Warning: The following book is radical. It will force the reader to take a long, hard look at what he genuinely KNOWS about God, as compared to what long-held traditional doctrines and translations have TOLD him about God. Be prepared to think and pray — and to be set free to move up to a new level of relationship with the Creator and Lord of the universe. (If you’d rather not have to think and pray right now, you should read something else.)
Years ago, a seasoned Bible scholar stood before a class of eager young men and women who were training for ministry in the Kingdom of God. He asked a simple question, which shocked some, challenged others, but held the attention of all. The question: “How Christlike is your God?”
I never knew this man personally, and I learned of his challenge to this group of budding ministers only a few years ago. But it touched a very deep chord inside of me, because during my 40 years of ministry, the one over-riding desire in my heart has been to teach in such a way that I could help people see the truth about who God is and what He feels, thinks, and desires. I learned at the beginning of my ministry that there is only one way to understand God as He really is, and that is to understand Him through Jesus Christ — not through my own thoughts and experiences — not through the doctrines of various denominations or cultures — only through Jesus Himself.
St. Paul, in writing to the church, expressed his deep concern — to the point of fear — that the young Christians were being drawn away from looking to Jesus Christ as the only clear and true representation of God and His will in their lives. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve, through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3).
I experience the same fear for people today. There are so many teachings, translations, traditions, and doctrines (inspired by that same serpent) that have taken scriptures out of their context as part of the entire Word of God and twisted them in order to explain God according to man’s limited understanding and experience. Man has tried to make God like man — rather than looking at Jesus Christ and staying focused on Him until man becomes like God.
The Lord has had me teaching these truths for decades now, and with respect to the book of Job, I have seen these truths set hundreds of people free from their false ideas of God as some ogre who can’t be understood, and who is just waiting to slap them down with some horrible problem or torment. The Lord dealt with me for years to get these truths into book form, and I lagged in my obedience. Finally, He managed to convince me that I was overdue in that obedience and that He was sorely disappointed. Needless to say, I got this book together in record time. I’m grateful it has helped so many people, and I offer it on this site in an effort to help even more.
Now back to the question I mentioned at the beginning of this introduction: “How Christlike is your God?” It is my prayer that this simple question will serve as the standard of measure for every sincere Bible teacher when evaluating any and all subject matter relating to God and His Word. And to that end, I have dedicated this book.
CHAPTER ONE: REALITY OR MYTHOLOGY?
It’s a well-known, well-worn story. In fact, it’s safe to say that most people in the world have heard it at least once, and often repeatedly:
In the early days of human history, there lived a man by the name of Job, who was “perfect” and “upright,” and who served the great Superbeing of the universe faithfully. The devil went before this Superbeing one day, and Superbeing decided He’d like to prove to the devil just how much greater He was than His adversary, so He picked on Job and decided to use him to prove His point. He taunted the devil with these words, “Have you considered my servant Job — how good he is and how faithfully he serves me?”
The devil knew Job was faithful, and he could see how much Superbeing loved Job, so he did a little taunting of his own. He challenged the Superbeing with the accusation that Job served Him only because he was blessed. The devil dared the Superbeing to take away Job’s blessings and inflict him with pain and grave loss – just to see if he would still be faithful.
Superbeing took up the challenge and, insisting that he would be proven the winner in this contest, he gave the devil free rein to do anything he wanted to do that would hurt Job — except to take his life. In effect, He said, “No matter what you do to him, he will still serve me. You’re free to do anything you want except kill him, and I’ll prove to you that he will still be faithful to me.”And in the end of the story, Job is proven faithful and receives multiplied blessings for proving the Superbeing right and the devil wrong.
Wow! What a story! The superpowers of the spirit realm seeking to glorify themselves – taunting each other over which one had the most faithful followers. And subjecting those followers to severe, heart-rending trials in order to prove their boasting true.
Yes, it’s an amazing story, but it’s not a unique story at all. It is exactly like the ribald stories told of gods and goddesses throughout Greek and Roman mythology: You know Zeus, Jupiter, Poseidon, etc. — the powers of the heavens vying with each other for glory and using their subjects like pawns on a game board to prove one deity more powerful or more glorious than the others.
These religions are replete with tales of how their “gods” treated their subjects in exactly this demeaning way. They made sport of them in order to manipulate each other and feed their own pride.
Wait a minute: Was Job dealing with a god just like those of the Greeks and Romans?
If Bible readers believe the story of Job as it has been incorrectly translated and handed down traditionally through several generations, they would have to answer “Yes.” They would have to believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – Jehovah – Jesus Christ – is just as selfish and capricious as the deities of the Greeks and Romans.
That being the case, students of the Bible are then faced with a very unwelcome question: Is this traditional story of Job and the kind of God it portrays a true story, historically accurate and trustworthy — or is it just another myth?
The answer is simple, yet complicated. The “true” story of Job is indeed a “true story.”
But this story that has been incorrectly translated from the original language and then handed down for generations is another entity altogether. Made up of one part fact, one part mythology, and one part man’s endless effort to make his God out to be just like himself, it is nothing but a myth.
Are you afraid to read further? Don’t be. You’ll be glad you kept going.
At this point, many readers will close this book and never look back. Those readers will relegate the author to the long historical list of heretics and continue to walk in the fantasy of the Job story they have always been taught. It’s the story they are comfortable with. As long as they hold to that story, they don’t have to study the Word of God more closely or think deeply and seriously for themselves about what kind of God they have.
But, more importantly, those readers who fail to give themselves a chance to learn the truth will continue to suffer the loss and destruction that are inevitable when people believe lies about God. Because in their failure to understand the truth about this story, they fail to understand their God.
He is a God who has victory for them over the evil in this world. But they also fail to understand that the same devil whose lies were accepted by man at creation is also the one who has added the lies to this story. He is the same devil who inflicts evils on human kind; and it is of paramount importance to him to keep men believing that these evils come at the will of their own God.
And herein lies the crux of the matter. The majority of people who consider themselves Christians on the earth today don’t actually know their own God very well. They know what other Christians have told them. And many of them believe what their own imagination tells them. So they frame God with their own understanding rather than with the revelation of the Spirit of God Himself or with the mind of Christ.
But somewhere deep down inside many of those Christians is a nagging little question that keeps coming back to ask of the traditional Job story, “What’s wrong with this picture?” Or if the spirit is really brave, it will sometimes even ask, “Is this really the kind of God I want?” Or braver yet: “Why is my God an inflicter of pain and suffering when I would never do that to the people I love?”
HERESY! The cry goes up immediately when such questions are given their rightful place. It’s the cry of so many who consider themselves “watchmen” of God’s reputation. As soon as anyone asks a question – or offers some answers – that might cause them to have to reevaluate what they have been accepting for generations, these “watchmen” cry out against it, instead of giving the Lord a chance to renew their minds.
So only the spiritually brave Christian will continue into the deeper channels of this book. Only those who want to know in their own hearts that they have asked those necessary questions and found the answers for themselves. But for those few who are brave enough to continue past this point, the rewards will be worth it.
As much as the church likes to sweep such questions under the rug, the truth is that they do exist. Many Christians manage to beat these questions down until they convince themselves that they really do accept this kind of God. They convince themselves that a Father who deliberately inflicts hurt and pain on them can actually coexist with the loving, merciful, healing Jesus they met in the New Testament. But the naked truth is that those questions still exist — and rightly so.
