Lesson 14- Job 42 and the Allegory of Christ

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This sermon covers an entire overview of the Book of Job and its conclusion. It details how Job’s restoration is an allegory for how we are restored by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

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Before concluding the book, let’s summarize everything we learned thus far:

We initially discussed how God can be righteous even though he permits evil. We rebutted some bad attempts to answer the question (Rabbi Kushner’s “when bad things happen to good people” Open Theism, Augustine’s “evil is the lacking of good and therefore does not really exist,” and Pangloss’ “best of all possible worlds”). Some commentators gave us better answers (Sproul (“evil is bad, but to have evil is good”) and Augustine in a different book of his: “For He judged it better to bring good out of evil, than not to permit any evil to exist.”)

We learned of Job’s piety, that he was both a farmer and a judge, and that God viewed him a blameless man who did nothing specific to deserve his affliction

We spoke about how Satan asks God permission to sift Job like wheat and God permits Satan some freedom by removing hedges.

We covered how Job’s friends anticipated the reasoning of Epicurus. God is omniscient/omnipotent/omnibenevolent, but there is evil in the world. God is not lacking in knowledge/power/goodness where He cannot stop it. Therefore, evil is the just punishment for sin. In try to defend this false way of thinking, they accuse Job of evils, misapply the doctrines of God’s inscrutability and man’s total depravity.

There is a sense that Job’s friends are correct. No man can stand before God undeserving of suffering if we already concede that all men merit their own damnation. But how does this apply to Job who is not lacking in righteousness, but is clothed in Christ’s righteousness (Job 29:14)?

Job responds indignantly to his friends defending his own righteousness and questioning God’s purposes in allowing his suffering.

Yet, Job was also a man of faith. He spoke with confidence about his sins being forgiven and he placed all his faith in God: “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him. This also will be my salvation, for a godless man may not come before His presence.”

As Job finished his speech, he made a valuable comment on the nature of true wisdom. Wisdom as we know it is how an individual through much sacrifice, self-exertion, and learning achieves some sort of epiphany that radically changes her or his life. This idea really is a very old one borrowed from Book VII of Plato’s Republic where the “Cave Allegory” is given. While Plato’s cave allegory is so popular because it appeals to man’s pride and self-righteousness, Job informs us that true wisdom comes from digesting and living by God’s revelation. It comes by walking by faith and not by sight.

Then our patient friend Elihu enters the scene. The 32nd chapter, which detailed his genealogy, gives us reason to view his contentions as credible. The rest of Elihu’s response corrects Job for his impugning of God’s justice. He also points out that God disciplines those that He loves (Job 33), that man’s righteousness is like filthy rags (Job 34), the intellectual incapability of man to question God’s justice (Job 35), and he exalts the wisdom of God and prepares us for God’s speech in Job 36-37.

In Chapter 38 God begins His first speech of the book, essentially arguing that His sustaining of creation is proof of His goodness and greatness. In comparison, man is insignificant.

On the surface chapter 39 reads rather simplistically: God controls the animals. A reader may simply think to himself, “So what?” However, if the chapter is read allegorically a world of possibilities is opened up to us. Just as God is sovereign and works all in these beasts, the different attitudes and attributes they have can also be seen in men. Hence, there is a spiritual import to what is being said that we can apply from what is said about the animals to us.

Clearly, God is sovereign over the differing attitudes and attributes in men that can be gleaned from the beasts. How could one question God’s justice when we conform to instincts for reasons that God knows and controls?

In His final discourse God focuses on His creation of the demonic realm (Behemoth) and Satan specifically (Leviathan), and man’s complicity with evil. God shows how He is sovereign over these imposing beasts, portraying them as completely impotent in His hands. As Augustine observed, even man’s power to sin lays in God’s hands and not his own.

Being that man is portrayed as powerless in light of the imposing nature of Behemoth and Leviathan, but these beasts themselves are powerless in light of God’s omnipotence, their existence shows to man that he cannot rely upon his own strength. Left to himself his situation is hopeless. Hence, the existence of such wickedness is supposed to send us fleeing to God and we are not to question the wisdom of this.

Now, we are in chapter 42. Job’s repentance is complete. He not only understands his insignificance, but also God’s role for evil and His power over it.

I know that You can do all things and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted(Job 42:2).

Here, Job acknowledges that he understands God has a purpose for suffering. It is interesting to note that God does not divulge exactly what this purpose is. He simply refers to having a purpose in mind in Job 38:2 (“Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge”) and Job 41:11 (“Who has [j]given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine”).

After going into some detail about His role in making the demons and His sovereignty over them, Job was content in accepting that God is aware of suffering and has a purpose behind it. Further, the choice of wording in “no purpose of yours can be thwarted” adds another element. It is an admission of God’s complete sovereignty.

This is in contradistinction to the past where Job said, “As God lives, who has taken away my right” (Job 27:2). Now, Job has totally resigned his “right” and now acknowledges God’s.

Nebuchadnezzar, when God rescinded his reason and turned him into a beast, once his reason returned summed it up like so:

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,

But He does according to His will in the host of heaven

And among the inhabitants of earth;

And no one can ward off His hand

Or say to Him, ‘What have You done’ (Dan 4:35)?

Indeed God’s purposes cannot be thwarted and His hand cannot be warded off. He glorifies His own name and works out righteousness in His way, which is superior to ours, because He is the greatest of all possible beings and has devised righteousness. For this reason we cannot say, “What have You done in allowing me to suffer?”

‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3).

By quoting God in Job 38:2, Job acknowledges now he understands what He is getting at. He follows this up with a further acknowledgement of God’s hidden counsel being superior to his. It is too wonderful to understand and not something man is privy to.

‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me,’ I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You (Job 42:4-5).

By quoting Job 38:3 and Job 40:7 in God’s speech, Job acknowledges that he understands that in God alone there is truth. Truth cannot be found in our own speculations. Accepting God’s revelation prevents our own deception by the hands of Satan who uses suffering to encourage us to doubt the righteousness of God. Satan tried to do this with Job. God’s revelation is what turned him around.

Job’s point is pretty simple. He heard of God and was faithful to Him, but never actually heard from God, let alone seen Him. Theophanies are not common, so we may not enjoy, as Job did,  such a personal encounter with God in this world. However, in some ways, we have a much greater opportunity to hear Him today.

First, we have the same speech God gave Job. So, in that we are equally blessed. Second, in addition to this, we have the whole counsel of God in the Scripture. We can hear Him speak by reading His revelation in the Scripture.

Therefore I retract and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).

When we find ourselves believing contrary to what we know to be the true in the Scripture, then we must recant like Job in dust and ashes. This is because the Scripture speaks authoritatively on matters that our minds cannot answer using empiricism or dialectics. We must remind ourselves that we are finite, made from the dust, and destined to burn out leaving ashes as remains.

Some liberals don’t get it. According to James L. Crenshaw, “Some scholars see irony in Job’s response, a concealing of his continued defiance in the face of divine cruelty” (Harper Collins Study Bible, 1993, p. 795). However, nothing could be farther from the truth.

What comes with Job’s repentance is ultimately a concession of finitude. It leaves to God the right to determine what role there should be for evil. In the words of Gregory the Great:

All human wisdom, however powerful in acuteness, is foolishness, when compared with Divine wisdom. For all human deeds which are just and beautiful are, when compared with the justice and beauty of God, neither just nor beautiful, nor have any existence at all (The Book of Morals, Book XXXV, Chapter 3).

In translation, in our own wisdom we might not always know what good reasons there are for our experiences. God’s wisdom is far beyond even the greatest men, God’s weakness is stronger than man’s strength (1 Cor 1:25).

It is with this in mind that God’s first move after Job’s confession is to punish Job’s friends for speaking from their false, man-made philosophies and traditions. God speaks to Eliphaz directly, likely because he was the wisest of Job’s friends, and scolds him for not speaking what was right (Job 42:7). Job knew that Eliphaz was doing this all along when he said, “Will you speak what is unjust for God and speak what is deceitful for Him?” (Job 13:7)

God also mentions that Job spoke rightly. Obviously, this does not refer to when Job was accusing God of being unjust. It refers to his repentance at the beginning of the chapter.

