RAGING BATTLE

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YUK

TIT FOR TAT

Job suffers, and his friends add to his misery.  His friend Bildad will join the accusations again after Job’s latest complaint.  There is a battle raging between heaven and hell in all of this.  People can be used by demonic voices to drag us down.

My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me.  Are there not mockers with me? and doth not mine eye continue in their provocation?  Lay down now, put me in a surety with thee; who is he that will strike hands with me?  For thou hast hid their heart from understanding: therefore shalt thou not exalt them.  He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail.  Job 17:1-5

Job feels disease corrupting his breath and personal odors.  He is feeling even lower with the low opinion of his friends.  He challenges God to find one who would represent him if it had a cost to the defender.  But he thinks that God has blinded their understanding and will not honor them in the end.  Flattery is a symptom of mischief that may become sin to generations that follow.

He hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.  Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow, and all my members are as a shadow.  Upright men shall be astonied at this, and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite.  The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.  But as for you all, do ye return, and come now: for I cannot find one wise man among you.  Job 17:6-10

Job is feeling like the butt of jokes and an outcast with dim prospects.  Good people who observe this will be shocked by the behavior of his friends in their hypocrisy.  Honest men will be strengthened but Job can’t see that wisdom in his friends.

My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.  They change the night into day: the light is short because of darkness.  If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.  I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister.  And where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it?  They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.  Job 17:11-16

Job can see no future or mission for his life, and he is without vision for hope.  His nights are restless and his days are fleeing back into night again.  He sees only the grave and a relationship with the worms of the earth ahead.

Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,  How long will it be ere ye make an end of words? mark, and afterwards we will speak.  Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?  He teareth himself in his anger: shall the earth be forsaken for thee? and shall the rock be removed out of his place?  Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine.  Job 18:1-5

So Job doesn’t get to go on whining if Bildad can shoot his mouth off.  He is offended to be so discredited by Job.  Indeed he seems to be calling Job a wicked man again, with threats of what God would do to him.

The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him.  The steps of his strength shall be straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down.  For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare.  The gin shall take him by the heel, and the robber shall prevail against him.  The snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap for him in the way.  Job 18:6-10

According to Bildad Job will be snared by his own words, he will be robbed and defeated by his own sin.

Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet.  His strength shall be hungerbitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side.  It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength.  His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors.  It shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is none of his: brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation.  Job 18:11-15

Perhaps all these terrors are reserved for the wicked, but Job is not one who is targeted for this.  Bildad wants to call down hell fire on Job.  Dire futures are his prediction for the evil he thinks Job is hiding.

His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off.  His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street.  He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.  He shall neither have son nor nephew among his people, nor any remaining in his dwellings.  They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.  Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him that knoweth not God.  Job 18:16-21

If evil were always so punished no one would run for public office.  We would not see bootleggers turning into political dynasties and Generals being accused of sexual assault.  We must live in a vastly different world than Bildad has imagined.  Unfortunately evil was prospering in Bildad’s day even as it does now.  And Job was being punished in spite of being a faithful man.  But unknown to both was that the tormentor was Satan, not God and Job was passing his test.

When we are weighed down by the pain of battle, God is engaged with our enemy in our behalf.  The enemy may use men to drag us down, but we can be sure that God is there with us.  We must walk by faith, and not by sight.

DISCOMFORTERS

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REPULSIVE

Job is impatient with friends who are tearing him down instead of building him up.  Do we sometimes assume that a sick person is contagious?  We react to the ugly appearance of disease out of the natural fear of infection.  But in faith should we reach out to sinners even as a doctor does to the sick?  Should we at least recognize that their suffering is real and offer the relief which we have discovered in Christ?

Then Job answered and said,  I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.  Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?  I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you.  But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief.  Job 16:1-5

Job suggests that he could be a miserable friend to these men if they were in his place.  But he would not do that, but instead he would encourage them by his words.

Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I forbear, what am I eased?  But now he hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company.  And thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face.  He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me.  They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me.  Job 16:6-10

Now God has made him tired and the signs of illness seem to testify of his sin.  His friends are now gathered against him as enemies.

God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked.  I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark.  His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground.  He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant.  I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust.  Job 16:11-15

Job thinks that God has taken his comfort and delivered him to ungodly friends.  He feels targeted by invisible tormentors and run over by a giant oppression.

My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death;  Not for any injustice in mine hands: also my prayer is pure.  O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place.  Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.  My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.  Job 16:16-20

We know that Satan is the tormentor, and Job knows he is not in deep sin.  He can’t understand how this torment has come to him.  His friends are turned to reject his claims of innocence and he weeps for help.

O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!  When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return. Job 16:21-22

Job yearns for friends who would pray for him as they might for a neighbor who needs help.  He knows he will face death like everyone does at some point.  He might hope to have some comfort until that day comes.

We remember the Good Samaritan for rescuing a Jew who was beaten by a robber.  That Samaritan was not considered to be a proper Jew, but he did what a good person should do in God’s view.  He didn’t ask if this Jew had sinned to earn this beating.  He didn’t question the theology of this victim.  He overlooked the way Jews had rejected Samaritans for many years of their history.  He sacrificed his own money to provide healing to a neighbor who had been wounded.  He demonstrated mercy.

THE OLD FOOL

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Old Fool

OLDER BUT NO WISER

Oh yes, there has to be an expert, who is older and wiser than us.  Do you really believe that age brings wisdom?  Consider where the hippy generation is today.  Visit the trailer parks in the warmer states and listen to their music.  Do senior citizens indulge foolishness?  There’s no fool like an old fool.

Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,  Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind?  Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?  Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.  For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity, and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty.  Job 15:1-5

Another elderly mouth sounds off against Job.  He says a wise man should not talk trash and eat empty air.  He claims that Job is shameless about his sins and defeats the work of prayer.  He thinks that Job is a liar.

Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee.  Art thou the first man that was born? or wast thou made before the hills?  Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself?  What knowest thou, that we know not? what understandest thou, which is not in us?  With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father.  Job 15:6-10

So Eliphaz reports that Job is not as smart as he thinks.  He challenges Job to reveal how he is wiser than the old men who are supposed to be comforting him here.

Are the consolations of God small with thee? is there any secret thing with thee?  Why doth thine heart carry thee away? and what do thy eyes wink at,  That thou turnest thy spirit against God, and lettest such words go out of thy mouth?  What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?  Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.  Job 15:11-15

He is mocking Job to ask if he has any secret knowledge or word from God.  He is indignant that Job seems to be claiming righteousness when no one is found without sin.  But even in the Old Testament we have seen that David discovered mercy when he had sin.  Righteousness is not made of perfection in self works, but rather of relationship with God.

How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?  I will shew thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will declare;  Which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid it:  Unto whom alone the earth was given, and no stranger passed among them.  The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor.  Job 15:16-20

Perhaps Eliphaz is only reporting what he knows about his own nature.  He believes that no one could be clean before God because he knows his own life is falling short.  He may know the pain of a wicked man from personal experience.

A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him.  He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness, and he is waited for of the sword.  He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.  Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle.  For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty. Job 15:21-25

Eliphaz rambles on about the pending agony of an evil man.  He seems well versed in the fear of one who is in rebellion against God.

He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses of his bucklers:  Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh collops of fat on his flanks.  And he dwelleth in desolate cities, and in houses which no man inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps.  He shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue, neither shall he prolong the perfection thereof upon the earth.  He shall not depart out of darkness; the flame shall dry up his branches, and by the breath of his mouth shall he go away. Job 15:26-30

Eliphaz imagines a God who stomps his enemies into the dirt to punish their fat prosperity.  His God would punish the sinner with poverty, living in the ruins of fallen houses.  What a surprise these religious souls must experience when God forgives the prodigal son.  Indeed, the prodigal’s more conservative brother was so offended at his father’s mercy.

Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompence.  It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green.  He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive.  For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.  They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their belly prepareth deceit. Job 15:31-35

It’s true enough that God will punish the hypocrite, but God is the one who will judge who the hypocrite is.  When man tries to do God’s job, he becomes the hypocrite himself.  He becomes an expert judge in his own eyes.  An expert; what is that?  An ex is a has-been, and a spurt is a drip who’s under pressure.

MORTALITY

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IMG_3564

NO HOPE?

Job is not finding a basis for his faith here.  He is looking at the end of the road instead of the joy ahead.  His friends have been beating him down and he is not much kinder to himself.

Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.  He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.  And doth thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee?  Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.  Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;  Job 14:1-5

After rebuking his friends, Job is still lost in his despair.  He is aware of his mortality and how short are the days of a lifetime.  If God has decided the time of our end our days are already numbered to God.

Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.  For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.  Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;  Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.  But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?  Job 14:6-10

Even a tree that was cut down might find water and still return to life.  But where does man go if his days are ended?  Job is not aware of the eternal promises of God it would seem here.

As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:  So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.  O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!  If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.  Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.  Job 14:11-15

Job expects death to be the end of a man’s being, without hope.  He may wish to be hidden in death away from the misery of this trial in his life.  He asks if a man shall die and still live again.  He seems willing to endure his time to live and hopes for the death to end his misery.  He is expecting God to call him to the grave.

For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin?  My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.  And surely the mountains falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place.  The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man.  Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away.  His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.  But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn. Job 14:16-22

Job knows that his sins are in the bag, as if he knows repentance has removed his guilt.  As mountains and rocks fall to erosion, God wears down the days of man.  A man will not see the honor his sons earn, and he will be buried with no more part except the pain of passing.

I have suffered loss of family, health, and prosperity.  As a senior I would struggle to live without the assurance I have from my relationship with a savior who answers.  Job has not lived with the instruction and encouragement that Yeshua delivered to Israel in the New Testament.  Still he is willing to live with his fate without cursing God.  He doesn’t understand his suffering, but he lives with it.