From Mark Copeland... "ISSUES OF DISTINCTION" Introduction

                        "ISSUES OF DISTINCTION"



1. As much as we might want to be religiously like those around us,
   there are certain "issues" that necessarily differentiate one from
   a. I call these "Issues Of Distinction"
   b. I choose the word "distinction" because it means...
      1) The act of distinguishing; differentiation
      2) The condition or fact of being dissimilar or distinct;
      3) A distinguishing factor, attribute, or characteristic
   c. Therefore "issues of distinction" are those which distinguish one
      from others in some way

2. Such "Issues Of Distinction" relate to matters of truth and error
   a. For those who love truth, that which is error holds no attraction
      1) Remember what the wise man said about truth - Pr 23:23
      2) Jesus declared the value of truth in Jn 8:31-32
      3) John wrote highly of those who "walk in truth" - 3Jn 3-4
   b. Devotion to the truth, then, will necessarily distinguish one
      from those who may subscribe to error

3. In this introductory lesson, I would like to...
   a. Identify several important "Issues Of Distinction" (there are
      certainly others)
   b. Illustrate how they necessarily distinguish one from others

[For example, one "issue of distinction" is...)


      1. Such as ATHEISTS
      2. Or AGNOSTICS

      1. This includes those of all major religions, including:
         a. Buddhists, Hindus
         b. Jews, Moslems
         c. Christians
      2. The reasons for such belief may be varied, including:
         a. Evidences in nature
         b. Fulfilled prophecies in the Scriptures
         c. Evidences for the resurrection of Jesus Christ

[As much as we may (and should) love or respect individuals who do not
believe in a Supreme Being, this issue creates a fundamental difference
between people.  Another "issue of distinction" is... ]


      1. Such as BUDDHISTS
      2. And HINDUS

      1. On this side of the "issue" are:
         a. Jews and Moslems
         b. Christians
      2. The reason why people believe in the God of Abraham may vary:
         a. Jews believe because of Moses and the Prophets
         b. Christians believe because of Moses, the Prophets, and
            Jesus Christ
         c. Moslems believe because of all these plus Mohammed, their
            final prophet

[Again, we should respect and love those who are Hindus and Buddhists,
but this is an "issue of distinction" which distinguishes us.  A third
issue is...]


      BUT NO MORE..
      1. Many JEWS hold a view of Jesus that He was a good man, but not
         the Messiah
      2. MOSLEMS believe that He was a prophet, but not the Son of God

      1. On this side of the "issue", are all professing Christians
      2. Together with Peter, they freely confess:  "You are the
         Christ, the Son of the living God." - cf. Mt 16:13-16
      3. Their reasons would include such things as:
         a. Fulfilled Messianic prophecies
         b. Evidences for His resurrection from the dead

[Now, it would be wonderful if all who accepted the true identity of
Jesus were united (this was Jesus' prayer - Jn 17:20-21).  But
unfortunately there are "issues of distinction" which differentiate
even those who believe in Jesus...]


      1. E.g., ROMAN CATHOLICS, GREEK ORTHODOX, etc., who accept in
         addition to the Bible:
         a. Traditions of the church
         b. Papal or ecclesiastical decrees
         CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS, PENTECOSTALS, etc., who believe in the
         need for:
         a. Latter-day prophets
         b. Modern-day revelations

      1. On this side of the issue would be most mainstream Protestant
      2. Reasons are based upon the claim of the Scriptures themselves:
         a. To be sufficient for making the man of God complete - cf.
            2Ti 3:16-17
         b. To have been revealed one time, for all time - cf. Jude 3

[Where there are different standards of authority, people will not be
able to agree.  This make the issue of the all-sufficiency of the
Scriptures an "issue of distinction".  Yet another issue is...]