Some liberal interpreters take issue with this exegesis, but they do so on bad grounds. For one, Elihu points out several things that Job said wrongly and being that he is not scolded with Eliphaz and his “two friends,” this shows that he spoke rightly. Second, God Himself corrected Job specifically. Third, God says in 40:8 that Job condemned Him in order to be justified. Fourth, Job himself quoting God’s assertion that he darkened the Lord’s counsel, acknowledges that he spoke wrongly. It is not a tenable position without positing that Elihu was a later redactor, that God’s speeches were his invention, and other fantasies not based upon any evidence whatsoever from the existing manuscripts.

That being said, how can Eliphaz be made right with God? It is not enough for him to merely repent like Job. He knew God before this whole episode. Job’s sins have already been paid for by Christ on the cross because he is a faithful man. Eliphaz trusted in his own works and his sins still need atoning.

For this reason God points Eliphaz to Job as his priest. We have some foreshadowing of this in the book:

Bildad: Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,

And the tent of the wicked will be no longer (Job 8:22).

Eliphaz: He will deliver one who is not innocent,

And he will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands (Job 22:30).

Job, like his great high priest Jesus, has suffered on behalf of those he intercedes for. It is because his hands are clean, like Christ’s, that his sacrifice is efficacious for his friends. Further, Job is like Christ in that which by faith he is in union with Him.

Let’s untangle this a little bit. Did you ever wonder why women take their husband’s last name, or in weird situations you can say, “Noch is Mrs. Craig Truglia!” According to the English jurist Henry de Bracton, the practice ought to be used because when a woman gets married to a man, they become “a single person, because they are one flesh and one blood.” Let’s apply this to Christianity. We as the Church are “in Christ” and are the “bride of Christ.” The bride of Christ is “one flesh” with Him. As Victorinus says of the faithful, “Now, because you are one with the reception of the Spirit from Christ, you are Christ. You are therefore sons of God in Christ.” So, Job is not only a type of Christ in our interpretation. By faith he IS Christ in a non-literal, metaphysical way. Not surprisingly, he must sacrifice so Eliphaz may live.

Eliphaz brings seven bulls and seven rams for this sacrifice (Job 42:8). The number seven suggest that this was a complete sacrifice, which points us to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross which was truly complete. For “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10).

The completion of the sacrifice is crucial. Only after Job completes it are not only the friends, but also he himself accepted by God (Job 42:9-10). This may be because Job had to faithfully do as God requested, so that his faith may not be nominal and thereby void. “You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected” (James 2:22).

However, it is more likely that this chronology of the events reflects that none of us are accepted apart from the sacrifice on the cross being finished. As Christ had said before He died, “It is finished” (John 19:30). So, God waited to accept Job’s repentance until after he completed sacrificing for his friends in order to offer to his friends and to us an accurate picture of how our sins are forgiven by an even that was finished 33 AD in April, the day before the Passover on the cross. Hence, while Job look forward to a future sacrifice until it was completed for acceptance, we look backward It just depends when you were born.

Coinciding with Job’s acceptance by God is a restoring of his fortunes (Job 42:10-17). Fortunes in the Scripture are always pictures of a spiritual reality. So, God indeed literally restored Job’s fortunes, but it is meant to point us to the spiritual wealth accessible to us by faith. For the things of this world are not real wealth at all, it is the wealth in heaven that we store that has eternal value.

Christ teaches:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:19-21)

How does the wealth Job receives reflect heavenly realities? His relationship is restored with his brothers, sisters, and wife (Job 42:11). We can infer that his wife is included, because Job has several more children with her. He has the same amount of children that he had as before (Job 42:13-14, Job 1:2).

The family bring him a Qestiah of gold. The term “qestiah” is an old, Hebrew term for money. It is used once in Genesis and once in Joshua, and by the time the prophets were writing books it would have been archaic like the term “shilling” is today.

From this we may make an observation about literary criticism. According to tradition and Jesus Christ Himself, the authorship of Genesis is ascribed to Moses. The authorship of Joshua, is also ancient, and it cites an ancient document that has been lost, the Book of Jashar. The term is not found in any other book of the Bible. This points to an ancient date of authorship for the Book of Job. It is either that or its author was very accurately peering into the past.

So not only does Job’s family bring him gold and increase his wealth, now Job’s livestock are greater in number (Job 42:12) then they were initially (Job 1:3). This increase in wealth all around obviously this points to what Christ said about those giving up families and property for His sake receiving “a hundred times as much” in heaven (Mark 10:30).

This is why there is such a strong emphasis on the beauty of Job’s daughters in which “no women were found so fair as Job’s daughters” (Job 42:15). Their names also connote beauty (Job 42:14). Jemimah means “dove,” which is a beautiful, peaceful bird. Kezziah is a kind of myrrh. Keren-Happuch means “the horn of adornment,” so she is compared to jewelry. We know that the New Jerusalem descending down from heaven is adorned like a bride. Their beauty is a reflection of God’s blessings that he lavishes on the Church, just as a husband lavishes his bride with jewelry. So, jewelry is a literary type for a blessing in the Scripture.

While money itself in the Scripture is described as both a blessing and a source of anxiety, jewelry in all of its positive mentions refers to the adorning of a bride (Gen 24:30, Est 2:12, Song 1:10-11, Is 48:18, Is 61:10, and Ezek 16:8-14). Otherwise, the actual wearing of jewelry is explicitly condemned (1 Peter 3:3-4, 1 Tim 2:9-10; see also Jer 4:30, James 2:2-4, 1 John 2:16-16, Is 3:16-24, and Prov 11:22). So, Job is being adorned with wealth and beauty in preparation for his eternity with Christ. Further, they are a picture of our blessings in Christ.

Indeed, what God gives us in heaven is far greater than what we give up for the Gospel’s sake on Earth. Heavenly riches are without equal in value and beauty.

Lastly, Job lives to a ripe old age, which from this we may infer he was satisfied with its length and quality (Job 42:16-17). Its surprisingly long duration after his body being as good as dead with disease points to our eternal life after the resurrection.

He died in peace, but not believing that he would be in Sheol and have eternal sleep. Instead, he died with the confidence he would see God again in his flesh. This is true of all Christians, who through suffering and experience bouts with evil, persevere. For “the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Matt 24:13).

So, many a Christian may question God in times of suffering. He may forget that God is righteous and even what man meant for evil, He means for good. The fact that He works all things for good may escape the sufferer’s notice. That God is righteous and kind in all His ways may not seem like the truth, but that is only when one measures God by His own standards found in the Scripture. We must measure God by correct standards in order to make a correct evaluation. When we do, God fulfills every perfect standard perfectly.

Indeed, the enemy will devise many crafty lies making us doubt this simple truth, all the while distracting us from the fact that it is he and the evils of our own hearts that cause our suffering. God has merely permitted it, to fulfill His righteous purpose and glorify His name.

Epicurus may argue that the mere existence of evil makes the Deity evil. Many who fall prey to this rationalization, like Job’s friends, will instead argue that every affliction that befalls us is the just desert of sin. However, the Scripture does not allow for this line of reasoning: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Ps 34:19).

Expect affliction, pray for deliverance from the evil one, implore God to incline your heart to Him, and have confidence that the Lord will sustain and save you. These are the promises of God and “God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent.” Indeed, if He promises such things, “will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good” (Num 23:19)? May honor, praise, and glory be ascribed to Him forever. Amen.

A “Catholic” Flavored Commentary on Romans: Chapter 11

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With the help of Augustine, Jerome, and Aquinas, we sum up Paul’s discussion on predestination. God has hardened the Jews to bring in the full number of elect gentiles, which in turns makes the Jews jealous. The result of this is that the full number of elect Jews come to Christ. The full number of Jews + the full number of Gentiles = the entire Israel of God. Hence, all of Israel shall be saved saved.

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11:1 I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” 4 But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

Has God backed out from His promise to Abraham? Of course not, for to this day God has retained a remnant of biological children of Abraham, just as he retained 7,000 (a small number in a nation of over 1,000,000 people) during Elijah’s time. In verse four where it says of God “I have kept,” this is a reference to God’s predestinating grace. The men did not keep themselves faithful, rather God kept them for He reserved them for His name’s sake.

