Job 32-42: The Slaughtered Lamb

Chapter 32

The three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, ceased to answer Job (v.1) – because Job was righteous in his own eyes.  However, then comes Elihu (whose God is he (Jehovah)), the son of Barachel (whom God had blessed) the Buzite (from “Buz” – one of the chiefs of the tribe of Gad – 1 Chronicles 5:14, meaning “contempt“).  So Eliphaz burned with anger, the man who hails from the tribe who strikes at the heel of his raiders (Genesis 49:19).  He identifies himself as one of the young, one of those who would have listened to Job during Job’s days of glory (c.f. chapter 29), yet he recognises that the true teacher is the Breath of the Almighty (v.8; indicative of the Holy Spirit; c.f. Genesis 2:7, 7:22, Job 4:9; see also Job 33:4-5).  It is the Holy Spirit Who is the Wisdom that makes man understand, the very Wisdom whom Job spoke of in chapter 28.  He will not show partiality due to his youth, for the spirit within him shall speak words of truth unveiled and without flattery (v.21-22; c.f. Psalms 5:9; Romans 16:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:5).

It is interesting that Elihu as a character is only verbal between chapters 32 and 37.  He was not introduced at the outset, for is he mentioned by the LORD when the LORD rebukes Job’s three friends.  In the coming chapters, Elihu’s words will show that his focus is not on behavioural modifications leading to God’s stamp of approval; quite the contrary, it is in the LORD’s sovereignty and Ransom (chapter 33.v22-24) by the power of His Wisdom, the Holy Spirit, that Job can plead for this very Mediator.  In a sense, Elihu is akin to Elijah – both figures of Christ, but also foreshadows of John the Baptist, he who prepares the way for the LORD’s coming.  Just as Elihu ceases to speak in chapter 37, so the LORD speaks immediately in chapter 38 as if ushered by this prophetic and mysterious figure.

 

Chapter 33

The Spirit of God has made Elihu, and the breath of the Almighty gives Elihu life – this is how Elihu’s words of truth begin.  He does not set a weighty yoke on Job as Bildad, Eliphaz and Zophar did (v.7; c.f. Matthew 11:30).  Elihu speaks as though he is the author of the book of Proverbs – “For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it” (v.14; e.g. Proverbs 6:16; 30:18, 30:21, 30:29).  So also God’s truth is not interpreted merely from one angle of man’s perception, but also from the perspective of a dream, in a vision of the night, in deep sleep (v.14-15), to give man a revelation to turn such man aside from pride and evil deed (v.17), to preserve a man from the bottomless pit (v.18, 24) – this is most predominantly shown in the Ransom (v.24), the Angel of the LORD, the Mediator, one and only (v.22-23).  It is through the propitiation, intercession and mediation of Christ Jesus that Job’s flesh can become fresh with youth, returning to the days of his youthful vigor (v.25), allowing Job to pray to God through the intercessor (v.26; c.f. Book of Hebrews), salvation by the gift of righteousness.  The fulfillment of the Kinsman Redeemer in Job 19:25 is thus fulfilled in the words of Elihu in Job 33:28 – Christ has redeemed Job from going down into the pit, and his life shall look upon the light.  Behold, God does these things, twice, three times with a man – to resurrect his soul from the pit.  Such is the act of the glorious and divine resurrection!  So Elihu enlightens Job to the true wisdom whom Job had been alluding to in his self-defence.

Adam Clarke comments:

It is this that gives efficacy to all the preceding means; without which they would be useless, and the salvation of man impossible. I must think that the redemption of a lost world, by Jesus Christ, is not obscurely signified in Job 33:23, 24.  While the whole world lay in the wicked one, and were all hastening to the bottomless pit, God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life. Jesus Christ, the great sacrifice, and head of the Church, commissions his messengers-apostles and their successors-to show men the righteousness of God, and his displeasure at sin, and at the same time his infinite love, which commands them to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and that they who believe on him shall not perish, shall not go down to the pit of destruction, for he has found out an atonement; and that whoever comes to him, through Christ, shall have everlasting life, in virtue of that atonement or ransom price.”

 

Clarke also further provides the following paragraph for v.26-29:

 

Ver. 26. He (Jesus Christ, the head and ransom price) shall pray unto God, (shall make intercession for the transgressors, for he is the Mediator between God and man.) And he (God the Father) will be favourable, ( yirtsehu, will manifest his good will towards him.) And he shall see his face ( panaiv, his faces, God the Father, Son, and Spirit) with joy, ( bithruah, with exultation or triumph,) for he will render unto man his righteousness, ( yasheb leenosh tsidkatho, “He will restore to wretched man his righteousness;” i.e., he will create the soul anew, and restore to the fallen spirit that righteousness and true holiness which it has lost, and bring it again to its original state of perfection, through the grand atonement mentioned Job 33:24.) But when is it that wretched miserable man shall be brought to this state of salvation? This is answered in Ver. 27. When God, looking upon men, seeth any of them saying, I have sinned and perverted that which is right, and it hath profited me nothing-has afforded nothing equal to my wishes, and the tribulation which I sustained in seeking happiness in forbidden things. Redeem my soul from going down to destruction, and my life shall see the light, or shall be as the light. This is the prayer of the penitent, which God has promised to hear. This is one of the best, the deepest, the most spiritual, and most important chapters which the reader has yet met with in the Book of Job. It is every way important, and full of useful information. It is a grand exhibition of the WAY of salvation as revealed to patriarchs and prophets.”

 

So, just as Clarke defines the way of salvation, as specifically revealed to the patriarchs and prophets is no different from the way we see it – Job, Elihu and Paul and Peter all look to Jesus Christ the eternal mediator for the restoration of their souls, so that they too, like Jesus (c.f. Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27), would be resurrected on the Day of the Bridegroom.

 

Chapter 34

Elihu continues his words, in answer not only to Job but also to his other three friends (v.2).  Obviously his words are laced with sarcasm – “Hear my words, you wise men” (v.2).  In particular, Elihu charges Job very high upon his words.  As Matthew Henry comments:

Did you ever know such a man as Job, or ever hear a man talk at such an extravagant rate?” He represents him, (1.) As sitting in the seat of the scornful: “He drinketh up scorning like water,” that is, “he takes a great deal of liberty to reproach both God and his friends, takes a pleasure in so doing, and is very liberal in his reflections.” Or, “He is very greedy in receiving and hearkening to the scorns and contempts which others cast upon their brethren, is well pleased with them and extols them.” Or, as some explain it, “By these foolish expressions of his he makes himself the object of scorn, lays himself very open to reproach, and gives occasion to others to laugh at him; while his religion suffers by them, and the reputation of that is wounded through his side.” We have need to pray that God will never leave us to ourselves to say or do any thing which may make us a reproach to the foolish, Ps. xxxix. 8. (2.) As walking in the course of the ungodly, and standing in the way of sinners: He goes in company with the workers of iniquity ( 8), not that in his conversation he did associate with them, but in his opinion he did favour and countenance them, and strengthen their hands. If (as it follows, 9, for the proof of this) it profits a man nothing to delight himself in God, why should he not lay the reins on the neck of his lusts and herd with the workers of iniquity? He that says, I have cleansed my hands in vain, does not only offend against the generation of God’s children (Ps. lxxii. 13, 14), but gratifies his enemies, and says as they say.”

It would appear, then, that Job has somewhat lost sight of the joys of being with the LORD, although his description of God is far more accurate than that of Bildad, Eliphaz and Zophar.  Elihu’s words can be summed up as follows – “Will he then make repayment to suit you, because you reject it?” (v.33).  Elihu, rather than speaking words of what appears to be rebuke, is actually trying to reclaim the Christological perspective in Job’s suffering.  God will never allow wickedness, and he is neve wrong (v.10); indeed, of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not do wickedly (v.12).  However, throughout this, Elihu does not accuse Job as wicked.  He is merely reminding Job that, in the midst of Job’s suffering, if indeed Job is righteous, then what Job is experiencing is still just.  It is still the sovereign act of God; the God who will not pervert justice (v.12, 17); the God who is righteous and mighty and is impartial to men of all stature (v.18-32).  Although Job is declaring in the recent chapters his pain and anguish as one who obeys the LORD, and considers that “It profits a man nothing that he should take delight in God” (v.9), he is indeed better off than if he had sinned (chapter 35:3).