      2. Who teach that baptism is simply a confession of faith and not
         necessary to salvation

      1. Necessary for salvation - Mk 16:16
      2. Necessary for the remission of sins - Ac 2:38
      3. Necessary for becoming children of God through faith - Ga 3:

      1. Then those who teach otherwise are not proclaiming the gospel
         Jesus and His apostles proclaimed, which is God's power unto
         salvation - Mk 16:15-16; Ro 1:16
      2. Paul warned about those teaching a perverted gospel - Ga 1:8-9

[Finally, another issue that differentiates people is...]


      1. I fear this is the case with many CHURCHES OF CHRIST, and
      2. By changing the nature of cooperation among local churches,
         they create a de facto denomination

      1. Local churches may cooperate, but in ways that:
         a. Follow the New Testament pattern for church cooperation
         b. Allow local churches to maintain their local autonomy and
      2. E.g., congregations may support preachers, missionaries, needy
         Christians or churches
      3. But the New Testament pattern reveals this was done directly,
         with no intermediate or overseeing church


1. Love for one's fellow man...
   a. Makes one want to accept everyone as they are
   b. And to let nothing come between us

2. But love for God and truth must be stronger...
   a. It must take precedent over love for our fellow man
   b. It must prompt one to let whatever is truly an "issue of
      distinction" differentiate one from those who believe otherwise

3. Of course, it is very important...
   a. That we do not artificially put up barriers
   b. To diligently study matters to determine whether they merit such
      importance as to differentiate ourselves from others
   c. To present our conviction on such matters in the proper spirit:
      1) Speaking the truth in love - Ep 4:15
      2) Without quarreling, in gentleness, with patience and humility
         - 2Ti 2:24-25

In the rest of this series I hope to do just that, as we examine each
"issue of distinction" surveyed in this lesson in greater detail...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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The Historicity of Job by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Historicity of Job

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Over the last several centuries, many have attempted to fictionalize the Bible. Atheists vigorously attack the Genesis account of Creation, calling it nothing more than a fictitious story that should be placed alongside myths such as the Babylonian creation account. Skeptics scoff at the biblical account of the worldwide Flood, calling it an altered copy of the uninspired Epic of Gilgamesh. Liberal theologians labor to make Scripture conform to secular sources, claiming that the Israelite religion is a mere “Yahwization” of pagan religions (i.e., attributing to Yahweh what pagan religions attributed to their gods). Certain professors at Christian colleges have even cast doubt on the historicity of Jonah. They have referred to it as “just a short story” that “might even be regarded as historical fiction.” “[A] lot of books today” may “have a ring of historical accuracy,” they say, “just like the book of Jonah,” but “[d]oes that make it history? Well, no. No, it doesn’t” (Pemberton, 2002, 22:26-22:44). Such attempts to fictionalize Scripture or cast doubt on the true nature of its historical accounts represent a blatant attack upon God’s Word and should be refuted with all diligence in “meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
Some believe the book of Job is little more than a fine piece of non-inspired literature. Others contend it is inspired of God, but, like happenings in Genesis and Jonah, the book of Job is said to be a fictional story about imaginary people, places, and events, told for spiritual purposes. What do the facts reveal? Are there good reasons to believe that this story is a real, unembellished account of events that occurred long ago?


In a single day, the patriarch Job was informed of the loss of all 10 of his children, all of his livestock, and many of his servants. In chapter 1 of the book of Job, we learn that as one of Job’s servants was telling him about a group of raiders (the Sabeans) that had stolen all of his oxen and donkeys, and killed all the servants tending to the animals (except himself), another servant arrived even as the first “was still speaking.” This second servant told Job that fire came down from heaven and consumed his sheep and servants. Again, while this servant was talking, a third servant came and related to Job that another group of invaders (the Chaldeans) had stolen all of his camels and had killed all of the servants except him. Finally, while this third servant was talking, a fourth servant came and bore even worse news—Job’s 10 children had all perished when a great wind struck the house and caused it to crush them. His 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, several servants, and 10 children were all gone in the blink of an eye. And, as if being stripped of his worldly possessions and children were not enough, Job’s body then became diseased from head to toe, his wife urged him to “curse God and die,” and the comforting counsel of his “friends” quickly gave way to judgmental accusations.
Based upon the extent of his physical destruction and mental suffering, as well as the limited time frame in which it all occurred, some critics doubt that Job was a real person. They believe that he simply was fabricated to teach a lesson about human suffering. Perhaps, they say, he is to be valued like such parabolic figures as the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), or the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21), but not like those who actually lived and died upon the Earth.
I will never forget having a discussion about Job with a Christian gentleman several years ago, who, with a skeptical expression on his face, informed me that he did not believe the story of Job was real history. The idea was: “No one has ever gone through that much pain that quickly.” Up to that point in time, however, I do not think this brother had ever considered the overwhelming evidence for Job’s reality.

