75. Beware those who mis-interpret Scripture
[Richard Lewis here missed the analogy I was making with a believer, Job, being given bad advice by his friends - the very thing Roger Wheelhouse did for this unfortunate lady! If I had been allowed to finish I would have pointed out the lessons to be learnt from the Book of Job that have been passed by today - particularly lessons about the self-life. In the book of Job, we see the death of the self-life through the fires of affliction and the new vision as God sees Job. The self-life, with its self-goodness, self-reason, self-religion, self-esteem, and self-everything, is laid bare so all can see. The man who at first was said to be the most 'righteous' man on earth (Job 1:8) is found at last on his face before God, saying, 'I abhor myself in dust and ashes' (Job 42:6). Orthodox scholars believe that the book of Job is at least as old as the time of Abraham. Since the book contains no reference to the established worship system in effect from the time of Moses, it is assumed that the events occurred at least during the patriarchal period. Its setting is in the land of Uz. We are not certain where that was located, although many believe that it was in Arabia. It could be anywhere, and everyone who reads the book can associate with it in some way. But born-again, orthodox, Christians should also be aware of the context in which we place Job's history in the light of our much fuller knowledge of the Word of God. Or, I should say, the greater knowledge we should have today! However, if you have been heavily influenced by the abundance of heretical teachers' and their widely available writings, you are going to swallow Word-Faith garbage concerning the way in which you can order God to do your will. Wheelhouse's connections with Toronto inevitably led him to begin teaching his flocks that they can also berate God in this blasphemous manner. The Baptist Union's ecumenism has led many of its own pastors to rub shoulders with error which has polluted their minds and their pulpits in the same way.
76. Beware those who support the Satanic view of God's relationship with man
In Job 1:1, we are introduced to Job, a man blameless and upright. He feared God and eschewed evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and was very wealthy. In material possessions he lacked for nothing. Many people try and associate their ills and complaints against God on the basis of the Book of Job. If they are going to do this they must first share the attributes of Job: was Roger Wheelhouse's 'angry lady friend' a woman who was 'blameless and upright . . . who feared God and eschewed evil'? (Job 1:8)
After introducing us to Job and his various religious practices, the Holy Spirit pulls back the curtain of heaven and allows us to listen to a conversation which takes place between God and Satan. In reply to God's question as to where he has been, Satan responds that he has been walking throughout the earth (v7). God then throws down the gauntlet of challenge: 'Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth?' Satan's response represents the greatest calumny against God that had ever been delivered. Its gist was that a person who served and loved God was interested only in His rewards. According to Satan, no one would love God just because of who He is. If you were not so good to him, Satan intimated to God, Job would curse You to Your face. To prove him wrong, God threw down the gauntlet:
'All that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.'
Satan departed and tragedy began to fall upon Job in rapid blows, one after another. The Sabians attacked (v15), fire fell (v16), the Chaldeans raided (vs. 17), the house was blown down and killed all his children (v18). Each report came on the heels of the preceding one. In a few minutes time, Job learned of the loss of all he valued: possessions, crops, animals, servants, children. Yet, he did not curse God or shake his fist at Him. Instead, he tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell to the ground. His statement in verse 21 is the answer to the most profound issue of human existence. 'Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither. the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.
Much of the content of the book of Job revolved around the concept of theodicy. Theodicy comes from two Greek words, theos, meaning God, and dice, meaning justice. In other words, how can we vindicate the justice of God in relation to evil? How can we justify God's holiness and the existence of evil? It is the continuing theme throughout the book.
Job had lost all his possessions but still had his health. Chapter 2 pulls back the curtain once again and we are now listening to another meeting in the heavenlies. God pointed out that Job 'holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause ' (v3). 'No wonder,' is Satan's reply, 'You have not touched him physically. ' 'Put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.' (v5) Again God gave Satan a limited power: 'Behold, he is in thine hand, but save his life' (v6).
77. Beware those who refuse to believe Scripture - 'Job DID NOT sin with his lips'
When Satan was allowed to inflict Job with boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Job sat out on an ash heap and scraped himself with a potsherd (a piece of broken pottery), the only thing available to scrape the scabs from his body. Notice that, at this point, although Job was still secure in his faith, his wife had experienced too much, and said, 'Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.' Later on we will find Job beginning to question and challenge God, and to vacillate between despair and trust. But, at this point, his integrity is intact. He responded to his wife: 'Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh'. Verse 10 adds, 'Job did not sin with his lips.' Although Job's wife encouraged him to curse God, to tell Him 'exactly what he thought of Him' - just as Wheelhouse foolishly encouraged the unfortunate member of his flock to do - Job had the integrity to refuse to follow the leading of Satan. But Richard Lewis of the Baptist Union here agrees with Wheelhouse's view--which is that of 'foolish women'-- and endorses Satan's claim too!
How can 'pastors' of this ilk read a Scripture in which the challenge Satan issues to God is that Job will curse Him to His face when things go wrong in his life, and then miss the clear point that Job resisted the temptation to do what Satan planned - while they encourage a believer today to follow Satan's plan? This is how corrupt much of the clergy of today have become as they mimic the world in lax morals while protecting their job's and pensions! Do you really wonder why the cults are able to make so much capital out of the state of the contemporary church? Consider how little the Word of God was defended in this meeting, where emotions ran amok, compared to the defending of egos. Who comes first, man, or the name, honour and Word of God?
78. Beware the Baptist Union which now supports the theology of Job's wife and Satan!
Job has many lessons for us today, for he had three friends who heard of his disaster and they were, at least outwardly, 'righteous men'. If we study the Imprecatory Psalms, and learn something of the mentality of the eastern mind in Old Testament times, we find a strong leaning towards the belief that suffering had to be God's judgment on sin in the individual's life. Strangely, this is a belief that has been revived today by the Word-Faith heretics and, as we will see later, was also embraced by the Wheelhouse's. If Job were truly righteous, all this could not have been happening. We should know differently because we were witnesses to the two conversations in heaven, but Job did not know about them - and this is another important point missed by Wheelhouse and Lewis! Job will go through the entire ordeal and never learn why it happened. Nor did his friends ever know. In their eyes, Job had to be a sinner. Their position and their theology were shaken to the core because they believed that if Job were righteous and all this had befallen him, they also might experience sudden calamity. They had to prove that there was sin in Job's life in order to vindicate their theology at this point in their history. At first because of the boils and dust, they did not recognize him. They wept and tore their robes and threw dust on their heads in typical oriental mourning. They sat on the ground for seven days and seven nights, not saying a word. Do you know anyone who would sit with you a full week because he grieved with and for you? Do you believe that Roger Wheelhouse, or anyone in his flock, did this with the bereaved woman? No, the quick, slick, 'must have it now' solution was applied! Rant and rave at God is Wheelhouse's solution, 'because there's healing in there'! 'We haven't got the time to sit for a week without saying a word' they would claim. Do you know Christians who have sat up all night praying for a sick one? Or who have fasted for days or weeks to seek the will of God?
The nominal faith encouraged by pastor's of Wheelhouse's ilk cannot begin to appreciate the word of God and it's depths. The quick, slick, 'eat the fruit to gain the knowledge' is their answer. In their own way, Job's friends cared about him and it was their unselfish behavior which demonstrated their genuine concern and compassion. But it was still their sinful suggestions that goaded Job into error.
79. Beware those who refuse to believe that Job cursed himself - but not God!
Job 3:1 to 41:34 is a series of dialogues among this small group of eastern 'sheiks' sitting in typical eastern fashion and discussing the verities of life. It was Job who broke the seven-day silence by cursing the day he was born (Chapter 3) for, at this point, his state of mind was the lowest it will be throughout the book. It is revealed in such statements as 'Let the day perish wherein I was born' (3:3); 'Why died I not from the womb?' (v11); 'Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery?' (v20). We notice that Job does not curse God, as Satan had predicted and as his wife advised but, rather, he turned the curse on himself and the day of his birth. There is a similarity between verses 2-10 and Jeremiah 20:14-18 where Jeremiah also cursed the day of his birth. The curse is not directed just at his day of birth as such, but against his life in general, now so full of anguish and pain that he wishes he had never been born. It is not uncommon for a person with a terminal illness, or some other severe problem in life, to wish he could die; but to wish that one had never even been born, thus rejecting the good years with the bad, is one step further down the ladder of depression. In verse 13-16, Job expresses such anguish that, 'As a hidden untimely birth … as infants which never saw light,' in his morbid flight of imagination he asks, rhetorically, why he was not aborted as a dead foetus, a miscarriage which is discarded, passing directly from the womb to the grave without ever seeing light. Some commentators think of this entire passage (3:1-10) as an imprecatory poem, similar to some of the imprecatory psalms (cf. Psalm 35, 52, 58, 109, 137 etc.). Certainly, Job is in serious need of comfort but his friends are in no way equipped for the task and, in fact, are the ones who sin (see Chapter 42:7-9) and Job is called to pray for them!
The motif begins in chapter 4 and is a continuing cycle of speeches. Eliphaz speaks and Job gives his rebuttal. Bilded speaks and Job responds. Zophar speaks and Job answers. Then we have the cycle of speeches: Eliphaz-Job; Bildad-Job; Zophar-Job; throughout the text. Then communication deteriorates and Zophar does not respond. Throughout the cycle, each man tried to discover what was wrong in Job's life. It was thrust and parry, as if they were in a fencing match, for five weeks! In chapter 4, Eliphaz began by suggesting that Job could not take for himself the counsel he had offered others in trouble. Verse 3: 'Thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands.' Verse 5: 'But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.' Verse 7: 'Who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?'
80. Beware those who follow the Wheelhouse method and refer to an occult experience to try to gain credence
In verse 12, Eliphaz even resorts to an age-old method of referring to an occult experience in order to impress others with his religious authority. Does this sound familiar? Read Wheelhouse's instructions to the church on how to 'divine' an occultic connection by closing one's eyes to see the 'red mist' while sneering at those who pray with closed eyes on another occasion! Eliphaz says: Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof. In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face, the hair of my flesh stood up: It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof - an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker? With this story of an occult, spiritist experience, Eliphaz attempted to justify his argument and add validity to his claim. His accusations continued in chapter 5. Verse 17: 'Happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not the chastening of the Almighty.' Verse 27: 'We have searched it, so it is, hear it, and know thou it for thy good.' In other words, we have checked it out, Job, listen to us for we are your authority, not God and His Word. Just as Wheelhouse or Lewis become the authority for their flocks, handling the Word of God with laxity if it suits, so these men tried to overturn Job's stand on the faithfulness and omnipotence of God. In chapter 6 Job was not so much answering Eliphaz as venting his anguish and remorse over the current situation. Then, beginning in 7:11, he unleashed a series of rhetorical questions, complaining with all the bitterness of his soul. In chapter 8, Bilded picked up the dialogue and accused Job of producing nothing but a big wind. Verses 2 and 20 sum up his argument: How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind? ... Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evildoers. Job's retort to Bilded in chapter 9 is sarcastic agreement. Finally, in 10:1 he mourned, 'My soul is weary of my life,' and continued to express the depths of his depression. In chapter 11, Zophar took up the challenge by accusing Job of talking too much. 'Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man full of talk be justified?' (v2). Verses 13-15 sum up his argument. If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him; if iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles. For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot, yea, thou shalt be steadfast and shalt not fear. Job's lament and response to that statement continues through chapter 14. Then in chapter 15, Eliphaz began the second cycle of speeches. He no longer showed the courtesy of his first speech but accused Job of being full of hot air saying in verse 2, 'Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind?' He has now joined the others in his disdain of Job. He asked, 'What knowest thou, that we know not? What understandest thou, which is not in us?' (v9). In other words: 'You do not have all the answers, Job.' And he went on to rebuke him even more severely.
81. Beware 'useless talk' - as practiced by the Baptist Union
Job's reply in chapter 16 was that he was sick of their useless talk. Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you. Job wished they could exchange places and that he could be the one to speak to them. They were not helping him with their words. After a few speeches that contained high thoughts and elevated ideas, Job had begun to sink back into despair. In 17:1 he complained: 'My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me.' He was ready to die. Bildad's next speech is recorded in chapter 18, and in it he showed no patience with Job. Beginning in verse 5, he discussed the horrible fate of the wicked. Then Job responded in chapter 19 and, after the crushing burden of the heavy words of his friends, he begged for pity, saying, 'How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words? ... And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself.' 'Help me', he begged. Finding no pity, he cried out in verses 25 and 26: 'I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.' What a tremendous prophecy of the coming Redeemer! The Hebrew word is the same used in the book of Ruth, goel. It can be translated redeemer, avenger, vindicator or defender. Job was trusting in his God alone for salvation and it was only the 'comfort' of his Wheelhouse-type friends that he wished to rid himself of!
Zophar's reply in chapter 20 was one of uncontrollable anger and Job responded to him by declaring them all wrong. In chapter 21, he defended his philosophy and theology. The third cycle of speeches begins in chapter 22 with Eliphaz unleashing a scathing accusation. In verses 4-9, he gives a detailed catalogue of sins which he believed Job had committed, and summarized his argument in verse 29. Job's response is recorded in chapters 23 and 24.
82. Beware those who deny Job's example of praising and not berating God!
In chapter 25, Bilded speaks briefly. Communication among the group had broken down and deteriorated into ad hominem arguments, with accusations and slanderous remarks. Job responded in chapter 26, then paused as if waiting for Zophar to speak. Eliphaz has had three speeches, Bilded has had three speeches, but Zophar has had only two. When Zophar did not respond, Job began again in chapter 27. Unable to reconcile his suffering with his integrity, Job (chapter 29) turned his mind to the wisdom of God. Although he seemed to be at the end of his tether, he burst forth with a beautiful poem in chapter 29: 'Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me. ' How Job longed for the time when his children were around him, when his servants met his needs, and he had food and good health. But those days were gone, he was out on the ashes, and his friends were reviling him. He lamented, 'I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me' (30:20). Finally, in chapter 31, Job initiated the ancient oriental 'final proof of honesty' by calling down a curse on himself from Heaven if he is guilty. This method of self-incrimination, or self-exoneration, in Job's culture was more meaningful than swearing before a jury. The punishment for perjury against God held more terrifying consequences than perjury before a human jury. As he categorized the different activities for which he wished judgment if he were guilty, they were in specific answer to the listing by Eliphaz (chapter 22) of which he believed Job to be guilty. The seriousness of Job's oath in chapter 31 cannot be overestimated. He enumerated a series of 'ifs' and following each 'if', he pronounced a curse on himself if he were guilty of the thing he mentioned:
Verse 5: If I have walked with vanity
6: Let me be weighed in an even balance.
7: If my step hath turned out of the way
8: Then let me sow and another eat.
9: If mine heart have been deceived by a woman
10: Then let my wife grind unto another.
13: If I did despise the cause of my manservant
16: If I have withheld the poor from their desire
19: If I have seen any perish for want of clothing
20: If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless
22: Let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade.
Job, fully confident of his innocence, finally declared (31:40): 'The words of Job are ended.' He closed the argument. He must either suffer the sanctions he had called down upon himself or else be acquitted. In chapter 32, we are introduced to Elihu, a fourth individual who was present, evidently listening from the sidelines. Chapter 32 begins by saying: So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu ... against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.
83. Beware those who deny that Job was not the one rebuked
Elihu began to speak out self-righteously, making four speeches between Job 32:1 and 37:24. His first speech lasted through chapter 33. His second takes all of chapter 34, and the third all of chapter 35. The fourth is chapters 36 and 37. Elihu forms a transition between the speeches of Job, his friends, and the Theophany of God when He answered Job out of the whirlwind. Notice the important difference here - God did not rebuke Elihu, as we will read in chapter 42.
The Lord began in 38:3 by demanding, 'Gird up now thy loins like a man.' This was the challenge of an ancient belt wrestler and another way of saying, 'It is time to get down to business, Job!' With that introduction, God enumerated His wonders to Job. In chapter 39, He described how His creation scorned man. In chapters 40 and 41 He question: 'How can you contend with God when you cannot even match the creatures I have made?'
Chapter 42 is the epilogue where Job confessed to the Lord, 'I know that thou canst do every thing.' Having come face to face with God, Job's response is like that of Moses, Joshua, and Isaiah centuries later. In 42:5, Job said, 'I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear. but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.' After that repenting and confession, the Lord rebuked Eliphaz, Bilded, and Zophar, but not Elihu. He commanded them to offer sacrifices, ' and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him I will accept. Lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job ' (v8). Verse 10 says, 'The Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends. '
Why did God commend Job for 'speaking of him what is right' and condemn the counselors who had always taken God's side, often with beautiful creedal hymns (v7)? Some interpreters have taken this apparent incongruity as proof that the writer has in mind only the Job of the Prologue and that part of the story is lost where the counselors give advice similar to that of Job's wife. Such a view simplifies God's rebuke. Fortunately this approach to the book has been largely abandoned, but the question is still raised by some commentators. If God rebuked Job for many wrong words during his dispute with the counsellors then, in what sense, was he here commended for saying what was right? Some argue that it is not possible to take the word nekonah ('right') to mean 'sincerity' since the meaning cannot be sustained from usage. Nekonah is based on the root kun ('be established, made firm'), which has an adjectival derivative: ken, meaning 'upright' or 'honest' (Gen 42:11, 19 et al.). That meaning fits the claim that Job felt a moral duty to speak honestly before God. But the derivative ken is not used here. The psalmist says of the wicked: 'No truth [nekonah] is in their mouth' (Psalms 5:9, lit. tr.). In 1 Samuel 23:23 the word means 'reliable information.' The friends of Job certainly lacked the right information about why Job was suffering and Job often spoke without understanding (v3) and was often fiery and emotional in his remarks (15:12-13; 18:4). His opinions and feelings were often wrong, but his facts were right. He was not being punished for sins he had committed but the friends were claiming to know for a certainty things they did not know and so falsely accused Job while mouthing beautiful words about God. Job rightly accused them of lying about him and trying to flatter God (13:4, 7-11). I find this no different from deceivers like Wheelhouse who show the same attitude in paying lip-service to God while encouraging and promoting Christians to treat God lightly - to blaspheme!