Tag Archive | job

“O that there were a mediator between us!”

For He is not a man as I am that I may answer Him, That we may go to court together. There is no umpire [daysman] between us, Who may lay his hand upon us both. Let Him remove His rod from me, And let not dread of Him terrify me.” (Job 9:32-34).

Job is thought to be one of the oldest written books of the Bible, and its events some of the oldest as well, its events occurring possibly pre-Exodus during the patriarchal age. Possibly 2000BC.

We know Job was a righteous man (Job 1:1, 1:8, Ezekiel 14:14). He abhorred sin. He mediated for his family in priestly functions, He devoted himself to the one True God. He knew Yahweh, and Job knew enough to be terrified.

Job is complaining that though he knows the depravity of his sin, God is so far above man and so terrifying that Job wished there was an arbiter, or an umpire, between them to advocate for him in God’s holy court. Yet who could that be? A mere man might be a good arbiter for Job but no mere man can stand before God. So, who? Who can lay his hand on both man and God?

We know that it was God’s providential plan to send Jesus, the God-Man. The cross is that bridge which re-unites man and God after the dreadful separation that occurred in the Garden. It is Jesus who lays His hand on both man, and God. Amen!

Jesus was fully man, but not an ordinary man. He had to live a sinless life so that His sacrifice at Calvary would be perfect, his blood shedding for man in obedience to God. He did so. He fulfilled it all and it was finished at the cross.

They laid His body in a borrowed tomb. It lay there scarred and wrapped and alone in the dark. Then on resurrection morning, He arose! It is finished, and there He comes, ascending back to glory, having fulfilled ALL.

daysman—“mediator,” or “umpire”; the imposition of whose hand expresses power to adjudicate between the persons. There might be one on a level with Job, the one party; but Job knew of none on a level with the Almighty, the other party (1 Sa 2:25). We Christians know of such a Mediator (not, however, in the sense of umpire on a level with both)—the God-man, Christ Jesus (1 Ti 2:5).

Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 318). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

God. Let us not make ourselves equal with God, but always eye him as infinitely above us. [2.] That there was no arbitrator or umpire to adjust the differences between him and God and to determine the controversy (v. 33): Neither is there any days-man between us. This complaint that there was not is in effect a wish that there were, and so the Septuagint reads it: O that there were a mediator between us! Job would gladly refer the matter, but no creature was capable of being a referee, and therefore he must even refer it still to God himself and resolve to acquiesce in his judgment.

Our Lord Jesus is the blessed days-man, who has mediated between heaven and earth, has laid his hand upon us both; to him the Father has committed all judgment, and we must. But this matter was not then brought to so clear a light as it is now by the gospel, which leaves no room for such a complaint as this.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 675). Peabody: Hendrickson.

Praise God for His Gospel, His mediator, His plan! Praise God that He resurrected Jesus from the dead, forevermore to be our Savior. For He is no longer in the tomb, He is alive, He is not there, He has risen!

risen easter

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Sleepless Job

Our Bible Reading Plan brings us to Job 7-8 today. Poor Job!

When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,’ then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that I would choose strangling and death rather than my bones. (Job 7:13-15)

Job is so tormented he can’t even relieve his daytime suffering through sleep or rest. He tosses so badly with the specter of visions and dark thoughts that he would rather choose death.

Not to compare my sufferings with Job’s but I was in a period almost 20 years ago where I was daily tormented and in the night, I could not sleep. I’d close my eyes and toss and turn and my mind would not turn off and I relived all the agonies of the day all over again. If the sleep was there, it was shallow.

I was working 16-18 hours in the day and I’d soooo yearn for sleep and a refreshing rest, that I’d eagerly look forward to a good sleep. But I never got it.

sleep

Perplexed as to my nightly torments, even on vacation,
I took a photo in wonderment of my visible struggle.

Even on vacation far away from the place of my troubles and cares, I’d toss so that the bed clothes would veritably be twisted in an abhorrent embodiment of the agonies I was enduring even while unconscious. It got so that when bed-time arrived, I’d just stand at the bed and glare at it, as if it was a bed of nails, it being a punishing enemy and not the welcoming friend it should be.

After a while with struggle so deep and relief nowhere to be found, even in unconsciousness, I can well understand Job’s feeling.

Thankfully, our seasons of struggle do not last forever, if we are in Christ. Job did not know that God had already pronounced him blameless. (Job 1:8). The Preacher Solomon reminds us that there is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) but he also said that

no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11b).

As far as we know, Job never knew about God’s conversation with satan. He never knew about the activity regarding him that occurred in the heavenlies and perpetrated by demons against him on earth. The point of the book of Job was to vindicate God’s integrity and His wisdom, not Job’s. Job’s  task was to persevere in trusting God through it all.

And so it was.

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Eliphaz v. Job

Our Bible reading today brings us to Job 5-6

Eliphaz rebukes Job
Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. …
Behold, this we have searched out; it is true.

Hear, and know it for your good
(Job 5:17, 27)

Job’s physical misery was extreme, his wife was tempting him, and now Job had to deal with his friend’s insensitive advice. Oy. With friends like Eliphaz, who needs enemies?

In the Bible Gateway list of All Named Men of the Bible, (they also have lists of unnamed men, and the same for women, it’s a handy list!) they describe Eliphaz thus:

Teman was noted for its wisdom and this Temanite descendant was a law unto himself. His name means “refined gold” but his fine gold was that of self-glory and of self-opinion from which he would not budge. As a wise man he gloried in his wisdom, and represented the orthodox wisdom of his day. This wise man from the East declared that God was just and did not dispense happiness or misery in a despot fashion, committing people to what He deemed best.

In his first speech (Job 4, 5), Eliphaz begins by informing Job of all his affliction, namely, sin. Approaching Job in a courteous yet cold manner, Eliphaz seeks to prove that all calamity is judgment upon sin. The crux of his argument is: “Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?” (Job 4:7).

Eliphaz was so sure Job had sinned and so sure he knew God and His plan well enough to rebuke Job for Job’s invisible sins.

I think it’s a skill to be sure about what you believe, yet teachable. We should be settled in our convictions, but pliable as we add wisdom and understanding as we grow in sanctification.

Here is an example: Theologian RC Sproul, who was recently called home to heaven, for most of his career believed in an old-earth. After more study, changed his mind and believed in a literal 6-day, young earth in the end. (source).

Sadly Eliphaz was too dogmatic. He would not countenance the fact that there might be something he did not know. He was sure of his philosophical construct: that God did not penalize the righteous. Suffering comes from personal sin, either overt or hidden. But there was something Eliphaz did not know: the conversation God had initiated with Satan about Job’s piety.

Here, David Clines (recommended as best Job Commentary) weighs in:

Eliphaz here announces the premise on which the whole speech depends: if Job is suffering (and he is) and God has nothing to gain or lose personally from Job (and he hasn’t) and God is just (and he is), then Job is suffering for his sins. And is he is suffering much (as he is), it follows that he has offended much. And if there is no evidence of Job’s sins, then all his sins must be secret and observable ones. However what undermines Eliphaz’s logic is something he does not know, but we readers know; that God indeed has much to gain (or lose) from Job’s behavior; for Job is a test case for the gratuitousness of piety. If Job does not remain pious when all his blessings have been taken away, it proves humans serve God for the sake of the rewards and it shows religion up as a self-seeking practice of humans.

Eliphaz relied on the strength of his logic, rather than the frailty of human knowledge in the face of God’s higher wisdom.

True wisdom remains in God only. Whether we veer from settled conviction to extreme dogmatism, through it all we should maintain a teachable spirit. By Chapter 22, Eliphaz was blatantly calling for Job to repent of his evil wickedness (Job 22:21-23) because Eliphaz was sure Job had sinned.

Job did not heatedly rebut. He humbly expressed his longing to maintain fellowship with God so he could experience God’s love and goodness and hear from him the meaning of all his suffering. (John MacArthur Study Bible).

Who had the more teachable spirit?