Just as Aaron’s benediction says:

The Lord bless you, and keep you;

The Lord make His face shine on you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance on you,

And give you peace (Num 6:24-26).

The prayer is meaningless if God has no real means at His disposal to keep us due to our own free will. Instead, God can assuredly keep a man in spite of the existence of free will.

5 In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

The remnant exists because God chose them. The choice is not predicated upon the basis of works that God foresaw we would do in the past (as Origen speculated) otherwise grace is no longer grace.

Aquinas observes:

So, too, at the present time, in which a multitude of people seems to have gone astray, there is a remnant chosen by grace, saved according to the choice of God’s grace: “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (Jn 15:16).

7 What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8 just as it is written,

God gave them a spirit of stupor,

Eyes to see not and ears to hear not,

Down to this very day.”

9 And David says,

Let their table become a snare and a trap,

And a stumbling block and a retribution to them.

10 Let their eyes be darkened to see not,

And bend their backs forever.”

Two things can be surmised from the preceding: First, those not given grace are “hardened.” Second, hardening constitutes an active process that God directs so that it would be accurate to say that it is His will that as punishment for rejecting Him He gives “them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not.” This is why David can pray to God that his enemies as retribution have their eyes darkened so that they not see and repent. Indeed, God desires that all repent (2 Peter 3:9), but He is also just and desires that sinners be punished (Rev 16:5-6).

So, God is just in taking men who deserve punishment and assuring that as punishment, they are given over blindness. Remember, such men don’t want to see the truth, they are liars and they prefer the lie. The Scripture says that such men “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18).

Augustine understood this:

Here is mercy and judgment,— mercy towards the election which has obtained the righteousness of God, but judgment to the rest which have been blinded. And yet the former, because they willed, believed; the latter, because they did not will believed not. Therefore mercy and judgment were manifested in the very wills themselves…But to the rest who were blinded, as is there plainly declared, it was done in recompense. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth. But His ways are unsearchable. Therefore the mercy by which He freely delivers, and the truth by which He righteously judges, are equally unsearchable (On the Predestination of the Saints, Chapter 11).

11 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! 13 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.

The Jews did not stumble to the point where there are not any Jewish Christians whatsoever. Paul was one. I am one today. However, the Jews have stumbled enough that it has given an opportunity for the gentiles to enter the fold.

When Paul says, “…how much more will their fulfillment be,” he is not alluding to a time where all of ethnic Israel will be saved, because not all of Israel is really Israel. Instead, he is speaking of how when the fullness of gentiles are brought into the church, that this will provoke ethnic Israel to jealousy so the fullness of ethnic Israel will be brought in. Then, when this is complete, all of Israel will be saved.

15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.

Paul essentially gives a summary of his olive branch discussion which follows these verses. In short, if Israelites of old were great men of faith, by virtue of their storied history in God’s plan for redemption, those faithful Israelites brought back into the fold should fit in perfectly. These days we think of Christianity as a gentiles’ religion and the Jews are the odd ones. In reality, it is a Jewish religion and the gentiles are the red-headed step children.

While the gentiles become children of Abraham by faith, they do not have an appreciation of the Law like a Jew. A Jew, once under the Law and then under grace must experience a greater appreciation of that grace, for he had a greater appreciation of the curse of the Law! Their resurrection from spiritual death is thereby special.

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

Obviously, the gentiles have grown arrogant. They feel that it is as if they support the Jews. Paul says this is not the case. We are the children of Abraham. As Chrysostom points out, it is the following who have supported the present day faithful: “Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, the prophets, the patriarchs, all who were of note in the Old Testament; and the branches, those from them who believed.” All Jews, obviously.

So, gentiles are wild olive branches that by God’s grace, have been grafted in the place of broken-off olive branches that once were faithless Israelites. They belong in the gentiles’ place, but God shows mercy to whom He pleases and hardens whom He pleases. They were hardened for the gentile’s sake. Do not boast you gentiles, for God could easily harden the gentiles for their sake.

Breaking with the format that we have followed thus far in the commentary, let’s look at two verses from the preceding in a little more detail:

20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear;

These plain words teach us one thing: we don’t maintain our salvation with works or outward sacraments. We stand by faith and faith alone.

As Ambrosiaster writes in his commentary on Romans:

Obviously they are blessed whose iniquities are forgiven without labor or work of any kind and whose sins are covered without any work of penitence being required of them, as long as they believe. How can these words apply to a penitent, when we know that penitents obtain the forgiveness of sin with much struggle and groaning?…[T]heir sins are forgiven, covered and not reckoned to them, and this without labor or work of any kind (quoted in Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scripture, New Testament VI, p. 113).

As we already covered earlier, Catholic writers predating Luther used the term “faith alone” to speak of how Christians are saved (see Chrysostom on Gal 3 and Aquinas on Rom 4). Some Roman Catholic apologists respond that we are justified initially by faith, but that Christians are continually justified with their faith and works both playing a role.

While Protestants will not disagree over the necessity of works (“faith, if it has no works, is dead,” James 2:17), they argue that faith is synonymous with works. In the words of Clement:

But in what way shall we confess Him? By doing what He says, and not transgressing His commandments, and by honouring Him not with our lips only, but with all our heart and all our mind (2 Clem 3).

This means that faith actually saves but the works are the fruit of faith. No serious Protestant is saying one can have faith alone and then live a life of blatant sin, as that would not be faithful living at all!

So, the real disagreement is not over works, but over the role of sacraments. Most Protestants, aside from Baptists and their offshoots, believe that God has given to the Church sacraments as a means of dispensing additional grace to believers.

God gives all sorts of grace. For example, God gives grace to both the wicked and righteous by giving them food. Further, He gives the grace of belief. To those same believers, He gives grace upon grace so that they grow in faith and good works. In this context, the sacraments are a means of greater grace, though not of greater salvation.

We may glean this from how Cyril of Jerusalem writes of Rom 11:20 in light of baptism:

If you stand in faith, blessed are you; if you have fallen in unbelief, from this day forward cast away your unbelief, and receive full assurance…For He is present in readiness to seal your soul, and He shall give you that Seal at which evil spirits tremble, a heavenly and sacred seal, as also it is written, In whom also ye believed, and were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Yet He tries the soul. He casts not His pearls before swine; if you play the hypocrite, though men baptize you now, the Holy Spirit will not baptize you. But if you approach with faith, though men minister in what is seen, the Holy Ghost bestows that which is unseen (Catechetical Lecture 17, Chapters 35 and 36).

As we already discussed earlier, the historical teaching of the Church has been that if one dies before receiving baptism, that one is baptized (i.e. “surrounded”) by the Holy Spirit through faith. This is because faith alone saves a man from his sins, not merely water that cleans the outside of one’s body (1 Pet 3:21).

Cyril writes that because we stand by faith, the sacrament apart from faith is void of the Spirit and powerless. Some argue that “baptism now saves you,” but as we have already shown, Titus 3:5 is talking specifically about baptism by the Holy Spirit (accompanied by water, blood, or chiefly desire). This is because the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the true baptism and this as Cyril points out comes about only by faith. We signify this baptism with water. The “seal” of the Holy Spirit which is given to believers by baptism guarantees salvation (2 Cor 1:22, Eph 4:30).

Why this long discussion on sacraments? Because when some Roman Catholics (or Eastern Orthodox, among others) invoke James 2:24 and say that we are “saved by works and not by faith alone.” However, they are not think of good works in general. What they have in view is that the sacraments are needed for salvation.

So, while faith initially justifies a man, it merely is his initiation into the salvation club (i.e. the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, etc.) In order to maintain that salvation and stay in the club, God has given sacraments as means of grace and they can only be meted out through the Church (i.e. the RCC, EO, etc.) Therefore, faith alone really does not save, because sacraments are needed too.

However, how does this make sense with Rom 11:20? “[T]hey were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith.” In the sacradotal view, we don’t stand by faith but by performing sacraments.

This is not a gross generalization. Augustine taught that without faith an infant is saved by virtue of the sacrament of baptism…that very same sacrament which according to Cyril is powerless unless faith exists!