Job’s Humanity

Unlike the good Samaritan, the prodigal son, the rich fool, and other parabolic figures, the suffering patriarch of the Old Testament, whose story is recorded in forty-two chapters of the most beautiful language this world has ever known, was given a name—Job. The book begins: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job” (1:1, emp. added). He wasn’t just an obscure man in a far-away land who was the main character of a “once-upon-a-time” kind of fairytale. He was a real, “mortal” man (cf. 4:17), of whom his Creator said: “[T]here is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil” (1:8). He “was the greatest of all the people of the East” (1:3). That Job was a real person is stated explicitly by God in his second speech to Job, when He declared that the mighty animal called behemoth was “made along with you” (40:15, emp. added).
In the book of Job, the patriarch’s wealth is catalogued, his homeland is identified (cf. Jeremiah 25:20; Lamentations 4:21), his father is referenced (Job 15:10), his children are numbered, his wife is quoted, his friends are named, his speeches are recorded, and his suffering is described in detail. Job spoke of his birth, and even his conception (3:3), and longed for death in order to escape his severe distress (6:8-10). His suffering was not here one day and gone the next, nor did it go on endlessly. It lasted for “months” (7:3; 29:2) and was specifically characterized by boils (2:7-8), bad breath (19:17), loss of weight (19:20), disfiguration (2:12), blackened, cracked skin that was infested with worms (30:30; 7:5), and bones that burned with piercing pain (30:17,30). Job’s suffering was as real as Job himself.

Job’s Descent

Still, some may contend, “We know that Eliphaz was a Temanite, Bildad a Shuhite, Zophar a Naamathite (Job 2:11), and that Elihu was called, ‘the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram’ (Job 32:2), yet Job has no revealed heritage.” “Who was his father? Where is his genealogy? Why don’t we know more about Job’s heritage, if he was a real person?”
The Bible is replete with real, historical men and women who have little, if any, background information given about them. Are we to assume that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Daniel 1:7), Theophilus (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1), Diotrephes (3 John 9), and Lydia (Acts 16:14) were all fictional characters because we have no information about their families? And what about Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18), who was “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life” (Hebrews 7:3)? Was he an imaginary character? In truth, Melchizedek is as historical as Abraham, who paid him tithes (Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7:2), and as real as Jesus, Who was a priest, “according to the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:17,21).
Similar to how Melchizedek’s ancestry was intentionally omitted in Scripture in order to illustrate the perfect type of priest that Jesus, the great High Priest, would be, the little information that we have about Job was no doubt intentional. Admittedly, patriarchs are often introduced in the biblical text with at least some genealogical information (e.g., Genesis 11:26-29), while Job is not. We know neither his family nor his race. We do not know for sure when he lived or exactly where he lived (i.e., precisely where Uz was cannot be said with certainty). However, as Perry Cotham concluded: “[T]his in God’s wisdom is all the better for the purpose of the great book because it makes Job a universal man, a representative, as it were, of all mankind in his relationship to God” (Cotham, 1991, p. 40). People of all colors, classes, clans, countries, and kingdoms can find great strength and encouragement from the real, true-life story of Job.

