The Book of Job - Part 2

Series: My Preaching Bucket List

September 03, 2017
Brad Shockley

Episode Notes

We just began our study in Job. Last week we looked at verses 1-5 which set up the story.

We have Job (the protagonist, or the main character we all root for), a man whose wealth was exceeded only by his generosity and devotion to God. He was notable for being blameless, upright, fearing God, and avoiding evil. That devotion brought him great blessing.

He enjoyed a great family and great wealth and even great relationships. We could only dream of living a life like that. And if that was all there were to the story, it’d simply be an incredibly short fairy tale.

But the book of Job is no fairy tale not only because it really happened but because it is raw and real and even at times disturbing. You are about to see why. 

Look with me at verse 6. While Job lived a blessed life on earth, something unsettling happened in the heavens.

Job 1:6–12 (ESV) — 6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord…

Let’s stop right there. This verse reaches out and grabs us by the collar, forcing us to spend time looking at it. It raises so many questions, we could spend weeks on it alone. And even then I’m not sure we could answer them all to our satisfaction.

The first question is, obviously, who are the “sons of God”? They can’t be God’s sons in a biological sense, of course, or even a spiritual sense because that wouldn’t make sense in context. They must be heavenly beings.

Ah, so they are angels! Yes, but it’s more complicated than that. 

Angels play a big role in the OT and NT. They serve as messengers of God. They serve as soldiers in the army of God. And they serve as members of the Divine Assembly or Divine Council of God. That’s probably something you’ve never heard of before (it’s relatively new to me too), but it’s fascinating.

The heathen people of Job’s day (and by that I mean those who did not follow Yahweh, the one true God) all believed the gods (little “g”) would come together regularly and form a “divine council.” That council governed the world and affairs of men. There are a number of ancient Near Eastern writings that mention this. 

Now, they say all myths and legends, if you follow them back far enough, lead to actual truth or facts. I’m convinced the ancient legends of the divine council actually point to something real: the assembly of God (big “G”) and his special angels serving on a council as seen here in Job. The difference is, on the heathen gods’ assembly they were all equal, and on God’s divine council, he’s the boss and all the others are subservient to him. You’ll see that later.

This divine council is alluded to all over the place (even in the NT by Paul though we won’t have time to go there today!)…

Psalm 89:5–6 (ESV) — 5 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! 6 For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord,

Heavenly beings is literally “sons of God” and there they are referred to also as holy ones in God’s divine assembly. They are heavenly beings but they don’t hold a candle to God (with big “G”).

These “sons of God” were with God before all creation. God will ask Job in…

Job 38:4–7 (ESV) — 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

These sons of God also, evidently, were assigned responsibilities of overseeing the affairs of men according to the nations.

Deuteronomy 32:8 (ESV) — 8 When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.

We this fleshed out in Daniel 10 where the prophet observed in a vision a radiant, angelic being who revealed information about the unseen realm…

Daniel 10:10–14, 18–21 (ESV) — 10 And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.” 

18 Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. 19 And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” 20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. 21 But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.”

What a classic biblical text on the spiritual warfare taking place around us every day. But note how, when you connect the dots, the prince of Persia, Michael (the prince of Israel), and the prince of Greece all fit into the idea of a divine council made up of the “sons of God,” a special, high ranking class of angels overseeing their assigned nations. It all makes sense!

If you were paying attention, these sons of God couldn't have all been good. Why would the prince of Persia fight against the prince of Israel? Evidently, just like us, they had free will and could rebel against God if they chose. And they did. More on that later.

Some of them were very, very bad. Look at…

Genesis 6:1–4 (ESV) — 1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

For years scholars have debated over who the sons of God were, mostly because they try to force preconceived ideas back into the text, but the Jews of Jesus’ day believed they were divine beings. Do you remember me telling you about how many Jews in ancient times couldn’t speak or read Hebrew because they were raised in the Greek culture? A bunch of Jewish scholars (seventy to be exact) got together and made a translation of the OT into Greek. 

Guess what Greek word they used in Genesis 6 for “sons of God”? Angelos which we know as angels which almost for certain means they saw them as heavenly beings not humans.

Ever watched Stargate? It was a great movie and a great series… Some believe the false gods of the world are actually the bad members of God’s divine council trying to lead their respective nations away from him. There is biblical evidence to support that.

Here in the sixth verse of Job, this divine council made up of high ranking, powerful angels set in authority over the nations, meets, meaning God must have decided to leave the council intact, bad angels and all. 

Which raises a host of other questions, the first being why? Why would God allow his high ranking angels to rebel and then leave them on the council? And why would he allow them to still have authority over nations? And why let them masquerade as gods, leading people astray? And how can evil beings be in heaven (the answer to that is they weren’t in what we know as heaven).

Like many of the questions raised in Job, we aren’t going to find a satisfying answer. So early on here it’s a good time to go ahead and and get our minds around something about God many have a hard time with, and rightly so.

Isaiah 55:8–9 (ESV) — 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God isn’t bragging on himself. he’s just telling the truth!

Romans 11:33–36 (ESV) — 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

We want God to fit neatly into our understanding. We want to make him into a God we can identify with, a God that doesn’t make us feel uncomfortable or even afraid. But God is never going to fit into our neat little understandings. 

***Ocean illustration

CS Lewis, perhaps more than any other, understood this. It permeates his writings. In Mere Christianity he writes…

It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things are not simple. They look simple, but they are not. The table I am sitting at looks simple: but ask a scientist to tell you what it is really made of—all about the atoms and how the light waves rebound from them and hit my eye and what they do to the optic nerve and what it does to my brain—and, of course, you find that what we call ‘seeing a table’ lands you in mysteries and complications which you can hardly get to the end of. A child saying a child’s prayer looks simple. And if you are content to stop there, well and good. But if you are not—and the modern world usually is not—if you want to go on and ask what is really happening—then you must be prepared for something difficult. If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple.

Lewis knew that Christianity like, real life, is complicated. There are simple things about life (the best things!), but life as a whole is difficult, complex, and hard at times to figure out.

Lewis is NOT saying the gospel is too complicated for a child to understand. He is saying that all the teaching and doctrines and truths and histories behind the gospel, behind Christianity as a whole, are complex from a philosophical and experiential point of view. And most certainly the God of all history, the God of the universe, the God of the gospel is not simple either.

Many today say that all we need to know is that Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. That statement is 100% true. But you might ask those same people if they believe Jesus is the only way to heaven, they might reply, “Why do you have to make so complicated? Why make it so hard? So difficult?” When you look at the truths supporting the truth that Jesus loves us so, you encounter the concepts of sin, hell, the devil, and exclusivity. The gospel is easy enough for a child to understand, but to explain how such a thing is possible (that we can become God’s children) isn’t so simple or easy to understand or accept. And neither is God. If Life, reality, is complicated then the God who brought reality into being must be as well.

Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd. It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect. For instance, when you have grasped that the earth and the other planets all go round the sun, you would naturally expect that all the planets were made to match—all at equal distances from each other, say, or distances that regularly increased, or all the same size, or else getting bigger or smaller as you go further from the sun. In fact, you find no rhyme or reason (that we can see) about either the sizes or the distances; and some of them have one moon, one has four, one has two, some have none, and one has a ring.

Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have. So let us leave behind all these boys’ philosophies—these over-simple answers. The problem is not simple and the answer is not going to be simple either.

God is not going to be the kind of God you would have guessed either, the kind you would have made up yourself. God by his very definition as creator and ruler of the cosmos cannot be fit into anything, and, yes, he is even frightening. Did you know that if we can fit God into our understanding, he isn’t God. Think about it.

Lewis included this truth even in his fiction. In the Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan the lion is a type of Christ figure. Aslan is kind and good, but he’s not a pet. He is fierce and unpredictable (in the sense that his ways are higher than man's understanding).

At the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, after Aslan defeated the white witch and set everything right, we see this illustrated…

But amid all these rejoicings Aslan himself quietly slipped away. And when the Kings and Queens noticed that he wasn’t there they said nothing about it. For Mr. Beaver had warned them, “He’ll be coming and going,” he had said. “One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down— and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

Our God is good, but he is not tame. This is probably no where as true as in the book of Job. If you think what we’ve talked about so far is troubling, if you have a hard time coming to terms with this divine council thing and how there could be bad guys on it. Just look at the next part of verse 6…

Job 1:6 (ESV) — 6 … and Satan also came among them.

Mind blown… We are just getting started.

Conclusion: God ways are past finding out. That can be hard when we struggle with difficult things, especially what we encounter in Job. That works the other way too, you know. How can it be that God would go to such lengths to bring us back to him? Makes no sense.

That’s the context of the verse we’ve already looked at…

Romans 11:33–36 (ESV) — 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Paul is blown away that God would redeem Israel after their horrible rebellion leading up to actually rejecting and crucifying his son. And he’s blown away that God would graft Gentiles into his plan.

We should rejoice that God is not a tame lion, that he is wild and his ways cannot be fit into formulas or our own way of thinking. We would never have went to such lengths to save a people like us.

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