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, (Proverbs 1:5).

teachable.jpg

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Eliphaz claimed to have been given a word

Our Bible Reading today brings us to Job 3-4. The speeches have begun. Job’s friend Eliphaz reproves Job for insisting on his innocence. To bolster his argument, Eliphaz claims to have had a vision or dream coincidentally on just this topic, coincidentally just recently. (Job 4:12-16). In relating this information, the words Eliphaz chooses to use are interesting. He said, “Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it.” Barnes’ Notes explains word, secretly, and little-

And mine ear received a little thereof – Dr. Good translates this, “And mine ear received a whisper along with it.” Noyes, “And mine ear caught a whisper thereof.” The Vulgate, “And my ear received secretly the pulsations of its whisper” – venas susurri ejus. The word rendered “a little,” שׁמץ shemets, occurs only here and in Job 26:14, where it is also rendered little. It means, according to Gesenius, a transient sound rapidly uttered and swiftly passing away. Symm. ψιθυρισμός psithurismos – a whisper. According to Castell, it means a sound confused and feeble, such as one receives when a man is speaking in a hurried manner, and when he cannot catch all that is said. This is probably the sense here. Eliphaz means to say that he did not get all that might have been said in the vision. It occurred in such circumstances, and what was said was delivered in such a manner, that he did not hear it all distinctly. (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Some say Eliphaz did not really have a revelation from God, that he was simply using this claim to bolster his argument. Others say he truly did have a revelation, that it was truly from God. Here are two stances, yea and nay.

Argument that Eliphaz really had the revelation and that it was from God:

Some indeed have thought that this was a mere fiction of Eliphaz, and not a real vision; yea, some have gone so far as to pronounce it a diabolical one, but without any just foundation; for there is nothing in the manner or matter of it but what is agreeable to a divine vision or to a revelation from God; besides, though Eliphaz was a mistaken man in the case of Job, yet was a good man, as may be concluded from the acceptance of a sacrifice for him by the Lord, which was offered for him by Job, according to the order of God, and therefore could never be guilty of such an imposture; nor does Job ever charge him with any falsehood in this matter, who doubtless would have been able to have traversed and exposed him; (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Argument that Eliphaz really did not have the revelation and/or that it was not from God:

Apparently the words Eliphaz claimed he heard in his dream are given in these verses. For three reasons it is doubtful that the words were a revelation from God:
(a) “a word” (v. 12), not “a word of the LORD,” came to Eliphaz;
(b) the word came “secretly” (i.e., in an elusive manner, v. 12); and
(c) the message seemed to picture God as unconcerned about man (vv. 17–21).
Zuck, R. B. (1985). Job. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures

Personally, I tend to the latter, that Eliphaz did not receive a revelation from God. The above 3 evidences are pretty compelling to me. Going back to Barnes’ Notes, that the word Eliphaz uses indicates some of the message slipped away before he could catch it, Does God mumble? No, He does not. But one cannot be dogmatic. In the end, it doesn’t matter, because the words are recorded and there they shall remain.

However, a caution for us today. We know the canon is closed. God is not speaking now, except through His Son, the word (Hebrews 1:1-2). However, plenty of people who claim to be elders or teachers, august persons as Eliphaz truly was, say they have a received a word, or even a “fresh word” which they use cravenly to bolster their arguments.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap“. (Galatians 6:7, KJV). If you use God as a cover to imbue some sort of status or honor or importance to your words, you will reap a whirlwind which will rain down upon you. God spoke to people frequently in the former days, and Eliphaz’s claim of direct revelation went unremarked by Job. But as Hebrews shows us, today is another matter. Be careful.

 

eliphaz whisper

Bible Reading Plan thought for the day: They came to present themselves

job 1 thursday verse.jpg

Satan fell. (Isaiah 14:12, Ezekiel 28:11-19). We do not know when, because the timeline for God’s creation of the universe and all its beings (including angels) is not specifically mentioned in scripture. We know that they were already created when God created the world, because they praised God for it. (Job 38:6-8). We know none of them had fallen by the conclusion of the sixth day when God saw all that he had made, and declared it very good.

By the time Genesis 3 came, though, satan was a fallen, evil, sinful creature. Revelation strongly intimates that he caused a third of his cohorts to fall with him. (Revelation 12:4).

However as we see from today’s verses in the Bible Reading Plan, satan and his cohorts to this day still have access to heaven. They still appear to God. They still stalk the heavenlies and strut in the holy place. God allows this for His sovereign purposes. In another example separate from today’s, we see that God used a lying spirit to deceive Ahab, (2 Chronicles 18:18-22). Satan and hsi demons come and go in heaven.