Because rather than those questions being the result of heretical thinking and rebellion against God and His Word, they are actually the promptings of His own Holy Spirit inside of us, trying to get us to put forth the effort to find out for ourselves what kind of God we have.
And it doesn’t really take all that much effort. It requires no superior intellect to see that there’s nothing holy about the kind of behavior attributed to God in this story. The very word holy carries in its meaning the essence of being “perfect in goodness and righteousness.” Such capricious, self-centered behavior as that portrayed by the traditional teaching of God in the story of Job cannot fit that definition. Furthermore, there is no faithfulness in that kind of behavior. And the Word of God makes it quite clear that, second to holiness, God’s primary nature is best described in the attribute of faithfulness.
Even those people in the world who desire no relationship with Jesus Christ generally accept the fact that a god of any religion is expected to be better in character than his subjects. And, particularly where Christianity is concerned, a poll of thousands of people who do not even attend church regularly, will show that the vast majority of those people, when they hear about God or think about what He might be like, expect Him to be extraordinarily good and trustworthy.
They hear Christians talk about their God as a loving father, so they expect that He would act in accordance with that identity. They expect that He would never be guilty of any acts of molestation or abuse. And, in truth, those people, who have no God of their own, when they consider whether they need a personal God, are positive they would want one who is kind, compassionate, honorable and dependable.
But then they hear the church tell the story of Job — in the old traditional version — and they recognize that the God in this story is not what they thought God was at all. Sometimes, they even decide that they already have enough problems in this life, and they certainly don’t need a God who will inflict more pain and suffering upon them.
More than one Christian who has tried to witness to an unbeliever has been challenged with this problem. Those Christians are asked why an unbeliever should consider that his life will be any better if he comes into relationship with a God like the one commonly depicted in the story of Job.
Reverend Kenneth Copeland, of Fort Worth, Texas, has shared the story more than once of a Japanese minister who came to the United States many years ago to attend Rhema Bible Training Institute in Broken Arrow, OK, under the ministry of Copeland’s mentor, Kenneth Hagin. Copeland says this minister told Reverend Kenneth Hagin that, after WWII, the Japanese people were open to accepting the Christian God of the United States because He was the God of the nation that had defeated them. They believed their own gods had failed, so they wanted to learn about the God of the Christians.
The Japanese minster said, “But when we studied it out and researched it a little bit, we couldn’t figure it out. All we could find out was that your God would make you sick and take everything you had away from you – and every time you tried to serve Him, He’d knock you back down on your face. So we didn’t want him. So we just kept on serving our old dead gods, knowing it wasn’t any good, but we were in the habit of it.
“But when I heard someone preach what you folks are preaching, I got over in the New Testament and read it for myself, and I found out that all that junk we had heard wasn’t in there. When I found out that God is love and that Jesus of Nazareth loved me without any reservations, even when I was a sinner, now that’s the God I was hunting for all the time.”
At that point, the man and his wife accepted the Lord, came to the United States to be trained for ministry, and went back to Japan to win the people of their own nation to the Lord.
One of the most troubling facts about erroneous stories from the Bible being told repeatedly for generations is that the world then picks up those stories and repeats them. They may not believe the Bible per se, but they believe that Christians believe the stories are true – which means that they believe their God is like the God in the erroneous stories.
The odd thing about that situation is that unbelievers seem to be able to recognize immediately that there is something seriously wrong with the picture portrayed by those stories. One excellent example of what often transpires in the minds of unbelievers was depicted quite accurately in an episode of a very worldly television cartoon series entitled South Park, produced by Comedy Central Productions.
Now, the author of this study of Job is not suggesting that the South Park cartoons are acceptable fare for recreational TV viewing. However, viewers of the series have noted and commented specifically on the fact that one particular episode accurately described their personal reaction to the traditional story of Job. And that reaction is worth noting.
In this episode, one of the young characters, a Jewish boy named Kyle, has renounced his faith because he feels he has suffered so much pain and injustice that there cannot really be a God. While he is lying in a hospital bed because of an injury he has sustained, his parents come into the room and talk with him. When he learns they want to tell him a story from the Bible, his reply is that he has had enough of the Bible. It hasn’t gotten him anywhere, and he doesn’t want to hear anymore.
His parents insist that he will feel differently when he hears the story of Job. They relate the story this way:
“Job was a great man. He was blessed with ten lovely children, a wonderful wife, and many friends.
“He was a godly and a good man and fed the poor. He was the most upright and honorable of men and every day he praised God.
“But one day Satan went up to heaven and talked to God. … And God said to Satan, Have you seen Job? He is a great man, and he praises Me every day.
“But Satan said, ‘Oh yeah, he only praises you because you gave him so much. If you didn’t give him those things, he would curse your name.’ To which God said, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll show you, Satan. I’ll take those things away from Job and he will still praise my name.’
“And so God had a bunch of barbarians come in and slaughter Job’s ox and donkeys and murder all his workers. Then God sent his fireballs from the sky and killed his sheep and the rest of his employees.
“And then, as Job’s sons and daughter were eating, God sent a mighty wind to collapse the house and crushed and killed them all.
“Job was terribly upset, but he fell to his knees and said, ‘The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,’ and he praised God’s name.
“So then Job got painful sores all over his body. He was in terrible, miserable pain all day every day, but he still kept his faith. God said to Satan, ‘See, I told you. Job still praises me. ‘”
Kyle’s reply is, “That’s the most horrible story I’ve ever heard! Why would God do horrible things to a good person just to prove a point to Satan?”
His father answers, “Oh … uuh … I don’t know.”
To which Kyle responds, “Then I was right …. There isn’t a God.”
Now, some people’s response to this conversation will be to say that the cartoon version says that God Himself did all those things to Job, but what the Bible really says is that Satan did all of them — at God’s invitation. Which means???
If God invited Satan to attack Job so unmercifully, when He could have kept him from doing so, that makes Him just as guilty as if He had executed the blows Himself. And where the Christian mind is sometimes so set in tradition to the extent that it is willing to accept this picture of God, the unbeliever’s mind is still open and free to recognize clearly that it is God who is the real perpetrator of harm here. And why would that unbeliever ever want to submit and subject his life to such a God?
If the body of Christ is ever going to win the world to Jesus Christ, they must find a way to help that world understand that the God they see in Jesus is the one and only God, the God to whom they can turn for salvation. Which means that the church is going to have to learn the truth about the God of Job.
So, if this story as it’s traditionally told is a myth, what is the real story? In the remainder of this book the true story of Job and his God will become clear. And as it does, the reader will find that Jesus meant exactly what He said, when He promised: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
CHAPTER TWO: WHAT’S IN A WORD?
What’s in a word? A lot, apparently. Words have the ability to identify things, relate facts and feelings, affect ideas and emotions, quiet a troubled child, or stir up a revolution. In fact, according to the scripture, words are so important and powerful that Jesus said people will be “justified” or “condemned” by their words. (Matthew 12:37). He also said that the words He spoke while on earth were “spirit and life.” (John 6:63). And Proverbs 18:21 says clearly that the very “power of life and death is in the tongue” (the words people speak). Wow! It seems that choosing the “right” word each time one speaks or writes is indeed crucial.