 

Chapter 35

So chapter 35 opens with Elihu comparing the predicament of a sinner and that of a righteous man – what advantage is there, if the guilty flourishes and the innocent perish?  Elihu answers, by indicating that those who cry out for help (v.9-11) may not receive an immediate answer (because of the pride of evil men) (v.12).  As v. 10 states, such cries are merely cries for deliverance – but they do not cry out to the Deliverer.  Yet, that is not the case with Job.  However, despite the LORD not yet speaking in the book of Job since Job’s afflictions, Elihu reminds Job that the LORD’s silence should not be taken as an opportunity for Job to doubt the timing of the LORD’s judgment, lest he opens his mouth to proceed in empty talk and multiply words without knowledge (V.15-16).  As Adam Clarke comments – “they cry for deliverance from the pride of wicked men; but they are not heard, because they cry not to God… He will not attend to such vain cries; they cry from their oppressions, but they cry not to God.”  This indeed is timely advice for a day when Christ’s Second Coming has been approximately 2000 years in the waiting, with people not girding themselves for His return, perhaps even doubting that He would even return at all.  He who was once a righteous man, like Job, would be tempted to grow weary of waiting for the Bridegroom.  However, as sure as the sun shall rise from the east to pursue his Bride, the Church, to the west – so also Christ’s return is imminent hope for Job and Christian alike.

 

Chapter 36

So Elihu continues to elaborate on the just timing of the LORD’s judgment – as in the days of Noah when the LORD closed the door to the ark at his divine appointment, so also Job should look forward to the appointed climax of Christ’s return.  He is described as:

 

  • He is mighty in strength of understanding (v.5);
  • He will exalt the afflicted by giving them their right (v.6; 15-16);
  • His eyes are on the righteous (v. 7 c.f. Psalm 34:15);
  • He sets us as kings upon the throne (v.7 c.f. Revelation 1:5-6, 3:21)
  • He will bless those who listen and serve him (v.8-11)
  • He will allow those who do not listen to perish (v.9-14)

 

From v.17 onwards, Elihu warns Job to not fall into the camp of those who scoff by being enticed by wrath (v.18), that Job should not long for the night nor turn to iniquity (v.17-21), and remember that the LORD is a powerful teacher (v.22-33).  As Elihu sums – “Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable” (v.26).  This humility before God far exceeds that of Bildad, Eliphaz and Zophar who have claimed no knowledge of the vastness of God’s personality and yet they still make definitive charges against Job as if they were God Himself.

 

Indeed – “let not the greatness of the ransom turn you aside” (v.18).  This verse is quite difficult to understand although Matthew Henry sees this as regarding a bribe turning Job away:

 

Even a great ransom cannot deliver thee when God enters into judgment with thee. His justice cannot be bribed, nor any of the ministers of his justice. Will he esteem thy riches, and take from them a commutation of the punishment?”

 

No gold is sufficient to satiate the price – except for the “gold” found in the salvation of Christ Jesus, the true Ransom of all ransoms shadowed by the deaths of the innocent sacrifices under the Levitical law.

 

Chapter 37

Starting with chapter 36:27, after Elihu admits the vastness of God’s unsearchable character, he describes God’s majestic act of creation in intimate detail:

 

  • The spreading of the clouds, the thundering of his pavilion (v.29)
  • Lightning is scattered about him, covering the roots of the sea (v.30)
  • Lightning strikes its mark, its crashing declares His presence (v.33)

 

These themes are carried through and brought to a climactic end in chapter 37, acting as a cloud-like shroud to usher in the LORD’s majesty in chapter 38:

 

  • That his words are like a thunder, thundering with his majestic voice (v.2, 4, 5)
  • His lightning to the corners of the earth, unrestrained when his voice is heard (v.3, 4)

 

The Genesis-type language in chapter 37, combined with the LORD’s booming voice and Word, are indicative of Elihu’s understanding of how creation came into being and his focus on God’s intention for man, vs. Job’s three “wise-men”’s views of man’s intention of God.  Elihu’s words in this chapter illustrates the powerful and authoritative aspect of the LORD’s words and commands – the imperative nature of His Word causing immediate transformation.  And yet – God has not actually “spoken” in the way that Job has stated God to be in silence!  Elihu is still able to identify the gospel in the creation, that God has not ceased to speak, and that it is only by his Word and anything can be sustained (c.f. Colossians 1:15).  So Elihu displays in this chapter to us, fallen man, that God’s revelation is just as powerful by his spoken word as can be traced in the sky, in the snow and in the very ice of His breath.

 

So Elihu goes on immediately in this chapter to describe the life that is breathed from God’s Word.  From v.6-13, he explains that the LORD’s sovereignty in all events of life and uses the winter imagery; that snow shall fall on earth in his mighty downpour (v.6), whilst the hand of every man is sealed and beasts remain in their dens (v.7-8); that by His breath, ice is given and broad waters frozen (v.10) – ultimately, “whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen”.  Even in the nature of this world, God’s love is wildly imprinted.  Such are the wondrous works of God which, if Job considered further, would reveal the reasons for his current demise (v.14-18).  Job is revealed for his over-presumption of the LORD’s perspective, with Elihu stringing question after question:

 

  • Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?
  • Do you know the balancings of the clouds…?
  • Can you spread out the skies, hard as a cast metal mirror?

 

Chapter 38

After 37 chapters of apparent silence (which Elihu would of course dispute, as he would affirm the LORD’s presence during Job’s friends’ “wise” counsel), the LORD booms into the scene by answering Job out of the whirlwind (very different to the LORD who spoke a whisper in 1 Kings 19 to Elijah), his first words being:

 

Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

 

It is important that the LORD’s first words are words of justice.  The LORD immediately identifies those with false counsel, just as the LORD, upon reacting to the enemy’s work in Genesis 3, immediately adjudicates the situation at hand.  Without such justice, there can be no mercy by the power of the Passover Lamb.  Yet, the LORD does not begin to provide answers.  Instead, as fitting to the precursor by Elihu, He continues with the questions in this chapter with regard to the majesty of his creation (a total of 26 questions including his very first statement!).  Several of these questions validate Elihu’s position in chapters 36 and 37.

 

However, whilst these words appear to be directed to the men who have darkened counsel by words, to the men who have misrepresented God in their attempts to be humble; God’s questions are most fitting if they are posited against the enemy, the Satan.  Just as if God is speaking to the prince of Tyre in Ezekiel 28, or the Day Star, son of Dawn, the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:  WHO is this enemy?  Did he lay the foundation of the earth?  Where was he when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  God’s accusation is that of the enemy’s lack of wisdom and knowledge.  “You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!” – fitting words of irony against the prince who so heavily relied on his wisdom and understanding (Ezekiel 28:4).  Even the enemy has not seen the gates of death and deep darkness, the very Sheol which is the prison the LORD has prepared for the father of lies and his children (John 8:44; 1 John 2:22).  While the LORD is clearly speaking to Job here (c.f. Job 42:7), similarly his words directed at the prince of Tyre and king of Babylon and not merely to those men, but to the evil spirit speaking behind those men.

 

Chapter 39

So the LORD continues his questions, which hones in onto the lives of the creatures He has made (15 questions), covering:

 

  • Mountain goats, from the old giving birth to the young becoming strong (v.4);
  • Wild donkey, who has the arid plain for his home, the salt land for his dwelling place, scorning the city (v.5-8);
  • Wild ox’s unwillingness to serve man, unwillingness to be bound (v.9-12);
  • Ostrich, who appear beautiful but can hardly be called pinions and plumage of love (v.13-17)
  • Horses, which are mighty, leaping like locusts, with terrifying snorts and great exultation in strength (v.19-25)
  • Hawks, which soar (v.26)
  • Eagle, which mounts up high and makes his nest, dwelling at his stronghold and where the slain are, spying out the prey and  (v.27-30)

 

The LORD therefore spent two chapters – 38 and 39 – describing His activity in the nature of creation, and in the life of creation.  The vastness of his glory which transcends man’s feeble understanding and role in His large universe.

 

Chapter 40

So Job responds in this chapter humbly – “Behold I am of small account; what shall I answer you?” (v.4)

 

The LORD’s response in v.7 is a refrain from chapter 38:3 – “Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me”.  As Adam Clarke interprets:

 

Verse 3. Gird up now thy loins: I will not confound thee with my terrors; dismiss all fearful apprehensions from thy mind; now act like a man, kegeber, like a hero: stand and vindicate thyself. For I will demand of thee-I will ask thee a series of questions more easy of solution than those which thou hast affected to discuss already; and then thou shalt have the opportunity of answering for thyself.”

