War of words

Job Sees The Light - Twenty-seventh in a series

Hover over the Scripture references to read the verses under discussion

Job 26:1-4 NIV In Chapter 26, Job suspects there is more involved than that which already is beyond his comprehension. He begins by castigating Bildad. Is this right? Please think about this. Job suggests Bildad speaks for Satan.

Job 26:5 NIV Satan’s minions have been known to interfere in the lives of men. Evil angels preyed upon mankind so that “every imagination of the thoughts of his [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5), which led God to send a flood, drowning all creatures outside the ark, and to begin again.

Many classical commentaries explain that the waters and all that live in them refers to the victims of Noah’s flood, and the dead in deep anguish are those who have died and joined them. Under the waters is the place where God consigns the wicked. A good explication of the root words of the original text is here.

Job 26:6 NIV Sheol was understood to be a place of temporary abode previous to the resurrection, and Abaddon the abode of destruction. (ibid previous link) Though invisible to man, they are in full view to God. Job here focuses his speech on God’s greatness rather than Satan’s power, moving next to praise his divine creation of the heavenly places.

Job 26:7-9 NIV These wonders are uplifting to ponder, unlike the condemnations and dark words of his friends that helped him not a bit! (Job 26:2-3)

Job 26:10 NIV Job had heard the revelation of how God had divided light from darkness. (Gen 1:4)

Job 26:11-13 NIV These verses are variously interpreted.

Some Bible scholars view the pillars of heaven as the mountains, upon which heaven seems to rest. His rebuke is thunder as he cries out above the earth. Pillars could also be viewed figuratively as the structural strength of heaven.

Churning the sea (stated as Stilling the sea in many Bible versions) could mean the divine parting of the Red Sea associated with the destruction of Egypt, called Rahab (proud one) in Isaiah 51. (Isa 51:9) In this view, Job is seen as a contemporary of those living many centuries after the patriarchs. Or, it could refer to God’s power over nature, and Rahab could be a reference to Satan, who rules over the underworld.

His breath, his wind, blows away the clouds so that we clearly see the starry night. The “fleeing serpent” is the constellation of the dragon which astronomers have delineated. Or, God alone made every creature, even the Evil One, and will clear the heavens of his presence. (Rev 12:7-9)

Job 26:14 NIV A beautiful summary of Job 26 is provided by Joseph Sutcliffe, an 18th century circuit-riding minister and colleague of John Wesley.

Job, like the palmtree, rises the more after depression. He opens his reply to Bildad with all the superiority of majestic satire. Thou art deficient in describing the grandeur of God. He reigns not in heaven alone, but also in hell. There he binds the rebel giants in chains of darkness. He has formed all the shining spheres, which revolve, and illuminate the vast expanse, and holds them in the hollow of his hand. He balances the earth on her pole to give day and night, and to change the seasons of the year. He walks through the viâ lacte, treading the trackless paths of light. Lo, these are but a small part of his ways.—Lord, what then is man, that thou art mindful of him; or the son of man that thou shouldest visit him! (ref)

Sutcliffe is very gracious with Job, yet Job has continued a contest of one-upmanship that needs to end. It is irritating. This back-and-forth exchange with his friends, despite the wonderful descriptions of God’s work and ways, nevertheless sustains vilification and argument. What would be wrong with Job conceding that if he is evil, he will humbly wait for God to enlighten him of his sins?

The conversations are engendering confusion, and God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. (1 Cor 14:33) When does a war of words become a war on the Word?

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