So what happens – with an ancient book like Job – as with many other ancient manuscripts — if a truth revealed centuries ago must be translated into another language, and new words have to be found that will relate that truth correctly? Well, if there is only one definition of a word, that task is relatively easy. But if a word in one language has multiple definitions, the translators have to be very careful to select the definition that abides by the original author’s intent and purpose.
Bible readers frequently wonder why, once in a while, they come across a verse or passage that sounds as though God has acted out of character or as though the writer of one book is directly contradicting the writer of another. The Book of Job abounds with those kinds of problems, but a few other scriptures frequently cause concern as well. However, the original Author of the book has the answer to that question. His answer is to point the reader to the person of Jesus Christ. How wonderful to realize that all of the answers human beings need are still in Jesus – always have been – always will be.
Now, it’s a simple fact that in order to reach the highest level of faith in God’s Word, people need to understand it. God Himself gave the key to doing that, but unfortunately, so much of the world – even a large portion of the church – has lost sight of the simple technique prescribed by the Author Himself.
If Christians want to fully comprehend God’s Word to them – including the book of Job — so that they can put it to work effectively in their lives and in the world around them, the first principle that they need to know and understand is this: all scripture — all scripture — must be interpreted and understood through Jesus Christ. There is no other way. Every word in the book must be understood through Jesus Christ. This formula for interpreting all scripture sets people free from nagging doubts and fears that they can’t understand God’s Word for themselves — or that someone else can lead them astray by false teaching.
Anointed Bible teachers can help people understand meanings of words and phrases by taking them back to the original languages and correctly defining words for them. But even without ever looking at a word or passage of Greek or Hebrew, the Bible reader can tell for himself if the point made or the picture portrayed in a passage of scripture matches Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament, of course, must be interpreted and understood through The New. But even the New must be interpreted and understood through Jesus and what He showed mankind while He was on the earth. It makes understanding God very simple, and it helps the Bible student clear up some things that may have seemed like discrepancies or disagreements between scriptures.
There are multiple scriptures that will verify this foundational point. John, chapter one, verses 1-3, (NAS): “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” Verse 9: “There was the true light, which coming into the world enlightens every man.”
There’s a part of a verse in the Christmas carol “O Holy Night” that says, “Long lay the world in sin and error, pining, till He appeared, and the soul felt its worth.” That’s so very true. When Jesus came, the soul of the human race finally recognized its value and its worth. They had fallen into sin and its curse, and had lost the correct perception of God and themselves. Their awareness was of their own sinful, fallen state, and they were in misery. Jesus brought light and revelation because He came to show just how far God would go to restore mankind.
The fallen human race had had a covenant with their Creator, but until Jesus came, bringing that covenant to fullness and bringing that light, humanity did not truly realize what they were worth — not until they saw Him and the sacrifice He was making for them.
“Long lay the world in sin and error … pining” … until Jesus came … and then God’s creation realized what they were all about and how valuable they were.
But go on to verse 14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” V. 16: “For of His fullness, we have all received, and grace upon grace, For the law was given through Moses. Grace and Truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No man has seen God at any time. The only-begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. “
The Amplified Bible says in verse 18 of this passage: “No man has ever seen God at any time. The only unique Son, the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. He has revealed Him, brought Him out where He can be seen. He has interpreted Him, and He has made Him known.”
Now, if a person wants to know what God’s like, and wants to know what the Godhead is like, there’s only one person to look at to find out: The One who brought God out; the one who interpreted Him. The Only-begotten Son has brought Him out where He may be seen.
The gospels are full of confirmation of this fact. Jesus Himself kept saying throughout His earthly ministry that it was not He who was working, but the Father. He said whoever had seen Him had seen the Father.
Then in Hebrews 1:1-3 (Amp.) the Lord gives another confirmation: “In many separate revelations, each of which set forth a portion of the truth, and in different ways, God spoke of old to our forefathers in and by the prophets. But in the last days, He has spoken to us in the person of His Son, whom He appointed heir and lawful owner of all things. …He is the sole expression of the glory of God; the lightbeing; the outraying of the Divine, and He is the perfect imprint and very image of God’s nature.” New American Standard says, He is “the express image of God.”
So Jesus alone is the total perfect imprint — the very image of God’s nature. To know what God is like, one must look at Jesus Christ.
Now in John, where it says the law was given through Moses and “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ,” that statement represents a huge leap forward for man’s understanding of his supernatural God. The word truth that is used here is from the Greek and it’s precise definition is “reality.”
So what John is saying, as well as Hebrews, is that through all of the Old Covenant, God was always trying to give His people some idea of what He was like and what he had in store for them. He tried to give them an idea of what His plan was to work out their salvation so that they could be brought back into the bosom of the Father. So that they could start over as the family that God originally wanted. So He spoke to them in what the Bible refers to as types and shadows, and that’s what they had in the Old Testament. Here in Hebrews it says He spoke to them in many separate revelations, which set forth a portion of the truth, and spoke to them through symbols and types of Jesus Christ and shadows of what was going to come to pass.
God set up the Old Covenant so that they could understand sin and understand the sacrifice that was necessary to pay for sin. They saw that a lamb had to be given to take away the sin and atone for what they had done. And God continued trying to help them understand. He set up the tabernacle in the wilderness so that He could explain through various parts of that tabernacle what the relationship was between God and His people, and what He wanted that relationship to be.
But when Jesus Christ came – in the fullness of time as Galatians describes it — when Jesus came on the scene, mankind no longer needed types and shadows. The human race no longer needed symbols. They didn’t need somebody to draw them a picture anymore, because here He was! WILL THE REAL GOD PLEASE STAND UP?
He has. The real God stood up and made a spectacle of Himself for all of the world to see and understand. The real God stood up in Jesus Christ. There is no other picture. There’s no need for any other picture. The real God stood up in Jesus Christ, and said, “Now, beloved, you don’t need symbols , or animal sacrifices, or the tabernacle, or any of this other stuff. Now you can get to know the “real” Me, because now I’m able to get up close and personal.”
And that’s what Jesus came to do. He was “reality.” Grace and reality came with Jesus Christ. The world didn’t have to wonder anymore what God was like. Jesus said when you’ve seen me you’ve see the Father. In other words: “What you see is what you get.”
Why elaborate so much on that point? Because the church at large accepts that idea mentally, but not in actual fact. So often, when people get to where the rubber meets the road – actually applying God’s Word to specific circumstances; knowing what they have faith for; knowing what they can stand against; knowing how long they can stand and fight the battle and not give up; knowing for sure what God’s will is and what it isn’t — in the hard places — the church, for the most part, fails to stick with what they see in Jesus.
They let go of the fact that Jesus is the “real” God and that what we see in Him is the final word. And even though they say they believe – and do believe at the level of their minds — they don’t really believe deeply enough to live their lives according to that fact. In the times of serious trouble, they tend to revert to the traditional teachings based on well-worn scriptures – poorly translated scriptures – that seemingly don’t line up with what Jesus demonstrates in His life. And because most of those scriptures have been accepted by the majority of Christians and handed down for generations, they somehow seem true and even holy. So most Christians base their faith on those passages rather than choosing to hold tight to what they see in Jesus.
So what does one do about those passages that seem to portray a God unlike Jesus? How does the average Bible reader get to the real truth in those scriptures? There is a simple method. In fact, it’s the method used in this study of Job, but it applies throughout the Word:
Step 1: Recognize that every passage of scripture must be understood through Jesus Christ, who is the only true picture of God.