 

Sometimes we forget the majesty of the Lord.  Sometimes we blaspheme, use his name in vain, treat him like a theological topic to be discussed, molded, politicized for our debased desires.  Yet have we an arm like God, thunder with a voice like his (v.9)?  Can we truly treat our workmanship as though we have adorned ourselves with majesty and dignity, clothe ourselves with glory and splendor, abase those who are proud and bring them low and tread down the wicked where they stand (v.10-12), let alone bind the enemy (v.13)?  No – although we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do His works (Ephesians 2:10).  We are none of these things outside of Jesus – that is the LORD’s response.  Without the Lord, our own right hand cannot save ourselves (v.14).  Even a grand creature such as the Behemoth cannot contend with the Lord himself, although he may be the fear of men (v.19-24)!

 

It is here that we realize the Lord, at this point, is but using the Behemoth as an analogy both for himself (see Job 41:10) and for us.  If we cannot even contend against the Behemoth, how can we contend against God?  And yet, even if we think ourselves equal to Behemoths, are they not also humbled by the Father above?  No matter how much we boast, we are but the clay of the potter.  We who mold are but molded daily by His grace.  As Matthew Henry commented:

 

The behemoth perhaps is here intended (as well as the leviathan afterwards) to represent those proud tyrants and oppressors whom God had just now challenged Job to abase and bring down. They think themselves as well fortified against the judgments of God as the elephant with his bones of brass and iron; but he that made the soul of man knows all the avenues to it, and can make the sword of justice, his wrath, to approach to it, and touch it in the most tender and sensible part. He that framed the engine, and put the parts of it together, knows how to take it in pieces. Woe to him therefore that strives with his Maker, for he that made him has therefore power to make him miserable, and will not make him happy unless he will be ruled by him.”

 

Chapter 41

The analogy at the end of chapter 40 continues here, from Behemoth to Leviathan.  Can we play with Leviathan, a type of the Lord?  Can we draw the Lord out with a fishhook, press down His tongue with a cord, put a rope in His nose, pierce His jaw with a hook (v.1-2)?  Will He make many pleas to us, speak to us with soft words, make a covenant with us and make Himself a servant forever?  (v.3-4)  Will we play with Him as with a bird, or will we put him on a leash for our girls?  Will traders bargain over Him, divide Him up among the merchants?  Can we fill His skin with harpoons or His head with fishing spears?  Lay our hands on Him? (v.5-8)  Can we strip off His outer garment, come near Him with a bridle, open the doors of His face?  (v.13-14)

 

Yet, all these things we have attempted to do and have done against our Lord Jesus Christ!  Is he not the lamb led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7)?  Was he not whipped and his flesh torn (Psalm 22:6)?  Did we not divide his garments (Psalm 22:18)?  Did we not spit and laugh at him (Mark 14:65)?  Such is the grace of God – that the Lord had the power, majesty and authority to be like the Leviathan, and yet condescended himself incarnate as though a lamb.  Here is Jesus, whose very sneeze could have flashed forth light, with eyes like eyelids of the dawn, flaming torches coming out of his mouth, smoke from his nostrils – this is the power imbued in the creature from the Creator.  Is our Christ the same one who can make the deep boil like a point, make the sea like a pot of ointment – indeed, is he your king over all the sons of pride (v.18-34)?

 

Chapter 42

So Job understands – the grace of God found in the Kinsman Redeemer who would humble himself (Job 19:25); the God who is like Behemoth or Leviathan; the Christ who, from Job’s sight, would be flogged just like an innocent lamb slain.  Job repents in dust and ashes, recognizing the grandeur of the Father’s glory and grace, and the Lord turns to Job’s “friends” in judgment – a judgment and righteous anger which Job is shielded from (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17).

 

The Lord is angry with Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar – they have simply spoken lies of Him.  He is not a Lord who is a glory-monger; or requires us to work in order to receive glory.  Quite the opposite.  Look now on the seven bulls and seven rams which Job is honoured to sacrifice as their mediator (v.8).  The Lord institutes Job as their mediator and intercessor, as their model of Jesus; it is on Job’s basis and merciful prayer that the Father chooses not to deal with the three according to their folly, for they have not spoken of Him what is right, as Job had (v.7-8).  In accepting Job’s prayer, and witnessing what appears to be a mindless slaughter of bulls and lambs (symbolically numbered at seven, the Lord’s rest), the friends should now see that Behemoth and Leviathan are what the Lord is entitled to.  Yet, it is the form of the lamb which the Lord took on, in order that even the likes of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar would be saved, so that they too can be like Job and be the mediators and intercessors of other “friends”.

 

Therefore, from Job 42:10, we see that Job is prosperous again and is restored beyond what he initially had.  He had twice more than before – in Job 1:3 it stated he had 7000 sheep, now he has 14,000; 3,000 camels, and now 6,000, and so forth.  Although Psalm 90:10 states that a normal man should only have a lifespan of 70 to 80 years, Job 42:16 states he lived 140 years and saw up to four generations.  He also had beautiful daughters, named Jemimah (“sunshine”, to answer the dark night of his suffering), Keziah (“beautiful smell”, like Kaziah, cinnamon, compared against the offensive breath to Job’s wife in Job 19), Keren-happuch (“little make-up box” as his youngest, beautiful taughter, compared against Job 16 where Job’s face was red with weeping, this beautiful daughter covering Job’s sorrow).

 

More radically, in v.15, Job grants them an inheritance among their brothers, which is not introduced until Moses’ time hundreds of years later (Numbers 27; Deuteronomy 25)!  Yet, it is also because only by allowing the inheritance to pass through the women can Jesus Christ be the rightful king!  Through Job’s obedient act, we are on step closer to the birth of the offspring who would stamp on the enemy’s head.

 

We look to Isaiah 61, which Jesus said spoke of himself – in v.7, the Word shows that because of Christ, we too (like Job) would be brought through our suffering to a new body, a new family – a double portion.  We are therefore looking forward to a future far outstretching the paradise of Eden, so that we might have a blessing in Christ which we would never have had with Adam.  There would be no enemy causing death and destruction, for our hope (which is not in our hope or found independent of God, c.f. Job 41:9) is in the Son.

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Job 32-42: The Slaughtered Lamb

Job 8-10: Would that there were an arbiter between us?

Chapter 8

This chapter begins with Bildad the Shuhite challenging Job’s alleged false innocence – acting as the effective “judge” of Job, launching accusations against him time and time again.  Is not Bildad more a type of Satan than he is of Christ, for Satan is the chief accuser of those in Jesus (Revelation 12:10)?  The refrain from Bildad – “If your children have sinned against him”, “If you will seek God…”, “If you are pure and upright…” (v.4-6), which is better understood as your children have sinned, you have not sought God, and you are not pure and upright.  That is the only answer which Bildad can give – hardly the words of encouragement, and hardly the theology which Christ holds (John 9).  Here, Bildad appeals to nature for his arguments (v.11-15):

  • Papyrus grows with marsh (v.11)
  • Reeds flourish where there is water (v.11)
  • Trust is not as a spider’s web (v.14)
  • The righteous man’s house shall stand and endure (v.15)
  • The righteous man shall not be like a lush plant, entwined to a stone heap and destroyed from his place (v.16-18).

As Adam Clarke states:

” Verse 15… is all allusion to the spider. When he suspects his web, here called his house, to be frail or unsure, he leans upon it in different parts, propping himself on his hinder legs, and pulling with his fore claws, to see if all be safe. If he find any part of it injured, he immediately adds new cordage to that part, and attaches it strongly to the wall. When he finds all safe and strong, he retires into his hole at one corner, supposing himself to be in a state of complete security, when in a moment the brush or the besom sweeps away both himself, his house, and his confidence. This I have several times observed; and it is in this that the strength and point of the comparison consist. The wicked, whose hope is in his temporal possessions strengthens and keeps his house in repair; and thus leans on his earthly supports; in a moment, as in the case of the spider, his house is overwhelmed by the blast of God’s judgments, and himself probably buried in its ruins. This is a very fine and expressive metaphor, which not one of the commentators that I have seen has ever discovered.

…Verse 16… is another metaphor.  The wicked is represented as a luxuriant plant, in a good soil, with all the advantages of a good situation; well exposed to the sun; the roots intervolving themselves with stones, so as to render the tree more stable; but suddenly a blast comes, and the tree begins to die. The sudden fading of its leaves, that its root is become as rottenness, and its vegetable life destroyed. I have often observed sound and healthy trees, which were flourishing in all the pride of vegetative health, suddenly struck by some unknown and incomprehensible blast, begin to die away, and perish from the roots. I have seen also the prosperous wicked, in the inscrutable dispensations of the Divine providence, blasted, stripped, made bare, and despoiled, in the same way.”

