Introducing Job – Chapter 1

Tennyson, as Poet Laureate, used verse to prom...

Among the books of the Bible widely classified as “wisdom and poetry literature,” one would naturally think of Psalms among the poetry.  But the book of Job is not one that comes to the mind of most people when they think of poetry.  The great poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, however, would disagree.  Tennyson called Job “the greatest poem, whether of ancient or modern literature.”  A common statement made about Job is that it is about the question of why good people suffer.

Well, that question certainly was raised in Job, but there is a problem with that description after a careful reading – that question was never really answered.  Oswald Chambers said it better when presenting a summary of all five of the wisdom books.  Speaking of Job, he said it describes “how to suffer.”   And that is just about as good of a description as you will get, for much of the book does teach us how the righteous should face suffering, when it comes into their lives.  And in fact, Job is overflowing with poetry, as well as wisdom.  Every Thursday this year, we will read a chapter from this great book.

One question that constantly comes up about Job is whether it is fiction or history.  Defending the (correct, I solemnly believe) view that the Book of Job is the real story of a real man who suffered unimaginably difficult times is beyond the scope of this blog – except maybe to point out that God’s word treats it as such, and His inspired writers in other books refer to Job as a historic figure (Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and James 5:11, for example).  For a more in-depth  look at the historicity of Job, please see this article at ApologeticsPress.org.

Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia, although once united with Judah against Babylon, had abandoned Judah and rejoiced to see its ruin. But these nations were as sinful as Judah and would also feel the sting of God's judgment.

Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia, although once united with Judah against Babylon, had abandoned Judah and rejoiced to see its ruin. But these nations were as sinful as Judah and would also feel the sting of God’s judgment.

We will start off chapter one by stating that there is much we do not know.  We do not know who the author was or when it was written.  The absence of reference to a Levitical priesthood (as demonstrated in verse 5) along with Job’s longevity (see Job 42:16), however, suggest roughly a time in Genesis after the flood.  We also do not know where, geographically, Job’s home in Uz was either, other than it was in the east (verse 3) and near a desert (verse 19).  It could be related to the northern home of Uz, the grandson of Shem (Genesis 10:22-23), Noah’s son, of whom the historian Josephus wrote in “Antiquities of the Jews” (book 1, chapter 6, paragraph 4), crediting him with the founding of Trachonitis and Damascus.  It could also be the land of Abraham’s nephew Uz (Genesis 22:20-21).  It could even be the land of the Uz the descendant of Seir, who had been related to Esau by marriage (Genesis 36:28).  It could also be the same land spoken of in Jeremiah 25:17-29 and Lamentations 4:21, which would be near or even include Edom to the south and east of the Dead Sea.

There is a lot of speculation also about verses 6-12.  Some say that the “sons of God” in verse 6 were angels.  Others make the perfectly good point that the term “sons of God” is used elsewhere in the scriptures to speak of people who serve the Lord (e.g. Romans 8:14 “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God”).  Along those lines, it is noteworthy that six times in these six verses, the Tetragrammaton (the Hebrew letters usually transliterated as YHWH or JHVH, which many refer to as Jehovah, rather than Yahweh) are used for God.  This use of the proper covenental name of God would seem to suggest a gathering of worshipers in which Satan asserted himself.

What we do know is that Job was a wealthy man who lived an upright life in the fear of the Lord (verses 1-3),

Messengers tell Job of his losses.

Messengers tell Job of his losses.

even to the point of offering sacrifices to God for his ten children (verse 5).  He seemed to have everything one could desire in life.  Then came the news from messengers, one after another, each telling of the great calamities that had fallen upon Job.  The Sabeans came from the south and killed his oxen and donkeys, and then murdered his servants that were with them (verses 14-15).  Then what we could assume as lightning had struck and killed his sheep and the servants that tended them (verse 16).  Before the second messenger had finished, another came and told Job that the Chaldeans, coming from the north, had taken his camels and killed the servants that were with them as well (verse 17).  The worst blow came again before the third messenger finished delivering his news.  All of his children, having been at the feast at his oldest son’s house had been killed by what must have been a great tornado that destroyed the house (verse 19).

