Job 1-2

Notes for January 7, 2012

 

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Are you shocked when a pillar of the community, a young family man with small children, is killed in an auto accident? Does the sudden closing of a local factory and the subsequent loss of livelihood for hundreds of workers cause you to question God’s love, wisdom or existence?

The Book of Job presents a behind-the-scenes look at the tragedies of a good man, the misguided explanations of his friends, and the conclusion that God IS in control.

 

Dating the Book of Job (or, Why the book of Job is placed, where it is placed, on the reading schedule)

1. Job’s age.

At the time of Moses, people lived to 70 or 80 years (Psalm 90:10).

At the end of the book of Job (Job 42:16), we are told that “after this Job lived 140 years”. Whether that means that he lived to be 140, or that he lived an extra 140 years, makes little difference.

Job lived at a time before Moses, before life expectancy had decreased to seven or eight decades.

2. Absolutely no mention of Israel.

The book has 42 chapters. You would expect some mention of Moses, the law, Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, but nothing. Sacrifices are not confined to one place. No temple, no priesthood.

Job lived at a time before Israel become a nation, perhaps around the time of Abraham.

3. God Almighty / LORD (Yahweh)

God was rarely called LORD before the time of Moses. He was known as God Almighty to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 6:3). In chapters 1 and 2 of Job the narrator called God the “LORD”, but in the discussions of the other 40 chapters between Job and his “friends”, the word LORD is only mentioned once. While the name “Almighty” is used continually.

The writer of the book may have lived at/after the time of Moses; but Job himself probably lived before Moses, around the time of the Patriarchs.

For these reasons we are reading the book of Job after Genesis 11:26.

 

A Reader’s Outline of the Book of Job

1.  Bad things happen to a good person (chapters 1-2)

2.  Well-meaning friends try to explain such a turn of events (chapters 3-37)

3.  The Lord addresses Job (chapters 38-41)

4.  A happy ending (chapter 42)

 

 

Job 1

1: Job was a good person. As with Noah before him (Genesis 6:8-9), it’s important for us to understand that this does not mean that Job was born without sin, or even that he was able to rid himself of sin; for we know that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This does not mean that his family and friends recognized his contributions to his community; for what value have the opinions of men in light of an absolutely holy God?

Looking a bit more closely, we see that Job was perfect and upright-not in physical stature and posture-but in spiritual matters. He feared God; and he turned away from evil. Moreover, this is the very testimony of God Himself concerning Job.

Clearly God accepted Job. Does God accept you?

Please keep this forefront in your mind as you read the rest of the book and see how Job’s friends, unable to explain the tragedies of Job’s life in any other way, contradict the testimony of God and posit that bad things only happen to people who have sinned.

2-5:  Job was a concerned father. While his 7 sons and 3 daughters took turns entertaining one another, Job rose early to intercede for them, just in case the children had sinned and cursed God, even if only in their hearts.

Not only did Job care for the souls of his children, he also knew well both the human condition and the divine standards. Sin must have its atonement or we shall be unable to stand before God; and sin is not only of hand and feet activity, but also of the lip and mind. Read Jesus’ application of the law (Matthew 5:21-48) to see that murder is more than firing a gun, that adultery is more than dirty bed sheets, etc.

6-12: The unseen conflict. If these verses were missing from the text, we might agree with Job’s friends in their interpretation of subsequent events. But these verses ARE in the text, and we see what the friends did not-that bad things happened to Job BECAUSE he was good! Job was not being punished, nor was God engaging in some kind of cruel torture. Here was a trial of faith that worked out patience (James 1:3); and Job’s endurance through it all without sin is an example of how to go through suffering for us all (James 5;10-11).

7: Where have you been? Suppose that God asked you that question.

8:  Have you considered my servant Job? There is great value in knowing how other saints have practiced their faith.

9:  Do you serve God for nothing, or is your religion based upon your expectations of what you will receive from God, like a little child’s good behavior the weeks before Christmas?

10:  Does God put a hedge around His people? Job (3:23) thought that God hedged him in with evil; the devil thought God hedged Job in to prevent evil.

12:  Who was in control, who had the last word?  Don’t forget it!

13-19: Loss of businesses, loss of family. Four messengers in succession arrive to announce one tragedy after another. All at once Job is faced with having lost his herds, his flocks, his servants and his children.

