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The Biblical Job is a Puzzling Dilemma
Except for not doubling his children.
That’s Providence.

  A speaker on the internet caught my attention when he spoke of the happiness a Christian may possess, even when surrounded by age-related illnesses, a confusing world, surgeries, others’ dysfunctional families, a troubled Christian church, all in the presence of evil. When he said happiness could happen ... ‘even in a whirlwind of slander like Job.’ I was in. He had me....

I am recovering from surgery on doctors orders to live quietly.  No travel, lots of bed rest, good modest food, and family love, thus I am a candidate for that state if  Christian happiness he talked about....

Its Melanoma again, as well as pressed in by an irregular police charge, and endless court appearances, and the unbelievable flow of legal bills. Sometimes, I come to feel like I live in a foreign land ...

Then an odd nervous condition hit which affects facial muscles and eye weeping. So, with my scalp removed in 2014 surgery, and more to go in 2015, and more, I have become one who wishes not to be seen in company, but one who must still be around people for comfort and acceptance.  Happiness is not easy to find.  But painful slander continues from borderline people who do not know facts from fiction, over a confusing plane incident, who seem to enjoy creating new skuttlebutt any moment they can. It’s a crooked world we live in ... but somewhere in there, is a loving caring God—and that elusive state called Christian happiness.... Yet we all realize that the state of happiness is not an end it itself. It’s nothing we work for. It usually is the resulting sensation of doing something good. The best happiness in the world is watching things  eventually fall into place after watching them fall apart for so long

So, around 9 on a Saturday night, I opened my old worn Bible to the book ofJob with notes, scribbles, comments, outlines and loose pages in the bind, at p467. New Christians have trouble finding their way through the confusion of so many books with strange names. Mine just fell open at the right place. I’d scribbled notes on and off since 1957 or so.... 

It’s one of my devotional Bibles. It fell open at the book after the name of the man Job, and has been read repeatedly.

Job it seems, was a contemporary with Moses and Abraham, after the time of Noah, and even

 
the era of the first priest mentioned in the Bible—Melchizedek.Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18), as he could only tithe to another greater than himself. Of all the Hebrew writings, the Book of Job comes nearest to the primitive Aramaic.  

That was perhaps 2000 years before Christ. The Bible book of Job is the earliest to be written in the timeline chronology in the Bible. 

(And remember that when God searched for another upon which to make an oath, he could find no other greater than Himself, so He made an oath upon Himself. Hebrews 6:13. And the oath had to do with us human beings, and it has never been withdrawn or abrogated...).

Jewish theologians say the book of Job is a whirlwind of confusion.  Bicksler says it is Job’s spiritual journey. Another when Job could not solve the problem of suffering elsewhere, he resolved it with God. Henry goes on and on, and on and on.... Spurgeon said is was the conflict between good and evil. Many comment, but few have satisfactory answers aboutJob.

Others like CS Lewis say it’s the problem of dealing with suffering, and why do the righteous suffer and the evil prosper? It contains some of the grandest Shakesperean language around in 1611, and is studied by actors and writers for inspiration. It is about patience. A renowned scollar asked? "Can Job be a true story or just a good story to illustrate the character of God?" 

Job's wife's name was never revealed and yet she may be the most infamous woman in the Bible. Augustine labeled her "the devil's accomplice." Calvin called her "a diabolical fury." And the contemporary understanding of Job's wife hasn't improved with Calvin or Augustine. It's difficult to find a book or sermon treatment of the life of Job that doesn't include the usual condemnations toward his wife. It has become a standard joke to pity Job, as if his wife was yet another burden God called this man to bear.

  If the Proverbs 31 woman represents a model of Christian virtue, the wife of Job occupies the role of least desirable, sharing space in the hall of shame with the likes of Jezebel, Delilah, and Michal.

But is this image an honest assessment of her character? Or is there a possibility that in our rush to empathize and identify with Job, we've rushed to cast judgment on his wife?

All in all, between Job and his wife, it is a confusing story, unlike anything before or after. It contains ethics and values, but it's more than that. Is there justice in Job?  Others say it is not about suffering at all, and others, it's an allegory about Jesus. Who is able to untangle the whirlwind of confusion in the biblical Book of Job.

No, it is not a Pilgrim's Progress allegory. It is not a parable, or fiction or an illusion. Turns out it is not an enigma or a mystery. It is for real—life as it is. Among the bewildering observations about the book of Job, one stood out that said ... "we emerge stronger when we come to understand that God is our strength even in times of confusion...."

The story of Job is like a stage drama that contains two main characters, God and satan, and supporting actors.

Job and his wife are multi-millionaires in land and cattle and estates in the east, the land of Uz, perhaps near Babylon or the present Afghanistan....

Then appear their seven sons and three daughters, who are so secure they spend their free time in banquets and celebrations, drinking and cavorting themselves into unconscious sleep. Job meanwhile, makes daily offerings and sacrifices to his God, just in case his children have sinned. It was the custom of the day. 

Into this primitive harmonious scene satan enters, permitted of God to test Job on the basis that satan says that Job only trusts his Jehovah God for what he gets out of it. Fame and fortune.

But God only restricts satan, to save Job's life. Do not touch his life. He must live through it. So, satan goes to work.

 

This creates two sections of Job's life. The 'before' satan, and the 'after' satan. 

Evangelists attempt to create a 'Jesus-saves-you' message from Job, but they are wrong. It is not about Jesus, or His salvation. That is another story—2000 years later.  

This is about a successful man called Job, God and satan, and about you and me. It has a purpose.... 

Four messengers of doom appear, and report that Job has lost everything in a holocaust. He is utterly devastated. Family and assets gone, homes and building flattened, and he is left alone with his wife mounted on a heap of ashes, naked. He tears at his skin diseases for relief, to remove the pustulations and bleeding. He is doomed. 

This is satan the deceiving angel from the hosts of Heaven—revealed at his wicked worst....

It’s the story of a crooked world, and we live in it, in one form or another. We are surrounded by millions in the third world who are as doomed as was Job. The west ignore the blessings we enjoy, from the labors of our ancestors who were wonderfully blessed of God in their work, and who built a better world for us to enjoy. And we must preserve it for now, and for the future—till Jesus comes.... 

On his heap of ashes, Job's wife in not a happy vegemite. So she herself curses God, and urges her husband to do so too saying, "Curse God, and Die!" Job chastens her, and she is never heard of again, except in suggestions. Job is living through his first lifetime, into his second—if he can make it...?

Next scenes, which occupy most of the pages of the book, are by his four famous counsellors, known as Job’s Comforters. They come forward ....  

Eliphaz appears s a kind one, who seeks Job’s comfort, but he has no answers.

  Bildad the Shuhite—is short for windbag, is next—and every one of his orations are a blast of words and terms without much meaning or substance—but he never quits. He appears many times, and is never diverted from his endless meaningless verbosity. 

(Note windbag in your margin when his name appears—Bildad the windbag—this makes it easier to understand.

Then if that’s not enough, the next actor to appear in the play is Sophar the Naamathite, who could be called in all honesty, an idiot.  Write it against his name. His sophisty is ridiculous, even though he gives it a religous sound. Sophar the idiot will drag you through many confusing conversations among your network of acquaintances—even up to today.... 

These are three of Job’s comforters—and there's his skeptic wife who cursed God. What a crowd of friends to have around you when trouble strikes? Who names their children Eliphaz or Bildad or Sophar? Or Lot's wife? They stand as names to avoid, and life-forms to, ahem ... dodge. 

And the last of the four comforters is Elihu—and he is the one we come to like. The first thing about him is that he is young—different from the three sages before him. He has been listening to them, has them figured out, and then he speaks....

Elihu is endowed with an unusual depth of wisdom for his young years.  He cajoles, but he supports. He critisises but for the right reasons. He points out the others’ errors, and aims in a Godly direction. Job listens as Elihu explains that God instructs and chastens in various ways, and Job made one of the most profound declarations of faith recorded in the Bible: "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him."

This is youth to the rescue. Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite of the family of Ram, became angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He speaks with youthful zeal and wisdom.  He thinks the old age of the sages should know better, even Job himself. He says, 'stop Job, and consider God’s wonders.'  

Elihu became angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He speaks with youthful zeal and wisdom. He thinks the old age of the sages should know better—even Job himself. 

He says, "Stop Job—and consider God's wonders." God speaks again, and Job says, "I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?"

 
It's a confessions. "I am unworthy—I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer. I will say no more."

It's a humble confession. God flung scores of questions at Job in #38 and #39 and #41, that he was unable to answer. Unforgettable ancient prose and the unapproachable righteousness of God. Job is left speechless. And so am I.

In all of biblical script, these chapters stand out as some of the most dramatic and explanatory text of "Who God Is," and "What He Does." It's dynamic and humbling. It brings the proud to humility and the humble to worship. It is God being God.  

If these revelations were omitted from the Book of the story of Job, it would be an incomplete book. If we ignore them in our studies, our education is inadequate. It is a revealed Jehovah God at His grandest and best....  

And so we learn that the Book of Job shows we live in a crooked world, and that God is good, and that we should not confuse the two. But there’s more....

Like any grand play, the best is in the end. Chapter 42 records after Job was humbled and confessed, and he prayed for his delinquent friends, satan withdraws from the scene, and God made Job prosperous again. The Lord blessed the latter part of his life more than the first. He doubled the property and the cattle and the assets, and that Job and his wife had seven more sons and three more daughters. (What a woman she turned out to be?)

  It is supposed that Job was around 70 when disaster struck, then he lived another 140 years. If so, it seems that his suffering years exceeded his good years. So when the story line says that he died old and full of years, he was likely to be around 210 years old. He knew felicity and terror. In it all,
he chose not to deny His God, but placed his eternal trust in Him. 

