Job Bible Class: The Bible And Evil, Pain, And Suffering # 3The Apostasy Of Satan

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Contemporary English Version)

Quotation For Consideration 

“The devil and his demons wrestle with God’s people on earth to discourage and to defeat spiritual advance in the individual and in the church.”. (C. Fred Dickerson, Angels: Elect And Evil, 379 (Kindle Edition); Chicago; Moody Press)

Questions For Contemplation 

 Is the devil a real person?  

What does the devil have to do with evil, pain, and suffering in our universe?  

How did Satan become “the god of this world?”

Satan In The Book Of Job

In our last lesson, we learned that angels (as well as human beings) have been given freewill by God.

While this freewill is a blessing in and of itself, its’ abuse led to sin and to terrible consequences for God’s Creation.  

In this lesson, we will more carefully consider what the Book of Job and the rest of the Bible teaches us about Satan.

By coming to a better understanding of these matters, we will have a fuller knowledge of what the Bible teaches us regarding the existence of evil, pain, and suffering in our universe.  

In Job chapters one and two, Satan is mentioned as being involved in a conversation with the Almighty God.  

Job 1:6-One day, when the angels had gathered around the LORD, and Satan was there with them,

Job 2:1-When the angels gathered around the LORD again, Satan was there with them,
Several important things stand out to us from these passages.  


First
, Satan is a very real person. He is not a euphemism for impersonal evil, as many in the world teach. The Bible emphasizes that Satan is a very real person (cf. Genesis 3:1-6; 1 Chronicles 21:1; Zechariah 3:1-6; Luke 4:1-13; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8).  

Second
, we see here that Satan is referenced as being with the “sons of God,” which was a Hebrew designation for the angels. 

Third, the name “Satan” itself has a primary meaning of one who is an accuser; yet his name has a still deeper meaning. One second century Christian tells us about the original meaning of the name Satan:

Irenaeus-“The Hebrew word Satan means an apostate.” (c. 180, E/W 1.549)

The devil is an apostate: that is, he is one who has departed from a state of grace.  

There are two passages in the Old Testament which many believe describe for us who the devil is, and his departure from God’s favor.

The “Lucifer” Passage



In the Book of Isaiah, the Prophet describes the downfall of the “king of Babylon.”  

Isaiah 14:4 (NKJV)-that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say: “How the oppressor has ceased, The golden city ceased!

Notice that word “proverb.” In the Hebrew, it has a very interesting meaning:

“In Isaiah 14:4 , God tells the prophet to take up a “taunt” (Hebrew: mashal ) against the king of Babylon. A mashal is better described as a comparative parable. The question to keep in mind as we proceed is, to whom is the king of Babylon being compared?”. (Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering The Supernatural Worldview Of The Bible,1466 (Kindle Edition); Bellingham, WA; Lexham Press) 

So here the king of Babylon is being compared with another great ruler that was well-known to the ancient world, one whose apostasy from grace paralleled in some ways the downfall of the king of Babylon.

Notice specifically what is said:

Isaiah 14:12-16-12 You, the bright morning star, have fallen from the sky! You brought down other nations; now you are brought down.

13 You said to yourself, “I’ll climb to heaven and place my throne above the highest stars. I’ll sit there with the gods far away in the north.

14 I’ll be above the clouds, just like God Most High.”

15 But now you are deep in the world of the dead.

16 Those who see you will stare and wonder, “Is this the man who made the world tremble and shook up kingdoms?

Many of the ancient Jews and Christians understood that the king of Babylon was here being compared with the downfall of Satan himself.
If so, several things stand out about the passage.  

First
, look at the phrase “bright star” or “Lucifer.” The word used here was not a proper name for Satan, but denoted that this personage was in some way a bringer of light: 

“Why did the KJV use the term “Lucifer” and modern versions the term “morning star”? The term Lucifer came to us by way of Jerome’s Latin Bible, the Vulgate, which the KJV translators sometimes used for their own translation. The Latin word for “morning star” is “Lucifer.” This word was used to refer to Venus, the morning star, and was applied figuratively to the pride and fall of the king of Babylon. Now, to associate the morning star with someone other than the king of Babylon is an interpretation which must be brought to this verse from somewhere else. So how did Lucifer (Latin for “morning star”) become equated with the evil personage of Satan, the devil? This is something that the medieval Church authorities imported into this text, without direct scriptural warrant.48 In other words, to associate the Latin word “the morning star”—lucifer—with the concept of the devil or Satan can only be suggested in a secondary sense.”. (Dr. John Ankerberg & Dr. John Weldon, The Facts On The King James only Debate, 317-324 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House) 

Second
, we see that the desire of this being was to be like God. Indeed, he wanted to have the same glory and respect as God Himself.  

Third, this being would not achieve his goal but would instead be “cast down” to Sheol, the deepest levels of the pit.  

The “King Of Tyre” Passage



Like with the passage in Isaiah, Ezekiel compares the downfall of the king of Tyre with another well-known personage. He writes:

Ezekiel 28:11-19-11 The LORD said:

12 Ezekiel, son of man, sing a funeral song for the king of Tyre and tell him I am saying: At one time, you were perfect, intelligent, and good-looking.

13 You lived in the garden of Eden and wore jewelry made of brightly colored gems and precious stones. They were all set in gold and were ready for you on the day you were born.

14 I appointed a winged creature to guard your home on my holy mountain, where you walked among gems that dazzled like fire.

15 You were truly good from the time of your birth, but later you started doing wicked things.

16 You traded with other nations and became more and more cruel and evil. So I forced you to leave my mountain, and the creature that had been your protector now chased you away from the gems.

17 It was your good looks that made you arrogant, and you were so famous that you started acting like a fool. That’s why I threw you to the ground and let other kings sneer at you.

18 You have cheated so many other merchants that your places of worship are corrupt. So I set your city on fire and burned it down. Now everyone sees only ashes where your city once stood,

19 and the people of other nations are shocked. Your punishment was horrible, and you are gone forever.

Here, there are several reasons to believe that the king of Tyre is being compared with the downfall of Satan. 

 Edward Myers writes:

“Two passages of Scripture often referred to regarding Satan’s early history are Ezekiel 28:11-19 and Isaiah 14:12-14. A closer look at these passages will assist us in drawing some conclusions regarding Satan’s origin. From the Ezekiel passage it is clear that the prophecy is addressed to the king of Tyre. However, the language seems to indicate that the application must go beyond the earthly ruler to a supernatural being of some kind. Ezekiel speaks concerning contemporary events, but seems to go beyond them from the king of Tyre to Satan, using them as a type. Rex Turner writes, Ezekiel, when delivering a burden against Tyre and the king of Tyre, also represented the king of Tyre as being a personification of Satan. Ezekiel’s personification of Satan is seen in his charge: “Because thy heart is lifted up” (Ezek. 28:2, KJV). “Thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas” (vs. 2); “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty” (vs. 12); “Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God” (vs. 13); “Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth” (vs. 14); “Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God” (vs. 14); “Thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire” (vs. 14); “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created till wickedness was found in you” (vs. 15); “Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty” (vs. 17); “Thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness” (vs. 17). Now all these statements could not have been true of the king of Tyre. He, therefore, apparently personified the spirit of Satan.1…Although in their original settings these passages have reference to the kings of Tyre and Babylon, there are many who believe that too much is said to have reference only to these kings. These passages, then, are taken as a personification of Satan himself. In these passages we have an account of Satan’s past career as Lucifer in his pre-fall splendor. For example, Victor Knowles writes, It is hard to understand how some can rule out any reference to Satan at all in this passage, Ezekiel 28:12-19. The passage fairly reeks with Satanic overtones. True, not everything that is said about the wicked king of Tyre can be paralleled with Satan. But enough is said to lead us to believe that the many accusations God made against the king of Tyre are also made against Satan. This man was so evil in his deeds that Scripture uses him as a personification of evil, or, more properly, the evil one—Satan. The wicked king of Tyre helps us to understand how evil this once-holy angel, Satan, really is.2. And again, writing of the passage in Isaiah, “This portion of Scripture, like the Ezekiel passage, was directed against a human king who was so evil that God compared him to the devil himself. Both kings exhibited attitudes, ambitions, and actions that are characteristic of Satan. Hence we are able to learn more about the evil nature of the once-holy angel, Satan.”3”. (Edward P. Myers, A Study of Angels, 54-56 (Kindle Edition); New York, NY: Howard Books) 

Notice several things in detail with me.  

First
, the king of Tyre is said to have been in Eden, in the very garden of God.  

Second
, we are told that this being was also in the mountain of God and walked amid the fiery stones.

This seems to be a reference to Heaven itself, and is alluding to the book of Enoch. This apocryphal book is not inspired of God, but contains some powerful lessons for us. Ken Johnson has well written: 

“Since we can see that editing was done, such as replacing the ancient names of cites and rivers ( e .g. Dan and Mt. Hermon ) , then we know the current version of the Book of Enoch is a translation of the original. This means it may have errors in it; it may be wholly corrupted in some sections, but it may also contain real history and real prophecy relevant to our generation. Fragments of the Book of Enoch were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls in both the Hebrew and Greek languages . Later, in AD 1956, a Dead Sea Scroll was found to contain the whole Book of Enoch written in Aramaic. When this Aramaic version is published, it will prove the parables section was indeed pre- Christian and that the prophecies about the coming of the “ Son of Man,” or Messiah, were written before the Christian church began….The Book of Enoch teaches that the righteous are to live their lives by a series of books that will be given to them. Further, they will be judged by these books, not the Book of Enoch ( 104 ) . Now we know this to be true; Christians are judged by the sixty- six books of the Bible. Because of the way Enoch states this, it is obvious that the Book of Enoch was not supposed to be placed into the canon of Scripture but kept as a special message to those who lived in the generation just prior to the Tribulation period.”. (Ken Johnson, Th. D, Ancient Book Of Enoch, 9-10 (Kindle Edition)).  

In the book of Enoch, Heaven is described as a great mountain of God adorned with fiery stones (Book Of Enoch 18:1-9; 24-25).

Interestingly enough, these stones are identified in Enoch, and are also referenced in the description of Heaven found in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 21).

This is one of the most powerful indicators that this king of Tyre was being compared with Satan.


Third
, we are told that this being is a “cherub,” which is another word used in the Old Testament for the highest class of angels.

What is particularly interesting is that this being is identified as the cherub “who covers.” The ark of the covenant (which represented the dwelling place of God on Earth-see 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; Psalm 80:1; 99:1) had two statues of cherubim who stretched out their wings and “covered” the throne of God (Exodus 25:20-22).

Since all of the tabernacle system mirrored realities which existed in the spiritual realm (Hebrews 8:1-5; 9:9, 23-24; 10:1), many believe that this suggests Satan was at one time one of the angels charged with being in the very Presence of God Himself.  

Fourth
, we are told that the reason why this being rebelled was because he basically “fell in love” with himself. He became enamored with his’ own beauty. The devil sinned because he stopped worshipping God and started worshiping himself.  

Finally
, notice that this being was cast to the “earth.” The word used here is very interesting: 

“The “ground” to which this haughty divine being is cast and where he is disgraced is also of interest. The Hebrew word translated “ground” is ’erets . It is a common term for the earth under our feet. But it is also a word that is used to refer to the underworld, the realm of the dead (e.g., Jonah 2:6 ), where ancient warrior- kings await their comrades in death ( Ezek 32:21 , 24–30 , 32 ; Isa 14:9 ). Adam, of course, was already on earth, so he couldn’t be sentenced there. And he didn’t wind up in the underworld. Yet this is the sort of language we would expect if the point was the expulsion of a heavenly being from the divine council.”. (Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering The Supernatural Worldview Of The Bible,1424-1433 (Kindle Edition); Bellingham, WA; Lexham Press) 
This tells us that this “being” who sinned will wind up being in the deepest pits of Hell (Revelation 20:11-14).  

