Chapter 6 --- No Traditional Reading Order of the Original Testament
Start At the True Beginning In Sequence to the True End
Original Testament Sequence
The Book of Job is actually the very first book of the Bible likely ever written. If God truly did reveal this book first (I believe so), let’s start there. As we shall see at page 5 below, the book of Job holds all the most fundamental lessons that permeate all of the inspired Bible. It was first for a reason. In particular, the Book of Job emphasizes the universality of God’s openness to non-Jews, and the source of His pleasure in them is when they behave righteously.
Background on the Book of Job as the Oldest Book in the Bible
Most scholars believe the book of Job precedes Moses’ writings by as much as 500 years.1 It makes no mention of Torah (i.e., the Law given Moses.) It makes no mention of Israel or Abraham. It is set in the land of Uz — likely within the Gentile territory of Edom.2 This would mean Job was likely an Edomite, just as one of his friends in the story is explicitly said to be from Teman — an Edomite territory.3 All the Bible says is Job was one of the children of the East (Qedhem).4
FOOTNOTES 1 and 2
1. Parminder Summon, Summon’s Bible Miscellany (Eerdman’s 2006) at 5 (“many scholars agree that Job is the oldest book in the Bible written about 1500 B.C. ... [Moses’ writings date to] 1446 to 1406 B.C.”) See also, Harold L. Willmington, Wilmington’s Bible Handbook (Tyndale, 1997) at 291; Terry Whalin, Alpha Teach Yourself the Bible in 24 Hours (2003) at 193.)
2. “Uz is sometimes identified with the kingdom of Edom, roughly in the area of modernday southwestern Jordan and southern Israel.  Lamentations 4:21 reads, ‘Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz.’” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Land_of_Uz (accessed 9/25/09).
FOOTNOTES 3 and 4
3. “The critical grounds of this preference” i.e., that Job “was an Edomite” “seem to be, that one of Job’s three friends was a Temanite, and Teman was of Edom; and that ‘the land of Uz’ is mentioned by Jeremiah (Lam. iv, 21) as being in the land of Edom.” (John Kitto, Daily bible illustrations: being original readings for a year on subjects from sacred history, biography, geography, antiquities, and theology: evening series: Job and the poetical books (books.google) (1852) at 29.) Kitto argues for no important reason that it is possible the “land of Uz” meant “Edomites living in a foreign country” known as Uz. Id. Kitto by a convoluted path from sketchy inferences argues that “the land of Uz was the land of PadanAram where the elder branches of Abraham’s family remained after his departure for Canaan....” (Id., at 30.) Others who try to concur against the Edomite conclusion yet concede that others affiliate Job to peoples outside Isreaeal. Harper admits that Josephus said Job was “a native of Trachonitis, more particularly of the land of Sihon.” The Old Testament student (edited by William Rainey Harper) (Old Testament Book Exchange, 1885) Vol. IV at 417. He concedes also that “Eliphaz came from Teman (ii, 11), doubtless an Ediomite district, as Jer. xlix, 20, most plainly teaches, where the name Teman interchanges with Edom.” (Id., Vol. IV at 418.)
Thus, the clear message is that Job is a Gentile man with no direct relationship to Abraham or the children of Israel.
For these and many other reasons, even conservative Christians regard this as the oldest book of the Bible. By Jewish tradition, it reputedly was later edited in final form by Moses. (Encyclopedia of Judaism.) In sum, it is very likely the true first book of the Bible, and dates to about 2000 B.C.
Thus, if you agree with my point in the prior chapter that we must read the Bible cover-to-cover as our first grounding, then we need to read the first book of the Bible first. This is not Genesis, in the traditional organization. It is the Book of Job.
The Basic Story of the Book of Job
The Book of Job is the story of a non-Jewish man that God permits Satan to test because God is proud of Job’s faithfulness, obedience and sinless life. God tells Satan “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and turneth away from evil: and he still holdeth fast his integrity....” (Job 2:3.) God is confident that Job will not curse Him even under the greatest testings of personal losses. Then the book of Job’s narrator recounts Job’s first reaction to the testing:
[A]nd he said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah. (22) In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. Job 1:2122 ASV nor ascribed anything unseemly to God. (Jewish Publication Society Bible).
