John T. Willis

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Suffering is Greater than any human being can endure--Job 6-7--Part 2

In Job's first response to Eliphaz in Job 6-7, Job argues that his suffering is greater than any human being can possibly tolerate. In the previous blog, we suggested that these two chapters fall into an ABAC structure. We dealt with the AA paragraphs: Job 6:1-13; 7:1-10. In both of these paragraphs, Job declares that no human being could endure the suffering Job has experienced. Now, we move into the B and C sections of Job's speech.

I. My friends have abandoned me in my time of dire need. Job 6:14-30.
a. Of all people, one should expect a true friend to "be there" and support and comfort a person is great distress and grievous suffering, like Job has experienced. But Job declares that his three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, have abandoned Job in his darkest night. Job affirms that one who "withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty"--verse 14. Again, we encounter the idea of "the fear of the Lord." The fear of the Lord is respecting, honoring, revering, standing in awe of, highly regarding God. But this has to do with the way a person treats another person. Job asserts that his friends should have shown kindness to Job, but instead, they withheld kindness.
b. Job uses three figures to communicate this idea.
1. Job's friends are like wadis--streams that fill up when rain falls, but soon love all their water and become bone dry. Job says his friends treat Job in just that way. Job yearns for water--and Job's friends return dryness. Verses 15-21.
2. Job declares he has not asked his friends to give Job anything at all. All Job desires and wishes is that his friends would reach out in love in understanding and sympathy in his time of great suffering. Verses 22-23.
3. Job proclaims that Job's friends are so coldhearted and unsympathetic that they would not hesitate to stoop so low as casting lots over an orphan to gain money and bargain over a friend to gain wealth. Verses 24-27.
c. Job concludes in this paragraph by asserting that he is not lying, that he has done not wrong, and that he requires just vindication. Verses 28-30.

II. God, YOU have brought bitter suffering into my life, and therefore I want to die. Job 7:11-21.
a. Job has been speaking to Eliphaz, but at the end of this speech, Job turns directly to God, pleading that God will put Job to death. God--Why have you picked me out specially to make me suffer like this? Since you are treating me this way, I want to die. Verses 11-15.
b. Twice, Job cries out to God: "LET ME ALONE" [notice verses 16 and 19].
"Let me alone, for my days are a BREATH." Life is very short.
"Let me alone UNTIL I SWALLOW MY SPITTLE." God, you are smiting me mercilessly. GIVE ME A BREAK. I have to "catch my breath." Verses 16-19.
c. O God, I may have committed sin. If so, I acknowledge my sins. YOU have specifically picked me out to be your "target." Why are you not willing to forgive me and pardon me my sins, so I may have a reprieve from this terrible suffering? Verses 20-21.

What do YOU think in response to Job's first speech? Remember, I am simply trying to faithfully report Job's position at this point in his series of speeches. Is Job right? Is Job wrong? How would you feel under similar circumstances? I imagine you or a close friend or family member has suffered in similar ways. You should empathize with these issues. Share your thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU. How can I help YOU? God somehow patiently bears along with all of us in tough times. The book of Job helps us work through the greatest difficulties in life. Abundant Blessings.

John Willis


I am a morning person. I usually get up about 5;00 a. m. In the fall and spring in West Texas, almost every morning, dew forms on the ground, and as the sun dawns, the dew glistens in the sun. I love to walk on the soft grass in my bare feet and enjoy the wet dew exuding a special freshness in the air.

Dew is condensation of water vapor from air cooled by contact with ground or objects which have lost sufficient heat by radiation during the night. This occurs chiefly during clear, calm night when temperature drops markedly and the air is moist. Dew is important for vegetation, and this was certainly the case in Israel, because at its maximum Palestine experiences almost four rainless months of summer.

The Bible makes many references to dew in various contexts. Here are a few of them.

I. Judges 6:36-40 relates the story of Gideon proposing the so-called "fleece test." God had instructed Gideon to lead the Israelites in battle against the Midianites, but Gideon did not want to do this. So, Gideon proposes to God a test. (a) I will lay a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece, but not on the ground, I will know that you [God] will deliver Israel. That night, it occurred. But, (b) Gideon said, maybe this would happen this way anyway, and is not really a sign of God. So, Gideon proposes: I will lay a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the ground, but not on the fleece, I will know that you [God] will deliver Israel. That night, it happened again. Now, Gideon cannot doubt that God is with Gideon and the Israelites, and Gideon must lead his people in battle.

