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What does it mean that Christ “had descended into the lower parts of the Earth?”

(Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) Ephesians 4:9-10.

What does it mean that Christ “had descended into the lower parts of the earth?”

The following answer is an excerpt taken from a M.DIV exegetical paper on the meaning of Ephesians 4:

There have been multiple views proposed concerning Christ’s descent. Specifically, the main views are (1) He descended in Hades, (2) His descent at His incarnation and death, (3) the descent of the exalted Christ in the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2). However, to answer this question objectively one must consider the exegesis of the Author’s intended meaning.

The Greek grammar construction that is rendered in English – “except that he also descended” shows that His descent preceded His ascent. Therefore, view (3) above cannot harmonize with the sense of Eph 4:9-10.

Next, when Paul used the verb κατεβη – that is, ‘He descended,’ the only sphere that Paul has mentioned with the verb, explicitly, is earth (v. 9). The only other sphere in the context is the heavens (v. 10).   

“. . . He descended into the lower regions of the earth . . .”

The gentive της γης ‘of the earth’ must be joined to its antecedent τα κατωτερα ‘the lower parts’ in order to determine locale. This genitive is partitive as Paul is describing a portion of the earth, namely the low-lying parts – that is, in the ground or the grave. The regions of the earth and the regions of the heavens are the regions that are mentioned in this context, therefore a descent is from heaven to earth, namely the lower regions of the earth in the sense with being buried but not from earth to Hades. Jesus did not ascend from Hades, but He did ascend from the earth (cf. John 8:21-23; 16:28). Therefore, view (1) above cannot harmonize with the sense of Eph 4:9-10.

The sense of the author’s intended meaning is that the descent has to do with the burial of the Lord Jesus Christ after His penal-substitutionary death on the cross. This fits better with v. 10, namely, “He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.” Thanks be to God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ for the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has defeated the devil, sin and death and He has provided redemption to everyone who would ever trust in Christ to be saved from the coming wrath of God. Those whom Christ has redeemed are the recipients of gifts to build up the Church and these gifts all of grace (cf. Eph 4:7-8; 11-12).

Doron Gladden.


The most challenging question a person can be asked when they suffer is the question God asked Job in chapter 40, verse 8 – that is, “Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?” This question is at the heart of the book of Job, for reason that God is the main character of the book and as consequence Job is about Theodicy (i.e. justifying the existence of Benevolent God when there is suffering and evil in the world). This expositional synopsis is interested in giving an expositional summary of the book of Job. By no means is this expositional synopsis a substitute for the book of Job – neither is this expositional synopsis taking away or adding to the book of Job. Simply put, it is the intent of this writer to point out to the readers features from the book of Job to help the readers navigate through their own trials and sufferings in life, accurately represent God when they suffer, and remind the readers when they suffer to entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right (cf. 1 Peter 4:19).

To accomplish this task, the writer will offer introductory features to the book of Job – that is, elucidating its literary genre as well as where and when Job took place historically. Then, there will be an outline presented on the book of Job. Next, there will be a discussion of the contents of the book of Job with selective theological points made by the Author of Job. Finally, the continuity of the book of Job in relationship to the New Testament and the Christian’s responsibility in the church age on how to deal with personal suffering and comforting others when they suffer will be provided. 

Introduction to the Book of Job

To start, Job is found in the OT positioned canonically immediately after the book of Esther and directly before the book of Psalms. Some have called the literary genre of Job a lawsuit (for reason that it reads like scenes one would experience in cross examination in a court room). Others have categorized Job as dramatized lament. In fact, there have been many other views on the books literary form offered. On the other hand, because Job has been categorized with a collection of books in the OT called Wisdom Literature along with the book of Proverbs, the book of Ecclesiastes and the book called Song of Solomon – the literary genre of the book of Job is best to be understood as Wisdom Literature. This is the case, mainly due to the fact that Job presents the definition of wisdom in the middle of the book by the narrator – namely, “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding’” (28:28). The book of Job is extremely important because it objectively defines wisdom.

Likewise, the book of Job is such an important book of the Bible because it answers the age-old question, “why is there suffering in this world?” Suffering is the heart of the book of Job. When people suffer often the question is asked – “why me?” or “what have I done to deserve this?” If such is your experience, the book of Job is the best place to get the answers for why there is suffering. But there is even a deeper question. A deeper theological question that the book of Job provokes – namely, “Why do we exist in a universe that has been created by the all-powerful, all good (omni-benevolent) Sovereign God, and in this world, in this universe, which is forever ruled and Governed by God, the Being who is absolutely good, absolutely just, absolutely perfect – yet there is evil in this world? This world is full of imperfections and evil, and suffering and pain. Where is God in all of this suffering and pain?” Why do people suffer? Why do the righteous suffer?  The answers to these questions are the red thread – that is, the central point of the book of Job. The book of Job is deep. It is extremely complex and incredibly challenging. Yet the answer to these questions is clearly presented from the book of Job. Anyone who attempts to counsel and comfort others when they suffer should read the book of Job often – but especially before they try to counsel another who is suffering.

It is important to know when the historical events described in the book of Job took place to understand the book.It is very evident that the historical context of the book of Job took place during the Patriarchal Period of Human history – that is, during the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The historical man Job lived during the days of Abraham. The question is, did the events of Job occur pre-Abrahamic Covenant or post-Abrahamic Covenant. The following arguments have been offered for pre-Abrahamic Covenant:

  1.  Job offered sacrifices without the benefit of a priest (he was priest of his own household (1:5)). This is significant because after the Abrahamic Covenant was made between God and Abraham, the Covenant Community was narrowed down to one family in particular. So, Job is best understood as having lived before the Abrahamic Covenant.
  2. His life span is that of the people in Genesis immediately after the flood – (42:16).
  3. The Sabeans and the Chaldeans were nomadic bands and not organized in cities. On the other hand, by the time of Abraham, it appears perhaps the Chaldeans were organized in cities where Abraham lived in Genesis 11:31, Ur of the Chaldeans.

The following are the arguments that the events in Job occurred post-Abrahamic Covenant:

  1. The Land of Uz (Job 1:1) corresponds to Gen 22:21.
  2. Elihu was a Buzite (Job 32:2) and we learn from Gen 22:21 Buz was a nephew of Abraham.

However, given all these arguments, it is an undeniable conclusion that Job lived during the Patriarchal Period of human history sometime between the Noahic Covenant and around the time of the Abrahamic Covenant.

We need to understand that although the book of Job might appear as if it is laid out like a drama or a play with scenes and acts etc., that does not change the fact that Job was a real historical person. Job is not a fable. The book of Job is not a poetic metaphor for wisdom. Job truly existed and went through everything mentioned from the text. Likewise, Job is mentioned outside of the book of Job in the OT in Ezekiel 14:14, 20 (where God identified Job in the top three most righteous people in the days of the OT – namely, Noah, Daniel and Job)- as well as in the NT in the book of James 5:11 (James reminds the early Jerusalem church community of the endurance of Job when Job was suffering). What is more, it is important to know where the historical events in Job took place. Job lived in the land of Uz (1:1). Uz was somewhere in the east. The geographical location of Uz is in the area of Edom (Genesis 10:23; Lam 4:21).

Outline of the Book of Job

It is best to outline the book of Job by merely identifying the chapter to which each character speaks. For instance, the following outline is a very straight forward outline so that the reader can navigate through the book of Job:

Prologue (Narrator): 1-2

 Job: 3, 6-7, 9-10, 12-14, 16-17, 19, 21, 23-24, 26-27, 29-31, 40, 42

Eliphaz: 4-5, 15, 22

Bildad: 8, 18, 25

Zophar: 11, 20

Wisdom Defined (Narrator): 28

Elihu: 32-37

God: 38-41

Epilogue (Narrator): 42

Another outline is sometimes offered which presents the book of Job as a Chiastic Structure – that is, two or three main ideas together with counterpart variants creating a symmetrical pattern. The following has been proposed as a chiastic structural outline for the book of Job:

A.  Job’s Affliction (1-2)

     B.  Job’s 1st Response (3)

         C.  Three Cycles of Debate (4-27)

              D.  Wisdom Poem (28)

         C₁. Great Speeches (29-41)

     B₁.  Job’s 2nd Response (42:1-9)

A₁.  Job’s Prosperity (42:10-17)


Discussion about the Contents of the Book of Job

Many “teachers” have attempted to “explain” the book of Job, but in their “explanation” many “teachers” have made some serious mistakes. The major mistake they have made is to suggest that Job lacks any concrete doctrine and theological discussion. In fact, when it comes to the problem of evil many “teachers” have made distinctions between the theological academic form of suffering and the intimate personal form of suffering. The problem of many when they try to “teach” the book of Job is that they strike a dichotomy with the theological academic answers against the personal experience of suffering. They do this to try and avoid the problem either by de-personalizing the problem or desiring others to remain in ignorance (e.g. “ignorance is bliss,” “what I don’t know cannot hurt me,” and “I’m just going to get on with my life in ignorance because these theological words are too big for me, far beyond me and by choice I refuse to ask the question because it just causes too much confusion and pain” etc.).

However, what this writer is interested in is pointing out the sound doctrine from the book of Job. What is more, it is the intent of this writer to not strike a dichotomy between the academic theological form and the intimate personal form of suffering. To draw out sound doctrine from the book of Job must be the goal of the reader so that the reader does not existentially try to put themselves in Job’s shoes and think that they are Job when they suffer. The reason for this is because we learn from God that there was no one on the earth like Job (cf. 1:8; 2:3). If there was no one on earth like Job in Job’s day, then what makes us think that there is anyone like Job today – in our day. However, what the reader can do when suffering is to learn from Job’s endurance in suffering, cry to God in suffering and learn from Job’s example to hold to God’s Word. For example, Job confessed that one of his greatest comforts directly after he suffered all the tragedies described in the book was that Job held to God’s Word – “But it is still my comfort, and I rejoice in unsparing pain, that I have not denied the words of the Holy One” (Job 6:10).    

From the first chapter of Job we learn where Job was from, namely, the land of Uz (1:1). What is more, we learn about Job’s character as a man – that is, Job was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil (1:1). However, Job being without moral blemish does not mean Job was sinless. Contrariwise, Job confessed he was a sinner as well as being born with original sin (cf. 7:21; 13:26). Moreover, we learn from the first chapter that Job was “the greatest of all the men of the east” (1:3). He was the wealthiest man (cf. 1:3). In the days of Job, wealth was measured in livestock and we learn that Job had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants (cf. 1:3). But even though Job was the wealthiest man of his day and as such had many great possessions, Job’s possessions did not have him. Job’s wealth did not distract Job from pursuing godliness and being the most devout man to God in the land. To this effect, namely that Job was not owned by his material possessions, is evident when Job confessed that he did not brag about his wealth (cf. 31:25). The main issue is Job’s integrity, to such a degree that he was worried about the secret thoughts of his children – that is, that they would not curse God in their hearts. And even if they did, then Job would present sacrifices on their behalf to God. Job cared about God and His name. Consequently, Job was a righteous man.  So, the question is why do the righteous suffer? The answer to that question is found in the remaining verses from the first chapter – namely, 1:6-22 as well as the second chapter.  

In the remaining verses from the first chapter as well as the second chapter of Job, the reader is taken behind the scenes to see the invisible circumstances that occasioned Job’s suffering – namely, a contest between God versus Satan. Of this conflict – that is, contest that happened behind the scenes about him, Job is unaware. On the other hand, the reader is taken behind the scenes into the heavenly places to where God’s courts are found. And what the reader discovers from the narrator in the epilogue is that Job suffered as a test to his faithfulness to God (cf. 1:6-12). What is more, the reader is shown the relationship of God to fallen angelic activity and human evil. In Theology, there is a subset of discipline study in the area of the Providence of God called Concurrence. Concurrence is the juxtaposing actions and intents of more than one group that are presented side by side. For instance, the text reveals that God, Satan, the Sabeans, the Chaldeans, Job’s wife, and Job’s three miserable counselors were all involved in Job’s suffering (cf. 1:6-2:11; 4:12-21).  It was God who initiated the entire event, but it was the Devil who was accusing Job of maintaining his integrity because Job got something out of God – as if God were Job’s “paycheck” (cf. 1:8-10). But the Devil’s wicked plot was to get Job to suffer so that Job would curse God to His face (cf. 1:11). This is inseparably constrained to the frustration of the Devil with Job’s integrity, because Job was so concerned that his own children would not curse God in their secret thoughts of their hearts. God listened to Job, to which it can be implied that God protected Job’s children from the Devil putting thoughts in their hearts, hence the reason why the Devil brought up the issue. It is congruent with the Devil’s attack of trying to use Job’s greatest strength to sin against God (e.g. compare Gen 2:25 with Gen 3:7 and Gen 2:25 with Gen 3:1 – the Hebrew tri-literal root (arom) is found in “naked” in Gen 2:25 and is the origin of the word “crafty” in Gen 3:1 – the Devil used that which God had bestowed upon God’s creation against God). God allowed Satan and the human agency that Satan used to attack Job and cause Job to suffer. Instead of Job cursing God Job did the exact opposite, all the while ignorant of this cosmic contest in the invisible realm. These features teach us two major points – first, the Devil needs permission from God to do anything. Secondly, when it comes to human suffering and the problem of evil there is Concurrence.  Who is responsible for Job’s suffering? Is it God? Is it the Devil? Or is it Man? The answer is “all of the above.” But the real question is that of intent. The Sabeans and the Chaldeans are merely doing what was natural to them – that is evil. They could care less about Job. They just wanted Job’s material blessings. They are men who are jealous and lusting after the possessions of other men. As soon as the hedge was removed and they capitulated to the temptation from Satan, the raiders freely raided without hesitation or resistance. In judgement they would argue “the devil made me do it.” Likewise, the Devil is merely intent on making Job suffer to get Job to sin to make a slanderous argument against God and those who love God. The Devil could care less about Job’s pain and suffering. Therefore, man’s intent is wicked, and the Devil’s intent is wicked. But what about God? God’s intent is always good. This same issue was taught in the book of Genesis with the patriarch Joseph and his brothers. For instance, Joseph’s own brothers plotted to kill him, but he was sold into slavery, stealing him away from his family in an attempt to destroy his life (cf. Gen 37:18-36). Therefore, the brothers’ intent was wicked toward Joseph. But why did those terrible things happen to Joseph? God tells us why these terrible things happened to Joseph – that is, “as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen 50:20). Genesis 50:20, as well as Job, are clear examples of the doctrine of Concurrence. In the case of Joseph’s suffering, God meant it for good, whereas the brothers meant it for evil. God’s intent was only for Joseph’s good and the good of others. On the other hand, the brothers took exception to Joseph and committed evil against their own brother. God decreed the entire event before the foundation of the world. God brought the event to pass. Joseph suffered. Yet God’s intent was only for good, and God holds the human agency – that is, the brothers, responsible. Therefore, God is always justified. Moreover, God, Joseph and Job were all magnanimous toward those who caused them harm or in Job’s case those who were worthless counselors who added to Job insult to injury (cf. 42:7-10). This is the issue of Theodicy – that is, justifying the existence of the Omni-Benevolent Sovereign God when we suffer in a world in which evil is a reality of our daily experience.   

Job lost everything he once had. All the things that people chase after for happiness – namely, prosperity, wealth and health. Job had all these but lost it all. Job lost his possessions (cf. 1:13-17). Job lost his health (cf. 2:1-7). The text reveals that Job was attacked by Satan with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (cf. 2:7). There have been several opinions to what type of sickness Job received offered by commentators, such as, Smallpox, Elephantiasis, and Pemphigus Foliaceus. However, due to the immediate supernatural element to these boils it is highly likely that it was worse than the opinions diagnosed by commentators. No exact diagnosis can be given on the exact disease except that it resulted in terribly painful boils all over Job’s body which he tried to scrape off with broken pottery pieces (cf. 2:8). However, the most painfully devastating loss to Job over all was the death of Job’s ten children. No parent should have to bury their own child, let alone all ten children. The intense pain and suffering that Job had to go through was unsparing pain and tragedy (cf. 6:10). To add insult to injury, his own wife gave Job satanic advice to curse God and die (cf. 2:9). However, because Job still held fast his integrity, Job replied to his wife, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (2:10). Job still would not sin with his lips. Job was concerned about the secret thought life of the heart as well as what came out of his mouth (cf. Luke 6:45).

For the next half of the book of Job, the reader is introduced to Job’s three friends who try to counsel Job in his suffering (cf. 2:11). Job’s three friends were Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar (cf. 2:11). Job’s three friends start out well in their counseling efforts because the best thing they did for Job was to just weep and just sit with Job for seven days and seven nights, keeping their mouths shut (cf.2:12-13). However, as soon as they open their mouths, their efforts at counseling Job fall short, to say the least. In fact, their counseling turns into arguing with Job and later Job called them all worthless counselors (cf. 13:4 – NASB “physicians”) and said there is not a wise man among them (cf. 17:10).

The major problem with Job’s three friends is their attempts to indoctrinate Job with a presuppositional fallacious doctrine called Instant Retributive Justice or Retribution Doctrine (hereafter usually designated as IRJ or RD). IRJ teaches that there is always a one-to-one correlation between a person’s suffering and their individual guilt. Many people believe in RD and assert that always this side of the grave the wicked suffer in this world for the evil things they do and the righteous prosper in this world for the good things they do – hence, instant retribution. That is, you get out of life what you put into life. If you have done something wrong, you will always pay for it in this life. If you have done some good you will always be rewarded in this life for doing good. However, we learn from the book of Job that such is not always the case. What is more, we learn from the book of Job that the righteous can suffer in this world for doing what is right and the wicked can prosper in this world when they do wicked things.

The other extreme is to suggest that there is no relationship between suffering and sin. The Word of God teaches that because of sin there is suffering in the world, and when there is no more sin there will be no more suffering for the righteous (cf. Rev 21:4). Pain, suffering and death are all part of the consequences of living in a fallen world – a fallen world, by the way, that God is in complete control over and sovereign over. But you error when you always assume that there is a one-to-one correlation between a person’s suffering and their individual sin guilt. There are a lot of reasons why people can suffer.

Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar tried to counsel Job by using IRJ as their template. However, they got frustrated with Job because Job did not bow to their system. Job’s three friends argued throughout their speeches that the only reason why Job was suffering was an absolute correspondence to some sin in Job’s life for which Job was guilty. To add insult to injury, instead of comforting Job, Job’s three friends insisted that Job confess his sin. It got to the point where Job’s three friends were protecting their system of IRJ and arguing with Job so intensely because they had to be right about their world view of instant retributive justice. Everything was at stake for Job’s three friends to protect their wrong presuppositions, because if they were wrong their whole perception of reality would come crumbling down. Oftentimes people try to counsel others the way Job’s three friends tried to, and as a result end up doing more harm than good. There are many worthless counselors in the world today just as there were in Job’s day. It is part of the human condition to be a worthless counselor. Examples of IRJ from the speeches of Job’s three friends include the following:

Eliphaz – “Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright destroyed? According to what I have seen, those who plow wrongdoing and those who sow trouble harvest it” (4:7-8 also see 22:5-7, 9-10).

Bildad – “If you are pure and upright, Surely now He will stir Himself for you And restore your righteous estate” (8:6).

Zophar – “If you would direct your heart rightly And spread out your hands to Him, If wrongdoing is in your hand, put it far away, And do not let malice dwell in your tents” (11:13-14).

Moreover, the problem with the wisdom of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar and their IRJ was bad enough because they were ignorantly assuming Job had sinned to cause his calamity. And as such, it was bad enough that they held to IRJ as an absolute principle of retribution. But what made their advice even more valueless was that they added more pragmatism to their overarching IRJ scheme. For example, the first of Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, who was the oldest, and therefore the first to address Job, based his arguments on experience (in what he had seen in his lifetime) as the absolute standard because he was the oldest [i.e. “According to what I have seen” (4:8), “I have seen” (5:3), “What do you know that we do not know? What do you understand that we do not? Both the gray-haired and the aged are among us, Older than you father” (15:9-10)]. Then the second of Job’s three friends, Bildad, based his arguments on tradition and the wisdom of the scientific method in the progress of observation and research over many generations [e.g., “Please inquire of past generations, And consider the things searched out by their fathers. For we are only of yesterday and know nothing, Because our days on earth are as a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you, And bring forth words from their minds?” (8:8-10)]. Finally, the third friend, Zophar, based his arguments on his rationalistic intelligence – namely, that there had to be some rationalistic explanation like Job sinned to account for his suffering and if Job would only think intelligently then he might discover which sin it was that Job committed [e.g., “An idiot will become intelligent When the foal of a wild donkey is born a man. If you would direct your heart right And spread out your hand to Him, If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, And do not let wickedness dwell in your tents; Then, indeed, you could lift up your face without moral defect, And you would be steadfast and not fear” (11:12-15; see 12:3 for Job’s response to Zophar)].

The major disingenuous aspect to the arguments of Job’s three friends is that they were presenting their arguments as if they were rightly representing God to Job. However, at the end of the book we learn from God that such was not the case (cf. 42:7).

In the NT, Jesus’ disciples made a similar mistake as Job’s three friends in their IRJ. In the Gospel of John, there is recorded an encounter with Jesus, Jesus’ disciples, and a man born blind (cf. 9:1-41). At this encounter Jesus found a man suffering, being born with physical blindness from birth. Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus about the blind man, but their question reflected the IRJ presupposition – that is, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” (John 9:2). According to the disciples there had to be someone’s sin, someone’s fault to why this man was blind. According to the disciples, it was either him or his parent’s fault. However, Jesus did not respond the way they thought. Jesus did not answer them with the either-or condition they gave Jesus in their question. Instead, Jesus answered them like this, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). Clearly the reader can see the similarities between IRJ of Job’s three friends and the IRJ of the disciples’ question – thinking that suffering and pain always is caused by the sufferer’s sin.

There are a lot of reasons why people can suffer. Sometimes people suffer for righteousness – that is, suffering for doing the right thing, not because of their sin but because of being faithful to God (cf. Matt 5:10; 2 Thess 1:4-5). Sometimes people suffer because God is sanctifying them. This is so that they would be conformed to the image of Christ. God also disciplines His children to reprove, correct and rescue them from themselves if they are going the wrong way in life. But it cannot be assumed that the suffering a person encounters is directly a consequence of that person’s sin. But it also cannot be assumed that the suffering a person encounters is not a consequence of that person’s sin. However, the problem is when IRJ is applied to each and every situation when there is suffering and it is argued “if you suffer, then you have sinned.” It can be true “if you sin, then you will suffer.” But it is not always true that “if you suffer, then you have sinned.” Job’s valuation of his three friends is that they were sorry comforters (cf. 16:1) and that there was not a wise man among them (cf. 17:10).      

From chapters 32-37, the reader is introduced to a man younger than Job’s three friends named Elihu (cf. 32:4). Elihu has a problem with Job’s three friends because they did not know why Job was suffering yet they condemned Job (cf. 32:3). However, Elihu was not a fan of Job’s rhetoric either and thought that Job was justifying himself before God (cf. 32:2).  Elihu does have a mild case of IRJ and insists as well that Job has sinned (e.g., 34:7-8, 11, 25-27). Elihu was right in much of what he said in his speeches, but the problem was that Elihu had some old world theological IRJ motifs. Many have been obsessed with Elihu and tried to portray Elihu as either a protagonist or an antagonist to Job. To this effect, some have argued that Elihu has no positive or negative contribution (e.g., Commentator Alden). The main view throughout church history was that Elihu was the spokesman for God. Some have suggested that Elihu was merely a further human counselor (e.g., Andersen). Others have argued that Elihu laid the foundation for the LORD’s words, a way to prepare Job for God to speak to him (e.g., Commentators Hartly; Atkinson). But instead of Elihu blasting Job as an attempt to heal the suffering man, Job needed to hear from God. Job wanted to hear from the LORD personally and would not be satisfied until he received some clarity to why and what occasioned his unsparing suffering. In fact, Job wanted to talk to God and not his three friends or Elihu. Job is an example of a man who is interested in what God says, not what man says.

God’s Response to Job

God never answered Job’s question why this happened to Job. Instead, God responded with the manifestation of Himself through the Theophany out of the whirlwind (cf. 38:1). And that was all that Job really needed – that is, to hear from God. That is all we need when we suffer – that is, to hear from God. Today we do not receive Theophanies like Job did and the ancients. But we have God’s Word and can read about Job and listen to what God has revealed for us from the book of Job to help us navigate through our suffering and respond correctly. God began His speech to answer Job’s questions by asking Job some questions – that is:

Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding (Job 38:2-4)

No one can honestly answer that question, because no one knows where we were when God laid the foundation of the earth except that we had yet to come into physical existence. The LORD is the Creator, and we are His creatures. God does what He pleases with His created order but always for His glory and for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose (cf. Rom 8:28). Throughout His speech the LORD introduced many features to His Sovereign Providential care over the celestial bodies, geo-physical properties of the earth, flora and fauna etc. that overwhelmed Job to the point to respond this way: “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I say in response to You? I put my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not reply; Or twice, and I will add nothing more” (40:4-5). These features that the LORD presents to Job that the LORD performs could only be said of the LORD. No man nor angelic being has the wisdom or the ability to do the things that the LORD presents concerning Himself. Therefore, the wisdom that Job and the reader is encouraged in is to wait on the LORD in times of difficulty and suffering, persevere and have patient endurance, always fear the LORD, and always depart from evil (cf. 28:28).

There are two mysterious creatures mentioned in the LORD’s speech that the LORD created, named Behemoth (cf. 40:15-24) and Leviathan (cf. 41:1-34). There are many opinions to which animals in the animal kingdom God referred to concerning them. Some have suggested that Behemoth could be a reference to the hippopotamus or the elephant. However, the LORD said that Behemoth had a tail like a cedar. The hippopotamus does not have that impressive of a tail, neither does the elephant. What is described concerning Behemoth must be some sort of land sauropod dinosaur or maybe even a plesiosaurus. Moreover, the same mistake has been made when Leviathan is said to represent the crocodile. What is described in chapter 41 concerning the survey of all of Leviathan’s features is much more descriptive of some sort of marine-like reptile that has fire breathing capabilities (cf. 41:18-21). Many a-millennialists allegorize Leviathan and argue that the LORD is merely exaggerating and presenting a mystical creature that symbolizes evil, to which some have gone as far as arguing that this is support that God created evil. However, there is nothing in the text from the Author’s intended meaning to suggest that Leviathan is an allegorical beast symbolizing chaos. Instead, Leviathan was an ancient marine-like reptile that had fire breathing capabilities and in size dwarfing any know crocodilian species.

Other Theological Themes in the Book of Job

There are some other important theological themes in the book of Job that need to be identified by the reader and cannot be disregarded. In trying to make sense of his suffering, Job alluded to the doctrine of original sin when he said, “Have I covered my transgressions like Adam, By hiding my iniquity in my bosom, Because I feared the great multitude, And the contempt of families terrified me, And kept silent and did not go out of doors?” (31:33). Moreover, Job had a concrete grasp of final eternal punishment for the unrepentant when he said, “For the wicked is reserved for the day of calamity; They will be led forth at the day of fury” (21:30). The need for justification by faith and not human merit is presented by Job’s questions and statements (9:2, 15). The tripartite constitution of man is taught in the book of Job (cf. 7:11; 10:12; 21:25; 32:8; see 1 Thess 5:23) The clear examples of the tripartite constitution of man in the book of Job are not poetical exaggerations of dichotomy. It would be wise for proponents of Jay Adams’ a-millennialistic “nouthetic counseling” (which is neither nouthetic nor biblical) to abandon their humanistic dichotomist view of the human constitution (which finds its origin in the Greek pagan religion creation account called Orphism, as well as the pagan Greek allegorical philosophy of Plato’s Cave). Unless the Adams’ family counseling tradition abandons dichotomy they will never be able to truly counsel anyone biblically. Finally, Job clearly understood the Protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15. He trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ to atone for Job’s original sin and actual sins and to be Job’s advocate and representative through redemption and resurrection (cf. 16:19; 19:23-29).


Job’s final response to the LORD after the LORD’s speech is one of humility. For example, like book ends, just as Job responded to God correctly in the beginning of the book and did not sin with his lips after the most intense testing and temptation, likewise Job responded correctly to God at the end of the book in his final response:

Then Job answered the Lord and said, “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” (42:1-6)

When Job said, “I repent in dust and ashes” (42:6) Job did not mean repentance from a previous hidden sin, nor did he mean from any sin he committed in his suffering. The word used here translated “repent” in the NASB is the Hebrew word nacham and has the sense to mean to console oneself in one’s sorrow. It is the same word used for God in Genesis 6:6 “and it repented the LORD” (KJV) when the LORD was sorry He had made man. The word can have the sense to comfort oneself in the midst of disaster. Job did not sin in his suffering, but instead the context of his ‘repenting in dust and ashes’ was in the context of receiving God’s challenge and consolation. Case in point, God’s anger was not kindled against Job for anything Job had said about the LORD in Job’s speeches. Instead, God claimed that Job said what was right of Him (cf. 42:8). On the other hand, God’s wrath was kindled at Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar because they did not say what was right about God even though they tried to be comforters and spokesmen on behalf of God (cf. 42:7-8). The LORD instructed Eliphaz to lead the other two friends and make a burnt offering to the LORD and instructed Eliphaz to ask Job to pray on his behalf (cf. 42:7-8). It is most likely that God went to Eliphaz to organize this because Eliphaz thought he was wiser than all due to his age.

All the things that the charismatic movement and Pentecostalism wrongly chase after Job lost – that is, health, wealth and prosperity. In fact, the majority of people chase after health, wealth and prosperity for their happiness. Pentecostals wrongly teach that if you have faith like Job you will be rich, or if you have faith like Abraham you will be rich. They argue that God will reward you with health, wealth and prosperity if you merely have enough faith. However, God did not restore Job’s fortune until after Job prayed for his friends. Job had no idea that God would restore Job’s fortunes. He selflessly prayed for his friends first. Then God restored Job’s fortunes and gave Job more than Job had before his trial of suffering. This means that Job was not chasing after health, wealth and prosperity after God spoke to him. On the other hand, Job was trusting in God alone and God spoke to Job – that was all Job needed in his suffering – that is, to hear from God and to be comforted by God’s presence. Likewise, King Solomon prayed to God for wisdom to lead God’s people. King Solomon did not pray for health, wealth and prosperity. Because Solomon prayed for wisdom and not health, wealth and prosperity – God gave him all those things because Solomon did not ask for them (cf. 2 Chr 1:11-12). The point is this, the reader needs to seek after God and glory in the LORD, not health, wealth and prosperity. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church of the Thessalonians that the Christian will be relieved from all adversity in eternity – that is, the afterlife, not in this life.

The book of Job elevates the problem of suffering and pain and answers the problem of evil. Everyone has questions to why and how God is involved in some way with human suffering. Many want God to justify His actions when they suffer, but He eternally responds to all who question Him – “Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified? (40:8).

Job is a type of the ultimate righteous sufferer. This is what the book is about, and the meaning Job has for the Christian. The only One who truly suffered injustice – the only One who was treated as He did not deserve in the ultimate sense was the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is the true innocent sufferer, the only One completely without sin and it was God who sent Jesus to the cross:

This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. (Acts 2:23-24)

One can see the doctrine of Concurrence unmistakably in the passion and murder of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, the book of Job calls to the Christian to look to the suffering Messiah. The reader must look to the Lord Jesus Christ. God entered the world of human suffering in order to redeem everyone who would ever trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved from the wrath of God. Unless you have faith in Him and His perfect life, vicarious satisfactory penal-substitutionary cross work and resurrection from the dead to be saved from the wrath of God – to be joined in substitution and imputation with Him – then you will not join in His exaltation.

Those who are Christians evidence their profession is true when they take up their own cross and follow Christ and are willing to suffer for Him. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, the apostle Paul likens the suffering of Christians to Christ and as a result the comfort of Christ. A true Christian church is a fellowship of suffering and comfort. The members of a true Christian church fellowship together to comfort each other with the comfort they have received from God in Christ Jesus our Lord. The reason we suffer is for God’s glory. God is glorified through the suffering of His faithful servants like Job. That is the continuity between Job and the Christian – to the glory of God. This is why Job is relevant to the Christian. The experience of suffering is universal to the Christian in this life. But if we suffer for righteousness, we are promised the kingdom of Heaven (cf. Matt 5:10). We are saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone not our works, because just like Job the Christian can confidently proclaim, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God” (19:25-26). Amen.

E. V. Powers

Romans: Chapter 2

Please consider Romans chapter 2 in block sentences organized by Chris Williams. Click the link here below.

Romans: Chapter 1

Please click the link below to access chapter 1 from the book of Romans that Chris Williams put in block sentence form from the NASB.

