Reformed Commentary on Job: Chapter 17

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In this chapter, Job looks again to death as his release from suffering only to find that he hopes for something more and that this hope survives in death.

Chapter 17 (For Previous Chapter Click Here)

After reflecting on what seems to be a lack of hope that things will ever get better in this life, or that his friends will help him (Job 17:1-2), Job now appeals directly to God.

First, he prays to God to lay down a “pledge” (i.e. promise) that he will be vindicated against his friends (Job 17:3). Why? Job knows that they are speaking wrongly about God and that this is an offense to Him.

In a surprising display of insight into the sovereignty of God, Job asserts that it was God Himself who has “kept their heart[s] from understanding” (Job 17:4).  The Scripture says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Because Job knew that what his friends said was untrue and not good, he can conclude that what they spoke of did not come from God (in which only good can come forth).

Then, how does God withhold from their hearts understanding so that they speak falsehood, without He putting falsehood on their lips? Micaiah the prophet gives us a picture of it:

Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. The Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ The Lord said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’ Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you” (1 Kings 22:19-23).

Because God is at work in heaping up condemnation against his friends, this gives Job confidence in two things. First, he will be vindicated. Second, his friends and their progeny (those who follow them in speaking such errors) will be punished by a righteous God (Job 17:5). Job asserts that the “upright” and “innocent,” God’s faithful people, can see how this is the case. Further, they would empathize with Job’s profound suffering (Job 17:6-8).

The ninth verse (“Nevertheless the righteous will hold to his way and he who has clean hands will grow stronger and stronger”) can be quite confusing. If it relates to the preceding three verses, it merely speaks further of Job’s vindication and expresses a confidence that the faithful, though afflicted, will become increasingly resolute.

However, Job may be speaking in sarcasm about his friends, which would connect with verse 10 (where he calls all of them “unwise” because of their opinions.) This would anticipate the friends accusations against Job growing increasingly fierce. We may not be able to know with certainty what Job is getting at here, but either interpretation does not prevent a consistent reading of the text.

Finally, to end of the chapter, Job yearns for death (which he apparently believes will take years) in the same way he does in chapter 10. In Sheol there will be no more pain and perhaps he places his hope in future resurrection as he describes these thoughts. Nonetheless, there is a mistakenly dark element in his melancholy musings.

The darkness and nothingness of death to Job appears to him as light, as it will bring him relief from suffering (Job 17:12-13). The coming of death is inviting to him (Job 17:14).

Yet, this escalation of darkness as light, and release of suffering as comfort, ultimately does not sit well with Job. Is that it? Do we suffer and we are no more?

No, Job’s faith does not allow him. He places his hope in His God and the resurrection of the righteous in Christ. “Where now is my hope?,” he asks in Job 17:15. His hope is within him, because it is his faith in God. “And who regards my hope?” The Lord does.

“Will it [my hope] go down with me to Sheol? Shall we together go down into the dust?,” Job asks concerning his hope in verse 16. It is a rhetorical question. He already said that he thought his death was sure in a few years. However, his ultimate release from suffering is not his death in Sheol. His hope will follow him there and he will be resurrected from the dead, because his Redeemer lives.

Short thoughts on being a Christian in the workplace

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Work is less than ideal. Among the curses God has for mankind in Gen 3 in response to their sin, it is that they will only earn bread by the sweat of their brow.

No job looks like this, yet for some reason we all like to pretend that it does.

I have had a few jobs I really hate and I remember outside of a church one day the issue of work came up. “We will have jobs in heaven,” one said. Not thinking about the ramifications of what a job would be apart from the parts cursed by sin, I simply said, “Gee, I hope not.”

Perhaps there is work in heaven and it will only consist of the satisfying parts of work. The feeling of satisfaction when a job is done, the sense of purpose, the good feeling you get when you help someone…maybe. I actually doubt this, I believe heaven will be more spiritual and we will be praising God endlessly, which does not leave time for work. But however God wants it, then it is for the best.

