Intensive 2 Job and Ecclesiastes

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Intensive 2 Job and Ecclesiastes
2011-05-04 01:45:34

Intensive 2, Job and Ecclesiastes
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  1. Recognize how God responded to Job’s complaints.
    • God responded by giving Job a greater perspective on things (chs. 38-41)
    • -Theophany
    • “The Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said, ‘Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you will answer me.’” (38:1-3)
    • -God questions Job
    • Arguments from the grandeur of creation: Yahweh faces Job with the wonders of creation (38:4-11), the order of the universe (38:12-38) and the life-patterns of animals and birds (38:39-39:30) – demonstrating divine sovereignty. The application of his power to Job is implied when God challenges whether Job can effect righteous judgments in history
    • (40:11-14).
  2. Recognize Job’s six key themes.
    • 1. Why do the righteous suffer?
    • 2. What is the meaning of life?
    • 3. The sovereignty and justice of God are affirmed in light of personal tragedy and personal, supernatural evil.
    • 4. What happens does not always happen because God desires it or because it is fair.
    • The Book of Job uses incorrect advice as a foil for God’s truth. Job’s “comforters,” Bildad, Zophar, Eliphaz and Elihu, show us that what happens in life “does not always happen because God desires it or because it is fair” (Fee and Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, p. 215).
    • Job’s comforters hold that God is not simply involved in his world but is constantly meting out his judgments through the events of this life.
    • They believe that if Job is suffering, he must have sinned: this is the moral law of cause and effect, sowing and reaping. As Eliphaz says to Job, “If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error, how much more those who live in houses of clay…” (Job 4:18-19a)
    • Many believe today that if God is sovereign, then all things happen according to his direct will. The Scriptures do not teach this. Our world is fallen, corrupted by sin and dominated by the devil. Suffering, therefore, is not necessarily the result of sin.
    • Job knows that he has done nothing to deserve the wrath of God.
    • In his speeches (chapters 3, 6-7, 9-10, 12-14, 16-17, 19, 21, 23-24, 26-31) he asserts his innocence and his frustration (anger, depression, death-wish, etc.) with the holocaust that has come to him.
    • For Job’s friends, Job’s claim of innocence is blasphemy. “One by one, they urge him to confess his sin, whatever it is, and admit that God administers a fair and just world, in which we get what our choices deserve.” Fee and Stuart, p. 216)
    • Job responds that life is unfair; it is not the way it ought to be.
    • Elihu, the final (younger) comforter gives the closest thing to an answer for Job, which is partly satisfying and partly infuriating.
    • Then God himself speaks (chapters 38-41). He corrects Job and vindicates him over against the “wisdom” of his friends (42:7-9).
    • As to the question whether everything is fair or not, Job prevails. It is not.
    • There is a spiritual battle going on in the universe. As to Job’s question, “Why me?” God prevails. His ways are far above our ways. He allows suffering, but this does not mean that he does not know what he is doing or that his right to do it should be questioned.
    • 5. Spiritual warfare
    • Satan appears in Job substantially for the first time in the Old Testament.
    • Some scholars have suggested that Satan is God’s alter-ego, his dark side (on a Jungian model). This is absurd. God is absolutely holy; he has no dark side.
    • Neither is Satan (the “Adversary”) a “member in good standing” in God’s heavenly court. Boyd writes, “Job 1:6 says that on the day ‘the heavenly beings’ (lit. ‘sons of God’] came to present themselves before the Lord…Satan also came among them” (cf. 2:1). Some distinction between the ‘sons of God’ who regularly form God’s council and the satan seems to be implied here.
    • Moreover, God asks Satan, “Where have you come from?” (1:7; 2:2). Satan is simply roaming about the earth. God’s question implies that “that was not a duty God had assigned him” (see
    • I Peter 5:8). (Boyd, God at War, p. 147.)
    • Boyd adds that there is something sinister “about the eagerness of the satan to destroy Job”
    • (p. 147). After his first assault fails, he again challenges God (2:4-5). “When he carries out his own destructive desires, he clearly does it with excessive thoroughness (1:13-19; 2:7-8). James Morgenstern concedes that Satan in this prologue ‘has become semi-independent of God, a true, creative power and source of evil in the world and the inveterate, malicious enemy of man’” (Boyd, p.147).
    • 6. The problem of evil
    • For Boyd, “If any book of Scripture addresses the problem of evil, it is this book.” “The answer it gives as to why evil happens is decisively not that it is the will of God. Evil is a mystery, but it is not a mystery concerning Yahweh’s character. It is rather the mystery of what goes on among the gods in ‘the great assembly’ and in an incomprehensibly vast cosmos threatened by cosmic forces. In other words, the mystery of evil is located not in the heart of God but in the heart of humanity and in the hidden world between humans and God” (p.149).
  3. Explain (in 1 paragraph each) five of the six lessons from the Book of Job.
    • 1. How to face suffering.
