John T. Willis

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Job--YOU are an overt sinner--Eliphaz's Third Speech--Job 22

Pursuing our study through the Book of Job, we come to the third series of the debate, recorded in Job 22-31. As we see, this section is different for various reasons, but we will be patient and take this once at a time. As normal, the next expected speaker is Eliphaz. In the first series, he began in Job 4-5, and in the second series, he began in Job 15. Now we come to Eliphaz's third speech, recorded in Job 22.

In Job 22, Eliphaz becomes very angry with Job, and openly accuses Job of committing obvious public sins known to Job's community and people acquainted with Job. This is a complete reversal of Eliphaz's view in his first speech, where Eliphaz agrees that Job is essentially a righteous man, who instructed many people, strenghened weak hands, supported people who were stumbling, and made firm feeble knees--see Job
4:3-4. But Job's declarations that God is arbitrary and makes Job suffer without just cause leads Eliphaz to conclude that Job is an overt sinner.

Job 22 falls into four parts.

I. Eliphaz asserts that God is so far above any human being that God is completely impartial and objective, and cannot be affected in any way by right human living. Verses 1-4.

II. Eliphaz "unloaded" on Job. Without any support, Eliphaz simply asserts that Job is full of sin: there is no end to Job's iniquities, Job has exacted pledges from his own family with no reason, stripped off the naked of their clothes, given no water to the weary, withheld bread from the hungry, sent widows away empty-handed, crushed orphans--and THIS is why Job is suffering. Verses 5-11.
[Of course, this is ridiculous. Job was "blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil"--Job 1:1, 8; 2:3. But Eliphaz is "out of arguments," he is angry with Job, and so Eliphaz "unloads" on Job, accusing Job of every sin "in the book." Reasoned argumentation has come to an end. Emotion has taken control].

III. Eliphaz claims that Job has cast Job's lot with the wicked. Wicked people declare that God can do nothing to hurt them, and blaspheme against God. Eliphaz says that in effect, Job champions this same position. Job claims that God has gone away and refuses to meet Job in a fair court trial. Eliphaz replies by saying that this view is wicked. Verses 12-20.

IV. Finally, Eliphaz resorts to the plea of his other friends [Bildad in 8:4-6 and Zophar in 11:13-30] and "extends the invitation" to Job to repent, and THEN God will forgive him and restore Job to his former prosperity. Verses 21-30. Eliphaz's words are smooth and appealing. A preacher might use Eliphaz's invitation. Watch the language:
a. "Agree with God, and be at peace," and good will come to you. Verse 21. Who could disagree with this?
b. Receive God's instruction. And here it is:
If you return to the Almighty [this assumes that Job is away from God and thus
needs to return to God],
if you remove unrighteousness from you,
if you treat gold like dust,
and gold of Ophir like stones,
if the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver,
THEN you will delight yourself in God and lift up your face to God; you will pray to God and God will hear you. When you make a decision, God will bless it. In this way, God will deliver the proud Job, and make Job appear righteous. Verses

Wow, these words sound wonderful. In another context, they might be appropriate. But from Job's perspective, this does not apply.

BUT, we are trying to follow faithfully Eliphaz's arguments or thoughts. How do YOU respond to Eliphaz in this speech? Share YOUR thoughts with others. Give me insights. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Whistling Ducks

Very often, a flock of ten to fifteen whistling ducks circle around above our house and land on our yard to feed near our feeders under the trees and on the patio. These are beautiful birds. I hope you can see them. They have an orange beak and orange feet, brown on the body with white on the top of their wings, and black bellied. They are approximate 20 inches long.

Whistling ducks breeds from southernmost United States and tropical Central to south-central South America. This bird lives primarily in Texas, but appears seasonally in southeast Arizona and Louisiana's Gulf Coast. Rarely, it appears in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

In Mexico, whistling ducks are called "cornfield ducks" because they have the habit of visiting fields after harvest. These ducks have an odd call, like a "whistle." One early American ornithologist calls this a "most un-duck like" creature.

Whistling ducks are just another example of God's wonderful creation. Each of God's creatures is full of surprises. What a joy to watch and listen to these ducks. They are unique. YOU are unique. God made YOU like God wanted YOU to be. Rejoice in God's creation of YOU.

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

John Willis

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Wicked Prosper--Job's Response to Zophar--Job 21

Our journey through the Book of Job comes to the end of the second series of speeches. So, in Job 21, Job responds to Zophar's second speech, which we just discussed in Job 20.