Job’s Name

Let us also establish the fact that the name “Job” (Hebrew Iyob or Iob in the Septuagint) was no literary invention; it was an actual name worn by various ones throughout history. Jacob had a grandson named Job (Genesis 46:13; or Yob/Iob, ESV, NASB). Furthermore, as Francis Anderson noted in his commentary on Job, “The name [Job—EL] is attested several times throughout the second millennium BC as an old Canaanite name sometimes borne by royal personages. It occurs in an Egyptian execration text of the nineteenth century BC…. Later the Ugaritic ayab agrees with the South Canaanite name A-ya-ab in Amarna letters” (Anderson, 1974, p. 78). Although some believe that Job means either “object of enmity” or “he who turns to God” (Genung, 2006), the eminent and respected archaeologist W.F. Albright believed these ancient references support the explanation that the name originally meant, “Where is (my) Father?” (Hartley, 1988, p. 66; Anderson, p. 78). Such a meaning fits perfectly with the book of Job, considering (1) no father or genealogy is given for the patriarch, and (2) throughout his speeches, Job longs to speak with God, his Father by creation (10:2-3,9; 13:3,20-22; 31:35-37).

Job’s Anonymous Wife

Some have suggested that since the patriarch’s wife is referred to but never named (Job 2:9; 19:17; 31:10), the book of Job falls in line more with a parable and not a literal story (cf. Cunningham, 2011). Such a claim, however, disregards two important points. First, several of the leading characters in the story are specifically named, including Jehovah, Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu, as well as three of Job’s daughters: Jemimah, Keziah, and Keren-Happuch. Simply because someone in a story is not called by name, in no way relegates that story to a parable, especially when so many other individuals in the story are named. Second, there are many real, historical women in the Bible whose names are also unknown to us, including, and especially, the women of patriarchal times. Adam and Eve’s daughters are never named (Genesis 5:4), nor are Lot’s (Genesis 19). The wives of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth are omitted in Scripture even though they were crucial in God’s plan for mankind to repopulate the Earth. Other men living in patriarchal times whose wives’ names are not mentioned by name in Holy Writ include Cain, Lot, Laban, and Potiphar. Furthermore, the names of many women in New Testament times remain unknown to us, includingJames and John’s mother (Matthew 20:20), Peter’s mother in law (Matthew 8:14), Jairus’ daughter (Matthew 9:18), the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), and many others (Luke 8:3). Obviously, then, the fact that Job’s wife, who is only mentioned three times in the book of Job, is not referred to by name has no bearing whatsoever on the historicity of Job.

Other Citations of Job in Scripture

Not only are there several indicators within the book of Job that the suffering patriarch was a real, flesh-and-blood human being (and not just a parabolic figure), Job also is mentioned in Scripture outside of the book that bears his name. In fact, Job is mentioned in three different verses in Scripture (outside the book of Job), none of which lead one to believe that Job is a fictional character. Rather, he is considered an actual, historical figure.
The first two places his name is found (aside from the book of Job) is in Ezekiel 14, verses 14 and 20. In verse 14, the prophet stated: “Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness, says the Lord God.” Verse 20 is worded nearly the same way: “[E]ven though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.” Ezekiel’s point in both verses was that the ungodly conditions in Babylon were such that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job lived in that city, no one else would be saved. Ezekiel spoke of all three of these men as being real, historical people, not legendary characters. If one recognizes Noah and Daniel as being real people of history, then there is no reason to think otherwise about Job. Yes, Job’s story is written in beautiful, poetic language and grouped with other poetic books in the wisdom section of the Old Testament. Still, God’s inspired prophet Ezekiel believed Job’s life was as real and genuine as Noah’s and Daniel’s. [NOTE: Numerous real people and places are noted and described in the poetic books of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. It would be unwise and inconsistent to disregard Job’s historicity merely because it is written largely in poetic language.]
The last place the suffering patriarch is mentioned in Scripture (and the only time he is mentioned in the New Testament) is found in the latter part of the book of James. The brother of the Lord wrote: “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Joband seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:10-11, emp. added). James was not writing through inspiration about an imaginary person. Rather, he considered Job as real as Abraham, Elijah, and Rahab—historical individuals whom James also mentioned in his epistle (2:21,25; 5:17).


