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Saturday, August 24, 2013

more on Job

     When I was in college, I studied the Bible a lot on my own.  I noticed one day that the king of Judah named Jehoiachin was said to be eighteen years old in 2 Kings 24:8 and was said to be eight years old in 2 Chronicles 36:9.  This troubled me a great deal that there was a inconsistence and I asked my pastor about it at the time Dr.Austin.  Dr.Austin did not seem all that surprised, but commented that there were several more places like it that dates and numbers were inconsistent.  I had a time dealing with this as before I didn't believe in scribal errors and wondered if this was true what else might not be true.

      If reading this troubles you, you might be in the same place I was back then.  One person told me one day when we talked about how the Bible was inspired by God that God used man to deliver his message, but he didn't fax it down.  The whole process of the compiling of scripture and writing appears to have been at times a messy process.  There was writing and rewriting that went on.  In the end, I concluded that while some numbers may be incorrect, God is great enough to use imperfect man to convey the truths he meant to convey. 

     Nowhere does that appear more evident that the book of Job.  It appears to have suffered from writing and rewriting.  We don't even know who the author was or when it was written.  It appears very different from most of the other books of the Old Testament.  I have come to the conclusion that most likely this was a verbal tale told for hundreds and possibly thousands of years before it was written down by someone.  Parts of chapters 1 and 2 may be more Jewish folklore than actual factual events.  But, does that mean the truths God wanted to convey are  not there, no it doesn't.  Again, it is proof that God is able to tell his story faithfully over time.

      Job appears to have lived during the time period of Abraham or before.  There is no mention of the law, the temple or any festivals or temple worship practices.  The act of worship that is conveyed tells me that it was most likely very early on.  The fact that Job is referred to as blameless can only mean that he was a person of faith much like Abraham was.  You see this mentioned about Abram when it says in Genesis 15:6 "Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness."

     I have wrestled with whether or not Job was an actual person or not.  There are two places where Job is mentioned in other parts of scripture in Ezekiel 14:14-20 and James 5:11.  I will let you look those up if you want to.  It seems clear that the Ezekiel and James both thought he was a real person.  If he was, his world was as different from  yours and mine as someone who lives in Jupiter is from ours today.  He lived in the very early part of human history, yet his doubts and thoughts are something many of us can relate to today.

     One other area that I have wrestled with and am not finished wrestling with is the last 8 verses of the book.  Chapters 1-2 and these verses at the end of the book are the only verses not written in poetry.  It may be that they were added later.  It does help to convey the setting of the story and makes the story more clear.  But, I have wondered does the last few verses of Job sanitize the story and somehow detract from it?  You and I know people who live godly lives and never see their fortunes restored.  At least not on this earth.  Even if God did not decide to bless Job again, it would have been okay.  For God has the sovereign right to do what he wants.  Before Job had his fortunes restored he said these words:

"I know that Thou canst do all things, And that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?  There I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."

    That's a pretty great lesson that Job mentions and one that we should keep in mind also.  That God can do all things.  Jesus said this in Mark 9:23 "All things are possible to him who believes." among other places.  Sometimes our God is reduced and too small and as a result our faith is small.  Also, it is important to remember to that there is nothing that can thwart the purposes of God.  God will accomplish his will whether because of mankind or despite us. 

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