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Fourth Quarter 2016 (September 24–December 30)
COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF JOB
Week 6: October 29–November 4
COMMENTARY ON "THE CURSE CAUSELESS?"
Following is a combined commentary on the material included in the Bible Study Guide with references as necessary to the supplemental passages included in the E. G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
Sabbath Afternoon, Oct. 29: Introduction
The memory text is Job 4:17 where Eliphaz asks this rhetorical question:
Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?
In contrast to Job's lamenting the day he was born, Eliphaz assumes his suffering is the result of hidden sin:
“Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same..." (Job 4:7-8)
A different theme passage could have been used to suggest the possibility of another explanation for Job's suffering:
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing (John 9:1-7)
Sunday, Oct. 30: The Big Questions
The lesson author assumes that 'the big questions' concerning why Job is suffering can be found in Psalm 119:65-72:
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. (Psalm 119:71-72)
If we are going to jump over to the middle of Psalm 119 we should at least know the context of this Psalm by beginning at the beginning:
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! (Psalm 119:1-3)
Now, compare this to what Scripture says of Job:
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. (Job 1:1)
Job, a person who was "blameless and upright" didn't lack in his obedience to God and certainly didn't need a lesson in this area of his personal life.
The really big question should be; What purpose did God have in mind when he asked this question of Satan:
And the LORD said to Satan, “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 ESV)
Job was blameless in the sight of God.
Therefore God's purpose was not about Job's obedience to the law of a covenant that he was not under nor could not have known about. Instead, God reveals to us his purpose, where he challenges Job with a series of unanswerable questions, in Job chapters thirty-eight through forty-one.
Upon hearing God's questions Job immediately humbled himself and repented of his not understanding that our holy loving God is sovereign.
God's challenging questions to Job teach us that God declares who he is without any need to justify himself, not even to a righteous person.
There can be no such thing as righteous people out there watching from somewhere, as claimed by Ellen G. White, waiting to see if God is able to vindicate his character. Such a concept is heresy. Furthermore, 'character traits' (an expression not used in Scripture) describe the actions fallen sinners, not that of our holy righteous Creator God.
Monday, Oct. 31: When Have the Innocent Perished?
Upon hearing of Job's suffering three friends of his come and sit with him in silence for seven days and nights, Job 1:11-13. Then Job laments his birth in chapters two and three.
The book of Job and the lesson for today focuses on the words of Eliphaz recorded in Job 4:1-11 where he says to Job, beginning with this verse:
“Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?..." (Job 4:7)
Eliphaz's questions are both rhetorical and prophetic. The context suggests to us that those who heard his words understood that the "innocent" will never perish or will be ever cut off from God.
In the New Testament, those declared "innocent" through the covering shed blood of Jesus Christ, will never "perish" or be "cut off" from God, Acts 16:25-34 & Rom. 8:18-39.
These questions of Eliphaz however do not address why Job is suffering because they show that he does not understand or account for the actions of God who is sovereign.
Tuesday, Nov. 1: A Man and His Maker
We are asked to read Job 4:12-21, where according to the lesson author, "we see Eliphaz seeking to defend the character of God".
Adventist theology is handicapped by believing that there is such a thing as "the character of God" and that God himself or anyone else would need to defend that supposed character. So, Is that what Eliphaz is doing in this selected passage of Scripture?
In verses 12 through 16 Eliphaz says he has heard the "word" of a spirit that said this to him:
" ‘Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error; how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like the moth. Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces; they perish forever without anyone regarding it. Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them, do they not die, and that without wisdom?’ " (Job 4:17-21)
God is the standard of absolute righteousness that man is compared to:
Eliphaz's words concerning the voice of the "spirit" is far more about the limitations of mortal man than of the attributes (not character) of an infinite sovereign holy God. God is not even the one speaking in this passage. It is a "spirit" that contrasts the limitations of mortal man to that of our eternal, all powerful, all knowing Creator God, who has no need or obligation to defend himself.
Wednesday, Nov. 2: The Foolish Taking Root
Today's lesson moves to Job chapter five and makes this comment concerning what is said:
"However, there is a problem here: not all that Eliphaz is saying here is wrong. On the contrary, many of these same thoughts are echoed in other parts of the Bible."
Towards the end of this account, right after Job confesses that to God can "do all things", meaning he is absolutely sovereign, God then speaks to Eliphaz with this message:
After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “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. Now 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.” 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 42:7-9)
Thursday, Nov. 3: Rush to Judgment
Again, the lesson assumes there is something wrong with Eliphaz's words but fails to say what that might be.
Instead of making this a study of the book of Job and determining what was wrong with Eliphaz's words according what God said, as was covered in yesterday's commentary of Job 42:7-7, todays lesson diverts our attention onto the non-biblical Great Controversy theme.
As has been stressed already, the book of Job centers on the theme that God is absolutely sovereign.
Since God does not justify himself to anyone, certainly not to those he has created, the premise for the Great Controversy theme is wrong. Or to be put bluntly, it is heresy.
Friday, Nov. 4: Further Thought
Today's lesson opens with this statement:
"As we have seen, Eliphaz was not without sympathy for Job. It’s just that his sympathy took second place to what he saw as his need to defend the character of God."
The lessons for this week end with "thought questions" that ask what a person thinks instead of turning to Scripture and finding out what God says. Furthermore, when you study Job chapters thirty-eight through forty-one, you will see that God does not defend what he does. Instead, God asks a series of questions of Job. Before you can challenge God you must be able to answer those questions, none of which can any of us answer.
God is sovereign. It is heresy to suggest anything less. Therefore there is no such thing as "the character of God" that needs defending, not even to a righteous person.
The lesson assumes that what Eliphaz and his friends are defending God's character because this is a foundational premise of the false Great Controversy theme. As much as Eliphaz and his friends were wrong in what they said to Job, that was not their folly.
After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “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. Now 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)
Summary for the Week