- Although it was Satan who attacked Job, It is said that God destroyed Job. It is worth noting as pertains to the way actions/events are attributed to God in the Bible. (1:12 2:3)
- One of my first encounters with atheism involved the book of Job. It was said that Job is one of the worst books of the Bible because it has a righteous man being hurt to prove a point in a fight between God and Satan.
- (This is one of those arguments in which the claim is too vaguely stated). What is the claim? That God has no right to do so? Of course he does. The best that can be said that it was unkind and should not have been done without good reason. And who says God had no good reason? I can name a few possible ones off the top of my head. That someone is righteous does not mean that any suffering they experience must be unjust. Suffering isn’t necessarily evil.
- Job was a very rich man.
- How would offering a sacrifice for someone else work? Don’t they have to repent? (1:5)
- Why did God pay attention to Satan’s statement? It’s not like he needed to prove Job’s faithfulness.
- God had been protecting Job (1:9, 10). That’s probably why Satan needed his permission to attack Job. I doubt he always has to go through that appeal process before he does anything.
- Speaking of coincidences, what are the chances that Job’e children and all his wealth just happened to vanish on the same day?
- Job did not respond with bitterness towards God. It’s one thing to know that God is sovereign, it’s another thing to accept it. Job noted that “God gives and takes away” and still he said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord”.
- Esther was tactful. Mordecai had the king’s favor, so she couldn’t simply accuse him. She had to set the mood, so she invited them to a feast, and at the feast invited them to another feast.
- Haman was a very proud man. He was glad that the Queen thought so highly of him as to invite him to a feast with the king and herself, but he thought Mordecai’s refusal to bow to him was ruining everything.
- Haman decided to hang Mordecai the next day. Was he so proud that he could not stand one person’s refusal – in the entire kingdom? I would like to think he did it because Mordecai was disobeying the king, but that’s not it at all.
- Esther was brave, but she did not rely on luck or her beauty to save her. She relied on the prayers of herself and her people. (4: 15, 16)
- Mordecai was a brave guy. He even disobeyed the King’s command because he considered it immoral. He did this despite peer pressure and the threat of Haman’s anger. (3:3)
- Haman was not satisfied with destroying Mordecai. He just had to kill all the Jews because one of them would not bow to him. Was something wrong with the guy or what? (v 6)
- The king seemed to take the life of his subject lightly. He didn’t ask for much clarification when Haman said he wanted to destroy an entire group of people. He just took Haman at his word and concluded that the Jews were dangerous (v 8 – 11)
It’s been a long summer, and exhausting too. But I learned a lot. I got a taste for Christian Fantasy and read book after book. One thing stuck in my mind at the end of it all. It’s something that’s so easy to forget. We’re not just physical beings – we’re spiritual ones too.
It’s a very important fact. We tend to forget it because we are so focused on the physical. We’ve learned to think of things we can’t see as myths. We might admit the existence of God, but it’s the fashion to deny everything else. Maybe demons and angels exist, but we don’t think they affect our lives. Mediums and Palm Readers don’t work and Witches don’t exist. I’m not saying that they do, mind you, but it is worth it to remember that there’s a whole other dimension that our physical eyes do not register. Otherwise we go through each day seeing only part of reality.
The Spiritual Man
The spiritual man needs sustenance, just like the physical one. The spiritual man goes through life each day. He has needs and potential. He can get sick. He sees and knows things that his physical counterpart does not. We’re different from Angels in that our physical nature dulls our experience of the spiritual. We’re practically blind to it. For that reason, the sustenance that meets our spiritual needs seems unnecessary. We know when our physical bodies hunger for food, but discerning a similar hunger in our spirits is hard. Perhaps it’s an effect of the fall, or perhaps it’s a feature of our unique hybrid nature.
In the absence of other means, let us take our cue from Jesus. Let us continually keep in touch with God. Let that be our food, praying without ceasing. Let us remember that although we can’t see him, we have a cunning and powerful enemy and he comes at us from a dimension we have such little knowledge of. It is said that those who worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth. The Holy Spirit who lives in us can be our teacher in these things, but I don’t think it works if we ignore him.
My mom likes to say that the hearts of kings and princes are in God’s hand. That’s what I cameaway with after reading Ezra. I was bowled away by the statement of Cyrus, the king of Persia,
The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah… And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem… And all who were about them aided them with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, with beasts, and with costly wares, besides all that was freely offered. Cyrus the king also brought out the vessels of the house of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods. 8 Cyrus king of Persia brought these out in the charge of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 9 And this was the number of them: 30 basins of gold, 1,000 basins of silver, 29 censers, 10 30 bowls of gold, 410 bowls of silver, and 1,000 other vessels; 11 all the vessels of gold and of silver were 5,400. – Ezra 1:2, 4.
After the Israelites had spent years in exile, God was able to convince a foreign king to send them home, and give them everything they need to rebuild his temple. He did not forget them, or hold their past sins against them. He kept his promise and forgave them. Not only that, he had Cyrus convinced that he was only ruler of such a large area because of the Hebrew God. That is power. He did this not once, but thrice. During the reign of Darius, when the rebuilding of the temple was opposed, Darius sent out a letter saying,
And whatever is needed—bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require—let that be given to them day by day without fail, 10 that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons. 11 Also I make a decree that if anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of his house, and he shall be impaled on it, and his house shall be made a dunghill. 12 May the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem. I Darius make a decree; let it be done with all diligence – Ezra 6:10 – 12
He did it the third time during the reign of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7). God’s mercy, kindness, love, and power was on display during that time. He wasn’t leading them with pillars of fire or parting seas, but he was with them. In the same way he provides for his people today.
Ezra’s Response to Intermarriage
In keeping with my tradition of blaming all wrongdoing in the Bible on the people rather than God, I must express outrage at Ezra’s handling of this particular event. God had commanded the people not to marry foreigners to prevent those foreigners from bringing foreign gods and leading the people astray. However, some Israelites had done that during the exile. Ezra’s solution was to send away the foreign women and their children. The people had already sinned. In ending those marriages he showed disregard for the institution of marriage and put those women in a bad place. He deprived the children of their fathers. How is that a good solution? It seems more that he missed the point of the command and neglected to show mercy. He would have done better to ensure that the foreigners were converted and put in measures to ensure that the law was followed. The crime had already been committed.