top of page

Apparent Contradiction of Words and Numbers

Four Witnesses to a 430-year Sojourn in Egypt

Abraham’s Witness to a 430-Year Egyptian Sojourn

Jacob’s Life Requires a 430-Year Egyptian Sojourn

Elasticity of Hebrew Genealogical Terms

Abbreviated/Condensed Genealogies

Shem’s List: The Ultimate Example of Condensing

Shem’s Genealogy—Which Bible?

Evidence from the Lifespan of Job for Missing Generations

Evidence from the Message of Job for Missing Generations

Evidence from the Times of Job for Missing Generations

Biblical Earth Movements After the Flood

Peleg, Joktan and the Table of Nations

Historical Errors Obscuring the Condensing of Shem’s Line

Interpretative Errors Supporting Ussher View

The Missing World between the Flood and Peleg

Recent Scholarship Improves Biblical Understanding

Summary of Biblical Findings

Secular Evidence—Those Many Documents Unavailable to Ussher

Conclusion

Evidence from the Message of Job for Missing Generations

Chapter Ten

For a host of reasons, some already stated in chapter nine, the Book of Job supports the view that Shem’s genealogy omits names.  This chapter begins where God tells Job to recall his watching of the greatest land creature, the dinosaur Behemoth, in the Jordan Valley.  That certainly happened many centuries before Abraham.  But Behemoth was just one step in the goal of recording the book’s essential message for mankind. 

We are told in the opening two chapters of Job that Satan caused Job’s suffering.  But far earlier, in the first chapter of the Bible we read without elaboration that God created the great sea monster and set him apart from all other creatures.   In Job 41 God finally elaborates on this king of pride who, more than any other, struck terror into the heart of man.  By this we learn that God created him to picture the menace of Satan and for this elaborate warning to stand forever in the oldest book of the Bible. 

As to timing, Job himself was born eight or nine generations before Peleg, the fourth named generation of Shem’s descendants born after the Flood.  Job lived in the waning years of the Great Ice Age, long gone and forgotten by the days of the Patriarchs.  In restoring Job who said God hated him, God spoke of His Creation with more words than in Genesis.  Why?  Creation showed how good and kind God was to Job.  With this matter settled God was free to reveal the real source of Job’s suffering by speaking of Leviathan, the divine picture of Satan. 


Behemoth and Leviathan

For 44 verses in Job 40 and 41 our Creator speaks of two enormous reptilian creatures:  Behemoth, a powerfully-built, long-tailed land creature and Leviathan, a vicious sea monster of tremendous strength that stood at the apex of the animal kingdom.  Commentaries of the church fathers, those of the Reformation and even most today identify Behemoth as a hippopotamus or elephant and Leviathan as a sea crocodile or whale.  After all, those were the largest land and sea creatures of which they knew that somewhat fitted God’s description.  Not anymore.  Today the world’s museums are stuffed with the fossilized bones of great land and sea creatures that were buried and preserved in the muds of the Great Flood.  Sea creatures in the Flood’s cooler ocean regions and young dinosaurs on the Ark enabled both types to survive the Flood and grow in population until humans squeezed them out. 

But why speak to Job about these two impressive creatures when Job had wasted away to skin and bones, enduring the worst imaginable suffering for perhaps a year?  Wouldn’t God comfort Job and explain his pain?  In truth He did.  The creation lecture showed that God was kind and good while those monsters pointed to the real cause of Job’s suffering.  It did not come from God but from the evil personage the sea monster depicted—the leader of the fallen angels who desires to see every man share his misery in hell forever. 

Bible commentators with their incorrect interpretations of Behemoth and Leviathan have muted Scripture’s purpose in exposing Satan’s sinister character and ignored God’s use of the analogy.  This chapter presents four Hebrew nouns used in the Old Testament to represent this creature and the frightening character it was designed to portray.  Then it will explore the angelic rebellion which required the creation of Leviathan.  God’s exchange with Satan follows.  All of this argues for many omitted names in Shem’s list.


Four Hebrew Nouns for the Sea Monster
Hebrew Noun #1—Tannin

So God created [bar’ah] great sea creatures [tannin].  Genesis 1:21.

God created the animal kingdom on days five and six of Creation week.  Of all those animals, He named only one—the great sea creature.  The Hebrew word is tannin.  Here the plural form of the noun is used, indicating God created many of them just as He caused the waters to swarm with fish (Genesis 1:20).  The adjective great further distinguishes this creature from all others.  It forms a Hebrew grammatical construction that emphasizes the adjective and can be rendered “the sea creatures, the great ones.” 

To further focus on this creature, God placed him first in a new wave of divine creative activity.  The Hebrew verb used here is bar’ah which specifically means “to create.”  It is only found three times in the Creation account.  Otherwise, the two more general verbs, “to make” and “to form” are used to describe God’s work of creation.  The other two uses of bar’ah are without question major acts of creation.  It is used for the creation of the material universe in verse one and for the creation of man in verse 27. 

Yet, here in verse 21 bar’ah is used for the second of just three times in this passage as it introduces the creation of living things that had an immaterial component.  Whereas plants created on day three have life, creatures created on days five and six of creation week had some kind of a mind or immaterial component and this higher level of life warranted the primary word for creating.  The most impressive creature in this category was the great sea monster.  A literal translation would read: “And Elohim created the sea creatures, that is, the great ones.” The NKJV and ESV render tannin “sea creature” here while the NASV uses “sea monster.”   

Certainly, the creation of this creature was insignificant in comparison with the creation of the physical universe and man.  Yet, here it stands—their creation set apart with the universe and man.  Could it be that God used bar’ah specifically to raise questions about the only named creature in this category of life?  Yet Genesis 1:21 provides no further details about him.  In this way it seems that God established an open door to speak of him at a later time.  At the end of Creation week God saw all He made and it was very good; while enormous, the great sea creature was not menacing.  The fall of man marred all of God’s Creation and after the Fall the sea creature came to be the most fearsome of animals. 

Hebrew nouns often express characteristics of the thing they name.  Tannin literally means “long-stretched” and in its primary form, the three consonant verb form means “to stretch.”[1]  It is found fifteen times in the Old Testament.  Five times it is used for a snake (serpent).  Aaron threw down his staff and it became a tannin.  Deuteronomy 32:33 and Psalm 91:13 also use tannin in the sense of snake.   Being a creature that appears to be stretched out because it is long and narrow, snakes were miniature versions of the great sea creature. 

In the psalmist’ day, four hundred years after Moses compiled Genesis, Scripture repeats the creation pattern, using the sea creature to represent the animal kingdom.  Psalm 148 is one of the “Praise the LORD” psalms.  The first six verses call on angels, sun, moon and stars to praise the Lord.  Verse seven turns to things on earth; the first thing mentioned is the sea creature (tannin).  “Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures [tannin, in the plural form] and all deeps.”  Psalm 148:7.  This verse would be referring to sea monsters as living marine creatures, not analogies to Satan, but it does show they still existed or were at least remembered even in the psalmist’s day. 

The prophets used the sea creature to picture the two great nations that oppressed Israel.  God addressed Pharaoh as a great dragon in Ezekiel 29:3: “Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon [tannin] that lies in the midst of his streams, that says, ‘My Nile is my own, I made it for myself.’”  Three chapters later God tells the prophet to “say to Pharaoh King of Egypt: ‘You consider yourself a lion of the nations, but you are like a dragon [tannin] in the seas.’”  Ezekiel 32:2.   The lion was highly admired, considered the most regal of animals.  Pharaoh represented himself that way.  But God said in reality he was like the dragon (tannin).  While tannin was famous and powerful, he was not considered noble.  People dreaded the sea monster.  He had a reputation for being dangerous, sinister and evil, certainly not the reputation Pharaoh sought.

Comparison with the sea monster was similarly used for Babylon: “Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon has devoured me [Judah]… he has swallowed me like a monster [tannin] [swallows its victim].”  Jeremiah 51:34.  Babylon had gobbled up Judah with the same ease that a tannin gobbled up its victims. 


Hebrew Noun #2—Leviathan (Job 41:1)

God chose the ordeal of Job to answer the many questions about the sea creature of Genesis 1:21.  Job had charged that God was treating him unfairly, attacking him like an enemy.  He demanded an audience with God so he could make his case.  After Job’s three friends and a young theologian falsely accused him of grievous sins, God appeared in a powerful whirlwind which established a commanding presence.  But He did not bring a crying towel, nor did He sympathize with Job or even mention Job’s suffering.  Most importantly, He did not appear to be grilled by Job.  Rather, He began: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Dress for action like a man; I will question you and you make it known to me.”  Job 38:2-3.  It was Job who needed further enlightenment and not the other way around. 

So God would do the questioning and Job would do the answering.  God’s subject was His Creation which testified that He was good, that He sustained it, that He had filled man’s habitat with the fruit of His goodness and specifically that He had blessed Job through it.  Therefore, God was not Job’s enemy and had not caused him to suffer.  Job was speechless. 

Two important truths need to be recognized at this point.  The questions God asked were a universe beyond the learning of Job’s day which assures us that the Creator of the physical universe Himself was asking them.  Answers to many of God’s scientific questions have only been learned in recent years; others still elude today’s most advanced science.  Mankind did not have this knowledge 2550 years before Christ.  If these questions had been composed by man as unbelievers charge, they would reflect the same bad science and even anti-science expressed in the writings of the ancients. 

Also, we must recognize how pleased God was (and is) with the time-space-matter Creation He made.  God is more than boasting here, He is raving.  If we ever wished to hear the Creator discuss His creation of the universe, the earth and living things at length, we have such a record right here in Job 38-41. These four chapters contain more than the entire book of Genesis or any other portion of Scripture on Creation.  Engineers know the difficulty of designing something that works correctly.  God speaks of many inanimate and living things and they all work with breath-taking precision. 

So then, if God was not the source of Job’s suffering, what explained his ordeal?  After questions about the physical and animal world, God spent the last 44 verses on the greatest land and sea creatures.  Ten verses are devoted to Behemoth which by the testimony of God was the greatest land creature (Job 40:19)—a dinosaur with a long neck, long, powerful tail, bones like tubes of bronze and limbs like bars of iron (Job 40:18).  All the land dinosaurs did not perish in the Flood.  One pair of each kind was preserved on the Ark to repopulate the world after the Flood.  Since many reptiles grow all their lives it would have been unnecessary to take full grown specimens on the Ark.  God would have sent a young Behemoth pair.  Over a millennium later Job watched these giant monsters in the Jordan Valley.  While they were gone by the day of Abraham, they were still living in Job’s day. 


King over All the Sons of Pride.  Job 41:1-34.

Behemoth was not at the top of the monster ladder.  God used him to lead up to the most awesome of them all, the great sea creature Leviathan (Job 41:1).  God devotes all 34 verses of Job 41 to this fearsome animal, the same number of verses found in the entire six-day Creation account of Genesis 1:1-2:3.  They speak of his exceeding danger to humans but God left it to Job to make the connection, that Leviathan represented the source of his grief. 

A Leviathan was almost impossible to kill. His size, armored exterior and ocean habitat gave him an enormous advantage over humans.  By comparison man had limited maneuverability on or in the water.  As to weapons at this time man was still limited to his own strength or those powered by his own strength such as spears and arrows which were useless against Leviathan.  Thus, people lived in mortal fear of these creatures.  Job knew what God was talking about.  He had nearly lost his life in some unexplained encounter with a Leviathan: 

Lay your hands on him; remember the battle—you will not do it again!  Job 41:8

From this we learn that Job traveled extensively because he would have to journey to one of the world’s oceans or large water bodies to have seen a Leviathan unless Lake Lisan was connected to the Red Sea and a Leviathan occasionally ventured up river to this large inland lake.  In verse after verse God describes the danger of trying to tangle with him (Job 41:7-10, 25-29).  He terrified people by rising high in the water, then crashing down with all his weight (Job 41:25) causing some commentators to conclude he was a whale.  Many ancient seamen described his aggression, even attacking ocean-going vessels.  Job said, “Am I a sea monster [tannin] that you set a guard over me” (Job 7:12)?  Job felt God was watching him with the same intensity people set a guard to watch for the sea monster’s presence once one was spotted in their area. 

This second Hebrew word for the sea monster (Leviathan, capitalized in English translations) is found six times in Scripture and is the one Hebrew word that only refers to this creature or the enemy he represented.  The Hebrew stem in its various forms connotes a wreath which is something round and narrow; in the verb form, “to twist, to surround;” together tannin and Leviathan suggest the twisting motion of a crawling snake.  Psalm 104:26 speaks of this serpent-like creature living in the open ocean: “There go the ships and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.” 

  Some have concluded that Leviathan was a saltwater crocodile which is an exceptionally large species of crocodile.  However, those crocodiles live in bays and other shallow bodies of salt water.  They do not play where ships sail on the high seas; neither do they remain in plain sight when humans come along.  Rather, they slip away to hide under the water.  On the other hand, Leviathan had no fear of humans, so he did not hide when ships appeared.  Most particularly, the sea crocodile is not the greatest of all creatures that ever lived as God says Leviathan was.

The cursing of the villagers at the arrival of a Leviathan was a fitting comparison to the intensity with which Job cursed the day of his birth.  “Let those curse it [the day of his birth] who curse the day [Leviathan arrived in their bay], who are ready to rouse up Leviathan.”  Job 3:8.  Their children would not be safe on the shore or in the water with Leviathan around so they had to drive him out of their bay or lagoon or move somewhere else until he left.  But they cursed that day because in rousing up Leviathan, some would be injured, some might die in the battle and all would be terrified. 

One might wonder if the sea creature (tannin) of Genesis one is the same as Leviathan of Job 41.  A complete word study makes this obvious but Psalm 74:13-14 provides a quick answer by using the two words synonymously.  It is referring to the Red Sea event: “You [God] divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the sea monsters [tannin] on the waters.  You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness” (emphasis ours).  God parted the sea for Israel to pass, and then returned the waters to drown Pharaoh’s charioteers.  The bodies of soldiers and horses washed up on the shore where carrion eating creatures of the desert consumed them.  There were no actual sea monsters in this event but both the words for sea monster and Leviathan are used for the same purpose, as analogies to describe just how frightening and lethal Pharaoh’s chariot army was.

Although ancient writings, including Ugarit (Babylonian) and Canaanite literature, give this creature mythical qualities, long before the distortions, on day five of Creation week God created a real creature that was at the top of the animal kingdom, the greatest of all His living earthly creatures.  God concluded His words about Leviathan with that very picture.  “On earth there is not his like [equal], a creature without fear.  He sees everything that is high; he is king over all the sons of pride.”  Job 41:33-34.  Beyond question this creature was a real animal and well known to Job and the people of his day.


Hebrew Nouns #3 and #4—Nachash and Rahab

Besides tannin (Genesis 1:21) and Leviathan (Job 41:1) two other Hebrew nouns, nachash and rahab, are used for this creature.   Nachash is the primary Hebrew word for snake.  It is found in Genesis three where Satan used a snake to speak to Eve and trick her into eating of the forbidden tree.  It appears in Numbers 21 where poisonous snakes bit the people and they died.  God reversed their lethal bites by having Moses fashion a bronze snake and mount it on a pole.  By looking on the bronze snake whoever was dying from a snake bite would live.  A derivative of this word is the Hebrew word for copper and bronze.  Many snakes have the glistening brown color of these metals.  Various evil connotations arose from the shape and motion of the snake.  A verb form of this word is used ten times in the Old Testament for practicing divination. 

Because of its long, narrow shape and twisting motion, nachash was used twice for the sea creature.  “If they [the wicked] hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the [sea] serpent [nachash], and it shall bite them” (Amos 9:3).  Amos had previously spoken of digging into Sheol or climbing to heaven to flee from God, so he was not talking about the bottom of a shallow bay.  He was talking about the bottom of the ocean, far below the diving capacity of the sea crocodile. 

Job talked about the power of God in chapter twenty-six.  God stilled the sea and by His wind cleared the sky.  He pierced the fleeing serpent (nachash) and shattered Rahab (the fourth Hebrew word for the sea monster) (Job 26:12-13).  “Rahab” is always used as a proper noun in the Old Testament but its various Hebrew forms convey a very specific meaning.  The masculine noun meant “storm, arrogance.”  As an adjective it meant “proud, defiant.”  The verb form meant “to act stormily, boisterously, arrogantly.”  Years later the harlot of Jericho who hid the two Hebrew spies received this name.  Rahab must have been a very assertive person even in her mother’s womb.  The word “Rahab” is also used six times in Scripture for what the sea monster represented—those who act defiantly against God and His chosen people Israel.  Four times it specifically refers to Egypt which enslaved God’s chosen people.  Egypt’s ways are likened to those of the sea monster.

Besides Job 26:12-13 several other passages use two or more of these words together, showing they were synonymous.  In Isaiah 51:9 Rahab and the sea creature (tannin) are used synonymously: “Was it not you [the LORD] who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the dragon [tannin]?  Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over?” 

Isaiah is speaking of Israel crossing the Red Sea while Pharaoh’s pursuing army was lost in the sea.  In his arrogance and defiance of God’s will (Rahab-like characteristics), Pharaoh came with the might of a sea serpent (tannin), but God easily pierced him and cut his army to pieces.  While tannin, nachash and Rahab had other uses, they together with “Leviathan” are used in the Old Testament about twenty-five times to develop an awareness of the intensely evil spiritual being (Satan) God wanted to warn man about. 

As revelation progressed God gave man more and more details about the dangerous enemy Leviathan represented.  Finally, Revelation 12:7-9 and 20:1-3 clearly refer to him as the great dragon, the ancient serpent, the devil and Satan and relate how God removes him in stages.  Meanwhile, God has provided armor to protect the believer from the cosmic powers Satan commands but this armor must be appropriated. 

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.  Revelation 12:9.

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:10-12.

Thus, God had a very special purpose for fixing this animal in people’s minds.  He designed this creature to represent the leader of the angelic rebellion.  As the most vicious and dangerous creature known to man, it portrayed how harmful Satan is.  In common speech it became a measure for the worst that man could imagine.  Satan is “our ancient foe who seeks to work us woe.”  But while Leviathan was the worst creature a person could encounter, he was no match for God.  The implication was that when Job didn’t understand what was happening, he should have trusted God who has the greatest power—who is omnipotent.  So the first chapter in the Bible singles out this creature and the oldest book in the Bible goes into incredible detail as God Himself discusses its power and ability to harm. 


Creation of Angels and Need for Leviathan

Long before this space-time-matter continuum God created a vast population of spirits in His image.  Because man was created a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7), we can only imagine their fine minds, great strength, powerful wills, beautiful worship and bonding friendships.  Did they all know each other… a billion or one hundred billion?  Apparently, they had the opportunity and the capacity.  But they were not all similarly gifted.  Some had greater capabilities and higher positions as they functioned in their divinely appointed duties.  This is seen again and again as they appear throughout the Bible to carry out God-given assignments. 

At this point we must be extremely cautious.  Most conservative theologians use Ezekiel 28:12-19 and Isaiah 14:12-15 for biblical information about the fall of Satan.  But careful expositors find those passages strewn with pitfalls.  HB will stay with the clearest presentations of Scripture rather than those highly contested passages.  Genesis three clearly portrays Satan contradicting God’s very word and introducing sin into the human race.  Job 1-2 provides equal clarity, reporting how Satan demeaned God’s salvation for mankind before the entire population of heaven and then proceeded to destroy all Job had and inflict on him the worst pain imaginable with the goal of causing Job to curse God. 

God loved each of the angels He created.  With sorrow He exercised judgment.  To our limited thinking the sentence was unbelievably harsh—incarceration in the eternal fire especially prepared for these fallen angels (Matthew 26:41).  Yet, while God’s sentence on Satan and his followers was pronounced in eternity past, it is still to be executed.  Instead, God created the universe and man.  Scripture clearly indicates that God is taking steps to carry out His judgment on the fallen angels.  From the record of Scripture, it is apparent that this requires a lot of time.

God marked the leader of these rebels with the name “Satan” which means adversary.  All must know that there are just two camps—God with His forces and the adversary with his; good and evil; light and darkness.  To this day the adversary and his minions have a certain amount of freedom to oppose God’s work (James 4:7; I Peter 5:8).  Somehow the creation of man is a part of God’s ultimate dealing with Satan.  Since Satan can’t touch God, he seeks to harm this instrument which God is somehow using to execute the sentence pronounced long ago—hence, Leviathan.  The book of Job brings this out more than any other Scripture. 

Some maintain that God created the angels as well as man during Creation week and that Satan fell with a third of heaven’s population a short time later.  Creating angels and man at the same time confuses the immaterial with the material.  The space-time-matter Creation of Genesis one was physical and material.  Angels like God are immaterial, not physical, and therefore not a part of God’s physical Creation.  God not only created angels before the time that is measured in the physical universe, but He and His angels shared much activity.  Each of the angels had his place.  Each learned to function in an orderly way.  Each learned how to exalt God’s throne.  If a comparison could be made to the human timeframe, it seems that far more time went by when God and His angels enjoyed each other than has gone on since God created Adam. 

The idea that Satan fell after the creation of man introduces the bizarre situation of 1/3 of heaven’s population being consigned to hell just years after God created them.  No.  The heavenly population surrounded God for a vast time in eternity past learning their duties and perfecting their worship before Satan gathered a huge following to challenge God, eventually be put on trial and sentenced to the lake of fire.  The whole idea comes from an over-literal reading of Genesis 1:31 which says “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”  Unfortunately, “everything” is understood to be everything God ever made rather than the subject of Genesis one which is the creation of all things subject to the physical realm. 


Satan’s First Attack on Mankind

In the preceding chapter we saw the consistent life of faith of the one God chose to expose Satan’s twisted thinking about the Creator and his intense hatred for mankind.  After just those opening five verses, we enter the very presence of God.  The veil that separates the physical universe from the highest heaven, the spiritual heaven of God’s abode, is parted briefly that we might learn of a conflict between God and the fallen angels and be alerted to the mortal danger in which it places mankind. 

When God created Adam, He established one prohibition: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  Genesis 2:16-17.   At a later time, the Tempter came and persuaded Eve to eat from the forbidden tree.  He must have swelled with glee and settled back to watch the man and woman die.  He thought he had thwarted God’s plan before it even started.  But God had far more in mind—a masterful plan to overcome man’s disobedience and provide hope and respite despite oceans of suffering caused by Satan. 

As God warned, when man broke the only prohibition He had given him, man did die.  He died spiritually.  This spiritual death was an immediate break in the bond between God and man, an alienation, an invisible barrier that caused man to hide from God.  Further, Adam’s disobedience triggered the principle of entropy (progressive disorder/breaking down) throughout the entire physical Creation.  It all began to go downhill.  Further, man began to die physically, a process that took some 900 years in Adam’s case.  Along the way suffering was inherent. 

Here now in Job, the oldest book of the Bible, God reveals this conflict more fully than in all the rest of Scripture.  He demonstrated early how sinister, how cruel, how powerful, how hateful that adversary is towards his Maker and therefore toward man whom God created to share His heaven.  In Job God is delivering a message to the world of mankind He loves: “Be warned.  There is an adversary who works with all his cunning during your entire lifetime to ruin you.  He is trying to poison your soul just like he poisoned his own soul and the souls of those who joined him.  Only I and My salvation can deliver you from the adversary’s doom and destruction in eternal fire.”

As Job opens, we enter the very presence of God on “a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD and Satan also came among them.”  Job 1:6.  Those who gathered were called “the sons of God.”  Of all humans only Adam and Eve were directly created by God and thus can properly be called “the sons of God” in that special sense.  However, all the angels were directly created by God.  Thus, they bear the title, “Sons of God.”   Here God is conducting a mandatory assembly of all His angelic sons, both the holy and the fallen. 


The Questioning of Satan

In front of the entire angelic population God initiated a conversation with Satan.  In doing so, He would give the angels another lesson in the wisdom of His ways.  “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”  Job 1:8.  What a contrast.  Job diligently honored God, living in the light of all God had revealed by his day.  Satan was the opposite, a total rebel.  The trap was bated.  Satan took it—hook, line and sinker, so to speak: 

9Does Job fear God for no reason?  10Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has on every side?  You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  11But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has and he will curse you to your face.  Job 1:9-11. 

God provided salvation for man immediately after the Fall by teaching the first parents to offer animal sacrifice, an exercise which unknowingly embraced God’s lamb to come.  Man could not earn salvation; he did not deserve salvation; God provided it in grace.  Satan slammed God’s plan of grace, dismissing God’s salvation for man as a sham.  Evil said light was darkness and darkness was light.  “Just remove your hedge and then you will see his true colors,” challenged the Destroyer. 

In effect Satan charged that Job feared God because it paid, that God bought His worshipers, and that Job didn’t truly love God.  His worship was motivated by self-interest.  Job was a hypocrite.  Beyond this Satan was saying that God’s salvation for mankind doesn’t work, that His plan to provide redemption to those who were born spiritually dead due to Adam’s disobedience was a hoax.  Further, Satan expressed his disdain and sneering contempt for God not in private but before the entire population of heaven.  The hosts of heaven held their collective breaths.  How would God reply? 

[To pause and wonder:  all of this at the beginning of the oldest book of the Bible.  What a disclosure of high priority in God’s mind.]


The Attacks of Satan on Job
First Attack: Destruction of Job’s Possessions

Before that angelic assembly God as much as declared “Let the contest begin.  We will test your [Satan’s] contention.  We will see if Job is a phony or not.  Here are the rules.”  “All he has is in your hand.  Only against him do not stretch out your hand.”  Job 1:12.  With that Satan rushed out to orchestrate the senseless destruction of all Job had.  Messengers arrived one after another from distant parts of the ranch to report 500 yoke of oxen, 500 donkeys, 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, the keepers and Job’s ten children—all gone.  What a show of power and hate. 

Satan brought the Sabeans of the desert to plunder the oxen and donkeys and murder or kidnap Job’s servants with them.  In a distant region he caused some sort of natural disaster, possibly a lightning storm or pyroclastic flow from an active volcano, to destroy the sheep and their keepers.  From beyond the desert, he brought the Chaldeans for the camels.  He caused a freak tornado to come from the wilderness and strike exactly when Job’s children were celebrating on the day of his firstborn. This mayhem would stand for all time as a grave illustration of Satan’s power to harm on planet earth.

All heaven watched to see what Job would do next.  Here is what they saw and heard: 20“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.  21And he said, ’Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’”  Job 1:20-21.  Next, we are given the divine commentary on Job’s response.  “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”  Job 1:22.  The Adversary had been wrong.  Instead of cursing, Job did just the opposite, he blessed the LORD. 


Second Attack: Destruction of Job’s Health

Destruction and death had come in Satan’s first attack.  Job lost not only family but many longtime, trusted servants.  Only his wife and her bad advice remained.  In the following months with heavy heart, he cared for widows and orphans as he began rebuilding his ranch. 

Sometime later the Sons of God were again summoned to assemble before their Father.  Again the Adversary was singled out.  God pointed out that Job “holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”  Job 2:3.  God actually said that He destroyed Job without reason.  Satan did not govern Creation.  God alone rules.  God is sovereign.  No event happens without His permission. 

The Accuser did not admit that he had accused Job falsely.  He had taken a chance.  Maybe Job would crack.  But the mental anguish and sense of abandonment by God he caused hadn’t worked.  Satan proposed to change the rules of the game. 

4“Skin for skin!  All that a man has he will give for his life.  5But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.”  6And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”  Job 2:4-6.

This time Satan would resort to pain, the most intense he could inflict.  No need to orchestrate Sabeans, Chaldeans, hails of fire and destructive wind.  Satan made a beeline for Job’s ranch in the land of Uz.  But he had to be careful here.  His attack must not be lethal or the contest would immediately be over.  In fact, God had specifically commanded Satan not to take Job’s life and Satan dared not defy God in the face of a direct command.  Satan “went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.”  Job 2:7. 

Now Job couldn’t even work.  He was in constant pain.  In time he lost weight to the point where his bones showed.  His skin turned black.  The malady changed his appearance beyond recognition.  It was visible for all to see and considered a sign of God’s disapproval.  People turned against him.  Even the most despicable showed their contempt by spitting on or at him. 

Under the duress of pain people say things they would not otherwise say.  God knew Job’s worship was truly motivated by love for Him, not material blessing.  But the hosts of heaven, not even the Adversary with all his great power, could see Job’s heart.  This contest was for their sake, not God’s.  As for God, He previously received Job’s worship and was exalted by it.  Now He was exalted by Job’s steadfastness while under intense suffering.  Through months of physical pain Job did not curse God.  Then it was time to conclude the contest.  All heaven watched to see how God would end it and restore Job. 

Surprises never cease.  God, of course, knew exactly what He would do.  He would use this opportunity to give mankind an answer for undeserved suffering, the message for which the Book of Job is most remembered.  But to get it all out, the angels as well as future generations of mankind would have to know what was going on inside Job, what was going through his mind, what was in his soul.  Thus, God moved three of Job’s longtime friends, possibly noted regional theological authorities like Job to make “an appointment to come to show him sympathy and comfort him.”  Job 2:11.  They would end up having an all-day debate with him and in all these words everyone would come to know what Job was thinking.


Finding Henry Morris’ Book on Job

Now I must become personal.  The reason will soon be evident.  I certainly was fully committed to biblical inerrancy after two years at Multnomah School of the Bible (now Multnomah University) in Portland Oregon.  After completing my undergraduate work at Wheaton College, my four years at Dallas Theological Seminary cemented my inerrancy conviction.  When I abandoned the gap theory through the teaching of Dr. Henry Morris II, 30 years later, I entered the world of creation science—evidences for a young earth. 

As my wife and I founded the Mount St. Helens 7Wonders Creation Museum in 1998, one of the early books we ordered for the new bookstore was Morris’ book on Job.[2]  I was so impressed with it that over the next three years we sold about 70 copies which may have made it our top selling book.  In my hands is my original copy with underlining and highlighting on nearly every page.  In November of 2000 I wrote that I had begun “a careful study of the book.”  Possibly this was my third reading.  In time you might say that of all the 66 books in the Bible, Morris’ book caused me to specialize in the Book of Job.  Now I have poured sixty-seven years of biblical study skills into Job.

Parents prioritize the training of their children.  Some lessons are more basic than others and must be taught early on.  Such is the Book of Job where God graphically presents three foundational truths for understanding His heart and making sense of our existence.  While each lesson reinforces the other two, here is how these lessons become obvious: 

Lesson one.  God is resolving the discord in heaven caused by the rebellious angels who challenged His government.  This discord is forever revealed to man through God’s exchange with Satan (Job 1-2) and His analogy to Satan through Leviathan (Job 41).  It leads to the second lesson which addresses suffering. 

