Lessons From The Whirlwind (One)

(More Bible Studies Available At www.marktabata.com)

It is written:

Job 38:1-Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

The Book of Job contains some of the most powerful lessons for children of God.

Years ago, our church did a study of the Book of Job. At the beginning of the study, a member of our congregation told me, “Brother Mark, I don’t know why the Book of Job is even in the Bible. It doesn’t really seem that Job’s life made much of a difference.” I responded, “Brother ______, if Job had not lived and gone through what he did, then we would not still be talking about him and the lessons we learn from him all these years later!”

The truth is, the Book of Job is likely the oldest Book in the Bible-and it deserves as much of our attention now as it ever has! Henry Morris tells us some valuable background information to this Book:

“As noted above, its setting, structure, theme, and internal references correspond more to the early chapters of Genesis than to any other section of Scripture. This correlates beautifully with the fact that ancient Jewish tradition has always attributed it to Moses, not to some unknown dramatist of the Solomonic or exile periods. Furthermore, modern archaeological research supports the probability that Job’s author lived no later than the time of Moses, and probably much earlier. The name Job has been found in a number of tablets dated 2,000 B.C. (the time of Abraham) or earlier. These include Akkadian documents from Tel-el-Amarna, Mari, and Alalakh, and the Execration Texts from Egypt. The name “Bildad” has also been noted in a cuneiform text from this period. Finally, a number of Sumerian documents incorporate the literary motif of the righteous sufferer. None of these archaeological references should be taken as referring to the actual Biblical record, of course. Nevertheless, they do confirm the high probability that the biblical account was written sometime in the same general period. Writers of many centuries later could hardly have been aware of these archaeological data. The tradition of Mosaic authorship of Job should, therefore, be taken quite seriously, but in the same sense that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are ascribed to Moses. The events in both these records took place long before Moses’ time, so he would necessarily have to draw on earlier records. In the case of Genesis 1-11, the evidence is quite strong that tablets written by the ancient patriarchs were handed down from Adam to Noah to Shem and so on, finally to be compiled and edited by Moses.2 In somewhat the same fashion, Moses must have obtained the tablets recounting Job’s experiences, recognizing them as a supremely important revelation of God’s dealings with all men, even with those outside his covenant relationship with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then, in the way he incorporated Genesis along with his personal writings in the other four books of the Pentateuch, he prepared the Book of Job for later generations of Israelites, who soon recognized it as inspired Scripture. As to when Moses did this, it is probable that he acquired the documents during his forty-year exile in Midian (Acts 7:23, 30), which is near Edom and Uz. It is possible that Moses met some of Job’s children or grandchildren during this time and persuaded them to part with the Joban tablets. From them, Moses could have learned more about God and perhaps more insight on the persecutions he and the people of Israel were experiencing. He also could have used them to instruct the Israelites later. He probably would not have had access at this time to the Genesis documents, which had been handed down through Jacob and were presumably in safekeeping in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were dwelling. Later he would see these and learn how beautifully they complemented the Book of Job. The above scenario is speculative, but it is more reasonable than the speculations of those who think Job was written many centuries after Moses. The firm Jewish tradition associating Moses with the Book of Job did not spring out of thin air.”” (Henry Morris, The Remarkable Record Of Job: The Ancient Wisdom, Scientific Accuracy, & Life-Changing Message Of An Amazing Book, 180-206 (Kindle Edition); Green Forest, AR; Master Books)

The Bible is clear that Job was a very real historical person.

For example, the Prophet Ezekiel references Job along with two other well-known and corroborated people:

Ezekiel 14:14-Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 14:20-even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,” says the Lord GOD, “they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.”

Ezekiel’s reference to Job also demonstrates that Job was as well-known and famous to the Jewish people as Noah and Daniel. Furthermore, James tells us:

James 5:11-Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

Everything reminds us that the Book of Job is a Book of history. I mention this because there are many who deny that Job ever existed, and would have us to believe that Job is a fairy-tale character.

Far from it!

The Book of Job deals with the age-old question of suffering. Here is a rough outline of the Book:

Prologue (Job 1-2)

Job Curses The Day Of His Birth And Wishes He Had Never Been Born (Job 3)

Eliphaz And Job Debate (Job 4-7)

Bildad And Job Debate (Job 8-10)

Zophar And Job Debate (Job 11-14)

Eliphaz Accuses Job Of Folly And Wickedness (Job 15)

Job Tells His Friends What He Thinks Of Their Words And Counsel (Job 16-17)

Bildad And Job Debate (Job 18-19)

Zophar And Job Debate (Job 20-21)

Eliphaz And Job Debate (Job 22-24)

Bildad Proclaims That Man Cannot Be Righteous (Job 25)

Job Reflects On The Power And Control Of God, His Innocence, And The Fate Of The Wicked (Job 26-27)

Job Reflects On The Wisdom Of God (Job 28)

Job Defends His Innocence, Remembers When God Had Blessed Him And Been His Closest Friend, And His Present Suffering, And Ends His Speaking (Job 29-31)

Elihu Defends The Goodness And Righteousness Of God, While Condemning Eliphaz, Zophar, Bildad, And Job (Job 32-37)

The Lord Finally “Appears” To Job And Answers Him In A Whirlwind (Job 38-41)

Job Repents For What He Has Spoken Against God, And His Three Friends Repent When The Lord Rebukes Them; Job Is Greatly Blessed (Job 42)

In the first and second chapters of the Book, we are told about a confrontation between God and Satan regarding Job. Speaking of this interchange, one author has noted:

“First, the conversation between yhwh and the Accuser in verses 6–12 is no incidental or insignificant interchange. The narrator is portraying for us the divine throne room, known from other passages such as 1 Kings 22, Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4–5. This is yhwh’s royal assembly, the place where he announces and enacts his policy decisions for how he will govern the world. Patrick Miller perceptively points out that since ‘the maintenance of world order . . . is a responsibility of the divine assembly’, it is not surprising that a book exploring undeserved suffering begins with two important scenes in the divine council. 7 Unbeknownst to Job, the whole future course of his life is about to be determined, in a way that reflects God’s policies for how he administers all of creation. Job’s suffering has a significance far beyond himself as an individual. The canvas on which Job’s drama will play out is as large as can be. Second, we must not miss how yhwh repeats the narrator’s sterling endorsement of Job from verse 1, but adds the phrase ‘there is none like him on the earth’ (v. 8). This is very striking because the phrase is more commonly applied to God than it is to human beings. 8 This is high praise indeed! Furthermore, calling Job ‘my servant’ puts him in the privileged company of Abraham (Gen. 26: 24), Moses (Exod. 14: 31) and David (2 Sam. 7: 5). 9 Yhwh’s very high regard for Job is important to remember when we come to the debate of chapters 3–37, for both Job and his friends assume (wrongly but understandably) that Job is under the wrath of God, if for different reasons–the friends because Job has sinned, and Job because God is an irrational tyrant. The narrator is clarifying for us from the beginning that this is definitely not the case, and that God is incredibly proud of Job. John Walton astutely points out in this connection that while Job imagines himself as standing falsely accused by God and bringing a lawsuit against the Almighty, there is an important sense in which God and his policies for creation stand accused, with Job as the unwitting key witness for the defence… “We are only nine verses into this long and complex book, but already we are near its heart. Do God’s people love and fear him for his sake, as an end in himself? Or is God used a means to some other earthly end, such as having enjoyable lives? Will we enter into a relationship with God in which all we ultimately gain is God? Can we keep the secondary blessings we accrue in that relationship truly secondary and dispensable? Or are we too selfish? The question is a very great one, for a relationship with God for God’s sake only is surely the only kind of relationship that will save us. ‘[ I] f we love God for something less than himself, we cherish a desire that can fail us. We run the risk of hating Him if we do not get what we hope for.’ 15 Even more frightening is the possibility that Christians will insult God by treating a person of infinite worth as a means to some other end–all without realizing it. After all, even if we do not benefit in the same way Old Testament saints did, surely each Christian benefits from his or her faith in ways other than and secondary to the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. But who can be absolutely certain of the true state of one’s heart with regard to those blessings and the God who has given them? How can we be certain we have not become overly attached to the wrong thing? It is not until we receive the dreaded phone call from the doctor, or one of our children is in the hospital, that we learn the true quality of our love for God. Job is not an everyman, of course: there is something extreme about both his piety and his suffering. But Christopher Ash rightly says we have no reason to expect God will treat his new-covenant children any differently from the way he treated Job, even if our suffering is not as extreme as Job’s.” (Eric Ortlund, Piercing Leviathan: God’s Defeat of Evil in the Book of Job (New Studies in Biblical Theology 56), 13-16 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, IL; InterVarsity Press)

Job thus is shown to be much more than a story about a man who suffers. It is an intense spiritual battle with ramifications that echoed throughout the world of man and of angels.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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