Job chapters 3 thru 37?

 
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Randall



Joined: 07 May 2005
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Location: Springfield Or

PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 8:08 am    Post subject: Job chapters 3 thru 37? Reply with quote

Lately I read the entire book of Job (my forth time around) and am wondering about my heart. I love the first two chapters as we get a glimpse of God in heaven in a dialog with satan. And in the last five chapters we get God's answer to Job that includes (I think) that Job did need to repent of his pride. It's interesting also that God never tells Job the reason for his suffering.


But I found myself almost irritated while reading the discourse between Job and his so called friends. Other than a few verses, it seemed a complete waste of time with no knowledge gained on my part.

Am I missing something? Is my heart not right?

Sincerely,
Randall
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Damon



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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What!? Why would you think your lack of understanding of this part of Job translates to not having a right heart? The one has nothing to do with the other. Don't go there. Don't demean yourself that way.

Job 3-37 is representative of the spiritual perspective of the Old Testament faithful apart from Moses and the Law. We read a lot about Creation themes, death themes, and we learn more about Satan - including how he is pictured by Leviathan and Behemoth - than we could learn from any other part of the bible. My own personal opinion of Job has been that the book goes back to a time before Moses, but at the very least, Job makes no reference whatsoever to the Mosaic Law.

To summarize, Job believes himself to be a righteous man, and in fact he has lived his life righteously. But Satan makes a good argument: would Job live as righteously if he weren't protected from having to experience difficult circumstances? And so God gives Satan the authority to put Job in those difficult circumstances.

The measure of a person is not in how well they do when things are going well, but how well they do when things are going badly. I'm sure you would agree, right?

What Job and his three friends were arguing about was, why would God allow Job to go through such suffering if Job hadn't sinned? The truth is, Job hadn't manifested any sin (or at least, none that hadn't been covered by prayer or animal sacrifices, that is), but the potential for sin was still there because Job's faith and perseverance had never been tested. When Job was put in those difficult circumstances, the sin of pride manifested (Job 32:1 and 34:5 and 9). Job complained that even though he had done no wrong, God had wronged him by not protecting him from all of the suffering he was then going through. This was his real reason for living righteously: fear of the consequences of sin (Job 3:25-26).

Job's three friends blamed Job for a sin which he didn't commit, and talked in terms of the consequences of sin as well as the spiritual details (such as comparing Job's unrepentant attitude to Satan's and then discussing Satan's ultimate punishment, which is found in Job 18:5-18 ). But then Elihu properly addressed Job's folly, and was then vindicated by God.

Does that help the book of Job make sense to you now?

Damon
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Damon



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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In a way, yes, but what we have here is Elihu coming before the Lord's appearance. So Elihu would more appropriately be a type of John the Baptist, and hence a type of Elijah.

In fact, the name "Elihu" means "He is God." "Elijah" means "the Lord is God." So the name Elihu is what's called a hypocoristicon - a shortening of a more formal name - of Elijah. It's sort of like a nickname, "Joe" instead of "Joseph." That type of thing.

Damon
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Homer



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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a lot to learn from the conduct of Job's friends. They did an excellent job of comforting Job in his suffering - until they opened their mouths! They continued Satan's accusations and put Job on trial.

As John Mark Hicks, one who has suffered enormously, has written, in comforting a sufferer rule #1 is be silent, #2 let the sufferer talk, #3 express your love for them, and never try to tell them why, because we do not know why.

God responded to Job by drawing near but He never told Job why. It is interesting to note that Job suffered because he was good, his friends concluded the opposite. Job's friends (or their ancesters) are still around today!

In Christ, Homer
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Randall



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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2005 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Damon and Homer for your thoughts. I believe I've got a good understanding on the content and meaning in the book of Job. The point I was trying to make was reading chapters 3-37 takes quite a bit of time and you end up with little meaningful insight or knowledge. And what is learned could be taught in just a few chapters rather than listen to a bunch of self righteous idiots go on and on.

I love reading the scriptures. When it's time to read 1 Chronicles I read all the names in the genealogies and that goes on for nine chapters. But I'm thinking the next time I read the book of Job I'll just skip 3-37 and I won't miss out on a thing. Yet we are taught that all scripture is useful...(2 Tim 3:16). That's why I'm questioning my heart as I see this as a useless ordeal.

