Job aruges, “If only I were a tree…”

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Job Tree

Wednesday 2/14/24

Title: Job aruges, “If only I were a tree…”

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Job aruges, “If only I were a tree…”

Job continues to defend his understanding as not inferior to that of his friends. 

Job 13:1-28, 

“(1) Indeed, my eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it. (2) What you know, I know also; I am not inferior to you!”

It seems as if Job might be battling with either an inferiority complex OR pride.

This is now at least the second time he has clearly started his line of defense with I’m not inferior to you in knowledge! or something very much like it.

Might I suggest that this is what Eliphaz was possibly discerning from the beginning when he began his discussion with Job by saying, If someone should attempt a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can refrain from speaking?”    

Now Job expresses his desire to speak with God again confirming a theology of prayer that is more than a little lacking. 

Job 13…

“(3)  But I wish to speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God.  

(4)  But you, however, are inventors of lies; all of you are worthless physicians!  

(5)  If only you would keep completely silent! For you, that would be wisdom.”

He’s not wrong, but it is a pill he needs to take as well! 

Job is doing himself, his case and his heart NO GOOD by venting his despair, his incredulous thoughts and his anger.

(6)  “Listen now to my argument, and be attentive to my lips’ contentions.  

(7)  Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for Him?  (8)  Will you show Him partiality? Will you argue the case for God? (9)  Would it turn out well if He would examine you? Or as one deceives a man would you deceive Him?  (10)  He would certainly rebuke you if you secretly showed partiality!”

The wording chosen by the New English translation here can be misleading. The Holman I believe has it clearer by saying Would you testify unjustly on God’s behalf or speak deceitfully for Him?

Of course the notion is that Job believes his friends are attempting to pervert justice by attempting to place God in a good light regarding his trials. Job is SO convinced that it is God Who is his unjust enemy that he takes exception with anyone who does not promote that line of reasoning.

Unrelated to Job, but nonetheless on topic is a note so well know quote from Leonardo da Vinci,

“So vile a thing is a lie that even if it spoke fairly of God it would take away somewhat from His divinity.”

Job 13…

“(11)  Would not His splendor terrify you and the fear He inspires fall on you?  

(12)  Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay.  (13)  “Refrain from talking with me so that I may speak; then let come to me what may.  

(14)  Why do I put myself in peril, and take my life in my hands?  (15)  Even if He slays me, I will hope in Him; I will surely defend my ways to His face!  (16)  Moreover, this will become my deliverance, for no godless person would come before Him.  

(17)  Listen carefully to my words; let your ears be attentive to my explanation.  (18)  See now, I have prepared my case; I know that I am right.”

You have to pity Job because he honestly does not know what is going on here. He has examined the life he was living before these trials began and can find nothing that he was doing wrong and according to God’s testimony he is right.

According to all Job has ever known, that leaves only ONE option. God is judging him unjustly. Evidently, none of these men had ever heard of or considered that the devil – like the serpent in the garden – sometimes has the right to try the genuineness of your faith.

THIS is a very important lesson to learn. Just because YOU and I are unaware of it, doesn’t mean that there are no other possibilities we have never even heard of or considered.

This is one reason why approaching God, humbly in prayer should always be our FIRST response – not our last resort.

“(19)  Who will contend with me? If anyone can, I will be silent and die.  

(20)  Only in two things spare me, O God, and then I will not hide from Your face:  (21)  Remove Your hand far from me and stop making me afraid with Your terror.  

(22)  Then call, and I will answer, or I will speak, and You respond to me.”

I love this! When God finally does appear before Job in the whirlwind, these are among His opening words back at Job

“(23)  How many are my iniquities and sins? Show me my transgression and my sin.  

(24)  Why do you hide Your face and regard me as Your enemy?  (25)  Do You wish to torment a windblown leaf and chase after dry chaff?  (26)  For You write down bitter things against me and cause me to inherit the sins of my youth.  (27)  And You put my feet in the stocks and You watch all my movements; You put marks on the soles of my feet.  (28)  So I waste away like something rotten, like a garment eaten by moths.”

Job 14:3-22, 

“(1) Do You fix Your eye on such a one? And do You bring me before You for judgment?  

(4)  Who can make a clean thing come from an unclean? No one!  

(5)  Since man’s days are determined, the number of his months is under Your control; You have set his limit and he cannot pass it.  

(6)  Look away from him and let him desist, until he fulfills his time like a hired man.”  

I am not implying Job’s troubles were not severe – they were! All I want to point out here is how quickly we as humans become discouraged. All of Job’s days had been good up until this point. All it took for Job to descend into thoughts of life being a drudgery – like living day after day working for another man only to die in the end without experiencing joy, fulfillment, happiness or even contentment – is a few months of adversity out of 70 years of blessing.