Of Job’s immense grief at all of this loss, we get only a sense, as he tore his robe and shaved his head (signs of mourning) in verse 20.  He then fell upon the ground and worshiped God, rather than cursing him as Satan had hoped.  Verses 21-22 begin the real lesson of this book:

“And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’  In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”

Many have suffered great loss in this world (though few as great as this in such a short time), but who has not known someone who blamed God for their troubles, even those that were really self-inflicted?  How often have we been inclined to do the same?  Any loss, however great, is not the end of eternity.  Not for us, nor for any of the loved ones we may have lost.  Every blessing we have received in this life has come from God (James 1:17), unearned by us, and all of those blessings will be only a memory by the end of this life.  But as James, the Lord’s brother, also wrote in 1:12:

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

But Job’s story is only beginning.  We will take up chapter 2 next Thursday.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy

Please “like” us on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/bobsboy01

___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

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Exodus 33 – The Command to Leave Sinai

Climbing the trail near the summit of Mount Sinai.

Image via Wikipedia

The Lord tells Moses to take the people and leave Mount Sinai for Canaan; and again tells him that He will send an angel, but He will not go with them.  The people feel the loss in this proclamation (verse 4), and Moses intercedes.  Moses has matured, and has found favor with God, and their relationship reminds us of that of the Lord with Abraham – as verse 11 even uses the comparison of their conversations to that which occurs between friends.  God’s favor with Abraham as friend is recounted in Isaiah 41:8, where He reassures His people; as well as in James 2:23.

Moses also brings Abraham’s bargaining intercession to mind (from Genesis 18:22-33), as he pleads for the people in verses 12-16.  the Lord agrees in verse 17 because Moses has “found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”  Despite His very real and righteous anger, the Lord seems to be training Moses as the leader that He wants him to be.  His request in verse 18 should be understood as desire for an outward sign of his favor with the Lord as His chosen leader of the people.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Exodus 13:17 – 14:31 – Pillars of Cloud and Fire / Crossing the Red Sea

Exodus 13

God defines so much for His people in this chapter.  The obvious things are the instructions for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which are given in verses 4-10, and in 11-16 the importance of the first-born is made known – a fact that will permeate their fabric now, and in times to come.  To consecrate is “to set apart” or make to holy, by giving it to God; and that is exactly what His people will be expected to do, as the first-born of every man and animal of the people of Israel now belong to the Lord (verse 2).

The first-born of man will be redeemed – that is, a lamb will be sacrificed in their place.  They are to keep this as a statute from year to year, and tell their sons the story of why it is now so – because the Lord has delivered them with a strong hand.  The repetition of the Lord bringing the people out “with a strong hand” echoes the repetition of “I am the Lord”.  The point seems clear that the Lord must be given respect, fear, and honor as the Holy one.

“…about six hundred thousand men on foot…”

God did not lead them by the way of the Philistines even though that would be the shortest way (verses 17-18). They were equipped for battle, but the Lord knew they were not ready for war; and He led them through the wilderness to the Red Sea.  The Lord knew how nervous, and even frightened so many thousands of people must have been.

They were free now, it’s true.  But we tend to forget when reading about this that they were leaving the only home(s) they had ever known – and they were headed into the wilderness, and even the darkness, to a final destination most of them really did not know about.  They didn’t even know when they might finally get there – much less, what would happen to them along the way!

We cannot really envision the presence that the Lord made known to His people at this time (verses 21-22), but the references to the pillar of cloud, and by night a pillar of fire, will be repeated elsewhere.  How reassuring, and very fitting, it must have been that God Himself – the same one who in His power and might brought all these great plagues on Pharaoh and his people – was now leading their way with a presence that was both magnificent and awe-inspiring!

Joseph’s wish to be buried in Canaan will be done

The future still had to seem uncertain, but God, in His matchless wisdom (and for very good reasons that we can only partly understand), is making it very clear to them in so many ways that He truly is in charge now!  Don’t miss the significance of the faith of both Joseph and of Moses in verse 19, as he take takes the bones of Joseph with him, fulfilling Joseph’s charge in (Genesis 50:24-25)!

Exodus 14 – The Crossing

No matter what you might think of the Biblical accuracy of the Cecil B. DeMille classic, it is pretty hard to read this chapter without seeing the face of Charlton Heston in your mind’s eye unless you are so young you just never saw it (hard to believe, but it happens).  For a time before CGI was even a dream to anyone, the special effects of its most famous scene are still truly wonderful.   And as I read the chapter again even today, I still get caught up in the very real story of what God did here for it is, if nothing else, a really great story!  But it is something else.  It is God’s word to us.  And I wonder sometimes when we read stories in the Bible that may have become very familiar to us all of our lives… if many of us sometimes really still just don’t get it.

Unknown where the crossing took place

Come now, you might say.  It’s the account of the crossing of the Red Sea, God delivering His people.  I understand that, and probably you do already get what I mean here, but I don’t think all of us do – not always.  That is, after all, the point of reading the Bible again and again, isn’t it?  If we never learned anything new, what would the point be?  Read it once – maybe a second time to refresh the memory – and move on, right?  But we learned long ago that reading the Bible is different, didn’t we?  We can read the same chapter we read yesterday six months from now and we might learn something totally different.

So what do I personally take away from these 31 verses of the Lord’s word today?  Well, there’s the usual stuff, of course.  Here is the same Pharaoh and his servants that couldn’t get the people of Israel out of their land fast enough after the last plague.  Now that they are gone, they start to wonder “What were we thinking, letting them go!”  So they have to go after them.  Then there are the people of Israel, who find out they are coming after them.  The same people of Israel who saw the power of God throughout the ten plagues.  The same people of Israel who have been led through the wilderness and the darkness by the awesome visage of “the angel of God” (verse 19 and Exodus 13:21-22).  The same people who now cry out, and even tell Moses that they were better off back in Egypt (verse 12)!

We are so blessed in our lives that sometimes we do not even see the many ways that God continues to bless us each and every day.  Then, if we run into a situation that is difficult, and sometimes even seems desperate, we can so easily begin to lose hope when we do not fully trust in the Lord.  And in those times, it is easy to listen to others who would have us believe that it truly is hopeless.

We do not have Moses or anyone else to perform wonders before our eyes at God’s command.  God knows that He has given us what we need on this earth – through His word.  And He will see that we get whatever else we really need until we reach the end, and bring us home to Him if we choose to serve Him.

The lack of faith on the part of the people of Israel in verse 12, after so much reason to have faith in abundance, is sometimes hard to understand.  But God fights for them anyway, and…

Well, I don’t want to ruin the rest of the story for you…

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
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images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Exodus 9 – The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Plagues

There is a lot going on in this chapter as God accomplishes His objectives.  It is helpful, though to step back for a moment and fully realize that is precisely what He is doing.  Freeing the descendants of Israel (Jacob), and even placing them in the land He had promised would be easily accomplished by the creator of the universe – as would punishing Pharaoh for his defiance.  He gets all of those things done in His own time, but He is teaching His people, and the world in the process.

The Fifth Plague: Egyptian Livestock Die

The plagues, as assaults upon the foolishness of the worship of specific false “gods,” exposes such man-made creations as the empty promises that they are, which ultimately can facilitate the very destruction that falls on those that worship them.  The same can be said of the empty things that man tends to “worship” today – fortune, sex, and selfish pleasure, to name a few.  Those same plagues demonstrate that all of the things of the earth itself come from our one true God, who shows Himself in these verses to be sovereign over them all.

Further comments on Pharaoh’s “heart condition”

(I apologize for the length of today’s blog, but I feel the need to give my comments about this subject more adequately because of its troubling nature to some people – and because of the urgency of what it means to us today)

Notice again in verse 34, as in Exodus 8:15 and 8:32, the text says that Pharaoh hardened his heart – just as we are told elsewhere in these chapters, as well as other books (such as in 1 Samuel 6:6). Most honest readers will admit to being somewhat disturbed at some point by the other passages in Exodus that refer to God being the one that hardens Pharaoh’s heart – as if God actually caused Pharaoh’s own demise, when he might otherwise have been repentant.  And indeed many commentators and theologians, by their interpretations, have not only failed to adequately dispel those concerns, rather their analysis has often actually increased those feelings.

While it is true that the Lord is sovereign over all, and can choose to show mercy on whom He wishes (as Paul reminds us in Romans 9:16-18), the suggestion that He in any way was the cause of Pharaoh’s failure to obey is a terrible misunderstanding of the scripture as it was written, and indeed the very nature of our Lord.  God tells us in his word that he “desires all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4), and God never lies (Titus 1:1-2).  Moreover, He is without injustice, as said beautifully in the NKJV version of Deut 32:4:

He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He.

The Lord’s part in the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was that He forced him over and over again into a position that he would not otherwise have been in – to face undeniably, the impotence of his false “gods,” to see for himself the might and sovereign power of the one true God – and knowing this, to make up his mind whether he would obey or defy.  God absolutely knew Pharaoh’s heart, but know this for certain – Pharaoh chose to defy the Lord.