Clarke’s observations point out the subtlety in Bildad’s accusation – for Bildad is stating not simply a black and white situation of God’s righteousness (i.e. evil will be destroyed and the sinners are easily identifiable).  Contrarily, it is the evil ones who appear as lush plants; who appear to have reliable households – both accusations specific to Job, who was teeming with (as Bildad alleges) children who only appeared to be godly, and a household which only appeared to be built on God’s precepts.  

Yet, the accuser once again looks at these elements outside of Christ, and presents the Christless man before God, emphasising (like Eliphaz) the need to be justified by one’s works.  It is in fact only the righteous man (Psalm 1-2) who is the living water (Jeremiah 17:13; John 7:38); it is onlyChrist’s house which shall stand and endure for all time (1 Peter 2:5).  As Adam Clarke continues to observe:

“Job’s friends must have been acquainted, at least, with the history of the ancient patriarchs; and most certainly they contained facts of an opposite nature. Righteous Abel was persecuted and murdered by his wicked brother, Cain. Abram was obliged to leave his own country on account of worshipping the true God; so all tradition has said. Jacob was persecuted by his brother Esau; Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers; Moses was obliged to flee from Egypt, and was variously tried and afflicted, even by his own brethren. Not to mention David, and almost all the prophets. All these were proofs that the best of men were frequently exposed to sore afflictions and heavy calamities; and it is not by the prosperity or adversity of men in this world, that we are to judge of the approbation or disapprobation of God towards them. In every case our Lord’s rule is infallible: By their fruits ye shall know them.”

Chapter 9

Bildad’s accusations are cut short and Job immediately responds with an opening – “How can a man be in the right before God?” – surely a rhetorical question.  Yet he is not necessarily saying that Bildad is wrong per se.  Rather, he is saying that Bildad is stating the obvious – no man is sinless!  Nor can any man state that he is “in the right” and argue that before God.  This is a God of love and goodness and justice.  As Clarke states, “He is supreme, and will give account of none of his matters. He is infinitely wise, and cannot mistake. He is infinitely kind, and can do nothing cruel. He is infinitely good, and can do nothing wrong. No one, therefore, should question either his motives or his operations” (c.f. Isaiah 45:9; 2 Corinthians 4:7). 

Job clearly understands the ambit of God’s righteousness – though a man may consider himself righteous, it is ultimately God who decides the man’s righteousness.  His rhetoric of how man can be right before God is in the vein of every statement regarding man’s standing before God in this chapter (c.f. Matthew 7:22).  What “laughter” which Bildad spoke of in chapter 8 is but false as Job prescribes – “If I forget my complaint, I will put off my sad face, and be of good cheer” (v.27), yet he would become “afraid of all [his] suffering, for [he knows God] will not hold [him] innocent.”  Job understands the gravity of falling on the wrong side of God’s justice, and reminds Bildad that there is no judge greater than the LORD – but Bildad and Eliphaz clearly are not of the same ilk.  As Job’s rhetoric continues in v.33, “Would that there were an arbiter between us” (as the ESV footnote provides, as the Hebrew could be translated this way)?  Such an arbiter would take the Father’s rod away from Job, and let not the dread of the Father terrify him.  Then Job would speak without fear of God; otherwise, if Job were to stand alone outside of Jesus, then he should accordingly be consumed with such fear (v.33-35).  Such is the Redeemer and Arbiter whom Job speaks of in Job 19:25.  However, until such Redeemer becomes the central tenet of his response, Job continues to plead to God for mercy in the following chapter.

Chapter 10

This chapter begins with “I will give free utterance to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul” (v.1).  Such is the honesty of a man righteous in Jesus.  He knows it is the LORD who placed him in the current situation (v.3-7); he also knows that the LORD is not punishing Job because Job is not guilty (v.7).  Despite what appears to be a complaint, Job describes his theology of God clearly – He fashioned Job, made him, clothed him with skin and flesh and knit him together with bones and sinews, granted him life and steadfast love, and His care has preserved Job’s spirit (v.8-12).  Such is the great God whom Job describes – the same God who could destroy him, who could return him to dust, who would curdle him like cheese, who could decide not to acquit Job of his iniquity, who could hunt him like a lion, work wonders against him, renew His witnesses against him, increase His vexation against him, bring fresh troops (v.8-17).  

Thus, Job’s substance of complaint is that of a righteous man.  What is the purpose of being righteous and blameless if one were to receive such trials from the LORD?  A common question asked by Christians of all ages.  “Why did you bring me out from the womb?” as some have undoubtedly questioned the LORD.  Yet, Job is not done with his exposition, just as the Teacher’s main point is not driven until the final chapters of Ecclesiastes.

 

Job 8-10: Would that there were an arbiter between us?

Job 4-7: the Innocent One

After the opening humility led by Job’s three friends, Eliphaz is the first of the three to speak from chapters 4-5, with Job responding in chapters 6-7.

Before we begin scrutinising the words of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, the LORD noticeably stays silent for the majority of the book of Job – until chapter 42:

“7  After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8  Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” 9  So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the LORD had told them, and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer.

10  And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11  Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold. “

It is important to understand at the outset of studying this book that none of the three friends (we shall speak about Elihu when we come to him later in the book) have spoken what is right of the LORD.  Au contraire, Job has spoken rightly and is appointed the mediator of his friends, interceding on their behalf.  “And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly.  For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (emphases included) 

In this context, we now turn to Eliphaz’s incorrect words which oddly sound reasonable – if only from a worldly viewpoint.

Chapter 4

The opening verses (2-4) lift up Job as a “righteous” man (righteous as defined by his moral uprightness, as righteous is defined by the world), but quickly tears him apart as a man of contradiction.  Verse 5 begins, “But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed.” – as if accusing Job of losing not only faith, but failing to fear God (v.6).  The crux of his chapter, however, is girded by v.7 – “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished?  Or where were the upright cut off?”  This is where Eliphaz’s error lies.  Our Christ, the Meek and Innocent One, indeed shall perish to bruise the head of the Satan (Genesis 3:15), a promise which not only Adam and Eve but certainly their descendants were very familiar with.  This offspring shall himself be attacked by his heel – and why should he be attacked, why should he perish even, for being the Man of Righteousness defeating the evil one on our behalf?  Because of grace which is not cheap nor free.  Christ was the price, in spite of his innocence.

Thus, the remainder of this chapter is Eliphaz preaching works righteousness, the covenant of works – and not the Christian grace which God rebuked Eliphaz for failing to preach.  Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same (c.f. Proverbs 22:8, Hosea 8:7; 10:12-13, Galatians 6:7-8), by the breath of God they perish?  Indeed they do – but so does the Innocent One, on behalf of those who plow iniquity!  So does the Innocent One, on behalf of those who would otherwise have perished!  Eliphaz has completely removed Jesus from the equation, and sought to place all men before God as if we could be righteous outside of Christ!  Such is the blasphemy which required Job to repent on Eliphaz’s behalf for.

V.12-17 seems to be a vision which Eliphaz received, as if to grant Eliphaz more authority for speaking these words.  It culminates with the climactic v.17 – “Can mortal man be in the right before God?” which Adam Clarke translates more powerfully as “Can the poor / weak / sinful man be justified before God?” – thankfully, for Job who understood the gospel, this is a resounding YES!  Though we dwell in houses of clay, we are given a renewed body (1 Corinthians 15) – the hope we hold in our faith, dying with wisdom in Christ Jesus (v.21).  

Chapter 5

Eliphaz continues his words of folly – “Is there anyone who will answer you?  To which of the holy ones will you turn?” (v.1) To the Holy One of course.  To the sacrificial Lamb.  Yet, Eliphaz’s words (v.2-7) continue to sting, continue to make reference to the “punishments” which have been dealt on Job for his alleged sinfulness.  He contrasts these words with his reverential words of God in v.8-27.  However, as God indicated in chapter 42, are these words also folly? 

