Yahweh’s creation (Ps 136:4-136:9)

“Yahweh alone does great wonders.

His steadfast love endures forever.

By understanding he made the heavens.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He spread out the earth on the waters.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He made the great lights.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He made the sun to rule over the day.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He made the moon and the stars to rule over the night.

His steadfast love endures forever.”

Once again, the congregational refrain, “His steadfast love endures forever” is repeated after every verse. This is a tribute to the creator Yahweh. He has done great wonders. He has made the heavens and put the earth on top of the waters. He made the great lights for the day and the night, the sun, the moon, and the stars. Therefore we cry out that his steadfast love endures forever.

The heavens reveal Yahweh (Ps 8:3-8:4)

“When I look at your heavens,

I see the work of your fingers.

I see the moon and the stars.

You have established them.

What are human beings?

Why are you mindful of them?

Why do you care for mortals?”

When David would look to the heavens, he would see the hand work of Yahweh, who had established the moon and the stars. This was the fine finger work of the hand of God. He wondered who are we, us human beings? Why does God care for us? Why is he even mindful of us?

Bildad praises God (Job 25:1-25:6)

“Then Bildad the Shuhite answered.

‘Dominion and fear are with God.

He makes peace in his high heaven.

Is there any number to his armies?

Upon whom does his light not arise?

How then can a mortal be righteous before God?

How can one born of woman be pure?

If even the moon is not bright,

If the stars are not pure in his sight,

How much less a mortal,

A maggot,

A human being,

A worm?”

This is a very short chapter with only 6 verses. This is clearly the response of Bildad. He said that dominion and fear come with God since he had made peace in the high heavens. No one could number or count God’s armies or his angels because they were so numerous. His light shines on all. How could a mortal man be righteous before God? No one born of a woman can be pure or clean. Event the moon and the stars are not totally bright. Mortals are like maggots, worms or just plain humans.

Eliphaz describes God (Job 22:12-22:20)

“Is not God high in the heavens?

See the highest stars!

How lofty they are!

Therefore you say.

‘What does God know?

Can he judge through the deep darkness?

Thick clouds enwrap him.

Thus he does not see.

He walks on the vault of heaven.’

Will you keep to the old way?

Will you tread the path of wicked men?

They were snatched away before their time.

Their foundation was washed away by a flood.

They said to God.

‘Leave us alone.

What can the Almighty Shaddai do to us?’

Yet he filled their houses with good things.

The plans of the wicked are repugnant to me.

The righteous see it.

The righteous are glad.

The innocent laugh them to scorn, saying.

‘Surely our adversaries are cut off.

What they have left,

The fire has consumed.’”

Eliphaz described God as a distant unknowable God. He was high in heaven above the stars. How then can this faraway God know and judge what is going on here on earth with all the dark clouds around him? Once again, he referred to the wicked as wanting to be left alone by God. Why would they want the almighty Shaddai since they had everything they wanted? However, the righteous see that the wicked fill their houses with good things. The righteous think that bad things will happen to the wicked. The distant God seemed unconcerned about what was happening here on earth.

Job responds that God is powerful (Job 9:1-9:12)

“Then Job answered.

‘Indeed I know that it is so.

But how can a man be just before God?

If one wished to contend with him,

One could not answer him once in a thousand times.

God has a wise heart.

He is mighty in strength.

Who has resisted God?

Who has succeeded?

He removes mountains.

They do not know it,

When he overturns them in his anger.

Who shakes the earth out of its place?

Who makes its pillars tremble?

Who commands the sun?

It does not rise without him.

Who seals up the stars?

Who alone stretched out the heavens?

Who trampled the waves of the sea?

Who made the Bear?

Who made the Orion?

Who made the Pleiades?

Who made the chambers of the south?

Who does great things beyond understanding?

Who does marvelous things without number?

Look!

He passes by me.

I do not see him.

He moves on.

But I do not perceive him.

He snatches away.

Who can stop him?

Who will say to him?

‘What are you doing?’”

Job posed the basic question of how could a mere moral become just before God? What is righteousness? In a sense he is answering Eliphaz rather than Bildad. God is a thousand times better than man. He is wise and strong. Who could resist God successfully? He moves mountains in his anger and they do not even know it. He commands the sun, the stars, and the waves of the sea.  He makes all the heavenly constellations of stars like the Bear, the Orion, and the Pleiades. In fact these clusters of stars were sometimes thought of as gods. God stretches out the heavens like a tent. He does great marvelous things that we sometimes do not understand. He passes by and we don’t see him. No one asks him what he is doing. He just does it. No one can stop him.

The cruel painful illness of King Antiochus IV (2 Macc 9:5-9:10)

“But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him an incurable and unseen blow. As soon as he stopped speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels with sharp internal tortures, for which there was no relief. That was very just, for he had tortured the bowels of others with many and strange inflictions. Yet he did not in any way stop his insolence. He was even more filled with arrogance, breathing fire in his rage against the Jews. He gave orders to drive even faster. So it came about that he fell out of his chariot as it was rushing along. The fall was so hard as to torture every limb of his body. Thus only a little while before, he had thought in his super human arrogance that he could command the waves of the sea. He imagined that he could weigh the high mountains in a balance. Finally, he was brought down to earth. He was carried in a litter, making the power of God manifest to all. Worms swarmed all over the ungodly man’s body. While he was still living in anguish and pain, his flesh rotted away. Because of the stench, the whole army felt revulsion at his decay. Because of his intolerable stench, no one was able to carry the man who a little while before had thought that he could touch the stars of heaven.”

Here the cause of the illness of King Antiochus IV was not depression but the God of Israel who struck him down. Notice that it is the God of Israel not the almighty Shaddai God who struck him down. This biblical author went into great detail about his illness. The king had a bowel problem because he had tortured others with infliction of various stomach disorders. He still wanted to get to Jerusalem so he asked his chariot to go faster. However, then he fell out of the chariot causing him even more pain. King Antiochus IV had been arrogant so that he thought that he could command the sea waves, measure the height of mountains, and touch the stars. However, his body swarmed with worms as it rotted away. There was a terrible smell about him that kept people away from him. The great king was reduced to a smelly sick pain filled old man.