The “Strong Delusion” Of Satan



How did Satan become so deluded as to actually believe he could overthrow God?

One possible answer lies in an ancient teaching known as the “doctrine of emanations.”

Ken Johnson explains:

“One might understand if Lucifer was angry with God, he might convince one third of the angels of heaven to leave heaven to be alone, away from God. But look at the verses given about Lucifer’s fall. He wanted to be worshiped as God and actually tried to take God’s throne. How could any rational being think for one second that he might have power enough to force the only creator God out of His throne? No rational being would. Nor would Lucifer ; unless , he believed his own lie. What was Lucifer’s lie? Lucifer’s lie was this: God is not separate from His creation. When God puts His spirit into a newly created being, He looses part of Himself. In the Jewish Kabala this concept is called the Doctrine Of Emanations. In other words , if God created 100 billion people and put His spirit into each one of them, at that point the Bible would say God is still 100% God and Man is 0% God. Lucifer , on the other hand , would say at that point God might be, say, 47% God and all humans collectively would equate to 53% God. Lucifer might have actually believed that if there were enough angels they could overcome God and absorb the rest of what God once was. That, in effect, would kill off God. He probably believed this was the way it had been done for generations of gods /angels and universes. The Doctrine of Emanations would become the basis of all future pagan religions on earth, and the primary cause of the earth’s destruction by a world wide flood.”. (Ken Johnson, Th. D., Ancient Paganism: The Sorcery Of The Fallen Angels, 19-20 (Kindle Edition))

Other ancient texts suggest that Satan was also motivated to sin against God because of his strong hatred of mankind. For example, the Quran has this:

“Then verily We [Allah] shall narrate unto them [the event] with knowledge, for verily We were not absent [when it came to pass]. . . . And We created you [mankind], then fashioned you, then told the angels: Fall ye prostrate before Adam! And they fell prostrate, all save Iblis [Satan], who was not of those who make prostration. He [Allah] said: What hindered thee that thou didst not fall prostrate when I bade thee? [Iblis] said: I am better than him. Thou createdst me of fire while him Thou didst create of mud. He [Allah] said: Then go down hence! It is not for thee to show pride here, so go forth! Lo, thou are of these degraded” (Surah VII, 7-13).

Whatever the “reason” behind Satan’s rebellion, his attempt to overthrow the throne of God failed.

The Surrender Of Creation By Humankind To The Devil…And Why We Suffer



It is in understanding this rebellion of Satan against God that we come to see one of the Bible’s main teachings regarding the existence of evil, pain, and suffering in the universe.

When God created mankind, He entrusted with him the stewardship of the entire Creation (Genesis 1:26-28).

As a result, when Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God by submitting to the lies of the devil, the Creation was delivered to Satan.  

In essence, mankind made the devil the lord of the material universe, the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

“The answer to why prayer is necessary lies in God’s original plan when He created Adam. The word “Adam” means “man; human being.”‘ In other words, God made man and called him “Man.” He made a human and called him “Human.” He made an adam and named him “Adam.” In fact, often when the Bible uses the term “man,” the actual Hebrew word is adam, spelled just like our English word. I share this simply to say that Adam represents sents all of us. What God intended for Adam, He intended for the entire human race. What was God’s intention? Initially, He gave Adam and Eve and their descendants dominion over the entire earth and over all creation, as we see in Genesis 1:26-28…In Psalm 8:6, the original Hebrew word used for “rule” is mashal. It indicates that Adam was God’s manager here, God’s steward or governor. Adam was God’s mediator, go-between or representative. Psalm 115:16 confirms this: “The heaven … the Eternal holds himself, the earth He has assigned to men” (Moffatt, emphasis added). God didn’t give away ownership of the earth, but He did assign the responsibility of governing it to humanity…Psalm 8:5 actually says human beings were made just “a little tle lower than God” and that we were crowned with God’s very own glory. The definition of the Hebrew word kabowd that’s translated “glory” literally means “heavy or weighty” !6 It’s linked to the concept of authority. We still use the picture today when we refer to someone who “carries a lot of weight.” Adam carried God’s weight on the earth. I don’t know what Adam weighed but he was heavy. He represented God with full authority! He was large and in charge! The Greek word for glory, doxa, is just as loaded. It involves the concept of recognition. More specifically, it’s what causes someone (or something) to be recognized for who he or she (or it) really is.7 When we read in Scripture that humankind is the glory of God (see 1 Cor. 11:7), it’s telling us that God was recognized in humans. Why? So humans could accurately represent Him. When creation looked at Adam, they were supposed to see God. And they did! That is, until Adam sinned and couldn’t carry the weight of God’s glory anymore….Let’s recap based on what we’ve learned so far: Adam was comparable to or similar to God-so much like God that it was illusionary. God was recognized in Adam, which meant that Adam “carried the weight” here on Earth. Adam represented resented God, presenting again His will on the earth. Adam was God’s governor or manager here. The earth was Adam’s assignment; ment; it was under Adam’s charge or care. How things went on planet Earth, for better or worse, depended on Adam and his offspring. Think about that. If the earth remained a paradise, it would be because of humankind. If things became messed up, it would be because of humankind. If the serpent ever gained control, it would be because of humankind. Humanity really was in charge! Why would God do it this way? Why would He take such a risk? From what I know about God in the Scriptures and from my personal walk with Him, it comes down to one thing: God wanted a family-sons and daughters who could personally relate to Him, and vice versa. So He made our original parents similar to Himself. He put His very life and Spirit into them, gave them a sweet crib by the beach with lots of exotic pets, sat down and said, “This is good.” Every day He would hang out with them, walk with them, teach them about Himself and their home. He said, “Give me some grandsons and granddaughters.” God was now a dad, and He was thrilled!…What’s the point of all this? Check this out: God assigned so much authority over the earth to Adam that he, not just God, had the ability to give it away! In fact, when Adam did exactly that-giving it away to Satan and making him “the ruler of this world” (see John 12:3 1; 14:30; 16:11)-it cost God big time. Jesus had to become a part of the human race to fix the mess Adam made. The Father had to give up His only Son. If that doesn’t prove God’s love and determination to use us through thick or thin, then I don’t know what does. Without question, God made us to always be His link to authority and activity on the earth.”. (Dutch Sheets, Getting In God’s Faith: How Prayer Really Works, 15-20 (Kindle Edition); Venture, CA; Regal Books)

When Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God, the Presence of God was immediately removed.

The Bible tells us that Adam and Eve (when they sinned) noticed that they were “naked” (Genesis 3:7). For so long, I wondered why they noticed their nakedness when they sinned.

The answer lies in the teaching that Adam and Eve were originally clothed in the light of God, before the Fall in the Garden of Eden.

For example:

The First Book Of Adam And Eve 8:1-2-THEN Adam wept and said, “O God, when we dwelt in the garden, and our hearts were lifted up, we saw the angels that sang praises in heaven, but now we do not see as we were used to do; nay, when we entered the cave, all creation became hidden from us.” 2 Then God the Lord said unto Adam, “When thou wast under subjection to Me, thou hadst a bright nature within thee, and for that reason couldst thou see things afar off. But after thy transgression thy bright nature was withdrawn from thee; and it was not left to thee to see things afar off, but only near at hand; after the ability of the flesh; for it is brutish.”

This harmonizes powerfully with a text of Scripture from the Book of Exodus. We are told that when Moses would go and spend time in the Presence of God, he came back and “shined.”

Exodus 34:29-35-29 Moses came down from Mount Sinai, carrying the Ten Commandments. His face was shining brightly because the LORD had been speaking to him. But Moses did not know at first that his face was shining.

30 When Aaron and the others looked at Moses, they saw that his face was shining, and they were afraid to go near him.

31 Moses called out for Aaron and the leaders to come to him, and he spoke with them.

32 Then the rest of the people of Israel gathered around Moses, and he gave them the laws that the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai.

33 The face of Moses kept shining, and after he had spoken with the people, he covered his face with a veil.

34 Moses would always remove the veil when he went into the sacred tent to speak with the LORD. And when he came out, he would tell the people everything the LORD had told him to say.

35 They could see that his face was still shining. So after he had spoken with them, he would put the veil back on and leave it on until the next time he went to speak with the LORD.

 
The result of sin was that the Presence of God was removed from the Earth.  

What We Have Learned



The Bible teaches that Satan was an angel who was created by God and entrusted with great responsibility and privilege.

However, he chose to rebel against God because he fell in love with himself and began to worship and serve himself instead of his Creator.

He may have believed that he could overthrow God due to the false Doctrine of Emanations.
God had entrusted the material universe to the oversight of Adam and Eve.

Due to the lies of Satan, our human parents chose to rebel against the Lord and in so doing gave control of the universe to the devil and the fallen angels.

The devil, pretending to be a friend to mankind, actually hates and despises humanity.  

The devil and his angels have sought to make this world their own, enslaving humanity and increasing various false religions and doctrines. They desire to hurt and to kill mankind.

As a result, we see that one of the reasons for the existence of evil, pain, and suffering in our world is due to the fact that the forces of darkness want to hurt mankind in any way and coerce his worship.  

Thankfully, God did not leave mankind in this predicament. He had a plan by which He would save mankind and bring incredible good out of the suffering in the world (as we will also see portrayed in the Book of Job).

As a result, the devil knows that he has a short time; and therefore inflicts as much suffering as he can upon humanity (Revelation 12:7-12).  

In our next lesson, we will carefully examine the details of this plan of God and how the Book of Job looks forward to the Lord’s intervention. It is in the hidden plan of God to redeem mankind that we begin to see more clearly why God allows suffering in this world to continue for the present time.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Job Bible Class: The Bible And Evil, Pain, And Suffering # 4 The Hidden Purposes Of Suffering

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the Contemporary English Version)

Quotation For Consideration

“My life is but a weaving, between my Lord and me; I cannot choose the colors,, He worketh steadily. Oft times He worketh sorrow, and I, in foolish pride, forget He sees the upper and I the underside. Not till the Loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly, Shall God unroll the canvas, and explain the reason why. The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver’s skillful hands, as the threads of gold and silver, in the pattern He has planned.” (The Tapestry, by Corrie Ten Boom) 

Questions For Contemplation 

If I don’t understand why God lets me suffer, does that mean that I cannot trust God?

Is it possible that God (being all-knowing and seeing the end from the beginning) has reasons for allowing me to suffer which I cannot immediately understand? 

Why?

In our studies of the Book of Job, we have been examining the subject, “Why do evil, pain, and suffering exist in the universe?’ We have noticed that atheism, sadism, dualism, and karma do not provide adequate answers to this question; and that each of these proposed answers falls under the weight of logic.  

Likewise, we have turned our attention to the fact that the Bible teaches that suffering in our universe is the result of the misuse of freewill (remembering that freewill is a good thing in and of itself); and that the misuse of this blessing leads to sin, or evil (Jeremiah 18:1-9).

Furthermore, we have learned that the suffering in this world is often the result of the spiritual war that takes place between God and the forces of evil (Satan, the fallen angels, demonic spirits, and people devoted to wickedness), a war in which we are all personally involved.  

In this study, we are going to learn something which at first is quite unsettling: sometimes there are hidden purposes to suffering which we may not fully grasp in this present time.  

If there is anything which stands out about the Book of Job, it is the prevailing question: 

“Why?” 

Look at some of the “why” questions that Job asked throughout his ordeal:

Job 3:11-Why didn’t I die at birth?

Job 3:20-Why does God let me live when life is miserable and so bitter?

Job 3:23-Why do I go on living when God has me surrounded, and I can’t see the road?

Job 6:11-Why should I patiently hope when my strength is gone?

Job 7:1-Why is life so hard? Why do we suffer?

Job 7:20-Why do you watch us so closely?
What’s it to you, if I sin? Why am I your target and such a heavy burden?

Job 10:18-Why did you let me be born? I would rather have died before birth.

Job 14:3-And so, I ask you, God, why pick on me?

Job 21:7-Why do evil people live so long and gain such power?

Job 24:1-Why doesn’t God set a time for court? Why don’t his people know where he can be found?

Job 31:35-Why doesn’t God All-Powerful listen and answer? If God has something against me, let him speak up or put it in writing!  

Throughout the Book of Job, there is nothing to indicate that Job was ever given answers to these questions.

Indeed, from the questions that God asks Job at the end of the Book (Job 38-42), we see that God wants Job to learn to trust in Him, even when he doesn’t understand the answers to his questions.

As John Mark Hicks has written: 

“But these questions also point to God’s wisdom and care. These are not simply questions about power. Their function is not simply to remind Job of God’s power, but also to remind him of God’s wisdom and care. The questions are not arbitrary; they move from God’s creative work when he laid the foundations of the world (38:4-7) and controlled the chaotic waters (38:8-11) to his transcendence over the chaos of the wicked and death (38:12-21), control over the waters (snow, rain, rivers) of the earth (38:22-30, 34-38), and his regulation of the stars and seasons (38:31-33). The questions then move to the animal kingdom and God’s management of his living creatures. The questions are not just about knowledge but about care. God asks if Job “knows” (e.g., 39:1), but he also asks whether Job can manage this creation and care for it the way God does. Does Job hunt for the lion (38:39), feed the young ravens (38:41), give the wild donkey his home (39:6), use the wild ox in his service (39:9-12), care for the ostrich even though she has no sense (39:12-18), and give the horse his strength (39:19)? God asks, “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom (39:26), or “does the eagle soar at your command? (39:27). Through his power God manages his creation with wisdom and care. God’s creation is not the playground of his power but the nursery of his care. The world is not out of control; God is managing it quite nicely.” (John Mark Hicks, Yet Will I Trust Him: Understanding God In A Suffering World, 173-174 (emphasis added, M.T.); Joplin, MO; College Press Publishing Company)  

It is later (much later) that the inspired Prophet James teaches us that there was indeed a great purpose to why God allowed Job to suffer so terribly.  

The Hidden Purposes For Job’s Suffering

James, in encouraging Christians to persevere in the midst of difficult times and trials, wrote the following: 

James 5:11 (NKJV)-Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

Look at that phrase “the end.” It is a very interesting phrase in the Greek New Testament.

Look at some other translations of the passage:

James 5:11 (Amplified)-You know how we call those blessed (happy) who were steadfast [who endured]. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the Lord’s [purpose and how He richly blessed him in the] end, inasmuch as the Lord is full of pity and compassion and tenderness and mercy. [Job 1:21-22; Job 42:10; Psa 111:4]

James 5:11 (ISV)-We consider those who endured to be blessed. You have heard about Job’s endurance and have seen the purpose of the Lord—that the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

God is telling us that He had a reason for allowing Job’s suffering, even though Job did not see it at the time.  

“The word translated “end” here, telos, often with the significance of termination, consummation, etc., also designates purpose, aim, design, it’s obvious meaning here. We, in our day, and from our vantage point (James is saying), can now see the purpose and design of God’s plan in Job’s case, which was not nearly so apparent then. The over-all-lesson here indicated ought not to be lost on us today. There is “a divinity that shapes our ends,” and though, for the moment, we are unable to discern the purpose or plan which God has, we should patiently wait for the unfolding thereof, knowing that eventually he will vindicate himself and all matters will turn out for our good…That is, “the end” (design, purpose, plan) of the Lord is to show great pity and much mercy for his suffering saints. In Job’s case, the Lord exhibited the greatest pity and compassion; and, this will he also do for all who similarly endure. The phrase “full of pity” denotes the fact that God is tender-hearted; he is not unmindful of the agonies of his people, nor does he turn a deaf ear to their cries. He abounds in pity (polusplagchnos), he is filled with it. Moreover, he is “merciful,” (oiktirmon), I.e., full of compassion for those who suffer.” (Guy N. Woods, A Commentary On The Epistle Of James, 287; Nashville, TN; Gospel Advocate).

Through his ordeals, Job learned to trust in God’s goodness even more then he had before. There was a time when Job saw God as his close friend:

Job 29:1-5-Job said: 2 I long for the past, when God took care of me, 3 and the light from his lamp showed me the way through the dark. 4 I was in the prime of life, God All-Powerful was my closest friend, 5 and all of my children were nearby.

Yet through his suffering, Job learned to rely upon God even more, and to have an even closer relationship with Him.  
There was a hidden purpose for Job’s suffering, even if Job did not see it at the time.  

We see the same with many other examples in the Bible.  

Looking At Joseph

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers because of their jealously (Genesis 37). The Bible then reminds us that while he was in slavery, he was falsely accused of rape and arrested (Genesis 39). For two years, Joseph was in prison (Genesis 41). He did not understand why he was suffering, and the Psalmist reminds us of this: 

Psalm 105:17-19 (GW)-17 He sent a man ahead of them. He sent Joseph, who was sold as a slave. 18 They hurt his feet with shackles, and cut into his neck with an iron collar. 19 The LORD’S promise tested him through fiery trials until his prediction came true.  

God had allowed Joseph to go through these trials, which he did not understand; yet the purpose of God was later made known. God had sent Joseph into Egypt to prepare saving people for the coming seven years of famine. Joseph himself learned this:

Genesis 45:5-8-5 Don’t worry or blame yourselves for what you did. God is the one who sent me ahead of you to save lives. 6 There has already been a famine for two years, and for five more years no one will plow fields or harvest grain. 7 But God sent me on ahead of you to keep your families alive and to save you in this wonderful way. 8 After all, you weren’t really the ones who sent me here—it was God. He made me the highest official in the king’s court and placed me over all Egypt.

Genesis 50:20 (ERV)-It is true that you planned to do something bad to me. But really, God was planning good things. God’s plan was to use me to save the lives of many people. And that is what happened. 

The hidden purpose for God in allowing Joseph to suffer was to bring about greater good. We also see here that God sometimes allows us to suffer in order to bring about good, not only for ourselves, but also for others.

Looking At The Suffering Of David

The Bible tells us that king David (who had rebelled against God and committed horrible and wicked sins) was brought to repentance through his suffering.  

Psalm 119:67 (ERV)-Before I suffered, I did many wrong things. But now I carefully obey everything you say.

Psalm 119:71 (ERV)-Suffering was good for me; I learned your laws.

Psalm 119:75 (ERV)-LORD, I know that your decisions are fair, and you were right to punish me.

God had allowed the suffering in David’s life in order to bring about his repentance. From this, we learn another very important lesson about suffering: it can be allowed by God to try and bring people to repentance.  

Isaiah 26:9-Throughout the night, my heart searches for you, because your decisions show everyone on this earth how to live right.

Isaiah 26:9 (ISV)-My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me searches for you. For when your judgments come upon the earth, the world’s inhabitants learn righteousness.

Isaiah 26:9 (Amplified)-My soul yearns for You [O Lord] in the night, yes, my spirit within me seeks You earnestly; for [only] when Your judgments are in the earth will the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God). 

Lamentations 3:15-33-15 God has turned my life sour. 16 He made me eat gravel and rubbed me in the dirt. 17 I cannot find peace or remember happiness. 18 I tell myself, “I am finished! I can’t count on the LORD to do anything for me.” 19 Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. 20 That’s all I ever think about, and I am depressed. 21 Then I remember something that fills me with hope. 22 The LORD’s kindness never fails! If he had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. 23 The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning. 24 Deep in my heart I say, “The LORD is all I need; I can depend on him!” 25 The LORD is kind to everyone who trusts and obeys him. 26 It is good to wait patiently for the LORD to save us. 27 When we are young, it is good to struggle hard. 28 and to sit silently alone, if this is what the LORD intends. 29 Being rubbed in the dirt can teach us a lesson; 30 we can also learn from insults and hard knocks. 31 The Lord won’t always reject us! 32 He causes a lot of suffering, but he also has pity because of his great love. 33 The Lord doesn’t enjoy sending grief or pain.

Looking At Jesus And The Gospel 

Perhaps the ultimate display of God’s hidden purposes in suffering which brings about good are displayed through the “mystery” of the Gospel.  

Ephesians 3:4-6-4 As you read the letter, you will also find out how well I really do understand the mystery about Christ. 5 No one knew about this mystery until God’s Spirit told it to his holy apostles and prophets. 6 And the mystery is this: Because of Christ Jesus, the good news has given the Gentiles a share in the promises that God gave to the Jews. God has also let the Gentiles be part of the same body.  

Several times the Bible talks about the “mystery” that is found in the Gospel. The word “mystery” as used in Scripture is often greatly misunderstood in our day and age.

Speaking of the word “mystery” in Ephesians, William Barclay tells us: 

“The New Testament uses the word mystery in a special sense. It is not something mysterious in the sense that it is hard to understand. It is something which has long been kept secret and has now been revealed, but is still incomprehensible to the person who has not been initiated into its meaning. Let us take an example. Suppose someone who knew nothing whatever about Christianity was brought into a communion service. To that person, it would be a complete mystery; he or she would not understand in the least what was going on. But to anyone who knows the story and the meaning of the Last Supper, the whole service has a meaning which is quite clear. So, in the New Testament sense, a mystery is something which is hidden to non-Christians but clear to Christians.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters To The Galatians And Ephesians, 95 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press) 

God had kept the mystery hidden for a very long time, even from the angels.  

1 Peter 1:12-But they were told that they were serving you and not themselves. They preached to you by the power of the Holy Spirit, who was sent from heaven. And their message was only for you, even though angels would like to know more about it.
Paul discussed how the angels are learning from us: 

Ephesians 3:9-10-9 God, who created everything, wanted me to help everyone understand the mysterious plan that had always been hidden in his mind. 10 Then God would use the church to show the powers and authorities in the spiritual world that he has many different kinds of wisdom.  

“The words “to the intent” reach back to verses 8 and 9. Vincent says: “Grace was given me to preach Christ and to enlighten men as to the long-hidden mystery of the admission of the Gentiles, in order that now, etc.” The principalities and powers are the holy angels. Alford says: “For this sublime cause the humble Paul was raised up – to bring about – he, the least worthy of the saints, – that to the heavenly powers themselves should be made known, by means of those whom he was empowered to enlighten, etc.” “Might be known” is gnōrizō, “to make known.” “By” is dia, “through the intermediate agency of.” “Manifold” is polupoikilos, “much – variegated, marked with a great variety of colors.” The Church thus becomes the university for angels, and each saint a professor. Only in the Church can the angels come to an adequate comprehension of the grace of God. They look at the Church to investigate the mysteries of redemption. Peter (1Pe 1:12) speaks of the things which the angels have a passionate desire to stoop down and look into, like the golden cherubim that overshadow the Mercy Seat, ever gazing upon the sprinkled blood that is upon it. The preposition para, “beside,” is prefixed to the verb “stoop down,” which speaks of the angels as spectators viewing the great plan of redemption from the side lines, not being participants in it.”. (Kenneth Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies In The Greek New Testament) 

The angels did not understand God’s incredible plan of redemption. It had been “hidden” from the world at large, and even from them, until God’s good purposes were brought to light.  