Perhaps it is not coincidental that Cyril, who wrote more on baptism than any other Church Father, never once mentioned infant baptism in his writings. If he did, it would contradict his view of the sacraments!

Hence, any view that sacraments save men, is at best radically inconsistent. Case in point: Apologists that argue sacraments are performed by faith will, at the same time, argue that baptism can save unbelieving infants. How can the sacrament of baptism, under this faithless circumstance, be a faithful sacrament?

Therefore, it is clear that faith alone both saves a man and maintains that saved state. Jews were broken off for their unbelief, but Christians stand by faith. Sacraments may be a means of additional grace to the faithful, but they in of themselves are void and do nothing to save a man.

If someone trusts in Christ like the thief on the cross and dies before receiving any sacraments, he is still saved. However, if one trusts in Christ and like most others lives for a time, will he seek baptism and the Lord’s Supper? Of course. No true believer, guided by the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writers of the Scriptures, will desire not to do something that the Holy Spirit commands in the Scripture. So, sacraments do not save, nor do they make us stand as it is faith that does. But, faith will encourage the believer to receive sacraments from the Church.

21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.

Some take verse 21 as proof that individual believers could come to faith in Christ, but then lose their salvation. Augustine taught against this, as we have already covered (Chapter 23, On Rebuke and Grace). This does not mean that Christians mustn’t “work out their salvation in fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12), because they have to constantly examine themselves by their works to see if they really are faithful. However, our confidence in our salvation comes from the knowledge that “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). The works are visual confirmation of God’s work by the Holy Spirit.

There is nothing wrong with having confidence in one’s salvation. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that he knew “that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you” (2 Cor 4:14). Elsewhere he writes to the Philippians, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). How can Paul know such a thing? To the Ephesians he writes that it is in Christ that “we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him” (Eph 3:12). If we know we have faith in Christ, and we have the works to show that this faith is not imaginary, then there is grounds for such confidence.

Then, what do we do with Rom 11:21? Paul is not saying those of you specifically grafted into the tree will be cut off. He is speaking of “you” as a general term for the gentiles that are in the process of being grafted in. God is under no obligation to take a wild olive shoot and graft it in the place where a cultivated olive branch once stood. As Paul makes clear in verse 23, God can just as easily bring back the old cultivated branch back to its old place, and toss the wild olive shoot aside. Standing by grace, through faith, do not boast. God grafts one in and tears one out, He has mercy on whom He pleases and He hardens whom He pleases.

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

The Deliverer will come from Zion,

He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”

27 This is My covenant with them,

When I take away their sins.”

Paul now cuts to the chase summing up the discussion starting from Rom 8:28 to now: God is working all things for good, even the hardening of Israel so that while many will deny the faith, this as a result brings in gentiles that were predestined for salvation. So, as a result, everyone who is truly a child of Abraham by faith is thereby brought into the fold–this is what it means that all Israel will be saved.

 

Obviously, the context does not allow faithless Jews to be saved. As John the Baptist warned, “[D]o not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham” (Matt 3:9). All of those with the faith of Abraham are children of Abraham, and thereby are saved children of the promise.

This is all done by the Deliver (that is, Christ) which came from Zion (that is, Israel.) He removed ungodliness from Jacob (that is, the Israel of God) by taking away their sins (that is, by bearing the iniquities of those who have faith in Christ).

28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;

Paul here iterates an idea we spoke of before: the Jews possess a particular spot of honor in God’s redemptive plan. While even up to the present time Jews convert to Christianity in extremely small numbers, so that they may be accounted as enemies, God takes special pleasure in redeeming Abraham’s literal wayward sons.

Augustine also observed that from this verse we may infer God’s complete sovereignty over even the sinfulness of man:

For what could be said more plainly than what is actually said, “As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sakes?” [Rom 11:28] It is, therefore, in the power of the wicked to sin; but that in sinning they should do this or that by that wickedness is not in their power, but in God’s, who divides the darkness and regulates it; so that hence even what they do contrary to God’s will is not fulfilled except it be God’s will (On Predestination of the Saints, Chapter 33).

This is consistently found throughout the Scripture. For example, Joseph was sold into bondage by his brothers and endured much suffering but his observation was as follows: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen 50:20).

29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

God will always redeem men from the seed of Abraham because He has promised that He will do so in the Old Testament.

30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience,

Paul now explains how what the Jews meant for evil, in their rejection of Christ, God intends to work for good. The Jews’ disobedience to God in rejecting the Gospel has led to its preaching among the gentiles. Now, they have been shown God’s mercy as a result of Israel’s hardness of heart. It is obvious, that in retrospect, God’s hardening of Israel has resulted in greater good. This all connects back to the discussion of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart in Rom 9. God endures with patience vessels of wrath so mercy may be shown, and apparent to, the vessels of mercy.

31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy.

Paul explains that the Jews’ continued disobedience in light of the obedience of gentiles will lead to greater obedience to some of their number. This leads to the full number of predestined Jews becoming Christians. When the whole number of predestined Jews and gentiles come to Christ, then the entirety of the Israel of God is saved.

32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

Paul now connects all the dots. God hardened the gentiles and the Jews so that in their increased disobedience, they may see the need for His mercy. God “may” show mercy to all, because not every man seeks God or His mercy. All are shut up in disobedience, because there is “none who seeks after God” (Rom 3:11) and “[t]here is no one who calls on Your name” (Is 64:7). Therefore, all are in need of mercy and God’s hardening is employed to make this increasingly apparent, henceforth increasing His graciousness.

This verse may also be recognized as one in many that speaks of the universal sinfulness of men. There isn’t a man that is obedient enough to go to heaven, because all are disobedient. Jerome recognized this when in his letter to Ctesiphon he wrote as follows:

I need not go through the lives of the saints or call attention to the moles and spots which mark the fairest skins…What says the chosen vessel[, that is, Paul]? God had concluded all in unbelief that he might have mercy upon all; Romans 11:32 and in another place, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 The preacher also who is the mouthpiece of the Divine Wisdom freely protests and says: there is not a just man upon earth, that does good and sins not: Ecclesiastes 7:20 and again, if your people sin against you, for there is no man that sins not: 1 Kings 8:46 and who can say, I have made my heart clean? Proverbs 20:9 and none is clean from stain, not even if his life on earth has been but for one day. David insists on the same thing when he says: Behold, I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me; and in another psalm, in your sight shall no man living be justified…For man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 (Chapter 2).

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

This verse follows the discussion on the hardening of Israel, because obviously it is hard to swallow the ramifications of Paul’s teaching. God hardens hearts so that they will not repent and takes unrepentant hearts and shows them mercy, all for the sake of His glory. How can this be “fair?”Paul just points us to the depths of God’s wisdom. The knowledge is so “deep” it is unsearchable and unfathomable to us.

34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?

Here Paul quotes Isaiah with the obvious intention of telling his readers that God is righteous in the hardening of Israel and that He should not be questioned. As said by Isaiah:

Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,

Or as His counselor has informed Him?

With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?

And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge

And informed Him of the way of understanding?

Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,

And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales…

All the nations are as nothing before Him,

They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless (Is 40:13-15, 17).

The nations are less than nothing to God, with them He can do as He pleases. If this sounds “wrong,” who does God have to consult to know right and wrong? Who does He need to teach Him in the path of justice? These are rhetorical questions that do not expect an answer. God cannot be questioned in these.

35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?

Paul appears to be quoting Job 41:11 that says, “Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine.” In Job, God says this in His own defense against those that may question Him in His creation and control over Leviathan (i.e. Satan). So, Paul is saying in the strongest possible terms that God does not owe anyone anything that He is compelled to pay them back as if they merit it. God can dispose with them as He knows best.

36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Verse 36 explains why verse 35 is true. All things come from God, are sustained from Him, and are made for Him. Therefore, the greatest possible end God may achieve is His own glory, which we pray “Your kingdom come, Your will be done.” To Him be the glory, and not us. Amen.

Lesson 13, Behemoth and Leviathan in the Book of Job

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In this sermon, we cover the significance of the allegorical interpretation of the 40th and 41st chapters on the Book of Job. God, in speaking of His sovereignty over Satan, shows that He is sovereign over all of creation.