He now compares the life of a human being to that of a tree…

(7)  “But there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.  (8)  Although its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump begins to die in the soil,  (9)  at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth shoots like a new plant.  (10)  But man dies and is powerless; he expires – and where is he?  

“(11)  As water disappears from the sea, or a river drains away and dries up,  (12)  so man lies down and does not rise; until the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor arise from their sleep.” 

It is confusing what these people thought of existence after death. Up to this point, death has been set forth as a time of rest for both godly and ungodly alike. Now Job seems so preoccupied with this physical existence as to be in despair that the physically dead do not experience a physical rebirth like a tree. If one believed they would be at rest after physical death then why would they wish for a rebirth back into the physical realm from which they were just delivered? Such a plight would only subject you to the future possibilities of more miseries!

(13)  “O that You would hide me in Sheol, and conceal me till Your anger has passed! O that You would set me a time and then remember me!  

(14)  If a man dies, will he live again?”

Here is a GREAT example of the predominant meaning of Sheol which is the grave. Many interpret sheol as hell and I am not prepared to say that such is true in ANY biblical instance. 

In the ancient world, including those under the law, it is safe to say that Sheol is treated and referred to as a subterranean region in which ALL of humanity goes when they die. used to Translated literally it simply means “place of the dead or of departed spirits.” 

After the intertestamental period in Rome, the Jewish culture employed the use of the Greek word  hades, which is also used in the Septuagint as a Greek substitute for this word in the Hebrew scriptures. It too held the general idea of being “the place of the dead.” 

So far as we know, the idea of Sheol or hades being divided into two distinct places was unique to the teaching of Jesus. In His parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus set forth hades as having two distinct sides with an impassable chasm stretched between them. One was a place of torment referred to as gehenna and the other a place of rest also known by the names paradise and Abraham’s bosom.

Both were the place for departed spirits to await their final judgment but in which each person already knew their fate or they would not occupy the side they were on! 

See (Matthew 5:29; Matthew 23:33; Luke 16; Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8 & Philippians 1:23)

The Lake of Fire is yet another New Covenant/Testament development or clarification which is not mentioned until Jesus’ final revelation to His church in Revelation 19:20; 20:10, 14-15

I would add here that the use of the imagery of flames in reference to the plight of the damned is not necessarily literal. The original inspiration of this depiction was likely taken Isaiah 66:24 but may also be derived from a refuse dump southwest of Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom

The verse in Isaiah 66:24 was in the body of one of the clearest descriptions of the Great Tribulation and the judgment that follows JUST BEFORE the establishment of Jesus’ millennial Kingdom. God tells Israel that JUST BEFORE He brings them back to their land, He will purge the land of all evildoers. He tells Israel that they will go out and see the destruction of these people and describes the place of their judgment like this…

Isaiah 66:24,“They will go out and observe the corpses of those who rebelled against Me, for the maggots that eat them will not die, and the fire that consumes them will not die out. All people will find the sight abhorrent.”

No doubt THIS is where Jesus drew His understanding of the judgment of the wicked. As to whether there ever was a literal garbage/refuse dump in the Valley of Hinnom later referred to as Gehenna has yet to be proven. To date there is no objective proof of its existence though it does make sense.

So here in the book of Job, it is both seen and presented as a region in which the departed human spirit resides, perhaps until the end of the world as verse 12 indicated.

As such this is a description of their physical bodies and not necessarily of their spirits in some place of fiery torment. The Lake of Fire however IS set forth as a place of eternal flames, but may very well be a metaphorical description of a place of eternal destruction and death.

In any case, it is a place to be avoided at ALL COST, since once you are there, there is no getting out – thus the word “eternal” judgment. 

“…All the days of my hard service I will wait until my release comes.  

(15)  You will call and I – I will answer You; You will long for the creature You have made.”  

Regarding these words Jamieson, Fausset & Brown say that these words,

“imply(-ing) the utter unlikelihood that God would leave in oblivion the “creature of His own hands so fearfully and wonderfully made.” Meaning that regardless of what God might subject man to in this life, it seems only reasonable that He would eventually cast a longing eye back on the work of His hands. For why would God make something He ultimately would despise, so long as that creature was devoted to Him?

(16)  “Surely now You count my steps; then You would not mark my sin.  (17)  My offenses would be sealed up in a bag; You would cover over my sin.”

Little did Job know that such was just about to happen through the descendants of a man from Ur of the Chaldeans. God would establish a priesthood with sacrifices and laws for just this purpose. To cover man’s sin enabling them to establish ongoing relations with God.

“(18)  But as a mountain falls away and crumbles, and as a rock will be removed from its place,  (19)  as water wears away stones, and torrents wash away the soil, so You destroy man’s hope.  

(20)  You overpower him once for all, and he departs; You change his appearance and send him away.  

(21)  If his sons are honored, he does not know it; if they are brought low, he does not see it.  (22)  His flesh only has pain for him, and he mourns for himself.”

