the same man in both instances? Why then does he call them by two different words? In the one case, he is asking you to do something that’s work and reminds you of that context by calling him boss since surely you already knew he was the boss. Purposefully or accidentally, he is drawing this connection. In the latter scenario, the contextual event is a future barbecue, a social event and in this case he calls the same man Bill. Now, he is drawing a connection to him as just another man. An equal.

  The word used in 17 for man, is not “ish” (woman ishah, there’s an interesting study behind the two words), but rather “enosh.” Ish is the first and standard word for man as an individual or as a species. Two possibilities are considered for the etymology of Ish, one is that it is a contraction of Enosh, I don’t believe that is true, but I’ll address that in a moment. The other possibility is that it comes from an unused root meaning “existing.” This seems more likely because the created unfallen man was called this and was created by YHVH which means “the self existing one.” Meanwhile, the second word Enosh is not used until after the fall and it comes from the word “anash” which means frail or feeble. Was man created frail? Or was he created in the image of the self-existing God?

  So this ‘image’ that Eliphaz sees, why does he stress mortality and weakness against the justice of God? We don’t know whether Eliphaz’s earlier, baseless character assault on Job was because of this vision or merely in parallel, but there does seem to be a connection. Either the spirit was egging him on or provoking his thoughts. Or, perhaps there is no difference between a man who does not capture his own thoughts and one who does not guard against outside thoughts?

  I call to mind a thought from earlier…when did Satan first lie to Eve? A lie is not in the word said, but in the assertion made. If a person says something true with such a tone that the opposite is implied, are they telling the truth or lying? They’re lying because they are asserting the opposite of the truth. If then, the assertion makes a lie (asserting against what the speaker believes to be true) then even if the form were a question then it could still be a lie. Satan went out to deceive Eve from the first word, his assertion from the beginning was a lie even though he had not yet completed the expression of the assertion.

  My point is that the first two questions are the beginning of a lie. It is true that a man is not more just, nor more pure than his maker. But he is setting up a frame of mind…how can a feeble man be more just than God? How can even a valiant man be more pure than his maker? In other words, “Who are you to even question? Shut your mouth and admit you’re a sinner!” 

  It would seem, if we are familiar with Job that God has a very similar line of thought at the end of the book. 

Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 
2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? 
3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
Job 40:2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. 

  We might read into this that God is angry, yet no where is it said that God was angry with Job, even so there is a turning point between what Eliphaz says and what God says in 38 and 40. 

Job 32:1 So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 
2 Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.

  Where we are in chapter 4, Job is merely questioning, later on he will make assertions that he is righteous (which he is) and that therefore God is unrighteous for what he’s doing (which is false). After that comes Elihu and God’s remarks. God has no problems with the questions, no problem with the contention, and no problem with the demand for an explanation. 

  Why then do so many of us when faced with a question concerning God basically tell the questioner to hold their tongue? We might hide it behind pious words, “You just need to have faith.” But the truth of that statement is “I don’t think you have enough faith…you are a defective and rebellious servant because you question.” Yet, that is backwards. How strong is your faith in God if you are afraid to give audience to any question that God might not be trustworthy according to your reckoning? Who has more faith in a friend, the one who says “I don’t want to hear it,” or the one who listens and then says “that’s not true, I’m sure there must be something that you are not aware of that made him act that way.” If we are afraid of challenging questions, then we are really afraid that our faith is misplaced and we would rather be ignorant.

Job 4:18 Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: 
19 How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth? 

  The lie started with questions, now what do we see in this? The lies have become bald-faced. It seems to flow from the previous questions which are valid, but what of 18? “he put no trust in his servants…” Isn’t Job in this mess because God said “hey look at my servant!” God has been praising Job’s integrity all along, clearly he puts trust in his servant. But what is trust?

  The word used here is “aman” meaning to build up or confirm, support. It is the word used regarding Abraham when he “believed.” Is it ever used of people?

Num 12:7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 

Isa 1:20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. 
21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. 