All I know is that in my present, sinful flesh there would be no ability to actually enjoy heaven. I would get bored of the work and the praising. God promises that we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. I pray for this.

Recently in my life the issue of honesty has come up. I have found relatively minor things I have been dishonest about (i.e. intentionally putting the wrong address of a credit car application to help a friend out.) Interestingly enough, I awoke with pain one night, because of where my cats were sitting on me, and God made clear to me two things I was being dishonest about. By His grace I repented.

Yet, at work I have seen the lack of honesty of others. Particularly, one revolves around a situation where a technician grabbed the keys to the wrong car and performed work on it that would have cost $500. Because it was the wrong car, the customer did not have to pay anything and we had to move on and work on the right one. So, the shop loses money.

Now, the truth is a rather cut and dry situation. I told the technician to work on the right car, the technician saw two Volkswagen keys and in a momentary mental lapse grab the wrong identical looking Volkswagen, and no one figured it out until the car was back on the ground.

However, mankind in his sin thinks the truth is too simple and prefers to live in darkness. So, another technician for whatever personal reasons decides to tell our boss that he made me aware that the wrong car was being worked on. I supposedly ignored what he said and let the work be finished on the wrong car.

In all honestly, I do not even find that technician’s lie to be a good one. For example, for what he said to be true, a discerning boss would realize that he knew something wrong was happening and when it was ignored, did not immediately go to his superior to rectify the situation. He is essentially admitting to his own incompetence. So, even the lie itself is bad and only in a crazy workplace does something obvious like this go unnoticed.

However that is the situation I find myself in. I don’t particularly have any answers. Here is the best I know. We pray to God for deliverance. We have confidence that he works all things for good, even situations where we have been blatantly wronged. Even if, ultimately for the wrong reasons, we lose our job over it.

Lastly, we need to not return a curse with a curse, but rather with a blessing. So this means continuing to do ones job, to tell the truth, and leave to God the consequences. God, not our specific vocations, is our provider. He knows what he needs. If He provides for the animals, He will surely provide for His redeemed people.

Reformed Commentary on Job: Chapter 16

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After reflecting on months of pain, Job in his desperate state looks to a mediator between him and God.

Chapter 16 (For Previous Chapter Click Here, For Subsequent Chapter Click Here)

Job will have none of Eliphaz’s response. It is not he, but Eliphaz who is full of hot air (Job 16:3)! At this point, he knows that the friends at this point are more concerned with defending their theology of divine retribution than actually consoling him. This is why he says, “Sorry comforters are you all” (Job 16:2)!

After this, Job asserts they do not understand what he is going through the way he does (Job 16:4). He knows this very well, because he once spoke like them (Job 4:3-4). Job then insinuates using sarcasm that though they may have tried comforting him all they have done is increased his suffering (Job 16:5).

In the midst of making accusations against his friends, Job is really leveling his complaints against God. He laments that complaining does not make him feel better but he’s going to do it anyway (Job 16:6). God has exhausted him (Job 16:7) and his body bears witness to the extremity of his suffering (Job 16:8, 15, 16). God appears to him as an angry enemy seeking vengeance (Job 16:9) and He merely sent his “friends” to rub salt into his wounds (Job 16:10-11).

The god Job presents is a sadist. He uses Job for target practice (Job 16:13) and hunts him with a set mind (Job 16:14). But why? Job asserts that “there is no violence in my hands and my prayer is pure” (Job 16:17). One may suspect to have one’s prayers hindered when being disobedient to God (1 Pet 3:7), but why should Job when he is living blamelessly? Job does not think he has been abandoned by God. In fact, he feels as if he is being pursued.

So, Job justifies himself rather than God. Like Abel whose blood is witness against the injustice perpetrated against him from Cain (Gen 4:10), Job likewise wants the ground to bear witness against the One who has slayed him.

However, even now as Job comes perilously close to cursing God and treating Him like an enemy, he maintains his faith.