But there’s more ...

God doubled everything except his sons and daughters. Just seven more sons and three more daughters were born to him, when he lost the ten before the holacaust around the age of 70. 

So, why would a good God double Job's assets and land and cattle and camels and donkeys and worth—so that he was restored to his former  place of prominence in the land, but not double his children, as well?

And by this, said Donald Prout, God revealed a grand truth that was believed then, and is believed today. And it is that our children are never lost to God, even when we lose everything in this life. 

We may think that we have lost them, but they are not lost to God. He still holds our family in the hollow of His hand, even if they are dead or missing or vagabond.  

We never lose our family, even if we bury them in the ground, or lose them at sea, or if they never return home. The whole strength of Bible doctrine supports the eternity of the soul, and the endlessness of our being, once we have been born and live on this earth. (Titus 1:2)  That’s why the Christian lives in an eternal hope. Their next step, of course, is a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ

As Job was humbled by his circumstances, and prayed, confessed that God is a good God, so can we, too.... 

R.C. Spoule bravely declares that the ancients placed their trust in a Saving God in the future, as we do in our Saving God in the past.  They had no idea of a Jesus Christ to come, but believed God as if they did. Now, that’s a humble act of faith.... We have John 3:16. All they had was a divine revelation, and that was enough.... 

The  biblical story of Job then, is a real story of

 
a real man in a real world. It is a crooked world, but God is good, and we should not confuse the two. Two thousand years later, God arranged to send his One and Only Son, to become a stand-between, a bridge, a Savior, to bring man and God together, through the Cross. That's where human choice comes in. 

That's where we are today—not at a cathedral or a shrine or an ancient symbol ... even in the land of Ur of the Chaldenes, (Mesopotamia), but at Golgotha’s Calvary, at the foot of the Cross of Jesus.

The apostle St. Paul wrote of ‘the Gospel of the glory of the 'blessed' and he used the Greek word 'makarios' to say it, 'the blessed (makarios) God with which I have been entrusted' (I Timothy 1:11).

At the close of I Timothy, he refers to God as 'He who is blessed (makarios) and only Sovereign, the King of kings, the Lord of lords' (6:15). Writer Randy Alcorn goes on ... and says.... 

There's that word blessed again. Scholars attest that the Greek adjective (makarios) translated here as blessed, actually means happy. For instance, the word translated 'blessed' (I Tim 1:11) means happy. We have a happy God, a happy Ruler: 'altogether happy and altogether powerful.' So, the term 'blessed' indicates: 'supreme happiness.'  

  In 1611, when the King James Bible translators chose 'blessed', it meant 'happy'. In fact, the 1828 edition of Noah Webster's dictionary defines 'blessed' as 'made happy or prosperous; extolled; pronounced happy, happy ... enjoying spiritual happiness and the favor of God; enjoying heavenly felicity. Likewise, Webster
defined blessedly as 'happily, and blessedness and happiness.' Two hundred years ago, people understood blessed to mean happy.

Charles Spurgeon also supports this idea and said of I Timothy 1:11, "The Gospel is also the Gospel of happiness. It is called 'the glorious Gospel of the blessed God.' Well then, adorn the Gospel by being happy about it...."

That means that each time God calls upon us to be happy, our happiness comes from Him. "Happy are the people who know the joyful shout ... Yahweh ... they walk in the light of Your presence (Psalm 89:15). These concepts are repeated in Zephaniah 3:14, Matthew 25:23, Isa. 48:9, and elsewhere.   

Thus, God did not reveal Himself in any religion or ecclesiastical order, or anywhere else. He did not even reveal Himself in Christianity. The only place that God revealed the fullness of Himself in all His Glory was in the person of His beloved son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1). This defines it clearly, and it is reaffirmed endlessly,  in Scripture.... He placed his entire hope in His Son Jesus Christ, and so should we. 

So, a message from the book of Job is that ...  we live in a crooked world ... and that God is Good, and that we should not confuse the two.

And so, the lights went out at home around 2am, and that was that. I  was able to rest through Sunday until around 9—and due to doctors orders, remained quiet for the rest of Sunday, enjoying internet teaching and Gospel music, and that, with settling some of the puzzling Job questions, helped me feel a bit more comfortable....

(Rev.) Les Nixon - 19/10/15

This text was compiled by volunteers. The  only cost is around $2 each, for the photocopy, paper, stitching and postage. Your donation toward these unavoidable costs, and the work of Outback Patrol teams and Explorers Magazines, helps.

* You stop, we drop .... 

Outback Patrol, Georges Hall 2198 - 02 9727 2759

Outback Patrol is Christian community service to the outback community; to families who live in towns too small for a church, but too big to overlook. Skilled volunteers bring-aviation technology and Christian-passion together to reach far flung places for Christ. Outback Patrol, since 1961, has been a faith-based mission, wholly supported by those who care.   

   
         
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