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Angels in Job — Job 4

[Note: essays on every chapter of the Bible may be accessed by going to The on-going articles in this space are meant to supplement those and follow along with our daily Bible reading schedule, found at the calendar tab on this site.]

To be such an old book, Job has a rather sophisticated sense of the heavenly. Angels “present” themselves before God, and evidently Satan too has access. These angels are also called the “sons of God” – though one should be careful about reading “angels” back into Genesis 6:2 – and comprise, at least partly, the council of the Lord.

Does God really have a council of advisers?

It’s easy sometimes to confuse what the Bible says with what the Bible teaches. There is an intimation that God does have a council (15:8), and this is seen also in the 24 elders who sit on thrones in God’s presence in Revelation 4.

But then again, why would God need a council? Is He not capable of making His own decisions? Might there be a wise one in that council who has thought of something God missed, or is privy to information God is not?

This is what I mean about the difference between what the Bible says and what it teaches. The depiction of God, surrounded by heavenly beings, is a legitimate one, but it also heightens the image of the greatness of God (the real point of the image). The angels may rejoice together at what God creates (Job 38:7), but make no mistake: it is God who creates, not angels. His superiority to the heavenly host is seen several times in Job: they “present” themselves before the Lord. God judges them (Job 4:18). Though they may be addressed in prayer, they have no power to answer (and therefore are unsuitable objects of prayer – 5:1). Though they may be able to influence and even attack human beings, God is able to overpower them and rescue mankind (perhaps the point of Job 5:15). They may act as God’s representatives to care for mankind (Job 33:23-25), but it is God who decides a man’s fate.

The point of all of this in Job is not to offer insight to the workings of heaven, but to acknowledge what may be in the minds of humanity about the spirit world and affirm, with crystal clarity, that no matter who or what these beings are – their purpose or power – God is supreme. To place one’s faith in anyone less than the Almighty Himself is to lean on a broken reed for a staff.

Job 13

Job wants what we all want sometimes: an answer from God. Nothing about his circumstance makes sense. He knows God is in control of all things and can do anything. He just wants to talk with God. He believes he will feel better.
As we shall see, he won’t.
Job does not deny he is a sinner. He only contends that he is not so bad a sinner that he deserves this particular fate. In fact, he is not sure anyone deserves what he is experiencing. God is so great, and man is so puny. As opponents, man has no chance.
But . . . and this is the great thing about Job. As shabbily as he feels God has treated him, God remains Job’s hope. One day he will die, but his confidence is in God and whatever God thinks he has done to deserve such treatment will be forgiven. His offenses will be sealed up in a bag and buried, never to be seen again.
Job doesn’t understand, but he knows his only hope is in God. He is unwilling to band-aid his hurt by thinking that good times may be around the corner. He is unwilling to let God off the hook as the cause of his misfortune. But he is also unwilling to abandon his trust in a redeemer who will one day, soon or late, deliver him.
Ahhh to have that kind of confidence! And why shouldn’t I? God has already done more for you and me than He ever did for Job.

Job 02

In Job, here are at least two issues before us: First, why do good people suffer? Second, will a righteous person serve God for nothing? I believe Job more appropriately deals with the last of these two questions, and the answer, in Job’s case, is “yes.” Satan believed even a good man would abandon his goodness if trouble, with no end in sight, came upon him.
Satan has been right a lot of times in this matter, but as we shall see in this book, he was not right about Job.
In his misery, three friends come to sit with Job, and they are so overcome with grief at the sight of their friend’s plight that they sit in silence for three days. It’s the only thing they did right. Too often, faced with tragedy, we want to say something that will bring comfort – to find meaning in randomness, defend God’s lack of response. But in reality, what people need is a hug, a shoulder, care, love. Words, more often than not, just hurt – even unintentionally. If God didn’t speak to you personally to explain the unexplainable, don’t guess at it.

Sunday, May 25. Job 40 – 42, Psalm 1

Job’s position has been that God has wronged him. He does not claim to be perfect, only that his life has not warranted the misery thrust upon him – and he blames God for it. Job’s three friends have maintained that God doesn’t send misery on good people. They have made numerous accusations against Job but frankly, in their hearts and in their speeches, they know they are wrong. Job, they know, is a good man. He does not deserve what he has received. Job 32:3 says that his friends could not refute him. This does not mean that they could not “convince” him he was wrong. It means they simply could not prove their point.

Elihu’s long-winded speech traveled the same ground the other friends did, though he spoke with much more authority yet with no more evidence.

The problem was with their world view. They viewed all misfortune as the judgment of God, and all blessing as the approval of God. They were wrong.

In the end, God speaks and basically tells Job he’s overstepped himself in charging God with evil. There are things beyond Job’s understanding and comprehension. The same thing is true with us. And when face to face with the inexplicable, the best decision is to stick with God. Job did, and in the end, he purposefully blessed by God – not because he was right in his judgments (Job wasn’t), but because he was a person of faith.

Saturday, May 24. Job 36 – 39

I find it difficult to imagine a more self-absorbed character than Elihu. Notice that he claims his knowledge is exotic (from afar), a Cambridge grad among Harvard men. A self-confessed “know it all.”

And yet, he seems to have ignored everything Job has said, as well as the truth before him.

He claims that God always punishes the wicked, something Job has denied and his friends know all too well isn’t true. He claims God delivers his people, but that isn’t true as can be seen from Job’s misery. He claims God restores the penitent, but if Job’s life is an example, that’s not true either – at least not yet.