More than anything else, what causes the most skepticism about Job are the intense losses that he endured in such a short period of time. How can a man learn of the loss of 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, numerous servants, and, most tragically, 10 childrenin one day? It simply is too much for some to believe.

Job and Evolution

Yet, some of the same individuals who doubt the historicity of the suffering of Job maintain that the theory of evolution is a fact. Both atheistic and theistic evolutionists believe that over billions of years of time, a multi-cellular creature evolved into a worm, which evolved into a fish, which evolved into an amphibian, which evolved into a reptile, which evolved into an ape-like creature, which evolved into a human. Allegedly, an amazing human being with functional eyes, ears, arms, legs, fingers, toes, lungs, etc., could evolve given enough time, mutations, and random chance processes. Supposedly, the unnatural, unproven, law-breaking theory of evolution is believable—but not the story of Job. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” (Shakespeare, 2011, III.2).

Others Throughout History Have Suffered Greatly

It maybe that no one in world history has ever suffered as much as did Job in one day. However, there have been many tragic stories throughout history. Since likely everyone would agree that there have been innumerable true accounts of individuals and families throughout history losing virtually all of their wealth in the blink of an eye due to fires, floods, thefts, bankruptcies, depressions, stock-market plunges, etc. (e.g., Charles Prestwood, see Hundley, 2002), there seems little reason to document such financial losses. What’s more, even if we did document many such unfortunate happenings, it would be greatly overshadowed by the loss of all of Job’s children. When the life and death of those whom we love dearly comes into focus, often even the most materialistic among us see that financial ruin does not compare with the loss of loved ones.
But Job was also not the only one ever to have to deal with a great family tragedy in a short period of time. I know a woman who lost her mother and one of her two sons within one week of each other. She then buried her husband a year later. Portland, Oregon mother, Marva Davis, lost two sons on the same day—January 29, 2010. Her 23-year-old son died of heart and kidney failure in the morning, followed by her 25-year-old son being shot by a police officer later that night (“Oregon Woman…,” 2010). Alicia Appleman-Jurman was one of countless Jews who experienced heart-breaking losses and difficulties during the Holocaust. In addition to her suffering and surviving ghettoization, imprisonment, starvation, a trip to an extermination center, and a firing squad, all within a four-year period, she lost every immediate family member. The Nazis shot her mother, father, and two of her brothers. One brother was hanged, while another died needlessly in a Russian prison. Alicia was the only member of her immediate family to survive the Holocaust (Appleman-Jurman, 1989).

Many Faithful Believers Have Experienced Great Pain

The Bible is full of faithful men and women who suffered greatly. Imagine the sorrow that Noah and his family felt as they watched and/or heard innumerable souls (perhaps millions of people) perish in the Flood—many of whom, no doubt, were relatives. Consider the heartache that Lot, his wife, and daughters must have felt as their family members, friends, and home were destroyed with fire and brimstone—and then as Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:24-26).
The apostle Paul was “in prisons...frequently” and “in deaths often.” Five times he received 39 lashings. Three times he was beaten with rods. Once he was stoned. Three times he was ship wrecked (2 Corinthians 11:23-25). In addition to being in all kinds of “perils” (2 Corinthians 11:26), he was “in weariness and toil…in hunger and thirst,” as well as “in cold and nakedness” (2 Corinthians 11:27). Paul was a persecuted apostle, who suffered greatly, in addition to being in continual pain with some sort of “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). The apostles as a whole were “made a spectacle to the world,” were “dishonored…poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless” (1 Corinthians 4:10-11). They were “reviled,” “persecuted,” and “defamed” (1 Corinthians 4:12-13). They were “made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things” (1 Corinthians 4:13). In addition to inspiration informing us that the apostle James was killed with the sword (Acts 12:2), Fox’s Book of Martyrs indicates that Matthew was slain with a halberd, Mathias was stoned and beheaded, Andrew was crucified, Thomas was killed with a spear, Paul was beheaded, and Peter was crucified (most likely upside down) (Forbush, 1954, pp. 2-5).
Faithful men and women of God have been “tortured” (Hebrews 11:35). “They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth” (Hebrews 11:38b). “Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:36-38a). Job is certainly one of the greatest examples of steadfastness in the face of suffering, but he is far from the only one to suffer severely.

