Job’s Birthday Blues

It is said that the Bible is a manual for the Living. I read and learn wisdom. Then I apply it because I am not an academic. I am a follower of the Almighty. Is the Book of Job just an ancient story of a man who suffered hardships? There are hidden lessons in this magnificent book in the Old Testament.

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Overview Of Job (אִיּוֹב)

Job (the Book) is believed to be the oldest book chronologically in the Bible. Iyyov means “persecuted” in Hebrew. In another textus Iyov (Job) was called by Jobab (the “father of the persecuted”) and is said to be the successor to the kingdom of Edom after King Balak of Edom. Balak was the one that hired Balaam as a consultant to cast a curse against Joshua and the children of Yisrael in transit to Canaan.

Iyov was placed fifth from Abram, descended of Esau (Edom). Esau and Jacob were third from Abraham, for reference. There were four generations between Levi (third-born of Jacob) and Moses. So Iyov is one generation older than Moses and living in a different continent in another corner of the world. The Old Testament is awesome for the diligent sleuth of God’s Word.

The incidents of the book were dated to 400 years before Moses in a land east of Edom. While the children of Yisrael were in Egypt for 430 years over 3 generations until Moses, who was only called into active duty at 80 years old, the character Iyov lived a long life.

Job 42

16 And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. 17 And Job died, an old man, and full of days.

Iyov was a Gentile, much like Noe was a Gentile. Noe was tenth from Adam. Iyov is fifth from Abraham. Job is presented as a good and prosperous family man who is beset by satan, only by God’s permission. Horrendous disasters ensued that took away all that he held dear, including his children, his health and his properties. He was left in desolation. In chapter 42, Iyov struggles to understand his situation and begins a search for the answers to his difficulties. It is like a classic “road movie”. The entire book only consisted of seven characters apart from his ten children which were not named before and after his journey to seek God. In the spiritual realm, the cast consists of the Almighty, and the accusing cherub. On earth, there are Job and his wife, his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zaphar (Eli, Bill and Zav) and a young man called Elihu (Hebrew, “He is my God”) who came out swinging in God-righteousness at the four men. From Chapters 32 – 37 before God finally speaks to Iyov, Elihu set things right for the record before Iyov. We all need an “Elihu” in our lives. God had taken away all the worldly influences from Iyov to create space for him to listen to godliness.

Finally in the last chapter of Job, Iyov confesses faith unto God.

“I know that you can do all things,
    and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. “

Birthday Blues

I have indeed learned about Iyov’s birthday blues. In the first chapter, Iyov was already regarded a perfect man of God. While he himself had no regard for his own birthday, his offspring went all out to celebrate their birthdays. Knowing that their father is a perfect man, Iyov was not attending any of his sons’ birthday parties.

Due to this piece of knowledge that I have gained from reading Scriptures, please do not invite me to any birthday celebrations. Because in the mind of this man, I am convinced of the message from Iyov. When I am convinced and hold that to be spiritual truth behind the veil of understanding, having me at a birthday would make me bring a curse to all participants in a celebratory manner for someone’s birthday. Remember, the three daughters of Iyov were also killed, though the three women did not celebrate their own birthdays. They were only participants. (And, to boot, I do not “do Christmas” period, for many years now. I got nothing to do with the birthday of Nimrod, I don’t know him.)

In Iyov 1, Iyov was a man seen to be “perfect” in the sight of God. Even God testified to satan for Iyov that His servant “eschewed” from evil. This lasted until one year. His seven sons threw a birthday feast for all their brothers, inviting their three sisters to participate. Thus the saga of Iyov entered the canon. There is a lesson in all this. It is one of the magnificent books in the Tanakh.

After that year, things changed for Iyov. Satan had been waiting for Iyov’s feet to slip in order to attack him. His suit against Iyov is, he suggest that Job served God simply because of the protection that God bestowed on him. How wise is this book! Many believers today would throw a tantrum if they don’t get what they want out of God. To those believers, their lesson from Job is something for them to picture. On the day that they felt God is not serving their needs and wants anymore, will they still want to be in God’s camp?

