Job knows who God is

Job Sees The Light - Thirteenth in a series

Hover over the Scripture references to read the verses under discussion

Job 12:1-3 NIV How should Job answer his friends? How should we answer when the Adversary accuses us? How can we? It is impossible to converse, to make sense, to defend ourselves. You cannot reason with the Devil to outwit or outtalk him. You can only know and trust that Christ has power to deliver his own, and he will do it in his time. Your answer can only be: Jesus is Lord.

But Job lived B.C. He reprimands his friends and tries to establish himself as deserving of respect.

Job 12:4-5 NIV Job would like for his friends to feel how they are making him feel. If they themselves were suffering, they would not look down on him in his calamity.

In fact, it is only possible for those at ease to identify with those in turmoil if they have experienced a similar or deep circumstance or trial. That is one real value of a trial. (2 Cor 1:4)

Job 12:6 NIV Can't they see that those who robbed him are enjoying luxury while he is suffering an unjust pounding? Yet Job knows the wicked are in plain view of God.

Job 12:7-10 NIV Job agrees with his friends that nothing occurs outside the will of God. God is either sovereign over his creation, or he is not God. Those marauders could not have managed their evil deeds except that God permitted it. Even the animals and fish know this. But why did God permit it? Who is to blame: the Sabeans or the Lord?

The way in which free will meshes with his sovereignty is mysterious. To say that the Sabeans carried off Job's cattle of their own free will is true, despite being urged by Satan to do so, who was permitted by God to urge them.

They did so gladly, but could they have stood against Satan's urging? Yes, if they had been people of God, desiring to do his will, they would have called on God and received courage to overcome the temptation to steal. But since they were serving themselves, Satan easily encouraged them to do his work.

We can still wonder whether God might not have given them power to restrain themselves; after all, he could have as easily strengthened them against Satan as not. Yet in his sovereignty, he chose to let them freely chose. If a sinful act is done voluntarily, that is enough to establish guilt, irrespective of whether the sinner could have avoided the act. [Calvin]

As humans, we puzzle over how freedom and determinism both are true. We know that man has real choices and that God is completely sovereign. The Westminster Confession says:

God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: (Eph 1:11 et al) yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin (Jas 1:13 et al), nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. (Acts 2:23 et al) (WC III, Section I)

Applying this to the crucifixion, we can see that God sent his Son to die for our sins, (1Jo 4:10) yet the crucifixion was done by the will of the people; (Mar 15:14, Jhn 19:15). It was necessary for Christ to die (Luk 24:26, Acts 17:3); the liberty (Jhn 10:18) and contingency (1Cor 15:14) of that is well understood.

We can trust that all things work together for good for those who love God. (Rom 8:28) Whatever occurs is useful to the Christian for his growth in Christ, and God can take any circumstance and bring good from it for those whom he has called.

Job 12:11-12 NIV Job is about to “speak wisdom to power.” Though there is only one of him and three of them, he has the intellect and years of experience to prove he is not inferior to them!

Job 12:13-20 NIV Was there a prophecy in that last verse?

Job continues to speak confidently of an omniscient, omnipotent, righteous God who sees all and has the power to punish and to expose the unrighteous. (Job 12:21-25)

Come to think of it, God is the only one whose ends always justify his means. Whatever he does in the lives of good or evil people is for the purpose of achieving good ends. Amazing!

Can anyone enumerate the works of God?

Remembrance and its opposite - Eighth in a series

In our previous post, we focused on remembering the Lord for his work of Creation. Now we turn to his works of providence.

A Sunday School teacher may be asked: What is providence? Usually a student would like to understand how— if God controls all of history— can man have free will? This is not easy to explain. At such times it's well to have the Westminster Confession and Catechisms on hand. The first tenet of Chapter 3 in the Confession, "Of God's Eternal Decree," states:

God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

Beyond that, the first point of Chapter 5, Of Providence, is pertinent:

God the great Creator of all things does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.

For any who are not familiar with the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, more information is here.

In the Larger Catechism a question is framed: How doth God execute his decrees? The answer is: God executes his decrees in the works of creation and providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will.

What are these works? The Larger Catechism explains: God's works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to his own glory.

