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Fourth Quarter 2016 (September 24–December 30)
COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF JOB
Week 11: December 3–9
COMMENTARY ON "OUT OF THE WHIRLWIND"
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, Dec. 3: Introduction
The daily lessons begin well with Job 38:4 as the theme memory text where God is speaking to Job from out of the whirlwind:
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “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. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding...." (Job 38:1-4)
In Job chapter thirty-eight God is ready to reveal himself to Job in the form of a series of questions. Just prior to this, in chapters thirty-two through thirty-seven, Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite of the family of Ram confronted Job because Job had justified himself instead of God, Job 32: 1-3. However, Elihu was also upset with Job's three other friends because they had condemned Job without just cause.
In all of Elihu's defense of God as absolutely sovereign he does not resort to justifying God's justice. Nor, as we shall see as we study further, does God defend his justice either. Instead, God begins by asking one simple question of Job; “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding".
All that God then says to Job is a restating of this one foundational question. Job could not answer God nor can anyone else. What we learn is that there is none who can challenge the justice of God.
Therefore any belief that Satan has challenged God's justice is a lie and a fraud from the mind of Satan himself, John 8:44. In the outcome of what happens to Job we are not even informed how Satan reacted to his defeat. Instead, we are left with the understanding that Job's spiritual growth is what God had in mind from the very beginning. Remember it is God who challenged Satan, Job 1:8-12, not the other way around.
Sunday, Dec. 4: Out of the Whirlwind
Today's lesson ends with a question:
"It’s one thing to believe intellectually in the nearness of God to us; it’s quite another to experience that nearness. How can you learn to draw close to God and to derive hope and comfort from this relationship?"
For Job the sudden appearance of God out of the whirlwind is an epiphany. Sudden perhaps but with Elihu's just completed discourse upon the sovereign attributes of our Creator God we should not assume it was totally unexpected by Job. In any case, this is not an example of how we should learn to draw near to God. Rather, this is a comforting example of the action of our loving and holy sovereign God reaching out personally to Job. It is God who initiates, directs and develops this encounter with Job.
Instead of speculating on how "suddenly and unexpectedly, the Lord now appears" to Job, we should be examining what God has to say to Job and then understand how and why Job then responds to God.
Since the book of Job culminates by our sovereign God choosing to restore Job's fortunes we should understand why God said this of Job at the very beginning before all the terrible afflictions that were to test Job's righteousness wherein Job refused to deny God:
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)
Monday, Dec. 5: God's Question
The lesson says:
"What was the first question that God asked Job, and what was implied in that question? Job 38:2."
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “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 38:1-3)
Instead of examining this or any of the other questions God asked of Job, we are immediately sidetracked by turning to other portions of Scripture. The first thing to notice is that God doesn't pause with this first question. God continues to speak to Job in Job 38:4 through to 40:2 preceded with another question:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. (Job 38:4)
As students of Scripture our initial task should be to first understand what God is asking of Job before wondering off to examine other Scripture because this would be the 'present tense' context of how and why Job responded to God's challenging questions in this passage:
Then Job answered the LORD and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:3-5 ESV)
Tuesday, Dec. 6: The Lord as Creator
With reference to Job 38:4-41 the lesson has this to say:
"If Job expected some detailed explanation about why all these calamities happened to him, he didn’t get it. Instead, what he got was a flow of rhetorical questions contrasting the Lord in His creative might to the transience and ignorance of poor Job."
The lesson seems to forget that God is the one who is asking the questions, not Job. It is the lesson author's assumption that this would be an appropriate time for God to explain to Job 'the why of things' yet doesn't.
Of course the issue here is that the lesson author's real agenda is to promote and attempt to defend the Great Controversy Doctrine which is founded upon the false belief that God must defend his character before a watching world of righteous created beings somewhere out there in the universe by proving fallen sinners, including Job, can perfectly obey God's 'eternal moral law'.
Several things to note when seeking to understand the Book of Job:
Wednesday, Dec. 7: The Wisdom of the Wise
Today's lesson includes this quote:
" “ ‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever.’ Deuteronomy 29:29. Just how God accomplished the work of creation He has never revealed to men; human science cannot search out the secrets of the Most High. His creative power is as incomprehensible as His existence.”—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 113."
The problem with this quote is that Ellen G. White references Duet. 29:29 out of context and has little or nothing to do with God's questions addressed to Job:
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law...." (Deut. 29:29)
Deuteronomy chapter twenty-nine is Moses' final warning along with a recounting of the promises God made with the Hebrew people at Mount Horeb, which is known as the Mosaic or Old Covenant. The phrase, 'those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever' refers to a collective total of everything recorded in the first five books of the bible.
Certainly the creation account is given at the beginning of Genesis but this is not Moses' theme here in Deuteronomy.
And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear...."(Deut. 29:2-4)
This passage comes right after Deut. 29:29:
“And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you, and return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you...." (Deut. 30:1-3)
Thursday, Dec. 8: Repenting in Dust and Ashes
Today's theme comes from Job 40:1-4 & 42:1-6 where Job repents in 'dust and ashes' yet reminds us:
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)
In Job 1:8 God himself declares that Job is "blameless and upright, who fears God and turns away from evil".
The book of Job begins with the declaration by God that Job is "blameless and upright". Satan is exposed as a fool to assert to the sovereign Creator God of the universe that Job would "curse you to your face", Job 1:11. However the book of Job makes no further direct reference to the foolishness of Satan.
What Job, his three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad & Zophar) and even Elihu didn't appear to fully understand, is that foremost above all else, our sovereign God justifies himself before none. Only Elihu limited his thoughts about God to what he understood to be applicable to job's suffering.
Concerning God's sovereignty, in Jeremiah chapter eighteen we have mentioned the parable of The Potter and the Clay (see also Isa. 64:7-9 & Rom. 9: 20-22) where God is our sovereign holy Creator God who declares to the Hebrew people:
Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel..." (Jer. 18:5-6)
The prophet Jeremiah, along with the few others who had not bowed the knee to Baal, suffered what was about to happen to the city of Jerusalem while rebellious sinners are repeatedly called to repentance.
From within the framework of the New Covenant, know that those who have been declared righteous by God will never be separated from the love of God, Rom. 8:18-39.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:6-11)
While the Great Controversy doctrine is totally false because it limits the sovereign will of God who declared his full completed victory over death at Calvary, we do have an enemy. Therefore we are reminded to have on the full armor of God, Eph. 6:10-20 because our adversary the devil is on the prowl. The devil is powerless against the armor of God. This is not about gaining salvation which is founded solely upon Jesus' shed blood at Calvary. This is all about placing our trust in our sovereign God as we live victoriously in this terrible fallen world.
Friday, Dec. 9: Further Thought
Today's lesson centers on an Ellen G. White quote with this being the first sentence of that quote:
“God has permitted a flood of light to be poured upon the world in both science and art; but when professedly scientific men treat upon these subjects from a merely human point of view, they will assuredly come to wrong conclusions."
Christians, that is those sins are covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ and know that the Bible is the inspired wholly true accurate word of God, would tend to agree with what is said in this quote. However "science and art" are not the only ways that those of "the world"..."come to wrong conclusions".