Indeed, it would appear such words are folly, where they are applied inappropriately.  Here, Eliphaz’s error is that the LORD is reproving Job for his sins – yet, at the outset of the book of Job, the LORD already stated that Job is without sin.  The episodes happening against him are permitted of Satan, to display the LORD’s protection of Job against even the evil one’s doomed schemes – a shadow of the Satan’s greatest scheme against mankind being foiled by the death and resurrection of the Innocent One.  V.17 should therefore not describe Job, but describe the Christ – blessed is He who is reproved by the Father, for it is only Christ who is shattered and healed (v.18), not us.  To emphasise the Father’s exaltation, v.19 is reminiscent of Proverbs 6:16 – deliverance from six troubles; in seven no evil shall touch you; so also, there are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him.  The number seven indicating completeness and rest, the LORD’s day.  So his deliverance (as in Job) and his wrath (as in Proverbs) are two sides of the same coin – that on the LORD’s day, likely the Son’s second coming, such deliverance and wrath will be fully realised.  Such words, indeed, are true – but true of the Son, and not of Job himself.  Eliphaz has quite simply missed “the point” – Jesus.

Chapter 6

Thus begins Job’s response – a response which the LORD weighed as accurate of the LORD’s words and intentions (see chapter 42). 

Firstly Job does not “blame” Satan – he very much understands that it is the LORD who is sovereign even over the evil one.  Thus, it is the LORD’s arrows and poison which are in Job, not Satan’s.  Yet, the words of his brothers are described as trecherous (v.15).  As Adam Clarke describes, “the approach of Job’s friends promised much of sympathy and compassion; his expectations were raised: but their conduct soon convinced him that they were physicians of no value; therefore he compares them to the deceitful torrents that soon pass away.”  Job’s questions are also relentless from v.8 onwards.  Just as the caravans of Tema look, and the travelers of Sheba hope – yet are failed:

“The caravans coming from Tema are represented as arriving at those places where it was well known torrents did descend from the mountains, and they were full of expectation that here they could not only slake their thirst, but fill their girbas or water-skins; but when they arrive, they find the waters totally dissipated and lost. In vain did the caravans of Sheba wait for them; they did not reappear: and they were confounded, because they had hoped to find here refreshment and rest.” – Adam Clarke

Job challenges his friends.  V.22-23

  • Have I said, ‘Make me a gift’? Or,
  • ‘From your wealth offer a bribe for me’?  Or,
  • ‘Deliver me from the adversary’s hand’?  Or,
  • Redeem me from the hand of the ruthless’?

Indeed, Job states that Eliphaz’s words are misdirected.  “How forceful are upright words!  But what does reproof from you reprove?” (v.25) – for Job’s speech is that of a despairing man, which is wind.  What use is Eliphaz rebuking the wind?  (c.f. Mark 4:39 for an accurate rebuke against a storm).  Job maintains his righteousness (v.30), as already stated by the LORD at the outset of the book of Job.  Adam Clarke states – “As you have proved no fault you have consequently reproved no vice”.

Chapter 7

Job changes his tone drastically in chapter 7, for he now emphasises that his life is but a breath (v.16), in line with the end of chapter 6 where he says the words of a despairing man is like wind.  He seeks some rest in the midst of his temporary pain (v.13-15), a result of the sin of Adam (v.1).  Yet, Job is made a scapegoat of sorts (v.19-21) – when Job is saying that though man goes down to Sheol and does not return (v.9), he is emphasising the weakness that is fallen man.  This is the fallen nature of man now, as described by Job in this chapter.  Eliphaz is no different from Job in this respect – yet Job at no stage is saying that such iniquities are a result of Job’s sin.  Quite the contrary, this is the result of the Fall – experienced equally by Eliphaz and Job.  The key question for Eliphaz is this: “Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity?  For now I shall lie in the earth; you will seek me, but I shall not be.” (v.21)  Adam Clarke comments:

“If I have sinned, then why should not I have a part in that mercy that flows so freely to all mankind?

That Job does not criminate himself here, as our text intimates, is evident enough from his own repeated assertions of his innocence. And it is most certain that Bildad, who immediately answers, did not consider him as criminating but as justifying himself; and this is the very ground on which he takes up the subject.  Were we to admit the contrary, we should find strange inconsistencies, if not contradictions, in Job’s speeches: on such a ground the controversy must have immediately terminated, as he would then have acknowledged that of which his friends accused him; and here the book of Job would have ended.”

Again, Job states that Eliphaz has missed the point.  The Fall caused the period of iniquity; the Son caused the period of new creation.  Eliphaz focused on man, but Job focuses on the Son; Eliphaz focused on Job’s sins, but Job focuses on his righteousness in Christ.  

 

 

 

Job 4-7: the Innocent One

Job 1-3: Echoes of the Fall from Paradise

Many people only read the entire book of Job as an allegory – yet, there is a lot of specific reference to him as an actual individual and the book provides suitable context to the background of his time period.  The story of Job takes place outside Israel to the east and south (Uz is related to Edom, which may be the setting of the book c.f. chapter 2:11, 6:19; Lamentations 4:21), and it is clear that the author of the book is thoroughly immersed in the Hebrew Scriptures.  This author knew the constellations (Job 9:9; 38:31), could discuss meteorology (Job 38:22-38), and makes direct allusion to other Scriptures (e.g. Psalm 8:4; c.f. Job 7:17-18; Psalm 107:40; Isaiah 41:20; c.f. Job 12:21, 24) – suggesting that the book may be dated in the exilic/post-exilic period (around 600 to 500 BC – approximately just before the Ezra-Nehemiah-Esther books).  However, it has also been surmised that Job predates even the exile – that he may be a contemporary of Abraham’s son Isaac.  See Matthew Henry’s commentary:

We are sure that it is very ancient, though we cannot fix the precise time either when Job lived or when the book was written. So many, so evident, are its hoary hairs, the marks of its antiquity, that we have reason to think it of equal date with the book of Genesis itself, and that holy Job was contemporary with Isaac and Jacob; though not coheir with them of the promise of the earthly Canaan, yet a joint-expectant with them of the better country, that is, the heavenly. Probably he was of the posterity of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, whose first-born was Uz (Gen. xxii. 21), and in whose family religion was for some ages kept up, as appears, Gen. xxxi. 53, where God is called, not only the God of Abraham, but the God of Nahor. He lived before the age of man was shortened to seventy or eighty, as it was in Moses’s time, before sacrifices were confined to one altar, before the general apostasy of the nations from the knowledge and worship of the true God, and while yet there was no other idolatry known than the worship of the sun and moon, and that punished by the Judges, ch. xxxi. 26-28. He lived while God was known by the name of God Almighty more than by the name of Jehovah; for he is called Shaddai–the Almighty, above thirty times in this book. He lived while divine knowledge was conveyed, not by writing, but by tradition; for to that appeals are here made, ch. viii. 8; xxi. 29; xv. 18; v. 1. And we have therefore reason to think that he lived before Moses, because here is no mention at all of the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, or the giving of the law. There is indeed one passage which might be made to allude to the drowning of Pharaoh (ch. xxvi. 12): He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through Rahab, which name Egypt is frequently called by in scripture, as Ps. lxxxvii. 4; lxxxix. 10; Isa. li. 9. But that may as well refer to the proud waves of the sea. We conclude therefore that we are here got back to the patriarchal age, and, besides its authority, we receive this book with veneration for its antiquity.

The name “Job” means persecuted, he who weeps – yet could also be related to the Hebrew word for “enemy”, perhaps referring to Job’s response to suffering.  It would appear the earliest reference to Job outside the book itself is in Ezekiel where the prophet names three virtuous persons: Noah, Daniel and Job (Ezekiel 14:14, 20); he is also mentioned in James 5:11 as a man of steadfastness receiving the LORD’s compassion and mercy.  It is important that Job’s “virtue” is interpreted hand in hand with the LORD’s mercy – for Job’s queries of his suffering goes to the heart of the gospel. 

Chapter 1

The first verse opens with describing Job as a “blameless and upright” man who feared God and turned away from evil (c.f. Genesis 6:9 and Genesis 17:1 where the same description is applied to Noah and Abraham).  He was considered the “greatest of all the people of the east” (v.3) and had:

  • 10 offspring (7 sons, 3 daughters)
  • 7,000 sheep; 3,000 camels; 500 yoke of oxen; 500 female donkeys; and very many servants

It is important that Job is from Uz – and in understanding Job 1, we understand the final chapter of Job as well.  Uz is known as a fertile/oasis/garden-like pace – a garden land situated in the east, sounding a lot like the garden in the east mentioned in Genesis 2.  Where Genesis 2 considered sin and death coming into the world, Job considered suffering – an echo of the fall.

Following Esther, note the lavishness of Job’s sons – that each is able to hold a feast each day of the week, with the three sisters joining (v.4).  They are immediately consecrated and Job would arrange burnt offerings for each of them to ensure that their hearts are in the right place – in the Son.  It is important that this first chapter and last chapter of Job show that the book is bookended by burnt offerings, just as Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega.

