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Interpreting the Book of Job

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Question #1: 

Consider Job and all of his problems that he faced. He lost his animals, wealth, children - basically everything except one thing - his wife. Why is this when God gave Satan power over all that Job had (Job 1:12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. . .). Someone had said that Job's children are his - but we could argue that his wife is not. She is her own person, and perhaps he would have needed permission to touch her as well. More speculation: perhaps the devil knew her general character and that she would stumble in her faith and be a possible stumbling block/thorn to Job if he left her alone (rather than taking her life).  What are your thoughts?

Response #1: 

I think you have hit the nail on the head on this one. The devil didn't kill Job's three friends either, and they turned out to be a tremendous stumbling block for him. This was true in the case of his wife too, if you recall:

His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!"
Job 2:9 NIV

Job handled this part of the test regarding his spouse perfectly, but had more trouble with his three friends, which only goes to show I suppose that everyone has a tipping point. We should all be so very grateful to Job that he endured this particular experience so that it might be recorded in scripture and that we might all benefit from it without having to experience the same thing – at least to the same degree – and that we might be better equipped to pass difficult tests when they come. Without God's help and mercy, we might all be subjected to the same degree of testing, only without Job's close and careful walk with the Lord we would not do nearly as well as he did, enduring everything thrown at him with a patience that has become proverbial (James 5:11), and only failed under the most extreme pressure when his integrity was regarded by his "friends" as sin. In my view, God allowed this testing possibly past the point of what was endurable uniquely in the case of Job (cf. 1Cor.10:13: "And God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tested beyond your capacity, but, along with the test, He will grant you the way out, so that you can bear up under it"), in order that we might appreciate in humility how much we need the Lord, especially under pressure. For in the end the Lord says of Job when addressing his three friends, ""I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has" (Job 42:7 NIV). Testing comes into every Christian life for without it our faith cannot be properly refined in order for us to grow spiritually, the fundamental necessity for effective production and eternal reward (1Pet.1:3-9). Remembering Job and the example of the great believers in scripture is especially important when we find ourselves coming under fire by the evil one in this conflict that will only end for us when we return to the Lord or He returns for us.

(32) Now what shall I say more? For time would fail me, were I to go on and relate the stories of Gideon, Barak, Sampson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, (33) who through their faith defeated kingdoms, accomplished acts of righteousness, received the fulfillment of promises, shut the mouths of lions, (34) quenched the power of fire, fled the mouth of the sword, were make strong in weakness, were made powerful in war, defeated enemy armies – (35) women even received back their dead. (36) Some [of these great believers of the past] were tortured, refusing release, that they might obtain a better resurrection (i.e., worth more to them than their lives; cf. Ps.63:3). Others endured ridicule and beatings, and even chains and imprisonment. (37) They were stoned, sawed in half, killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goat hides. They were deprived, persecuted, abused. (38) The world was not worthy of them. They wandered the deserts and the mountains, making their homes in caves and fissures in the earth. (39) And through their faith, all of them though they became witnesses [to the world] (lit., "were martyred"), yet they did not receive the promise (i.e., resurrection and reward), (40) since God was looking forward for our sakes to something better, so that they might not be made perfect (i.e., resurrected and rewarded) without us.
Hebrews 11:32-40

In Jesus our hope and our love,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Good Morning Dr. Luginbill, I've spent some time today reading your website. It came up when I searched for a passage from Hebrews which I was unsure about. I found what you had said about Hebrews 10:26 interesting and enlightening and so I carried on reading what you had written in other areas of your site.

If you don't mind, I have a question I have yet to find the answer for. Perhaps you could help me with this one. I notice in parts of your site you give an insight into the origins of Satan and his presence after the creation of earth. You elaborate in a familiar way about the rebellion of Satan and the events pre-dating Genesis 1:1, but for lack of biblical evidence (since there was is nothing pre genesis) is it not presumptuous to suppose anything about the origin of such a creature?

If I take all the references to Satan I can find in the bible and put them together I can build up a picture of his character and his intention but I can't really find anything there which is useful in building up an account of his origin. Where do all these stories come from about him being a fallen angel and about him rebelling against God with cherubs?