Even the devil and the forces of darkness did not understand the mystery of the Gospel, and what would happen when Jesus was killed. Paul tells us:

1 Corinthians 2:7-8-7 We speak of God’s hidden and mysterious wisdom that God decided to use for our glory long before the world began. 8 The rulers of this world didn’t know anything about this wisdom. If they had known about it, they would not have nailed the glorious Lord to a cross.  

The phrase “rulers of this world” was often used to mean Satan and the collective powers of darkness:

“There are a number of good reasons, however, for believing Paul intended his readers to think of demonic rulers when they read this passage. First, Paul used the term “ruler” (archon) elsewhere for Satan. In Ephesians 2:2, for example, Paul described Satan as “the ruler (archon] of the kingdom of the air.” On one other occasion,, he did use the word for human rulers (Rom 13:3), but the important point to establish here is that the word was part of his vocabulary for referring to an evil spirit-being. Second, it is more natural to interpret the demonic rulers as being “wiped out” (katargeo) than the human rulers. Later in the same letter he said Christ must destroy (katargeo) the powers of darkness (“all dominion, authority, and power”) before he hands over the kingdom to God the Father (1 Cor 15:24). He also used the word katargeo to refer to Christ’s slaying of the satanically inspired “lawless one” during the time of great distress at the end (2 Thess 2:8). He never used the word for the ultimate doom of unbelieving humanity. It is significant that the writer of Hebrews also used the word katargeo with reference to the evil spiritual realm-by his death Christ “destroyed” the devil (Heb 2:14). Third, this interpretation best explains Paul’s argument in this passage. In the larger context Paul was acclaiming the inscrutable wisdom of God. This wisdom is the essence of Paul’s message and is imparted by revelation of the Spirit to believers. He belittled human wisdom as useless for understanding God’s ways. He now advances his argument by showing that not even the angelic powers could understand the secret wisdom of God. Fourth, Paul probably used the word ruler for evil angels because it was part of the wide array of terminology for evil spirits in Jewish tradition at the time. Furthermore, it likely carried the connotation of exceptional power and authority in the hierarchy of evil spirit-beings. This is especially true when we realize it was a title for Satan. The use of the word “ruler” (archon) in Judaism for evil angels can be illustrated by its appearance in the second century B.C. Testament of Simeon…Finally, the word “ruler” (archon] was also part of the early Christian vocabulary for the satanic. The “prince [archon] of this world” is one of John’s most common expressions for the devil (see Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). An example of its use by the Apostolic Fathers can be seen in the late first-century Epistle of Barnabas…Paul held the demonic rulers responsible for Christ’s death. He assumes that these powers of Satan were working behind the scenes to control the course of events during the passion week. It was not a part of Paul’s purpose to explain exactly how these demonic rulers operated. At the very least we can imagine they were intimately involved by exerting their devious influence in and through Judas, Pilate, Annas and Caiaphas, and by inciting the mob.’.” (Clinton Arnold, Powers Of Darkness: Principalities & Powers In Paul’s Letters, 102-104 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press) 

Paul teaches us here some important lessons about how God worked out His good plan, even through the free-will and wicked choices of Satan and the wicked rulers:

“This passage contributes three important insights into our understanding of the powers. First, their knowledge of God’s plan is limited-they were not aware of precisely how God would inaugurate his method of redemption through Christ. Paul states it plainly, “None of the rulers of this age understood it.” God did not reveal to these supernatural beings his “secret wisdom” (literally, his “wisdom in a mystery”). The intricacies of the plan of salvation were kept hidden, not only from humanity, but also from the angelic realm. The satanic opposition thus naively believed putting Jesus to death was the way to do away with the Son of God who had come to fulfill his Father’s will and inaugurate his kingdom. Second, the demonic rulers are facing impending doom (1 Cor 2:6). Paul asserts that the rulers of this age “are coming to nothing” (NIV), “are passing away” (NASB), “are declining to their end” (NEB). Paul here employed a strong word (katargeo), which is generally used to mean “render powerless,” “abolish” and “wipe out.”2 Ironically, this is true of the powers because the cross of Christ marked their defeat. Although they may experience temporary victories in their ongoing hostility against the church, their ultimate doom is certain. Paul uses the same word (katarge5) later in his letter to the Corinthians, when he says all the hostile powers must be destroyed before “he hands over the kingdom to God the Father” (1 Cor 15:24). The demonic rulers are also described by Paul as being part “of this age.” Following traditional Jewish eschatology, Paul conceived of two ages, this age and the one to come. The powers are a pan of this present evil age (see Gal 1:4) from which God is rescuing his people. The demise of the powers is all the more certain because the Second Coming of Christ will mark the end of “this age.” All the fullness of life in the age to come will then be experienced-and without contending with the devilish influence of the demonic rulers. Third, the demonic rulers are intimately involved in the affairs of life by working in and through people. From the Gospel accounts it is clear that Jesus was nailed to the cross by humans-Roman soldiers following orders from the proconsul, Pontius Pilate. Jesus had been handed over to Pilate for crucifixion by the Jewish council consisting of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and led by the high priests Annas and then Caiaphas. Furthermore, a crowd of people had assembled for Passover who were shouting to Pilate that Jesus should be crucified. It appears that the guilt for Jesus’ death should be assigned to all of these people. Yet in this passage, Paul pointed to demonic responsibility for Jesus’ death.” (Clinton Arnold, Powers Of Darkness: Principalities & Powers In Paul’s Letters, 101-102 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press) 

Through the suffering of His Messiah, God brought incredible good to the world through His hidden plan.  

Looking At The Apostle Paul

If anyone understood suffering, it was the Apostle Paul.  

2 Corinthians 11:22-33-22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Jews? So am I. Are they from the family of Abraham? Well, so am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a fool to talk this way, but I serve him better than they do. I have worked harder and have been put in jail more times. I have been beaten with whips more and have been in danger of death more often. 24 Five times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes with a whip. 25 Three times the Romans beat me with a big stick, and once my enemies stoned me. I have been shipwrecked three times, and I even had to spend a night and a day in the sea. 26 During my many travels, I have been in danger from rivers, robbers, my own people, and foreigners. My life has been in danger in cities, in deserts, at sea, and with people who only pretended to be the Lord’s followers. 27 I have worked and struggled and spent many sleepless nights. I have gone hungry and thirsty and often had nothing to eat. I have been cold from not having enough clothes to keep me warm. 28 Besides everything else, each day I am burdened down, worrying about all the churches. 29 When others are weak, I am weak too. When others are tricked into sin, I get angry. 30 If I have to brag, I will brag about how weak I am. 31 God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, knows I am not lying. And God is to be praised forever! 32 The governor of Damascus at the time of King Aretas had the city gates guarded, so that he could capture me. 33 But I escaped by being let down in a basket through a window in the city wall.

Certainly, Paul knew about suffering. How did he view the reasons of why God allowed his hardships?

2 Corinthians 4:16-18-16 We never give up. Our bodies are gradually dying, but we ourselves are being made stronger each day. 17 These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing. 18 Things that are seen don’t last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal. That’s why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen.

To Paul, suffering was allowed by God to build him and help prepare him for eternity.

Conclusion

Sometimes God allows suffering in our lives for reasons that we may not fully understand.

Yet He has promised to bring good through the pain that we face.

Like Job, we need to learn to trust in God’s purposes:

Job 13:15-God may kill me, but still I will trust him and offer my defense.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Could It All Be By Chance?

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Several people I work with tell me, “Mark, we exist only because of chance. There is no God!”

I am sure that many have come to believe this through the influence of several sources: the public school system (even though there are godly teachers who refuse to propagate such nonsense), the media, public broadcasting, social networking, etc.  
Yet what do the facts of science actually show?  

Are we here by chance, or is there a Creator? 

One author, Stephen Joseph Williams, wrote a fascinating book entitled, What Your Atheist Professor Doesn’t Know (But Should): An Exploration Of The Implications Of Modern Science, Archaeology, History And Philosophy.
The book is a fascinating study of Christian Evidences.
In chapter two, he writes the following:

“The appearance that the universe was designed to support life on earth is overwhelming. Secular scientists have observed that for physical life to be possible in the universe, many characteristics must take on specific values, as referenced below. In the secular scientific world, this circumstance of apparent fine-tuning in the universe is not disputed, and is referred to as “The Anthropic Principle”. Atheistic scientists have offered several unconvincing rationalizations for this having occurred without the involvement of a Divine Mind, but given the intricacy of the inter-relationships between various features in the universe, the indication of divine “fine tuning” seems incontrovertible.” (Stephen Joseph Williams, What Your Atheist Professor Doesn’t Know (But Should): An Exploration Of The Implications Of Modern Science, Archaeology, History And Philosophy, 50-51 (Kindle Edition); RFH) 

Williams then goes on to provide a list of some 93 factors which must exist in a universe in order for life to exist.  
Yet he doesn’t stop there.  

“Not only is the universe at large apparently fine-tuned to support life, there is an array of features in our more local region of the universe that are also necessary to allow life to survive. The features of a planet, its planetary companions, its moon, its star, and its galaxy must have values falling within narrowly defined ranges (infinitesimally small targets, and all precisely coordinated) for physical life of any kind to exist.” (Stephen Joseph Williams, What Your Atheist Professor Doesn’t Know (But Should): An Exploration Of The Implications Of Modern Science, Archaeology, History And Philosophy, 60 (Kindle Edition); RFH) 

He then provides a list of 154 factors “locally” which make life possible, adding these words:

“Keep in mind that this list is always growing as new improbabilities are being discovered. According to Dr.’ s Ross and Rana, the improbability increases by about a million times each month!” (Stephen Joseph Williams, What Your Atheist Professor Doesn’t Know (But Should): An Exploration Of The Implications Of Modern Science, Archaeology, History And Philosophy, 119-120 (Kindle Edition); RFH) 

Taking all of these factors into account, is there a possibility that we are here by chance?  

“Since the threshold of mathematical impossibility is 1 in 10 to the 50th power (ie: given a 13.73 billion year universe, there is not enough time for anything with this or smaller odds to occur by chance), and the odds of this fine-tuning coming into existence by chance are far, far beyond that, we can rule out chance. Only a transcendent Creator makes sense of this unbelievably complex order in the universe. During the last 35 years or so, scientists have discovered that the existence of intelligent life absolutely depends upon this very delicate and complex balance of initial conditions. It appears that “the deck was stacked” in the substances, constants and quantities of the Big Bang itself, to provide a life-permitting universe. We now know through modern science that life-prohibiting universes are vastly more probable than any life-permitting universe like ours. How much more probable? Well, the answer is that the chances that the universe should be life-permitting are so infinitesimally small as to be incomprehensible and incalculable. For example, Stephen Hawking has estimated that if the rate of the universe’s expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have re-collapsed into a hot fireball due to gravitational attraction. (4) Physicist P.C.W. Davies has calculated that the odds against the initial conditions being suitable for star formation (without which planets could not exist) is one followed by at least a thousand billion billion zeroes! (5) Davies also calculates that a change in the strength of gravity or of the weak force by merely one part in 10 raised to the 100th power (!) would have prevented a life-permitting universe. (6) As we saw in the previous lists, there are dozens and dozens of such constants and quantities present in the Big Bang which must be exquisitely fine-tuned in this way if the universe is to permit life. Moreover, it’s not only each individual quantity or constant which must be finely tuned; their ratios to each other must also be exquisitely finely tuned. Therefore, vast improbability is multiplied by vast improbability, and yet again by vast improbability repeatedly until our minds are simply reeling in vanishingly small odds. There is no plausible physical reason why these constants and quantities should have the values that they do. Reflecting on this, the once-agnostic physicist P.C.W. Davies comments, “Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact.” (7) Likewise, British Astrophysicist Sir Frederick Hoyle remarks, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics.” (8) Robert Jastrow, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, refers to this as “the most powerful evidence for the existence of God ever to come out of science.” (9) So, again, the view that Christian theists have historically held, that there is an intelligent Designer of the universe, seems to make so much more sense than the atheistic alternative: that the universe, when it popped into being, without cause, out of nothing, just happened to be, by chance, fine-tuned for intelligent life with a mind-numbingly unlikely precision and delicacy. To call the odds against this fine-tuning occurring by chance “astronomical” would be a wild understatement.” (Stephen Joseph Williams, What Your Atheist Professor Doesn’t Know (But Should): An Exploration Of The Implications Of Modern Science, Archaeology, History And Philosophy, 121-124 (Kindle Edition); RFH) 

It’s no wonder that the famed Albert Einstein said:

“I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what that is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the most intelligent human toward God.” (Isaacson, W. (2008). Einstein: His Life and Universe. New York: Simon and Schuster, p. 386)

Friends, there is NO CHANCE that we are here by accident or by chance.

The universe was created by the eternal God Who has revealed Himself to mankind through His wondrous creation: 

Romans 1:18-20-18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

We have all sinned against God by breaking His law (Romans 2:12-15), which is why God in mercy sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us (John 3:16). Jesus died for the sins of mankind, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day after His death (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

He has decreed that all hear His Word (John 6:44-45), believe in Him as the Son of God (John 8:24), repent of their sins (Luke 13:3), confess Him as the Son of God (Acts 8:37), and are baptized into Him (Acts 22:16) will be saved by God and added to His church (Acts 2:47).

If we are faithful to Him, even to the point of death, we will receive Heaven itself as our home (Revelation 2:10).

When we sin as Christians, we can be forgiven if we repent of those sins and confess them to God in prayer (1 John 1:9).  

Why not be baptized into Christ today? Or why not return to Him if you as a Christian have turned from Him in sin?

The churches of Christ stand ready to assist you.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Ancient Roman Records And Jesus

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

We are often told that the New Testament Books are not credible in the history which they record, and that only a blind fool would accept what the Bible teaches.

Indeed, there are some today who maintain that Jesus Christ never existed, and that Christians should fall in line and accept what everyone knows-that even if Jesus existed, He certainly was not the Son of God.  

In the midst of such accusations against the teachings of the Bible and of the identity of Jesus Christ, I find it curious that many ancient Roman documents reference Jesus and provide impressive evidence of His Divine Nature. Indeed, these documents contain powerful testimony to the fact that the early Christians claimed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God (just as the Bible teaches, interestingly enough).  

Let’s study.  

In the early to mid second century, there was a Christian named Justin Martyr. He had previously been a pagan philosopher, and had become a follower of Jesus Christ after an in-depth study with an elderly Christian gentleman.

So persuaded was he of the truthfulness of Christianity that he began to preach and proclaim the Word of God to his contemporaries, even as he continued to learn more about the faith of which he was now an ardent disciple.

As the Roman Government continued its’ relentless persecution of Jesus’ church, Justin Martyr wrote his First Apology (or Defense, M.T.) to the Emperor of the Empire, Antonines Pius. He sought to persuade the Emperor of the truthfulness of the claims of Christianity, and it is in his writings that we find the following statements by Justin:

“And after He was crucified they cast lots upon His vesture, and they that crucified Him parted it among them. And that these things did happen, you can ascertain from the Acts of Pontius Pilate.” (First Apology, XXXV) 

“And that it was predicted that our Christ should heal all diseases and raise the dead, hear what was said. There are these words: “At His coming the lame shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerer shall be clear speaking: the blind shall see, and the lepers shall be cleansed; and the dead shall rise, and walk about.” [99] And that He did those things, you can learn from the Acts of Pontius Pilate.” (First Apology, XLVIII)

Please notice that Justin encouraged the Romans to carefully examine-not only the Prophets and the Memoirs of the Apostles (i.e., the Gospels)-but official Roman legal documents themselves which contained references to Jesus Christ.

While we do not have these documents in our day and age (having been lost to the wreck of ages), they at one time existed and were appealed to by early Christians as evidence of their faith in Jesus Christ.  

Another second-century Christian named Tertullian also encouraged the magistrates who opposed Christianity to carefully study the official historical records of the Roman Empire for confirmation of what the church taught regarding Jesus Christ.

Speaking of the brutal scourging and trial of Jesus under the supervision of Pontius Pilate, Tertullian writes: 

“All these things Pilate did to Christ; and now in fact a Christian in his own convictions, he sent word of Him to the reigning Cæsar, who was at the time Tiberius.”. (First Apology Of Tertullian, 717 (Kindle Edition); New York, NY: Scriptura Press) 

Indeed, there are other passages in which Tertullian encourages his readers to consult the “records” or “annals” of the Roman Empire to help provide evidence for his case.  

Regarding the existence and authenticity of these documents, along with the profound impact which they had in the ancient world upon even the Roman authorities, scholar Bill Cooper has powerfully written: 

“The chances of a local rumour doing the rounds in Jerusalem reaching the emperor’s ears back in Rome are extremely slight. To reach the emperor at all, the rumour would have to hitch a ride to Rome on the back of an official communication, and there is good evidence indeed that just such a communication was sent from Pontius Pilate to the Emperor Tiberius about the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of our Lord. While that is not something that the critics would like to hear, it is important enough for us to consider just what this evidence is. We need firstly to bear in mind the fact that such a communication – an update on events in the province of Judaea – would be nothing extraordinary. Such communications were an expected and everyday occurrence, and woe betide the governor who neglected to send them. At the least, dereliction, treasonous thoughts or sabotage would be suspected. Nevertheless, this report must have been something special, because it seems to have had a profound effect on Tiberius himself who received it, Tiberius putting a motion to the Senate to have this Jesus added to the gods of Rome. Happily, the Senate declined the invitation because they’d hitherto heard nothing about this Man….Now, just who was Tertullian writing to? Was it a friend or colleague? – a sympathiser of the Christians perhaps? No, by no means. He was writing to the magistrates of Carthage, to the very men who were then persecuting the Christians. To invite them to consult the state archives to test the truth of what he was saying was a brave move and a foolish one if the annals had not existed, or had told a story contrary to his own….Again the invitation to consult the state archives. Who was Justin writing to? none other than the emperor of Rome at that time, Antoninus Pius, his sons, and the Senate of Rome. That again is quite a readership, and Justin would have been the most foolish man on earth to invite a hostile emperor to consult the archives on Pontius Pilate if those records had not been there to consult. Moreover, those archives must have held papers on the Crucifixion of Jesus and His subsequent Resurrection, including a report on the rumour that Matthew records about the disciples being thought to have stolen His body. It’s a wonder that the critics forget to mention these things. But there’s more….In other words, what we have just read about the report from Pilate in Justin, Tertullian and Eusebius, would not be there for us to read unless that report had at one time existed, and had been available in the state archives for others to consult some two hundred years or more afterwards. It is as simple and as straightforward as that. The critics can howl that it isn’t true till they’re blue in the face if they wish, but eggs is eggs, and facts are facts are facts!”. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The New Testament: Part One-The Gospels,1272-1319 (Kindle Edition)) 

Notice several things with me.  

First, ancient Roman documents and sources confirm that Jesus Christ lived and died. The claims that Jesus never existed are absurd.  

Second, these ancient Roman documents confirm that Jesus Christ was of great political interest in the Roman Empire. He made a great stir in the world, just as the New Testament affirms.  

Third, the miracles of Jesus were documented-not only by the New Testament writers and hundreds of eyewitnesses in ancient Palestine and Judea-but even among the Roman authorities themselves.  
Fourth, the scourging, Crucifixion, and claims of the resurrection of Christ were all well attested.  

Fifth, the teaching of the Deity (Godhood) of Jesus Christ was not the invention of a church counsel hundreds of years after the first century, but was instead well-known as a teaching of the Apostles of Christ in the ancient Roman Empire.  

In all of these ways, ancient Roman documents confirm the credibility of the New Testament Scriptures.

Indeed, they corroborate in amazing ways the credibility of the entire Bible.  

Why not today make the decision to build your life on the tried and true foundation of the Word of God?  

The Son of God, Jesus Christ, died on the Cross of Calvary to pay the price for our sins (Isaiah 53). He died for us, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day after His death (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). With His blood, Jesus built His church (Matthew 16:18), to which He adds the saved (Acts 2:47; 20:28) when they obey His plan of redemption (Acts 2:36-41; Romans 6:17-18).

Why not today be saved from your sins? Having heard the Word of God (Romans 10:17), will you not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 16:31), repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess Jesus Christ as God’s Son (Acts 8;37), and be buried with Christ in baptism to have your sins washed away and to begin living for Him, being faithful unto death (Romans 6:3-4; Revelation 2:10)?  

If you have become a Christian and have turned away from the Lord, why not today repent of that sin and pray to Him for forgiveness (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?  

The churches of Christ stand ready to assist you.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

The Downfall Of Cain

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Many people are aware of some of the elements of the story regarding Cain and Abel.

Many are aware, for example, that God accepted the worship of Abel and rejected the worship of Cain.

They are also aware that Cain killed his brother Abel.

People are usually also aware that Can was sent away from his family after being given a special “mark” from God that would ensure people would not kill him when they saw the mark.  

Indeed, the Book of Genesis tells us of these important facts: 

Genesis 6:1-17 (ERV)-1 Adam had sexual relations with his wife Eve. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Cain. Eve said, “With the LORD’S help, I have made a man!”

2 Eve gave birth again to Cain’s brother Abel. Abel became a shepherd, and Cain became a farmer.

3 At harvest time, Cain brought a gift to the LORD. He brought some of the food that he grew from the ground, but Abel brought some animals from his flock. He chose some of his best sheep and brought the best parts from them. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift.

5 But he did not accept Cain and his offering. Cain was sad because of this, and he became very angry.

6 The LORD asked Cain, “Why are you angry? Why does your face look sad?

7 You know that if you do what is right, I will accept you. But if you don’t, sin is ready to attack you. That sin will want to control you, but you must control it.”

8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” So they went to the field. Then Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

9 Later, the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain answered, “I don’t know. Is it my job to watch over my brother?”

10 Then the Lord said, “What have you done? You killed your brother and the ground opened up to take his blood from your hands. Now his blood is shouting to me from the ground. So you will be cursed from this ground.

12 Now when you work the soil, the ground will not help your plants grow. You will not have a home in this land. You will wander from place to place.”

13 Then Cain said to the LORD, “This punishment is more than I can bear!

14 You are forcing me to leave the land, and I will not be able to be near you or have a home! Now I must wander from place to place, and anyone I meet could kill me.”

15 Then the LORD said to Cain, “No, if anyone kills you, I will punish that person much, much more.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain to show that no one should kill him.

16 Cain went away from the LORD and lived in the land of Nod.

17 Cain had sexual relations with his wife. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son named Enoch. Cain built a city and gave the city the same name as his son Enoch.

The story of Cain’s murder of his brother is well-known. Even the ancient Chinese language contains clues that reflect this!