Godless people, he claims, do not turn to God or speak to Him, that’s why they remain fettered in chains. And yet, Job, who Elihu implies is godless, has turned to God and has been greeted with only silence.

At the end of chapter 36, Elihu exalts God in terms similar to those used later by God Himself. He has all the answers. They’re just not the answers to Job’s questions. The whole thing reminds me of these words by Joe Bayly . “I was sitting, torn by grief. Someone came and talked to me of God’s dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He talked constantly, said things I knew were true.”

I was unmoved, except I wished he’d go away. He finally did.

Another came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask leading questions. He just sat beside me for an hour and more, listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply, left.

I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see him go.”

Friday, May 23. Job 33 – 35

We learn in today’s reading that Elihu has been in Job’s company for a while now, listening to the dialog. Elihu believes he has the answers, but they are not answers. They are all statements. Job wants to know why God has afflicted him so. Elihu does not reply specifically any more than Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar did. Once more, Job’s friend spends his time exalting God.

Job has complained that God has not answered his prayers. Elihu maintains God answers prayers in a variety of ways – but he doesn’t specifically say how God has answered Job. Job doesn’t understand why evil doers prosper, and Elihu takes this to mean that Job would rather be an evil doer (something Job never said).

In truth, you will see everything that has been said by Job and his friends repeated by Elihu. Every mistake they have made, he makes too, including a failure to comfort Job. Don’t miss these two salient points: First, Job’s friends have failed to comfort him in his agony. Second, they have defended God by attacking an innocent man. While Job has been upset with God, his discomfort is not an attack on God, but a defense of Him. Job, throughout his speeches, says: “I know God is good. I know God is just. What has happened to me just doesn’t make sense.” It doesn’t lead Job to doubt God. The whole scene does, however, lead us to doubt that Job’s friends are really his friends.

Thursday, May 22. Job 30 – 32

In chapter 32 we meet a new character, Elihu. Out of respect, he’s been quiet the whole time and allowed the older characters to speak, but frankly, he’s heard enough. Throughout, Job has maintained his innocence and if God is in control of everything, punishes the wicked and blessed the faithful – then, Job maintains, God has mistreated him.

Elihu is livid that Job would speak this way, and even more upset that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar have not been able to persuade Job otherwise.

Now, Elihu believes his turn has come. He claims to know the truth and be compelled by the spirit of God to speak. Arrogantly, he says his words come from an upright man who knows what he is talking about. His address to Job is pointed and condescending (read 33:31-33).

And then, Elihu repeats what has already been said: Job is suffering. God sends suffering on evil doers. Therefore, Job must be an evil doer. The suffering will not be lifted until Job repents.

Youth knows no more than old age, and neither have the wisdom to explain all mysteries of life. Job has said it before. Wisdom can only be found in the hand of God.

Wednesday, May 21. Job 27 – 29

Job has been maintaining his innocence against the onslaught of those who have been insisting on his sinfulness. They may view Job as a sinner, but no one has yet to catalog his transgressions – or even to give an example of them.

Job counters here with a list of his good deeds. No one will argue his reputation. In fact, this is the point of mentioning the respect given him by young and old (vss. 8-9), the silence of leaders in the community and the general lack of detractors.

God began this story by complimenting Job: There is no one like him in all the earth. If you want a list of things God prizes in us, just consider Job’s words here. He rescued the poor and the orphan. He ministered to the dying and brought hope to the bereaved. He defended the cases in court of those no one cared about and not only actively pursued justice but saw to the violent punishment of the wicked. As I read verse 17, I picture a righteous Don Corleone, a community’s godfather using his reputation to stand for and enforce the right. When you see him coming, step aside; not out of fear, but respect.

Considering the grand business enterprises Job was no doubt engaged in, the immensity of his household and staff, one wonders when Job had the time to sit at the bedsides of the ill, or comfort widows in their loss. And yet, he did. Job was about the business of living, and his life touched everything in the community. Each of us should take a page from Job’s life here.

Tuesday, May 20. Job 24 – 26

With this reading, Job’s friends are done with the conversation, but Job is not finished by a long shot. Chapter 26 begins Job’s longest reply yet, to be followed by a new voice; that of a younger man named Elihu.

Bildad’s reply here exhibits his exasperation with Job. It is short and blunt, but it evidences a view of man that is totally out of harmony with biblical truth. Job has been maintaining his innocence. His friends have been supposing his guilt. How could it be otherwise since such bad things have happened to Job? Bildad ends by asserting no one can be as righteous as Job claims because, at heart, mankind has the value of a maggot – a worm.

But Bildad is wrong. God made man in his image. He set him above all His creation, and God expects more of him. The problem is, mankind often imagines himself less than he really is, and whether he really believes he is but a worm, his actions are often as valueless. God has placed humanity in a higher place than that of the field, sky or sea creatures. He expects us to behave in accordance with the stature he has given us and he expects us to view ourselves as He does – made in His image.

Monday, May 19. Job 21 – 23

“God answers prayer one of three ways: He says ‘yes.’ ‘No.’ Or ‘not now.’”

Have you ever heard that simple explanation?

It sounds good, but like most of the speeches we’ve seen thus far, it’s not quite right.

Sometimes, God doesn’t answer at all. At least it feels that way. And if he delays reply for a lengthy period of time, it might as well be that way.

Job knows it.

And yet, Job continues to take his case to God. Even though he feels his words are not being heard, he persists. And he believes that one day, the truth will come out and though he is being brutally maligned by his friends, his hope is in the Lord.

This is faith, a much more valuable commodity than patience.