John T. Willis

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The First Heavenly Council

FINALLY, we begin to work through the Book of Job. PLEASE keep before you the earlier blogs on Introductory Considerations on the Book of Job and the blogs on "[The] Satan." In what follows, I will be assuming many of these previous thoughts and not repeat them as we work through the Book of Job.

We have already presented Job 1:1-5, so I will not repeat this here. Just a reminder. The composer of the Book of Job portrays as a: (1) wealthy, (2) healthy,
(3) wise person [a wise person is one who fears God and turns away from evil]. These three elements are CRUCIAL for understanding the entire Book of Job.

Hence, in this blog, we discuss The First Heavenly Council related in Job 1:6-12. Let us work verse by verse.

Job 1:6--"The heavenly beings" present themselves before Yahweh, and [the] Satan comes among them. Note that Job knows absolutely nothing about this council. It is in heaven, and thus invisible to human beings. Job 1:6 does not state who the heavenly beings are. Surely they are faithful followers of Yahweh, BUT in my opinion they may be [include] ALL heavenly beings--evil as well as good. [The] Satan seems to be a member of this heavenly council. And this may include "the devil and his angels" as described in Matthew 25:41.

Job 1:7--This text assumes that God as KING [and not anyone else] speaks first. God specifically identifies [the] Satan to ask Satan where he has come from. Satan replies that he has being going to and fro and walking up and down on the earth. The context makes clear that Satan is doing this up to no good--Satan desires to harm or overthrow or destroy human beings.

Job 1:8--God specifically points out Job as God's servant, who fears God and turns away from evil. The context here indicates that God is daring Satan to attack Job.
NOW, why would God do this? Is God mischievous or mean or enjoys making human beings squirm or suffer? Of course, it could be, but as we study through the book of Job I think you will find that this is NOT what God intends.

Here, I think it is important to point out another way that several scholars think about this picture. To illustrate this, note the words of Carol Newsom, The New Interpreter's Bible, Volume 4, page 349:
"One who defends a king's HONOR by zealously ferreting out hidden disloyalty simultaneously exposes the king to DISHONOR by showing that he is DISRESPECTED. Here, Yahweh pre-empts such activity and in effect defends HIS OWN HONOR by directing attention to "my servant Job."
Admittedly, Satan dishonor God by opposing God, BUT in my opinion, this is not the point or the issue set forth by the composer of the book of Job. Rather, the issue here pertains to JOB, not God. The issue in the book of Job is: Does [Can, Should] Job [or any human being] fear God just because he or she loves and serves God without getting anything out of that for himself or herself. Think through this issue.

Job 1:9--Satan replies: "Does Job fear God for nothing?" THIS is the PRIMARY PROBLEM of the entire book of Job. Yes--Job fears God. Satan grants this. BUT, WHY does Job fear God? Does Job fear God for self-centered purposes? To be wealthy, healthy, and wise? I am afraid that this IS the motivation for serving God in the minds and hearts of many people. This is a very critical issue.

Job 1:10--Satan complains that God PROTECTS Job, and thus Job has not had a fair chance to know whether he really fears God or not. God has put a FENCE outside around Job's house and possession with protective shields against any invader. Accordingly, there is no way that Satan can get to Job.

Job 1:11--Satan, therefore, asks God to stretch out God's hand and TOUCH all that Job HAS, and Job will CURSE God as a result. Satan implies that GOD will attack Job actively. Many assume that God is the CAUSE of Job's losses and suffering. But one must move on to verse 12.

Job 1:12--God replies by REVERSING Satan's suggestion, saying: "All that he [Job] HAS is in YOUR [Satan's] power; only do not stretch out YOUR [Satan's] hand against him [Job]." According to this text, God ALLOWS Satan to attack Job, but prevents Satan from attacking Job's health [this will come later]. Then Satan goes out from the presence of God.

NOW, the sufferings of Job which Job 1:13-19 describe are NOT from God, BUT from Satan. Keep that in mind. This is crucial in the book of Job.

What are your thought, your insights, your responses to this study of Job 1:6-12. Share your ideas with others. Let me hear from you. I need all the help I can get.

John Willis


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