“In the Chinese culture the elder brother is shown regard by using the respectful address elder brother , rather than calling him by name. He was literally the spokes man , and important representative for the family, as shown by this character . A similar character has the same pronounciation in the Chinese but means cruel, fierce, violent, or inhuman and is used in reference to killing. The figure itself shows a mark on the body, even as Cain, the original elder brother and the first cruel and passionate murderer had been marked by God. In the Chinese writing is used in many words to donote killing or cutting. Therefore this mark on the elder brother was very significant in designating him as a murderer. In past years, criminals in China were tattooed on the cheeks or forehead so that for the rest of their lives they would be recognized as outcasts from society. This custom could well have been derived from a knowledge of the ancient story of Cain. It is also surmised that by the broken mouth he was no longer regarded as the spokesman for the family.”. (C.H. Kang & Ethel R. Nelson, The Discovery Of Genesis: How The Truths Of Genesis Were Found Hidden In The Chinese Language, 1436-1443 (Kindle Edition); St. Louis, MO; Concordia Publishing House)

Why was Cain’s sacrifice rejected by God and Abel’s accepted? Many Jewish legends redound some interesting theories: 

“The Jews themselves found the story puzzling and elaborated it in order to find a reason for God’s rejection of Cain and for Cain’s murder of Abel. The earliest legend tells how every time Eve had children she gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, and that they were given to each other as man and wife. In the case of Abel and Cain, Adam tried to change this and planned to give the twin sister of Cain to Abel. Cain was bitterly dissatisfied. To settle the matter, Adam said to them: ‘Go, my sons, sacrifice to the Lord; and he whose sacrifice is accepted shall have the young girl. Take each of you offerings in your hand and go, sacrifice to the Lord and he will decide.’ So Abel, who was a shepherd, took his best lamb to the place of sacrifice; but Cain, who was a tiller of the ground, took the poorest sheaf of corn he could find and laid it on the altar. Thereupon, fire descended from heaven and consumed Abel’s offering so that not even the cinders were left, while Cain’s was left untouched. Adam then gave the girl to Abel, and Cain was very angry. One day, Abel was asleep on a mountain; and Cain came upon him and took a stone and crushed his head. Then he threw the dead body on his back and carried it about because he did not know what to do with it. He saw two crows fighting and one killed the other, then dug a hole with its beak and buried it. Cain said: ‘I have not the sense of this bird. I, too, will lay my brother in the ground,’ and he did so. The Jews had another story to explain the first murder. Cain and Abel could not agree as to what they should possess. So, Abel devised a scheme whereby they might bring an end to the disagreement. Cain took the earth and everything that did not move; Abel took everything that moved. But in Cain’s heart there was still bitter envy. One day, he said to his brother: ‘Remove your foot; you are standing on my property; the plain is mine.’ Abel ran to the hills but Cain pursued him, saying: ‘The hills are mine.’ Abel took refuge on the mountains, but Cain still pursued him, saying: ‘The mountains, too, are mine.’ And so, in his envy, he hunted his brother until he killed him.”. (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Letter To The Hebrews, 156-157 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press)

There is a passage of Scripture in the Book of Hebrews that sheds some light for us on this topic. 

Hebrews 11:4-By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

From this passage, I want to suggest that there were three basic reasons why Cain’s sacrifice was rejected.  

Cain’s Sacrifice Was Rejected….Because Cain Rejected The Standard Of Worship

The inspired writer tells us that Abel’s Sacrifice was accepted because it was offered by faith. This shows a contrast between the sacrifices of Cain and Abel, so that Cain’s sacrifice was not offered according to “faith.” 

Yet what does this mean? 

In the Bible, the word faith carries with it three ideas: knowledge of God and His Word; trust of God and His Word; and obedience to God and His Word.

In fact, all three of these elements are seen in countless ways in the “Hallmark Of Faith” in Hebrews chapter eleven, where the great heroes of faith through this chapter are considered and put forth as examples for us.  

Yet how do we receive faith in God? How do we learn to trust Him? 

Romans 10:17-So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Please notice that the only way to receive faith is by the Word of God.

So for Abel’s sacrifice to be accepted by God because it was offered by “faith,” then that means it must have been offered according to the Word of God.

In other words, Abel’s sacrifice was offered according to the pattern of acceptable worship that God’s Word provided.  

Therefore, since Cain’s sacrifice was not according to “faith” like his brother Abel’s sacrifice was, then we see that his worship must not have been offered according to the Word of God.

In other words, Cain’s sacrifice was not offered according to the Word of God.  

This speaks volumes to us about the subject of worship. If we offer God worship that His Word has not approved and authorized, He will not accept such. Worship that is not founded on the Word of God is not according to faith.  

Hasn’t it been the same way throughout time?

Leviticus 10:1-2-(ESV)-1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them.

2 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.

Again:

Matthew 15:9-AND IN VAIN THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.

Colossians 2:23-These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

The phrase “will-worship” or “self-imposed religion” is very interesting in the Greek:

“”‘will-worship’ (ethelo, ‘to will,’ threskeia, ‘worship’), occurs in Col. 2:23, voluntarily adopted ‘worship,’ whether unbidden or forbidden, not that which is imposed by others, but which one affects.” (W.E. Vine, Merrill Unger, William White, Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words, 62662-62668 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers)  

“Thayer-“1) voluntary, arbitrary worship; worship which one prescribes and devises for himself, contrary to the contents and nature of faith which ought to be directed to Christ.” (Joseph Henry Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, E-Sword edition)

The first reason why Cain’s worship was rejected was because of authority.  

Cain’s Sacrifice Was Rejected….Because Of The Sacrifice He Offered  

Yet these facts about the rejection of Cain leads us to another factor about why his worship was rejected by God. Cain’s choice of sacrifice, as contrasted with Abel’s, teaches us a great deal about why God rejected Cain. Look carefully at what we are told in Genesis:

Genesis 4:4-Abel also brought of the FIRSTBORN of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering,

Please observe that Abel offered of the “firstborn” of his flock.

Several Hebrew scholars throughout time have suggested that one of the reasons why Abel’s sacrifice was accepted and Cain’s was rejected was because Abel was offering the BEST he had in worship to God, and Cain wasn’t.

In fact, one ancient Hebrew history book, the book of Jasher, tells us this about the account of Cain and Abel:

Book Of Jasher 1:15-16-15 And it was at the expiration of a few years, that they brought an approximating offering to the Lord, and Cain brought from the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought from the firstlings of his flock from the fat thereof, and God turned and inclined to Abel and his offering, and a fire came down from the Lord from heaven and consumed it. 16 And unto Cain and his offering the Lord did not turn, and he did not incline to it, for he had brought from the inferior fruit of the ground before the Lord, and Cain was jealous against his brother Abel on account of this, and he sought a pretext to slay him.

Cain’s inferior sacrifice demonstrated how he viewed worship itself, and by extension, it shows us how he looked upon God. He did not view God as deserving the best he had to offer; and therefore his sacrifice was rejected.  

Hasn’t this been a problem of mankind all through history? For example:

Malachi 1:8-And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 1:13-14-You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it,” Says the LORD of hosts. “And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; Thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?” Says the LORD.

14 “But cursed be the deceiver Who has in his flock a male, And takes a vow, But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished—For I am a great King,” Says the LORD of hosts, “And My name is to be feared among the nations.

Isn’t it much the same way today?

Consider how people view attending church services, for example.

How often do people allow the things of this world to come before the assembly of the saints?

How often do we make excuses for not coming to church services?

I once had a lady tell me some years back that she could not come to church services for a week or two because she had a hangnail.

And people are often in services…until their favorite team is playing or their children’s basketball practice or game is on Sunday.  

Should God accept such worship? Should He accept part-time devotion from people who signed on for life-time discipleship?  

Cain’s Sacrifice Was Rejected….Because Of The Spirit He Continued To Manifest

Cain had God’s Word, and yet he clearly rejected it (as shown above). Yet what we see in Cain goes beyond the sacrifice he offers and the standard of worship he did not submit to: it shows us a spirit of wickedness he refused to repent of. By looking at Cain, we can see through his worship what his real issue was: a problem of the heart.  

Cain displayed a continually hostile attitude towards God. He continued in willful sin and refused to repent.  
Consider another Old Testament story by way of comparison.  

During the days of Hezekiah, the people began serving the Lord after a long period of time where God had been virtually forgotten. The Bible tells us: 

2 Chronicles 30:15-20-15 Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought the burnt offerings to the house of the LORD.

16 They stood in their place according to their custom, according to the Law of Moses the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood received from the hand of the Levites.

17 For there were many in the assembly who had not sanctified themselves; therefore the Levites had charge of the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was not clean, to sanctify them to the LORD.

18 For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone

19 who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.”

20 And the LORD listened to Hezekiah and healed the people.

Here the people had been ignorant of God’s Word, and yet were seeking to put God first. The Lord accepted them because their hearts were seeking Him.  

“But may unclean people eat the Passover? Unclean people ate what was clean. This was a clear violation of the Law. Chronicles clearly states that they “ate the Passover contrary to what was written” (2 Chron. 30:18, NIV)….But Hezekiah prays for the people. The prayer appeals to the gracious promise of God in 2 Chronicles 6-7 (especially 7:14). God accepts anyone who seeks him “even though” they do not seek him “in accordance with the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” The critical point is orientation—those “who set their hearts to seek God” (2 Chron. 30:19). This phrase combines two important words in Chronicles: “heart” and “seeking.” The two terms are linked in 1 Chronicles 16:10; 22:19; 28:9; 2 Chronicles 11:16; 12:14; 15:12,15; 19:3; 22:9; 30:19 and 31:21. “Seek” (translating two Hebrew synonyms) appears fifty-four times in Chronicles and “heart” (translating two Hebrew synonyms) appears sixty-four times. God seeks hearts that seek him. God takes the initiative and seeks out those hearts that yearn for him and trust him (cf. Heb. 11:6; Matt. 6:33; John 4:23-24)….God accepted unclean worshippers because they had a heart to seek him. The text explicitly records, as if to emphasize the legitimacy of Hezekiah’s request, that “the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people” (the promise of 2 Chron. 7:14). Significantly, Chronicles commends Hezekiah’s Passover renewal in 2 Chronicles 31:21: “every work that he undertook…to seek his God, he did with all his heart.” Even though he admitted ritually unclean people to the Passover, his Passover is described as wholehearted because he sought God in everything. Why would Hezekiah expect God to forgive this? Was it not clear in the Law that unclean people who eat sacrificial meals should be punished? Did not God forbid unclean people to eat the Passover? Perhaps even some of Hezekiah’s priests could have objected that if they permitted unclean people to eat the Passover that God would judge them and reject their Passover. But Hezekiah knew his God. He knew God’s compassion, grace and goodness toward those who seek him out of a genuine heart of faith.”. (John Mark Hicks & Greg Taylor, Down In The River To Pray: Revisioning Baptism As God’s Transforming Work, 2482-2505 (Kindle Edition); Abilene, Texas; LeafWood Publishers)

The contrast between these people and Cain is obvious.

These people were seeking God and His Word, and they grew out of their ignorant practices as they learned the Word.

Cain offered worship to God and simply expected Him to take it.

The words of Jesus about the scribes and the Pharisees come to mind here:

Matthew 23:23-23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Luke 11:42-“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Even if a person has the right form in worship, God will reject it if he does’t have the proper spirit.  

Conclusion

Look at how God continued to show mercy to Cain, in spite of all the wickedness which he had committed. The “mark of Cain” was designed to protect him from being killed.  