A Modern-Day Tragedy

One of the most heart-rending, instant, unexpected tragedies to happen to a family in recent years occurred near Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Tuesday, November 8, 1994. Scott and Janet Willis were traveling with six of their nine children on Interstate 94 to Watertown, Wisconsin to visit their older son, Dan, and his new wife, and to celebrate two upcoming birthdays. Before ever reaching Watertown, however, the Willis van struck a piece of metal that had fallen off of a truck. The metal pierced the gas tank, which quickly caused gas to leak. “Seconds later, sparks caused as the metal bracket dragged against the pavement ignited the van” (Backover and Lev, 1994). The van “exploded in flames” (“Parents Bury...,” 1994). Five of the children in the van died almost instantly in the fire. Another escaped with burns covering 90% of his body, but died later that night at the hospital. Scott and Janet were hospitalized for several days with first and second degree burns. Such physical wounds, however, did not compare with the “indescribable” pain they felt at losing six children in one freak accident (Gillmore, n.d.).
What are the odds of something like this happening? Sheriff’s Sergeant David Lushowitz commented on the accident, saying, “I’ve never seen an accident like this before…. The odds are astronomical” (as quoted in Backover and Lev, emp. added). According to Chicago Tribune staff writers Backover and Lev, “Highway statistics support the characterization by Milwaukee investigators that the van accident was a freak occurrence” (emp. added).

Remembering the Circumstances of Job’s Suffering

Although man has documented many cases of severe, instantaneous suffering throughout history, some still refuse to believe the events in Job (especially chapters 1, 2, and 42) actually could occur. In an article titled, “Could the Story of Job be a Parable?” Chuck Cunningham wrote: “Four calamities result from Yahweh talking to the accuser. There is one survivor in each calamity to tell the story of Job. What are the odds of this happening?... Job begins with seven sons and three daughters, which all die. Job ends up with another seven sons and three daughters. What are the odds of that happening?” The idea is: “It’s too much, too soon—all of which is too ironic” (2011).
Admittedly, even in light of the cases of acute suffering that secular history has recorded for us, Job’s affliction does seem somewhat inconceivable. However, there is one important point to remember:Job’s story does not begin in Job 1:13 (when the Sabeans first came and stole all of Job’s oxen and donkeys and killed all of the servants in the area). The story of Job’s suffering begins in Job 1:6, on the day Satan came before the Lord. When God mentioned His faithful servant to Satan, the wicked one arrogantly implied that Job did not serve God for nothing (i.e., the Lord allegedly is not innately worthy of faithful service). God had blessed the patriarch and apparently had not allowed Satan to harm him as the devil went “to and fro on the earth” (Job 1:7), “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). For reasons that God does not reveal, He allowed Satan temporary access to “all that he [Job] has” (Job 1:12), which later would even include his health (2:4-7). In ways unknown to us, Satan orchestrated the murderous raids of the Sabeans and Chaldeans, the fire from heaven, the great wind, and the physical suffering that Job endured (1:13-19; 2:1-7). The same Satan who tempted Adam and Eve to sin; the same devil who sought to ruin the perfect life of Jesus at His weakest point (Matthew 4:1-11); the same wicked one who “bound” a woman with “a spirit of infirmity eighteen years” (Luke 13:11,16) and “oppressed” many others in the first century (Acts 10:38), also afflicted Job immensely. Taking into account Satan’s personal role in Job’s acute, virtually instantaneous suffering, the “unlikely,” “improbable” events become plausible.