And all of this with the permission and oversight of God.

And none of this because of some sin in Job’s life.

20-22: What would you do? Job’s grief led him to worship. Instead of asking “Why did this happen to me?” Job recognizes the almighty hand of God behind it all; and Job blesses God for it!  In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus, concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

He who had not sinned to cause the situation did not sin because of the situation.

Nor did he foolishly accuse God of misconduct!

 

Job 2

Satan does not give up easily. When he failed God’s first challenge to disprove Job’s confidence in God, the enemy of our souls suggests a second.

1-6: God’s testimony of Job remains unchanged. Oh for an unshakeable faith in God!

3: The Lord repeats that the evil that befell Job was not because of anything that Job had thought or said or done.

4-5: Satan advances the idea that self-preservation is the strongest of motivators, and that Job would deny God to save his own life.

6: God prohibits the devil from taking Job’s life. God reserves that right unto Himself.

7-10: Job is stricken from head to foot with painful boils. Can you see him scraping himself with a piece of pottery and sitting down among the ashes? What a pitiful site! Keep this picture in mind as you continue reading the book.

9:  She who should have been a help to Job becomes his temptress.

10: Job recognizes that she speaks as a fool, one who says that God, if He exists at all, is irrelevant. Job reiterates that God is in control of both good and evil.

And still Job did not sin with his lips. Did you ever notice how easy it is to sin with your lips? And often you do it? What would you have said if you had been in Job’s place?

11-13: Job’s three friends learn of the circumstances, and they agree to meet at Job’s house both to mourn with him and to comfort him. Whether they would be successful remains to be seen.

12: From a distance they didn’t even recognize Job, his visage was marred so badly (compare Isaiah 52:14).

12-13: Expressing their empathy the trio cried and wept and tore their mantles and sprinkled dust toward heaven; then for one week they sat silently with Job because they saw how great was his grief.

How to comfort a friend in his loss is never easy. To do so without dishonoring God is even more difficult.

 

Genesis 10-11:26

Notes for January 6, 2012

Genealogies revisited. As before, the descendants of the other sons are listed, and then follows the detailed account of the son through whom the Messiah would come.

Genesis 10

2-5: The sons of Japheth

5: isles of the Gentiles. Weren’t all people “Gentiles”? And, what of this division by “tongue”? Weren’t all people of one language and one speech (Genesis 11:1)? Most likely this verse is a comment on the post-Babel world.

6-20: The sons of Ham

8-10: Nimrod, a mighty one in the earth, a mighty hunter before (against?) the Lord. His kingdom began at Babel in the land of Shinar(Genesis 11:1-9). Interesting, non-Biblical and totally unverifiable, traditions about Nimrod abound.

11: Nimrod built Ninevah, which would become the capital of the Assyrian empire.

18-19: The Canaanites were to become a godless people who opposed God and His people.

Ge 10:18-19; 12:6; 13:7; 15:21; 24:3, 37; 34:30; 38:2; 50:11; Ex 3:8, 17; 13:5, 11; 23:23, 28; 33:2 34:11; Nu 13:29; 14:25, 43, 45; 21:1, 3; 33:40; De 1:7; 7:1; 11:30; 20:17; Jos 3:10; 5:1; 7:9; 9:1; 11:3; 12:8; 13:3,4; 16:10; 17:12, 13, 16, 18; 24:11; Jud 1:1, 3-5, 9, 10, 17, 27-33; 3:3, 5; 2 Sam 24:7; 1 Kings 9:16; 1 Chron 2:3; Ezra 9:1; Neh 9:8, 24; Obad 1:20; Zech 14:21.

Simon the Canaanite was one of the Apostles (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18).

19: Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin is remembered until this day. Genesis 18-19; Matthew 10:15; 11:23-24.

21-32: The sons of Shem

25: In the days of Peleg was the earth divided. Does this refer to the division of one central land mass into the various continents (so-called “Pangea”); or does this refer to the division of a unified humanity into various language and social groups; or something other?

Genesis 11:1-26

Unity is the cry of the day; everyone wants unity, whether within the country or among countries. In this chapter we see what happens when men are unified in their detest for God.

1-9: The Tower of Babel

1: One language, and one speech. And it wasn’t English.