Step 2: Recognize that any scripture that appears to be contrary to something Jesus exemplified in His life on this earth, has a problem, either with the translation or the interpretation of that scripture.
Does that mean the Bible’s wrong in certain places? No. The Bible is not “wrong.” However, some passages have been incorrectly translated to say something that the original Bible manuscripts did not say.
When the reader comes across passages that seem to show God saying something, doing something, or handling things in a way that doesn’t line up with exactly what Jesus did or refrained from doing in His life, a closer look at the words of that passage in the original language will bring the solution to light. Sometimes the problem lies in the fact that punctuation was not included in so much of the original work, and each translator’s own choice of usage can easily alter meanings. However, most of the time the problem lies in the definitions of words.
In the vast majority of cases involving those questionable passages, the reader will come across at least a word or two that, in the original language, has two or three different definitions. In other words, that word – and therefore that passage – could have been translated several different ways.
When the translators changed those passages to English, they chose one of those several definitions. Sometimes that method can work out just fine. But occasionally there’s enough difference in those definitions that it changes the picture completely. And when that happens, the reader has to look at those definitions and ask himself which one of them lines up with what Jesus showed the world in His life. It should go without saying that the definition that matches Jesus is the only one that can be correct.
Why were alternate definitions chosen at times? Often it was because certain words actually meant something different hundreds of years ago, when so many of the translations were being written. The meanings, especially the connotative meanings, have changed considerably. Other times, there was a space problem to be dealt with. One definition may have been available in a single English word, while the others would have required three or four words to render the meaning clearly.
One classic example of such a need to use multiple English words when translating from Hebrew is with Psalm 23. In the original Hebrew, that psalm contains only 55 words, whereas, the English translation, in order to be completely accurate, contains 115.
There may have been other reasons for choosing one definition over another, but discovering all of them is not the purpose of this teaching. It will suffice to say that Jesus Himself made it clear that unless what people believe lines up with Him, they are not believing the truth about God.
So, returning to the story of Job, the Bible student must ask himself if the picture he sees of God looks like the picture Jesus exemplified when He was here in the flesh. If it does not match Jesus, then it is time to look deeply into the original language and find the true meaning of the words – the meaning that does match Jesus Christ. The correct words are there – within the original language. The reader just has to want the truth enough to find them.
This fact is worth repeating: the correct words are there. That’s the beautiful thing about God’s desire to reveal Himself. He always provides the right words to do so.
In the following chapters, two specific examples of this problem in the book of Job will come under scrutiny, along with some other seriously misunderstood aspects of the life and experiences of this ancient believer.
CHAPTER THREE: THE STORY BEGINS
(Since each chapter builds on the previous one, you’ll want to be sure you read Chapter 2 before this one.)
‘Job,’ chapter one identifies the main character of the story: a man named Job, who was living in the land of Uz. Many Bible scholars believe Uz lay in the area between Palestine and Arabia. Those same scholars lean toward identifying Job as a descendant of Esau and possibly a king of Edom. Job himself makes reference to lying down “with kings” when he goes to his grave, so that idea could have some credibility. Other scholars believe that Job is the oldest book in the Bible and that Job was actually more a contemporary of Abraham himself rather than his sons and grandsons.
The important thing for the child of God to understand is that, either way, Job was in the position of not understanding his Creator and not being able to walk fully in a covenant relationship with Him — in the way that Abraham did. Moreover, if Job was a descendant of Esau, that made him a descendant of the grandson of Abraham who should have inherited the birthright from Isaac, including the direct blessing that came with the covenant God made with Abraham.
However, since Esau chose to sell that birthright — and that inheritance of covenant blessing — he forfeited the privileges that went with them, not only for himself, but for all of his direct descendants as well.
And it is abundantly clear that Job was living his life as one who had no active covenant with God. He says himself, in chapter 9, verses 32 & 33: “For He is not a man as I am that I may answer Him, that we may go to court together. There is no umpire between us, who may lay his hand upon us both.” King James translates the word “umpire” as “daysman,” which is a very old English word meaning umpire or mediator. So Job is bemoaning the fact that there is no agreement between him and his Creator and no moderator to help them communicate with each other.
Job is described in chapter one as a man who is “perfect” and “upright.” Now, with a word like “perfect,” which leaves absolutely no room for qualifiers, the reader’s spiritual antennae should come out. What does this word “perfect” mean? If it truly means that the man has no flaw, no weakness, no sin or evil in his nature, then the scripture in Romans which says clearly that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” is a lie. However, since spiritual wisdom bids the Bible student to always interpret that which comes in shadow (Old Testament) through that which comes with light and revelation (New Testament), then the reader will have to trust what the New Testament says.
That means putting forth a little effort to find out what this word actually meant when it was written in the original manuscript. A brief look at the Hebrew word used here reveals that the word translated “perfect” also clearly means to be “complete, whole, or pious.” Job was obviously a man who knew about God and as much as possible with his limited knowledge and lack of covenant understanding, he was completely devoted to serving God. 2 Chronicles 16:9 uses the same kind of terminology when God says, “My eyes run to and fro seeking to show Myself strong on behalf of him whose heart is “perfect” toward Me (whose heart is completely Mine).”
So based on the light of the New Testament, and the alternate definitions which would make this passage agree with the New Testament, we see that the meaning of the word translated “perfect” is obviously the following: Job’s heart was totally devoted to God, and his intent was most definitely to serve Him. But he was not a man devoid of sin or other flaws in his character or lifestyle.
Also in chapter one, the second character of the story is introduced. The “sons of God” are presenting themselves before His throne. (In the Old Testament, “sons of God” is one term used to describe the angels.) At the time of the story, Satan obviously still has admittance into the presence of God (until the finished redemption work of Jesus), so he also comes before God. (For expanded explanation of Satan’s admittance into God’s presence see online appendix: directions on p. 53). The Lord, knowing what Satan has been up to, asks him a question in verse eight. And on the correct or incorrect translation of this single question hangs our understanding of the entire character of God.
The Hebrew words which quote God in this conversation have more than one possible interpretation, because the word translated “consider” has several different definitions. Translators, for whatever reason, chose to use the definition “to consider” rather than any of the other definitions of that Hebrew word, which are “to set your heart on, to mark, to purpose to have.” In the seemingly inconsequential decision to choose a single-word definition rather than one requiring three or four words, God is portrayed as an ogre (an abusive father, if you will) who deliberately baits His hateful enemy to get him to attack, torment, and nearly destroy God’s own man.
“Okay,” the reader may respond, “there are several possible definitions; so how does one know for sure which definition is correct?” There is only one fail-safe formula for finding that answer: weigh each definition against Jesus and the example He gave as He walked the earth showing exactly what God is like.
Can any Bible student find Jesus walking up to the devil and taunting him by bragging about how much His disciples love Him — and then baiting the devil to get him to hurt those men — just to prove they will still love the man that betrayed them? Of course not! And that being the case, the Bible student can safely believe that the Father God would never do such a thing either. Consequently, there’s no guess work left concerning which definitions are correct for those passages in Job.
So using the correct translation, read the passage anew: “Have you set your heart on my servant Job — the man whose heart is perfect toward me and who turns away from evil?” It’s quite easy to see how getting the correct word in this one passage begins to change the whole picture of God and His character in this story. Jesus shows a God who would never have said, “Have you taken a good look at my man Job?” — knowing Satan’s next move would be to deliberately try to destroy that man. Jesus does, however, demonstrate a God who would say, “I see you’ve set your heart on my man Job; you won’t get him.” – or “I see you’ve marked Job and purposed to have him; you won’t get away with it.”
But now comes Satan’s challenge and God’s response to it. And with this response, another old traditional teaching rears its ugly head and tries to hinder truth from coming forth. For generations, Christians have been fond of saying, “God is sovereign. God is in control. God can do anything He wants to do.” Most people who make those statements mean that God is controlling absolutely everything that happens on the earth and in their lives — and they mean that God can do anything at all, whenever and however He wants, even if it goes against a promise He has already made in His covenant.
One particular pastor has this tradition so ingrained in his spirit that he has developed a new doctrine based on it. He preaches about what he calls “God’s two percent clause.” This man preached the following from his pulpit on a Sunday morning: “You can’t put God in a box and make Him keep His Word. Now, God will keep His word almost all the time, but He also has a two-percent clause that He operates in, and about two percent of the time, He will do something else when He wants to – whether it goes against His word or not.”
Now, many readers will shudder when they hear these words spoken out so blatantly, but the truth is that the vast majority of Christians really do believe that way. They would never say those words out loud, but when something tragic happens in their lives that they can’t explain in some other acceptable way, they turn to the traditional belief that God must have wanted it to happen that way or He would have kept it from happening.
It doesn’t register with them that they are saying God broke His own word – that He is not keeping His promise to deliver them from such tragedy. If someone who is ill and has been prayed for several times dies in spite of those prayers, the vast majority of Christians respond with the opinion that it was God’s will for that person to die — despite the fact that His Word and His covenant promises say otherwise. Some Christians go so far as to say — of individuals who ended up in prison because of their own unlawful acts – that God must have had some reason for them to be in jail, because, after all, “He is in control of everything.”
NO, dear reader! That thinking is erroneous. God’s own Word is crystal clear on the matter. It is certainly true that God is sovereign. But what people must also realize is that God used His sovereignty to make a choice. He chose to bind Himself to a covenant with man. Making a covenant with the human race was God’s own sovereign idea. And when He made that covenant, He committed Himself to do certain things for man if man would commit himself to live a certain way with God. He gave His Word.
Then in the sixth chapter of Hebrews, He says Himself that even though He had made the covenant by promise, He also confirmed it with a separate oath as well. And in that covenant, He clearly lays out how He will act and react toward man. Moreover, He says that every promise in that covenant has already been answered “yes” in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20.)
Now every word written in scripture is not relating something concerning man’s covenant with God. But every direct promise of God and every passage that does tell what our covenant includes is never going to change. So, for example, when a believer prays for anything that is specifically promised in scripture — or that the Word says has been accomplished by Jesus Christ — that thing he’s prayed for has already been given a “yes” answer, and God can never just arbitrarily decide to say “no” instead — not even two percent of the time. If He did, He would render His own Word null and void. According to Hebrews 1:2-3, the entire world is held together by nothing but His Word. So everything would collapse, and there would be absolutely nothing the human race could count on now or in eternity.
Now, if someone is asking God for His will on a subject He hasn’t covered in the Word (should I take this job, marry this man, buy this house?) there are times He will say “no” because those things have nothing to do with His covenant or His promises. But everything accomplished by Jesus and His redeeming work is finished and sealed with His own blood — never to be changed. There are often many reasons why people fail to receive or appropriate those promises and blessings, but it is never because God suddenly decided to change His mind.
Moreover, God Himself says that He is not in control of everything on earth. He is in control of the things He’s responsible for — and He is able to control a great deal of other things because His people pray and open the door to His control. But unless man opens the door to Him and allows Him control, God will not usurp it. He says clearly that His will is that every human being accept Jesus Christ and be saved for eternity, but He does not get His will. Jesus said He wept over the people of Jerusalem because He wanted to be able to gather them to Him as a mother hen gathers her chicks. He wanted to comfort them and give them life, but they didn’t want that, and there was nothing He could do to change it. God didn’t get His way.
In Ezekiel 22, God refers to Israel’s rebellion and the punishment that was due to come upon them because they had refused to walk in covenant with Him. Staying in obedience to their covenant was their protection against the curse in the earth that resulted from man’s sin. As long as they obeyed God, they were protected. But when they rebelled, the curse required punishment and sometimes destruction.
God said that He did not want that punishment and destruction to come on His people, and He sought for just one person to stand in the gap and intercede for the nation so that He could keep it from coming on them. But He says He could find no one to intercede, so He was forced to let the destruction come upon Israel. God didn’t get things to go His way.
Christians must remember that because God placed man in control on earth — and man then believed Satan’s lies and submitted to him — Satan has a legal right to operate on this earth until God shuts everything down, and starts anew. Jesus came as a man and bought back man’s right to rule on earth and turn things back over to God, but that didn’t move Satan off the planet. And God’s authority controls only as far as the church executes that authority. (For expanded explanation, see online appendix: directions on p. 53). So God has to allow some things to happen that He doesn’t want — because man allows those things to happen.
Many people think that God allows only what He wants to happen. Not true. If a man decides to murder another person, unless a believer is praying so that God can legally intervene and interrupt that act, He has to allow that person to commit murder. In the same way He has to allow drunkenness, adultery, greed, wars, pornography, and so on.
Now, coming back to Job. The devil tries to get God to do something evil to Job. One passage in chapter two says God accused Satan of trying to incite Him (tempt Him) to hurt Job. But being tempted does not mean that He submitted to that temptation. He did not.
What He said to Satan was what He was required to say legally at that point in man’s history. He said, “Behold, he is in your power.” That word power is the word for domain or kingdom. What God told the devil was, “I recognize that Job is in your domain, and you can do almost anything you want to him, but I forbid you to take his life.”
What does it mean to say Job was in Satan’s domain? Colossians 1:13 tells us that through Jesus’ work in believers’ hearts, God has been able to deliver them from the “domain of darkness to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” The “domain of darkness” is the kingdom, domain, or area in which Satan has rulership. Remember, until Jesus came and paid the price for sin, Satan had rulership in the entire earth. Even Jesus refers to him as the “prince of this world.” (John 14:30). (For expanded explanation, see online appendix: directions on p. 53).
So to begin with, Job is living in the domain ruled legally by Satan. Moreover, he has no active covenant relationship with God, no Bible, no prophetic words, and virtually no first-hand knowledge of God to fall back on. He mourns the fact that he has nothing in written form that will help him understand God. Out of ignorance, Job sees God as his adversary and says, “Behold, my desire is that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book. Surely I would take it upon my shoulder, and bind it as a crown to me.” (Job 31:35-36).
This situation is made even worse by Job’s intense fear. He says himself that the catastrophes that have befallen him are the things he “greatly feared” would come upon him.
It’s easy to see some of that fear in operation concerning his children. Chapter one says that they liked to feast together,and that Job feared that when they were involved in those feasts, they might be sinning and cursing God. He spoke those fears out of his mouth, thereby giving them life and power. (Jesus said in Matthew 12 that men spoke out of what was in their hearts, and that those words brought forth real things. Proverbs 18: 21 says that life and death are in the power of the tongue.) Job was actually so afraid that something bad would happen to them that he made sacrifices for them regularly, hoping to stave off the evil that he feared they were courting.
Fear is a verb with an active component – like faith – and when it is in full force, it results in actions. Since Job says that the evil things that came upon him were his greatest fears, the reader can assume that he thought about them and talked about them consistently. That’s what humans do when they greatly fear something. Fear is actually a kind of reverse faith. It results from a person believing something so strongly that he acts and speaks accordingly, releasing the spiritual energy of that force of fear the way a person believing God’s Word releases the spiritual force of faith. There have even been scientific studies conducted and reports published that seem to bear out the theory that enough fear, when acted on, can actually open the door to that which was feared. (For specific references and more information, see The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale, Fawcett Columbine Edition, pp. 116, 144, 178 )
According to the Word of God, fear is an evil spirit, and when man activates it with his own mental and spiritual energy, he releases it to bring evil things into the natural realm where he lives. Allowing a spirit of fear to work in one’s life opens the door to other spirits and their work as well. That is why the Lord has been so faithful to tell the human race at least 365 times in His Word that they need to avoid fear.
Added to that problem was Job’s pride and his own ego, which got in his way of receiving greater accurate revelation about God and His character. However, that particular problem requires its own chapter and will be dealt with in a later section of this book. It is sufficient here to say that the result of all of these human frailties was that Job literally opened the door to all kinds of evil, and God, bound by His own Word and His commitment to abide by it, could not change the fact that this man had torn down any hedge of protection their might have been and allowed the devil the right to work in his life.
So God was not telling Satan, “Go ahead; I’m giving him into your power.” He was simply stepping back and acknowledging the legal facts that had Him bound. But because Job had evidently been faithful to God to the best of his knowledge at the time, God found enough ground to be able to require the devil to spare Job’s life.
And, of course, when the “mish-mash” of ignorant conversation by four men who knew nothing about what they were talking about finally came to an end, God was able to get Job into a faith mode by calling on him to pray for his friends. And as a result, God then had an open door to bless Job and restore great things to him. But that’s jumping ahead. There are a number of other fallacies in this story that discolor the character of God, and they need to be dealt with first. The next chapter will begin to look at them in some detail.
CHAPTER FOUR: RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD
Another serious problem with the book of Job is that readers make the mistake of assuming that because a statement is made in the Bible, that statement has to be a truth — or it has to be something God agrees with. That idea is a fallacy, and it is also why God admonishes his people, as Paul did Timothy, to learn to “rightly divide the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Think about it: The Bible is full of stories of people who do not know God at all – some of whom even cursed Him and terrorized His followers. Those people are quoted in scripture so that the reader will know what they felt and how they acted. But everything they said is not a fact — nor is it something God wants his followers to believe. The statements of these people are truly reported — but they are not statements of truth.
It is incumbent upon any Christian who really wants to know God and become like Him to learn to determine which statements in scripture are simply statements relating events or other people’s opinions or words — and which statements are God’s covenant principles and promises. Only those statements that are God’s own personal statements to man concerning His plans for man’s salvation and His principles of interacting with man are to be taken as His truth. Those are the statements upon which people must build their relationship with God and upon which they can rely confidently for their future in eternity.
The book of Job is full of statements – by Job, his wife, and all of his friends – which are definitely not truths. They are not accurate in the least, but are the product of their finite human reasoning, trying to explain the Creator of the universe and His ways. And even that reasoning is founded in basic ignorance of the spiritual realm and the Creator of the universe. They may have been intelligent men, but intelligence makes no difference if the information necessary to understanding isn’t available. A man can be a genius, yet have no access to true information concerning a subject or a circumstance upon which to base any judgments or decisions, so he is ignorant concerning that particular subject.
That Job and his friends were ignorant concerning God and His ways with man is clearly evident. In fact, this study of Job does not begin to have room to deal with all of the statements made by these men which are totally dis-proven when Jesus comes on the scene in the New Testament. But for the sake of clarity, this chapter will deal with a few of them.
In chapter one, after Job receives the last report concerning all of his losses, he makes the following statement: “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.” This particular passage has been accepted into the mainstream of Christendom, quoted, slobbered over, included in thousands of funeral services, and even used to supposedly “console” grieving survivors concerning the loss of their loved ones. The problem is that in the mind set of most Christians, a statement like this one sounds “holy.” It amounts to another way of saying, “Well, God is in control, and He knows best.” Or another way of saying, “None of this would have happened if God hadn’t wanted it to.”
But the truth is — Wait —
Does the church want the truth? Perhaps now is the time to ask that question. Do the majority of Christians really want to know the truth? Because if they do recognize that truth — that God is not always in control because He has chosen to give man some control through the covenant — then the Christians are going to have to stop using that verse as a cop-out. They are going to have to step back and say, “Wait a minute. I have a part to play in this. The devil has a part to play in this. What does my covenant say? Have I failed to learn how to walk in that covenant correctly? What does the promise of God say? Is there a condition required by that promise that I have failed to meet?”
Knowing the real truth makes the Christian responsible for a whole lot more than he’s responsible for if he can always toss off some serious loss of a blessing by saying, “Oh, well, the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away whenever He wants to. I have nothing to do with it.”
Well, where does one go for the truth in this instance? The same place God sends His people for every answer: to Jesus Christ. Jesus was quite explicit when He was teaching His followers how to recognize their God versus their enemy. He said, in John 10:10: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
It couldn’t be any more clear. Jesus has, in two sentences, rightly divided the Word of God and drawn the battle lines. He — representing all that God is — has come to give life only, and that in abundance. The thief is the one who steals, kills, and destroys. The devil is described as a liar and a thief at other places in scripture, so his identity should be clear to any student of the Bible. The reader also needs to bear in mind that even losses due to destruction caused by elements of nature are the result of the enemy’s interference in those forces. Because the devil has a right to operate on earth (including its atmosphere), and because he is a spiritual being and knows how to use spiritual power, he can make use of natural elements for his own destructive ends.
To sum it up simply, if the Christian — or anyone else — is experiencing loss as a result of having something stolen, something killed, or something destroyed, Jesus says God didn’t do it. So when Job says, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” is his statement true? It cannot be true! Either Job is wrong, or Jesus is wrong. That decision shouldn’t take more than one second to make. “Well, then,” the reader may ask, “does that mean the Bible is wrong?” No. The Bible has truly reported Job’s statement. But Job was wrong! His statement itself is the result of Job’s ignorance concerning who gives and who takes away.
Job himself makes it clear that he is in ignorance because he says in chapter 9, verse 24, “The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; He covers the faces of its judges so that they are blinded to justice. If it is not God, who then is it responsible for all this inequality?” (Amplified Bible). Job is at least honest at this point. He says, “If God isn’t the one responsible for everything being the way it is, then who is?” He honestly doesn’t know. So he assumes that his opinion is correct. This attitude has been man’s downfall in all generations when he has tried to explain and understand God by his own finite mind.
Job is missing two very important bits of information here. First of all, he has given absolutely no consideration to the fact that he has an enemy in power on the earth: Satan. He evidently has no knowledge of Satan — or he has become like so many modern Christians — and would rather ignore him and blame God for everything. Moreover, while Job recognizes that the earth has been given into the hand of the wicked, he doesn’t recognize that it was man — not God — who handed the earth over to Satan and his forces. Job seems to be in ignorance concerning the sin in the garden, by which man chose to disobey God and submit to Satan, thereby giving him a legal right to take control in the earth. God had given man the legal control of the planet, telling Adam and Eve clearly to “rule” over every creature and to “subdue the earth” — bring it into subjection to their authority and control.
Since Adam and Eve chose not to rule over the serpent, but to believe him and obey his admonition, thereby rebelling against God, they subjugated themselves and their domain to him and his power. Job seems unaware of this fact, but he is definitely aware of the consequences of it: the fact that the earth is, at the time of Job’s life, in the hands of the wicked. (Until such time as Jesus came as a human being to win back that rulership for the human race and for God.)
But Job blames God. Moreover, he says in the two verses above verse 24, “God destroys the blameless and the wicked,” and then goes on to add, “He mocks at the calamity and trial of the innocent.” Not so. Whether Abraham was a contemporary of Job or a forerunner, his experience with God, in covenant, was that God would not slay the innocent with the wicked, nor would He laugh at their calamity. In fact Abraham had a long talk with the Lord about that very subject when the future of Sodom was at stake, and Abraham, who had a better understanding than Job concerning God, made a point to the Lord that he was sure God would not slay the innocent with the wicked. (Genesis 18:25).
David has something to say on this subject as well. God identifies David in words that He uses for no other major spiritual leader in scripture: He says David is “a man after My own heart.” (Acts 13:22).Now here’s a man who had spent years out in the fields as a shepherd, communing with God, and as a result, penning hundreds of psalms describing God and His relationship with man.
In Psalm 91, David gives an incredibly detailed account of how all-encompassing God’s protection is for those of His creation who keep themselves in an intimate relationship with Him (dwelling “in His secret place” and “under His shadow”). Like any of the promises of God, these promises have provisions. Man must, first of all, know that the promises exist; then he must believe them enough to make sure he meets the provisions; then he must activate his faith in receiving and applying those promises to his own individual life.
That’s the process by which every believer received the new birth experience. He heard the promise that he could be saved by calling on Jesus and His finished work; he obeyed the provisions of that promise; then he applied it to his life by faith, accepting the fact that he was now a child of God. He spoke it out of his mouth and lived daily in agreement with the Word of God concerning his salvation. So it is with all of God’s promises.
And according to Psalm 91, the man who will believe the words of this Psalm and apply them to himself by his lifestyle and his own words — who will put himself and keep himself in intimate relationship with God — will be kept from terror, attack from his enemies, pestilence, sudden death, and all kinds of plagues and calamity. Moreover, the Lord will deliver him from all trouble.
And as far as Job’s statement that God “slays the innocent with the wicked,” is concerned, this Psalm written by the “man after God’s own heart” says to the innocent and Godly man: “a thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.”
Now, if all of the promises in Psalm 91 are true, something’s wrong in Job’s life. He must not have been in that intimate relationship with God. In fact, according to him, he didn’t even know about any of these promises, and he obviously didn’t believe for them to come to pass in his life, because he says he was continuously fearful — even greatly fearful — so his lifestyle and his words could not have lined up with these words of God. And, once again, it is important to cite that Job seems to have had absolutely no written record of anything God had said or done concerning a covenant relationship with man.
One of Job’s other frequent complaints is that when he calls to God, God will not answer him. He says this a number of times in different ways, but, here again, his statements are diametrically opposed to everything else in scripture that is a promise or covenant principle set forth by God Himself. Again, in Psalm 91, God addresses this issue with these words: “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him.” Another similar promise is found in Jeremiah 19:12-13: “Then shall ye call upon me and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
David has something else to say, in Psalm 41, that counters another of Job’s complaints that was rooted in ignorance of God. Job refers to himself in chapter 29 as a person who faithfully took care of the poor, the fatherless, the widows, the blind, and the lame. If that had been true, and he had been in a covenant relationship with God as David was, he would have known God’s promise to give special care and protection to the people who did those things. David talks, in Psalm 41, about how God treats the man or woman who specifically cares for the poor, the weak, and the sick. That Psalm says the Lord will deliver that man in the day of trouble, He will protect him and keep him alive, and He will refuse to give him over to the desire of his enemies. But Job is in total ignorance of a God like that.
These few examples are, by no means, the complete picture of Job’s total misunderstanding of the situation he’s in. He consistently accuses God of being his enemy and the perpetrator of all that is darkness, hardship, and evil in his experiences. But every time, the problem is rooted in his lack of knowledge and understanding, lack of intimate relationship, and, ultimately, lack of covenant with God.
To be sure, Job says a few things that are correct. In spite of all he believes God has done to hurt him, he still seems to have some degree of understanding that this God will be the only one who can deliver him and will also be the only one who will control where Job spends eternity. He refers to the fact that he knows that his “Redeemer” lives, and that he will eventually see Him when this fleshly life has come to an end.(Job 19:25).
And it is also true that the Word says that even in Job’s ignorant responses, he did not act in a way that was considered sinful. Job 1:22 says, “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” That word “charged” means to attribute folly to someone. So the indication is that, although Job accused God of doing evil, he did so out of honest ignorance and refused to judge God as evil or hold Him guilty of wrongdoing. Therefore, even though Job is wrong in his estimation of God, he is not held guilty of deliberately rebelling against Him or blaspheming Him.
But the reader needs to be careful not to take this statement as an indication that Job is correct in his judgment of God. Another similar statement comes close to the end of the book when God speaks to Job’s friends and says, “Ye have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.” (Job 42:7). But God does not say this about Job until Job himself has changed his tune completely — and then only after God spent four chapters worth of time getting him straightened out.
When all is said and done, Job spends the vast majority of his time doing exactly what Elihu accuses him of in chapter 35, verse 16: “Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.”
CHAPTER FIVE: ‘PRIDE GOETH BEFORE A FALL’
The quote by Elihu which closes chapter four of this book could be ignored by the reader and attributed to the man’s own prejudices except for the fact that God Himself uses almost the identical words when He finally gets fed up with Job’s grandiose bellyaching and decides to set him straight. Before looking at that specific conversation, however, the reader needs to note one other lengthy statement by Job himself.
In chapter 13, verses 13-27, he says, “Hold your peace! Let me alone, so I may speak, and let come on me what will. Why should I … put my life in my hand [incurring the danger of God’s wrath]? nevertheless I will maintain and argue my ways before Him – even to His face. … Listen diligently to my speech, and let my declaration be in your ears. Behold now, I have prepared my case; I know that I shall be justified …. Who is he who will argue against and refute me?” (Amplified)
Then he speaks directly to God: “Then [Lord] call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and You answer me. How many are my iniquities and sins [that so much sorrow should come to me]? Make me recognize and know my transgression and my sin. … For You write bitter things against me [in Your bill of indictment], and make me inherit and be accountable now for the iniquities of my youth.” (Amplified).
Again, it’s evident that Job did not understand a covenant relationship, nor did he have one with God. Men in covenant with God understand that there is forgiveness of sins as a result of sacrifices instituted by God (and ultimately, according to Philippians chapter 2, the destruction of all those sins and the indictments against man as a result of Jesus Christ and His final sacrifice.) But Job understands none of this. Nor does he understand his own sins, which have indeed opened the door to what he has suffered.