Some discount the historic reality of the book of Job, because they cannot reconcile an all-loving God with what He allowed to happen to Job and those around him. According to Cunningham, “This is not our Elohim,…but more like a Greek Yahweh who plays with the lives of men. These accounts contradict the rest of Yahweh’s Word and Yahweh cannot contradict Himself…. We have taken the Book of Job literally instead of taking it as a parable” (2011). Similarly, Kelvin Stubbs asked, “God allows this man to have all that matters to him taken away, his family killed…and we’re supposed to be inspired?... How can you love a God who treats one of his most devout followers in this manner?” (2009).

Did God Cause Job to Suffer?

In truth, it was Satan who “did this.” Yes, God did say to Satan: “[Y]ou incitedMe against him [Job], to destroy him without a cause” (2:3), and later, the book does speak of “all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him” (42:11). The fact is, however, these statements are examples of the idiomatic language found throughout Scripture, which actually express “not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do” (Bullinger, 1898, p. 823). The Bible writers often alluded to God’s allowance of something to take place as having been done by the Lord. For example, 2 Samuel 24:1 indicates that God “moved David…to number Israel,” while 1 Chronicles 21:1 says that it was Satan who “stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.” The meaning is: Israel suffered as a direct result of Satan’s workings in the life of King David, which God allowed.
Consider also that Moses recorded how “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 7:3,13; 9:12; 10:1; etc.). But God did not directly force Pharaoh to reject His will. Rather, God hardened his heart in the sense that God provided the circumstances and the occasion for Pharaoh to accept or reject His will. God sent Moses to place His demands before Pharaoh, even accompanying His Word with miracles, but Pharaoh made up his own mind to resist God’s demands. God provided the occasion for Pharaoh to demonstrate his unyielding attitude, but He was not the author (or direct cause) of Pharaoh’s defiance (see Butt and Miller, 2003 for more information). Similarly, God permitted Satan to afflict Job, but He did not directly cause Job’s suffering. It was “Satan” who “went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job” (2:7).

Would a Loving God Really Allow Job and Others to Suffer?

Regardless of whether God “allowed” Job’s suffering or “caused” it, some do not believe that a loving God would remove His providential protection from a faithful servant, bring his name up to Satan for consideration, and allow Job and so many others (i.e., his wife, children, and servants) to suffer and even die. Such God-allowed suffering has led atheists to reject Job and God altogether, while causing certain professed Bible-believers to interpret Job as a parabolic drama. Since the “the evil, pain, and suffering argument” against God’s existence has been thoroughly and logically answered many times in the past (cf. Miller and Butt, 2009; Warren, 1972), we will only respond to the professed Christian’s accusation about Job—that the book must be parabolic because God would never treat someone like He treated Job, his children, and his servants.
How is a parabolic story about God allowing Satan to destroy Job’s children and servants, as well as cause great physical pain for Job, somehow acceptable, but not a real-life story? A parable may be a fictitious story, but it has a moral or spiritual meaning. The Greek word parabole (from which we get the English word “parable”) means “to throw alongside.” It is “a story by which something real in lifeis used as a means of presenting a moral thought” (Dungan, n.d., p. 227, emp. added). Even if Job was a parable (which the evidence is decisively against), how would that immediately solve the “problem” of God allowing Job and others to suffer? Whether a true-life story about God or a parabolic story, any God-inspired story about Himself is going to properly reflect His perfect attributes. Turning the book of Job into a parable in no way means that “nothing in the book as it relates to God is really what it seems to be.”
The fact is, God’s actions in the book of Job are real, and consistent both with His nature and with the rest of Scripture. God is all-loving (1 John 4:8), but such love is not contrary to God allowing His faithful followers to suffer. Even though He will not tempt His children to do evil (James 1:13), God will test us (Genesis 22:1; Exodus 20:20) and discipline us (Hebrews 12:3-11). He will even allow us to die, knowing that a much greater life awaits us on the other side of physical death (Hebrews 11:10,16; John 14:1-3). He allowed John the Baptist, Stephen, James the apostle, and many others, including the Messiah, to suffer and die. We must keep in mind, as Thomas  Warren observed: God created the world, not as man’s final and ultimate destination, but as “the ideal environment for soul-making” (1972, p. 16). The difficulties that God allows or even brings about in this life “encourage people to cultivate their spirits and to grow in moral character—acquiring virtuous attributes such as courage, patience, humility, and fortitude (James 1:2-3; Romans 5:3-4). Suffering can serve as discipline and motivation to spur spiritual growth and strength. It literally stimulates people to develop compassion, sympathy, love, and empathy for their fellowman” (Miller and Butt; cf. Warren, p. 81).
But why did God allow Job’s children and servants to die? Why did He not spare their lives as He spared Job’s? God does not give us the answer to these questions. He does not tell us everything He knows, or that we might like to know (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9; Deuteronomy 29:29). What we can know is this: God always has a good reason for what He does. Perhaps He was rewarding Job’s 10 children and all of the servants with an early entrance into Paradise (cf. 2 Kings 2:11; Philippians 1:21,23). Or, if the children and servants were wicked, perhaps God used the occasion to punish them with physical death, just as He has done many times throughout history (Genesis 6-8; 19; Leviticus 10:1-2; Numbers 16; Acts 5:1-11). The fact is, one cannot assume that God’s allowance of Satan to kill Job’s children and servants is inconsistent with His loving nature.