Thus, to this point, Job says God has taken away his possessions. Job did not call this evil from God. Then it says Job did not “charge God foolishly.” Other translations say Job did not “blame” God. The JPS says Job did not attribute to God anything “unseemly.”
What this means is that Job had avoided attributing evil to God. After further testing, Job asked a question but this still fell short of attributing directly evil to God. After suffering the loss of almost everything dear to him, and then even good health, Job’s wife encourages Job to curse God and be done with it. Job this time says even if this was evil from God, ‘why shouldn’t we accept that too?’ Still in this Job does not affirmatively say evil comes from God. Job’s response was:
But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. (Job 2:10, KJV.)5
5. Other translations do not say “evil,” but use the word “adversity.” See NAS (1995).
Did Job Attribute Evil to God in this Second Quote?
We know that asking this question still did not attribute an “unseemly thing” or evil to God. For Job 2:10 indicates that in asking this question, Job still did not sin. In the prior similar passage, Job 1:22, this was because Job did not attribute any evil to God. Thus, asking this question could not be construed as doing so either. Hence, Job in this second response merely asked a question whether if we accept good from God, then doesn’t this mean we must accept evil? Job (a) does not say the evil is from God; and (b), even if he did so, it is a hypothetical acceptance. Job would be reciting a principle of equity that it would be unfair to God to accept only the good, but reject God when we perceive we are suffering evil (from God). Yet, Job fell short of attributing evil directly to God, and thus Job did not sin.
The entire theme of the Book of Job is whether God can be blamed when evil happens. The answer is no. The narrator demonstrates God is not the cause of the evil afflicting Job. Rather, God permits Satan to test Job, not kill him, to prove Job’s faithfulness. (Job 1:12.)
After Job’s friends try to explain Job’s afflictions are due to God’s direct role to punish Job for sin, God enters the discussion and denies Job’s friends any perogative to judge God as guilty of bringing such unjust punishment on an innocent man like Job, i.e., evil. (Job 40:614.) God was directly responding in particular to Eliphaz. This friend of Job had kept insisting to Job to see the afflictions as punishment directed by God. (Job 5:17-27.)
Hence, Eliphaz said God was supposedly the author of these punishments which, since Job was innocent, was the same as ascribing injustice (evil) to God. Job never agrees with Eliphaz, insisting that he has not sinned. Job only asks about the fairness of our rejecting God even if we experience evil. This question was not the same as Eliphaz’ direct assertions which attributed the sufferings to God. The narrator has let us know it is Satan, not God, who is responsible for the afflictions of Job.
The First Grounding: The Openness of God to All Peoples
The Book of Job has very important groundings to understand the entire Bible.
First, the Book of Job tells us about someone (a) who is a non-Jew and (b) who did not know of any prophets and did not have the Mosaic Law but who was very pleasing to God. God clearly declares Job from the Land of Uz was a righteous man. It thus tells us that non-Jews — those who are not part of Israel — can be righteous. The book of Job universalizes the message that God is about to bring through the people of Israel.
We will see this theme again when two of the twelve tribes of Israel are removed and replaced by Gentile sons of an Egyptian woman whose father was an Egyptian priest. This is done at Joseph’s insistence. Hence, the nation of Israel has two tribes that are Gentile, contrary to what most Christians and even Jews wish to recall.6
6. Jacob (who God renames as Israel) told Joseph that he would treat Joseph’s two sons (born of an Egyptian wife and whose father was an Egyptian priest, Osnath — Gen. 41: 5051; 46:20), Manasseh and Ephraim, as his own. See Gen. 48:5.
We will see this same theme again when Jonah is a prophet of repentance to the Gentile people of Ninevah. And again, when God prophesies of a great light that the Gentiles will see, which is part of a Messianic prophecy.
Second Grounding: God’s Non-Role in Causing Evil
The Book of Job also tells us not to attribute evil to God, for that would be condemning our maker. When bad things happen to us, the Book of Job tells us it was at least in the case of Job that all the bad things were due to Satan’s direct will and action. God permitted but did not direct or order these bad things. The bad things you suffer might actually be due to God’s highest esteem because God might just allow Satan to test your fidelity to God to try to prove Satan wrong about your lack of character. God even wants to reach Satan!