Lesson two.  Man is the innocent victim of this angelic warfare.  He tries to make sense of the suffering it causes, reasoning that God has the power to prevent or remove it.  But by leaving the fallen angels out of the equation, he ends up with the conclusion that somehow God is to blame for suffering.  In doing so man overlooks the fact that all suffering is produced either directly or indirectly by those rebels.  The dialogues of Job and his friends picture how mankind struggles with this issue of suffering.

Lesson three.  The physical creation is an exquisite and complex game board designed by God on which this heavenly conflict is played out.  That God not only designed but also maintains it is sufficient evidence for mankind to trust Him completely in what man cannot understand.  God provides this lesson in his discourse on Creation in Job 38-39. 

The theological confusion of Job and his friends along with God’s appearance comprises the book’s celebrated poetic content, thirty-nine chapters which focus on Job’s plight (Job 3-41).  First, the acrimonious discussion between Job and his friends (3-31).  Then arrogant Elihu who falsely claimed God had given him a message for Job (32-37).  Finally, God’s restoration of Job (38-42).  This day was also Satan’s final chance to so provoke Job that he would curse God.  Yet when the day was over, Job’s confidence in God was fully restored.

Job’s friends knew much of the ways of God, but there was a major blindspot in their theology—believing that all human suffering was the result of God punishing personal sin.  Purely cause and effect.  When one committed sin, God was obligated to punish, and this caused suffering.  In this case they were convinced Job persisted in some awful hidden sin and they continued in that vein with increasing intensity until God appeared.  Eight times they stated their position with different arguments and eight times Job answered.  Job had defended his innocence, but in the process began to question God and even condemn God.  Then a fourth person angrily pounced on Job for his words about his innocence and God’s unfairness but basically his solution for Job’s suffering was no different than that of the others.

Suddenly God appeared, challenged Job to listen carefully and proceeded to ask precise questions about major areas of Creation.  Here He says more about His creation than in Genesis or any other book of the Bible.  He also speaks more personally about it with two chapters of profound questions.  Some still cannot be answered by the world of science.  Only the Creator Himself could have such intimate knowledge of the universe and its operation.  Job had thought God didn’t care, wasn’t paying attention.  These questions caused Job to realize that God actively and continuously sustained all creation, so God was not absent or silent but was actively and daily caring for Job.  Job’s heart was thrilled.  His Old Friend was back.

Creation is the most basic argument in proclaiming God’s love and concern for mankind.  It sets Him apart from all impostors.  When it comes to alternatives, how could one not choose the Creator as opposed to the adversary in any of his many costumes?  Dealing with this heavenly conflict, recognizing its hurtful effects on humanity and God’s provision of the physical universe summarizes the message of Job, three subjects of earth-shaking proportions all rolled into one comprehensive whole, but so novel in part to standard Christian thought that certain details must be carefully examined.


Miserable Comforters: A Further Attack by Satan

Job’s three friends arrived to find his situation so appalling that 12“they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven.  13And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.”  Job 2:12-13.  Finally, Job broke the silence as he lamented that the pain was so intense that its only escape was never having been born in the first place.

The next chapters (chapters 4-31) contain three cycles of speeches.  Rather than provide sympathy, the three friends tried to solve the dilemma of Job’s great loss.  Obviously, it was more than a coincidence.  First Eliphaz spoke and Job answered.  Then Bildad gave his ideas and Job countered.  Lastly Zophar counseled and Job replied.  The first cycle is found in chapters 4-14.  Eliphaz had an entire week to consider the possibilities and then he shared his wisdom.  “As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.”  Job 4:8. 

For two chapters (4-5) Eliphaz developed the idea that Job had lived a life of iniquity.  Now God was punishing him.  Here was what Job must do.   “As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause.”  Job 5:8.  Job gave a lengthy reply in chapters six and seven to the effect that such advice was not helpful, even cynical because “I have not denied the words of the Holy One.” Job 6:10.  Still, he implored his friends to provide an answer.  “Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.”  Job 6:24. 

Bildad weighed in with “Can reeds flourish where there is no water?  13Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish.”  Job 8:11, 13.  He affirmed Eliphaz’s solution with “Behold, God will not reject a blameless man, nor take the hand of evildoers.”  Job 8:20.  Job replied at length in chapters nine and ten, first agreeing with Bildad, “Truly I know that it is so,”  then wondering how anyone could be blameless and finally coming up with the opposite answer. 21“I am blameless; 22therefore I say, He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.”  Job 9:2, 9:21- 22. 

That really got Zophar’s goat.  It was his turn and he was livid.  He viewed Job as stubborn and harangued him unmercifully with statements like “Should a man full of talk be judged right?” and grouped Job with “worthless men.”  His next insult rated five stars.  “But a stupid man will get understanding when a wild donkey’s colt is born a man” (Job 11:2, 11, 12).  Donkeys never give birth to people so Zophar views Job’s thinking as hopelessly stupid.  His solution was the same as the others, “If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away” (Job 11:14).  So far it is hard to detect sympathy or comfort. 

Zophar rang Job’s bell.  Following his friends’ first three speeches, Job began a three-chapter rebuttal with this epic retort, “No doubt you are the people and wisdom will die with you.”  Job 12:2.  Stedman paraphrases Job’s put down like this: “You’ve got all the answers, you’ve solved all the problems, you know everything.”[3]  The more they pushed, the more Job pushed back.  In the process he said worse and worse things about God.  He insisted repeatedly that God was treating him unjustly.  “I want to argue my ways to His face,” “Why do you [God] count me as your enemy?”   “You put my feet in the stocks.”  “You destroy the hope of man.”  Job 13:15, 24, 27; 14:19.

 The second round of speeches (chapters 15-21) grew in unkindness and hardened positions.  The third round (chapters 22-31) included baseless charges of specific sins (Job 22:6-9).  Eliphaz and Bildad said hateful things while Zophar gave up.  Meanwhile Job had more and more to say in his defense.  The two sides couldn’t be further apart.  Their friendship appeared broken beyond repair. 


Insights into Job’s Responses

As his friends pushed him to the wall, pressing their assault, Job said more alarming things about God, words for which he would later repent. “He has torn me in his wrath and hated me” (Job 16:9).  “My spirit is broken” (Job 17:1).  “He has made me a byword of the peoples” (Job 17:6).  “God has put me in the wrong” (Job 19:6).  “He has kindled his wrath against me and counts me as his adversary.”  Job 16:9; 17:1, 6; 19:6, 11.  Speaking directly to God, Job said, “You have turned cruel to me; with the might of your hand, you persecute me.” Job 30:21.  Finally, Job defiantly demanded an affidavit of charges from God and stated that he would stand before God as a prince and defend himself (Job 31:35-37).