Even now, behold, my Witness is in heaven and my Advocate is on high. My friends are my scoffers, my eye weeps to God. O that a man might plead with God as a man with his neighbor (Job 16:19-21)!

It has been argued by interpreters such as Michael D. Oblath that Satan is the advocate. Perish the thought! The Greek for “Advocate” in the Septuagint is not the same as John 14:6, so a compelling argument cannot be made from language. However, traditionally, Job’s Witness, Advocate, and Redeemer are all the same Person: Jesus Christ.

Joseph Caryl points out what we believe is the correct interpretation: “[Job] calls who is in Heaven to witness, that is God” (An Exposition on the Book of Job Chaps. 15-17, p. 361).

Why God Himself? Why not an angel or someone less divine than God?

‘My witness is in heaven, my record is on high.’ Who is Heaven, who is on high? You may know whom he means when he saith, ‘He that is in heaven, he that is on high,’ though His name may not be expressed. There are Angels in heaven, but they are nothing compared to God…there is no name in heaven but God, God is all in all in heaven….Again that which Job calls heaven in one part of the verse, he calls high in the other…And Christ after he finished the work of man’s redemption is said, ‘To sit down on the right hand of Majesty on high (Heb 1.3) ’ (Caryl, An Exposition on the Book of Job Chaps. 15-17, p. 369, 371).

Or, in plain 21st century english, because the witness is in heaven and on high, there is no higher authority in which can be appealed to. So, Job is appealing to the highest possible authority, which can only be God and no other.

Caryl in this section expertly proves why in the Hebrew and from the Scripture why this is the case, but he does not explore the ramifications of what Job is clearly doing. Because God slays him, Job is calling upon a heavenly mediator, that is God Himself to stand as judge between him and God.

Many commentators such as Henry and Aquinas have avoided making this connection because it sounds so confusing. However, it does not have to be if we have faith that God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Because Christ is at the right hand of God the Father continually making intercession for us as our High Priest (Heb 7:25), then the only conclusion we can draw is that God intercedes for us on behalf of God. There is no other possible interpretation aside from laying aside trinitarian theology and adopting a historically heretical view.

Being that Job says himself that he is weeping (i.e. pleading) to God, because of the suffering that he holds God responsible for, the reading in which Job asks for God’s intercession between him and God makes sense. Further, it is consistent with all of the other pleas for a mediator and our interpretation of those pleas being Christ-centered. So, though God (the Father) slay Job now, he will trust in Him (Christ). Further, he knows his Redeemer (Christ) lives. Who else, other than Christ, can be Job’s Witness and Advocate, and be weeped to as his God? Whom else can be pleaded to for mercy and deliverance (Job 6:21)?

After showing a glimmer of hope, Job is thrusted back into despair. He has been suffering for months and now speculates it may be years before he passes (Job 16:22). He will be suffering from his pain and loss all the while. Death cannot come quickly, because he will not curse God and die.

Despite the chapters of Job complaining, taken as a whole, Job was quite patient in his suffering. He waited for months to complain, he bore through the pain, and anticipated years of more suffering. Yet, though God slay him for all that time, he was willing to still place his faith in Him, even when his wife couldn’t and his friends refused to believe in the true God who can and sometimes does such things. This is the “endurance/patience of Job” referred to in James 5:11:

We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.

Gambling and lotto tickets are sinful

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“The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:10). Then why do we pursue it? Why do we spend money hoping to get more of it?

A priest with a lotto ticket is hard to imagine. Why?

I was in a customer’s car a while ago that belonged to a Catholic Priest. He had a “Win $5000 a week for life” ticket in his car. Something about that ticket and the nature of gambling did not jive with what I have read in the Scripture.

Having wealth is never an end to pursue in of itself. Jesus Christ says in the parable of the seeds, “The one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Matt 13:22). Wealth promises us an easier life, but in reality it brings us more worries.

The Scripture never shows us examples where the hoarding of wealth or the enjoyment of riches are something that is apparent in Christians. This is why the Scripture says:

Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it (Prov 23:4).