V.6-12 describe the heavenly beings gathered before God like a council before a king (15:8; Psalm 29:1; Isaiah 6:1-8), notably Satan the chief angel coming among them (implying he, too, is a “son of God”).  Consider what Satan had been doing prior to joining this council in v.7 – Satan had been “going to and fro on earth, and from walking up and down on it”.  This phrase is peculiar, as Adam Clarke comments:

“The translation of the Septuagint is curious: περιελθωντηνγηνκαιεμπεριπατησαςτην υπουρανονπαρειμι; “Having gone round the earth, and walked over all that is under heaven, I am come hither.” The Chaldee says, “I am come from going round the earth to examine the works of the children of men; and from walking through it.” Coverdale, who generally hits the sense, translates thus: I have gone aboute the londe ond walked thorow it. Mr. Good has it, from roaming round the earth, and walking about it.

St. Peter, as has been already stated, 1Pe 5:8, refers to this: Be sober, be vigilant; for your ADVERSARY the DEVIL GOETH ABOUT, as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I rather think, with Coverdale, that arets here signifies rather that land, than the habitable globe. The words are exceedingly emphatic; and the latter verb hithhallech being in the hithpael conjugation shows how earnest and determined the devil is in his work: he sets himself to walk; he is busily employed in it; he is seeking the destruction of men; and while they sleep, he wakes-while they are careless, he is alert. The spirit of this saying is often expressed by the simple inhabitants of the country: when they perceive a man plotting mischief, and frequent in transgression, they say, The devil is BUSY with him.”

In the devil’s busyness, the LORD said to Satan whether he had considered Job “who fears God and turns away from evil” (c.f. Proverbs 3:7, 14:16, 16:6).  Satan contends that if Job was removed from his circumstances, he would curse God (the same verb used in v.5 regarding the children’s cursing).  Although the Hebrew word literally means “bless”, the book of Job is commonly also seen as a commentary on Deuteronomy 28 – the chapter on blessing (as used in v.5 of Job 1) and cursing from the LORD.  So Satan believed that Job would curse the LORD to his face, whilst Satan “went out from the presence of the LORD” (literally, left the face of the LORD) – ironic, since it is Satan who is the prime adversary who cursed the LORD to his face.

It is therefore important that we are immediately faced with Satan’s power, as allowed by the LORD (reminding us of His divine sovereignty never undermined by Satan’s darkness, c.f. v.9-12).  Job is faced with the following troubles:

  • Sabeans attacking (v.15);
  • Fire coming from heaven (v.16)
  • Chaldeans attacking (v.17)
  • Wilderness wind (v.19)

Such tragedies, immediately coming one after another, is to give Job a sense of restlessness (chapter 9:18) – causing the very deaths of his sons, daughters, and much of his material wealth. 

Yet, Job’s reaction is wise.  He fell on the ground and worshiped (v.20) – what a stark contrast to what Satan expected.  Just like Haman (c.f. Esther) who boasted in what he expected of Mordecai’s death, so Satan also boasted that Job would curse the LORD’s face.  Instead – as the underlying inspiration to the Matt Redman song – blessed be the name of the LORD (v.21).  Even the narrator stated from this that Job did not sin nor did he charge God with wrong (v.22).  

Chapter 2

As a repeat of chapter 1:6-12, v. 1-6 explores the second test proposed by Satan and allowed by the LORD – again, to spare Job’s life (v.6).  This test is with regard to Job’s bone and flesh, his very health (v.5, 7), loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (v.7).  Job, even in this pain, did not curse God and die; it would seem to be an easier exit from his pain that Job should die as a result of cursing (the foolishness of his wife, identified identically with Satan’s provocation c.f. 1:11, 2:4), but he would rather bless the LORD and live a painful but blessed life (v.9-10).  Thus is Job’s theology (c.f. Psalm 119:75):

“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”

It is at this point, v.11 onwards, that we meet Job’s three friends – Eliphaz (“God his strength“) the Temanite (an important city in Edom c.f. Genesis 36:11, 15; Ezekiel 25:13; Amos 1:11-12, known for its wisdom – Jeremiah 49:7), Bildad (“son of contention“) the Shuhite (from Shuah, a name of one of the sons of Abraham from his marriage to Keturah, whose brother was Midian and whose nephews were Sheba and Dedan – c.f. Genesis 25:2, 1 Chronicles 1:32; the latter being a place in Edom or Arabia) and Zophar (“sparrow“) the Naamathite (from Naamah, name of a woman listed in Cain’s genealogy – Genesis 4:22, from whom the Kenites were descendants – Genesis 4:22; the Kenites are mentioned in connection with the Midianites in the Sinai and Arabian deserts – Numbers 10:29, Judges 4:11), meeting together to show him sympathy and comfort him.  It would appear that this is the crux of Christian fellowship; to also identify with Job’s pain by tearing their robes and also sprinkling dust on their heads toward heaven (v.12), sitting with him for seven days and seven nights – symbolic of the same amount of time Job’s children used to hold their feasts; but also symbolic of the time God used to create the earth and man – only for man to undo the LORD’s creation on the 7th day (v.13; also signifying a complete time of mourning in response to the suffering – c.f. Ezekiel 3:15).  If only Christians were to learn half of what these friends have done!

Yet, such sympathy and comfort is – like Satan states – skin for skin (v.4).  This is skin-deep – as the flesh of their sympathy and comfort is revealed in the coming chapters. 

Chapter 3

On the eighth day, Job finally opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth – that the day of his birth be darkness (v.4-7), be barren – a large contrast to the joy of creation, the joy of our birth as shown in Genesis 1.  At no stage does he see life as anything other than divine (c.f. 10:8-13), while he poetically focuses on the moment of birth, calling even upon Leviathan (c.f. Psalm 74:14, Isaiah 27:1 – monster used as a figure for Egypt; an awesome creature) as a contribution of lament to his day of birth.  Thus, the opening words of his speech are opened with “let“s in every verse v.3-10.  The next verses 11-26 are characterised by the why’s, ranging from references to kings and princes who laboured to obtain wealth and build cities but now laying without them in death, to the way death removes the constraints of social position, focusing attention on the small and the slave, and those who have been weary or prisoners; ranging from themes of light to death:

  • Why did I not die at birth (v.11)
  • Why did the knees receive me or why the breasts, that I should nurse? (v.12-15)
  • Why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light? (v.16-19)
  • Why is light given to him who is in misery and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it comes not, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures, who rejoice exceedingly and are glad when they find the grave? (v.20-22)
  • Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden whom God has hedged in? (v.23-26)

It is possible that Job will not find an answer lest Wisdom be shown (c.f. Job 28; although he does not receive a proper answer until Job 42) – yet, in Job’s accusation – and contrary to Satan’s expected response to Job – Job does not consider his material wealth and health as the cause of his uprightness.  Rather, as the ESV Study Bible states,

“Job refers to his sustained life amid inscrutable circumstances of suffering as rendering him one whom God has hedged in.  Satan’s contention is disproved through Job’s continued faithfulness.  Job’s overall lament of his situation is something which God both reproves and commends (see chs. 38-41; 42:7).”

Job 1-3: Echoes of the Fall from Paradise

1 Chronicles 20-23: Rise of the Son

The victories of David continue in this prophetic account of the Book of Revelation, where the true David will remain at New Jerusalem (v.1) to orchestrate the judgment on the unbelieving nations.  Joab’s victory over Rabbah is attributed to David’s grand victory over all the cities of the Ammonites (v.3) leading to the meek’s inheritance of the earth (Matthew 5:5) from the first act of David’s taking of the crown from the king’s head.  So also the LORD’s victory over Satan allows us, as His humble servants to achieve countless victories in the true David’s name, redeeming all cities for His glory or otherwise partaking in the judgment against these idolatrous nations.  Ultimately, our home is still found in New Jerusalem – the renewed city of peace (v.3).

And the mark of such miraculous string of victories is hallmarked by our victories over the giants, the descendants of the Nephilim / Rephaim (Genesis 6:4), as consistently recorded through the lives of faithful saints in Christ (Genesis 14:5; Deuteronomy 2:20-21; Joshua 11:21, 13:12, 15:14; 1 Samuel 17:4)?  So also in v.4-8 of chapter 20, we see Sibbecai the Hushathite striking down Sippai; Elhanan son of Jair striking down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite; and Jonathan the son of Shimea, striking down the giant of Gath (Goliath’s home)?  The key passage is v.8 – “These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants“.  Such relieving humbleness is portrayed in its fullness when juxtaposing the looming strength and towering majesty of these pagan giants with the weak-willed Israelites (Numbers 13:33) whose strength comes simply from the victory of Christ over Satan alone.