On the other hand, his words revealed a remarkable life of faith.  “I have not denied the words of the Holy One.”  “I who called to God and he answered me, a just and blameless man, am a laughing stock.”  “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”   “For I know that my Redeemer lives…in my flesh I shall see God.”  “My foot has held fast to his steps, I have kept his way…I have not departed from the commandments of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.”  “Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head, and by his light I walked through the darkness, as I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent, when the Almighty was yet with me.”  (Job 6:10; 12:4; 13:15; 19:25-26; 23:11-12; 29:2-5).

Here, approximately midway between Creation and Christ, God’s words were available, His commandments known, man recognized His light.  Further, man called on God and God answered him.  Therefore, man knew God watched over him, had hope in a living redeemer, walked with God, sensed God’s friendship and lived in the expectancy of ultimately seeing God in his flesh.  These words testify to a just God who in every age provides knowledge of Himself to those who seek that knowledge.  Job spoke of himself as “just and blameless.”  He had lived up to all the light God had given.  God had revealed that He would bless those who so lived.  For this reason, Job was so confused, so bewildered, so brokenhearted.


Elihu: Satan’s Final Attack

After Job’s friends spoke, an angry individual named Elihu demanded a hearing.  This individual was not a peer of the four.  Being young he had no choice but to wait until the others had finished.  Then he unloaded for six chapters (Job 32-37) saying more than the entire books of I-III John.  He took an entire chapter just to dogmatically state that he had the answer (chapter 32).  He speaks even more vilely of Job than the three.  If Satan were using them to destroy Job, how much more this man?  Fortunately, Job did not reply.  Either he was too exhausted or more likely, God broke in before Job could say something even more regrettable. 

Elihu’s demeanor was so disgustingly arrogant one might be tempted to associate him with Nimrod, but no one can prove this link for sure.  Elihu was a Buzite of the family of Ram.  Ham’s oldest son Cush had a son named Raamah (Ram).  Raamah fathered Sheba and Dedan.  Since these people groups are mentioned in the discourses of Job, they could have had a son named Buz from whom Elihu came.  The most notorious of Cush’s sons was evil Nimrod (Genesis 10:6-8).  While Elihu’s actions point to such an association, we have previously observed that the same names occur again and again in the Old Testament so one must be very cautious about identifying a certain individual or place with one previously mentioned. 

Deviously Elihu said that Job was wrong about God not speaking (Job 33:14ff).  He claimed that God spoke in dreams but man (Job) didn’t listen.  God also spoke through pain.  Further, God sent mediators or angels (Elihu is referring to himself) “to declare to man [the sinner] what is right for him.”  Job 33:23.  This angel (the one with an answer from God) says to the sinner, “I have found a ransom.”  Job 33:24.  The ransom is what the sinner (Job) must do to be restored.  In this way Elihu was claiming to have a direct message from God which was false.

Then Elihu proceeded to describe how the sinner (Job) should embrace the ransom (ie, Elihu’s solution) by abandoning his great wickedness which Elihu spells out in the next chapters.  

26Then man prays to God, and he [God] accepts him; he [the repentant sinner] sees his face [sees God’s face] with a shout of joy, and he [God] restores to man [to the sinner] his righteousness.  27He [the sinner] sings before men and says: “I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me.  28He [God] has redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.”  Job 33:26-28. 

In chapter 34 Elihu continued at length on how God sees all man’s steps, particularly Job’s, so “there is no gloom or deep darkness where evildoers may hide themselves.”  Job 34:21-22.  God calls them “worthless,” “wicked,” and He “shows no partiality,” “shatters the mighty without investigation,” “overturns them in the night and they are crushed,” “strikes them for their wickedness… because they turned aside from following him.”  “They caused the cry of the poor to come to Him.”  Job 34:18-19, 23-25, 27-28.  He wishes that Job were “tried to the end, because he answers like wicked men, 37for he adds rebellion to his sin.”  Job 34:36-37.  To Elihu Job has acted so wickedly that God should punish him even more severely. 

In view of Elihu’s litany of Job’s sins and the terrible suffering he said they caused, it is hard to deny that he actually held the same position as the first three, that Job’s sins had resulted in God’s judgment.  Yet Scripture already told us that Job’s loss of possessions and health was not over sinfulness but due to an unseen contest in heaven.  God said specifically before the entire heavenly host “that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil.”  Job 1:8. 

So, contrary to the views of most commentators, Elihu did not have a message from God or even the answer to Job’s suffering and he was not sent to prepare Job for God’s visit.  While they correctly observe that God did not condemn him or require an offering from him or even mention him, we suggest he was so blatantly out of order that Scripture leaves the reader to correctly assess his discourse.  He was clearly Satan’s last attempt to get Job to curse God.  Being young in the faith God let him off with a large measure of grace, sparing him further public humiliation. 

On the other hand, Job’s friends were Job’s age and knew much sound doctrine.  Certainly, they should have known better than to charge Job with specific sins, apparently parroting the idle gossip that spread rumors of sins supposedly committed by Job.  Elihu would see how God dealt with them.  Hopefully someday he would match his zeal for God with spiritual wisdom.  In the end God would say to Eliphaz, “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”  Job 42:7.  In fact, all four taught God was behind human suffering.  This was an attack on the very character of God.

Job had stated over and over that he wanted an audience with God.  Elihu’s last words were “He does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”  Job 37:24.  The very next words are “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said…”  Job 38:1.  Contrary to Elihu’s pronouncement, God did come to Job, providing further evidence of just how empty Elihu’s words were.  What Elihu spoke as fact was immediately falsified by God Himself.  No one should take Elihu’s side, even though he said many sound things about God. 

With the assault of Elihu the contest was over.  Job had not cursed God.  God was vindicated before the angels.  Now Job must be restored.  As only God could, He reestablished Job’s fellowship and trust in Him and even reunited him with his friends.  How God does this found in the rest of the book.