Job offers nothing new in Job 21. It seems impossible to divide Job 21 into paragraphs. Job declares ONE IDEA--all around us, wicked people prosper. Job's friends argued that all righteous people prosper, and all wicked people suffer. BUT, Job claims that in REAL LIFE, there are many wicked people prospering. Let us work through Job 21.

A. As in most of the speeches of Job and his friends, each speaker FIRST rejects the views of his opponent. Job does this here. Job pleads with his friends to hear out Job's arguments. Job admits he is "impatient," as he already admitted in 6:11, in prior response to Eliphaz in 4:5. Job pleads with his friends to "lay their hands on their mouths," that is, be silent and listen to Job's words. Verses 1-5.

B. Job reasons: IF it is really true, then WHY do the wicked live on, reach old age, and are mighty in power? Their children prosper, their houses are safe, their livestock increases, their children are very happy, they are prosperous through life, all the time defying God. Verses 6-16.

C. Job continues: IF it is really true, then HOW OFTEN do the wicked die in youth, experience calamity, receive pain and suffering? On the contrary, they are full of prosperity, they are completely secure, they enjoy a full life. Verses 17-26.

D. Job now challenges his friends to "travel the roads" on the earth, and see how wicked people live. The wicked are spared in the day of calamity, they are rescued in the day of wrath, no one punishes them for their sins, when they die people watch over their graves. Accordingly, Job concludes that Job's friends are false. Verses 27-34.

Okay, we agreed to work through the Book of Job, and we are trying to follow through. BUT, Job does not have any new ideas here in Job 21. He simply repeats the same view which he has affirmed several times previously. How would YOU reason with Job's friends if YOU were in Job's shoes? Could be do better than Job in Job's situation at this time?

How are YOU doing in YOUR journey through the Book of Job. There are some very good and important ideas yet to come. Be patient. Share YOUR ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


When Evelyn and I spent different times in Israel, we often saw camels. Some of our students had opportunities to ride on the backs of camels on the Mount of Olives. Camels are very interesting creatures. The Bible often refers to camels.

There are two types of camels: the one-humped camel or dromedary (Camelus dromedarius] and the two-humped camel or Bactrian (Calemus bactrianus). Various peoples in the ancient Near East domesticated camels as early as the third millennium B. C. Genesis 37:25 shows that people traveled overland by camels in the time of the patriarchs. The Midianites attacked Gideon and the Israelites using camels--Judges 6-7.

The camel's anatomy requires a special harness with straps, known as a withers-strap, that goes between or aroundt he humps or is supported by a saddle over one hump--see Genesis 31:34. The Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:25) and the Amalekites (Judges 6:5; 1 Samuel 15:3) used camels as pack animals. Hazael, king of Aram [Syria], carried loads of produces on camels--2 Kings 8:9. David had large herds of camels under the charge of an individual from Arabia--1 Chronicles 27:30.

Camels were susceptible to diseases--Zechariah 14:15. Leviticus 11:4 and Deuteronomy 14:7 prohibit eating the meat of camels, but the Bible says nothing against drinking the milk of camels. In the ancient Near East, it was common to drink the milk of camels.

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, declares that he captured and carried into exile many people and possessions, including camels. See Sennacherib's Annals concerning the siege of Jerusalem in 701 B. C. A relief from Lachish depicts Judean refugees leaving to Babylon with a loaded camel. Skeletons of camels have found at various sites by archaeologists through several centuries in Old Testament times.

Camels are another creatures of God. Each creature of God has its own characteristics and purposes. All of God's beings are marvelous and intriguing. What do YOU think about camels? Study camels in the Bible. Study camels in history. Study camels in modern times. Give us some of YOUR insights. Share your thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Monday, October 12, 2009

Breath Savers--Zophar's Second Speech--Job 20

I use breath savers to keep my mouth fresh. How about YOU? Evidently, people used breath savers in ancient times, because Zophar refers to this practice in his second speech, as you will see [for those of you who do not know me very well--this IS a joke!!!].

As we continue our journey through the Book of Job, we come to Zophar's second speech recorded in Job 20. There is nothing new in this speech. Zophar and his friends cling tenaciously to their ONE ARGUMENT: All righteous people prosper and all wicked people suffer--with an emphasis on the latter. It is really impossible to divide this speech into parts, so let us simply follow the text. Job 20.

A. Zophar begins by complaining that Job has agitated and insulted Zophar. BUT, Zophar claims that "a spirit beyond my understanding answers me." Verses 1-3. This claim is very similar to Eliphaz's "dream" or "vision" in Job 4:12-16.

B. Zophar asserts that people have always known that the prosperity of the wicked IS SHORT. Zophar does not claim that wicked people never prosper at all. But Zophar does claim that the wicked prosper only for a very short time. The wicked will perish like a dream or a vision that appears for a short of time during the night, and then vanishes. Their bodies will lie down in the dust. Verses 4-11.

C. Zophar declares that wickedness is like a breath saver: it is sweet in the mouth, but soon the breath saver dissolves and their food is turned in the stomachs of the wicked. The wicked use dishonest means of gaining profit, but they receive no enjoyment from this. The wicked crush the poor, they seize the house of helpless victims, but God casts their riches out of their bellies. Verses 12-19.

D. The wicked are greedy, but God sends fierce anger against them, and they receive distress and miserty. Zophar presents a striking figure: the wicked flee from an iron weapon, but a bronze arrow will strike them through. God punishes the wicked, and the wicked have no way to escape. [A similar figure occurs in Amos 5:18-20]. "Terrors" are all around the wicked. The heavens and the earth rise up against the wicked, and the possessions of the wicked will be carried away in the day of God's wrath. Verses 20-28.

E. Zophar ends this speech with his summary conclusion:
"This is the portion of the wicked from God,
the heritage decreed for them by God."

Many people hold the view of Zophar and his two friends. BUT, there are many problems with such a view. Look around YOU. Do you know any wicked people who are prospering? Do you know any righteous people who are suffering? Is unvarying recompense correct? Is it biblical? Is this the way life works? What do YOU think? What are YOUR insights? Share your thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


The September 2009 edition of the National Geographic tells of the recent discovery of a "new" creature on earth, which experts call "squidworms." Here is the story by Tom O'Neill:

"When scientists dipatched a remotely operated vehicle to nose around the depths of the Celebes Sea [note: the Celebes Sea is southwest of the Philippines and northwest of Indonesia], one of the world's most biologically diverse zones, they were prepared for surprises. Still, mouths dropped at the sight of the 'squidworm' [note: the National Geographic presents a striking picture of this creature], as they dubbed this extraordinary invertebrate. Unlike many marine worms--small, drab creature buried in the seafloor--this was a big, flashy extrovert, swimming in pitch-black waters 1.75 miles deep. From its head jutted feeding and breathing tentacles like a squid's; from its four-inch-long body projected bristles, propelling it like paddles.
Research by Karen J. Osborn at the Scripps Institution of Oceonography confirms that it's a new, still scientifically unnamed species of the bristle worm group. In addtion to a half dozen squidworms, other keepers from the expedition--cosponsored by National Geographi, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in cooperation with the Philippine government--include spiderlike crustaceans and a black comb jelly. With only a fraction of the Celebes Sea explored, plenty of other wondrous new creatures surely wait in the dark."

Now, the earth is "small" compared with the universe. BUT, on the earth, there are numerous creatures which God has created in God's own way. We human beings keep on LEARNING what God knew and did billions of years ago. Our knowledge and our comprehension and our power is SO SMALL. Each NEW creature should humble us before our God. What will the next DISCOVERY be? Just wait. It will not be long. Just watch the news, the TV, the magazines. You will be amazed at God's discoveries.

How do the world affect YOU? Are you awed at the wisdom and knowledge of God? Paul's words in Romans 11:33-36 impact me greatly:

"O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever. Amen."

PLEASE share YOUR insights, YOUR ideas, YOUR thoughts. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

Through human history, people create wonderful songs based on a biblical text, then, when one actually examines that text, discovers that that text does not mean what the song means. This is a clear example, which we will discuss in this blog. The text is Job 19:25: "I know that my redeemer lives." [At the end of this blog, I will give the song, and I hope you will continue to sing this song, and believe and espouse this song--BUT the thought of this song is quite different from the meaning of the text of Job 19:25].

In our journey through the Book of Job, we now come to Job's second response to Bildad [which we recently discussed in Job 18]. Job's response to Bildad, recorded in Job 19, falls into two parts. Essentially, Job repeats his previous arguments, but some some elaboration.

I. Job lashes out loudly and strongly against his three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, defending Job's position that God has singled Job out to make Job suffer without just cause. Job 19:1-22.
a. Job accuses his friends of "tormenting" Job and "breaking Job in pieces." Job's friends have "reproached" Job TEN TIMES. "Ten times" is an idiomatic expression meaning "without number." See Genesis 31:7, 41. Verses 1-5.
b. Job proclaims that GOD has put Job in the wrong. Job cries out that God is mistreating Job, but God gives Job NO JUSTICE. Verses 6-7.
c. Job declares that there is no way that he can defend himself, because God is all powerful and all wise, so the conflict is unequal. God has walled up Job's way so Job cannot pass, God has stripped Job's glory from him, God breaks Job down on every side, God kindles his anger against Job and considers Job God's enemy, God's troops throw up siegeworks againt Job and encamp against Job's tent. Verses 8-12.
d. God is responsible for disrupting Job's family. God has put Job's family far from Job, Job's friends are estranged from Job, Job's relatives and close friends have abandoned Job, Job has become an alien to his guests and servant girls. Job's breath is repulsive to his wife and is loathsome to his family. Young children despise Job. Those whom Job love have turned against Job. Job is emaciated as a result of his disease. His bones cling to his bones and flesh. Verses 13-20.
e. Job begs his friends to "PITY" him, because "the hand of God has touched me." God has pursued me to make me suffer. WHY are you, my friends, adding insult to this deep pain? Verses 21-22.

II. Job concludes in this speech by reverting to his previous DESIRE to meet God in a fair court trial. We discussed these pleas in Job 9:30-33; 14:7-19; 16:18-22. This paragraph resumes this concept. Job 19:23-29.
a. Job wishes against wish that Job's court case were "written down," "inscribed," "engraved" in a rock with an iron pen and lead forever. Verses 23-24. The oldest preserved writings in ancient times were chiseled in rock and hard clay. Job was convinced that he would die, BUT if someone would just preserve his court trial arguments, some day God would show up and God would have to face Job's arguments. Then, Job would win his arguments against God's unjust treatment of Job.
b. Like Job 16:18-22, in Job 19:25-29, Job "fantasizes" the possibility that after Job's death, a REDEEMER will appear and take Job's position and prove that Job is right and God has treated Job unjustly. The word "redeemer" her is the Hebrew word "go'el." A "go'el" is one who acts as the next of kin when the next of kin is murdered. This is the so-called "avenger of blood" described in passages like Joshua 20. If an individual killed another person, the next of kin of the victim had the right and the responsibility of killing or executing the murderer.
Applied to Job's situation, according to Job, God has murdered Job. Now, Job is convinced that after Job's death, a "Redeemer," an "avenger of blood," will appear and confront and overthrow the murderer--God himself. The thought here is the same as the thought we discussed in Job 16:18-22. In Job's mind, there is a conflict between the God whom Job has always served through his life [here, Job's "redeemer"] and the God who is making Job suffer unjustly [here, Job's murderer=God himself]. Now, it seems that Job is contradictory: God is against God. But remember, Job is suffering, Job is trying to defend his position. He has served God all his life--AND God is making him suffer without just cause. There is a conflict, and Job is trying to express his thoughts.
Summing up: The "REDEEMER" in Job 19:25 is the "avenger of blood." Job wants this "redeemer" to prove that the God who is making Job suffer is wrong. Hence, the word "redeemer" hear is quite different from the word "redeemer" in the New Testament, in which Jesus Christ is the redeemer of lost people from sin, as for example in Romans 3:21-26; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; Titus 2:11-14.

The well-known song follows the idea of these New Testament texts, not the idea of Job 19:25. Let us sing together this song from these New Testament texts:

I know that my Redeemer lives, And ever prays for me;
I know eternal life He gives, From sin and sorrow free.

He wills that I should holy be, In word, in tho't, in deed;
Then I His hly face me see, When from this earth-life freed.

I know that unto sinful men His saving grace is nigh;
I know that He will come again To take me home on high.

I know that over yonder stands A place prepared for me;
A home, house not made with hands, Most wonderful to see.

I know, I know that my Redeemer lives, I know eternal life He gives;
I know, I know that my Redeemer lives.

There are many great songs which use biblical texts in which the biblical text under consideration is incorrect in its biblical context. This is the case with Job
19:25. Let us keep the songs, but realize that often the context in the Bible is different. People use all kinds of texts in this way. This is all right, as long as we know what is going on and how we are doing this.

What are YOUR insights on Job 19, especially on Job 19:25? Share your thoughts. Read Job 19 carefully in its context. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis