Sunday, April 26, 2015

Job & Satan - Part #3 - Job's opinion on the tests and a few thoughts on his friends.

Friends,

[Please read Part #1 and #2 of this series, before reading this.]
It is generally accepted that at least a major portion of the Book of Job was written by Job, the protagonist of the book. He was the one who underwent the test and he should be knowing things better than anyone else. It is his opinion about the tests that matters more than ours. Let us see what he has to say about the evil that befell him.

After the first round of calamities that befell Job, he said:
Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
Job 1:22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
He didn't say the LORD gave and the Satan has taken away, instead he said: the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away! And in saying so he did not sin! Conversely, it is sinful to say that the LORD gave and some other entity took away!

After the second round of calamity, where the name of Satan is explicitly mentioned, Job said:
Job 2:10 But he said unto her [his wife], Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

It is self evident that Job is talking about receiving evil at the hand of God, just as he received good. Please note that he did not sin in saying that he received evil from God. In other words, to say that some other entity is the source of evil is sinful.

Towards the end of the book we have the affirmation that the evil that befell Job was brought about by the LORD.
Job 42:11 Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him:..
In Job's own words or in Job's opinion all the evil or calamities that happened to him have their origins in the LORD and none else.


Does the LORD need assistance?

The physical ailment that affected Job was the same that affected king Hezekiah, albeit in a fatal manner.
Job 2:7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils[H7822] from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
2Ki 20:7 And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil[H7822], and he recovered. (See also: Isa 38:21)
Though the Bible mentions twice about Hezekiah's ailment, we are not told that Hezekiah's ailment was caused by Satan.

In Numbers 12, Miriam was struck with leprosy, for her and Aaron speaking against their brother Moses. We are not told that it was an act of Satan. (She alone was punished, probably because she was the eldest among siblings.)

Elisha transferred the leprosy of Naaman to Gehazi and his children, forever (2Ki 5:27). No involvement of Satan was mentioned here as well.

We read about king Azariah being stricken with leprosy by the LORD (2Ki 15:5), and not Satan.

We have already seen that the cases of the epileptic boy and the woman who was crippled for 18 years need not to be the work of Satan / Devil / demons / evil spirits. If you haven't read those posts, please do read them now.There are no other cases where Satan or Devil being held accountable for anyone's ailments.

The question that begs for a logical answer is: why does the Almighty God require the assistance of Satan to afflict Job? If all the people mentioned above could be afflicted by God or men of God, why not Job?

What if the calamities that befell Job were brought about by human beings?

In the first post in this series we have seen that all the forces of the nature are the control of God and they can be controlled only by God or men/women of God. In the section above we have seen that the LORD afflicts people directly or through one of His faithful servants.

We can discern the involvement of one of his friends in at least one of the calamities that befell Job.
Job 1:14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
Job 1:15 And the Sabeans[H7614] fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Job mentions about Sabeans again in the 6th chapter. Let us examine a couple of verses from the 6th chapter.
Job 6:15 My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away;
Job 6:19 The troops of Tema[H8485] looked, the companies of Sheba[H7614] waited for them.
Job is whining about the behavior of his close friends (brethren). Then he goes on to associate Sheba with Tema, as though they are hand in glove with each other in acting deceptively. Probably, Job did not want to mention anyone directly.

Have you noticed that one of the friends of Job was Eliphaz the Temanite[H8489]? (Okay, Strong's Concordance won't help you much here.) Is it just a coincidence that at the end of the book, after replying to Job, the LORD addressed Eliphaz the Temanite to express His displeasure?
Job 42:7 And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job,the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.
Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite who started his discourse only in the 32nd chapter of the book belonged to the clan of Buz. Jeremiah says both Buz and Tema were objects of the LORD's wrath. (Jer 25:23)

Was Elihu, the Buzite, a "man of God"?


If ever you have attended Biblical conferences you may have observed certain behavioral patterns of speakers/preachers. After a few highly qualified and reputed speakers address the conference, there comes a speaker who is thoroughly displeased with the views of the previous speakers, but is totally cowed down by his lack of reputation and high qualifications. He commences his speech by admitting how inferior he is, in comparison with the previous speakers. We can see the same tactic played by Elihu:
Job 32:6.... I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion.
Job 32:7 I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.
The next step such a preacher would take is to say that true knowledge and understanding comes not from degrees and universities, but from God and the Spirit of God. We can see such a pattern in Elihu's words as well.
Job 32:8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
Job 32:9 Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.
Job 32:10 Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will shew mine opinion.
Elihu goes on to claim that he is taking the place of God in debating Job.
Job 33:6 Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead: ... (in fact, a literal translation would mean: I am God's mouth/mouthpiece)
For the sake of brevity we won't cover all the claims of Elihu, suffice to say that he had the typical attitude of a "man of God" or preacher.

Notice that all the while when Job and his three other friends were debating, the LORD was silent. But while Elihu was yet speaking, the LORD responded:
Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
Job 38:2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
The LORD disproves Elihu's claims to knowledge and understanding that comes from God.

[If we were living in Old Testament times, I am sure, every time most of our preachers finish their sermons, we would have been listening to the LORD answering from whirlwind.]

The point is, Elihu was a "man of God" and there could have been many like him during the days of Job, who could control the forces of nature and bring about the calamities and physical ailments that befell Job.

Conclusions:
  • Whatever be the opinions of theologians, preachers and scholars, Job was convinced that the evils that befell him came from the LORD. He states it thrice and not even once did he say that it is the handiwork of Satan.
  • God is in control of the whole universe and all the forces of the nature. Forces of nature can be controlled only by God or servants of God.
  • There are hints in the text to prove the direct or indirect involvement of some of his friends or their clans in bringing about some of the calamities that befell Job.
  • If "men of God" are required to bring about calamities, we have proof that at least one man of God existed during the times of Job.
  • My incompetence, if any, in presenting the topic will not bring Satan into existence.
to be continued...
In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal