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    The Great Lesson of Job


    Q. It's been 13 years since you last gave an interview. Why the long gap and why now?

    A. In response to your second question first, because the Ruach (Spirit) has been strongly pressing me to do so now for the last couple of weeks. I feel there is an urgency to crystalise out some important concepts for our readers and that the best way to do that is by thinking out loud. As to the first question, I'm not sure it's possible to answer that and I don't think there is much merit in systematically analysing the last decade-and-a-half of our history, though we obviously need to discuss some of the things that have happened. But why don't we just see where the Ruach (Spirit) takes us and dive into something?

    Q. Fair enough. Perhaps we could begin by connecting to the event or events that led you to consider having another discussion? Am I right in thinking that the current state of your health has played its part?

    A. Yes. My health has been in steady decline for many years now but it's reached a point where without divine intervention actually reversing the decline that I may have to seriously consider either considerably cutting back on my ministerial labours or quitting altogether. Chronic illness has a way of driving you to your knees as your reserve energy tanks get used up and are less and less replenished.

    Q. Being brought to the end of yourself?

    A. [chuckles] I don't know how often I have imagined I have been brought to the end of myself only to find I had one more cyclinder of energy to turn to and, instead of fulling surrendering, carrying on as before just that little bit longer. We constantly misjudge our spiritual status, assuming it is far more advanced than it really is.

    Q. And that because of optimism, pride, or something else?

    A. Who can say!

      "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jer.17:9, NKJV).

    We certainly don't know our own, even though we think we do. It embarrasses and maybe even shames us to think that someone might be able to see something about our own heart that we're blind to or would rather not admit, but it's true. We have numerous blind spots. And like the patient trying to self-diagnose, we're not very good at pinpointing sin issues either, and even less capable of finding solutions, and so it annoys us that others frequently see us more clearly than we do ourselves and know what needs to be done.

    Q. So you would say that self-deceit is greater than any deceit we might deliberately or unconsciously use on others?

    A. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. Which is why we over-estimate ourselves more often than not. These last few months in particular, during which I have been driven to desperation on an almost daily basis because of pain, exhaustion and just feeling abominably ill, have served to highlight the hopelessness of the human condition in ever being able to generate its own righteousness or well-being. I have seen that the sin that besets me today is no different than the sin that beset me 40 years ago. The lesson I have learned through experience, as opposed to what I had always been convinced of in my head - because it was the witness of scripture - is that you can't reform the human condition by your own cleverness or will-power. You can only reackon it as dead and in its place receive the Messiah-life which comes from pursuing the Messiah and operating in the Ruach (Spirit). I know that might seem obvious to you, or to any other talmid (disciple) of Messiah working out his salvation in fear and tembling, but to me it has been a brutal realisation that probably I would never have come to without chronic illness.

    Q. Do you think Yahweh purposed this? Of is this simply a consequence of sin?

    A. Who can say. And if I give that answer to a lot of your questions, it isn't because I'm trying to be evasive or clever, but because I have come to realise just how little I actually know. And though in 13 or so years since we last spoke like this my knowledge has increased in so many ways, I discover that I know less and less about Yahweh's purposes in life. It is a HUGE mystery, more so than ever before!

    Q. If I remember rightly, didn't Yahweh recently show you in a vision that you have been looking in the wrong place for the answers you seek?

    A. In some things, yes, if you're thinking of the vision I had of that Baptist Church and the bright light appearing in the sidelines. As we saw 20 years ago when we talked about revival, Yahweh never starts new fires in the old established orders and church systems, nor does He use then luminaries of the day. He uses ordinary, obscure folks in the margins or sidelines to ignite new spiritual fires.

    It's the same with the theological. He doesn't rehash the old theological debates of the past but starts somewhere completely new and unexpected. If we're thrashing around in a theological corner and getting nowhere then it's highly likely we're looking in the wrong place for His activity.

    Q. Like where?

    Well, when we first joined the messianic movement in the late 1990's, we were of course terribly excited about all the things we didn't know about Torah such as the revelations we were getting about the festivals. Messianics still make a big ado about them but keep on looking at them through the eyes of the spiritually dead Talmudists. For us, as Messianic Evangelicals, the view or perspective has been through the revelations given to us from the very beginning that has made the moedim or appointments alive in all sorts of other ways.

    Q. For instance?

    Well, think back on on those areas where our greatest revelations to the Body have been in such as marriage, the Elohimhead (Godhead) and divine tavnith, things little spoken of either amongst messianics or evangelicals. You won't find many believers looking at the Besorah (Gospel) through these lenses. They were our portal into great spiritual depths and communion, easily forgotten by newer investigators and members because they were not a part of that original awakening. When we were turned aright, there was a veritable onrush of revelation.

    Q. You have had, I believe, something of a crisis of faith in recent times?

    A. I have never doubted Yahweh's existence if that's what you mean. Atheism just isn't an option because it's too absurd and requires more faith than I'm prepared to exercise as a scientist. That there is a Creator is too obvious. Nor do I doubt who the Bible says Yah'shua (Jesus) was and is. The evidence for His resurrection is overwhelming that to disbelieve it would be equally absurd. Where I have had a 'crisis', if that's even the right word...and it probably is... concerns areas of doctrine that have been on the back burner, in some cases for decades, that have all of a sudden furiously bubbled to the surface, demanding answers in the muddle that often comes about because of chronic illness.

    Q. Could you share some of these?

    There are a number of things in the Torah that have long disturbed me, and not just me, but then I realise that I see the world, in the light of 3,000 or 4,000 years of spiritual development that would make me more sensitive and touchy than someone back then when Moses recorded it. I have pretty much been able to explain what these things mean as symbols of theological emet (truth) but the problem I have is what these things mean morally...and individually.

    Ok, ok, I see from your expression you want an example. Let me give you a whole basket of them, the worst 'for instances' I can think of off the top of my head:

      "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property" (Ex.21:20-21, NIV).

      "Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly" (Lev.25:44-46, NIV).

      "No one who has been emasculated (castrated) by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of Yahweh" (Deut.23:1, NIV).

      "No man who has any defect may come near [to Yahweh as a cohen/priest in the Tabernacles): no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled foot or hand, or who is hunchbacked or dwarfed, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles" (Lev.21:18-21, NIV).

      "If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity" (Deut.25:11-12, NIV).

      "From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. 'Go on up, you baldhead!' they said. 'Go on up, you baldhead!' He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of Yahweh. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths" (2 Kings 2:23-24, NIV).

      "O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us - he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks" (Ps.137:8-9, NIV).

      "I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another's flesh during the stress of the siege imposed on them by the enemies who seek their lives" (Jer.19:8-9, NIV).

    Q. Wow, you've for sure picked the toughest, the ones those anti-Christians like atheists love to point out...

    A. Most believers refuse to deal with them and ignore them or offer up some excuse because they don't know what to say. You can respond in a number of different ways, of course. You can deny Elohim (God) exists...but that, like I said, is absurd. Or you can claim that the true Elohim (God) would never say or countenance or write or demand such behaviour and end up heading for some other religion like the New Age - a friend of mine ended up in shamanism because of passages like this. But then you have to deal with the fact of Yah'shua's (Jesus') resurrection and proven rewards of salvation, His sublime teaching unequalled anywhere else. And again as I said earlier, giving all that up is preposterous. Besides, Yah'shua (Jesus) endorsed every word and letter of the Torah (Law) down to the last pen-strokes! Which leaves you with the possibility that the Bible text has been corrupted and that these things were added by unspiritual if not 'wicked' men with an agenda (such as the quest for religious power and control)...the alleged 'priestly' authors of the Pentateuch or 'P' writings that were supposedly merged with 'Q', 'J' and 'E' writings.

    Q. And have you ever found any evidence for such deliberate corruption?

    A. Aside from one or two Catholic additions in the New Testament like the Comma Johanneum, and apart from the inevitable copyist errors, no, I have not been able to find any. I've recently been making an in-depth study of Genesis which comes under the especially vigorous attack of 'modernists' like James Frazier (who tried to prove the Bible is just a collection of myths), for the obvious reason that if you can disprove the historicity of Genesis you destroy the foundations of our emunah (faith). The amazing thing about Genesis is that it is demonstrably historical.

    Q. So how do you explain these difficult passages?

    Well, if there is obviously a Creator, if the resurrection is a fact, if the liberation and transformation of souls by trusting in Yah'shua (Jesus) is real, if the text of the Bible is sound, then what are you left with?

    Q. Understanding why Yahweh is the way he is? Or maybe trying to understand from the perspective of the ancients?

    A. I agree, that's all you can do. The ancients and moderns are shocked by different things. What may seem brutal to us would not seem that way to the ancients whose lives were considerably harder than our own...unless you were born and raised in one of those parts of the world where brutality is commonplace, like the ISIS-controlled areas of Iraq and Syria today. We also know that the Torah was not complete and that additionally some torot (laws) were given because of the hard-heartedness of the ancients (e.g. Mk.10:5) and that Yah'shua (Jesus) both reformed and completed Torah (the meaning of the word 'fulfilled' - e.g. Mt.5:17), making it New Covenant Torah.

    I can't explain all the passages I read to you earlier. I have tried. But I am not going to throw the baby of emet (truth) and salvation out with any imagined 'dirty bathwater' (passages that upset our 21st century Western sensitivities). Consciousness has expanded over the millennia but right and wrong remain eternally the same. Attacking a man's private parts was an assault on his future generations - I get that part. The cutting off of a hand seems rather brutal to us and thank goodness we don't do that any more but a man's genetic line is his posterity and Yahweh wanted His people to know not to mess with that. The curse called down on those youths killed by two bears is more difficult but can we honestly act as judges without having all the details that a court of law would require in determining whether their fate was just or not? What do we know about these youths? Were they just silly teens being 'jerks' or were they guilty of other, more serious things we don't know anything about? You can't prejudge something without having all the facts before you and the author has not given all the facts to us. So we can't rightly pass judgment. What we can and should do is note that messing around with Yahweh's anointed (and I mean the genuinely anointed ones, not the frauds in the charismatic movement) is not a safe thing to do. There are immediate consequences. If nothing else, it should create a healthy fear and respect for Yahweh's power. Challenging that power, as some clueless and birdbrained people have done, is a futile gesture of defiance. Look at the size of the Cosmos! Look at how nanoscopic man is by comparison.

    Q. So Yahweh didn't give you explanations for these scriptures?

    A. Theologically, yes. Emotionally or morally, no. Nor the crême de la crême, the toughest one of all - for me at any rate.

    Q. Oh? Another one?

    A whole book, actually, the Book of Job. You asked earlier if I had been through a crisis. Well, the Book of Job brought me to the brink a couple of weeks ago.

    Q. Because of all Job's sufferings?

    A. Some of them, yes. I got very upset with what my corrupt heart concluded about the character of Elohim (God) because I couldn't understand the raison d'être behind it all. But that's my fault, inevitably. As Scripture tells us, it would be insane, were it possible, for the pot to challenge the potter (Jer.18:5).

    Q. Could you elaborate?

    Yes, I'd like to. Let me try and frame the picture and I will take you on the very uncomfortable journey I went on. The opening verse of the book tells us that Job was blameless, upright, he feared Yahweh and he shunned evil (Job 1:1). The problem (for me) came in what he gave Satan permission to do, and you'll remember there were four things the devil was allowed to do on this blameless man:

    • 1. Take away all his physical possessions - all he owned - including killing his servants;
    • 2. Kill his children;
    • 3. Put him in a terrible physical conditions, i.e. make him chronically ill; and
    • 4. Torture his mind though his well-meaning but misguided and demonically-steered self-righteous friends.

    The only thing Satan wasn't allowed to do was kill him. Why, according to the text, did Yahweh permit the Adversary to do this? To prove that Job would not blame Yahweh.

    Q. This is tough..

    A. Oh yes, but it gets worse. At the end of this trial, Yahweh restores to Job everything he lost - he gave him new possessions and even new children and he was even better off than before. His sheep stock doubled from 7,000 to 14,000. His camel stock doubled from 3,000 to 6,000. His oxen teams doubled from 500 to 1,000. Donkeys were up from 500 to 1,000. There's no mention of a replacement of servants but presumably these increased too to take care of the expanded herds. He got 7 more sons and 3 more daughters, to replace the original 7 and 3, respectively. However - and this is one of the things I struggled over - Yahweh did not return his original children...or servants for that matter. The way the text reads, the 'new' children were supposed to compensate for the 7 sons and 3 daughters - 10 children in all - that were originally killed to prove to Satan that Job would not accuse or curse Yahweh.

    Now if my 7 children were suddenly killed, children with whom I had a close relationship with and loved, how could 7 more ever 'compensate' for my original 7...especially if the only reasion they died was to prove to someone else (Satan) that I would not complain against Yahweh? We know Job loved his ten children - he was continually making sacrifices for them for fear they might have done something wrong during their frequent partying.

    I'll be brutally honest with you - I got really upset with this. I vented! I could go along with my house being destroyed and being replaced with a new one, but that's an inanimate thing. People aren't things - they're living beings whom we are supposed to have love, living relationships with whereas we are not to be too attached to non-living things which we can't take with us after death. But we're supposed to reunite with deceased people in an afterlife. I had the same issue with those servants. Abraham was exceedingly fond of his servant Eleazer whom he treated as a son. I don't doubt Job was fond of some of his servants too. Did those children and servants come to earth and die just to prove to a vicious and evil devil that Job would not curse Yahweh? I got very emotionally carried away because it seemed so unjust.

    Q. It doesn't bear thinking to deeply about...

    That's what my wife said when we discussed this. She said to me that I was asking questions I would never get answers to, and of course I knew she was right but part of me still demanded answers so that I could represent my Elohim (God) to others as fair and decent, not arbitrary or capricious. And according to the account, Yahweh never explained to Job why He did what He did - why He allowed His faithful servant to suffer so much 'just' to prove a point...

    Q. So what is your response to the answer most Christians and Messianics give that Yahweh is Sovereign, can do whatever He wants, and that we shouldn't question?

    A. Easy to say such a thing when they are not the recipients of the anguish. Of course they're right intellectually but that isn't what I'm addressing. It's the heart that's the focus here.

    Q. So did you reach any sort of a conclusion?

    Well, maybe, maybe not. I don't know. There are those who claim that Job is fiction, a parable to teach us faithfulness. Certainly it is a very old book, definitely patriarchal and possibly before Moses or even before the flood. Personally, it being a parable doesn't resolve the moral questions it raises about the character of Elohim (God) so I am inclined to think it is historical. It reads as though it is. I know scholars like Michael Heiser think some of it is mythological - he has problems with the dinaosaurs mentioned, for instance - but I don't agree with him there. Personally I think it's historical. It's very sophisticated, a brilliant piece of literature and not at all 'primitive' as modernists would like to view it.

    Here's the thing about the Book of Job: the suffering Job experienced looks very like the punishment Yahweh meets out to the rebellious who break the Torah, in consequence of which his friends were quick to judge him. Moses later tells the Israelites of the blessings they will receive for obeying Yahweh and the curses for disobeying Him. The striking thing is that all the things that happened to Job were astonishingly like those punishments meeted out to disobedient, lawless Israelites, the very opposite of the character of Job!

    Q. Like?

    A. Well, take a look at Deuteronomy 28:31-35:

    • 1. Striking their oxen;
    • 2. Striking their donkeys;
    • 3. Striking their sheep;
    • 4. Striking their sons and daughters (cp. Job 1:18-19);
    • 5. Striking them with painfil boils all over their body (Job.2:7).

    And that's what happened to Job, the righteous. This is important. But what does it mean? And why does Yahweh permit it? The only clue we are given - and it's a critically important one - is that this kind of 'punishment' inflicted on someone innocent depicts what in Scripture is the ideal servant of Isaiah. Let's read it:

      "See, My servant will act wisely; He will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at Him - His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness - so will He sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of Him. For what they were not told, they will see,and what they have not heard, they will understand.

      "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot,and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

      "Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by Elohim (God), smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us shalom (peace) was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

      He was oppressed and afflicted,yet he did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away. And who can speak of His descendants? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of My people He was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death, though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.

      Yet it was Yahweh's will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though Yahweh makes His life a guilt offering, He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of Yahweh will prosper in His hand. After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by His knowledge My righteous servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isa.52:13-53:12, NIV).

    As we all know, this was a messianic prophecy of the spotless Son of Elohim (God), He who died for our sins. Now if we are going to get an answer for Job's sufferings - or Abraham's when he was commanded, in that heart-wrenching episode, to sacrifice up his son Isaac having emunah (faith) that Yahweh would raise him from the dead even though this had never happened before in earth's history that we know of - the promised messianic seed, or indeed for our own sufferings when we have been innocent of wrong-doing, or all the tragedy and suffering in the world of the righteous by the wicked that is permitted by Yahweh, then we have to look here. This is the only place we will begin to get answers to these deep and agonising questions.

    As far as Job is concerned - let's not make this more complex than it already is by bringing in other case studies - the more important question is this: why was there a need for Job to foreshadow Messiah, as that is presumably what he must have been doing? To what end? To whose advantage? How is Yahweh getting faithfulness from Job through apparently meaningless suffering that costs his children and servants their lives? And how is this different from a sadist torturing his best friend who never protests? Yah'shua (Jesus) went to the cross like a non-protesting Lamb. Up to the point when he got the boils, Job behaved lamb-like too. He protested after the boils but did not villify Yahweh.

    Now I struggled with these questions for days. The only rational answer I could come up with was that this example of Job prevented more malakim (angels) from rebelling. But why this horrific method? Wouldn't these malakim (angels) already know that Yahweh is good? Are humans instruments in the salvation of malakim (angels)? The Scriptures say that the malakim (angels) rejoice when they see one sinner saved (Lk.15:7,10). Would you, as a malak (angel), rejoice in seeing a human tortured by Satan at Yahweh's behest to persuade doubting angels not to go over to Satan?

    Now many of these questions are admittedly 'iffy'. If the malak (angel) explanation is false - and personally I am sceptical of it - then what's left? Even if you could be inspired by Job's faithfulness, and maybe even led to salvation because of it, what about the death of his children and servants? Would you want that kind of devotion to persuade you to follow Yahweh?

    Q. I don't know....what's the answer?

    You tell me! Even if you add pre-existence and eternity into the picture, it's still very, very hard to fathom. I admit, I was just as upset not getting an answer. Job didn't get one. At the loss of everything he had, including his children, though not his less-than-helpful wife, he responded with those classical and priceless words:

      "I was born naked.
      And I'll leave here naked.
      You have given, and you have taken away.
      May Your Name be praised!"
      (Job 1:21, NIRV).

    It was at that point that Satan demanded more proof - the destruction of his health. Then he got those nasty boils all over him. It's a funny thing - yet not at all amusing - that the loss of health seems to try us like nothing else. I have lost wives and children, and that was so very, very painful; but not until my health came under major assault did I start to question. Job's friends were appalled. See what the text says:

      "They (Job's three friends) met together to go and console and comfort [Job]. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognise him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great" (Job 2:11b-13, NRSV).

    After getting the festering boils, we do not hear Job repeating:

      "Naked I came from my mother's womb,
      And naked shall I return there.
      Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away;
      Blessed be the name of Yahweh"
      (Job 1:21, NKJV).

    I can relate to that. Because when your health is crippled you are helpless. You can lose your belongings and family but if you have your health, you can rebuild. But without your health you are helpless. That I understand. I am fully onboard empathising with that struggle.

    Q. So you basically arrived at a dead-end as far as explanations were concerned?

    Totally. The notion that one could ever be satisfied with having ones children killed because they are replaced with new ones destroys their value as individuals and reduces them to mere disposable, impersonal units of humanity, like a car or a house. I tried one last 'explanation' - that Job's children were evil and beyond redemption...that they merely experienced righteous judgment. But all ten of them? And all the servants too? Not believable. The 'worst' Job's children may be said to have been guilty of was in regularly partying (Job 1:4). Job was concerned they might have been sinning - though he had no concrete evidence they had been as he had not been there (itself odd, perhaps) which is why he made sacrifices for them (Job 1:5-6). He didn't know if they had sinned but wanted to play safe.

    Q. That's it? That's all you have to say about Job's trial?

    No it's not the end of the story even if it was the end of my brain's ability to reason it all through. I was up until the early hours of the morning on my birthday struggling desperately over these questions and finally went to sleep a very, very unhappy man. I had a terrible night. My own physical pain was off the charts and I called out in desperation to Yahweh for relief. I had cat-napped through the night, tossing and turning, and slept in to try and make up for the sleep deficit. At 5 a.m. on 29 June I woke up to see a shining white malak (angel) standing in the air at the foot of my bed. His clothing was thick and seemed to be multilayered, with many folds. His face was glowing so brightly that I could not make out any features. He must have been about 3 feet off the ground and 7-8 feet distant. He didn't say a single word to me. I don't know but I suspect it was Yah'shua (Jesus).

    Anyway, that was my answer.

    Q. That was your answer? How?!

    Well, for one, it was Yahweh's way of telling me that He was listening to me and that my questioning was not driving Him away. I have seen many malakim (angels) in my life but not one this bright and so close. The silence of the Being reminded me of the silence of Job's friends. Words would not have helped Job and words probably wouldn't have helped me. This was something I had to figure out in silence, in those depths where words are in any case inadequate. Sometimes all you can do is groan. Remember what Paul said:

      "...the Ruach (Spirit) helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Ruach (Spirit)...intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Ruach (Spirit), because the Ruach (Spirit) intercedes for the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) in accordance with Elohim's (God's) will" (Rom.8:26-27, NIV).

    There are some other passages too which capture something of what I am trying to convey:

      "Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent (physical body), we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling (resurrected body), so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by chayim (life)" (2 Cor.5:2-4, NIV).

    That's pretty much how I have been feeling and the only thing keeping me here (other than Yahweh's will, obviously) is my desire to take care of my family and complete my mission. Otherwise I really cannot wait to get out of this "tent" and all the insanity and contradictions of this fallen sphere.

    Anyway, the next night I 'did a Job' - I confessed that my struggle to make sense of Yahweh's reasons was futile - who can figure out the mind of Yahweh? I realised it was insane not to trust Him because of these questions. After all, we're told about Job's questioning:

      "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged Elohim (God) foolishly" (Job 1:22, KJV).

    I was upset, angry at times, frustrated and even desperate, but I never accused Yahweh as Mrs.Job had wanted her husband to do. I don't understand the test only that Yahweh makes it and has His inscrutable reasons. That evening, by the way, as I made my decision to trust on, I had an accute outbreak of gallstone trouble on top of everything else. Fun.

    When Job's wife urged her husband to curse Elohim (God) and die, his retort was:

      "'You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from Elohim (God), and not trouble?' In all this, Job did not sin in what he said" (Job 2:10, NIV)

    in spite of the fact that "his grief was very great" (Job 2:13, KJV).

    Now as I combed the text still searching through the cosmic crumbs for answers, I noticed something very odd. Here, let me write it out for you and then you can tell me what you think:

    7 sons 3 daughters
    7,000 sheep 3,000 camels
    500 teams of oxen 500 female donkeys

    Q. It's a code!

    A. Right. The numbers are too 'perfect', too rounded. The chances of having exactly 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen and 500 female donkeys are remote. That aside, there's the fact that the 7 sons correspond to the 7,000 sheep and the 3 daughters to the 3,000 camels. 7 is the number of completion and of spiritual perfection. 3 is the number of divine substance and perfection. It's another way of saying, in a poetic way, that Job had everything - we have already been told that he was "blameless and upright" (Job 1:1, NRSV) and had everything a man could ever want.

    Q. What about the two sets of 500?

    A. 5 is the number of grace or favour, something Job clearly possessed because of his blameless and upright character.

    Q. So this might be a parable after all?

    A. Possibly. Or it could be an historical account using poetic and symbolic language. But there's something else. What do you get when you add up each of the rows?

    Q. 7+3=10, 7,000+3,000=10,000, 500+500=1,000!

    A. They all reduce to the number '1'´, representing unity, primacy and beginning. After the test, Job began again - a new beginning. 7+3=10 but now 14,000+6,000=20,000 and 1,000+1,000=2,000, thanks to the doubling Yahweh initiated (including his age from 70 to 140 years - Job 42:16). Same number of sons and daughters - note that well - but a doubling of his goods...his livestock...and, as I said, his lifespan (Ps.90:10). These reduce to '2', the first number that can be divided from itself, symbolising difference or division.

    Q. Do you think Yahweh is trying to say something here?

    A. Again, your guess is as good as mine. But the things that matter in eternity - people - remain as '1' whereas those which do not are now '2'. You can play with the numbers by adding them - before the troubles, 1+1+1=3, after the troubles 1+2+2=5, and you can speculate about all sorts of things. (And you know I tread carefully and sceptically with gematria which can so quickly lead to kabbalistic occultism). More interestingly is that we never learn the names of the first seven sons or three daughters, nor of the second set of sons, but we are given the names of the three new daughters: Jemimah, Keziah and Keren-happuch (Job 42:14). We are also told they were extraordinarily beautiful and that they received an inheritance along with their brothers (v.15), which is odd because usually an inheritance was only provided for daughters when there were no sons (Num.27:8).

    Q. Do you think there's any significance to these names, given that Yahweh wanted them recorded but not the names of the sons?

    Oh, undoubtedly. Jemimah means 'day' or 'dove', 'Keziah' was the name of a perfume which in English we call 'cassia', and Keren-happuch means 'container of kohl' which was an eye cosmetic or eye-shadow.

    Q. Bizzare...

    What matters about this life, according to Scripture, is how we end it, not how we start it or what happens in the middle. Job died in prosperity (with double his flocks and double his age) and with 10 more children. And though I may have complained and made a fuss about the loss of those original children and servants, by the time he died it seems that Job did not. There would be a future reunion with his first 10 when they would become 20. In this life, Yahweh cuts the lives of millions of people short without our understanding why but what matters is the way things are at the end. I think we would do well to consider the apostle James' conclusion of the Job affair:

      "Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the nevi'im (prophets) who spoke in the name of Yahweh. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what Yahweh finally brought about. Yahweh is full of compassion and mercy" (James 5:10-11, NIV).

    Q. The flesh is blind...

    A. Yes, very, very blind, and equally foolish. I have been foolish. We have to get a spiritual perspective. Yahweh is compassionate and merciful. We have to trust that else we will end up old, bitter and spiritually dead. Again, HOW IT ENDS IS WHAT MATTERS and though the means to a happy ending may seem outrageous to us at the time, it's still the end that matters. Job experienced the outcome of Yahweh's dealings. He persevered. He didn't succumb to Mrs.Job's bad, bad advice. As in Job's day, so today "the accuser of our brethren" (Rev.12:10, NKJV) is still "prowl[ing] around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8, NIV) and we, His less than perfect servants, are still learning - usually the hard way - to trust in the all-wise. all powerful Judge of the universe for what we cannot understand.

    Q. So perhaps you could give us a summation of what you have learned and then we can take up the other questions I have in another interview?

    A. Yes. As I have learned, and am apparently still learning, somewhat reluctantly but hopefully more submissively now, is as follows - and I offer these as axioms of our Christian/Messianic emunah (faith), without which we are soon going to flounder:

    • 1. Yahweh is loving;
    • 2. He wants a relationship with His people based on heart-trust, not brain-knowledge; and
    • 3. He promises an eternal home of ahavah (love), shalom (peace) and wholeness to trust in, and rely on, Him.

    Give up that tiqveh (hope) and you doom yourself to a life of despair, and tragedy becomes senseless, adversity becomes endless tribulation, and emunah (faith) turns to doubt, anger and bitterness.

    That's it! That is what I have learned and am still learning.

    Q. Amen!

    Continued in Part 2

    This page was created on 8 July 2017
    Last updated on 8 July 2017

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