Job 28-31: Job's Monologue

Chapters 28-31 cover Job's final word to his friends about his predicament. In these chapters, Job discusses the power and riches God had given him and the importance of wisdom.

Introduction

Photocredit: Unsplash.com/Yosh Ginsu
One of the hardest things for Job during this time, was probably the social ramifications of his predicament. Job was one the most respected men in the area and he was considered wise among the multitude living in that region. Although his friends may not have held the correct answers, it apparent that they, too, were considered wise. If they thought Job was suffering because of his own sins, the likelihood of the rest of the community believing the same was pretty high. Job lost the respect of these people and likely questioned his own sanity. As sure as he is that he has not sinned, and as faithful as he is to God, Job admits that he doesn't understand what is happening to him.

Wisdom

5Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. 6Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. 7Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. 8Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. 9She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.Proverbs 4:5-9 KJV
Job 28 discusses wisdom, something Job says his friends are lacking. Wisdom is a big deal in the bible and is mentioned in almost every book. It isn't simply knowing things, but knowing how to apply information to life. Job tells us that wisdom can't be found; it isn't in the depths of the earth to be mined or in the sea where we fish. Even more, it cannot be bought. Simply paying out riches will not make you wise. Job tells us the only way to have wisdom is possess the fear of the Lord. This is reiterated in Proverbs 1:7 and James 1:5. The New Testament clarifies that the Holy Spirit is the provider of wisdom. The wisdom provided by God is what should inform our actions and thoughts.

Glory and Power

The next topic Job covers is where we start to see the social ramifications of Job's conditions. If you remember, Eliphaz had previously accused Job of neglecting the poor. God made it clear that rich and powerful were to remember the poor and less fortunate by taking care of their needs. In Biblical literature the poor are often referred to as orphans (or the fatherless) and widows, since these were two groups likely to need the most looking out for. As Job clarifies his position in society, he also addresses Eliphaz's accusation.

Job admits that before his misfortune hit, he was very rich and very powerful. People had held great respect for Job before his troubles started; they respected his advice and held him as a man of great authority. People did not argue with Job and paid respects when he entered a room. Job must have been something of a wise man or town priest (like Moses' father-in-law). Today, we generally think of the rich and powerful as enemies and crooks. The powerful are out passing laws to keep the poor in poverty and the rich are suggesting the poor deserve to be poor.[1] Job would not have been one of those people. He tells us that he was generous with his money and accomplished good with his blessings. Job helped the poor, the fatherless, and the widowed, exactly as expected of him by God.

The devil, in his haste to persecute God's people, failed to realize that the reason God continued to bless Job was his graciousness. Had Job only been following God for the blessings, he would never have acquired the fruit of the spirit. He would have been selfish and greedy. A lukewarm Job would have committed exactly the sins Eliphaz suggested he did.

Now that Job was in distress, the respect and power he'd once enjoyed was lost. Job pleads with God, saying that only evil has befallen him. Job can't seem to catch a break, along with losing his family and health, he has lost the respect of everyone in town. This is a classic case of kicking a man while he's down. When we add in the fact that all of this happened quickly, it makes the situation even more tragic. Before he could fully mourn one thing, something else was happening! The devil often comes at us full force to ensure we don't have time to stabilize ourselves. This is why it is important to stay in constant communication with God!

A Modern Example

In recent weeks a story surfaced about Shad Moss, also known as Bow Wow or Lil' Bow Wow, in which he lied about boarding a private jet. In the days that followed social media had a blast roasting the former star under #BowWowChallenge. When Chance the Rapper jumped in the game by showing off his real experience of boarding a private plane and tagged it #BowWowChallenge, one author decided society had gone too far.[2] The comments I saw from my friends about this article, as well as, the comments beneath the article show that majority of the people saw no shame in roasting the former star and possessed no sympathy to the plight of a former child star, as discussed by the author.

Now, I don't know Bow Wow personally, but based on what I've seen in the media, I wouldn't compare him to the righteousness of Job by any means. However, Bow Wow's fall from celebrity-hood probably does mirror Job's fall from prosperity quite well. What the author says in her article is true; 15 years ago, when Beware of the Dog came out, Bow Wow held the number one spot on almost every chart. My friends and I loved his album and never missed his videos, which were always #1 on 106 & Park. Had the Scream tour come anywhere near my home town, I'm sure my friends and I would have begged to go, and like those who did attend, probably screamed our heads off the whole time. Bow Wow was that guy during the early 2000s. I'm not sure if teens and preteens of today would even know who he is. That's a stark contrast.

Granted, Bow Wow fell off over time, Job's descent was likely just as shocking. To go from having everything and being regarded as the "it" guy of the town to being miserable and having nothing... That's drastic. Just as Job's friends wanted to blame Job for his sudden case of misfortune, society found nothing wrong with laughing at Bow Wow's attempt to save face in his own misfortune. While Bow Wow may not have taken the shame personally,[3] you have to wonder how we would react to Job. It seems that we live in a society that likes to see people fall. When Bow Wow was on top of his game, everyone loved him. Just last year, he was opening up about thoughts of suicide,[4] and instead of hoping he gets the help he needs we are arguing about it being OK to laugh at him. We sound a lot like Job's misguided friends if you ask me.