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God, please give us the grace to understand the conclusion to your response to Job! Therein is your answer to why we experience suffering. Therein we peer into the most difficult, deep mysteries in which you care to give us explanation. Give us the grace to understand such inimitable wisdom!

The last time we touched on this issue back when we were discussing the third chapter, there was a great deal of controversy. Let me say this from the on-set. I am not worthy to teach through this response that God gives to Job. In fact, no one in all of history has been or ever will be worthy of exegeting words straight from God’s mouth addressing this most mysterious response in the book.

However, God works through the unworthy people who make up His Church. The historical testimony of the Church can be wrong, or off, on many issues. Why? We are fallible. However, His Church is given His Holy Spirit. It is very unlikely that we only figured something out the last two centuries that the Church was unaware of for the previous 18. We think highly of Thomas C. Oden when he said that he hopes his tombstone says, He made no new contribution to theology.”

So, I seek to make no new contribution here. We are about to unwrap God’s final response to Job where He dwells upon His sovereignty over two beasts: Behemoth and Leviathan. Who exactly are they? The following brothers in the faith all concluded that both are analogues for Satan: Gregory the Great, the first commentator on Job; Thomas Aquinas, the greatest raw genius in Church History; John Calvin, the greatest systematic theologian in Church History, Joseph Caryl, writer of the longest commentary on Job in Church History, Matthew Henry, Jonathan Edwards, Silas Durand, and A.W. Pink.

Many will point out that God’s description of Leviathan sounds an awful lot like a real, living breathing beast. Even if this is the case, John Calvin writes in his commentary on Isaiah:

“The word ‘leviathan’ is variously interpreted; but in general it simply denotes either a large serpent, or whales and sea-fishes, which approach the character of monsters on account of their huge size…For my part, I have no doubt that he speaks allegorically of Satan and his whole kingdom, describing him under the figure of some monstrous animal…”

So, for our intents and purposes here we will presume great beasts of some sort are being described. However, the interpretation I will present here will explore the significance of what these beasts represent–the imposing nature of the prince of darkness and our inability to resist him.

First, let’s discuss chapter 40. Now that Job has been “put in his place,” God essentially asks Job to repent by reproving Him (Job 40:2). Job answers, “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You?…I will add nothing more(Job 40:5-6).

If the book ended here, Job’s repentance would be sufficient. He understood that he was not fit to question God, because he did not have the power or intellect to control all of creation’s minutia as we saw in chapters 38 and 39. However, God wants him to add something more… God wants him to know that He works all-in-all in the heavens and the Earth.

Liberal commentators are not very big fans of Job’s response. J. Gerald Janzen writes, “Job’s response at first glance seems disappointingly submissive…a retreat from the honesty of the dialogues” (Interpretation of Job, p. 242). He then posits that the term “behold” in Hebrew means “if.” So, Job would actually be responding to God like a sarcastic child: “If I am so insignificant, like you say, why should I bother even talking to you?”

Without an expertise in Hebrew, context alone rules out such a conclusion. First, God’s response in the next two chapters would make no sense. Why would God respond to Job saying he’s supposedly too insignificant to take part in this dialogue with Him with a response that revolves around His mastery over Satan? Perhaps if we held to a completely literal view, God might be saying, “If being sovereign over those little animals does not make you feel insignificant, then I am going to really wow you now with the big ones!” Again, I just think this interpretation is found too wanting.

Second, Job repents again in chapter 42 displaying an explicit understanding of God’s sovereignty over the forces of evil. The traditional interpretation, that the responses reflect a humbling of Job, therefore make the most sense. So much for the liberal interpretation.

Before God gets into Behemoth and Leviathan, God gives a very strongly worded repudiation of Job’s questioning of His justice in verses 7 to 14. It appears that God uses the opportunity of Job’s repentance to correct him in the strongest possible terms. Job’s increased humility has put him in the position to accept what God has to say.

Now gird up your loins like a man; I will ask you, and you instruct Me (Job 40:7).

Here, God begins correcting Job for questioning His righteousness by implying that Job is too insignificant to instruct Him. He had already done this in Job 38:3. God is being sarcastic, because He is not in man’s debt and in want of knowledge. We are not in the position to teach God what is just.

“Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified” (Job 40:8)?

This question is God’s “comeback” to Job’s questioning of His motives and methods throughout the book. This should undo all of those who think Job was not condemning God. “Why does God allow the wicked to thrive? Why does he take people who are living faithfully and thrust them into suffering?” God’s response is, “Does your dissatisfaction make Me any less right? Will you condemn me in order to justify yourself?” Looking at history, man does not have the track record to begin questioning God. Nor does he have the foresight or understanding to do better.

Or do you have an arm like God and can you thunder with a voice like His (Job 40:9)?

Job cannot snap his fingers and make things happen. God can. This is what He means when He speaks of His arm and voice. God creates with His spoken word in Gen 1. Further, God redeems with an “outstretched arm” (Ex 6:6). So, Job cannot create or redeem like God, so how can he be in the right?

Adorn yourself with eminence and dignity and clothe yourself with honor and majesty (Job 40:10).

What is God saying? Job might be dignified and righteous by men’s standards but by Job’s own admission,  “I put on [God’s] righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban” (Job 29:14). He had to put God’s righteousness on, so he could not clothe himself with his own honor and majesty.

Therefore, if man is not righteous apart from the grace of God, how can a depraved being know how the world ought to be if he cannot make himself what he ought to be?

Man is impotent. Like a 12 year old back seat driver, he likes to tell the man at the wheel what to do but knows nothing about what he speaks of. Man is totally depraved and cannot even do good (Rom 3:10). If Job can show this is not the case, God says, “Then I will also confess to you that your own right hand can save you” (Job 40:14).

Pour out the overflowings of your anger and look on everyone who is proud, and make him low. Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him and tread down the wicked where they stand. Hide them in the dust together, bind them in the hidden place (Job 40:11-13).

The point is simple. God can and does exact justice. Men, like Job, can only do so much. By Job’s admission the wicked prosper. Job’s a judge and he can’t stop it. But God can.

Now, onto Behemoth and Leviathan! First, let’s introduce ourselves to what these beasts are all about. Interpreters conflate the two, so the following two descriptions of Leviathan give us an idea concerning how we should approach reading about them.

Concerning Leviathan Silas Durand writes:

If this wonderful description were applied merely to the whale [i.e. Leviathan], some parts of it would hardly seem appropriate, though the fearful admiration with which he inspires the mind is fully expressed through this highly figurative language. But there is more than a literal fish or serpent, be he never so great, presented here. This is “that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan,” whose abode is in the deep; the great source of all the various manifestations of evil; “the prince of darkness.” Here is innate wickedness, considered in its own essential being, as a separate thing, unaffected by human interests or affections, which seems to soften or partially cover its hideous fearfulness as it is manifested in the world.

Aquinas writes:

[T]o preclude one from believing that man by his own power can overcome the devil…[God uses]…the image of Leviathan…[B]ecause he has such great power that he cannot be held by a fishhook, and to show this he says, “and will you bind his tongue with cord?” For fish which are caught with a hook are bound by the line which is attached to the hook. This means that no man can take the devil away from his malice or even bind him to keep him from doing this evil (Commentary on Job, Chapter 40).

Behemoth may be an elephant and Leviathan may be a dragon. These different beasts are supposed to offer us a picture of our inability to combat Satan apart from God’s grace. This is why Behemoth is an Elephant that man cannot hunt, but God can. Leviathan cannot be caught by a fisherman, for no man can bind him from doing evil. However, God can bind the strongman (Matt 12:29).

Therefore, man cannot defend himself against Satan. This means, apart from God’s grace and protective hedge, we are goners! So, the logic goes, God is righteous because He actually actively thwarts evil while man cannot.

Concerning Behemoth, the word literally means “beasts” (yes, it is a plural) in Hebrew. The term only occurs once in Scripture (Job 40:15), while its singular form beast or “behema” occurs 172 times. Usually the term in its singular form refers to a beast or “cattle.” This makes the plural usage somewhat odd and in context of the chapter where the beast is referred to singularly.