This is where the relevance for us today is so sad because we see it for (in?) ourselves far too often.  By our continued defiance to God, insisting instead to live in sin and worship our own “gods,” we are quite capable of hardening our own hearts.   Paul warns in Romans 8:7-8, which I quote below (keeping in mind that the “mind set on the flesh” refers to both unbelievers and to those unwilling to truly repent, who are by definition in bondage to sin):

7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God,
for it does not submit to God’s law;
indeed, it cannot.
8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

 

Exodus 4 – Moses Given Powerful Signs

Moses begins objecting to his mission first by telling the Lord that nobody will believe that He has spoken to him.  God answers this one by showing him signs, and telling him of more that He will show him (verses 2-9).  He continues to object in verse 10 that he is not eloquent in speech, to which the Lord replies that He will be his mouth and teach him what to say (verse 12).  Then, Moses just tells God what is on his mind – he doesn’t want to do it!  He angers the Lord when he asks God to send someone else (verse 13), and He tells Moses that his brother Aaron, the Levite, will speak for him, and that Moses “shall be as God to him” (verse 16).

With those seeking his life dead now (verse 19), God tells him he can return to Egypt; and Moses goes back to let his father-in-law, Jethro, know that he will no longer be tending his sheep.  God sends Aaron “into the wilderness” to meet him, in order to hear what the lord has said.  Aaron and Moses go back and gather the elders, and tell the people all that had happened – showing them the signs.  They believed, and “they bowed their heads and worshiped” (verses 29-31).

Much time can (and has) been spent, and even wasted, puzzling over verses 24-26.  Both the text and its timing can be confusing.   Whenever we come across one of the few passages in scripture that are just that way for us, we always want to ask ourselves the same question.  What about the passage is important as it relates to serving the Lord, and therefore, salvation?  That criteria will usually help us move on.  In this case, all we know for certain is that for whatever reason, Moses had not (at the time that verse 25 refers to) circumcised at least one of his sons.  The important point is that Moses’ house was fully following the Lord’s commandments before he went to Egypt to carry out God’s will.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

 

Exodus 3 – The Burning Bush

The last time the scripture recorded God speaking was over 400 years ago to Jacob (Israel) to tell him to go ahead and leave Canaan for Egypt.  In verse 2, “the angel of the Lord appeared” to Moses at Horeb “in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush”.  The ground is holy (verse 5) because of the presence of the Lord, who tells Moses of his plans (verse 8) to deliver “the people of Israel” to the land He promised Abraham would belong to his offspring in Genesis 13:14-17.

When asked His name, the reply in verse 14 “I am who I am” basically means the one who is, always has been, and always will be.  It does not mean that Moses did not know who the one true God is.  This is how Moses is to refer to “the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” when speaking of Him to his people – as well as to the polytheistic people of the land where they are now captive.

In verses 20-22, God tells Moses how he will deliver them with the power of His hand, and the “victory” over their captors will be signified by their “plundering” them (as is done by victorious armies).  But in this case, it will be done simply by the people asking for the treasures!   This emphasizes well that when God shows His power, it is awesome indeed!

(Side note: As this chapter introduces the name of Yahweh (the Hebrew contained no consonants, so the Lord is referred to in the text as “YHWH”), you may be interested in a great article on Gordon Franz’s site “Life and Land Seminars”, entitled “Yahweh Inscription Discovered at Mount Sinai!“.  Further illustration that although genuine secular evidences are plentiful, men need to take care in trying to use them to prove the Bible is true.  His summary at the end of that article is right on the mark!  Bear in mind, however, that I do not know if his opinion of claims about the disputed location of Mt. Sinai is correct.)

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

 

Preview of this week in Exodus \ Feb Week 2 Summary Posted

Did You Know…

…that you can find out what the text of a Bible passage says, just by sending a quick email with just the chapter and verse?

For example, send an email to esvpassages@gnpcb.org with “ESV Joshua 24:14-15” (without the quotes) in the subject, and the folks at Crossway Bibles (it’s actually an automatic service) will reply with the passage’s text!

This week in Exodus

We will begin with the Burning Bush in Exodus, as the Lord speaks to Moses after 400+ years have passed since his talk with Jacob.

We will finish the week with the opening round of the battle of wills between the Lord and Pharaoh in chapter 7, as God prepares to show Pharaoh, His people, and the world that there is only one God – and that He is keeping His promises.

We will learn about the purpose and meaning of the “plagues,” and what is meant by the “hardening” of Pharaoh’s heart (there will surely be more about that in the following week, as well).  I hope you will learn as much from this part of God’s word as I am being blessed with.  The Bible never stops teaching us, as long as we keep reading it!

Summing up

Each weekend, I am now posting a page-length PDF of one week of chapter summaries (on the website’s “Summaries” page), current to the beginning of the previous week.  I have posted the summary for Week 7 (February Week 2) of the schedule I am following.  This short PDF document (less than 2 pages, with the month’s schedule) contains condensed comments about the readings of Genesis chapters 39, 40, 41, 42 and 43, with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading, and joins the summaries for other weeks already posted there.

___________________
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers