Lessons From The Whirlwind (Three)

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It is written:

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

As Job discusses his suffering with his three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar), he tells them that he wishes that he had not been conceived and born.

He declares:

Job 3:3-10- “May the day perish on which I was born, And the night in which it was said, ‘A male child is conceived.’ 4  May that day be darkness; May God above not seek it, Nor the light shine upon it. 5  May darkness and the shadow of death claim it; May a cloud settle on it; May the blackness of the day terrify it. 6  As for that night, may darkness seize it; May it not rejoice among the days of the year, May it not come into the number of the months. 7  Oh, may that night be barren! May no joyful shout come into it! 8  May those curse it who curse the day, Those who are ready to arouse Leviathan. 9  May the stars of its morning be dark; May it look for light, but have none, And not see the dawning of the day; 10  Because it did not shut up the doors of my mother’s womb, Nor hide sorrow from my eyes.

This text of Scripture reveals to us that Job is not only decrying the day of his birth: instead, he is claiming that he wishes the world itself were ended and unraveled.

How do we see this in Job’s words?

First, notice Job’s reference to the “womb.” It is likely that Job’s references here encompass far more than the womb of his literal mother. Recall that Job had said earlier:

Job 1:21-And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

The “womb” that Job is speaking of here goes beyond his mother’s womb: it encompasses the “womb” of the Earth itself!

“Does this poetic phrase refer to reincarnation? Actually scholars have found that the Hebrew word for “womb” (shammah) is used here in a figurative sense to depict the “earth” from which we came. This alludes to Genesis 3: 19 where God curses Adam with physical death… The ideas of “earth” and “womb” are put together in Psalm 139: 13, 15… This is borne out in Ecclesiasticus 40: 1 by the ancient Hebrew writer Ben Sira: “Much labor was created for every man, and a heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam, from the day they come forth from their mother’s womb, till the day they return to the Mother of all. (Norman Geisler and J. Yutaka Amano, The Reincarnation Sensation, (Wheaton, Illinois; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.). pp. 134-135.)

Second, as we delve into the text of Job 3 in greater detail, we see this hatred for all existence made even more clear.

“The first clause of verse 4 echoes God’s initial calling into existence of light in Genesis 1: 327–the first hint that Job is restricting his curse not merely to his own existence, but to the whole world. A second hint comes in the next verse, when Job calls on the ‘shadow of death’ (my tr.) to claim the day he was born (cf. Ps. 23: 4). This is no natural darkness Job is summoning to seize, to dwell on, to terrify his birthday; he hopes spiritual darkness will ‘win back [its] demonic rights’ over creation. 28 Unusually, verses 4–6 each have three clauses, as if the vigour and viciousness of Job’s curse cannot be contained within the normal two-part structure of a poetic line. Leviathan himself is mentioned in verse 8, where Job cheers on those magicians skilled to rouse the chaos monster that would overwhelm creation. Ancient Egyptians imagined that a giant serpent, Apep, would try to swallow the sun (Ra) each night as it travelled through the underworld on a ship, and their priests had extensive magic rituals that would help to repel that chaos so that the normal order of sunrise could continue each day. 29 Job here poetically calls on these religious specialists to reverse their normal procedure and help chaos win–but, of course, if Leviathan is aroused, the ‘fleeing serpent’ (see Job 26: 12–13) will do far more than just swallow Job’s day. All light and life will be endangered. The next verse ends Job’s curse in a moving way as we watch the stars at twilight wink out and the ‘eyelids’ of morning wake to nothing (v. 9)….“Fortunately, when we take into account Job’s probable perspective on the events of chapters 1–2, these questions become unnecessary. From his vantage point Job has lost God’s favour and come under God’s fiercest wrath, for no reason Job can think of. His curse on creation is tantamount to affirming that if he cannot live under God’s favour and within his friendship, Job sees no point ever to having lived in the first place. In other words, the blessed life of chapter 1 means nothing to him without God and God’s friendship–in fact, without God’s smile, Job cannot think of a reason for anything in creation to exist. In the light of this, we see that, for all its vociferousness, Job’s curse is something like the photographic negative of his worship from 1: 21. It expresses the same high view of God, albeit in a negative way. Job would not curse so terribly if he did not value God so deeply.” (Eric Ortlund, Piercing Leviathan: God’s Defeat of Evil in the Book of Job (New Studies in Biblical Theology 56), 22-24 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, IL; InterVarsity Press)

To Job, existence is futile unless there is a loving God that directs the course of Creation. He had been friends with this God-but now, it seemed that God had turned against him without cause or provocation. Job has come to believe at this point that God is a vicious tyrant. So throughout the Book, we often see Job complaining that God is wicked and cruel.

Job 6:4-For the arrows of the Almighty are within me; My spirit drinks in their poison; The terrors of God are arrayed against me.

Job 7:13-21-When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, My couch will ease my complaint,’ 14  Then You scare me with dreams And terrify me with visions, 15  So that my soul chooses strangling And death rather than my body. 16  I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone, For my days are but a breath. 17  “What is man, that You should exalt him, That You should set Your heart on him, 18  That You should visit him every morning, And test him every moment? 19  How long? Will You not look away from me, And let me alone till I swallow my saliva? 20  Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O watcher of men? Why have You set me as Your target, So that I am a burden to myself? 21  Why then do You not pardon my transgression, And take away my iniquity? For now I will lie down in the dust, And You will seek me diligently, But I will no longer be.

Job 9:21-24-I am blameless, yet I do not know myself; I despise my life. 22  It is all one thing; Therefore I say, ‘He destroys the blameless and the wicked.’ 23  If the scourge slays suddenly, He laughs at the plight of the innocent. 24  The earth is given into the hand of the wicked. He covers the faces of its judges. If it is not He, who else could it be?

Job 10:3-Does it seem good to You that You should oppress, That You should despise the work of Your hands, And smile on the counsel of the wicked?

Job 10:16-17-If my head is exalted, You hunt me like a fierce lion, And again You show Yourself awesome against me. 17  You renew Your witnesses against me, And increase Your indignation toward me; Changes and war are ever with me.

Poor Job!

Convinced that the God he had loved is a malevolent and wicked creator, Job’s friends make matters even worse for Job when they begin to try and convince him that God is simply punishing him for some terrible sin that he has committed.

Job 4:7-11-Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off? 8  Even as I have seen, Those who plow iniquity And sow trouble reap the same. 9  By the blast of God they perish, And by the breath of His anger they are consumed. 10  The roaring of the lion, The voice of the fierce lion, And the teeth of the young lions are broken. 11  The old lion perishes for lack of prey, And the cubs of the lioness are scattered.

Job 8:4-If your sons have sinned against Him, He has cast them away for their transgression.

Job 11:6-That He would show you the secrets of wisdom! For they would double your prudence. Know therefore that God exacts from you Less than your iniquity deserves.

Job 15:5-For your iniquity teaches your mouth, And you choose the tongue of the crafty.

It is pretty bad for these guys to say that Job is suffering because he is being punished for sin. How much worse to say that Job’s children were killed by God because of Job’s sins!

Of course, the source of this “knowledge” from Job’s friends was from a demonic force (although Job’s friends did not recognize this).

Job 4:12-21- “Now a word was secretly brought to me, And my ear received a whisper of it. 13  In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men, 14  Fear came upon me, and trembling, Which made all my bones shake. 15  Then a spirit passed before my face; The hair on my body stood up. 16  It stood still, But I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; There was silence; Then I heard a voice saying: 17  ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker? 18  If He puts no trust in His servants, If He charges His angels with error, 19  How much more those who dwell in houses of clay, Whose foundation is in the dust, Who are crushed before a moth? 20  They are broken in pieces from morning till evening; They perish forever, with no one regarding. 21  Does not their own excellence go away? They die, even without wisdom.’

Henry Morris has well noted:

“This mysterious spirit was not God’s Holy Spirit speaking words of divine inspiration. God later rebuked all the counsel of Eliphaz and his friends, which was largely based on the revelation received from this spirit. For the same reason, it was not one of God’s holy angels either. Although angels appeared to men on occasion during biblical days, their appearances and messages were never like this. We conclude therefore, that this was an evil spirit, speaking words of apparent piety and partial truth. In reality, however, they were deceptive and misleading words, for this is how Satan works. He can appear as “an angel of light” and his angelic servants as “ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:14-15). Perhaps this night visitor was Satan himself, in view of the importance of the mission, or at least one of his “principalities and powers,” not a run-of-the mill demon; the latter seem to be more useful in terrifying than in deceiving. But why would he come to Eliphaz at this time? The reason must be connected somehow with the pending visit of Eliphaz to Job. Satan, knowing that Eliphaz was Job’s respected friend and counselor, may have decided this was the best way to get to Job and to cause him to lose his faith and renounce the Lord.”  (Henry M. Morris, The Remarkable Record Of Job: The Ancient Wisdom, Scientific Accuracy, & Life-Changing Message Of The Amazing Book, 998-1018 (Kindle Edition); Green Forest, AR; Master Books)

Job and his friends continue their debate-Job, clinging to his innocence and his belief that he is being mistreated by God; while Job’s friends maintain that Job is being punished for some terrible sin that Job has committed.

All of this paves the way for the entrance of Elihu.

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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