II. 2 Samuel 17:12 relates the advice of Hushai to Absalom when Absalom desires to know how to pursue and kill his father David. Hushai says that all the Israelites are to gather together, "so we shall come upon him in whatever place he may be found, and we shall light on him AS THE DEW FALLS ON THE GROUND; and he shall not survive, nor will any of those with him." If you remember this story, Hushai is attempting to give David ample time to escape. In doing this, Hushai uses a very striking simile: an army descending on an enemy like the dew falls on the ground.

III. Hoses 6:4 compares the quickly evaporating "love" of God's people to God with "dew" that is here for a brief time, and then vanishes.
"What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
What a powerful figure of "love." Many marriages end after a few years, because "love" is not steadfast, but evanescent.

IV. Micah 5:7 contains this promise concerning the way God's people should bless all nations on earth:
"Then the remnant of Jacob,
surrounded by many peoples,
shall be LIKE DEW from the Lord,
like showers on the grass."

V. Psalm 133 emphasizes the importance of unity among God's people. Verse 3 says:
"It is LIKE THE DEW of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
life forevermore."

Dew is yet another blessing of God, a special gift of God. I hope YOU enjoy and appreciate dew. It is refreshing, invigorating, uplifting. Early each morning, get out into the crisp, cool air, and walk on the wet grass of the dew.

How are YOU doing? God is around YOU everywhere. Just look!!! He daily reminds YOU of his presence, his love, his promises. Share these blessings with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Suffering is Greater than any human being can endure--Job 6-7--Part 1

Job had spent approximately 60 years of much wealth and health, and all that time Job had "feared the Lord and turned away from evil." Recently, Job has lost his wealth [including his ten grown children] and health, and in Job 3, Job wishes that he had never been born, OR that he could die now. More recently, one of Job's friends, Eliphaz [obviously speaking in behalf of his other two friends] proceeds to denounce Job for speaking in this way in Job 3, and offers several ARGUMENTS to show that all righteous people prosper and all wicked people suffer, SO Job must have sinned or else he would not be suffering in these ways. But, soon, God will revive Job to wealth and health, and Job's present complaints will vanish. This prepares us for Job's first response to Eliphaz. This appears in Job 6-7. Please read this carefully as we talk together.

Job's main point is that Job's suffering is too severe for any human being to endure. Job's speech falls into four paragraphs following an ABAC pattern.
A. My own suffering is greater than any human being could tolerate. 6:1-13.
B. You, my friends, have deepened my suffer, when you should be comforting me. 6:14-30.
A. My own suffering is greater than any human being could tolerate. 7:1-10.
C. God, you have brought my suffering upon me arbitrarily: you have made me a "target" to give me pain. 7:11-21.

In this blog, we will walk briefly through the two A. sections.
I. Job 6:1-13. Here Job give four figures or metaphors to demonstrate that Job's suffering is greater than any human being can tolerate.
a. No human being can carry on his or her back all the sand on all the shores of the nations. Verses 1-3.
b. A wild ass or an ox does not bray or low over food he is now receiving; similarly, Job would not be complaining if his tremendous suffering would lighten or remove. Verse 5.
c. A person cannot eat tasteless food without salt; similarly, Job must complain when his suffering is so great. Verse 6.
d. If a human being were made out of bronze or stones, he or she might endure such great suffering, but I am made out of flesh and bones and hair, and this suffering is intolerable. Verse 11-12.
*Job 6:4 and 7:20 compare Job with a "target." God is an archer. Job is the bull's-eye. And God never misses. This is why Job is suffering so much.
*In Job 6:8-10, Job reiterates his fervent prayer in Job 3:20-26 that God would take Job's life.

2. Job 7:1-10. Here Job gives three more figures or metaphors to demonstrate that his suffering is so great that no one could possibly endure.
a. A slave yearns for a shadow to rest under a tree for a little while. Similarly, Job yearns to have just a little relief from his tremendous suffering. Verses 1-3.
b. A laborer anticipates fair wages for his work. Similarly, Job yearns to receive a respite from his suffering. Verses 1-3.
c. Life is too short for any person to have to suffer as much as Job is enduring. Here Job stresses the brevity of life.
1. Life is swifter than a weaver's shuttle. If you have ever watched a person working with a weaver's shuttle, the shuttle moves so quickly that the human eye can hardly follow it. Life moves through just that quickly. Verse 6.
2. Life is like a "breath." Inhale-exhale--and life is over. It is too short for any person to suffer this much. Verses 7-8.
3. Life is like clouds rising over the sky. The clouds are here for a brief time, then they are gone. Life is that short. It is too short for any person to suffer this much. Verses 9-10.
*Job 7:5 gives a slight "window" into Job's illness {see Job 2:7-8). Job's flesh is clothed with worms and dirt. Job's skin harden, then breaks out again. Pus oozes out of his pores. What a horrible disease Job is enduring.