How Do We Handle Loss?

Which brings us to the question of how do we handle loss. We aren't all as fortunate as Job or the celebrities of today. However, we all have something that makes us who we are and we all feel as though we've lost the world when a major change occurs. Maybe its the loss of a parent or mentor. Perhaps its the loss of our youth as we age. I'm sure at some point many of us have reminisced about a time past when we felt like things were better. There are many quotes that tell us we have to know where we've been to know where we're going, but I think in times like this, it's better to heed the advice of the quotes that tell us not to dwell on the past. Just because we've lost something, doesn't mean God won't bring us success in another area of our life. If we dwell on the past, we will stay stagnant trying to replicate or previous success (this is where Bow Wow fails). Look to God for a better future and don't be afraid to try something new.

Strange Poetry

29I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls. 30My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heatJob 30:29-30 KJV
Job ends chapter 30 with two interesting lines of poetry, shown to the left. First, Job says that he is a brother to dragons and a companion to owls. We know that Job doesn't mean he is literally a brother to dragons, so it stands to reason that these verses are symbolic and figurative. The owl and the dragon must stand for something that Job is now aligned with. Owls are nocturnal, which seems to be a reference back to Job 30:28, in which Job tells us that he mourns before the sun rises. If you search the Bible for verses on owls, they don't seem to be mentioned positively. Isaiah 34:13 gives us another verse were the owl is placed beside the dragon; here it is reference to the burning of the world during the end times. Biblical symbolism holds that the dragon is usually the devil. Of course, dragons and the dragon may be different. Looking at Isaiah 34 we see that owls and dragons are mentioned as scavengers, picking off the remnants of the destroyed earth. Where there is decay, vultures, owls, and dragons prosper. Perhaps Job is saying that he has become like these scavengers, seeking whatever remnants of his life he can find in the aftermath of the devils curses. Note that the NIV says jackals instead of dragons, and the NKJV and ESV both replace dragons and owls with jackals and ostriches, respectively.

The entire chapter is a lament for Job's situation, which ususally goes hand in hand with the color black. It doesn't stand out that Job says his skin is black upon him, but I think it's worth looking at more closely. Job and his friends had been sitting in ashes for at least 7 days (Job 2:8, Job 2:13). Job's skin was probably black from the ashes and possibly from the scars left by the boils. He was likely becoming overheated in the desert sun at this point (Job 30:30) and perhaps the darkening of his skin was also due to a tan. Nonetheless, both the heat and the shame of being dirty represented the fallen status Job now held. In a home with servants and children, someone would have drawn him a bath to wash away the ashes and another person would have likely fanned away the heat. He could now afford neither.

Ending the Speech

One thing that Job's friends never accuse him of is adultery or lust. Job addresses this without prompt in Job 31. Job spends quite a bit of time explaining that he has neither coveted his neighbor's wife nor committed adultery. It leads me to wonder if he is also speaking of paganism and idolatry. Adultery is often used to describe idolatry; the Israelites are often said to commit whoredom when dabbling in paganism. Job may have been proclaiming his innocence both with his wife and with God.

Job makes it clear that if he has wronged someone then he wishes to reap the punishment. Job denies the claims that he mistreated the poor, but expresses a desire to make it right if he has done something in which he was unaware. It takes a lot to admit we may be wrong or that we may have offended someone unintentionally, but Job was willing to pay that price and move forward if it would allow him to reclaim his relationship with God.

Probably fed up with his friends and the feebleness of their conversation, Job says this is all he has to say and that it is the end of his speech.

Science

As I mentioned during the introduction to Job, there are lots of verses in Job that people assert are scientifically significant. Scholars, skeptics, and believers can argue until Jesus comes back about when the book was written, but we can all agree it was written in the bc era. That makes knowledge of scientific principles discovered recently pretty impressive. One such example of this is found in Job 28:25.[7]
To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure.Job 28:25 KJV

In this verse, Job is telling us that God makes a weight for wind. Scientifically, the idea that air had physical properties was introduced by Isaac Beekman in 1618, well after Job. The fact that air actually has a weight was proven by Pierre Petit in 1646.[5][6]

I don't think its a coincidence that directly after mentioning the weight of air, Job talk about the weight of water. Both weights play a role in the hydrologic cycle![8]

References

  1. Jose A. DelReal. "Ben Carson calls poverty ‘a state of mind’ during interview". The Washington Post. May 24, 2017
  2. Aliya S. King. "Let’s Discuss Why The #BowWowChallenge Was Not OK. BET. May 15, 2017
  3. Lisa Respers France. "Bow Wow responds to #BowWowChallenge". CNN. May 12, 2017
  4. Speedy Morgan. "Bow Wow Opens Up About Contemplating Suicide, Groupies, and Baby Mama Drama". Complex. July 19, 2016
  5. "Discovering Air". PBS. November 2000
  6. A.N. Meldrum. "The Discovery of the Weight of the Air". Nature. July 30, 1908
  7. "Science and the Bible. Clarifying Christianity; 2013
  8. "Water Cycle". Wikipedia; visited June 2017

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About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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