I'm also not so sure about interpreting Job as prophetical. The language used in Job is poetical and seems to be structured around explaining the nature of good and evil, rather than giving a rational, literal explanation of who or what Satan is, yet to mention his intentions. What are your views on this?

Any ideas appreciated,

Thank you for writing such a helpful, informative site and sharing your wisdom.

Response #2: 

There is quite a lot on the site about these issues. In addition to the Satanic Rebellion series (which you seem to be reading), you might also have a look at Basics 2A: "Angelology", a study which has as much to say about angels and their origin as I can find in scripture.

Bible interpretation often calls for exercising judgment. For example, the Trinity are real, and the doctrine of the Trinity is valid in every way. It is not, however, taught in scripture in what I would call a transparent way. Scripture is written as it is written - not as a textbook but as a series of books and epistles each with discrete purposes whose truth must be garnered through constant comparison with all other biblical truth. The origin of the angels very much falls into the category of doctrine which is genuine and real, but which must be constructed from careful examination of all manner of scripture. Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 have the largest concentration of material about Satan, with Ezekiel 28:13 including the phrase "on the day you were created" - not that we would be in any doubt about the devil's status as a creature without this passage (e.g., Rom.1:25), but it is apropos of your question. Job's language is poetical, true, but then so are all of the prophets, like Isaiah, for example. According to my traditional hermeneutic, it would be impossible to have a high view of inspiration regarding the Bible and not see the description of the devil's activity in Job 1-2 to be taken as anything but a straight-forward description of what actually transpired (in any case, that is how I take it).

Thanks very much for your enthusiasm and your encouraging comments. Please feel free to write me back about any of this.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill


Question #3:
 

Hi Doc!

I received a strange interpretation of a passage in Job and would like your take:

"Job 38:4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

Job 38:5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

Job 38:6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

This passage is in figurative language. Once again, "Planet Earth" has no cornerstone. It is a spheroid planet. The center core is also spheroid; There are no corners in a ball. Find you a Christian geologist and ask him.

Could it be that these verses are telling us......

Job 38:4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

Foundations appears to be faith Psalm 11:3, Psalm 82:5, Isaiah 51:16

Earth is the heart or body of a man; I'm not sure which yet.

Job 38:5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

A line appears to speak of Judgement. does God judge planet earth? Or will He judge us?

Does measures speak of truth?

Job 38:6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

Our faith (foundations) is fastened on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the cornerstone.

The Bible also says he will be the "head of the corner" and the "chief cornerstone".

A "head of the corner" is laid on TOP of two intersection walls.

Somebody tell me when Jesus becomes the "head of the corner".

Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Isn't it true that all the sons of God have not shouted for joy yet?

Before getting mad at me or dismissing it altogether, could someone help me study this out?

It would help by knowing what these types mean.

Foundations Earth Measures Lines Cornerstone"

Do you agree with any of this?

Response #3: 

The Bible uses figurative language all the time, and this passage is certainly filled with it as is very common in poetic passages (Job, Psalms, most of chapters in the Prophets). And like all good, classical poetry, it is never particularly difficult to recognize figures or to understand how they are to be applied (and all the more so in scripture which is divinely inspired). So the use of figures is no justification for eliminating any and all literal references on a whim (many people do this in the Book of Revelation, for example, but without any reasonable basis for doing so; see the link: in CT 1: "Hermeneutic Issues"). The material you ask about is the sort of interpretation which dominated biblical study in late antiquity and the middle ages, and its pretty much pointless (because through this method anything can mean or represent anything"). This would make a good sermon, I suppose, and might with proper caveats be an acceptable application of the passage, but it is not a proper interpretation. That is, it doesn't tell us what the Lord wants us to get from this passage in terms of what it "really means". For example, just because the earth doesn't have literal architectural foundations in the same way that man-made buildings do does not mean that Job 38 is not talking about the earth at all! The language is figurative, yes. But it is clearly talking about the earth because it says so – the passage makes little sense otherwise. It is a figure of speech, an analogy whereby the earth is compared to a building and God is compared to a builder, in order to help us appreciate the truth of His creation.

