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The Job debate;- God's answer

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posted on Dec, 8 2017 @ 05:03 PM
On the face of it, the book of Job is about the troubles of one man.
Of course we understand him as a representative. We regard the story as a debate about the origins of human troubles.
Strictly speaking, why bad things happen to good people instead of being limited to bad people.
Job feels a sense of grievance, arising out of his troubles, which developed into what amounts to a lawsuit against God.

Job has presented his case, and God is now ready to answer him in person.
He speaks out of his home “in the whirlwind”, condemning Job as one who “darkens counsel by words without knowledge” (ch38 v1).

God’s answer to the charges will be simple and straightforward.
His response is “I made the world”, expressed in a series of rhetorical questions; “Where were you when I did these things?”

Thus he laid the foundations of the world. He set the boundaries of the sea. He controls the movement of the day. He knows the depth of the sea and even the place of the dead. He knows the source of light, and manages the resources of the weather. He guides the passage of the stars. He controls, in fact, all the most formidable powers of the world (ch38)

He also feeds the living things of the earth. And he feeds them, it must be pointed out, by allowing them to prey upon each other. He gives life to and manages a whole range of wild animals, strong enough to be nearly independent of man- the mountain goats, the wild ass, the wild ox, the ostrich, the horse, and the hawk (ch39).

Those examples are enough to convince Job that he has been speaking out of turn and should have kept quiet. But God has not finished yet. There is more.
God has the majesty and power to bring down all the proud and all the wicked. Can Job do that?
On the subject of pride, he returns to the list of living things of the earth, and draws Job’s attention to Behemoth, “first of the works of God” (ch40 v19).
The current explanation seems to be that this beast is the hippopotamus. I can’t see it, myself.
Yes, the hippo walks through rivers, but when do “the mountains yield food for him”, which is also part of the description?
Does the hippopotamus really belong at this climax point in the list, or is this passage drawing upon travellers’ stories about the elephant?

Then we come to Leviathan (ch41).
The standard explanation here is “the crocodile”, perhaps prompted by the ”double coat of mail” in v13.
But this creature is clearly greater than Behemoth, much more formidable. Unlike the crocodile, he cannot be captured.
“Upon earth there is not his like, a creature without fear.
He beholds everything that is high, he is king over all the sons of pride” (vv33-34).
A mere crocodile would be an anti-climax.
Leviathan stirs the deep and leaves a shining wake in the sea. To the extent that Leviathan represents any living creature, it has to be the whale.

However, there is more to it than that. The name of Leviathan has origins in mythology, associating him with hostility to God. Isaiah sees him as a serpent who will be punished and slain “on that day” (Isaiah ch27 v1).
Indeed the sea itself is an “outside” element in God’s creation.
In the creation narrative of Genesis, the waters of the great abyss are divided into two parts by the creation of the firmament. The waters under the firmament are then withdrawn into the sea, leaving the land dry and ready for habitation.
Thus the seas are the surviving remnants of the abyss, the part of creation which God did not organise.
In Biblical symbolism, they frequently represent the source of evil.
That is why ominous things come out of the sea, like the four kingdoms of Daniel ch7 and the Beast of Revelation ch13, while the Harlot of Revelation sits in the middle of the seas.
That is why we find the promise that there will be “no more sea” (Revelation ch21 v1).

We were told that Behemoth is “first of the works of God”.
The implication is that Leviathan, a creature undeniably greater than Behemoth, does not qualify as one of the “works of God”, the good things of creation. Indeed the purpose of the previous description of Behemoth may have been to prepare the ground for making this distinction.
Leviathan belongs to the abyss.
We saw from the previous chapters that the works of God are living under his loving knowledge and supervision.
But Leviathan, as inhabitant and lord of the hostile sea, is not loved, merely tolerated.

Here, then, we touch on a theological point of great importance, which is precisely what Job has been complaining about.
Namely, the fact that God allows the continued existence of bad things, things which cannot be called “God’s work”.
At least, he allows it for the time being.
The speech of God ends on this note, without any attempt to explain the point further.

posted on Dec, 8 2017 @ 05:04 PM
So that is the response which Job receives from God- “I made the world”. Nothing more.
Nevertheless, he considers himself answered.
He has already made the all-important recognition that “I am of small account” (ch40 v4).
He submits himself to God, as one who has been speaking “things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” and repents all his previous complaints.
Once he has made that submission, God can point to him as “one who has spoken of me what is right”.
The comforters, in contrast, provoked God’s wrath by defending him in the wrong way; they are required to repent, but the prayers of the already reconciled Job will be accepted on their behalf (ch42).

I suggested, in the original thread, that the real starting point for this debate may have been the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.
This raised the question “Why has God allowed these things to happen to his own people?”
Was it because of their transgressions, as the prophets were telling them?
The book of Job does not answer that question, but guides them into a way of responding to the problem.
They need to accept the greatness of God, like Job, and acknowledge on that basis that whatever he does must be just, by definition.
The reason for the catastrophe of Jerusalem is that God had a reason for it. That will have to do.

What about the future of Israel?
In the final paragraph, everything that Job had before the trouble started is restored to him again.
His flocks and herds are doubled.
More to the point, he has a new set of sons and daughters. He is allowed to live out a long life, and die in the ideal Biblical way, as “an old man and full of days”.
Modern readers, taking Job literally as a family man, sometimes object that Job finds no genuine remedy for the loss of his first children- “They can’t be replaced”.
But if Job does represent God’s decimated people Israel, then the reference to his new children amounts to a promise that new generations will grow and the population will be restored.
It’s an equivalent of the promises found in Isaiah; the time will return when Zion will be “too narrow for your inhabitants” (Isaiah ch49 v19).

Inasmuch as Job also represents “Everyman”, where does that leave us?
We resemble Job, because we suffer from afflictions and look for explanations.
In modern times, we may begin to question whether our treatment is compatible with God’s justice.
There is a branch of theology (“theodicy”) which tries to find rational answers to these questions.
We may resemble Job to the point of accusing God, doubting his justice, attempting to arraign him for failing to meet the standards of goodness as we have chosen to define them.
Our incorrigible sense of pride may carry us that far.

It seems to me that our challenges meet the same response that Job received; “I made the world”.
Our pride is answered by the reminder of his greatness. He is not going to be judged by us, and his goodness and justice can only be defined by his own standards.
God presents himself to us as Creator, and offers no other answer to the questions we are asking.

James remarks upon “the patience of Job”.
If our belief in Job’s patience is based on his conduct in the first couple of chapters, it gets harder to sustain while he complains during the chapters that follow.
I suggest that the true moment of “patience” comes in the last chapter, when he accepts the truth about where he stands before God;
“I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted…
I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee;
Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes”.
In the first chapters, Job was showing patience in the face of things he did not like.
In the last chapter, he has achieved a much deeper patience, in the face of things he does not understand.

What we are learning from Job is the true nature of Biblical faith.
The essence of faith is trust.
Hebrews defines faith as the “conviction of things not seen”.
But we must understand “see” in the widest possible sense. Faith calls upon us to trust in God even where we cannot “see” and appreciate the reasons for what he is doing.

This is not quite the last word, because Job has also been groping his way towards an insight into what might be done to resolve these issues.
He has proposed cutting the deadly link between sin and judgement (ch7 v21).
He has suggested that death might be a place where he could “hide” from the judgement, after which he might return to life with a clean sheet (ch14 v13).
He looks for a way of appealing to God himself against the judgements of God (ch16 vv18-21).
He has confidence in a “redeemer”, who will release him from all these burdens even after his death (ch19 vv25-26).
And as I’ve already observed, he hears God speaking to him in human form, in the person of Elihu.
In short, he is foreshadowing the New Testament solution to his problem- an incarnate saviour offering forgiveness of sin and resurrection.

posted on Dec, 8 2017 @ 07:09 PM
"Job feels a sense of grievance, arising out of his troubles, which developed into what amounts to a lawsuit against God"

Never the less Job does not take angst against GOD, but tries to understand the turmoil, grief and tribulations he is subject to. Remember Satan is doing it to Job, but constrained by GOD to not take Job's life. Anything he will, but he can not take his life. Satan is trying to get Job to curse GOD. Job curses the day he was born, wishing that it had never been, but never accuses or curses GOD.

posted on Dec, 8 2017 @ 07:11 PM
As I recall, Job was restored ten fold....... if memory serves me correctly.

I am corrected

"After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before".

edit on 8-12-2017 by Plotus because: correction

posted on Dec, 8 2017 @ 07:12 PM
a reply to: Plotus
Not quite, but he's living dangerously. He does argue that what's going on isn't right, and that gets so close to criticising God that he has to repent for it in the final chapter.

posted on Dec, 8 2017 @ 07:14 PM
a reply to: Plotus
Only doubled, I'm afraid.
Compare the figures in the first few and last few verses.

posted on Dec, 8 2017 @ 07:16 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

You are correct. It's been a couple years since I have read Job.

posted on Dec, 8 2017 @ 07:24 PM
"But if Job does represent God’s decimated people Israel, then the reference to his new children amounts to a promise that new generations will grow and the population will be restored"

If Israel is to go through this again in the end times, well to me it gives rise to the notion GOD will restore Israel/Jerusalem as HE said with a new Jerusalem.
Indeed Israel is GOD's chosen people, and ultimately Jerusalem the Holy City Eternal.

I hope I'm not derailing your message.
edit on 8-12-2017 by Plotus because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 8 2017 @ 07:32 PM
a reply to: Plotus
Yes, I wondered if that "not" had been left out.
I don't think there's any serious de-railing.

posted on Dec, 8 2017 @ 07:40 PM

originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: Plotus
Yes, I wondered if that "not" had been left out.
I don't think there's any serious de-railing.

And yes...... I felt Quite Thick... I had hoped I was swift in correcting my error.

I do always enjoy your oratories.
edit on 8-12-2017 by Plotus because: thick

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