Job 38:1-71Affirming What We Believe – Creator of the Rolling Spheres
1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: 2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
Job is a didactic poem (containing a political or moral message) set in prose. Another name for Job is Jobab. Genesis 36:33 identifies a Jobab, as a descendant of Esau, a king of Edom. The Book of Job has been called the most difficult book of the Bible. The book attempts to reconcile the co-existence of evil and God and address the problem of evil.
In chapter one, Job, living in The Land of Uz, is described as a man of great probity, virtue, and piety. He possesses much livestock and many servants. He has seven sons and three daughters and is respected by all people on both sides of the Euphrates. After his sons have a feast, Job purifies them and offers burnt sacrifices so that God may pardon any faults the boys may have committed during the festivities. This attests to Job’s righteousness.
God permits “the Satan” to put the virtue of Job to the test, at first by giving him power over his property, but forbidding him to touch his person. Satan began by taking away all of Job’s riches, his livestock, his house, his servants, and his children; a series of messengers informs him that they have perished in various disasters.
Job rends (to tear as a sign of anger, grief, or despair) his clothes, shaves his head, and falls down upon the ground saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
As Job endures these calamities without reproaching Divine Providence, the Satan solicits permission to afflict his person as well, and God says, “Behold he is in your hand, but don’t touch his life.” Satan, therefore, smites him with dreadful boils, and Job, seated in ashes, scrapes off the corruption with a pot shard (a fragment of broken pottery). His wife wants him to “curse God, and die” but Job answers “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”
In the meantime, only three of Job’s friends come to visit him in his misfortune — Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. A fourth, Elihu the Buzite, first begins talking in chapter 32 and bears a distinguished part in the dialogue; his arrival is not explained. The friends spend a week sitting on the ground with Job, without speaking, until Job at last breaks his silence and complains of his misery.
Biblical Truths and Theology3Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, Jamieson, Robert (1802-1880)
1. Jehovah appears unexpectedly in a whirlwind (already gathering Job 37:1, 2), the symbol of “judgment” (Ps 50:3, 4, &c.), to which Job had challenged Him. He asks him now to get himself ready for the contest. Can he explain the phenomena of God’s natural government? How can he, then, hope to understand the principles of His moral government? God thus confirms Elihu’s sentiment, that submission to, not reasonings on, God’s ways is man’s part. This and the disciplinary design of trial to the godly is the great lesson of this book. He does not solve the difficulty by reference to future retribution: for this was not the immediate question; glimpses of that truth were already given in the fourteenth and nineteenth chapters, the full revelation of it being reserved for Gospel times. Yet even now we need to learn the lesson taught by Elihu and God in Job.
counsel—impugning My divine wisdom in the providential arrangements of the universe. Such “words” (including those of the friends) rather obscure, than throw light on My ways. God is about to be Job’s Vindicator, but must first bring him to a right state of mind for receiving relief.
3. a man—hero, ready for battle (1Co 16:13), as he had wished (Job 9:35; 13:22; 31:37). The robe, usually worn flowing, was girt up by a girdle when men ran, labored, or fought (1Pe 1:13).
4. To understand the cause of things, man should have been present at their origin. The finite creature cannot fathom the infinite wisdom of the Creator (Job 28:12; 15:7, 8).
5. measures—of its proportions. Image from an architect’s plans of a building.
line—of measurement (Isa 28:17). The earth is formed on an all-wise plan.
6. foundations—not “sockets,” as Margin.
fastened—literally, “made to sink,” as a foundation-stone let down till it settles firmly in the clay (Job 26:7). Gravitation makes and keeps the earth a sphere.
7. So at the founding of Zerubbabel’s temple (Ezr 3:10-13). So hereafter at the completion of the Church, the temple of the Holy Ghost (Zec 4:7); as at its foundation (Lu 2:13, 14).
morning stars—especially beautiful. The creation morn is appropriately associated with these, it being the commencement of this world’s day. The stars are figuratively said to sing God’s praises, as in Ps 19:1; 148:3. They are symbols of the angels, bearing the same relation to our earth, as angels do to us. Therefore they answer to “sons of God,” or angels, in the parallel. See on Job 25:5.
Items for Discussion
- What is God’s argument or point in His discourse with Job?
- Why would Job need to understand this before he could comprehend God’s judgment?
- If God is so difficult to understand, why do we try so hard?
- Will we ever understand God fully?
- When you see the planets, the stars, the rest of the heavens all in their order, how does this help or hurt your understanding of your God?
- What connection do you think God’s mystery is to faith?
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Biblical Truths4Barnes Notes
Verse 15. The spirit of bondage. The spirit that binds you; or the spirit of a slave, that produces only fear. The slave is under constant fear and alarm. But the spirit of religion is that of freedom and of confidence; the spirit of children, and not of slaves
Again to fear. That you should again be afraid, or be subjected to servile fear. This implies that in their former state, under the law, they were in a state of servitude, and that the tendency of it was merely to produce alarm. Every sinner is subject to such fear. He has everything of which to be alarmed. God is angry with him; his conscience will trouble him; and he has everything to apprehend in death and in eternity. But it is not so with the Christian. Comp. 2 Timothy 1:7.
The Spirit of adoption. The feeling of affection, love, and confidence which pertains to children; not the servile, trembling spirit of slaves, but the temper and affectionate regard of sons. Adoption is the taking and treating a stranger as one’s own child. It is applied to Christians because God treats them as his children; he receives them into this relation, though they were by nature strangers and enemies. It implies,
(1.) that we by nature had no claim on him;
(2.) that, therefore, the act is one of mere kindness–of pure, sovereign love;
(3.) that we are now under his protection and care; and
(4.) that we are bound to manifest towards him the spirit of children, and yield to him obedience. See Barnes “John 1:12”. Comp. Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5. It is for this that Christians are so often called the sons of God.
Whereby we cry. As children who need protection and help. This evinces the habitual spirit of a child of God; a disposition,
(1.) to express towards him the feelings due to a father;
(2.) to call upon him– to address him in the language of affection and endearing confidence;
(3.) to seek his protection and aid.
Abba. This word is Chaldee–(\^CHALDEE\^)–and means father. Why the apostle repeats the word in a different language is not known. The Syriac reads it, “By which we call the Father our Father.” It is probable that the repetition here denotes merely intensity, and is designed to denote the interest with which a Christian dwells on the name, in the spirit of an affectionate, tender child. It is not unusual to repeat such terms of affection. Comp. Matthew 7:22; Psalms 8:1. This is an evidence of piety that is easily applied. He that can in sincerity and with ardent affection apply this term to God, addressing him with a filial spirit as his Father, has the spirit of a Christian. Every child of God has this spirit; and he that has it not is a stranger to piety.
Verse 16. The Spirit The Holy Spirit. That the Holy Spirit here is intended is evident,
(1.) because this is the natural meaning of the expression;
(2.) because it is of the Holy Spirit that the apostle is mainly treating here;
(3.) because it would be an unnatural and forced construction to say of the temper of adoption that it bore witness.
Bare witness. Testifies, gives evidence.
With our spirit. To our minds. This pertains to the adoption; and it means, that the Holy Spirit furnishes evidence to our minds that we are adopted into the family of God. This effect is not unfrequently attributed to the Holy Spirit, 2 Corinthians 1:22; 1 John 5:10,11; 1 Corinthians 2:12. If it be asked how this is done, I answer, It is not by any revelation of new truth; it is not by inspiration; it is not always by assurance; it is not by a mere persuasion that we are elected to eternal life; but it is by producing in us the appropriate effects of his influence. It is his to renew the heart; to sanctify the soul; to produce “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,” Galatians 5:22,23. If a man has these, he has evidence of the witnessing of the Spirit with his spirit. If not, he has no such evidence. And the way, therefore, to ascertain whether we have this witnessing of the Spirit, is by an honest and prayerful inquiry whether these fruits of the Spirit actually exist in our minds. If they do, the evidence is clear. If not, all vain confidence of good estate; all visions, and raptures, and fancied revelations, will be mere delusions. It may be added, that the effect of these fruits of the Spirit on the mind is to produce a calm and heavenly frame; and in that frame, when attended with the appropriate fruits of the Spirit in a holy life, we may rejoice as an evidence of piety.
That we are the children of God. That we are adopted into his family. “witness with our spirit” 2 Corinthians 1:22; 1 John 4:13
Verse 17. And if children. If adopted into his family.
Then heirs. That is, he will treat us as sons. An heir is one who succeeds to an estate. The meaning here is, that if we sustain the relation of sons to God that we shall be treated as such, and admitted to share his favors. An adopted son comes in for a part of the inheritance, Numbers 27.
Heirs of God. This expression means, that we shall be partakers of that inheritance which God confers on his people. That inheritance is his favor here, and eternal life hereafter. This is an honor infinitely higher than to be heir to the most princely earthly inheritance; or than to be the adopted son of the most magnificent earthly monarch.
And joint-heirs with Christ. Christ is by eminence The Son of God. As such, he is heir to the full honors and glory of heaven. Christians are united to him; they are his friends; and they are thus represented as destined to partake with him of his glory. They are the sons of God in a different sense from what he is; he by his nature and high relation, they by adoption; but still the idea of sonship exists in both; and hence both will partake in the glories of the eternal inheritance. Comp. Philippians 2:; 8,; 9; Hebrews 2:; 9,10. The connection between Christ and Christians is often referred to in the New Testament. The fact that they are united here is often alleged as a reason why they will be in glory. John 14:19, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” 2 Timothy 2:11,12, “For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” Revelation 3:21, “To him that overcome will I grant to sit with me in my throne,” etc. John 17:22-24.
If so be. If this condition exist. We shall not be treated as co-heirs with him, unless we here give evidence that we are united to him.
That we suffer with him. Greek, “If we suffer together, that we may also be glorified together.” If we suffer in his cause; bear afflictions as he did; are persecuted and tried for the same thing; and thus show that we are united to him. It does not mean that we suffer to the same extent that he did, but we may imitate him in the kind of our sufferings, and in the spirit with which they are borne; and thus show that we are united to him.
That we may be also glorified together. If united in the same kind of sufferings, there is propriety in being united in destiny beyond the scenes of all suffering, the kingdom of blessedness and love.
Items for Discussion
- Through what mechanisms does one inherit the rights and property of others?
- What responsibilities, if any, go with an inheritance?
- Examine two aspects of inheritance: debt and riches. What happens to each after probate?
- Why would Paul use inheritance to discuss Jesus and the Holy Spirit?
- If we as Christians inherited Christ’s estate, then what do we have today?
- 1Affirming What We Believe – Creator of the Rolling Spheres
- 3Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, Jamieson, Robert (1802-1880)
- 4Barnes Notes