Judges Brief Commentary

Judges recorded the recurring cycle of Israel’s sin and Yahweh’s subsequent response. In Judges, Israel did what was right in its own eyes (17:6; 21:25), failed to drive out the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, and repeatedly fell into gross pagan idolatry. Moreover, each time Israel sinned it provoked God to raise up oppression against Israel. The oppression against Israel caused Israel to cry out to Yahweh. Then, Yahweh raised up judges to deliver Israel from their enemies. However, Israel returned to sin repeatedly after a judge would die, thus the cycle continued.

Israel’s sin cycle began in Judges when the sons of Israel inquired of Yahweh who would be first to go up and drive out the inhabitants from the land (1:1). Yahweh replied to Israel the following: “Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into his hand” (1:2). However, Judah asks Simeon his brother to help him (1:3-19). Yahweh only said Judah shall go up. At the end of the book the people inquire of Yahweh again but this time it is to go to battle against one of their own tribes. Again, Yahweh responds by designating Judah to go up to battle against Benjamin. Commentator Hamilton explained the connection between the beginning and ending of Judges when he writes,

A book that starts with a reference to an offensive war by a united nation against a common enemy ends with a reference to that same nation at war with itself. Benjaminites, part of the family of God, have become Canaanites.[1]   

In other words, the leaven (influence) of the Canaanites in the land caused the Israelites to become the enemy, a direct consequence of Israel not driving them out. Moreover, at the start of Judges the reader is informed of Benjamin’s failure to drive out the inhabitants when it reads, “But the sons of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem; so the Jebusites have lived with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day” (1:21). Lastly, Judges 1:22-36 listed the tribes of Israel’s deficiency to drive out the inhabitants of the land. Instead of driving out the Canaanites, Israel made covenants with them and forced them to do their labor.

Because Israel was not obedient to Yahweh He rebuked them and pronounced His judgment upon them: 

and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.’ (2:2-3)

After Joshua and the faithful generation of Israel died, the next generation completely forgot Yahweh and His works. Israel then plummeted into gross pagan idolatry (2:6-11). Judges 2:11-23 summarized the entire book of Judges and best described Israel’s cycle of sin and Yahweh’s response. First, Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, forsaking Yahweh to follow the gods of the Canaanites (2:11-12). Second, Israel provoked Yahweh to anger and He delivered them into oppression (2:14-15). Next, Israel cried out and the LORD delivered Israel from their enemies by raising up judges (2:16-18). But when the judge died Israel returned to their gross pagan idolatry (2:19-23). Also, Yahweh’s response included leaving the inhabitants of the land to test Israel to see if they would obey Him or not (2:20-3:6). But Israel repeatedly failed the test and even intermarried with the inhabitants of the land.   

Likewise, the historical narrative concerning the first judge Othniel illustrated the cycle of Israel’s sin and Yahweh’s response. First, the text reads of Israel’s sin: “The Sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth” (3:7). Second, the text reads of Israel’s oppression: “Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, so that He sold them into the hands of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the sons of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years” (3:8). Third, the texts reads of Israel’s repentant cry to Yahweh: “When the sons of Israel cried to the LORD” (3:9a). Fourth, the text reads of Israel’s deliverer (savior-judge) whom Yahweh raised up: “the LORD raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them” (3:9). However, as soon as Othniel (the first judge) died Israel returned and “did evil in the sight of the LORD” (3:12). Simply put, Israel’s sin cycle was five stages, namely, sin, oppression, repentance, deliverance, and return to sin. Furthermore, Yahweh was sovereign over the oppression (He raised up the oppression against Israel to test and discipline them), as well as raising up the deliverer to save them when they returned to Yahweh with repentance. For the next eighteen chapters of Judges this cycle repeats and results in a deeper moral decline for Israel until the nation is handed over to itself with complete moralistic relativism[2] and wickedness.

The end of Judges records pagan idolatry, theft, and a civil war between Israel and the tribe of Benjamin because of the rape and murder of a Levites’ concubine (17-21). The contents between the last five chapters begin and conclude with this identical statement, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (17:6; 21:25). The moral decline of Israel into moralistic relativism, namely everyone did what was right in his own eyes, is the heart of Israel’s sin. Yahweh made man in His image. However, post-fall man is set on personal autonomy, shaping gods (idols) in whatever image he feels like, in all out rebellion against God. It would make sense therein for Yahweh to respond to this rebellion in disciplining Israel. Lastly, Yahweh’s response in Judges is that of far-reaching patience. Yahweh could have utterly destroyed Israel many times or completely abandoned Israel, but He lovingly disciplined them by raising up oppression to test and humble them.     

In conclusion, Israel’s recurring cycle of sin and Yahweh’s subsequent response included Israel’s sin, Israel’s oppression (raised by Yahweh), Israel’s repentance, Israel’s deliverance (raised up by Yahweh), back to Israel’s sin. What is more, each judge mentioned in Judges was a sinner, died and failed to completely deliver Israel from their sins and oppression. The seed of the woman had not yet come to crush the serpent’s head which Yahweh had promised in Genesis 3:15. Therefore each judge was a type of the ultimate Savior who was to come, a savior without sin who completely delivered everyone who would ever believe in Him from their sins. The one and only savior is the Lord Jesus Christ.     

[1] Victor P. Hamilton. Handbook on the Historical Books. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 101.

[2] According to the American Heritage Dictionary relativism is “a theory that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them.” The American Heritage College Dictionary: Third Edition. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993), 1152. According to The New Dictionary of Theology, religious relativists view different religious beliefs and practices as legitimate. New Dictionary of Theology. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1988), 575.

Joshua – Brief Commentary

The book of Joshua is about conquering and dividing the land of Canaan. To this effect, Joshua records the conquest of the land of Canaan by Israel. After the conquest, the land of Canaan was distributed as an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes, thus fulfilling Yahweh’s covenant promise to Abraham. Joshua relates to the Abrahamic Covenant and the land because Yahweh made a covenant with Abram in Genesis 15:18-21 to give Abram’s offspring the land of Canaan. In Joshua, God begins to fulfill the covenant he made with Abram as Joshua leads the sons of Israel into the military conquest of Canaan. However, Israel failed to drive out all the inhabitants of the land of Canaan.   

Chronologically, God revealed His plan to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan by leading the sons of Israel to occupy the land in Gen. 12:1-5. In Gen 12:7 God told Abram that He will give Abram’s descendants the land of Canaan. In Gen. 15:14-16, God revealed to Abram His plan for the next four hundred years (and even extending into the Millennial Kingdom when the Seed of the woman, that is – Jesus Christ will establish His 1,000 year reign on earth in the land promised in the Abrahamic Covenant), to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan by leading the sons of Israel out of Egyptian bondage to occupy the land, when God entered into a covenant with Abram because the text reads,

God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.

One of the features of the Abrahamic Covenant included God’s promise to deliver the land of Canaan to Abram’s descendants. This is the main way Joshua relates to the Abrahamic Covenant, namely, the conquest of the land of Canaan. With regards to Joshua relating to the Abrahamic Covenant, Genesis 15:18-21 reads as follows,

On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,“To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”

Consequently, Joshua begins after the death of Moses with Yahweh commissioning Joshua to enter into Canaan and conquer the land. Under those circumstances, Joshua 1:2-4, 6 reads the following (with Yahweh speaking to Joshua),

Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory… Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.

The “Fathers” from verse 6 is a reference starting with Abraham, thus, the connection between the Abrahamic Covenant in Gen. 15:18-21 and the commission of Joshua to begin the military conquest is undoubtedly correlated. This correlation is threefold. First, the recipients of the covenant that are given the land are the same in both passages, namely, the sons of Israel. Second, the geographic region described in Gen. 15:18-21 is repeated in Jos. 1:2-4 as the same territory. Lastly, the inhabitants to be conquered and driven out of the land are identical in both passages.

After Joshua took command of the sons of Israel under Yahweh’s commission of him, Joshua commanded the sons of Israel to prepare and cross the Jordan for military conquest. The inhabitants to be conquered in the military conquest were those mentioned by name in the Abrahamic Covenant, namely, the Ammorites (Gen. 15:16), and the nine other tribes mentioned in Gen. 15:19-21. Joshua’s command revealed how their conquest will begin to fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant of the land when He said, “three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, to possess it” (Jos. 1:11). What is more, Rahab the prostitute reiterated Yahweh’s intentions to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant by conquering the inhabitants and driving them out in Joshua when she said in Jos. 2:2, …“I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.” Likewise, the events concerning Rahab and the two spies further prove the beginning of the Abrahamic Covenant’s fulfillment of the land in Joshua when the two men confessed with the following confidence …“Surely the LORD has given all the land into our hands; moreover, all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before us” (Jos. 2:24).   