One day, and what a day that will be, God will SHUT the door of heaven and satan and his third of hosts will not be granted access to heaven any longer. This will occur in the Great Tribulation, as depicted in Revelation 12:7-17. In fact, this rejection enrages the devil so much that he redoubles his efforts to overcome God’s people and His kingdom. The persecutions and evil events already occurring on earth at that time turn to massive and horrific evil as many millions of believers are martyred. Revelation 12 again.

Whether satan is presenting himself before God in heaven or tormenting His people on earth, whether it is the Great Tribulation or just nowadays, God is fully in control. You see in the verses in Job that God set limits to satan’s actions, and satan adhered to them.

God is sovereign, and if you are a believer in Him, with the Holy Spirit in us as a seal of His guarantee of redemption and eternal life, you have already overcome the devil- because Jesus did.

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:15)

What lurks within…

We read in Job that-

His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually. (Job 1:4-5).

What a sweet picture of Job, in these pre-Patriarchal times, performing his function as priest over his family. His ten children certainly had a father upright in integrity and faith in the one true God. Job was concerned not just with their behavior in terms of moral vs. sin, but their thought life. Have they cursed God in their hearts? Are they holding on to some sin for which they have not repented? Have they cursed God inwardly? Job continuously sacrificed to God as a cover for them.

As we know from so many biblical examples, people can appear as moral but inside, in their mind or heart, they can be holding on to many sins. The Rich Young Ruler claimed to have obeyed the commandments, yet he was revealed to be holding on to greed and materialism. The Pharisees tried to appear holy on the outside, but inside they were raging hypocrites, uncaring for widows and sinners and their fellow man in general!

The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life are hidden inside a person’s mind and heart. The bottom line is, people are good actors. There are some we will never know if they are truly saved or not, until the Day. (Matthew 7:21-23).

We can surmise that perhaps Job’s ten children were indeed faithful to Yahweh. They loved each other, didn’t seem to have in-fighting, liked to spend time with each other. They lived near by enough to partake of family doings on a regular basis. No prodigals, in other words.

We know Job was a righteous man. Ezekiel 14:14 declares Job one of three most righteous men (along with Daniel and Noah).

It’s Mrs Job that was a problem.

Job spent time covering his children’s sins with daily sacrifices…but what of Mrs Job? When the pressure became unbearable and the grief too deep, she showed her true colors. Rather than a gentle help-meet who encourages and supports her husband, she suggested to Job that he curse God and then die (by his own hand).

An excellent wife, who can find? (Proverbs 31:10). As Matthew Henry says of an excellent wife,

She can be trusted, and he will leave such a wife to manage for him. He is happy in her. And she makes it her constant business to do him good. … Above all, she fears the Lord.

Inward sin will not reveal itself until or unless there is pressure. Whether it is the pressure of too much unrepentant sin, or the pressure of circumstances, the sin will eventually be revealed. Mrs Job, and indeed Mrs Lot too, showed that despite living with biblically-declared righteous men, they had sin inside lurking within them. Their disdain for the Holy One, Yahweh was fatally revealed for Mrs Lot when she turned to look back at her life in Sodom, and in Mrs Job when her excellent husband needed her most.

What lurks within is ugly. We should take care of sin daily, by picking up our cross, slaying our sin, and repenting. (Matthew 6:12, 2 Corinthians 7:10).

Don’t be a Mrs Job or a Mrs Lot. Deal with what lurks within. Your husband and children need you.
mrs job
Illustration by William Blake

The Sifting Hour

My pastor is preaching slowly through Jonah. I love Jonah. What’s not to be intrigued by? The book has everything. A disobedient prophet, action, sovereignty of God, grace, patience, repentance, revival, and miracles- ten of them! (Jonah 1:4, 1:7, 1:15, 1:17, 1:17, 2:10, 3:10, 4:6, 4:7, 4:8).

I think it is amazing that the Spirit inspired Jonah to write his deeds down –  all of them, from the petulant, to the racist, to the rebellious, to the glorious. The Bible doesn’t hide our foibles, sins, and rebellions. The Bible is not a sanitized record of perfect human behavior. Far from it. It’s an honest record of our relationship with God.