  Aman here is faithful. Note in both references it is God who declares someone or a group “faithful” therefore it is God who has faith in them. Yet, how can this be? How can someone who knows the future and hearts have faith in Moses or Job? If a normal person says “I trust Chris,” what they are really saying is that they rely on this person because the experience of Chris’ character has lead them to a favorable view of his future dealings with them. In other words, they trust because they believe he will not betray them in the future.

  For God, this cannot be the case. God cannot expect anything, he knows for a fact what will happen. We might wonder in Job’s case if maybe he hasn’t reached such a stage that he is no longer a sinner. Nothing in scripture says that it is impossible, for the redeemed there should not be a question of if we can become sinless, but why don’t we live that way now? God’s glowing appraisal of his servant would certainly further this thought. 

  But God also had faith in Moses as quoted above, and that was eight chapters before he sinned by not sanctifying YHVH before the people. This precludes the idea that God trusts those who will not betray him because even Moses betrayed him. This leads us to the sticky question of what makes one faithful or trustworthy? 

  Consider again aman, meaning to build up or support or nurse or foster, as well as the normal thoughts of faith and belief. Ask yourself what is believing? If I say to a gunman on the far end of a shotgun that I trust him while keeping him squarely in my sights, do I trust him? No, it is not a word; it is something else. 

  Whatever the mechanics, if I believe that the gunmen is trustworthy then I might lower my weapon. It would be possible to lower my weapon by mistake without any part of my will electing to do so. I may have fumbled or had it knocked from my hand, my disarmament then has nothing to do with faith either. 

  For it to be faith, I must choose to lower my weapon believing not in what I expect will occur but in the nature of the other man. However, nature is only potential not result. A man can choose, which means that anyone no matter how reliable they have been in the past can choose to betray you in the present or future. The deepest betrayal after all is from one whom you trust because it is from them that you least expect it and have therefore made yourself most vulnerable. Consider David and Absalom. So then what nature are you to trust?

  You cannot believe in what someone might do based on past actions because they still might do good or evil. Where does this leave faith? You can only have faith in the good that they are capable of. This seems untrue because we struggle to grasp how this applies to God…or maybe it’s just me and this is completely natural to everyone else. But consider another use of aman.

Rth 4:16 And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. 

  The word nurse is our subject again. Consider the act of nursing. What does it do? From the breast of the mother sustenance is flowing into the frail newborn. The “nursing” gives strength to the one nursed. The believing gives strength to the one believed. Belief does not have to do with what we expect from another, but of strengthening that one to do the most good that they are capable of.

  When you believe in your son, you push him to achieve higher than he ever has. When you believe in the rule of law, the law becomes stronger because of it. Even God in a sense becomes more capable. 

Gen 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. 

Could YHVH have counted righteousness to Abraham if not for his faith?

Num 20:12 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. 

Until now, YHVH would have brought Moses and Aaron into the promised land, but because of unbelief he would no longer do so. It would seem in these cases that one could say this hasn’t to do with God’s capability, but only his willingness. If that is the case then what is God not capable of doing? The answer is anything that he does not will to do. The only thing that limits God’s actions is God himself. It is his character that prevents him from acting contrary to his character. So then, because of belief God was capable of crediting rightouesness when before he was not. And because of unbelief God was incapable of bringing Moses and Aaron into the promised land. It was not an issue of outside restriction but of character restriction.
Deu 1:32 Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God, 

Deu 1:35 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, 
  Was God not capable of bringing the evil men into the land that he had sworn?

Num 14:11 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? 

Num 14:15 Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, 
16 Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness. 

Num 14:19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. 
20 And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word: 

  The reason that God pardoned was because he could bring them into the land, yet because of their unbelief not one of them would. Belief limits God’s capabilities because only God’s character limits his capabilities and unbelief limits what his character will allow.

Mar 6:4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 
5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 
6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching. 

  Yeshua himself “could” do no mighty work in Nazareth because of their unbelief. The case must be clear that even God’s capacity is affected by our faith. Faith is the building up, the nursing of one to achieve the greatest not the expected good. 

  If it were the latter than when God fails to act then our unbelief is justified because he has betrayed our faith (expectation). Instead when we believe in his character (his greatest possible good), we allow him to do the most that he is capable of and he will then be able to bring us into the promised land.