What was this mark?

“What this mark was, has given rise to a number of frivolously curious conjectures. Dr. Shuckford collects the most remarkable. Some say he was paralytic; this seems to have arisen from the version of the Septuagint, Στενων και τρεμων εση, Groaning and trembling shalt thou be. The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel says the sign was from the great and precious name, probably one of the letters of the word Yehovah. The author of an Arabic Catena in the Bodleian Library says, “A sword could not pierce him; fire could not burn him; water could not drown him; the air could not blast him; nor could thunder or lightning strike him.” The author of Bereshith Rabba, a comment on Genesis, says the mark was a circle of the sun rising upon him. Abravanel says the sign was Abel’s dog, which constantly accompanied him. Some of the doctors in the Talmud say that it was the letter ת tau marked on his forehead, which signified his contrition, as it is the first letter in the word תשובה teshubah, repentance. Rabbi Joseph, wiser than all the rest, says it was a long horn growing out of his forehead! Dr. Shuckford farther observes that the Hebrew word אית oth, which we translate a mark, signifies a sign or token. Thus, Gen 9:13, the bow was to be לאית leoth, for a sign or token that the world should not be destroyed; therefore the words, And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, should be translated, And the Lord appointed to Cain a token or sign, to convince him that no person should be permitted to slay him. To have marked him would have been the most likely way to have brought all the evils he dreaded upon him; therefore the Lord gave him some miraculous sign or token that he should not be slain, to the end that he should not despair, but, having time to repent, might return to a gracious God and find mercy. Notwithstanding the allusion which I suppose St. Paul to have made to the punishment of Cain, some think that he did repent and find mercy. I can only say this was possible.” (Adam Clarke)

“and the Lord set a mark upon Cain; about which there is a variety of sentiments (a): some say it was a horn in his forehead: others, a leprosy in his face; others, a wild ghastly look; others, a shaking and trembling in all his limbs; and others, that there was an earthquake wherever he stepped: and others will have it, that the dog which guarded Abel’s flock was given him to accompany him in his travels, by which sign it might be known that he was not to be attacked, or to direct him from taking any dangerous road: some say it was a letter imprinted on his forehead, either taken out of the great and glorious name of God, as the Targum of Jonathan, or out of his own name, as Jarchi; others the mark or sign of the covenant of circumcision (b): but as the word is often used for a sign or miracle, perhaps the better rendering and sense of the words may be, “and the Lord put”, or “gave a sign” (c); that is, he wrought a miracle before him to assure him, that “whoever found him should not kill him”: so that this was not a mark or sign to others, to direct or point out to them that they should not kill him, or to deter them from it; but was a sign or miracle confirming him in this, that no one should kill him; agreeably to which is the note of Aben Ezra,”it is right in my eyes that God made a sign (or wrought a miracle) for him, until he believed;”by which he was assured that his life would be secure, go where he would; even that no one should “strike” (d) him, as the word is, much less kill him.”. (John Gill)

Did Cain repent of his wickedness?

Sadly, no one knows for certain.  

The real question is whether we will learn from the rejection of Cain. If we will do what is right, we will be accepted by God!

Just like God loved Cain, so He loves us. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to the world to pay the price for our sins by dying in our place on Mount Calvary. Jesus died for us, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). He calls upon people to hear His Word (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus Christ (John 8:24), repent of sin (Luke 13:3), confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Matthew 10:32-33), be baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38), and be faithful to Him even to the point of death (Revelation 2:10).

When we sin and fall away as God’s children, He will forgive us if we repent and pray to Him (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9).  
The churches of Christ stand ready to assist you.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Job Bible Class: The Bible And Evil, Pain, And Suffering # 2: The Angels

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible)

Quotation For Contemplation 

The other angels were created by Him, and entrusted with the control of matter and the forms of matter. . . . Just as with men, they have freedom of choice as to both virtue and vice. . . . Some men are diligent in the matters entrusted to them by you, and others are faithless. It is the same among the angels. They are free agents, being created that way by God, as you will observe. Some of them have continued in those things for which God had made them. They have remained over the things to which He had ordained them. But some outraged both the constitution of their nature and the oversight entrusted to them. . . . These angels fell into impure love of virgins and were subjugated by the flesh. . . . Those who are called giants were begotten from these lovers of virgins. (Athenagoras (c. 175, E), 2.142.). 

Questions For Consideration 

 What are angels?  

What do angels have to do with suffering in our world?

The Place Of Angels In The Discussion Of Evil, Pain, And Suffering 

In our studies of the Book of Job, we have learned that the Lord created His universe and endowed it’s sentient members with the power of freewill.

We have learned that this freewill was a good thing, and that its’ abuse led to the introduction of sin and suffering into our world. The natural result of rebellion against an infinitely perfect God is separation from Him (Isaiah 59:1-2); and as a result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, the Creation was handed over to the devil.  

In the account of Job, the subject of the devil and angels plays a prominent role in understanding the subject of evil, pain, and suffering in the universe. These creatures demand our serious investigation and study.  

It is time to investigate the subject of angels.  

Angels In The Book Of Job

Several passages in the Book of Job discuss angels. Please consider the following verses: 

Job 1:6 One day, when the angels had gathered around the LORD, and Satan was there with them,

Job 2:1 When the angels gathered around the LORD again, Satan was there with them,

Job 4:18 He finds fault with his servants and even with his angels.

Job 15:14-16-14 No human is pure and innocent, 15 and neither are angels— not in the sight of God. If God doesn’t trust his angels, 16 what chance do humans have? We are so terribly evil that we thirst for sin.

Job 33:23-26-23 One of a thousand angels then comes to our rescue by saying we are innocent. 24 The angel shows kindness, commanding death to release us, because the price was paid. 25 Our health is restored, we feel young again, 26 and we ask God to accept us. Then we joyfully worship God, and we are rewarded because we are innocent.

Job 38:4-7-4 How did I lay the foundation for the earth? Were you there? 5 Doubtless you know who decided its length and width. 6 What supports the foundation? Who placed the cornerstone, 7 while morning stars sang, and angels rejoiced?  

From these Scriptures in Job, we learn several lessons about angels.  

First, angels are created beings.

Second, these beings are inferior to God.

Third, angels have the capacity of freewill.

Fourth, there was some kind of angelic rebellion in the past.

Fifth, angels are connected with humans.

Sixth, one of the responsibilities of angels is to minister to humans.

Seventh, the angels were in existence before the material universe.

Eighth, the angels worship God.

Ninth, angels help humanity by delivering the Word of God to them.

Tenth, angels are contrasted with humans in that humans are formed from clay and angels are not.

Eleventh, angels are able to feel joy (since they sang for joy when the universe was created).

Twelfth, fallen angels want to see mankind sin against God.  

What Are Angels?  

Our word “angel” actually translates several Hebrew and Greek words, some of which may have reference to “humans” or to “angels.”

Let’s study the Hebrew words translated as “angel” in the Book of Job.  

Mal’a.

This word is used in Job 4:18. The word is translated in the following ways in the KJV:

angels (100); messengers (74); messenger (24); angels (10); ambassadors (4).

In this passage, the word translated as “angel” is set in contrast to human beings.

Notice how the “angels” are distinguished from humans who are identified as those who are “formed from clay” (Job 4:20).

We also see from this word that one of the responsibilities of angels is to be “messengers” (noticing how the word “angel” used here is also often translated as “messenger” and “ambassador”).

Finally, we see that the angels are primarily “servants” of the Lord. Observe how the word “servant” is elaborated upon in the poetic tense of the passage (i..e, the two parts of the sentence build upon and explain each other). Other passages of Scripture confirm all of these observations.

 
Qâdôsh.

In Job 15:15, we are told about the “angels.”

The word used here (qâdôsh) usually carries with it the idea of a holy one; a saint; one who is set apart for some special service Notice again the contrast between “humans” and the “angels” in this passage.

Both “humans” and “angels” are charged with moral imperfection (Job 15:14).

Though both classes are guilty of sin, they are yet distinguished from each other.

In like fashion, the passage again contrasts “humans” with “angels” (see Job 15:16).

The ancient Hebrew commentators understood that this was a reference to angels, and often compared the passage with the “holy ones” who were present with God when the Hebrews received His Word at Mount Sinai: 

Deuteronomy 33:2-The LORD came from Mount Sinai. From Edom, he gave light to his people, and his glory was shining from Mount Paran. Thousands of his WARRIORS were with him, and fire was at his right hand.

Bene Eloheem.

The phrase used to describe angels in Job 1:6; 2:1 and 38:7 is Bene Elohim.

This particular word was used throughout the Old Testament to have reference to angels, and the ancient Jewish commentators understood this when commenting on this particular word: 

 “This strange passage describes the bizarre circumstances that led to the cataclysmic disaster of the famous Flood of Noah. The Hebrew term translated “sons of God” is , B’nai HaElohim, a term consistently used in the Old Testament for angels.224 When the Hebrew Torah, which of course includes the book of Genesis, was translated into Greek in the third century before Christ (giving us what is known as the Septuagint translation), this expression was translated angels.225 With the benefit of the best experts at that time behind it, this translation carries great weight and it was the one most widely quoted by the writers of the New Testament. The Book of Enoch also clearly treats these strange events as involving angels.226 Although this book was not considered a part of the “inspired” canon, the Book of Enoch was venerated by both rabbinical and early Christian authorities from about 200 B.C. through about A.D. 200 and is useful to authenticate the lexicological usage and confirm the accepted beliefs of the period. The Biblical passage refers to supernatural beings intruding upon the planet Earth….The “angel” view of this classic Genesis text is well documented in both ancient Jewish rabbinical literature and Early Church writings. In addition to the Septuagint translation, the venerated (although non-canonical) Book of Enoch, the Syriac Version of the Old Testament, as well as the Testimony of the 12 Patriarchs234 and the Little Genesis,235 confirm the lexicological usage and the extant beliefs of ancient Jewish scholars. Clearly the learned Philo Judaeus understood the passage as relating to angels.236 Josephus Flavius also represents this view: “They made God their enemy; for many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength, for the tradition is that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants.”237 In accordance with the ancient interpretation, the Early Church fathers understood the expression “sons of God” as designating angels. These included Justin Martyr,238 Irenaeus,239 Athenagoras,240 Pseudo-Clementine,241 Clement of Alexandria,242 Tertullian,243 Commodianus,244 and Lactantius,245 to list a few. This interpretation was also espoused by Luther and many more modern exegetes including Koppen, Twesten, Dreschler, Hofmann, Baumgarten, Delitzsch, W Kelly, A. C. Gaebelein, and others.” (Chuck Missler & Mark Eastman, Alien Encounters: The Secret Behind The UFO Phenomenon, 205-208 (Kindle Edition-emphasis added, M.A.T.); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House)  

This phrase teaches us at least two important facts about the angels.

First, they were created by (and are thus inferior to) God.

Second, they are in some ways like unto God.  

When Were Angels Created? 

The Bible does not go into detail about when the angels were created. However, one passage of Scripture offers some fascinating insight into the matter.

In Job 38, we are told about the creation of the material universe and we see that the angels were praising God and shouting for joy when the Creation was made (Job 38:4-6).  
This suggests that the angels were in existence before the Creation of the material universe.  

What Form Do Angels Take?

The Bible teaches us many things about angels, and ancient Jewish tradition is also fascinating along these lines.

We know that while angels are often identified as spirits (Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 1:7), they can also on occasion take the form of flesh.  