2: Dwelling in the plain. They had been journeying. Were they looking for a suitable place to settle?

3: Tempered bricks. Construction and the building arts came early in the pages of man’s history.

4: Building our way to heaven. Did they really think that they could construct so high a tower? Did they really think that heaven was a place that could be reached by human endeavor? God does not live in a temple made by human hands (Acts 17); and no amount of work(s) will raise a man out of his sin and into the presence of God

Making ourselves a name. And they did. But instead of fame, they are known for infamy. How many a young person set out to make a name for himself only to discover his life in ruin and disrepute.

Gathering ourselves together. Instead of being gathered together by God, men gathered themselves. The US constitution guarantees the right to assemble, but don’t try to gather a lynch mob. Men are free to join hands together; but beware when men gather together for evil.

5: The Lord saw everything. God always sees everything. Notice that God took special interest in the affairs of men.

6: Man can do anything he sets his mind to. If unified language is the central ingredient to great advancement in human accomplishment, then what will come of the almost monopolistic spread of Microsoft’s computer operating system (language)?

7: God confused their language so that they could not understand each other’s speech. Most of us are familiar with the difficulties surrounding not being able to communicate because we are unfamiliar with another’s language. Do we understand the language of God.

8: The Lord scattered them, and city construction stopped. That which they wanted to avoid became reality. How did this happen. The Lord did it.

9: Babel. Know for it’s confusion of language, this abandoned city has given its name to the countless situations in which men have spoken without understanding one another.

10-26: From Shem to Abram (Abraham)

 

Father
Age at Son’s Birth
Son
Years after Son’s Birth
Age at Death
1. Shem 100 Arphaxad 500 600
2. Arphaxad 35 Salah 403 438
3. Salah 30 Eber 403 433
4. Eber 34 Peleg 430 464
5. Peleg 30 Reu 209 239
6. Reu 32 Serug 207 239
7. Serug 30 Nahor 200 239
8. Nahor 29 Terah 119 148
9. Terah 70 Abram

Notes: Compare this with the table in Genesis 5 and you will see that men have children at an earlier age, and that fathers die younger after the flood.

 

Genesis 8-9

Notes for January 5, 2012

After months on the ark – without TV, telephone or email – Noah opens the window to a new world.

Genesis 8

1:  God remembered Noah. Sometimes the believer’s obedience puts him in isolation from all outside influences. If this seclusion is prolonged, one is tempted to think that he has been abandoned, and many have driven themselves into depression because their minds were too focused on the environment rather than the Eternal, on the situation rather than the Savior. But God has promised never to leave nor to forsake His people (Hebrews 13:5); so we should remember Him and be content, knowing that all things work together for the good of God’s elect, them who love Him (Romans 8:28).

2:  The most protracted natural disaster in history came to an end.  Looking back, it was so long ago; and 6 months seems such a short time in light of the length of human history. Of course, no trouble seems good at the time; but then, and now, our troubles are but for a moment and nothing to be compared to the eternal glory that awaits the children of God (Romans 8:18).

God, who caused the rain and the floods, put an end to them when they had fulfilled His purpose. The Creator is also the Controller-there are no freak accidents in nature.

3-12: The rain stopped, but the ark continued to float (you should recall that there was no steering mechanism-it was an ark). Eventually the waters subsided and the ark came to rest upon the mountains of Ararat. Imagine the relief of those inside to sense that their gopher wood life boat had finally landed!

After about 6 weeks, Noah opened the window. A raven and a dove were set free; the scavenger bird never came back, but the dove returned. A week later (note the references to days and months and years throughout this passage) the dove was loosed again; and this time the bird returned with an olive leaf, signifying that the waters had receded.

Another week onboard, and the dove was set free again, never to return.

13: How long was Noah on the ark? Subtracting Genesis 7:11-13 from Genesis 8:14-15 we see that about a year had elapsed. When was the last time that you spent a whole day relying completely upon God? When he entered the ark, Noah didn’t know how long the adventure would last, but he obeyed. We, too, should obey God; even when we don’t know the duration or final outcome and any particular acts of obedience.

16: Go forth.  Remember, God had been inside with them the whole year.  Who would know by looking at the pitched outside?

17: Breed abundantly, be fruitful and multiply. Offspring are to be increased, not only for the perpetuation of the species, but because God is worthy of His creatures’ praise; and the more voices there are to praise Him, the better!

20-21: Noah built an altar unto the Lord; and he offered a sacrifice of every clean beast and fowl that had survived. It’s a good thing that he took more than two of these animals or they would have become extinct immediately!

The Lord accepted Noah’s offering; and the Lord, recognizing that man’s heart is sinful from birth, promised not to send a universal and temporal judgment upon the earth again (even though such might and would be deserved).

22: Further, the Lord promised that seasons of winter and summer, planting and harvesting, day and night, would remain in tact as long as the earth remained. Those in eternal hell will be tormented day and night forever (Revelation 20:10); but those in heaven will see no night (Revelation 21:25, 22:5) and have no need of planting or harvesting.

 

Genesis 9

Here, as often elsewhere, there is a break in the chapter numbering of our English Bible; but the thought continues from Chapter 8 directly into Chapter 9.

1-2: A new relationship to the animals. In Chapter 2 the animals came to Adam, and in Chapter 7 animals came to Noah. But after the flood the animals would be afraid of Man.

3: A new diet. Before the flood, Man was vegetarian; after the flood, Man was allowed to kill animals for food. (Maybe that’s why the animals became afraid of Man, the hunter.)

4: No blood in the meat allowed. See also Leviticus 17:10-14.

5-6: Sanctity of life. God establishes a rule of law: thou shalt not murder. Both beast and man who murder shall be put to death. Later, in Numbers 35, we shall see the distinction between manslaughter and murder; but for now, in more primitive society, announcing the prohibition and the punishment will suffice.

And why is God careful to enjoin men from taking each other’s lives?  Because Man was made in the image of God; and he who strikes at Man strikes not only at the mirror, but also at the God who is reflected thereby (James 3:9-10).

8: Where were the wives?

9: Seed. There’s that seed again. It seems like we can’t get away from this idea that God’s blessing is to this promised “seed”. Indeed, take away Christ Jesus the Seed and there is no blessing.

10-17: A promise to man and creation. Although creation suffers because of the sin of Adam (Romans 8:22), demonstrated most recently by the great flood judgment, God covenants never to send such a global disaster again. As a token of God’s promise, He leaves a rainbow in the sky when it rains.

Parents may joke with little children that thunder is angels bowling; but the rainbow is the weatherman’s opportunity to remind us of a faithful and covenant-keeping God.

20-27: The drunkenness of Noah, sin of Ham and the curse of Canaan. If the grandfather hadn’t gotten drunk, the son never would have so sinned, and the grandson would not have been affected by these events.

Among other things, perpetual drunkenness is an indication that one will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21). To be sure, one who never once gets drunk will never be guilty of perpetual drunkenness. Even godless societies have forbidden public drunkenness. The believer, who desires to glorify God in all that he does, should be careful not to allow himself to lose control of his conscious ability to glorify God.

What did Ham do? He “saw the nakedness of his father” and “he told his two brethren.” In Leviticus 18 and 20, to uncover the nakedness of someone close of kin was forbidden. In this situation, the sons know full well that what Ham had done was wrong; and Shem and Japheth attempted to cover up their brother’s sin; but Noah awoke and knew what his younger son had done. Apparently more than a momentary glance was Ham’s offense.

The curse came upon Canaan; but associated with it is the blessing upon Japheth and even more so upon Shem. What is good news for one is bad news for the other.

Note: In the past, some have suggested that the descendants of Ham are under this curse today; further, they read Genesis 10 to delineate which people groups specifically are under the curse of servitude. This false teaching even had proponents who went farther and taught that Ham’s descendants are genetically inferior to descendants of the other two brothers.  You will remember that the curse was actually upon Canaan; and this fact alone disproves the whole errant teaching. Let us pray that none today would take this passage to justify their racism.

 

[print_link]

Genesis 6-7

Notes for January 4, 2012

Genesis Chapters 6-10 speak of Noah-his society, his God, his character, his work, his experience, and his descendants. Nearly everybody I know has heard of Noah and the ark; but very few actually know why he built it, or what happened after the flood.

Other Biblical references to Noah:

Isa 54:9 For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

Eze 14:14 Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.

Eze 14:20 Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

Heb 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

1 Pe 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

2 Pe 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

Genesis 6

The last chapter ended on a high note–God’s promise to send one to conquer the serpent was not thwarted by Cain’s murder of Abel, as evidenced by the birth of Seth and men calling on the name of the Lord. Sadly, chapter 6 shows us that humanity was divided into two groups: those who loved God and those who had no thought of God at all. Today the same division exists. Not political divisions, not educational divisions, not economical divisions. There is a great spiritual divide today as there was in the days of Noah– the sons of God separated from sons of men, those who have been twice born and those who have been born but once.

2: Biblical separation, the eternal truth that God’s people should not ally themselves with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1), was ignored by the children of God. Unlike Adam who received the wife of God’s choosing, these who represented God’s saving family chose wives for themselves from among the daughters of the unsaved.

3: God tolerated this confusion for a while, as He so graciously and often does (Acts 17:30). Note mention here of the Spirit of God (remember Genesis 1:2?) and see how early in the Bible we are introduced to God in multiple persons (not personalities!). The concept of a triune God was not foreign to Old Testament saints.

4: Mighty men, men of renown, giants, were born of these unholy marriages.

5: The world soon turned away from God (turned by these mighty men?); and thoughts of God’s Savior were replaced by contemplation of evil. God was not in all of men’s thoughts (Psalm 10:4).

6-7: God doesn’t sin-so God cannot repent of evil that He has thought or done. God doesn’t make mistakes–so He can’t be sorry for a decision that He made. Maybe “repent” in these verses is used because we understand the concept in our own experience and it comes close to describing God in terms that understand.

8: God’s testimony regarding Noah: I will bestow my grace upon him.

9: The result of God’s grace upon Noah: he was a just man, perfect in his generations (2 Peter 2:5), and he walked with God (like Enoch before him, Genesis 5:24).

11, 13: God was disturbed by violence in the world. Shouldn’t we be disturbed by violence in our world also?

12: Further, God was disturbed by men having corrupted His way. Shouldn’t we be disturbed by widespread corruption of God’s word and way in our world also?

7, 1, 17: Although it appears that God was cutting His losses and going to Plan B, we know that from the beginning, even before the beginning, God’s eternal plan was that Christ would be born to save His people from their sins. Worldwide corruption in Noah’s day was no more surprise to God than is similar worldwide corruption in our day. Don’t despair; have faith in God.

8,18: God chose Noah; and God announced His intent to save Noah, his three sons, and the wives of the four of them from the coming judgment. Would anyone question the justice of this limited salvation? Only eight souls from the total world population? That’s only a remnant of the needy. Yes, God always saves a remnant of undeserving souls.

15-16: 300 x 50 x 30 cubits. As Bill Cosby asked, “What’s a cubit?” Usually a cubit is said to be the distance from one’s elbow to the tip of his outstretched fingers, or approximately 18 inches or 1 1/2 feet. That’s a rather large wooden box.

18-21: God’s covenant/promise with Noah was to save him and along with him would be his family and a sample of all kinds of animals and birds. Talk about protecting endangered species!

22: And Noah did everything as God commanded. Wouldn’t you? Do you?

Genesis 7

1: Come into the ark. Not “Go”. God was inside inviting Noah and his family to join Him. Imagine a whole world, and safety was only to be had inside a small and unglamorous wooden box. Jesus Christ-to the Jews, a stumblingblock; to the Greeks, foolishness. Yes safety for the sinner is to be found only in Christ.

2: Most people are ignorant of this verse! By 7’s and by 2’s. What is this clean/unclean distinction? Where did that idea come from? God, of course. It’s a distinction that will be explained in more detail in the book of Leviticus; and it illustrates the eternal principle that what God declares to be right is right; and what God declares to be wrong is wrong.

4: Noah and his family were shut up inside the ark for 7 days before the rain started. Remember that it had never rained before. Remember that God’s creative act encompassed six days and that God rested on the seventh–culminating a week of creation activity. From the beginning time has been reckoned by days and weeks.

4, 12: How many days did it rain? How old was Noah when he entered the ark.

16: Who shut the door?

20: How high above the mountain peaks did the water rise?

21: What happened to the animals and men who were not inside the ark? What happens to men who are outside Christ?