As noted earlier, Job’s lack of covenant, along with his fear and pride, have put him in the enemy’s territory and opened the door to Satan’s attacks. But the reader sees absolutely no repentance in Job at this point. In fact, he insists that even if it costs him his life, he is determined to “argue his ways before God” and prove that he is “justified” and that there is no one who can “argue against him and refute him.”
This attitude denotes abject arrogance on Job’s part, as well as ignorance. And the ignorance goes so far as to deny the resurrection of the dead: “For there is hope of a tree, it if be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender shoots of it will not cease. [But there is no such hope for man.] … man must die and lie prostrate; yes, man breathes his last, and where is he? … man lies down and does not rise. … As waters wear away the stones, and as floods wash away the soil of the earth; so You, O Lord, destroy the hope of man.” (Job 14: 7, 10, 12, 19, Amplified). At this juncture, Job is exceedingly proud of himself: proud of how “good” he is; proud of how much he “knows.”
However, as the reader continues throughout the book and finally comes to chapter 38, he comes face-to-face with, not only the climax of the story, but with the truth. In short, the reader – and Job – come face-to-face with God Himself. Surely many a Bible student has wondered why God took so long to get fed up with Job’s attitude and words. But being a gracious and merciful God allows Him to patiently withstand such foolish behavior, not only from Job, but from so many of His misguided children today as well.
But once God gets fed up, He leaves no doubt about where He stands. Beginning with verse one of chapter 38, and continuing through to the end of chapter 41, God sets the record straight. “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now your loins like a man, and I will demand of you, and you declare to Me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Declare if you have and know understanding. Who determined the measures of the earth, if you know? Upon what were the foundations of it fastened, or who laid its cornerstone …?’”(Amplified).
And so goes God’s inquisition of this egotistical man, until he brings Job to a thorough understanding of the fact that he knows virtually nothing when it comes to the subject of God. In modern English, the words would read something like, “Just who do you think you are, spouting out all this ignorance? Now stand up like a man, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and let Me teach you a few things!”
The Message paraphrase comes beautifully close to the wording God would surely choose if He were writing this to the 21st century man: “And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a violent storm. He said: ‘Why do you confuse the issue? Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about? Pull yourself together, Job! Up on your feet! Stand tall! I have some questions for you, and I want some straight answers. Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much! …” (Job 38:1-4).
Then at the beginning of chapter 40, God becomes even more direct: “Then the Lord said to Job, ‘Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.’ Then Job answered the Lord and said, ‘Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee? I lay my hand on my mouth. Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add no more.’ The the Lord answered Job out of the storm, and said, ‘Now gird up your loins like a man; I will ask you, and you instruct Me. Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn me that you may be justified? Or do you have an arm like God and can you thunder with a voice like His? Adorn yourself with eminence and dignity; and clothe yourself with honor and majesty.’” (Job 40:1-10 NAS).
And, once again, The Message paraphrase reflects these sentiments so perfectly in 21st-century language: “God then confronted Job directly: ‘Now what do you have to say for yourself? Are you going to haul me, the Mighty One, into court and press charges?’” Job answers God: “’I’m ready to shut up and listen,’ Job answered: ‘I am speechless, in awe – words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.’”
After forty-eight more verses of God’s direct interrogation, Job is finally able to see himself as he really is, and the true nature of his boasting comes to light: “Then Job answered the Lord, and said, ‘ … I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. [You said] ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask Thee, and do Thou instruct me.’ I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees Thee; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.’” (Job 42:3-6, NAS).
And once more The Message allows the everyday language of modern man to make these points even more clear: “Job answered God: ‘ … You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?” I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, “Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.” I admit I once lived by rumors of You; now I have it all firsthand – from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry – forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.’”
For the very first time in forty-one chapters of this man’s story, he finally sees the truth about himself. And, most importantly, the student of the Bible now sees the truth about him and the situation he is in. Now the picture is complete and true to life. Here is a man who, although he was a faithful servant of the Creator of the universe to the best of his knowledge, and his heart was completely devoted to that Creator, as far as he knew, yet he did not truly know that Creator at all. He says he had based his ideas about God on what he had heard from others (who were also ignorant). And, of course, some of his earlier statements make it obvious that he based some of his judgment concerning God on his own assumptions from what he saw and felt in the natural world.
By not knowing and understanding God, and by not having a covenant relationship with Him, Job was prey to spirits of fear and pride, and he had let them have places of rulership in his life to the point that he had actually left himself and his family open to the devil’s attack.
But the story does not end here, with Job’s new revelation concerning Himself and His God. And, in fact, his new ability to see himself as he is and to repent (which means to turn around 180 degrees) allows God to move Job into new acts of faith which will result in great blessing for him and his friends.
CHAPTER SIX: KNOWING TRUTH EQUALS FREEDOM
Once Job knows the truth about himself and about God, he is set free from the devil’s lies and his own deception and is able to respond to that truth with an act of faith: repentance and new commitment to God. And once Job is operating in repentance and faith, God is able to move in blessing.
His first move is to address Job’s three friends and let them know that since they have not seen fit to acknowledge their ignorance and repent, they are still in an unfit state to pray for any help from God themselves. “After the Lord had spoken … to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has.’” (Job 42:7, Amplified). Now the reader needs to be cautious here, that he does not interpret this statement to mean that Job has been saying the right things about God all along. Remember, the Lord has just spent three chapters arraigning Job for his words spoken out of ignorance concerning God. No, this statement refers only to Job’s words once he recognizes his own ignorance and pride and repents.
God continues His instructions to Eliphaz in verse eight: “Now therefore take seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept [his prayer] that I deal not with you after your folly, in that you have not spoken of Me the thing which is right, like My servant Job. So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the Lord commanded them; and the Lord accepted [Job’s prayer]. And the Lord turned the captivity of Job and restored his fortunes, when he prayed for his friends; also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”
Once Job is back in faith, he is able to release that faith in prayer for his friends. And it works for Job the way it works for the believers in the Body of Christ to this very day: when they pray for others, the doors are open for God to bless them as well. So through this doorway of faith, which Job opens through repentance and prayer for others (even others who have hurt him), God gives Job abundant blessings in every area of his life.
And just as Job’s new understanding of the truth set him free, so the believer’s understanding of the truth about the book of Job will set him free in his understanding of God. It was God who had given Job his abundant blessings. God says in Deuteronomy 8:18 that it is He that gives His people the power to make wealth. He also says that children are His reward to man. (Psalm 127:3). So the blessings all came from God. It was the devil who killed, stole, and destroyed in Job’s life. And he had an open avenue to do so because of Job’s lack of covenant, his great fear, and his inherent pride. Once again, just as in the Garden, man allowed Satan a place in his life and the right to function there.
But it is God who works with Job to bring him back to a place of knowing the truth and repenting, actions necessary to moving in faith. And it is God alone who gives the blessings in response to that faith.
And just as the truth set Job free and opened his life to abundance from God, so the truths contained within this study of Job – when received and applied diligently – will set each reader free and open his life to more of God’s abundance as well.
An ONLINE APPENDIX is available at the St. Ellen
Press website. It offers expanded explanations of the
passages earmarked in this text as areas that may
prompt readers to seek further details and references.
To access the appendix, click the link below.