Most important of all, Job did not sin by ever blaming God for the evil he suffered. Job resisted cursing God. Job reasoned that it would be unjust for us to accept the good from God but to reject the evil we suffer, presumably even if we perceive it is from God’s hand. In saying these things, Job never once blamed God for evil or sinned.
Third Grounding: How A Man Resists Sin Without Scripture
Job is a lesson of the most fundamental nature which grounds the entire scripture about how to resist sin by means of conscience. (God will teach us His ways, and insist we follow them. But His starting point is that you are not entirely helpless and hence you have no excuse for sin.)
How did Job resist sinning without having the Law? As a non-Jew? Look one more time at Job’s question which is how he resisted attributing evil to God:
But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. (Job 2:10, KJV.)
Job uses reason. Job uses a maxim of equity to resist condemning God as the author of evil. The maxim was: I must take the good with the bad. If I sense a slight or unfairness from God, I must accept it just as I accept the good from Him.
These were the principles that Job employed so as to block the desire of his wife that he simply accuse God of evil — a curse/blasphemy — and be done with it. Job found a solution whereby Job did not have to know whether God did or did not author the evil. If we accept the good from God, how can we reject the evil we experience.
This is extraordinarly illuminating.
Job resisted sin by conscience, i.e., using maxims of fairness toward God Himself. (Never does this suggest we are safe living without the Law’s maxims or the Bible. It just tells us that even apart from the Law or the Bible’s maxims, we have accountability to God for our behavior, both for righteousnesss or unrighteousness in God’s eyes.)
Thus, there is no spoon-feeding of principles in the Book of Job. It takes contemplation to figure out the point. It is pure genius by God to make a puzzle out of the story. This is one of the most amazing ways of knowing one is reading a divine book. Only God could put it in front of you with the illustration of Job’s life for you to grasp deep truths but which are not immediately obvious. In fact, what I just showed you is ignored by virtually every commentator. The reason they miss it is they do not start reading the Bible here in Job.
Why do they miss it? Because they read passages in other parts of the Bible out-of-context which suggest there is none righteous. “No not one.” (Psalm 14:1-3.) But the Book of Job says the claim that none are righteous is not true.
How do you resolve this? As we explained in chapter four, Jews did not deem Psalms as 100% inspired. It was sometimes inspired and sometimes not. So here you have Moses writing out the book of Job and says opposite of what some perceive in Psalm 14:1-3. Here is the first example where you must apply the discrimination between higher tier authority and lesser tier authority. Moses in Job says there is one righteous man -- Job, and what we read in Psalm 14:1-3 is read to the contrary. How do we resolve the tension? One simple solution is that when the Psalm says "there is none who does good, not even one," it is not speaking universally as the condition of all men. It is simply speaking of the time at which the Psalmist is alive, or in context, was only talking about evil men among the righteous.
The Righteous Before Hearing God’s Word
Thus, the important principle the Bible taught at the very beginning was that there existed a human named Job who lived without the Law given Moses and without a Jewish heritage but who was living at one point in a completely righteous manner.
We find the same type of gentleman appears in Acts chapter ten, but this time he is called Cornelius. Peter realizes in Cornelius that those who "fear" God and “do righteousness” are “acceptable to God” whether Gentile or Jew. (Acts 10:35.) This is true before Cornelius ever hears about Jesus.
We find the same Job-like person appears in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower in Luke chapter eight. The fourth seed is the one who receives the Word of God in a “good and noble heart” unlike the hard soil where the first seed fell. The soil for the fourth seed was already good before the seed (God’s Word) fell on it. (See Luke 8:114.)
Why is this important? Because Jesus says those who do righteousness will “come to the light.” After John repeatedly tells us that Jesus is the “Light of the World” (1:9; 3:19), we read Jesus says:
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved. (21) But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God. Joh 3:2021 ASV
Anyone like Job who "doeth the truth" will find Jesus. If you are looking for righteousness before ever hearing of Jesus, then the work of an evangelist is easy. The evangelist then is like Peter teaching Cornelius. Peter needed only to point out Jesus in a fair and simple manner — and Cornelius will come to the light. Cornelius, Jesus says in effect, wants to “come to the light” to show his “works” that they have been “wrought in God.”