Anyway, there’s danger, action, and supernatural miracles, ten of them, in just four short chapters. So naturally I bought the book Moby Dick at Amazon and started reading it. LOL, of course I’m following the pastor and reading the actual Bible. I also listen to other sermons on the topic, as well as give a repeat listen to his sermon later in the week, thanks to podcasts.

But it’s summer, and I’m tired of reading badly written modern books, and the trusty classics never fail me. I had never read Moby Dick, though I’ve read some of author Herman Melville’s short stories. I started reading it and I’m in love with the story.

I got to chapter 9 and Father Mapple’s sermon. It’s a good one, and it’s on Jonah, of course. In the book, Mapple is preaching to New Bedford seamen, including whalers. They’d click with the topic. In Moby Dick, Mapple illustrated the supposed scene as Jonah was ushered to his bunk in the bowels of the ship,

The air is close, and Jonah gasps. Then, in that contracted hole, sunk, too, beneath the ship’s water-line, Jonah feels the heralding presentiment of that stifling hour, when the whale shall hold him in the smallest of his bowels’ wards.

I read that stifling hour as “that sifting hour.”

I like “that sifting hour” better. Not to re-write Melville. But the phrase stuck in my mind. It brought me to Peter. The Lord told Peter,

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. (Luke 22:31-32).

This one verse clues us in to so many things. The spiritual war. Satan’s activity. Satan’s targets. God’s sovereignty that satan needed to ask permission. Our cluelessness about whom satan has asked to sift like wheat today. The fact that Jesus prayed for Peter.

It wasn’t more than a few hours that Peter encountered his sifting hour when he denied Jesus three times.

Thoughts of ‘the sifting hour’ brought me to Job.

And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (Job 1:8).

Satan’s answer certainly reveals that satan had considered Job, more than once.

Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.” (Job 1:9-10).

Satan had in fact been carefully watching Job for a long time. He’d noted the hedge, the increase of possessions, the blessings (plural) and all the sides of Job’s life that satan had tried to access, unsuccessfully thus far. Yes indeed. Satan had considered Job.

The sifting hour did come to Job soon after. Absolutely everything was taken away from Job. Except his wife, who told him he should die.

Our own sifting hour might come soon enough. Satan does have a lot of power in this world, being the god of it. (2 Corinthians 4:4. Ephesians 2:2). He messes with God’s people, he has power to bring winds/tornadoes, to draw fire from heaven, to incite armies to raid your home, and to attack your health. Those are just a few of the things satan did to Job. Satan has much power, and is allowed to operate within that power fully as long as it is within God’s will and permission.

Our trials do not always come from satan. Sometimes God Himself brings about chastisement and we endure a sifting hour. He appointed the storm in Jonah’s case, appointed a big fish to swallow him, appointed the hot wind to scour Jonah, and appointed the worm to eat the shade sheltering him. All to bring about obedience and repentance so God’s will and plan would proceed.

Your and my sifting hour might be coming tomorrow or today or next week. Either because we are devout, like Job, or because we are rebellious, like Jonah, or somewhere in the middle like Peter to strengthen our faith. If we stand for Jesus in this world we will have troubles. (John 16:33). When we rebel and are not repentant, we can expect discipline. (Hebrews 12:6, Proverbs 3:12). Trials strengthen us, James says.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4).

The sifting hour is something I dread emotionally but spiritually I know that it will be good for me in the best possible way- my faith will be strengthened and Jesus’ glory will be gotten.

Let’s go back to Peter’s sifting hour and focus on the wonderful part of the scripture. Satan has asked to sift you like wheat and Jesus said,

but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.

Our Mediator and interceder prays for us! John 17:20-23 shows once again that He prays for His sheep. Has ‘the sifting hour’ come upon you? Rest assured that Jesus ordained it, appointed it, and is praying for you and is interceding for you and intends the best for you. And when it happens to me, I’ll repeat those comforts to my own mind and heart as well. Jesus said in His high priestly prayer, this is-

-so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:23b)

What is sifted out of the chaff is love and glory. And this is the best of all.

fear not verse