God’s Creation Discourse (Job 38-41)

God accomplishes multiple purposes in his discourse to Job.  First, Job had said awful things about God and needed to repent.  Second, God’s anger burned against his three friends.  They needed to cover their sin with sacrifice.  Third, Job and his friends needed to be reconciled.  Fourth, Job needed to learn the true source of his suffering.  In fact, all mankind needed to know that Satan seeks to destroy us and, in the process, produces untold suffering.  Possibly theological thinking attributed all suffering to God from creation up to Job’s day.  This idea was a huge distortion of the goodness of God and needed to be corrected.  In a way, all these individual purposes come together to broaden our understanding of God’s nature.  He is perfect love and perfect righteousness.  Job is given to help man see more of God’s glory. 

Job felt God did not care about his intense and extended suffering.  Job was wrong.  God did care.  If Job’s condition had been fatal, upon death he would have been welcomed into paradise with superlatives for his notable faith.  But since God had other plans for Job, He chose to restore his wavering faith by appearing to him personally and speaking to him more about His Creation than to any other person on record in all of human history.  This was a signal honor. 

Nevertheless, Job needed to retract statements he had made about God under duress, so God’s instruction took on a very personal form, numerous direct questions about Creation that would cause any thinking person to realize His careful design of and providential care for the earth and its inhabitants. 

This was overwhelming evidence that God knew the smallest details about His Creation and therefore, about Job’s life as well as ours.  God was working.  He was involved.  How could Job say God didn’t care when His Creation shows He does care.  Creation is a huge testimony to God’s watching over every man.  Jesus said God sees a single sparrow that falls to the ground and a person is of far greater value than sparrows.  In fact, God numbers every hair on a person’s head (Matt 10:29-31). 

Possibly no one has spoken more clearly on the significance of God’s appearance to Job and its meaning than Henry Morris:

People say that the Book of Job was written to solve this problem [human suffering], so what does God have to say about it?  Amazingly, God says nothing about it!  His divine message, given out of the whirlwind, occupies 123 verses in four chapters, yet there is not a word about the sufferings of Job, or even about human suffering in general.  What God does talk about is creation!  The mighty message from heaven focuses exclusively on the doctrine of special creation of all things by God, and then his providential care of his creation.  It exalts his power, his wisdom, his purpose, his love.[4]

God first addressed Job with, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” Job 38:2.  Job repeated this very statement when he repented indicating they were addressed to him, not Elihu as some commentators suggest.  God then commands Job to “Dress for action like a man; I will question you and you make it known to me.”  Job 38:3.  It had been a grueling, exhausting day.  How could Job have come to attention and focused mentally for another hour?  Only with God’s help.  Surely God strengthened His beloved servant to receive His corrective message.  God would direct the conversation.  He would ask the questions.  Job was required to answer. 

First question about Creation: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell me, if you have understanding.”  Job 38:4.  For starters, God was asking, “How much greater is the Almighty than man?”  The missing answer is “the Almighty was building a universe when man did not even exist.”  This measure shows just how insignificant man is in comparison with the Almighty who set in place the scientific principles that make the universe work.  Job must have thought, “Oh, Oh!  If there are more questions like this, I won’t be doing much answering.” 

Later in His four-chapter discourse God reproved him with “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?  He who argues with God, let him answer it.”  Job 40:2.  God was pointing out that Job had spoken sinfully of the Creator and he needed to confess his wrong.  In the end Job did just that. 


Effect of God’s Questions/ Job Restored (Job 42)

 With the thirty-fourth verse discourse about Leviathan God was done.  For four chapters He had spoken of creating and preserving the universe, the earth and all living things on it.  He spoke with authority and certainty; yet, underneath was an unspoken message of concern and even pleading with Job.  “How could you say such things of Me when I have done and continue to do all this for you?”  These words that seem so stern at first really contained a deep drawing of Job’s heart back to God.  Job simply melted; his heartache vanished; he replaced silence with words of repentance:

2I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  3”Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?”  [Job repeats God’s initial question.]  Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  [Job confesses that he had hidden counsel without knowledge.] 4Hear, and I will speak; “I will question you, and you make it known to me.” [Job repeats God’s initial command which he now answers.]  5I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.  Job 42:2-6.

With this confession of sin Job was again right with God.  Now he was needed to perform a spiritual service, a priestly function.  His friends had stirred God to anger by their false representation of Him.  They too must be brought back to God and Job is asked to be the human agent in this restoration.  God said to Eliphaz the Temanite:

7My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right [about Job’s commendable relationship with God], as my servant Job has.  8Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves.  And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly.  For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.  Job 42:7-8.

Now it was their turn to repent.  Verse nine records that they did.  They offered the sacrifices God required.  No common person could afford to sacrifice a bull.  The sacrifice of seven bulls and seven rams showed in a material way how they had been Job’s peers, men of wealth.  Job witnessed their act of repentance. 

But how could Job pray for them after all the ugly words between him and his friends.  They had said hateful things of him and he had replied with increasing rancor: “No doubt you are the people and wisdom will die with you.”  “You whitewash with lies; worthless physicians are you all.”  “Miserable comforters are you all.”  “Ten times you cast reproach upon me; are you not ashamed to wrong me?”  “How then will you comfort me with your empty nothings?  There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.” “How you have helped him who has no power!  How you have counseled him who has no wisdom…With whose help have you uttered words?”  Job 12:2; 13:4; 16:2; 19:3; 21:34; 26:1-3.  After such sharp words in their all-day exchange, how could they ever want to speak to each other?   How could they ever want Job’s prayers and how could Job find it in his heart to pray for them?  Yet it all happened as God directed:

So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the LORD had told them, and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer.  Job 42:9.

At the age of 140 Job prayed for them, forgiving every unkind thing they had said.  He illustrates the truth that it is never too late to forgive the wrongs others have done to us.  Job’s confidence in God was restored as he saw God in an entirely new light.  For his final 140 years he would share these radically new insights about the LORD’s work in Creation and His providential care for it.  In the end his book would become one of the most proclaimed pieces of literature in all human history. 


 


[1]     Keil, Genesis, Volume I, 60.

[2] Henry M. Morris, The Remarkable Record of Job, (Green Forest, AR.: Master Books, 2000), 146 pp.

[3]     Ray Stedman, “Job: The Hardest Lesson.”  http://www.raystedman.org/bible-overview/adventuring/job-the-hardest-lesson, 1965.  Stedman has the clearest view on the subject of suffering in Job of the authorities this author reviewed.

[4]       Morris, Job, 86.

bottom of page