Thus, Job is a real person who repeatedly reappears in other types in the Bible. Jesus identifies him in this last quote once again. He is a person who “doeth truth....” Jesus had previously identified a Job-like person in the Parable of the Sower. Of course, the Book of Job identifies him in the story of Job as Job himself. A non-Jew. Luke in Acts gives us an example of a non-Jew, Cornelius, who again fits this description exactly.
Thus, there is a universal welcome to all righteous persons, whether Gentile or Jew, which appears from the beginning to the end of the Bible. It starts with Job and ends with Jesus’ gospel, highlighted by the story of Cornelius in Acts.
The Book of Job is thus calling you to be like Cornelius, and to be the good and noble heart that is doing the truth. If you are, you will come to the light (Jesus), find “the truth and the truth will set you free” from the “practice of sin.”7
As we shall see, Jesus will give you many similar maxims of equity, which if followed, will keep you from sinning just like Job was able to do so. By starting at the beginning and looking a little bit toward the end, one can see a complete circle. But it is subtle. It is ingenious. Because of that, many miss this principle. This in fact is the main theme of the Bible: how to please God and how to find His truths.
7. Many Christians never read the context of the ‘set you free’ verse, and they think truth sets you free from doctrinal error, i.e., Christology, salvation doctrine, etc. Instead, Jesus says truth sets you free from the practice of sin, which in turn tells you what Jesus intends by the truth. Jesus means His moral lessons which his good disciples shall learn set you free from sin. Here is what Jesus says in John 8:31-36 to those who already believed in Jesus: “Then Jesus said to the Jews who believed on Him, ‘If you continue in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s seed and were never in bondage to anyone. How do you say, You will be made free.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever practices sin is the slave of sin. And the slave does not abide in the house forever, but the Son abides forever. Therefore if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.’”
Fourth Grounding: Not Everyone Who Claims To Have A Divine Vision is From God
In Job, one of his friends seeks to console Job, but in doing so he claims to speak for God by having had a vision. We read this not knowing initially whether this is true or false. Only by reading what is published later — over twenty chapters later — we learn this claim to divine truth from a vision was a lie. God says Eliphaz and the other two friends have darkened God’s council with untruth. (Job 38:2.)
The book of Job thus contains a lesson on how to suspend judgment whether you should trust one claiming to have a divine vision. He may be a false prophet. God will give this lesson again in Deuteronomy 13:1-5. The one claiming visions may have “signs and wonders,” but be false. Again, God teaches us later about Balaam who gives a prophecy of Messiah (Christ) — the Bethlehem star — and thus even believes in Christ (Numbers 24), but Balaam later turns false by teaching people not to follow God’s Law. Jesus tells us this in Revelation 2:14. During Jesus’s earthly ministry, Jesus warned over and over of the false prophet to follow Him who will have “signs and wonders” to deceive the “very elect” and who will be a “ravening wolf” in “sheep’s clothing,” but who will be a “thief and a robber.” (Matt. 7:15; Mark 13:22; John 10:1328).
This lesson about not trusting a false prophet is given not only in the example of Eliphaz in the book of Job. Rather, it is a riddle wrapped up in the very lessons of Eliphaz. For Eliphaz will specifically reappear later in Scripture. We will see Job’s account of Eliphaz’ speech helps us identify another false prophet whose words are preserved in Scripture. This false prophet could only be recognized as such, just like we can recognize Eliphaz as such, by reading the New Testament words — this time those from Jesus — as appearing in publication only after the alleged vision-claimant’s words are in print.
Thus, who is the false prophet you read in Scripture who has the identical message of Eliphaz? Here is the clue which we will explore more in the next chapter. Read this part of Job (ASV) and then read the New Testament in the order of Paul’s words first and then Jesus’ words, as explained in chapter seven. Thereby, you will not miss the identification of Eliphaz in the New Testament:
(1) Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,
(8) According as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, And sow trouble, reap the same.