So at this point we have had a decent panorama of the beliefs and evaluations of these trials from Job and his friends. 

They ALL believe this is God’s judgment.

Job believes it to be unwarranted and unjust.

Job’s friends don’t believe God can make a mistake and so if He is judging it is for a good reason.

It is a pitiful thing to be an uninformed creature. The biggest take away, I believe, from these chapters is to not answer a matter before you’ve heard it and never assume – seek God! 

Eliphaz again takes his turn answering Job

As we will see in this chapter, Eliphaz is offended by Job’s attack against God’s character. To him it is proof that before these trials began, such thoughts were already entertained in his heart against God – and for all we know, he is right.

Trials and tribulations cannot create iniquity, they simply stir to the surface what was there, at least in potential, all along.

Job 15:1-35, 

“(1) Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:  

(2)  “Does a wise man answer with blustery knowledge, or fill his belly with the east wind?  

(3)  Does he argue with useless talk, with words that have no value in them?  

(4)  But you even break off piety, and hinder meditation before God.  

(5)  Your sin inspires your mouth; you choose the language of the crafty.  (6)  Your own mouth condemns you, not I; your own lips testify against you.  

(7)  “Were you the first man ever born? 

Were you brought forth before the hills?  

(8)  Do you listen in on God’s secret council? 

Do you limit wisdom to yourself?  

(9)  What do you know that we don’t know? 

What do you understand that we don’t understand?”  

There appears to have been a bit of a pre-existing, yet unspoken rivalry between these men. Job demands that he is not inferior to them in wisdom and they with him.

I want us to keep in mind throughout these dialogues between Job and his friends that in the end, God does NOT get angry with Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar for his words spoken wrongly against Job, but the words by which they mischaracterized God.

While I do believe ALL of these men mischaracterized each other from time to time, ALL OF THEM, Job included, mischaracterized God and THAT is the primary issue here! The secondary issue, which is honestly directly connected with the primary, is that their mischaracterizations of God were based upon ignorance. These men only knew God religiously. They knew Him from what they had heard from their forefathers, knowledge of God which had been passed down through the ages since before the flood and from personal observations – but they had not had an encounter with Him. Job himself says as much in chapter 42 as he repents before God.

“(10)  The gray-haired and the aged are on our side, men far older than your father.  

(11)  Are God’s consolations too trivial for you; or a word spoken in gentleness to you?  

(12)  Why has your heart carried you away, and why do your eyes flash,  (13)  when you turn your rage against God and allow such words to escape from your mouth?  

(14)  What is man that he should be pure, or one born of woman, that he should be righteous?  

(15)  If God places no trust in His holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in His eyes,  (16)  how much less man, who is abominable and corrupt, who drinks in evil like water!  

(17)  “I will explain to you; listen to me, and what I have seen, I will declare,  (18)  what wise men declare, hiding nothing, from the tradition of their ancestors,  (19)  to whom alone the land was given when no foreigner passed among them.”  

Now Eliphaz describes the life of wicked people as he believes he has observed them and as his forefathers have depicted them. It is a different view than I believe most see today. Ever since the law, it often seems as if the wicked flourish and evil men advance in wealth and earthly securities. Here Eliphaz indicates that their whole lives are marked with judgment for sin.

It is impossible to tell whether this observation was literal or one he cherry-picked to make his point since much of what he says mirrors Job’s experience a little too closely.

“(20)  All his days the wicked man suffers torment, throughout the number of the years that are stored up for the tyrant.  

(21)  Terrifying sounds fill his ears; in a time of peace marauders attack him.  (22)  He does not expect to escape from darkness; he is marked for the sword;  (23)  he wanders about – food for vultures; he knows that the day of darkness is at hand.  

(24)  Distress and anguish terrify him; they prevail against him like a king ready to launch an attack,  (25)  for he stretches out his hand against God, and vaunts himself against the Almighty,  (26)  defiantly charging against Him with a thick, strong shield!  (27)  Because he covered his face with fat, and made his hips bulge with fat,  (28)  he lived in ruined towns and in houses where no one lives, where they are ready to crumble into heaps.”  

“(29)  He will not grow rich, and his wealth will not endure, nor will his possessions spread over the land.  (30)  He will not escape the darkness; a flame will wither his shoots and he will depart by the breath of God’s mouth. 

(31)  Let him not trust in what is worthless, deceiving himself; for worthlessness will be his reward.  

(32)  Before his time he will be paid in full, and his branches will not flourish.  (33)  Like a vine he will let his sour grapes fall, and like an olive tree he will shed his blossoms.  

(34)  For the company of the godless is barren, and fire consumes the tents of those who accept bribes.  (35)  They conceive trouble and bring forth evil; their belly prepares deception.”

Next week we will start off with the beginning of Job’s repsonse to Eliphaz in chapter 16.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!