However, in spite of such intentions, David fell to Satan’s temptations by counting the LORD’s blessing as David’s own.  Such is a sin which Christ took lengths to avoid, by consistently referring to compliance with the Father’s will (c.f. John 5) and not His own.  Yet, David’s act contradicts Christ’s character of perichoretic love within the Trinity.  Instead, David’s decision to heed Satan and number the armies implies that such impressive numbers of men are cause for David’s pride, though such numbers are only made possible in the LORD’s hand. Note Joab’s expression of bewilderment which reveals the true status of these numbers of Israel – they are (v.3) men whom the LORD has added to David’s people.  Why then should David require a census and be a cause of guilt for Israel?  Joab’s abhorrence is but a foreshadow of the LORD’s displeasure (v.7), hence his decision to not count Levi or Benjamin in the census.  Adam Clarke’s commentary sheds light on the exclusion of the two tribes:

The rabbins give the following reason for this: Joab, seeing that this would bring down destruction upon the people, purposed to save two tribes. Should David ask, Why have you not numbered the Levites? Joab purposed to say, Because the Levites are not reckoned among the children of Israel. Should he ask, Why have you not numbered Benjamin? he would answer, Benjamin has been already sufficiently punished, on account of the treatment of the woman at Gibeah: if, therefore, this tribe were to be again punished, who would remain?

Indeed, the exclusion of Levi is recorded in Numbers 1:47-54; and the exclusion of Benjamin in accordance to what happened in Judges 19-20.  The LORD has indeed greatly multiplied the number of Israel from 603,550 warring men to 1,570,000 men who drew the sword in Israel and Judah – over twice the number from the day of entering Canaan to the height of David’s reign.  Gad’s choices to David were essentially decided by the LORD, with David humbling himself (v.13) and placing himself entirely at the LORD’s great mercy, understanding that it is better to be at the mercy of the LORD than that of man.  Adam Clarke continues:

“Thus the Targum: “And the WORD of the LORD sent the angel of death against Jerusalem to destroy it; and he beheld the ashes of the binding of Isaac at the foot of the altar, and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, which he made in the Mount of Worship; and the house of the upper sanctuary, where are the souls of the righteous, and the image of Jacob fixed on the throne of glory; and he turned in his WORD from the evil which he designed to do unto them; and he said to the destroying angel, Cease; take Abishai their chief from among them, and cease from smiting the rest of the people. And the angel which was sent from the presence of the Lord stood at the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”

So we re-tread the events of 2 Samuel 24, with David sacrificing himself as the scapegoat from the people (v.17) for it was his command to number the people, with the Angel of the LORD, the pre-incarnate Jesus, staying His hand upon the Father’s command.  Yet, it is here that we see fuller dialogues between Jesus and Gad, Gad and David, and David and Ornan – all surrounding the altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite (v.18).  The king bought Ornan’s symbolic threshing-floor at a price, as David remarkably noted that “…I will not take for the LORD what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing” – a welcome reminder of Christ’s command to bear our cross in our walk with Him (Luke 14:27).  David’s decision to sacrifice at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, which Adam Clarke remarked as Moriah, the place of Abraham’s potential sacrifice of Isaac and thus the place of Christ’s crucifixion, is a more fitting place of sacrifice in light of David’s decision to stand on behalf of Israel to propitiate the LORD’s wrath (1 Chronicles 22:1; 2 Chronicles 3:1).  David is to either hide under the propitiatory sacrifice at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, or receive the sword of the angel of the LORD (v.30) outside of the future site of the temple (1 Chronicles 22:1) and Christ’s work on the cross.

Chapter 22 describes David’s preparation of the materials for Solomon’s fulfillment of the temple, a shadow of the temple which Christ will build – this is most notably distinguished by the prophecy which David recounted to Solomon (v.8-10) and the prophecy the LORD stated to David through Nathan in 1 Chronicles 17:

“10  from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will subdue all your enemies. Moreover, I declare to you that the LORD will build you a house. 11  When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12  He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13  I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, 14  but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.”

Compared with 1 Chronicles 22:8-10, the word having been given to David directly:

“8  But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars. You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me on the earth. 9  Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies. For his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. 10  He shall build a house for my name. He shall be my son, and I will be his father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel forever.”

The distinctions are that (1) Solomon is a man of peace and of rest (v.9) compared to David, who is a man with blood on his hands (v.8); and (2), more importantly, v.10 – that it is the LORD who will be building a house for us, rather us for him.  The throne which Solomon thus sits on is not established by his own hands; rather, this temple is also a shadow, with Solomon being a more appropriate shadow and type of Christ than David, for the day Christ is given the throne is a day of peace (i.e. “Jerusalem”) rather than that of bloodshed and war.  It is on the day the temple is complete that the Levites no longer are required to carry the tabernacle or any of the things for its service (Chapter 13 v.26), a picture of the rest which Abraham looked forward to (Hebrews 11:8-10) when he no longer had to carry his tent when the heavenly city has been designed and built by God.  Thus, the work of the Levites has evolved to that of care taking and worship at the temple, in the days of Solomon’s rest.  Although such days were short, they were indeed the glory and golden days of Israel, modeled closely after the eternal days which we enjoy as co-heirs of Christ in new creation.

 

1 Chronicles 20-23: Rise of the Son

1 Chronicles 4-7: Genealogy of the History of Redemption

From chapters 4 to 7, the narrator shifts focus from the genealogy of the promised Seed to the House from which the Seed is born.  Note that the sons of Israel are born in the following order:

  • Reuben
  • Simeon
  • Levi
  • Judah
  • Dan
  • Naphtali
  • Gad
  • Asher
  • Issachar
  • Zebulun
  • Dinah
  • Joseph
  • Benjamin

Yet, in 1 Chronicles 4-7, they are described in the following order:

  • Judah
  • Simeon
  • Reuben
  • Gad
  • Half tribe Manasseh
  • Levi (including Zebulun)
  • Issachar
  • Ben
  • Naphtali
  • Manasseh
  • Ephraim
  • Asher

It is not clear why the order has been switched – although it becomes apparent when we refer to Genesis 48 and 49, where the Spirit of God speaks through Jacob and blesses his sons, prophesying specifically that the Christ shall come through the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8-12) – hence, 1 Chronicles 4 begins not with Reuben the firstborn, but with Judah, to which we turn to now.

Judah

Genesis 49:8-12 –

8  “Judah, your brothers shall praise you;

your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;

your father’s sons shall bow down before you.

9  Judah is a lion’s cub;

from the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He stooped down; he crouched as a lion

and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

10  The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

until tribute comes to him;

and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

11  Binding his foal to the vine

and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,

he has washed his garments in wine

and his vesture in the blood of grapes.

12  His eyes are darker than wine,

and his teeth whiter than milk.

This is the only tribe whose description includes a detailed story of a man of God.  This is the story of Jabez (Ch 4:8-10), who (compared to the other tribes) proves to walk in the light of Christ; not to mention Bethlehem, the place of Christ’s birth, is also named after a man of Judah (Ch 4:4).  Furthermore, Judah’s reputation exceeds those of the other tribes.  As described under Simeon’s description, the men “did not have many children, nor did all their clan multiply like the men of Judah”.  Such is the blessing of childbirth through Judah, in ensuring that the Messiah’s light is not extinguished from this anointed bloodline.

Simeon

Genesis 49:5-7 –

5  “Simeon and Levi are brothers;

weapons of violence are their swords.

6  Let my soul come not into their council;

O my glory, be not joined to their company.

For in their anger they killed men,

and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.

7  Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,

and their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob

and scatter them in Israel.

It is interesting that with this tribe in particular, it is noted that they are inferior in number to Judah (Ch 4:27), and that the cities they lived in were theirs, until David reigned (Ch 4:30).  They also rested in the land, which the former inhabitants belonged to Ham (Genesis 9:22) – the father of the Canaanites.  Indeed, they are thus divided and scattered, without the glory bestowed upon Judah.

Reuben

Genesis 49:3-4 –

“3  “Reuben, you are my firstborn,

my might, and the firstfruits of my strength,

preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.

4  Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence,

because you went up to your father’s bed;

then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!”

Thus the firstborn of Israel is disgraced; the Son of God could have been born through Reuben, and yet – like the firstborn Adam – it is from another son that the Second Person shall be born from.  Unstable as water, Reuben shall not have pre-eminence – and instead, Judah shall become “strong among his brothers… and a chief came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph”.  Of this, Adam Clarke comments:

 

This is, by both the Syriac and Arabic, understood of Christ: “From Judah the King

Messiah shall proceed.” The Chaldee paraphrases the verse thus: “Seeing Judah prevailed over his brethren, so the kingdom was taken from Reuben and given to Judah; and because he was strong, so was his kingdom. Levi also was godly, and did not transgress in the matter of the golden calf; therefore the high priesthood was taken away from the children of Reuben, and on their account from all the first-born, and given to Aaron and his sons. The custody of the sanctuary belonged to the Levites, but the birthright to Joseph.

And Matthew Henry too also states:

The reason why this tribe is thus postponed. It is confessed that Reuben was the first-born of Israel, and, upon that account, might challenge the precedency; but he forfeited his birthright by defiling his father’s concubine, and was, for that, sentenced not to excel, Gen. xlix. 4. Sin lessens men, thrusts them down from their excellency. Seventh-commandment sins especially leave an indelible stain upon men’s names and families, a reproach which time will not wipe away. Reuben’s seed, to the last, bear the disgrace of Reuben’s sin. Yet, though that tribe was degraded, it was not discarded or disinherited. The sullying of the honour of an Israelite is not the losing of his happiness. Reuben loses his birthright, yet it does not devolve upon Simeon the next in order; for it was typical, and therefore must attend, not the course of nature, but the choice of grace. The advantages of the birthright were dominion and a double portion. Reuben having forfeited these, it was thought too much that both should be transferred to any one, and therefore they were divided. (1.) Joseph had the double portion; for two tribes descended from him, Ephraim and Manasseh, each of whom had a child’s part (for so Jacob by faith blessed them, Heb. xi. 21; Gen. xlviii. 15, 22), and each of those tribes was as considerable, and made as good a figure, as any one of the twelve, except Judah. But, (2.) Judah had the dominion; on him the dying patriarch entailed the sceptre, Gen. xlix. 10. Of him came the chief ruler, David first, and, in the fulness of time, Messiah the Prince, Mic. v. 2. This honour was secured to Judah, though the birthright was Joseph’s; and, having this, he needed not envy Joseph the double portion.

Gad

Genesis 49:19

19  “Raiders shall raid Gad,

but he shall raid at their heels.

Thus, with Gad, his tribe is compared to the Reubenites and the half-tribe of Manasseh – valiant men expert in war (Ch 5:18), crying out to God in battle in defeat of the Hagrites (described to be from the line of Hagar according to Smith’s dictionary – “The same people, as confederate against Israel, are mentioned in (Psalms 83:6) It is generally believed that they were named after Hagar, and that the important town and district of Hejer , on the borders of the Persian Gulf, represent them.”)

Half-tribe of Manasseh

Genesis 48:19 –

19  But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.””

Indeed, although Manasseh is the elder, he is only blessed secondary to Ephraim’s blessing in Genesis 48 – for Ephraim shall be greater than Manasseh.   Perhaps Jacob saw that the half-tribe would break faith with the God of their fathers (v.25) by whoring after the gods of the peoples of the land.  Thus, their genealogy is relegated to a mere description of how them, the Gadites and the Reubenites are exiled by the king of Assyria.  They are described once more in chapter 7:14-19, though nothing remarkable is described.

Levi

Genesis 49:5-7 –

“5  “Simeon and Levi are brothers;

weapons of violence are their swords.

6  Let my soul come not into their council;

O my glory, be not joined to their company.

For in their anger they killed men,

and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.

7  Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,

and their wrath, for it is cruel!

I will divide them in Jacob

and scatter them in Israel.”

And now we come to the tribe of Levi.  It is interesting that the LORD did not choose Judah, or the half tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh to become the anointed men of priestly work.  Instead, the LORD chose Levi – who wields weapons of violence; who in their anger they killed men (c.f. Moses smiting an Egyptian man, a typical response of a Simeonite / Levite in revenge, Exodus 2:12).  This is the reason why the Levites do not own their portion of land like the other tribes (c.f. Joshua 13:33 – the LORD God of Israel is their inheritance; Ch 6:63, 77 – some land taken from Zebulun which is not otherwise mentioned between chapters 4 and 7).  Though they are scattered (Ch 6:61-65), it is for a different reason – to highlight the mercy and grace of our LORD.  Though Simeon rests in the land of the Canaanites, Levi rests in the arms of the LORD by His election.  These are “the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there”.  David, a man of music, would relegate such an important role to the elected priesthood by example (1 Samuel 16:23), which would otherwise remain as wrathful murderers unwilling to receive the grace and mercy of the Father through Christ.

Issachar

Genesis 49:14-15 –

14  “Issachar is a strong donkey,

crouching between the sheepfolds.

15  He saw that a resting place was good,

and that the land was pleasant,

so he bowed his shoulder to bear,

and became a servant at forced labor.

Just as Issachar is described as a strong donkey, so in chapter 7:1-5 we see that they were all mighty warriors.

Benjamin

Genesis 49:27 –

27  “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,

in the morning devouring the prey

and at evening dividing the spoil.”

Benjaminites, too, were known to be mighty warriors – the ravenous wolf that they are.

Naphtali

Genesis 49:21

21  “Naphtali is a doe let loose

that bears beautiful fawns.

It is interesting that save for Judah, Levi, and Ephraim (further described below), the other tribes are known for wars; they are known to be preparing for conflict.  Yet, Judah, Levi and Ephraim are known for peace; for enjoying the true Sabbath that God made for Adam upon the next day of Adam’s birth.  It is not incidental that in New Creation it shall be a feast of peace and our lives of conflict, now, are but temporary.  Naphtali, according to the prophecy, falls somewhat into character as the Chronicler does not provide much detail – neither revealing whether they have fallen into the side of war or peace.

Ephraim

Genesis 48:19 –

19  But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.”

This promised and blessed younger son of Joseph bore, among others, Joshua the son of Nun.  It is from this tribe that the typological shepherd, Yeshua, hails (Ch 7:27).  The immediate description of Manasseh prior to Ephraim, closing with the land of the Manassites in v.29 in fact shows the dichotomy between the future of Manasseh compared to Ephraim; Manasseh, which broke faith; Manasseh, which owned Megiddo, the place of Josiah’s death; Ephraim, which bore the typological Messiah of the Hebrews, ushering their new age in Canaan.  Ephraim seen as ushering peace, owning much land; Manasseh seen as rebellious, causing much strife.

Asher

Genesis 49:20 –

“20  “Asher’s food shall be rich,

and he shall yield royal delicacies.”

Thus, unsurprisingly, Asher too is described to include mighty warriors and chiefs of the princes (Ch 7:40).

Zebulun and Dan – summary of the tribes in the history of redemption

Yet, what of Zebulun and Dan?  Zebulun’s land is referred to, a portion of which is given to the Levites above.  In Genesis 49:13, they were prophesied to “dwell at the shore of the sea”; to “become a haven for ships”, and their “border shall be at Sidon”.  Zebulun seems to be traditionally shrouded in anonymity compared to the other tribes; but this is positive compared to Dan’s deliberate omission from John’s book of Revelation.  Like Chronicles, the tribe of Joseph appears twice in Revelation (Revelation 7:6, 7:8).  Thus, just as 1 Chronicles 4 opened with the reminder that the Messiah shall come from the tribe of Judah, the typological Messiah from Ephraim, the gospel mercy of the LORD through Christ showered upon the Levites, the significance of which is not equally borne by the other tribes who shadow under the physical firstborn Reuben – a man of war and rebellion – we end chapter 7 with a reminder that the Anti-Christ is a man from within.  Just as Christ was a man not loved by his own (John 1:10-11), so also the Satan and His children (John 8:44) shall pretend to judge his own people, being a serpent in the way, biting the heel of the horse.  That is why Jacob yearned for the salvation of Christ (Genesis 49:18) – for it is Dan who acts as judge, but the LORD is true judge who shall give life for those in His Son and not death:

Genesis 49: 16-18 –

“16  “Dan shall judge his people

as one of the tribes of Israel.

17  Dan shall be a serpent in the way,

a viper by the path,

that bites the horse’s heels

so that his rider falls backward.

18  I wait for your salvation, O LORD.”

1 Chronicles 4-7: Genealogy of the History of Redemption