“Usually these angels were depicted as immaterial, winged creatures, dark and shadowy demons tempting man to err, whispering wicked thoughts into his ear. But certain key passages in the holy books indicated that there might be more substance—literally and physically—to the fallen angels. The materiality of angels seems to have been an age-old belief. There was the angel with whom Jacob wrestled—physical enough to cripple him at least temporarily, if not for life. So tangible was this angel that the author of the Book of Genesis calls him a man, although elsewhere Scripture reveals that he was an angel. (Gen. 32:24–26; Hos. 12:4) The ‘angel’ said to Jacob, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.” How could Jacob have had hold upon an incorporeal angel? The angels who came to visit Sodom had to be bolted indoors in Lot’s house in order to protect them from an intended sexual assault by local townspeople—Sodomites who wanted to get to ‘know’ the angels. (Gen. 19:1–11) And Manoah offered to cook dinner for his guest—presumed to be an ordinary man until he ascended to heaven in the fire Manoah had lit. Only then did Manoah know that the “man of God” was “an angel of the Lord.” (Judg. 13:3–21)”. (Ezlizabeth Clarke Prophet, Fallen Angels And The Origins Of Evils, 103-110 (Kindle Edition); Gardiner, Montana; Summit University Press) 

What Do Angels Do?  

Our texts here in Job teach us that angels have several responsibilities.  

First, angels worship and serve God (cf. Psalm 103:20).

Second, angels are responsible for bringing the Word of God (whether in the form of inspired Revelation to be made part of inerrant Scripture for all people, or as temporal guidance to God’ servants in special circumstances) to mankind (cf. Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2; Revelation 14:6-7).

Third, angels carried out both judgments of God (Exodus 12:23; 2 Samuel 24:17; 1 Chronicles 21:14-18; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Acts 12:23) and deliverance for His people (Psalm 34:7; 91:11-12; Daniel 6:22; Matthew 1:20; Acts 12:7; Hebrews 1:14).  

All of these things (as well as our passages in Job) indicate that angels-just like human beings-have freewill.

They also remind us that the angels-just like humans-were created ontologically good (cf. James 1:17).  

Finally, the passages in Job show us that it was understood in his day and age that at some point in the past, angels had rebelled against God.

By studying the Scriptures, we see that such angelic rebellion was clearly taught in Scripture.  

When Did The Angelic Rebellion Happen?  
The Scriptures demonstrate that there were definitely at least two, and possibly four, angelic rebellions against God.  

First, many believe that the angelic rebellion started before the Creation of the material universe. This is certainly possible!

However, it raises some tough questions.

At what point before the Creation did Satan rebel against God?

If Satan had already fallen from grace and was at war with God when Adam and Eve were in the Garden, then how did Satan gain entrance to the Garden?

And last-but not least-why was Eve on such good speaking terms with the devil when he is introduced to us in Genesis 3?

These questions are not unsurmountable, but they do give one pause for thought.  
Second, the Scriptures indicate that there was a rebellion among the angels during the time human beings were in the Garden of Eden.

Satan (who will be studied in more detail in our next lesson) was in the Garden of Eden. If Satan had not yet fallen from grace, he would no doubt have had plenty of time to gain the trust of Adam and Eve in the Garden.

Extra-biblical Hebrew history books indicate that Adam and Eve may have been in the Garden of Eden for as many as seven years before they fell. For example: 

Book Of Jubilees 3:15-15 . And in the first week of the first jubilee, Adam and his wife were in the Garden of Eden for seven years tilling and keeping it, and we gave him work and we instructed him to do everything that is suitable for tillage.

We do not know for certain how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden before the Fall, but the text in Genesis suggests that it may have been quite some time.

First, we are told that the Lord communed with Adam and Eve in the “cool of the evening” (Genesis 3:8). Speaking of the Hebrew of this passage, one scholar has pointed out the following: 

“Yahweh God is represented as “walking about in the garden.” The almost casual way in which this is remarked indicates that this did not occur for the first time just then. The assumption that God had repeatedly done this is quite feasible. Besides, there is extreme likelihood that the Almighty assumed some form analogous to the human form which was made in His image. Nor is there anything farfetched about the further supposition that previously our first parents had freely met with and conversed with their heavenly Father. In this instance they again hear His “voice.” Though qôl does often mean “sound” (cf. 2 Samuel 5:24 ; 1 Kings 14:6 ) and now by almost common consent is quite regularly translated thus in this verse, yet verse 10 definitely points to the use of the word in the more common meaning of “voice,” and this must be a reference to the word qôl used in our verse. This “walking about” (in the case of a man, we should have translated: “taking a walk”) of Yahweh in the garden is said to have taken place “at the time of the breeze ( rû’ach ‘wind’) of the day.” The le introducing this phrase is the ” le temporal.” Experience has shown that in oriental countries the wind springs up at the close of day. Consequently, all this transpired in the evening. The article before “day” is the article of absolute familiarity (K. S. 297 a), for this phenomenon occurred daily.”. (H.C. Leopold, Exposition Of Genesis: Volumes One & Two, 2334-2335 (Kindle Edition); Ephesians Four Group) 

Second, the passage suggests that Adam and Eve may have had children already at this point.

Notice that one of the punishments against the woman for her sin was the increase of pain in child-bearing (Genesis 3:16).

If Eve had never had children, how would this increase in pain make any sense? This has led many to believe that Adam and Eve had already had some children (cf. Genesis 1:28) before the Fall.  

The third angelic rebellion is referenced in Genesis 6, where the “sons of God” took as wives some of the “daughters of men” and brought forth the “nephilim.”

Both Jude and Peter seem to refer to this when they write: 

2 Peter 2:4-God did not have pity on the angels that sinned. He had them tied up and thrown into the dark pits of hell until the time of judgment.

Jude 1:6-You also know about the angels who didn’t do their work and left their proper places. God chained them with everlasting chains and is now keeping them in dark pits until the great day of judgment.

Further, Peter and Jude place these angelic sins in a context that deals with the time-frame of Noah, and with the subject of sexual sin (in particular, the sexual sins of the peoples of Sodom and Gomorrah).

Studying the Greek of the passage in Jude, Kenneth Wuest has written: 

“From the apostasy of Israel, Jude turns to the sin of the angels. He describes them as those who “kept not their first estate.” The word “estate” is the A.V. translation of archē. The word means first of all, “beginning.” Thus does the A.V. understand it. The angels left their first or original status as angels, their original position, to violate the laws of God which kept them separate from the human race, members of which latter race occupy a different category among the created intelligences than that of angels….The second meaning of archē is derived from the first, namely, “sovereignty, dominion, magistracy,” the beginning or first place of power. The word is translated “principalities” in Eph 6:12, and refers to demons there. Thus, this meaning of archē teaches that these angels left their original dignity and high positions. Archē is used, in the Book of Enoch (12:4) of the Watchers (Angels) who have abandoned the high heaven and the holy eternal place and defiled themselves with women (Mayor). This original state of high dignity which these angels possessed, Jude says, they did not keep. The verb is tēreō, “to guard.” The verb expresses the act of watchful care. That is, these angels did not fulfil their obligation of carefully guarding and maintaining their original position in which they were created, but transgressed those limits to invade territory which was foreign to them, namely, the human race. They left their own habitation. “Habitation” is oikētērion, “a dwelling-place,” here, heaven. “Their own” is idion, “one’s own private, personal, unique possession,” indicating here that heaven is the peculiar, private abode of the angels. Heaven was made for the angels, not for man. It is the temporary abode of the departed saints until the new heavens and new earth are brought into being, but man’s eternal dwelling-place will be on the perfect earth (Rev 21:1-3). “Left” is apoleipō. The simple verb leipō means “to leave.” The prefixed preposition apo makes the compound verb mean “to leave behind.” These angels left heaven behind. That is, they had abandoned heaven. They were done with it forever. The verb is aorist in tense which refers to a once-for-all act. This was apostasy with a vengeance. They had, so to speak, burnt their bridges behind them, and had descended to a new sphere, the earth, and into a foreign relationship, that with the human race, foreign, because the latter belongs to a different category of created intelligences than they. These angels are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness. “Reserved” is tēreō, and is in the perfect tense. That is, they have been placed under a complete and careful guard, with the result that they are in a state of being under this complete and careful guard continually. These angels are carefully guarded in everlasting chains. “Chains” is desmos, “a band or bond.” The word does not indicate that the angels are chained, but that they are in custody, detained in a certain place. The custody is everlasting. The Greek word is aidios, “everlasting.” “Darkness” is zophos, “darkness, blackness,” used of the darkness of the nether world…This verse begins with hōs, an adverb of comparison having the meanings of “in the same manner as, after the fashion of, as, just as.” Here it introduces a comparison showing a likeness between the angels of verse 6 and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah of this verse. But the likeness between them lies deep-er than the fact that both were guilty of committing sin. It extends to the fact that both were guilty of the same identical sin. The punctuation of the A.V. is misleading, as an examination of Greek text discloses. The A.V. punctuation gives the reader the impression that Sodom and Gomorrah committed fornication and that the cities about them committed fornication in like manner to the two cities named. The phrase “in like manner” is according to the punctuation construed with the words “the cities about them.” A rule of Greek grammar comes into play here. The word “cities” is in the nominative case. The words “in like manner” are in the accusative case and are classified as an adverbial accusative by Dana and Mantey in their Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (pp. 91, 93). This latter construction is related syntactically, not with a word in the nominative case but with the verbal form in the sentence. All of which means that the words “in like manner” are related to the verbal forms, “giving themselves over to fornication” and “going after strange flesh.” In addition to all this, the Greek text has toutois, “to these.” Thus, the translation should read, “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, in like manner to these, having given themselves over to fornication and having gone after strange flesh.” The sense of the entire passage (vv. 6, 7) is that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, in like manner to these (the angels), have given themselves over to fornication and have gone after strange flesh. That means that the sin of the fallen angels was fornication. This sin on the part of the angels is described in the words, “going after strange flesh.” The word “strange” is heteros, “another of a different kind.” That is, these angels transgressed the limits of their own natures to invade a realm of created beings of a different nature. This invasion took the form of fornication, a cohabitation with beings of a different nature from theirs. This takes us back to Gen 6:1-4 where we have the account of the sons of God (here, fallen angels), cohabiting with women of the human race.” (Kenneth Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies In The Greek New Testament, (E-Sword Edition, emphasis added-M.A.T.)) 

When Jesus died on the Cross, it is possible that there was yet another angelic rebellion (recorded in Revelation 12:5-12).

However, it is also possible that this was not another angelic rebellion, but was instead an expulsion of the already rebellious angels from the realms of Heaven which they possessed.  

What We Have Learned

First, angels-just like humans-are created beings who have freewill.

Second, the angels are not made of dirt (clay) like humans are.

Third, angels were originally given very important responsibilities that involved serving God, protecting mankind, bringing judgment, delivering the Word of God to man, and delivering God’s people from danger.

Fourth, there was common knowledge in Job’s day that there had been some kind of angelic rebellion against God.

Fifth, there were definitely two (and possibly as many as four) angelic rebellions against God.  

The last lesson I would encourage you to take from Job in these regards is this: some of the evil angels have a vested interest in seeing mankind sin against God. Indeed, they will go to any lengths possible-inflict any degree of suffering to mankind which they can-to bring about this goal.  
More Questions 

All of these important topics still leave much for us to consider. In our next lesson, we will examine some of the following questions: 

Who was Satan?  

Why did Satan rebel against God?  

How can a perfectly created being fall from grace? 

What do all of these things ultimately teach us about the existence of evil, pain, and suffering in the universe?

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.