Every verse in the Bible means something important – but it cannot mean anything and everything that may occur to us. Gleaning the precise and proper interpretation of scripture is both an art and a science, and requires a disciplined application of hermeneutic principles, that is, a canon or standard of the correct and proper way to approach the subject. All serious interpreters of secular literature understand very well and accept the poetic use of figures of speech and poetic language in poetry of this sort as a given – and it is easily understandable to the average reader as well. Free association (or whatever one wants to call it) may be a popular approach to literature these days, but is not an acceptable approach to getting at God's truth in the Bible, at least in my view – and in this case I believe I have the Spirit of God on my side.

As far as the sons of God are concerned, this phrase generally in the OT is speaking of angels (see the link in "Angelology: "Satan's Counter-strategy"). The event referred to in Job 38 above took place when God restored light to the universe on the first day of re-creation after He had blacked it out in judgment of Satan's rebellion (on the other side of the Genesis Gap, see the link: SR 2 "The Genesis Gap"). At that point, the angels were the only "sons of God" currently in existence, and it is their joyful praise of God for restoring the light which Job records, an actual event which literally took place – not a figure of speech.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Hi Bob!

Thanks for the links - they were very informative. I do however have a problem reconciling what you have written with what a friend of mine stated regarding the term "morning stars" in the book of Job. I suppose a person can come up with their own doctrine if they put their own spin on it. It seems to be the case with this person, however to make sure I wanted your expert opinion on what he wrote, which was:

"Job 38:6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

Job 38:7 when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Stars are also associated with believers, with the exception of "wandering stars" (Gen. 22:7, 26:4, 37:9, Ex. 32:13).

And just what is this "cornerstone"? Does our planet have a literal physical cornerstone? We know that Christ is referred to as a cornerstone, correct? Psalm 118:22, Is. 28:16, Eph. 2:20, 1 Peter 2:6

And the foundations., "whereupon are they fastened?" Did Job know?

Maybe this is where they are fastened? Matt. 7:25, Luke 6:48

What about the morning stars?

Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps the events spoken of in Job 38 could be future events? Many times, future things in the Bible are spoken of as having already happened.

Ecc 3:14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth [it], that [men] should fear before him.

Ecc 3:15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

Rev 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Wait a minute....wasn't He slain at Calvary?

Who was the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world? Christ

Who is the cornerstone? Christ

So who are the "all the sons of God"? Believers

Who are the "morning stars"? Could they be the apostles?"

What do you think of all this?

Response #4:

Let me start with the "book of life". You can find much more about this in both parts 2A and 4 of Coming Tribulation: "I will not erase your name" and "The Book of Life" (see the links). We all start out in the book on the basis of Christ's sacrifice for everyone, but names are blotted out by active and passive rejection of Christ. Here is how I translate Revelation 13:8:

And all the inhabitants of the earth will worship [the beast], [that is, all] whose names are not [still] written in the book of life [where they were written] from the beginning of the world, [even the book] which belongs to the Lamb who was slain.

As you can see from the above, one of the reasons this passage is so commonly misunderstood is that in many translations the prepositional phrase "from the beginning of the world" is attached wrongly to "the Lamb who was slain". This was a cause of doctrinal confusion in the early Church as well, but it is just a mistranslation.

As to Job and the morning stars, Genesis 1:1 states with indisputable clarity that the "first thing" (Hebrew bereshith, "in the beginning") that God did was to create the heavens and the earth. Whatever language we would wish to use to describe this creation (like using building terminology to describe God as a master-builder in His flawless creation of the original heavens and earth as Job does in chapter 38), it is without question an ex nihilo creation, that is, it comes out of absolutely nothing. What this means, obviously, is that neither the angels nor any other creature or created thing, the universe included, could possible have been there when God first created the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1. Furthermore, what is commonly misunderstood in the passage in question, Job 38, is that verse seven begins a new point. Most versions incorrectly continue the flow from verse six and obscure the division. Verses 4-6 of Job 38 are indeed talking about this original creation, and in figurative "building language". However, in verse 7 a new section begins wherein the topic is changed from the original creation to the reconstruction of the earth during the seven days of re-creation in Genesis 1:2ff. Here we see the sea restrained, order restored with a sequence of day and night, etc. The NIV at least does see the disconnect and represents it with punctuation (a dash between vv. 6-7), but fails in not beginning with a "When" with a capital "W" in verse seven (thus not making the change of subject crystal clear). Even for people who don't want to see this division which is present in the Hebrew (where a new verbal sequence begins), any other interpretation is problematic for the reason given above, namely, while verses 6-7 speak of original creation, the angels couldn't possible rejoice over that since their own creation had to post-date it: they are creatures and can only exist within the created universe.