    • See suffering in the context of the battle between God and Satan and God’s reign usurped by the evil one. Trust divine sovereignty and admit that evil is a mystery, irrational by nature (disorder, chaos, etc.).
    • 2. In the midst of suffering and loss we often lose perspective and look for simple cause/effect answers.
    • The real answer is to simply trust God. Job’s last word is the one he has resisted: “Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (42:6). Job’s contrition is not an admission of guilt; rather his complaints stem from his not knowing God well enough. Before his majesty we are all humbled and broken. Our being is only possible because of his BEING.
    • 3. Even though we don’t know all that God and Satan are doing, God can encounter us and turn things around by his presence.
    • God is “numinous” (Rudolph Otto). Job’s answer does not come in a new flood of information or a theological synthesis. It comes in a new relationship with God: “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (42:5-6).
    • 4. When we counsel suffering people, don’t offer cheap, quick answers.
    • Listen first. Hear their pain. When applicable, pray for their healing and/or deliverance. Pray for God’s kingdom to come. Then pray that God will make himself known to them with comfort, grace and peace. Bless them in Jesus’ name.
    • 5. Be slow to theologize, especially to theodicize.
    • • Theologize = give a theological explanation.
    • • Theodicize = to defend God’s goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil.
    • • Point to the Cross and the suffering Savior who stands with us in our pain.
    • • Point to Jesus, who heals our pain, and pray for release.
    • 6. We need the whole counsel of God in our lives.
    • “In the end the adversary (i.e., satan) is silenced. And the astute theologians, Job’s friends, are silenced. And Job is silenced. But God is not” (NIV Introduction to Job). LaSor, Hubbard and Bush write, “Much of what the friends and Elihu have said about God may be true, but hearing about him and encountering the King of heaven are not the same – the ‘why’ of suffering is a lesser matter than the ‘Who’” (p. 568). Augustine: “I believe in order to understand.” “Christianity is faith working toward understanding.”
    • For Job to recognize the vast difference between God’s wisdom and power and his own ignorance and frailty is what God wanted. The test has been passed, the wager with Satan won – but only after monumental struggle and massive pain. Job’s faith has been refined. God forgives the friends, restores Job’s possessions and family, prolongs his life and multiplies his posterity.
    • Job emulates God’s grace by praying for his friends and by his generosity to his daughters. Poverty is not necessarily a more righteous state than prosperity. It centers in the power of God, who was responsible for both the calamity and the restoration, and it shouts its word of grace in both its setting and its content. “God leaves the courts of heaven and comes to the ash heap of Uz to forgive the doctrinaire sages and restore the fortunes of the beleaguered Job, whom he affectionately and affirmingly calls his servant” (LaSor, Hubbard, Bush, p. 569).
    • God’s risky trust in Job is not misplaced. God is vindicated as is Job. Satan is defeated. His question: “Does Job fear God for nothing?” (1:9) is answered. Job fears God. The assertion: “But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face,” (1:11) is proven false. Something or nothing, Job fears God.
    • Job prepares us for Jesus’ kingdom message and ministry and for Satan falling like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18). Job also documents Paul’s assertion that we do not war against flesh and blood but against dark spiritual powers in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
  4. Recognize Ecclesiastes’ three key themes.
    • 1.The freedom of God and the mystery of his ways
    • 2. Human understanding is limited
    • The perspective on spiritual warfare implied here is not cosmic but worldly. We are not to be captivated by this world’s pleasures, folly or values. All of this passes away and has no ultimate meaning. Since Satan is the god of this world, we must not be seduced by it, and, therefore, by him. (Ephesians 2:2)
    • 3. The meaning of life
    • The author seeks something of value (Hebrew yitron) through his labor (Hebrew ‘amal), but instead finds vanity (Hebrew hevel).
  5. What are these minor themes of ?
    -The cycles of life endlessly repeat themselves
    -The past is quickly forgotten
    -Pleasure passes
    - Death claims all
    4 of 16 minor themes of Ecclesiastes
  6. What are these minor themes of ?
    -Despair over life
    - Sinners lose all they work for
    -Man is just like the animals
    -Envy drives achievement
    4 of 16 minor themes of Ecclesiastes
  7. What are these minor themes of ?
    -The popularity of a king’s successor passes
    -Talkers and dreamers are empty
    -Greed for more fails us
    - Our cravings are never satisfied
    4 of 16 minor themes of Ecclesiastes
  8. What are these minor themes of ?
    -Who knows what is good? Who knows the future?
    -There is no justice
    -Hypocrites die
    -Youth and vigor are meaningless
    4 of 16 minor themes of Ecclesiastes
  9. Recognize the conclusions about life drawn by the author of Ecclesiastes. (Sect. 19.4 & 20.17)
    • Any pursuit, whether of knowledge, pleasure, accomplishment, etc., is meaningless as an end unto itself. Meaning and enjoyment can only come from the fear of God.
    • “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ [“Vanities of vanities,” RSV] says the Teacher. ‘Everything is meaningless!’” (12:8); “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of every human being. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (12:13-14).