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Fourth Quarter 2016 (September 24–December 30)
COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF JOB
Week 8: November 12–18
COMMENTARY ON "INNOCENT BLOOD"
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, November 12th, Innocent Blood
The lesson author states:
This scene reflects what we have seen in Job: pat and lame answers to what doesn’t have a simple solution. Job knew … that the answers given didn’t fit the reality at hand. Thus, that’s the challenge: How do we find answers that make sense of what so often seems without sense? This week we will continue the pursuit. (P. 64 Standard Edition Adult Quarterly.)
Let’s start this week with a reminder of one of the cardinal truths of Christianity; the fact that all are sinners, without exception.
As the following scriptures indicate, there is no innocent blood. The only innocent blood that ever existed on earth was the blood of Jesus Christ (and Adam and Eve before the Fall.). Isa 53:6 reminds us, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--everyone--to his own way”. Rom 3:10-12 “as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’” “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23)
Sunday, November 13th, Job’s Protest
Today, the lesson author states,
Job was not suffering because of his sin. The book itself teaches the opposite: Job was suffering here precisely because he was so faithful. The first two chapters of the book make that point. (Pg. 65, Standard Edition)
Yet, the 42nd chapter of Job does give us a little more insight to Job’s true situation.
In verse 6 Job states, “therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job recognizes that he is a sinner, and is in constant need of God’s forgiveness and grace. (We will dwell more on this subject in Tuesday’s lesson.)
Monday, November 14th, Innocent Blood?
The lesson author states in today’s lesson:
Besides the clear testimony of Scripture, anyone who has ever known the Lord personally, who has seen a glimpse of God’s goodness and holiness, knows the reality of human sinfulness. In that sense, who among us … is truly “innocent”?
On the other hand, that’s not really the point. Job was a sinner; in that sense he wasn’t innocent, any more than his own children weren’t innocent. And yet, what had he done, or they done, to deserve the fate that befell them? Is this not, perhaps, the ultimate question for humanity in regard to suffering? (Emphasis mine)
Unfortunately, the fact that we’re all sinners living in a fallen world is the point of explaining undeserved punishment in this life. The author then asks two questions regarding “what had he done or they done” and “Is this not … the ultimate question for humanity in regard to suffering?”
These questions ignore what the lesson author has stated at the beginning of today’s lesson, and takes away the fact that we’re sinners in a fallen world, suffering the consequences of mankind’s sinfulness.
This is what the lesson author had to say just before the passage we’re exploring now:
[T]he Bible does talk about the reality of human sinfulness and human corruption, which brings up a valid question about the meaning of “innocent.” If everyone has sinned, if everyone has violated God’s law, then who is truly innocent? As someone once said, “Your birth certificate is proof of your guilt.”
Near the end of Job, we will see Job do something extraordinary that proves the fact that Job is a sinner in need of a savior, and that he is not innocent before God. (We’ll see this in tomorrow’s commentary.)
Tuesday, November 15th, Unfair Fates
The lesson author states in todays lesson that Job, and others, have “unfair fates.”
Whatever lesson Job and his accusers might learn, and whatever defeat Satan will face through Job’s faithfulness, the fate of these others certainly doesn’t seem fair. The fact is, these things are not fair, are not just, and not right. (P. 67, Standard Quarterly, Emphasis mine)
Life is not fair, but then, neither is the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ fair. The lesson author continues:
We face similar challenges today. A six-year-old dies of cancer, and that’s fair? A 20 year-old college girl is pulled from her car and sexually assaulted, and that’s fair? A 35-year-old mother of three is killed in a car accident, and that’s fair? What about the 19,000 Japanese killed in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake? Were all 19,000 guilty of something that made this a just punishment? If not, then their deaths were not fair either. (P. 67 Standard Quarterly.)
Of course, life is unfair, yet if anything is unfair, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ. He, a perfect man, took our sins upon himself so that we might be his righteousness. He was beaten savagely, mocked and then underwent one of the most horrible of deaths, a death on a cross. And we, born into sin, sinners from the womb, get off “scot free” simply by believing the gospel. This is truly the most “unfair” fact in the universe. All the sins of humanity, every single one, were borne by him on the cross.
God, in his great sovereignty, allows all that happens on this earth. There is a reason for it, it is simply that we do not know the reason. But to say that horrible things happening to sinful people is unfair, is to deny the sovereignty and wisdom of God who is alone perfect and without fault.
Let’s see what Job did in answer to God in the last chapter of the book, Job 42:3-6:
Job 42:3 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 'Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.' 5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Why did Job repent? What wrong counsel did he offer in answer to his three friends accusations? Faithful Job, the believer, to whom horrible things were done, had to repent in dust and ashes.
If Job repented, how much more might we need to repent, having been given the glorious revelation of God through Jesus Christ and his gospel? Repentance is not a one-time experience; Christians are always repenting, because we are so aware of our sinfulness.
Wednesday, November 16th, Sufficient for the Day …
Today, the lesson author makes a very valid point, supporting this commentary. He states:
The Bible reflects a harsh fact about life in our fallen world: evil and suffering are real. It’s only a superficial reading of the Word of God, pulling a few texts out of the whole context, that could give anyone the idea that life here is fair and just and good, and that if only we remain faithful to God, suffering won’t come.
Today’s prosperity preachers have not learned this lesson, or if they have, they are doubly evil. Adventism is guilty, too, because of the teaching of its health message. The message is that there are things that one shouldn’t eat to live a healthy and prosperous life. The so-called “blue zones” and the health studies that have attempted to present these areas where people live the longest is also troublesome. The studies are biased and do not show the complete picture of places like Loma Linda, California. The “health message” is not the right arm of the gospel. In fact, our physical health has little to do with our life experiences as Christians. It is God alone who gives life and he has numbered our days.
Lam 4:18b our days were numbered, for our end had come.
Dan. 5:26b God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end;
The minutae of our lives is known and determined by God. Jesus states in Luke 12:4-7,
"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
And if the hairs of our heads are numbered, then so our days are numbered as well.
The lesson author is correct in including Matthew 6:34, which tells us,
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
It’s good to prepare for the future, but worrying about the future only causes stress, anxiety and can lead to depression and other ills.
Thursday, November 17th, Things Not Seen
The lesson author states,
As we have seen early in this quarter (see lesson 2), the great controversy template works well in helping us to deal with the reality of evil in our world.
Nowhere has Satan made accusations to God about his law being too hard to keep. There is no great controversy in which the last generation of believers will vindicate God and his law to the watching universe. These teachings come from the pen of Ellen G. White and not from scripture. The Bible is clear, Satan has been defeated at the cross, past tense; it is not something that is waiting to happen. Hebrews 2:14-15 shows Satan as having been destroyed,
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Emphasis mine)
Sure, Satan walks about as a roaring lion as we are reminded in 1 Peter 5:8,
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Yet he has been defanged and declawed; he makes a lot of noise, and still causes evil wherever he can. But we must not be afraid of any accusations the devil has made against God and his law, which we must somehow vindicate before a watching universe.
Friday, November 18th, Further Thought
The lesson author finishes this week’s lesson, referring to the promises made in Rev. 21:4, and elsewhere. He then states,
Even if someone didn’t believe this promise or many of the others in the Bible, that person would have to admit, if nothing else, how much nicer life would be now, to have at least that hope, as opposed to the prospect of just living here amid our toils and struggles and then dying forever, with it all meaning nothing.
If someone doesn’t believe the promises of God about the life in eternity, simply “hoping” that these promises are true without faith in Christ is creating a false belief system. Not believing in God’s promises is where the unbeliever lives. Those that have chosen Christ, have chosen because of the very fact that they will be delivered from the domain of hell and placed in God’s New Jerusalem following their resurrection. For the unbeliever, “dying forever” is an acceptable future that allows them to live this life with some level of comfort. However, spending an eternity in hell is another story. The truth of that fate for unbelievers would make a Christian desperately seek to present Christ and salvation in him to those who are lost.
“dying forever, with it all meaning nothing” is Adventism’s answer to the fate of the lost. There are many, including some Adventists who are OK with the prospect of being wiped out forever, without any eternal hell to pay. Unfortunately, hell is just what Jesus warned about more than any other person in Scripture. Hell is a real place, where the lost will be tormented in the presence of the Lamb forever and ever. It is fear of hell that drives some to the salvation found in Christ Jesus. That is not a bad reason to be a believer, yet hopefully that believer would grow to realize God’s great promises of eternal life in God’s presence as being true and a great reason to live under the Lordship of Christ in this life.
The “Teacher’s Comments” included in the Teachers version of the quarterly (p. 110) suggests that one look into Ellen White’s writings about the Waldensians. Rather than do that, get a concordance and do a search through the Bible of the promises of God for those who believe in him. That exercise would be very profitable and full of comfort that you can share with unbelievers to convince them of the loving-kindness of our God.