Christ is indeed the Cornerstone, the Firstborn of all creation, and this is a very rich and powerful biblical title, one which it is extremely fruitful and rewarding to pursue in your studies. I would say that He is the "foundation" of everything in a way that transcends to infinity the human analogy of a literal rock on which a building is supported (cf. Col.1:15-17; cf. Jn.1:10; 1Cor.8:6). This human analogy is provided for our benefit to help us understand more about Him, but the degree to which He is the foundation of everything exceeds the limits of this analogy to an even greater degree than the universe and our eternal future transcend a mere human structure on earth. I also think you are right to see all of this looking to the future, because all the "ground work" being laid here in time is only a prelude to the blessed eternity we will spend with Him forever - Jesus is the foundation on which we are building (1Cor.3:10-15).

In anticipation of that wonderful day of days,

Bob L.


Question #5:
 

Great website,

I also hold to the Gap "fact" after 8 semesters of Biblical Hebrew. I do have a question. Why do you put Job 38:4-7 right before the re-creation of the earth rather than before the original creation of the earth?

"Laying foundations of the earth" seems to point to original creation.

If "ALL" the angels sang right before restoration, then how is it possible that Satan could have fallen at that time? Does "all" mean "all"? This is one area that I am trying to nail down. I notice that other Gap websites generally put Job 38:4-7 before original creation.

I would greatly appreciate your insight into this area.

In Him,


Response #5:

This is, as with many passages in Job (a poetic book), a somewhat difficult section to exegete (for the hermeneutic principles followed in this ministry generally please see the link: in CT 1: "Hermeneutic Issues").

First of all, I believe that scripture teaches that angels are creatures subject to many of the same limits of time and space as we are: that is, they exist inside of time and inside of the created universe (please see: Bible Basics 2A: "Angelology"). It is difficult to see, therefore, how they could have existed before the original foundation of the earth, since, according to Genesis 1:1, God created the universe, "the heavens and the earth", simultaneously ex nihilo in a moment of time. It would thus seem impossible for angels to have been present at original creation since they cannot exist outside of it. Positing that this passage, Job 38:7, refers to the re-creation of the universe following the judgment of the Genesis Gap would seem to me on that basis alone to be the preferable interpretation of the verse as to timing.

Another helpful point here is that, in my view, the verses in Job 38 are not divided correctly in the tradition. I would take verse 6 as ending one example, and verse 7 as beginning another one so that the rejoicing of the angels would then apply technically only to the restraining of the sea (allowing the foundation of the earth passage to be detached from angels altogether). The NIV actually does posit a hiatus here (I would prefer a full stop before "While the morning stars sang . . ., who shut . . .?"). This interpretation makes verse 8 (verse 7 in the Hebrew text) the apodosis to the protasis that begins in verse 7 (Hebrew text verse 8), and thus offers a better explanation for the presence of the consecutive waw.

Finally, on the subject of "all" being "all", as I am sure you are aware this is an issue which often comes up in OT interpretation. We moderns like to think that we are very precise, but if I drink down a glass of milk, I would say "I drank it all" when, in fact, there would inevitably be some milk adhering to the sides of the glass and a few drops left in the bottom. I would no doubt find it to be "quibbling" if someone were to reproach me for inaccuracy, since this is just the way we often use "all" in modern English, namely as an equivalent for "as near to 100% as makes any difference". From the Hebrew perspective, the range of acceptability for the use of col / "all" is just a bit wider than we have come to expect in English. Reading this passage, I can understand the legitimate question "how can this be the case if the fall of Satan has already occurred?" To which I would answer that to our Lord communicating to Job according to the Hebrew idiom of the time 1) only the "holy angels" matter so as to be included in the "all" (i.e., in this poetic context, mentioning the fallen angels would be counterproductive on the one hand, and on the other hand anyone with a rudimentary understanding of these issues would understand that this "of course excepts the fallen angels"); 2) and it is also possible that the fallen angels were delighted to have the lights of the universe turned back on (and after all they are also called "sons of God": Gen.6:4; Job 1:6), and conversely not being at the same time thrown immediately into the lake of fire. True, even God's grace in this re-creation of the universe did not occasion their repentance, but that does not mean that they were not, for entirely selfish reasons, greatly relieved at the events of the seven days.