I do not know about YOU, but if I were in Job's place, I might do even worse than Job. When we suffer, we have to complain. And Job is complaining--big time. God has "wired" human beings to complain when we suffer greatly.

All along, please keep in mind that I am trying to "report" the views of Job here. Job may be right or wrong. Right now, we are trying to listen to Job's feelings and views and ideas.

What are YOUR thoughts. Share your ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I love to eat honey on biscuits or hot wheat bread. How about YOU?

The honey mentioned in the Bible is of three types: (1) a thick grape syrup; (2) wild honey; or (3) honey from domesticated bees. Here are a few of several references to honey in the Bible.

1. The Bible often refers to the land of Canaan "a land flowing with milk and honey." See Exodus 3:8, 17; 13:5; Deuteronomy 6:3; Joshua 5:6; Jeremiah 11:5; etc.

2. Judges 14 relates the story of Samson killing a lion with his bare hands. Later, Samson returned to this site, and found bees swarming in the carcass of the lion, and there he saw honey. From this, Samson proposed a riddle in Judges 14:14:
Out of the eater came something to eat;
out of the strong came something sweet.

3. 1 Samuel 14 relates the story of Jonathan and his servant going through the forest famished. They came upon some honey, and ate it, and there eyes were enlightened, that is, they received new strength.

4. Psalm 19:9-10 says:
"The ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than god,
even much fine gold,
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb."

Similarly, Psalm 119:103 says:
"How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth."

5. Proverbs 16:24 says:
"Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body."

6. Matthew 3:4 and Mark 1:6 record that the diet of John the Baptist was locusts and wild honey.

Honey is one of God's marvelous gifts. I hope YOU appreciate and enjoy honey. And I hope your faith in the GIVER of honey becomes deeper and richer in YOUR life.

John Willis

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Eliphaz's First Speech--Part 2

As suggested in the previous blog, Eliphaz's first speech appears in Job 4-5. We discussed the first paragraph, Job 4:1-11. Now we continue through the next three paragraphs.

II. Job 4:12-5:7--Second Paragraph. The essence of Eliphaz's point is that NO HUMAN BEING, including JOB is RIGHTEOUS or PURE before God (note verse 17); therefore, Job should realize that Job MUST have sinned, and this is WHY Job is suffering--surely Job already realizes this.
a. Eliphaz CLAIMS that he had received "visions from the night," which terrified him, and then Eliphaz heard a VOICE:
"Can mortals be righteous before God?
Can human beings be pure before their Maker?"
Obviously, these questions REQUIRE a NEGATIVE response. "Can mortals be righteous before God?"--Of course NOT. Verses 12-17.
b. God does not trust his heavenly servants, and God charges his angels with error. So, CERTAINLY, God knows and recognizes the sins of human beings. Verses
18-21. [By the way, verses 19-21 are NOT a legitimate text to PROVE that in OT thought, there was no hope after life on earth. Forget that assumption. Read the Bible].
c. Eliphaz declares that his own experience through life leads him to conclude that wicked people ["fools"] receive punishment and destruction. They may survive for a brief time, but soon they will perish. "Misery" or "trouble" does not come from nothing. Human beings receive punishment because human beings are sinners. By implication, this is WHY Job is suffering. 5:1-7.

*Before proceeding, one needs to stop and ask--what about Eliphaz [and his friends]. Are they also "sinners"? Have they suffered? Are they suffering now? It is so easy to fault OTHERS who are suffering when we are feeling very well.

III. Job 5:8-16--Paragraph 3. In essence, in this paragraph, Eliphaz gives Job his own advice: Job, if I were in your place, I would commit myself to God, and quit complaining about my suffering. [It is always easy to give our advice to other people. Eliphaz is doing the natural human thing here].
a. First, Eliphaz declares that if he were in Job's place, he would "seek God" and "commit his cause" to God. Verse 8. This sounds great and easy--until suffering comes into one's own life. Aha!!!
b. Immediately, Eliphaz turns attention away from Job to God, and declares two great truths about God.
1. God exalts the lowly. Verses 9-11, 15-16 [this is an inclusio].
2. God punishes the haughty. Verses 12-14.
Okay, this is certainly true. But is this an INVARIABLE truth of life? AND, does this apply to JOB?

IV. Job 5:17-27--Paragraph 4. In essence, in this paragraph, Eliphaz declares that ULTIMATELY [in a very short time], God will deliver Job from his suffering and have a wonderful life.
a. Eliphaz proclaims that a person whom God reproves should be "happy," because God uses suffering to "discipline" his people. Verses 17-18. [Yes, this is a great truth. Hebrews 12:4-11 teaches this very thing, quoting Proverbs 3:11-12. This is BIBLICAL. But does THIS fit Job appropriately in Job's present situation and attitude?].
b. In verses 19-26, Eliphaz promises Job THE MOON. God will deliver Job from all kinds of troubles: famine, war, slander, fear of destruction, wild animals. AND, Job will have many descendants, and Job will live to a good old age. [By the way, Job 42:16 says that "After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children's children, four generations." Was Eliphaz right? I think not, because Job 42:7 says: "After the Lord had spoken these words of Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: 'My wrath is kindled again you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." Hence, there is much to consider as we continue through the book of Job].
c. NOTE Eliphaz's concluding statement in Job 5:27:
"See, WE HAVE SEARCHED THIS OUT: it is true.
Hear, and know it for yourself [Job]."
This is just another indication that BEFORE Job's three friends spoke, they consulted with one another, and ONLY THEN, one of them [in this case, Eliphaz] spoke their views.

NOW, STOP for a moment. (1) Job had suffered tremendously, and wanted to die. Job
1-3. (2) Job's three friends learned about Job's circumstances, went to great trouble to meet together, and then go to Job--WHY? "to console and comfort" Job--Job 2:11. (3) But when they arrived, Job was so emaciated and in suffering, that they could not say a word, but said nothing for seven days--Job 2:12-13. (4) Then Job broke the silence, and "cursed the day of his birth"--Job 3. (5) NOW, what do Job's three friends REALLY NEED? They need Job's "consolation" and "comfort." But what do they give Job? They give ARGUMENTS, ARGUMENTS, ARGUMENTS!!! REASON REIGNS.

Hey, everyone, this is the way ALL OF US BEHAVE. People need our love, our understanding, our empathy, our compassion. And what do we give them?--Our arguments. Our reason. We think THE SOLUTION to life is to EXPLAIN why this or that person is suffering. What if there is NO SOLUTION? What if people want and need our love and compassion? This might be the real lesson of the Book of Job.

How do YOU respond? What are your thoughts? Share with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Eight Years after the Bombing of the World Trade Center

As we all know, on 11 September 2001, terrorists drove planes into the World Trade Center in New York, killing approximately 3000 people. We watched in awe and terror about these events on TV. A few years later, Evelyn and I went to Ground Zero and observed the remains. Many people were milling around; everything was very silent and quiet.

Tragedy of every kind is very sobering. Life is short. All human beings are very fragile, no matter how strong and wise they seem. We need to be caught up short when events like this occur.

On 17 September 2001, Walter Brueggemann penned this prayer at Lay school on the Pentateuch:

When the world spins crazy,
spins wild and out of control
spins toward rage and hate and violence,
spins beyond our wisdom and nearly beyond our faith,
When the world spins to chaos as it does not among us . . .
We are glad for sobering roots that provide ballast in the storm.
So we thank you for our rootage in the communities of faith,
for many fathers and mothers
who have believed and trusted
as firm witnesses to us,
for their many stories of wonder, awe, and healing.
We are glad this night in this company
for the rootage of the text,
for its daring testimony,
for its deep commands,
for its exuberant tales.
Because we know that as we probe deep into this text . . .
clear to its bottom,
we will find you hiding there,
we will find you showing yourself there,
speaking as you do,
And when we meet you hiddenly,
we find the spin not so unnerving,
because from you the world again has a chance
for life and sense and wholeness.
We pray midst the spinning, not yet unnerved,
but waiting and watching and listening,
for you are the truth that contains all our spin. Amen.

How are YOU allowing God to deal with YOUR life? Yes, the world is spinning almost out of control in our lives. BUT, God is there--at the core--at the center--of all life. Trust in God. He alone is our strength and our future.

Let me hear from YOU. Share your thoughts with all around you.

John Willis

Monday, September 14, 2009

Eliphaz's First Speech--Part 1

As we move through the book of Job, and now turn to a consideration of Job 4-31, several thoughts naturally come to mind. Here are a number of introductory ideas.