And again:

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

And again:

Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 16:15-21).

People often argue that, “Well, David and Abraham were rich!” They also had several wives. This is why it is so important to understand the Old Testament and God’s promises in light of the New Testament. This is the task of every preacher, so that the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) may be preached.

We must understand Old Testament examples of wealth properly. There is the instructive aspect of their wealthy. Troubles befell the men that had it. There is also a spiritual aspect to it. Wealth is a picture of the true wealth in knowing God. This is why the Scripture teaches, “The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth, but the poor hears no rebuke” (Prov 13:8). Christ is the Ransom–He is the wealth of the believer.

The Christian has no business seeking wealth for it’s own sake. Now, to use one’s gifts to accrue wealth and use it for the sake of the Gospel is is a spiritual gift (Rom 12:8). So, wealth in of itself is not bad.

However, lotto tickets and gambling are a statistically bad way to accrue wealth. Further, to seek wealth by gambling contains a massive theological misunderstanding: that accruing wealth is an end of itself. The Scripture is explicitly against this.

Some people, perhaps legitimately desperate, hope that “luck” will help them out. Now, being that almost no one plays the lotto for altruistic reasons, it is almost not even worth looking at this consideration. One should not be seeking wealth anyway. However, what if someone really needs the money and just hopes this is their “ticket out of the hole.”

Remember the teaching of the Apostle:

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say,The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraidWhat will man do to me” (Heb 13:5-6)?

Further, God works all things in accordance with His will (Eph 1:11). So, by default luck does not exist. God would have to ordain that you win the lotto for you to hit the jackpot. Being that God warns not to lay up wealth in this world, winning the lotto is not essentially a stroke of good fortune. It is a curse.

This is why gambling is sinful. There is no explicit prohibition against it. However, the thought process behind it reflects a heart that covets money. We should not covet the world and its possessions. This is why James says:

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:3-4).

“Little children, guard yourselves from idols,” (1 John 5:21). That includes wealth.

So, whatever happened to that priest? He came back to the shop and I asked him if he won that lotto ticket. He replied it was a gift from a friend and if he had won, he would never leave the church. Why bring this up? Wealth is an adulteress. Do not seek her and do not wish to win her affections. There is nothing eternal to be gained.

Reformed Commentary on Job: Chapter 15

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After Job has spoken of original sin and the resurrection, Eliphaz thinks he is out of his mind.

Chapter 15 (For Previous Chapter Click Here, For Subsequent Chapter Click Here)

Eliphaz, not privy to the wisdom of God given to Job by the Holy Spirit, cannot help but react in disgust. “What is Job talking about,” he thinks to himself. “He is full of hot air and makes accusations against God! Why does he think he will be vindicated and resurrected from the dead, when clearly he is being punished for sin?”

In verse 2, we should interpret Eliphaz’s comments on wind, particularly the “east wind” which would have originated in present day Saudi Arabia, as a simple “you’re full of hot air” sort of comment. The text gives us some clue as to what Eliphaz considers the hot air to be.

For one, it is “irreverent” (Job 15:4). This would include any insinuations or assertions made by Job that God would be incorrect in punishing him.

Another would be that Job is speaking above his head (i.e. “you choose the language of the crafty,” Job 15:5). What is above Eliphaz’s head? Job’s treatment of concepts such as original sin, forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection of the righteous in Christ would have been confusing concepts. After all, only those with the Holy Spirit like Job can understand spiritual concepts, to the natural man like Eliphaz they are foolishness (1 Cor 1:24).

It is because Eliphaz lacks such insight that he asks Job where exactly he gets such ideas from. It’s not from age or generations of learning, for Job is not “the first man born” (Job 15:7) nor from the traditions of men older than Job’s father (Job 15:10). Eliphaz also does not think it is from revelation (Job 15:8) because unlike him who had a vision in the night (which he invokes in Job 15:14), Job makes no claim to hearing a booming voice from heaven telling him of the resurrection of the dead. Job also is not essentially smarter than his friends (Job 15:9).