For an example of the use of col "all" in the Old Testament not meaning "absolute metaphysical entirety", consider 1st Chronicles 10:6, "all of Saul's house" were said to be killed at the battle of Mt. Gilboah, but this clearly did not include Mephibosheth. And this is not a mistake, especially since in chapter 9 we had just been given the genealogy of Saul's family into future generations. The "all" must mean something like "was decimated", a phrase that is also not linguistically accurate in English but for the opposite reason that we over-blow the loss the word "decimate implies, merely taking from it the horror of the procedure of executing "one in ten" (Latin decem). In the New Testament, we find Paul seeking to head just such a mistaken interpretation:

For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.
1st Corinthians 15:27  NASB

So such seeming "inaccuracy" is common in all languages, but it is really only the  particular idiom of the language in question whose true meaning one learns when one becomes fluent in said language.

Please feel free to write me back about any of this, and thanks for all your good words.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


Question #6:
 

Greetings Bob,

I appreciate you taking the time for my questions. I do have another one - if you will indulge me. If the angels singing in Job 38:4-7 are placed within the first few days of the restorative week, what evidence do we have of Satan's creation or fall before Genesis 1:2?

In Him,


Response #6:

It's a good point irrespective of Genesis chapter one. There isn't, as far as I am aware, any Bible passage which directly addresses the timing of angelic creation, Job 38 included. What we do have in Genesis 1:2 as compared to Genesis 1:1 is a clear (in my view) indication of a massive change of affairs having taken place from good to bad, perfect to imperfect, blessing to cursing, as the entire universe has become darkened, a phenomenon which can only be the result divine judgment (cf. Is.45:18). This would seem to demand creature malfeasance as the only possible provocation of that judgment. Since we do have plenty of biblical evidence of Satan's fall (i.e., Is.14; Ezek.28; and every passage which describes the devil and his clearly anti-God behavior), and no indication of any other possible suspect, the strongest possible circumstantial case exists for understanding Satan as the one responsible for incurring God's wrath and thus bringing about the drastic change. Indeed, the fact that the issue is not addressed in the context of Genesis chapter one is no doubt because it is completely unnecessary to do so – for anyone versed in scripture.

By any logic, Satan and his angels (and ipso facto the other angels as well) would have had to exist before they transgressed in this way. Therefore the Genesis Gap itself along with the disparate conditions on both sides of the gap is, in my opinion, sufficient evidence for the creation of angels and the fall of Satan within that gap. Too, all of scripture from Genesis chapter three onward takes for granted angelic priority in creation (as well as Satanic malfeasance). Therefore unless one takes the decidedly unorthodox position that the seven days of Genesis one are somehow longer than the seven literal twenty-four hour periods they surely purport to be, the existence of the devil, his sophistication, his interest in tempting man and causing him to fall et al. are impossible to explain without understanding his own creation and fall prior to Genesis 1:2.

As you are well aware, the Bible is not a systematic theology textbook (and for good reason). One has to examine all of the biblical evidence in order to find out the truth of any complex teaching, and angelology, creation, the purpose of mankind, and the devil's history and role in all of this certainly fall into that category because these issues can only be properly understood in the context of everything the Bible has to say about them. The teachings advanced in the Satanic Rebellion series (in five parts; see the link) are an attempt to answer this and related questions. So the long answer to your question I guess I would have to say is that I believe the entire SR series (as reflective of what the Bible says on the subject of the devil's history) provides the evidence when taken as a whole. Besides that series, you may also want to consult parts 2A and 3A of the Bible Basics series ("Angelology" and "Anthropology" respectively). Much of the information found there is duplicative of what is covered in SR #1 and #3, but there are some sections which are unique, particularly in "Angelology".

I certainly appreciate your interest and questions. In these matters, the evidence requires assembling all of the evidence, then teaching accordingly. I am always grateful for probing questions and observations from others who put the genuine truth of the Word of God before everything else.

Feel free to write me any time.

In Jesus,

Bob L.


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