Permit

First, even satan had to ask the Almighty, the Protector of all righteous man, not just Iyov, for permission to mess with Iyov. Those that have no relationship with God, satan would not legally have to go to the length of seeking a permission. He will just go right ahead to keep them in a stupor state leading to destruction on the broad way.

To God, Iyov was still perfect, so much that He had confidence that satan will lose his wager. But because of what Iyov did for his ten children after what they had done, now satan had an accusation to bring up to the throne of God. It was called a fodder. To many readers’ surprise, God agreed to the wager and God removed the hedge of protection from Iyov. Uz is in modern day Jordan, formerly Edom.

1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

Eschew means deliberately avoid using; abstain from. Iyov was committed not to sin.

2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.

3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.

“Everyone his day”, on the birthday. It was commonly done in Edom by the common people as a pagan practice. Twice birthday celebrations are mentioned in the Bible (none of Jesus’) and both times it brought a death as a consequence. John was beheaded after Herod Antipas threw a birthday party.

5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

Iyov acted only at the conclusion of all the seven sons’ birthdays.

In the OT, a burnt offering was offered in an act of worship to a deity, in this case God. Noe had the first case of making a burnt offering to God after the Ark landed on dry ground. But Job is an older book than Genesis. Both predated the Mosaic Laws.

The burnt offering ritualized a transition from a state of sin to a state of purity. Before this the life of Iyov was “perfect”. So we may deduce the specif description of the birthday party feasts to play a role in the need to make a burnt offering.

Did the burnt offering divert the judgment that was to come? Technically, the loss of everything in Iyov’s life was not an act of judgement. It led to an accusation by the devil. And God’s protection went away as part of a wager in a test of allegiance to God. Later, the man Iyov found faith.

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.

7 And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

8 And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

9 Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

In chapter 3, this is what Iyov did for his own birthday, he spoke lamentations.

Job Laments His Birth

After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. And Job said:

“Let the day perish on which I was born,
    and the night that said,
    ‘A man is conceived.’
Let that day be darkness!
    May God above not seek it,
    nor light shine upon it.
Let gloom and deep darkness claim it.
    Let clouds dwell upon it;
    let the blackness of the day terrify it.
That night—let thick darkness seize it!
    Let it not rejoice among the days of the year;
    let it not come into the number of the months.
Behold, let that night be barren;
    let no joyful cry enter it.
Let those curse it who curse the day,
    who are ready to rouse up Leviathan.
Let the stars of its dawn be dark;
    let it hope for light, but have none,
    nor see the eyelids of the morning,
10 because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb,
    nor hide trouble from my eyes.

11 “Why did I not die at birth,
    come out from the womb and expire?
12 Why did the knees receive me?
    Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?
13 For then I would have lain down and been quiet;
    I would have slept; then I would have been at rest,
14 with kings and counselors of the earth
    who rebuilt ruins for themselves,
15 or with princes who had gold,
    who filled their houses with silver.
16 Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child,
    as infants who never see the light?
17 There the wicked cease from troubling,
    and there the weary are at rest.
18 There the prisoners are at ease together;
    they hear not the voice of the taskmaster.
19 The small and the great are there,
    and the slave is free from his master.

20 “Why is light given to him who is in misery,
    and life to the bitter in soul,
21 who long for death, but it comes not,
    and dig for it more than for hidden treasures,
22 who rejoice exceedingly
    and are glad when they find the grave?
23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,
    whom God has hedged in?
24 For my sighing comes instead of[a] my bread,
    and my groanings are poured out like water.
25 For the thing that I fear comes upon me,
    and what I dread befalls me.
26 I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
    I have no rest, but trouble comes.”

In the spiritual realm the Bible through the narratives and lives of ancient characters teaches the world of pagan ramifications for men who follow blindly worldly traditions. God gave to Iyov after his confession (chapter 42) another seven sons and three daughters. By the way, the book says these daughters were un-rivaled in their physical beauty. And there was no more mentions of man’s feast days and birthday celebrations. Iyov has learned from his lessons.

Now it is our turn.

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