After the second generation of the sons of Israel that came out of Egypt was circumcised, Jos. 5:6 explains that the first generation would not see “…the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.” The reference to “their fathers” begins with Abraham, further proving it is the second generation out of Egypt of the sons of Israel who are Abraham’s descendants, the ones mentioned in Gen. 15 that will drive out the Canaanites.[1]     

In conclusion, the book of Joshua relates to the Abrahamic Covenant and the land as a partial fulfillment of possession. Chapters 1 – 12 of Joshua record Israel conquering the land. Chapters 13 through 24 record Israel dividing the land. Joshua began to advance in age before all the inhabitants of the land are driven out and the military conquest begins to regress (13:1-7). Joshua died at the close of this book at the age of 110 in 1390 BC. Joshua conquered the land but did not completely drive out all the inhabitance (cf. Judges 2:21-3:8). The sons of Israel only partially drove out the Canaanites. For example, in Joshua 13:1-6 God told Joshua that he is to begin dividing out the land distributed as an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. However, concerning the rest of the Canaanites, Yahweh will have to drive them out. Repeatedly, Joshua referenced tribes that failed to ultimately drive out the Canaanites in their allotted territories. For example, according to the territory allotted to Judah they failed to drive out the Jebusites (15:63). Moreover, according to the territory allotted to Ephraim they failed to drive out Gezer (16:10). Lastly, there is specific reference to Manasseh failing to drive out Canaanites (perhaps Perizzites) living in the territory allotted to them (17:12-13). The name Joshua in Hebrew literally means “Yahweh is salvation.” The ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and the land will be when the seed of the woman who is Jesus Christ returns and establishes his 1,000 year reign of the land and into eternity.

[1] Israel had victory over Jericho, Ai and the five kings. However, Israel failed to drive out the inhabitants. Therefore Joshua is only the beginning of the fulfillment of the Palestinian covenant. The ultimate fulfillment is eschatological when Christ (the seed of the woman) returns and begins the millennial reign.

Deuteronomy – Brief Commentary

Deuteronomy reveals Yahweh and that which Yahweh required of Israel. There are specific attributes of Yahweh revealed in Deuteronomy, namely, Yahweh is unique and jealous, faithful, loving, gracious, and judging.[1] The overall main requirements that Yahweh required Israel are found in the interrogative statement made by Moses in Deut. 10:12-13 which reads,

Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?

What is more, on account of Yahweh’s sovereign decree and command to Israel, Israel is required to “go in” and “possess the land” of Canaan (cf. 1:8). Finally, Deuteronomy reveals the mystery of divine decree and human responsibility in the demesne of providence (cf. 29:29).      

Deuteronomy revealed Yahweh as unique and jealous. For example, revealing the uniqueness of Yahweh the text reads, “To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him. . . . Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other” (4:35, 39). Commentator Thompson wrote that Yahweh’s uniqueness made known His sovereignty and demanded Israel to have a monotheistic orthopraxy, when he wrote,

The phrases Yahweh is God and there is no other besides him give expression to the simple fact that in Israel Yahweh alone was to be Sovereign (cf. verse 39). There was no other power in the universe which could determine the destinies of men on earth. If such a view is not fully-developed monotheism, it is certainly a practical monotheism. . . . The miraculous mercies of the past and the prospect of future blessing could be urged as a ground for serious reckoning with the claims of Yahweh’s ultimate sovereignty over the whole earth.[2]

Yahweh is revealed also to be jealous in Deuteronomy. The jealousy of Yahweh is righteous and directly related to His uniqueness because there were devastating consequences for Israel if they did not worship and serve Yahweh alone:

You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me. (5:8-9)   

Another attribute that Deuteronomy revealed about Yahweh is His faithfulness. Yahweh told Israel in 5:10 that He will show lovingkindness to thousands to those who love Him and keep His commandments. Yahweh promised that He keeps all His promises in Deut. 7:9 which reads, “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (7:9).

Another attribute of Yahweh revealed in Deuteronomy is Yahweh’s love. Yahweh’s love for Israel is unconditional because His love is solely based on who He is – not who Israel is. For example, Deuteronomy 7:7-8 revealed Yahweh’s unconditional love which reads, “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you…” (7:7-8a, b).

Next, Deuteronomy revealed Yahweh to be gracious. Moses reminded Israel in chapter eight of Yahweh’s gracious acts toward them, from testing and humbling Israel to teach them to live by God’s words (8:1-3), disciplining them (8:4-6), bringing them into a good land to bless them (8:7-10), leading them through a terribly dangerous desert teaming with some of the most deadly arachnids[3] and serpents on planet earth (8:15), providing water to quench thirst (8:15-16), and to humble Israel and test them for their ultimate good in the end (8:16).  In other words, everything Yahweh had done to Israel was for their good even though it did not seem pleasant at the time. As a final point, Deut. 7:12-16 revealed Yahweh’s intentions to bestow upon Israel an overflow of blessing if they listen to Yahweh’s judgments.   

Deuteronomy revealed the righteous nature of Yahweh’s judging. For example, Yahweh’s judging includes higher than the highest judgment, no partiality, justice for orphans and widows, food and clothing for the aliens, and promise keeping (10:17-22).

Moses repeated Yahweh’s parameters for judgment in 1:16-18 to remind the Israelite the following (this served as a transition into what Yahweh required of Israel):

Then I charged your judges at that time, saying, ‘Hear the cases between your fellow countrymen, and judge righteously between a man and his fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God’s. The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.’ I commanded you at that time all the things that you should do.[4]

Yahweh required Israel to possess the land of Canaan for themselves and dispossess the land of Canaan from its inhabitants. For example, Yahweh through Moses commanded Israel to possess the land when he ordered: “See, I have placed the land before you; go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their descendants after them” (1:8). Correspondingly, Yahweh through Moses commanded Israel to dispossess the land when he ordered: “Hear, O Israel! You are crossing over the Jordan today to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, great cities fortified to heaven” (Deut. 9:1; 11:23; 12:2, 29; 18:14; 19:1).

Also, Yahweh required Israel to listen to His words (18:18-19). Yahweh required Israel to keep their vows (23:21). Yahweh required Israel to love Him wholeheartedly and hold fast to Him (11:22). Yahweh required Israel to write His words on their hearts (11:18). Also, after Israel had possessed and dispossessed the land they were to institute the theocracy with all God’s statutes and ordinances (12:1-26:19).

Finally, Deuteronomy revealed the mystery of divine decree and human responsibility in the demesne of providence (Deut. 29:29). The New Dictionary of Theology defines Providence as follows:

Providence is the beneficent outworking of God’s sovereignty whereby all events are directed and disposed to bring about those purposes of glory and good for which the universe was made. These events include the actions of free agents, which while remaining free, personal and responsible are also the intended actions of those agents.[5]

To this effect, it is inescapable to see the compatibilism[6] of God’s sovereign decree and human decision in bringing about this providence of God, specifically in Deuteronomy 28:1-31:29. If one objectively reads the rest of the OT and is a student of history one will notice that all the curses mentioned in the text literally came upon Israel as well as all the blessings, virtually as if it were fixed, because it was fixed. Yet Yahweh holds Israel responsible and demands repentance, faith, and obedience to come from them. This is not a contradiction but demands eyes to see which only Yahweh can bestow.    

What Yahweh had done was beyond Israel’s comprehension because they did not have a heart to know it. For example, the text reads, “Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear” (Deut. 29:4). However, God promises restoration in chapter 30 in a future time when He will change their hearts and they will repent and turn to Yahweh. Then Israel will have the ability to be obedient: “Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” (30:6).[7]

[1] All five attributes of Yahweh from Dr. Essex’s course outline. Keith Essex. Old Testament Studies I BI 501. (Unpublished course notes: The Master’s Seminary, 2013), 25-6.

[2] J. A. Thompson. Deuteronomy; TOTC. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1974), 109.

[3] According to the American Heritage College Dictionary, the term Arachnid is any of various arthropods of the class Arachnida, characterized by four pairs of segmented legs and a body divided into two regions (eight legs total). Derived from the Greek word ἀράχνη (aráchnē), meaning “spider” but includes scorpions and other creatures. The American Heritage College Dictionary: Third Edition. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993), 69.

[4] Also, see Deut. 16:18-20, 17:6-13 and 19:15-21 for Yahweh’s parameters for judging.

[5] New Dictionary of Theology. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1988), 541.

[6] According to Ronald H. Nash, compatibilism is “the theory that in ways that may be impossible to comprehend, determinism and human free will are compatible in the sense that both can exist in the case of human action. Major Christian thinkers like Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards did not repudiate human freedom, as is sometimes thought. They defined the notion of human freedom so that it is compatible with determinism.” Ronald H. Nash. Life’s Ultimate Questions. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 327.

[7] At the same time, concerning human responsibility, Yahweh requires repentance and obedience (Deut. 30:10-14).

Numbers – Brief Commentary

Numbers discloses Israel’s 40 years of wilderness wandering. What is more, Numbers teaches concerning Israel’s obedience and disobedience to Yahweh that there are curses and consequences for disobedience. These curses and consequences for disobedience are evidenced by Yahweh’s response to Israel, namely, discipline by death.

The first ten chapters of Numbers begins with the first generation of the sons of Israel who left Egypt and their subsequent census by Moses. Yahweh commanded Moses to, “Take a census of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ households, according to the number of names, every male, head by head, from twenty years old and upward, whoever is able to go out to war in Israel, you and Aaron shall number them by their armies” (1:2-3). This is the first generation of Israelite warriors who were supposed to enter Canaan and begin to drive out its inhabitants. After several chapters of commands, in chapter ten of Numbers the sons of Israel set out on their journey from Sinai to what appears to be a promising conquest (cf. 10:11-36). However, rebellion of the sons of Israel against Yahweh is recorded in chapter 11 when the people complain (cf. 11:1-3). Yahweh’s response to Israel’s complaining was in wrath, disciplining them to the point which resulted in the death of some (11:33-34).

The occasion of the people’s complaint caused Moses to complain (11:10-15). Later, Miriam and Aaron complain against Moses. Miriam is disciplined by Yahweh with leprosy. In both complaints the anger of Yahweh against the people and against Miriam and Aaron is placated because of Moses’ intercessory prayers. These events conciliated should be understood as acts of God’s mercy and grace for not utterly destroying the people. What is more, God’s anger is not without self-control. Therefore, Moses’ intercession is a form of anthropomorphism, in that God led Moses to intercede. The best example of this is Moses’ intercession for the sons of Israel in chapter 14 and God pardoning them according to Moses’ intercession (14:11-20).

The main disobedience to Yahweh to bring about discipline by death was a bad report of the land from the disobedient spies sent out by Moses (13:32). This bad report of the land was like a defiant seed planted in the hearts of the sons of Israel occasioning them to all-out rebellion in chapter 14. However, Joshua and Caleb had faith in Yahweh to see the sons of Israel victorious. What is more, it is to them granted the leadership of the second generation into the land of Canaan to drive out its inhabitants. This is the principle foremost way the blessings for obedience and the consequences for disobedience are evidenced by Yahweh’s response to Israel, namely, discipline by death, because the entire first generation of the sons of Israel out of Egypt are to die in the wilderness. For example, Numbers 14:30-35 explained Israel’s obedience and disobedience to Yahweh when the text reads,

Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey—I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition. I, the LORD, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die.’” (Num. 14:30-35)

As a last point, the spies who brought back a bad report of the land die immediately of the plague (14:36-37).

Numbers 15:32-36 recorded the death of a man. This man died because of his disobedience to Yahweh while working on the Sabbath. Moreover, Yahweh disciplined by death those involved in Korah’s rebellion by causing the earth to swallow Korah’s rebellion up and the objects of wrath to descend alive into Sheol (16:1-35). Also, the next day Numbers 16:41-50 records 14,700 people who suffered God’s wrath because of their disobedience and their sympathizing with Korah and his company. So serious was Yahweh about grumbling and the defiance of the people against what He had instituted in leadership and worship that if the people of Israel even came near the tent of meeting they would die (18:22).

Numbers 20:8-29 recorded Moses and Aaron’s disobedience concerning the waters at Meribah. Moses and Aaron did not follow Yahweh’s instructions fully in the method He wanted them to follow to let Israel drink the water from the rock. Because Moses and Aaron failed to treat Yahweh as holy neither of them would enter Canaan. What is more, the disobedience at Meribah led to Aaron’s subsequent death at Mount Hor.

However, in spite of all Israel’s consequences for disobedience the sons of Israel are blessed by Yahweh and cannot forfeit Yahweh’s unconditional covenant He made with their forefathers.  The grace and mercy of Yahweh is evidenced by the bronze serpent on a pole. For example, in chapter 21 the people complain and start to suffer death by fiery serpents. Then, the LORD commanded Moses to, “…Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live” (Num. 21:8). This concept is a typological illustration of what happens to the sinner who looks at the Lord Jesus Christ by faith and trusts in His saving cross on their behalf; that is, the believing sinner lives life eternal.

Numbers begins to shift from the discipline of Israel to their blessing with war victories in chapter 21. Moreover, Balak the king of Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel in chapter 22 but Balaam cannot. Instead, God forces Balaam to only bless Israel. A section of the last of these three blessings, Balaam prophesizes the enmity between the Seed of the woman toward the seed of the serpent by the crushing of the serpent’s head by the Seed of the woman, a reference to Genesis 3:15, when he said, “I see him now, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth” (Num. 24:17). Moab is the seed of the serpent who is at war with the Seed of the woman (the Seed of the woman is Jesus Christ, who is the promised Messiah from the Israelites). This connection is unmistakably apparent and is the ultimate blessing of Yahweh on Israel, who takes away their sins.

            In conclusion, Numbers discloses Yahweh’s response to Israel’s disobedience, namely, discipline by death. However, Yahweh blessed Israel, allowing the second generation to enter the Land and promised them a King to rise from Israel.

Leviticus – Brief Commentary

The following is merely an expositional synopsis of the book of Leviticus. The purpose of this expositional synopsis is to make some expositional observations to point out some key features from the book of Leviticus for the reader. The reader of this article is encouraged by the author to read the book of Leviticus in its entirety. This synopsis is merely a brief commentary on the book of Leviticus and is by no means adding to or taking away from the book of Leviticus, neither is this synopsis intended to be a substitute.

Leviticus reveals how the Old Testament saint was to approach the Holy God. The OT saints were identified from four categories: from the assembly of Israel as a whole (4:13), from leaders (4:22), from priests (4:3) or from common persons (4:27). The sons of Israel were set apart as a people consecrated to YHWH. Likewise, their purpose was to be identified with YHWH as His people reflecting holiness (11:44-45).

The OT saint maintained his relationship with YHWH by means of conviction-confession (i.e. 5:4d-5), repentance (i.e. turning from sin), and blood sacrifice to make atonement for the OT saint as a shadow of what would only be found in the sacrifice of the seed of the woman (cf. Gen 3:15). The blood sacrifice for atonement was because of the OT saints’ sins against YHWH. Lastly, the OT saint maintained his relationship with YHWH through obedience to the sacrificial system administered by the anointed priest Aaron and the anointed priest who would be in his place among his sons (7:22), as well as obedience to YHWH’s commands.

Conviction and confession were where the OT saint began to approach God. For example, Leviticus 5:4d-5 explained how a man would not know of his swearing thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good or rash oaths, that later he would become aware of them through conviction and know his guilt. Then the OT saint would need to confess his sin as Lev. 5:4d-5 reads, “and then he comes to know it, he will be guilty in one of these. So shall it be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned.” What is more, on the day of Atonement the high priest would lay his hands on the scapegoat and confess over it all the sins of the sons of Israel (16:21). 

Leviticus 1:1-7:38 reveals six offerings in which the Old Testament saint would participate in to maintain his relationship with YHWH. These offerings were the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the ordination offering, and the sacrifice of peace offering (7:37-38). Concerning the burnt offering Lev. 1:4 reads, “He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.” This is the first of many times the word atonement is found in Leviticus. The word atonement in Leviticus is from the Hebrew trilateral verb root כָּפַר and means, “to be atoned for; make amends, pardon, release, appease, forgive, annulled, covering over and therefore forgetting sin.”[1] What is more, the noun in Hebrew of the word Atonement is כַּפֺּ֫רֶת and means, “(traditionally: mercy seat): the golden cover on the ark of the covenant, the place where atonement is made.”[2] It was through these sacrifices in place of the OT saint’s sin that atonement was made and the OT saint maintained his relationship with YHWH. God demanded an innocent blood sacrifice to atone for sin. At this point one must appeal to the NT where one will see that the OT sacrificial system pointed to the ultimate one time sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of sins on behalf of everyone who would ever believe in Him for eternal life, including the OT saint. For example, Hebrews 10:4 and 9:13-15, 22 explained that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is how the OT saint maintains his relationship with YHWH eternally, not only temporarily, when these texts read, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4)

And –

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance… And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (9:13-15, 22)

The Day of Atonement occurred once every year and was how the OT saint maintained his relationship with YHWH yearly. To this effect, Lev. 16:30 explained that the OT saint would be clean before the LORD when it reads, “for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD.” In Leviticus 16 the Day of Atonement ceremony is described where two goats participate in the ceremony; one goat to signify a substitutionary sacrifice, the other goat sent out into the desert to signify removal of sin (see also Leviticus 17; 23:26-44). Once a year on the Day of Atonement the high priest of the people of Israel would go into the Holy of Holies, where the mercy seat was located, and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat for the sins of the people. For Israel the mercy seat was the place where, or the way in which, the OT saint maintained his relationship with Yahweh. This is a type of what Christ has done completely for everyone who would ever believe in Him. The two goats served as a sacrificial type that pointed to and would be fulfilled by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on the Cross, because the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. After Jesus Christ offered up Himself on the cross as a onetime substitutionary sacrifice for sin, He was then raised to life from the dead on the third day. Then He sat down at the right hand of God. This means that Jesus Christ now sits on God’s throne. Therefore, Jesus Christ is the fulfillment and fullness of the true meaning and purpose of the mercy seat.

From Lev.18:1-25:55 there are many Laws in which Israel was to obey. It was obedience to what YHWH had instituted through the sacrificial system and conduct that maintained the OT saint’s relationship with YHWH. This was only a temporal sense. Concerning the sacrifice on the eighth day of the ordination of Aaron and his sons, Lev. 9:6 reads, “Moses said, ‘This is the thing which the LORD has commanded you to do, that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.’” When the OT saint drew near to YHWH in obedience and reverence then YHWH appeared to them and their relationship was retained (cf. 10:3). YHWH consumed the burnt offering with fire (9:23-24). This caused the people to fall on their faces (9:24), an expression of fear and worship.

In conclusion, Leviticus reveals how the Old Testament saint was to approach a Holy God.  In Leviticus, the Old Testament saint maintained his relationship with Yahweh by the sacrificial system instituted by Yahweh which was a type of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ.

[1] Edward W. Goodrick and John R. Kohlenberger III. The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 4085.

[2] Ibid., 4085.

Exodus – Brief Commentary

The following is merely an expositional synopsis of the book of Exodus. The purpose of this expositional synopsis is to make some expositional observations to point out some key features from the book of Exodus for the reader. The reader of this article is encouraged by the author to read the book of Exodus in its entirety. This synopsis is merely a brief commentary on the book of Exodus and is by no means adding to or taking away from the book of Exodus, neither is this synopsis intended to be a substitute.

Exodus is about the departure of the sons of Israel from Egyptian bondage, led by Moses to worship God at Mount Sinai.

Exodus revealed two things concerning Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage. First, concerning Israel’s deliverance Exodus revealed that Yahweh’s promises are irrevocable (2:24; 6:4, 5). Second, concerning Israel’s deliverance Exodus revealed that Yahweh is compassionate (34:6-7). What is more, Exodus revealed Yahweh’s purpose for the sons of Israel in two ways. First, God decreed to set Israel apart from all the other nations and establish a covenant with them (Ex. 19:5-6). Second, God decreed to drive out the rebellious inhabitants of Canaan by leading the sons of Israel to occupy the land, fulfilling His promise to Abraham (2:24-25; 6:4, 5; see Gen. 12:1-2, 7; 15:18-21).

In the ancient Near East if one didn’t have a name, then that indicated that one didn’t exist (see 17:14-16; 32:32-35). Exodus 3:13-14 revealed Moses’ inquiry of how he was to introduce God (3:6) to the sons of Israel (pre-deliverance from Egypt) when the text reads,

Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (3:13-14)

According to John Calvin the name “I AM WHO I AM” and “I AM” revealed that God is eternal and self-existent. To this effect, John Calvin explained “I AM WHO I AM” and “I AM” means that God is self-existent and eternal when he wrote,

I AM THAT I AM. The verb in the Hebrew is in the future tense, “I will be what I will be;” but it is of the same force as the present, except that it designates the perpetual duration of time. This is very plain, that God attributes to himself alone divine glory, because he is self-existent and therefore eternal; and thus gives being and existence to every creature. Nor does he predicate of himself anything common, or shared by others; but he claims for himself eternity as peculiar to God alone, in order that he may be honored according to his dignity. Therefore, immediately afterwards, contrary to grammatical usage, he used the same verb in the first person as a substantive, annexing it to a verb in the third person; that our minds may be filled with admiration as often as his incomprehensible essence is mentioned.[1]

According to A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, by Barrick and Busenitz, there is technically no tense in Hebrew verbs but the tense is always a function of context and context alone.[2] Hebrew tense being determined by the context shows that Calvin is wrong in his grammatical claim (i.e. his claim of the verb being in the future tense) but right in his assessment of the context. Calvin’s right assessment of “I AM WHO I AM” is that God’s name means that God is self-existent and possesses the divine attribute called eternality. This is clearly revealed from the context because in the very next verse God said, “This is my name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations” (Ex. 3:15). Eternity is not a measurement of time but rather a fixed state without a beginning and end. Therefore, only God can be self-existent and eternal. Angels and humans will spend eternity forever in one of two places but there was a point in which they came into existence ontologically. However, concerning God there was no point in which He came into existence ontologically. He has always existed ontologically. Therefore, if YHWH is eternal and He makes a promise then that promise is eternally irrevocable. Concerning the relationship to YHWH’s eternality and His promises Ex. 2:24-25 reads, “So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.” One might think that God forgot of the covenant He made with Abraham because the Sons of Israel are in Egyptian bondage in Exodus chapter one. However, God did tell Abram in Gen. 15:13 that Abram’s descendants would be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years but afterwards would come out with possessions. Likewise, God connects His name YHWH with His promises in Ex.6:2-9. The point is, God made a promise to Abraham. The fact of Israel’s deliverance in Exodus revealed that Yahweh has kept His promise because it is irrevocable.

Second, concerning Israel’s deliverance Exodus revealed that Yahweh is compassionate (34:6-7). There is a false ideology first proposed by Marcion of Sinope at Rome around the year 144, who taught a dichotomy between the Hebrew God of the OT (a god of wrath) and the NT Christian god of love and compassion. However, Exodus decries the heresy of Marcion when Ex. 34:6-7 reads, “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.’” God bestowed upon Israel his lovingkindness and compassion by delivering them from Egyptian bondage. As a final point, the God of the OT and the God of the NT is the same God.

Exodus revealed God as Yahweh the covenant keeping God who chose to enter into a covenant with the sons of Israel as a nation. This is made known in Ex. 19:5-6 which reads, “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be my own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…” Exodus revealed that Israel is set apart from all the other nations of the earth to enter into covenant with God, being set apart as His possession. Israel experienced a very special and unique privilege, receiving the Mosaic Covenant on Mount Sinai.

Lastly, Exodus revealed that God decreed to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan by leading the sons of Israel to occupy the land, fulfilling His promise to Abraham. Indeed, Ex. 2:24-25 revealed the purpose for Israel in the plan of leading Israel out of Egypt for occupation of Canaan as the text reads, “So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.” What is more, God promises to Moses this fulfillment in Ex. 6:4-7 when the text reads,

I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

Initially, God revealed his plan to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan by leading the sons of Israel to occupy the land in Gen. 12:1-5. Then in Gen 12:7 God tells Abram that He will give Abram’s descendants the land of Canaan. In Gen. 15:13-16, 18-21 God promised Abram specifically His plan for the next four hundred years to drive out the inhabitance of Canaan by leading the sons of Israel out of Egyptian bondage (even extending much further into the Millennial Kingdom when the Seed of the woman, i.e. Jesus Christ, will establish His 1,000 year reign on earth in the land of Canaan fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant in the Eschaton). God entered into a covenant with Abram for Abram’s descendants to occupy the land because the text reads,

God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. . . On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite. (Gen 15:13-15, 18-21)

E.V. Powers

[1] Calvin, John. Calvin’s Commentaries (Vol. II). (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979), 73.

[2] Page 94

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