We can be sure that God is working all things together for good, for those who love him. (Rom 8:28) Whether supplying our individual needs and desires or superintending the overarching culture and events that affect our lives, God’s works of providence will culminate in fullest blessing for the faithful.

We are warned that to forget his immeasurable kindness and faithful watchcare is a deadly oversight. (Deut 8:19) We are encouraged to trust that God is working his purposes out: a day is coming when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Isa 11:9)

Psalm 106 is an uplifting litany of God's faithful help and works on behalf of his children, despite their —and our— frequent disobedience and wandering from his pastures. Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry. (Ps 106:44) What he has done for others, he will do for you.

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? who can shew forth all his praise? (Ps 106:1-2)

The Nile

The River in the Bible - Third in a series

We will not find the word Nile in the King James version of the Bible, but rather, simply river. Only river is used in Young's Literal Translation and Webster's Bible as well. Most other translations do use Nile.

The first mention of the word river in the Bible is in Genesis 2 and it speaks of a flowing stream, nahar, the perennial river, as noted in the last post. The "yeor" or Nile, was a "fosse" or trench, and formed a definite channel through the land. In the Old Testament, "yeor" is used most often for the Nile.

The Nile is believed to be the longest river in the world at more than 4,000 miles, and runs through 11 African countries, emptying into the Mediterranean, from its basin in Egypt. Some infer it was the Edenic river Gihon (Gen 2:13) that flowed around the whole land of Cush, but that is not possible to determine.

We first encounter the Nile in Genesis 41 when Pharaoh dreamed, and behold, he stood by the river. (Gen 41:1)

In his dream, seven healthy cows came up out of the Nile and fed in a meadow; then seven lean ones came from the river and stood by the other seven along the river's edge. Then, the lean ones ate the fat ones, and Pharaoh awoke.

He fell asleep again and dreamed that seven good ears of corn came up on one stalk, and then seven thin ones budded out, and the thin ears devoured the full ones. Again, he awoke and understood he had been dreaming.

In the morning his spirit was troubled and he sent for magicians and wise men, but none could interpret his dreams. His butler then recalled Joseph from his time in prison, a man who had accurately interpreted his and the chief baker's dreams. In a moment Joseph was freed from 13 years of unjust imprisonment, and, crediting the Lord, he was able to explain Pharaoh's dreams.

The second dream confirmed the first: Seven years of plenty would be followed by seven years of famine. He advised Pharaoh to appoint a man to oversee the land and conserve a fifth of the produce of the plenteous years, and became that man.

The predicted famine arrived, and Israel traveled to Egypt for bread. They would move there and remain about 400 years.

The cattle came up out of the river, an emergence of the plans of the Lord.

In God's providence we are given plenty and poverty. In this instance, the purpose was to enrich Egypt and humble the other nations, so that Israel in particular would move to Egypt in fulfillment of Abraham's dream (Gen 15:13). The Lord prophesied that his descendants would be in a strange land 400 years as servants, but would return to the promised land.

That Joseph was made viceroy of Egypt fulfilled his own dreams for which his brothers had sold him to slavery (Gen 37:5-10). His dreams revealed they would bow to him, and it turned out that way. Their deed was punished in their sons' circumstance as slaves, but then out of the Nile, the river, a man was lifted, Moses, to save them and lead them home. But before he could, the Nile would be turned to blood and vomit frogs to plague the Egyptians, to convince the Pharaoh "who knew not Joseph" (Exodus 1:8) that the Exodus was imminent. How much nicer when he turns water into wine!

Despite their years of hard labor in Egypt, the Israelites would at times look back and want to return there for protection. To end this delusion, the Lord prophesied through Ezekiel,

Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself. But I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales, and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales. And I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers: thou shalt fall upon the open fields; thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered: I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field and to the fowls of the heaven.

And it came to pass that the Pharaoh who claimed to own the Nile and be its creator was defeated in battle and put to flight (see a commentary on Eze 29). His subjects who attached to him as scales on a dragon suffered the same fate. They had no respect for Him who fashioned the river long ago. (Isa 22:11)

In another instance we find: ... the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt. (2 Kings 24:7)

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? …who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell? (Proverbs 30:4)

Let us tell.