Randall
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Homer



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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2005 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Randall,

It is easy to think some parts of scripture are of no use. We may see no purpose where great benefit is seen by someone else. I read once of missionaries working with a remote tribe of people to whom geneology was very important. The stories in the Bible were accepted as true when they saw the lists of geneology which convinced them the characters in the Bible were real people!

Blessings, Homer
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Damon



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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2005 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm.

Perhaps the best way I can illustrate that Job 3-37 aren't useless is to post a short study on them, so here goes...

Job 3 - Job gets depressed about his circumstances. He mentions the state of the dead as being at "rest" (v. 17) which, put together with other Scriptures which talk about the state of the dead, tells us a lot. Also, Job as much as says that his reason for living a righteous life was because he "greatly feared" the suffering that comes as a result of sin (vv. 25-26). This should be highly instructive to us that we shouldn't obey God out of fear, but rather out of love.

Job 4-5: Eliphaz speaks. He mentions in passing that God accused (some of) His angels of "folly" (Job 4:18 ). This ties in with Revelation 12:3-4 which tells us, in symbolic terms, that a third of the angels fell in Satan's rebellion. It also tells us that the faithful knew of this angelic rebellion quite a long while before John wrote the book of Revelation.

We also see the substance of Eliphaz' argument: if Job is suffering, then it's because Job sinned, and mortal man is not more just than God. This kind of wrong-headed thinking happens even today, both within and outside of the body of Christ, and that's one good reason why we should see it described here in the book of Job. As a good example, if one suffers as a result of doing something, one might well think that God is trying to say, through circumstances, that it's not His will. But that's not always a good indicator of whether something is God's will or not. Continuing on, all of Job 5 sounds like good, sound counsel, but just like Eliphaz, many well-intentioned Christian counselors today can give bad advice, too.

Job 6: Job replies. Verse 12 is interesting: "Is my strength like that of a stone? Is my flesh as strong as brass?" What this should tell us is that Job was deeply impacted by what he was going through. Because he'd never experienced true hardship or suffering in his life, he was totally unprepared for it and it affected him much more deeply than it would have affected the average person. He was so bent out of shape that he asked God to let him die, rather than go through the suffering. But rather than seek to comfort Job in his distress (see verse 14 and compare 2 Cor. 1:3-4; if God comforts us in the midst of our trials, should we not comfort one another?), Job's friends only made it worse by their false accusations, as Job had not sinned in order to deserve the suffering he was going through.

Job 9: Job replies to Bildad. This chapter has some very unusual statements in it. What did Job mean when he talked about God "shaking the earth out of her place" or commanding the sun not to rise? Why the particular mention of four constellations?

Job also claimed that God destroys both the blameless and the wicked alike, because there seemed to be no reason for his suffering, and God had apparently allowed it to come about. He also claimed to be "laboring in vain", or in other words, living a righteous life for no reason, since God was allowing him to suffer just as He would allow someone who was wicked to suffer. The same line of reasoning is prevalent today, and we can see it in the oft-asked question, why do bad things happen to good people?

Job 11: Zophar answers Job. Again, we see yet another false accusation. Zophar claims that Job must be lying about being righteous, and that God isn't even giving Job half of what he deserves for his sins. Some friend! He also repeats some reasoning that Eliphaz expressed before: if one is righteous, then one will not need to go through suffering. Umm...not.

Job 13: Job answers that he's quite willing to be corrected by God (or by the three of them, for that matter), but why won't God tell him what he did wrong? Why should he have to endure suffering ostensibly for correction's sake, if he doesn't know what he's being corrected for?

Job 14: We see that Job understood that there was to be a resurrection of the dead in verse 14. But he didn't properly understand the plan of salvation, because in verse 4 he claims that one cannot bring something clean out of something unclean. To put it another way, the sins of the fathers will be passed on to the children and there's nothing that the children can do about it. But that's not true. (See Ezekiel 18.)

Job 15: Eliphaz answers Job. He claims that it's impossible for man to be "clean," or that is, free of sin. In making this claim, however, he falls into the trap of making the label "sinner" part of the very identity of a person. If we ARE sinners, then all we'll ever be is sinners because that's our identity! But that's not true. Sin is what we DO, not part of who we ARE. God desires us to overcome to the best of our ability, through His strength, not to remain in sin!

Job 16:19: Job replies. In this chapter, we see an obscure reference to a "record" of Job's deeds in heaven. This is talking about the Book of Life, mentioned in Revelation 20:12 and 15. So again, here's another doctrine that was understood in ancient times.