So, the only conclusion Eliphaz can draw is that Job is being full of himself and speaking falsely. The “consolations of God” as he arrogantly calls his and the friends’ advice must be “too small” and insignificant for big-headed Job (Job 15:11). Elihu  wants to know why Job’s pride “carries him away” from God and cause his eyes to “flash” with indignation (Job 15:12-13)?

After trying to humble Job by accusing him of arrogance, Eliphaz gets to the central thesis of his argument: man is totally depraved. This means, sinful man always deserves punishment and suffering. This conclusion, which Eliphaz believes is inspired by revelation from God, as we covered in chapter four seriously undercuts his own argument. After all, if “man, who drinks iniquity like water” (Job 15:16) “born of a woman” (Job 15:14) cannot be righteous, and the “holy ones” and “the heavens are not pure in His sight” (Job 15:15), then surely there is no hope for even Eliphaz, let alone Job! For, God would have no reason to take pleasure in absolutely anything. Every man is unrighteous and must be crushed. The angels are not good enough and in them he “puts no trust” (Job 15:15). Even heaven itself is repulsive in His sight, according to Elihu.

As we covered in chapter four, Satan’s lies are crafty. Man is unrighteous, apart from Christ. There are indeed angels God places no trust in, such as Satan. Further, even “heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You” (1 Kings 8:27) so the heavens cannot compare with God. However, the notion that all of these things are not only deficient compared to God (they are) but totally unclean and repulsive, would mean that God is compelled to destroy them. But, why would such destruction be arbitrary and inconsistent if it were deserved? Further, it negates the idea that God glories in Job, the worship of his people and the angels in both heaven and Earth.

As for the deficiency of the heavens, we cannot comment as to the exact nature of this charge. One can only say there will be a new heavens and a new Earth, and there both angels and men will be able to look upon God, something that even the angels in Isaiah could not do. For, this is a mystery too great for us and we cannot comment on the notion intelligently.

Eliphaz, after making his self-contradictory point, then puts revelation aside and seeks to teach Job by appealing to an argumentum ad populum: “what I have seen I will also declare what wise men have told and have not concealed from their fathers” (, i.e. the traditions of men, Job 15:17-18). After all, his appeal to revelation was only his “back up plan” in order to explain why anyone, at anytime, can suffer while defending God against accusations of unrighteousness. The traditions of men are not quite so lofty and simply repeat the tried but true “what comes around goes around” way of thinking.

The following trite proverbs according to Eliphaz come with God’s seal of approval. After all, God gave these men which the proverbs come from “the land” and have kept them unpolluted from outsiders that might have corrupted their thinking (Job 15:19). We already know how throughout the Old Testament, intermarriage and other relations with non-Israelites was seen as a corrupting influence. In the same way, these gentiles in the Book of Job were aware of such notions and defended their own time-honored traditions of men.

These traditions taught that evil men live in pain (Job 15:20), with a sense of constant fear and stress (Job 15:21, 24). They think of themselves as untouchable even from death, only to die by the sword (Job 15:22). The wicked ultimately go hungry (Job 15:23) even though they confidently attack God (Job 15:25-26). They are fattened by the world’s wealth and trust in it to sustain them (Job 15:27). Yet, their wealth is temporary (Job 15:28-31) and it won’t last even past their own lifetime (Job 15:32-33). Such evil men’s destruction is assured (Job 15:34), though the flames Eliphaz invokes unbeknownst to him are not figurative. They will greet the wicked in Hell.

All of these traditions teach it is bad to be evil, but they do not explain why Job suffers. They also do not explain why the wicked often escape punishment. Even though Eliphaz claims to observe these things, any of us can confirm the opposite with our own observations. So, while to Eliphaz it is obvious that Job’s suffering is the result of the fact that he “conceive[s] mischief and bring[s] forth iniquity” (Job 15:35), Job by the Spirit of God knows the truth is far different.

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