Why? My interpretation is that Behemoth is a personification for demons while Leviathan is the Satan himself. Remember, Satan is not omnipresent. So, he must work with other demons to cover more ground.

While the term “Beasts” (i.e. Behemoth) is referred to in the singular throughout the remainder of the chapter, it would not be the only time in Scripture a plurality of demons is personified in the singular. When Christ spoke to the Gerasene Demoniac he asked for the demon’s name. The possessed man responded, “My [singular] name is Legion, for we [plural] are many” (Mark 5:9).

What does the existence of Behemoth teach us?

First, Behemoth does not exist by accident, because he is first among the creative acts of God (Job 40:15, 19). Demons exist because God made them. Gen 3:1 says, “[T]he serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” God created Leviathan and Behemoth, this we can know.

Second, Behemoth “eats grass like an ox” (Job 40:15). The wicked are conflated with grass throughout the Scripture such as in Ps 90:5, Ps 92:7, Is 40:6-7, Luke 12:28, and James 1:10. Just as sinful people wither and fade into death like the grass according to the Psalmist (Ps 37:2), demons feed upon sinful men leading the by the hand to eternal death. Like an ox that can eat almost limitless grass for hours, so do the demons work away at devouring wicked men.

Third, Behemoth is powerful and seemingly impervious to attack (Job 40:16-18). Man cannot stop himself from being devoured.

Fourth, God is the master of Him because only “his maker bring[s] near his sword” (Job 40:19). This means, as Aquinas observes:

To preclude one from thinking that he[, that is man,] is the first of the ways of God…[God] says, “He (God) who made him will direct his sword,” that is, his injurious act. The will to do harm comes from the devil in himself, and because of this he is called “his sword.” But the effect of harming can only come from the divine will or divine permission (Commentary on the Book of Job, Chapter 40).

The Lord minces no meat about it. Behemoth’s power to wield his sword and sow discord in the world comes from God. Behemoth does it from his own desire to effect harm, but just as God has a purpose for the light /darkness and fortune/calamity He has created (Is 45:7), so does God for the existence of evil.

Fifth, the world is in the hands of this beast. “Surely the mountains bring him food, And all the beasts of the field play there” (Job 40:20). The world pays homage to Behemoth and men (here called “hay-yat,” or “animals”) in their sin rejoice in it. According to Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew dictionary, the related Hebrew term saw-khak’, here translated “play,” has a primary meaning of “to laugh (usually in contempt or scorn)” i.e. evil laughing. It is not hard to imagine, men in an orgy of violence, alcohol, and sex paying homage to Satan laughing in pride enjoying their sin.

Sixth, the men/beasts during all of this do not notice Behemoth hiding in the Jordan River (Job 40:21-23). Just as the Jordan borders the promised land and beyond awaited Israel’s enemies, demons crouch right across the border, the hedge, looking to pounce on us.

Now onto Leviathan.

First, when God asks Job whether he can “draw out Leviathan with a fish hook” or “put a rope in his nose” (Job 41:1-2), we can infer that God can draw out Satan and put him to work like an ox with a rope in its nose.

How does God put him to work? He governs the deceiver and sets bounds to his deceits, to whom, and when, and how far they shall extend” (Matthew Poole, Comments on Job 12:6).

Second, doesn’t the following sounds an awful lot like someone we know?

Will he make many supplications to you,

Or will he speak to you soft words?

4 “Will he make a covenant with you?

Will you take him for a servant forever? (Job 41:3-4)

Do we remember a conversation that went a little like this?

Oh Mr. God, what have I been up to…um….just walking around the world and stuff. Mr. God, I think you’re wrong but I can’t just go out and say it and I am not strong enough to actually prove you wrong, I cannot get past the protective hedge!

This is why God says that He “play[s] with him like a bird” in a cage in verse 5. Satan is a mere play thing to God, Satan does not like it but he knows it.

Third, just like Behemoth, man can’t beat him in battle but God can:

Can you fill his skin with harpoons,

Or his head with fishing spears?

8 “Lay your hand on him;

Remember the battle; [f]you will not do it again (Job 41:7-8)!

Fourth, Job is wrong when he said that if God turned his “gaze” away he would be better off.

Behold, your expectation is false;

Will you be laid low even at the sight of him?

No one is so fierce that he dares to arouse him;

Who then is he that can stand before Me (Job 41:9-10)?

Job thought during his speeches that if it were not for God, left to himself he could have avoided the consequential suffering. God’s response is that any expectation Job has of going out on his own and confronting evil all alone is foolish. The sight of Satan alone would be enough to subdue Job. Job, left to himself, experiences precisely the types of calamities he is presently experiencing.

Yet, God can rouse Leviathan and easily make mincemeat of him. If nothing under the sun can boast of this, than who can stand before God? No one.

Fifth, God is in the right to ordain evil and work it for His purposes:

Who has given to Me that I should repay him?

Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine (Job 41:11).

It seems like just now, God is answering a question Job mumbled under his breath: “Why make such a thing?!?!”

We have given nothing to God in which He owes us and He would be liable to listen to our demands upon Him.  People do not like that answer, but if we really meant “not our will, but your will be done” it intuitively makes the most sense. If God wills that Leviathan and the attendant evils along with him exist, then God knows best. Everything under heaven belongs to Him.

God in His wisdom reserves the right to use something evil, like Leviathan, and use him against his will to work good. Concerning the God using evil to work good Augustine writes:

For what could be said more plainly than what is actually said, “As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sakes?” [Rom 11:28] It is, therefore, in the power of the wicked to sin; but that in sinning they should do this or that by that wickedness is not in their power, but in God’s, who divides the darkness and regulates it; so that hence even what they do contrary to God’s will is not fulfilled except it be God’s will (On Predestination of the Saints, Chapter 33).

It is as if God is telling Job, “Yes, I expose you to suffering, but can’t you see that Satan is the source of it? I am master over Satan and I permit him to do his work. He will not be allowed to truly harm you. Can’t you see, though you lose everything, you did not lose your faith? In the loss of your physical blessings you may be ‘sorrowful yet always rejoicing,…poor yet making many rich,…having nothing yet possessing all things’ (2 Cor 6:10). So, ‘he who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it’ (Matt 10:39). Trust and follow me.

Sixth, Job 41:12-34 describe Leviathan in a way that is impotent.

Some of you might say, “How can you say that, he sounds so scary! He has strong limbs (verse 12), “around his teeth there is terror” (verse 13), he is strong scales are his pride, his armor is so tight air cannot pass through it!”

Yawn! He must have some really bad gingivitis that the terrible part is around his teeth and not his teeth themselves!

“His sneezes flash forth light” (v. 18).

Having the flu sure can be scary!

“The sword that reaches him cannot avail…His underparts are like sharp potsherds.”

That’s one scary beast, hiding in his armor!

I don’t know about you guys, but this does not sound like a scary beast. None of the attributes described are aggressive. No claws, no actual teeth, no fists, no weapons. Just a cowering, sneezing, dragon hiding behind his armor scaring the weak.

Seventh, Leviathan is obviously not a beast that lived on earth abiding the laws of physics. I have heard people say, “It really sounds like God is describing a real creature that Job was acquainted with.” I really have to wonder what Discovery Channel they are watching!

“His sneezes flash forth light,

And his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.

19 “Out of his mouth go burning torches;

Sparks of fire leap forth.

20 “Out of his nostrils smoke goes forth

As from a boiling pot and burning rushes.

21 “His breath kindles coals,

And a flame goes forth from his mouth (Job 41:18-21).

Obviously, this is a dragon. I know that in God all things are possible, but do we really think we had a dinosaur walking around covered with sharp scales blowing fire all over the place?

It makes much more sense to interpret this beast, the dragon, as an analogue for Satan, who Revelation calls a dragon.

Here is what I think the passage is saying: Satan rules over the earth for a time and terrorizes man with his intimidating qualities.

During this time he is proud as lord over the demons and wicked men. Job 41:25 says, “When he raises himself up the gods fear.” Job 41:34 says, “He is king over the sons of pride.” He sows chaos in the sea by “making the depths a boiling pot” (Job 41:31) and “behind him he makes a wake to shine” (Job 41:32) leaving a trail of destruction in his path. Though “nothing on Earth is like” Leviathan and God has “made [him] without fear” (Job 41:33), he is destined to fail in his mission.

Leviathan and his attendant evils are part of God’s plans. Man’s own self-deception in worshiping Leviathan, the Satanic Beast, is explicitly consistent with His purposes. “For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled” (Rev 17:17). As Augustine observes, God sustains even the demons and all men who commit wickedness to fulfill His righteous purposes:

But the goodness of the Creator never fails either to supply life and vital power to the wicked angels (without which their existence would soon come to an end); or, in the case of mankind, who spring from a condemned and corrupt stock, to impart form and life to their seed, to fashion their members, and through the various seasons of their life, and in the different parts of the earth, to quicken their senses, and bestow upon them the nourishment they need. For He judged it better to bring good out of evil, than not to permit any evil to exist (The Handbook on Hope, Faith, and Love, Chapter 27).

Further:

Nor can we doubt that God does well even in the permission of what is evil. For He permits it only in the justice of His judgment. And surely all that is just is good. Although, therefore, evil, in so far as it is evil, is not a good; yet the fact that evil as well as good exists, is a good. [Looks like R.C. Sproul “borrowed” that one from Augustine.] For if it were not a good that evil should exist, its existence would not be permitted by the omnipotent Good, who without doubt can as easily refuse to permit what He does not wish, as bring about what He does wish (The Handbook on Hope, Faith, and Love, Chapter 96).

God fulfills His purposes by exploiting the wickedness and power of Leviathan and man alike. He is righteous in doing so and brings about the greatest possible good so that He may work all things for good.

We may conclude from the preceding descriptions that Behemoth and Leviathan are imposing. Man is shattered when confronted with them. However, to God they are mere playthings. He can pull out Leviathan with a fishhook as if he were nothing.

So God’s answer to Job is now clear: He is sovereign over nature to suit His purposes. We can see this in God’s description of weather and the seasons. He is sovereign over the temperaments of all different sorts of men. We can see this in God’s description of the animal kingdom. Lastly, He is sovereign over the demonic realm, including Satan himself. We can see this in God’s description of Behemoth and Leviathan. Hence, there is absolutely nothing NOT under God’s control.

It is knowing this that Job’s confession in the next chapter will make sense: I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). To Him be the glory forever. Praise be to God.

Protestant Myths About the Deuterocanon

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Protestants do themselves no favors when they resort to outright lies and historic misrepresentations to prop up certain tenets of their faith. In doing so, they undercut the Gospel, because by ruining their own credibility, they put the Gospel they preach in a bad light.

deuterocanon-2

One such issue in which Protestants use a lot of lies, distortions, and myths to uphold their position is the issue of Canon. Protestants have a Canon that differs with the much wider Canons of Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Ethiopian Orthodoxy (as for the Ethiopians, there isn’t an ancient work that they didn’t like and designate as Canon ;) ).

Now, space does not allow me to go into detail here, but the Protestant Canon is mainly the result of a fundamental misunderstanding of how one determines manuscript accuracy during the Renaissance. These Renaissance men reasoned that the contemporary manuscripts of the day in the “original languages” were markedly more accurate than the Greek and Latin translations common to the day, because, heck, they were in the original languages! There is certainly a logic to it–the original ideas of the writers of Scripture can be obscured, if not lost in translation. Further, ideas and even whole books alien to the people who still speak those languages must never have been recognized by them, right?!?

When we put this sort of armchair scholar sort of reasoning aside, we can see that the methodological error of the Renaissance writers stems from the fact that they were not nearly as well trained in anthropology and textual criticism as scholars are today. Concerning anthropology, for example, manuscript discoveries have shown that the Septuagint accords much more closely to the earliest Hebrew Manuscripts than the Masoretic Text.

As for textual criticism, scholars now have a much more in-depth way of searching for original renderings of manuscripts. Serious scholars don’t simply stop at the Masoretic Text like the Renaissance men and declare that this is what the Hebrew must have always said. In fact, they make judgments based upon several factors. For one, they look at the age of manuscripts and try to find out how ancient textual variants are, the most ancient perhaps being the most accurate. Further, they look at early quotations in the church fathers and at the many translations that exist (Greek, Arabic, Syriac, Vulgate, Old Latin, etcetera). This further helps us trace the history of not only textual variants preserved in each ancient tradition, but also trace the meanings of words across languages instead of slavishly trusting a medieval Jew’s rendering of a certain word.

In fact, the Masoretic Text might not even be the best place to look for what the Scripture of the ancient Jews looked like. Many scholars actually will look at the Vulgate because the Vulgate preserves, in Latin, an earlier textual Hebrew tradition than the medieval Masoretic Text does.

So, the Biblical scholar is much more well rounded in his approach to manuscripts than the Renaissance scholar was. After all, the Renaissance scholar was making it up as he goes while today we have had centuries to see if certain methodologies actually bear themselves out in manuscript discoveries. This is especially important given the fact that as early as the 2nd century AD (Justin Martyr in Dialogue with Trypho), we had reports of the Jews corrupting Christological passages of the Scripture. Hence, being that we know that corrupt traditions existed as early as the 2nd century, it is incumbent upon us to study textual variants and come to an understanding, assessing for probability, which variants are the most accurate.

So, in retrospect, the Renaissance man’s desire to “go back to the basics” by slavishly relying upon the original languages was really not all that strong of a position, intellectually. In many ways, we persist in Renaissance-era error when we do not at least consider the Deuterocanon on its merits and simply discount it because “the Jews do.”

However, whether or not Protestants are right or wrong on the Deuterocanon is not the subject of this article. Rather, I would like to dispel certain myths that we often parrot in the hope that we can be more truthful in expressing our beliefs.

The following myths are from an article from GotQuestions.org on the subject:

  • “A majority of the early church fathers reject[ed] the idea that the Apocrypha belonged in the Bible.”

No. In fact, the majority of early church fathers included at least one Deuterocanonical book, if not more, in their Canons–while on occasion leaving out Canonical books such as Esther. There are some notable exceptions. We have Jerome, Gregory the Great, Victorinus, whomever wrote 2 Esdras 14:45-46, and the curious case of Justin Martyr. To say that the majority of the early church fathers rejected the Deuterocanon when, in fact, most did not comment on it, and when they did they often endorsed specific Deuterocanonical works, is simply dishonest.

  • “[U]nder tremendous pressure from Rome, Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate, included the Apocrypha, despite Jerome’s insistence that the Apocrypha did not belong in the Bible.”

The claim here is misleading. It’s not like Jerome did not want to translate the books, as one may infer from the above. Further, he still wrote introductions to the books he translated and passed comment on which books he did not view as Canonical. Further, it did not stop him from calling the Deuterocanon Scripture and quoting them as such in other things he has written. So, the adjective “tremendous” and the conspiracy theory about Rome, when he had plenty of opposition from other parts of the Christian world (including Hippo in Africa where Augustine wrote letters to him on the subject), really gives the reader the wrong idea. Jerome gave a minority opinion about the Canon and the Deuterocanon did not bother him so much that he did not find it objectionable to quote it as Scripture.

  • “The Latin Vulgate became the dominant and officially sanctioned Catholic Bible, and remained that way for around 1200 years. Thus, the Apocrypha became a part of the Catholic Bible. The Apocrypha was not formally/officially made a part of the Catholic Bible, though, until the Council of Trent, in response to the Protestant Reformation.”

This is another myth that needs to be put to rest. Almost the whole Christian world for a thousand years before Trent, much of which did not have Scripture in Latin, accepted the Deuterocanon. It’s not like the Deuterocanon sneaked its way into the Vulgate and due to the persistence of the Vulgate as a popular translation inculcated the minds of many Christians that the Deuterocanon was legit. The Council of Carthage (419 AD) listed the entire Deuterocanon as Canonical.

It would be true to say that before the Council of Trent, that within Roman Catholicism there still was debate concerning the Canonicity of certain books. However, to say that there was not formal understanding before this point is to skip over the fact that most Bishoprics on Earth taught that the Deuterocanon was indeed Canon.