Job 19: Job replies to Bildad. Here again, we see that Job understands the doctrine that the Lord will stand on the earth at some point in the future, and that Job, in a resurrected body, will see Him face to face (vv. 25-27).

Job 21: Job answers Zophar. Once again, Job understands that the wicked aren't immediately punished by God, but await a "day of destruction" (v. 30).

Job 22: Eliphaz answers Job, bringing a new thought to the table. Does Job's righteousness (or lack thereof) affect God or bring Him gain? Technically, no, but God does delight in righteousness and grieve at wickedness. That part, Eliphaz leaves out. He also mentions the Flood in passing (v. 16).

Job 26: Job answers Bildad. Here we find one of the most unusual remarks in the whole book: "By His [God's] spirit, He has written upon the heavens; His hand has formed the fleeing serpent." What is this talking about? I'll come back to this shortly.

Job 31: Job's answer continues. He mentions in passing that Adam covered his transgression (v. 33). In other words, he didn't take personal responsibility for what he did. Job, on the other hand, was willing to be held accountable for whatever it was that he had done to deserve all of this suffering.

Job 32-37: Elihu answers Job. He's angry for two reasons: One, Job justified himself rather than God. Job may not have sinned, but did God sin in allowing him to suffer? No. Two, Job's three friends had not found the answer to the question of why Job was suffering, and yet had condemned Job anyway! We find the same problems today. People like to point the finger at someone else, rather than focus on their own faults and shortcomings. Also, people often justify themselves rather than submit to correction, whether it's deserved or not. They'll stubbornly focus on what they did right, rather than what they did wrong or could have done better.

Chapter 33 is Elihu's answer to Job for being angry at God for allowing him to suffer. Job had complained that God was unjust in allowing it, but Elihu said that Job had no right to judge God, even though Job had done nothing to deserve his suffering.

In Job 34:9, we find Elihu rebuking the fact that Job had claimed that it was pointless to serve God if the wicked and the righteous would suffer equally, with no differentiation on God's part. God is not unjust, but has a purpose in everything.

In Job 36:15-17, Elihu says that God would have delivered Job out of his suffering, except for the fact that Job had chosen to sin against God in the midst of his suffering. Because of that, he was now worthy of condemnation.

In Job 37:18, Elihu mentions in passing something very odd about the Creation. He asks Job, has he participated with God in spreading out the sky, which is fixed in place, and is "molten" or shaped into a form upon which something is reflected (translated as "looking glass" in the KJV)?

Question. What does the sky reflect? What shape has it been molded into? And from before, what is written upon the heavens? What is the fleeing serpent and the other constellations that were mentioned before?

In Job 38, we begin to see the answers. In verses 31-33, we read of the "Mazzaroth," the constellations, which come forth in their seasons. God asks Job, "Do you know the ordinances of heaven? Can you bring them to pass in the earth?"

What ordinances?

Answer? The ones that are written upon the heavens. The sky is "molded" into constellations which tell the story of the Plan of God which will come to pass in due time in the earth.

There's no other book of the bible which makes any clear reference to the sky having any sort of meaning, other than for purposes of time-keeping. (Amos 5:8 mentions the Pleiades and Orion, but that doesn't tell us that they mean something.) Now, this belief was never a part of Judaism as such, but IMHO it most likely came well before there ever was a patriarch named Judah. It seems to be part of a lost body of knowledge about God's ways of interacting with man, which is why I've thought that the book of Job is likely very ancient.

Interesting, innit?

Damon
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Randall



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Location: Springfield Or

PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2005 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amazing input, Damon. But the question remains unanswered. What to do about a heart that thinks the value in the lessons learned in Job are not worth the time needed to digest it? Somehow I think this section of God's Word should bring joy just like any other. The bickering back and forth in this narrative is a drain on the sole, and it seems to me, not going to do you much good.
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Damon



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2005 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, in my case, I can learn a lot from looking at the bickering. The study of human psychology fascinates me, and reading through the book of Job is, in part, a case study in human psychology. I can also see many of the same fallacious arguments being used today, even by Christians, when dealing with someone going through extreme suffering. (Also, a good friend of mine has been going through a lot of suffering lately, so the book of Job has some personal relevance to me.)

Anyway, there's nothing wrong with your attitude. Just as people have different learning styles, the bible has different teaching styles and different themes. The same lessons are generally repeated in several different ways in the bible, so that whoever reads it will benefit from it. Also, for people who like one style over another, they each can learn and share what they know with each other, so that everyone benefits.

Make sense?

Damon
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