(12) Now a thing was secretly brought to me, And mine ear received a whisper thereof. (13) In thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falleth on men, (14) Fear came upon me, and trembling, Which made all my bones to shake. (15) Then a spirit passed before my face; The hair of my flesh stood up.
(16) It stood still, but I could not discern the appearance thereof; A form was before mine eyes: There was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, (17) Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker? (18) Behold, he putteth no trust in his servants; And his angels he chargeth with folly: (19) How much more them that dwell in houses of clay, Whose foundation is in the dust, Who are crushed before the moth!
5:7 But man is born unto trouble, As the sparks fly upward. (Job 4:1,8,12,16; 5:7.)
Who else speaks this way about visions and voices (Acts 9, 22, & 26) and we reap what we sow? (Gal. 6:7-9)? And who else speaks about man being "born unto trouble" (predestination of the lost, Romans 9:11-13) and we are so universally beset by sin men are never worthy of God's trust (despite the book of Job teaching us that God truly had trust in Job's faithfulness)? (See Romans 3:10.) And who else speaks this way about man’s destiny from birth? (Romans 9:11-13.)
Let’s leave the full answer for later development. But you will often see from God in Scripture this fourth grounding — do not trust everyone who claims a vision from God. This grounding will be reinforced repeatedly — first with the Balaam of Numbers and then second with Balaam of the New Testament, as Jesus calls him in Revelation 2:14.
Thus, the fourth important grounding from the Book of Job is that there are false prophets who sound very godly, claiming visions from God. However, their purported visions even if sincerely experienced are not from God and thus deceive the hearer. God specifically says by testing such claimants we prove whether we love God with our whole mind, heart and soul. (Deut. 13:1-5.) God may have such vision even collected among the books of the Bible, just like Eliphaz’ speech is in the Bible. However, by reading end to end, the lover of God will recognize Eliphaz’ speech is false, just like the lover of God will recognize the New Testament’s Eliphaz aka Balaam is false.
You Must Wait Until The End of the Bible To See The Messianic Secret in the Book of Job
Reading the Bible from start to finish has one final important meaning with respect to the Book of Job. Even while the book of Job is in large part a lesson about conscience and God’s openness to Gentiles, there is another core secret in the Book of Job but which you will not see until you reach the end of the Bible.
For doesn’t the Book of Job show us a strange example of God’s Love? Wasn’t it surprising in the book of Job to learn suffering befell Job due to God’s great love for Job — which in turn caused God to permit Satan to afflict Job as a test? If you think that love can never lead to such an outcome, wait until you see what happens to Jesus. Jesus, like Job, will suffer affliction and torment despite God loving the Son. But in each case — Job’s and Jesus’ case — the punishment was undeserved. That’s the Messianic secret in the Book of Job.
Isn’t it the incongruity of the innocent suffering (Job’s life) which is then transformed by Jesus into a suffering on the behalf of the guilty who do deserve to suffer the affliction? Thus, doesn’t Jesus prove Job’s point? We must be willing to suffer even what we perceive as injustice by God when in fact we will learn ironically it was perfectly just even in Jesus’ case for He agreed to be the just servant who took on the sins of the world. Thus, Jesus tells us to take up our cross daily, and be willing to suffer injustice and affliction for doing what is right. There is a moral lesson in the cross beside the redemptive one. It is the same moral lesson that Job knew and obeyed. It is the same moral lesson Jesus lived out as a permanent example to each of us.
Do not Jump over the Law & Prophets
Please do not think our preview of the end of the Bible based upon Job means you can now skip from the Book of Job to the life of Jesus. You need next to read the Law and the Prophets. This is because you are not intended to live entirely on your conscience alone to know right from wrong. We will learn that God’s wisdom is that you should not “lean on” your own understanding but “trust” in the Lord. (Proverbs 3:5.)
Furthermore, if God truly wrote the Law and the Prophets (and I believe He inspired men to do so), you can now see He did so to elevate your conscience. God starts by teaching you in the Book of Job maxims that Job learned. The structure of the Bible intends to lead us to move next to the Law to learn right from wrong in written commands handwritten by God on tablets of stone. Thus, move to stage two: Genesis through Numbers.