  • “The early Protestant Reformers, in agreement with Judaism, determined that the Apocrypha did not belong in the Bible, and therefore removed the Apocrypha from Protestant Bibles.”

The above is not a myth…sadly, it is true. Why Protestants would boast that their Canon agrees with Rabbinic Judaism, a post-Christian religion, is beyond me. For reasons we already discussed, the early Protestant Reformers did adopt a popular “back to the basics” Renaissance view of the Canon. However, archaeology and textual study has long since exposed that their logic was faulty.

I have heard James White and other Protestants make the following, related claim:

  • “[T]hey were entrusted with the oracles of God” (Rom 3:2), so that means we ought to always look to the Jews as to what is Scripture.

This is wrong on two counts. First, they are quoting Rom 3:2 out of context. There, Paul is passing comment on the advantage to being Jewish is, which he says “first of all they…” have the Scriptures and as he says later the benefit of the Law is that it makes one aware that he is sinful and in need of a savior. Paul is not passing comment on the idea that the Jews eternally preserve the Scripture.

Second, we know for a fact that the Jews have not properly preserved Scripture. For one, we know that the Masoretic Text has glaring errors. Further, the Jews consider the profoundly anti-Christian Talmud Scripture. Jew FAQ writes, “Orthodox Jews believe G-d taught the Oral Torah to Moses, and he taught it to others, down to the present day. This tradition was maintained only in oral form until about the 2d century C.E., when the oral law was compiled and written down….The Gemara and the Mishnah together are known as the Talmud. This was completed in the 5th century C.E.

Religion Facts writes, “In Orthodox Judaism, the Oral Torah is accepted as equally sacred, inspired, and authoritative as the Written Torah.”

As Jesus Himself said in reference to the wicked Oral Torah, “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men” (Mark 7:8).

So, to claim that medieval Jews by necessity of Rom 3:2 preserved the Scripture in effect turns the Talmud into Scripture as well, as they consider the Talmud the Oral Torah. Obviously, this is not possible and we must reject such an understanding of Rom 3:2.

Concluding Thoughts. Protestants in the end of the day need to take to heart what R.C. Sproul says about the Canon:

Rome believes that the New Testament is an infallible collection of infallible books. That’s one perspective…The historic Protestant position shared by Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and so on, has been that the canon of Scripture is a fallible collection of infallible books.

So, in other words, we are not 100 percent sure if we are missing a book or two from the Bible. And, if you want to be ultra critical, whether or not Esther really even belongs in the Canon.

“But wait!,” some will object. “Almost every Christian for two thousand years thought Esther was Scripture!”

Of course. And almost just as many would have had a more expansive Old Testament than the one Protestants have today. So, we need to be very gracious with our view of the Scripture, because in the end of the day we don’t have hard facts to go by. We simply know subjectively where we hear God speaking and where we do not hear Him speaking. “My sheep hear My voice” (John 10:27). That is hardly an iron-clad criteria.

Hence, because Protestants have the minority historical position on Scripture, it is all the more reason that we display humility. Further, we should respect those who hold to the dominant historical position of the Church over the centuries.

The Dying Requests of Peter and Paul–Teach the Scripture

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The dying request of a man says a lot about what he finds important.  In 1930, lawyer T.M. Zink made the request that his $300,000 fortune be given to a “no women allowed” club because, as his will stated, “My intense hatred of women is … the result of my experiences with women, observations of them and study of all literatures and philosophical works.” More recently in the 1990s, German Countess Carlotta Liebenstein left a fortune of $80 million to her dog Gunther III. The dying requests of these people obviously shows us that they had some messed up priorities.

But, believe it or not, we have some dying requests of the Apostles recorded in the Scripture. Paul in his second letter to Timothy and Peter in what we call “2 Peter” sensed their ends were near and wrote about what they found particularly important.

While some of their requests would not appear entirely important (Paul asked Timothy to bring “the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments,” 2 Tim 4:13), the requests pertaining to religious instruction are indeed relevant to us.

Why? Because with their passing we do not have Apostles to turn to anymore in order that we may know how to properly worship our God. So, the question is, where did the Apostles tell us to turn for instruction in their absence?

The Scripture. Not to the teaching authority of a Bishop in some great city or anything of the sort–rather, God’s revelation. Now, being that Christians believe that God has left us books He has actually written through holy men of old, it would seem quite strange that men would look to any other source to settle questions pertaining to religion. I mean, why go ask some guy what he thinks when I can actually go to something that tells me what God explicitly wants? However, as the existence of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy attest to, not all Christians believe that the Scripture alone is sufficient to address such matters.

What we are going to see in the following is that Peter and Paul did not leave us in a lurch. Rather, they told us exactly what they wanted others to do in their impending absences.

2 Peter 1:12-2:1

Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.

For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”—  and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them…

So, to follow Peter’s admonition:

  1. Peter wants those receiving the letter to be able to “call these things to mind” after his departure. What are “these things?” The essential Christian truths taught in verses 3 to 11.
  2. The Scripture is “made more sure” by the fact he knows that it comes from God, just as the voice of the Father was heard during the Transfiguration. For this reason, we ought to pay attention to the Scripture.
  3. BUT, false teachers will introduce destructive heresies contriving ideas out of their own minds, unlike the true prophets who wrote the Scripture not by an act of human will, but by the Holy Spirit.

There is a clearly a logic underlying everything he has written. After his passing, the Church is not left without something to remind them of everything the Apostles taught. He says that this source is the Scripture and he is ever-more convinced of its authority, because the same God that he literally heard on the mount of Transfiguration can also be heard in the Bible. False teachers have their own personal interpretations of religion, unlike the Scripture, and so we must be wary of them.

It is interesting to note that Peter did not remind his readers that he will have an infallible successor they can turn to; or that all of their Bishops are successors of the Apostles and they will protect their congregations from error. No. Rather, the Scripture is what he puts on the pedestal as the safeguard against false doctrines.

We have a similar situation discussed by Paul in his final letter.

2 Tim 3:10-4:3

Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine

What is Paul’s last admonition before stating that he is “already being poured out like a drink offering” (a euphemism for impending death, 2 Tim 4:6)?

  1. Timothy is reminded by Paul to always follow his teaching.
  2. He further reminded Timothy the source of this teaching that he has “become convinced of” (God) and where he can find it (the Sacred Writings/Scripture).
  3. Knowing this, Timothy is to “preach the word” of God as found in the Scripture in order to combat those with false doctrines.

Now, Paul is about to be martyred. In 2 Tim 3-4 Timothy is being warned of false teachers. How does the man of God combat false teaching according to Paul?

Remember the oral tradition of the Apostles? No. Look to the Bishops that were the successors of the Apostles? No. Ask Peter or his successor? No.

Hmmm, Paul is not sounding a lot like a Catholic or Eastern Orthodox here. What does he actually tell Timothy? Look to the Scriptures. Why? Because they actually come straight from God’s figurative mouth (2 Tim 3:16).

Conclusion. There is a lot of debate today as to what the religious authority for Christians ought to be. In the end of the day there are two camps:

  • Those who believe that the Scripture is the ultimate authority, and that traditional interpretations are helpful (Protestants).
  • Those who believe Scripture is an authority in addition to the oral tradition of the Apostles as preserved in later writings and pronouncements, and that the interpretations of the Church are absolutely necessary in understanding both the Scripture and oral tradition (Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, etc).

As far as I know, I am encapsulating the views of these two divergent camps accurately. And, if so, something unsettling should stick out to the Catholic or Eastern Orthodox: the Apostles whose traditions they claim to preserve obviously and explicitly endorse the Sola Scriptura view, and not the (Scripture+Tradition)+Teaching Authority of the Church view.

Peter and Paul were literally confronting the question of how after their passing are we to teach true doctrine and reject false ones. They told their audiences to look to the Scripture. There is no other place in which they told us to turn.

This literally was the dying request of both men. It must have been awfully important to them as all dying requests are. Being that they said nothing about looking to some religious authority as standing in their place, I must conclude that such an idea did not weigh to heavily in their minds as being necessary for anyone to know in their absence.

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