A. Job [3] 4-31 present a DEBATE, or a series of debates. [One might prefer to use the term Dispute or Controversy or Argument or something similar. But, it seems to me that DEBATE is the best word to describe Job [3] 4-31].
B. There is an ongoing connection between Job [3] 4-31 and Job 1-2. Some scholars insist that one must separate Job 1-2 from Job 3-31, but the more one actually reads the text, one finds numerous connections between the two parts of this book. Just for beginning, (1) Job 4-31 assume that the hearers [readers] of the book of Job already know about Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, Job's friends who have come to Job from far distances; (2) "the fear of the Lord" keeps occurring again and again: see for example: Job 1:1, 8, 9; 2:3; 4:6; 6:14; etc.
C. Job and his three friends begin on precisely the same level--in their social, physical, and religious set of circumstances. So, naturally, Job's friends assume Job holds the same beliefs they do. And Job did--UNTIL all of his afflictions struck his life. And Job's ideas NOW, slowly but surely, change. This VERY THING happens to many people. It has happened to me. What about you? It is so easy to GET IN A RUT--and Job [and his friends] were in a rut. BUT, when Job's afflictions came upon him, Job HAD to change.
D. Initially, Job had been thinking RATIONALLY in a certain way for 60 years or more. It is very difficult to CHANGE when one has lived and thought a certain way for six decades. This happens to people, to churches, to communities, to states, to countries. NOW, with all these afflictions, two new dimensions enter into the picture: EMOTION and FAITH--REAL FAITH when life does not turn out to be like I thought it was or would be.
E. NOTE--Job's friends consistently deal with Job's problem RATIONALLY. We human beings think that REASON will solve all our problems. The book of Job brings into light the fact that REASON is NOT the solution to human life. There is something from God in life which is broader and deeper than REASON. Job's friends cannot get over this--ever!!! At the end of the book of Job, God becomes angry with Job's friends because they are trying to HELP Job solve his problems by REASON (Job 42:7). As the book of Job unfolds, it becomes clearer and clearer that in human life, there is an ongoing struggle between REASON and FAITH. Right now, in Job 4-31, JOB AND HIS FRIENDS are both OBSESSED by trying to solve Job's problems by REASON. Watch as the book of Job progresses.
F. Job's friends offer ONLY ONE ARGUMENT about Job's situation: ALL RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE PROSPER; ALL WICKED PEOPLE SUFFER. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar drive THIS ONE POINT home in numerous ways. But THIS is their ONLY ARGUMENT. And surprise, surprise, surprise!!! This is PRECISELY what Job believed UNTIL his afflictions came upon him.
G. The debate between Job and his three friends falls into 3 order, well-planned speeches. In each of the three stages of the debate, the order invariably is: Eliphaz with Job's response; Bildad with Job's response, Zophar with Job's response.
We will attempt to follow these three stages.
H. Job 32:11 indicates that Job's three friends first got together and "hammered" out their ideas and arguments, and only then each friend spoke in a pre-planned prescribed order. Hence, it probably took several days, if not several weeks, to work through the stages of debate related in Job 4-31.
I. Job 32:11 and several other statements in Job 32-37 indicate that other people were watching and listening to this debate all along, including Elihu. There was [is] an audience paying careful attention to what Job and his three friends did and said.

The First Series or Stage of the Debate is Job 4-14. Broadly speaking, this falls into the following chapters:
1. First Speech of Eliphaz. Job 4-5.
2. Job's Response to Eliphaz. Job 6-7.
3. First Speech of Bildad. Job 8.
4. Job's Response to Bildad. Job 9-10.
5. First Speech of Zophar. Job 11.
6. Job's Response to Zophar. Job 12-14.

Now, let us BEGIN Eliphaz's First Speech. Job 4-5.
A. Eliphaz's First Speech falls into four paragraphs.
1. 4:1-11.
2. 4:12-5:7.
3. 5:8-16.
4. 5:17-27.
B. In this blog, we will consider Job 4:1-11.
1. Eliphaz begins speaking to Job very tenderly. Eliphaz does not want to offend Job; Eliphaz realizes that Job is suffering greatly. BUT, Eliphaz feels compelled to speak to Job BECAUSE Eliphaz just cannot allow Job to get by Job's declaration that Job wishes that he were dead. Job 4:1-2.
2. Eliphaz commends Job very highly because Eliphaz and his friends had known very well for many years that Job instructed many people, strengthened peoples' weak hands, supported people who were stumbling, and made firm peoples' feeble knees. Eliphaz and his friends openly acknowledge that Job is a righteous person. Job 4:3-4.
3. But Eliphaz REASONS that Job is NOW receiving the very afflictions that Job had encouraged other people to endure. And NOW, Job is IMPATIENT. Job is dismayed. Job 4:5.
4. Eliphaz now utters a tremendously significant statement, whether Eliphaz actually realizes it or not: Job, Your fear of God is your confidence, and the integrity of your ways is your hope. Job 4:6. NOTE: There is a HUGE difference between Fearing God and HAVING PERSONAL CONFIDENCE in Fearing God. In my opinion, this may be Job's problem. Job TRUSTS in his own Fear of God, Job's own confidence. It is so easy for a person to trust in his or her own confidence rather than trusting in God. The difference seems to be very thin, but it is HUGE.
5. Eliphaz appeals to Job to accept Job's own prior beliefs.
"Those who plow iniquity
and sow trouble reap the same." Job 4:7-8.
This sounds like Eliphaz just quoted Galatians 6:7-9. But, if one thinks about what is going on in Eliphaz's mind, it is reversed. By deduction, Eliphaz concludes: Whatever one reaps PROVES what one sowed. Hence, since Job is suffering, Job MUST have committed a great sin--otherwise, he would not suffering.
6. Eliphaz concludes with an analogy. A powerful lion loses his strength. In a similar way, God consumes wicked people by the blast of his anger, and they perish. By implication, this is what God has done in Job's life. Job 4:9-11.

What are your thoughts and insights? Share with your friends and others. Let me hear from you.

John Willis

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Siloam Tunnel

My wife Evelyn and I have gone to the Siloam Tunnel in the southeast corner of ancient Jerusalem on several occasions during archaeological excavations in Israel. Quite a few of my students went with me through this intriguing tunnel. We had a great deal of fun, and we learned much about biblical history and religious teaching. We entered one end of the tunnel into the water approximately chest deep and waded through to the other end.

This water channel was hewn during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah (715-687 BCE). This tunnel is one of the gret engineering feats of the ancient world. It stretches for 533 circuitous meters, and ultimately empties into the Siloam Pool. After refusing Sargon II, king of Assyria, to give tribute to Judah, Hezekiah enclosed many of the extramural dwellings of Jerusalem with a massive wall and redirected the Gihon waters into the more centrally located Siloam Pool by means of this tunnel, hewn through the bedrock underneath the City of David. Hezekiah's engineers began on each end of this now-existing tunnel, and chiseled through this massive bedrock region, and met almost precisely at the center of their project. This was an amazing feat. The differential in height between its beginning in the northeast and end in the southwest of the southeastern spur upon which the City of David is located was only 32 centimeters, which allowed for a steady yet controlled flow of water. When Sennacherib and the Assyrians attacked Jerusalem in 701 BCE, the people were able to survive because water was safely funneled into the city through the Siloam Tunnel.

Let me make two observations of interest.
1. Ancient human beings are VERY INTELLIGENT, VERY RESOURCEFUL, and VERY DETERMINED. ONLY in such ways did these peoples in thousands of years ago not only survived, but flourished. OH, they did not have airplanes or automobiles or iPods, BUT they PLANNED and CARRIED OUT amazing feats in ancient times.
2. After my students and I had gone only a few meters into the Siloam Tunnel, we were surrounged by TOTAL DARKNESS. No one could see anything. We were able to touch each other, and the sides of the tunnel are very narrow, so we could feel ourselves along. We knew about this, so we carried flashlights and candles. After having a little fun, we turned on little lights.
As I think of our collective experiences like this, in this case, going through the Siloam Tunnel in Jerusalem, I call to mind many powerful Biblical texts on the importance of the sharp contrast between light and darkness. You know many of these. Here are a few reminders:
Genesis 1:3-5: "Then God said, 'Let there be light;' and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there way morning, the first day."
Psalm 119:105: "Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path."
Micah 7:8-9: "Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy;
when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be a light to me.
I must bear the indignation of the Lord,
because I have sinned against him,
until he takes my side
and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light;
I shall see his vindication."
Ephesians 5:6-14: "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light--for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful words of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
'Sleeper, awake!
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you,"

Darkness is depressing and bemeaning. How uplifting and encouraging it is to know a God who loves us so much that he showers us with His light. I hope and pray that God's light shines in your heart, just as my fellow-students and I enjoyed light in the midst of the utter darkness of the Siloam Tunnel.

Share your thoughts with others. Let me hear from you.

John Willis