Although much about the book of Job remains a mystery (exactly when Job lived, who wrote the book that bears his name, where the Land of Uz was located, etc.), we can know that he was a real person who suffered greatly—perhaps like no person has ever suffered—and yet remained faithful to God. And therein lies one of the main purposes of Job’s preserved story: the patriarch is an inspiration to every child of God who is determined to follow the Lord “in the paths of righteousness,” even while walking “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:3-4). Knowing that Job persevered through all his trials and tribulations gives us hope that we can do the same when similar trials of less magnitude come our way (James 1:2-4; 5:10-11).


Anderson, Francis I. (1974), Job (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press).
Appleman-Jurman (1989), “Alicia Appleman-Jurman: Survival and Heroism of a Young Girl During the Holocaust,” http://www.datasync.com/~davidg59/alicia.html.
Backover, Andrew and Michael Lev (1994), “6th Child Dies After Van Wreck,”http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-11-10/news/9411100233_1_van-wreck-duane-scott-willis-gas-tank.
Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
Butt, Kyle and Dave Miller (2003), “Who Hardened Pharaoh’s Heart?” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/scrspeak/2003/ss-03-22.htm.
Cotham, Perry (1991), “A Dialogue of Heaven and Earth,” in There Was a Man Named Job (Memphis, TN: Getwell church of Christ).
Cunningham, Chuck (2011), “Could the Story of Job be a Parable?” Teleios Ministries,http://www.teleiosministries.com/pdfs/Understanding_Yahwehs_Word/the_book_of_job.pdf.
Dungan, D.R. (no date), Hermeneutics (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
Forbush, William Byron (1954), Fox’s Book of Martyrs (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Genung, John Franklin (2006), “Job,” International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Electronic Database Biblesoft).
Gillmore, Mark (no date), “The Fiery Crash,”http://logosresourcepages.org/SavingGrace/firecrash.htm.
Hartley, John E. (1988), The Book of Job (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Hundley, Kris (2002), “Enron’s Crushing Blow,” St. Petersburg Times Online,http://www.sptimes.com/2002/02/10/Business/Enron_s_crushing_blow.shtml.
Miller, Dave and Kyle Butt (2009), “The Problem of Evil,” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=12&article=890, May2.
“Oregon Woman Loses 2 Sons in Single Day” (2010), Boston Herald,http://bostonherald.com/news/national/west/view.bg?articleid=1230028&format=text.
“Parents Bury Six Children in Eerie Freeway Fire” (1994), Los Angeles Times,http://articles.latimes.com/1994-11-20/news/mn-65246_1_older-children.
Pemberton, Glenn (2002), Advanced Intro. to O.T., Oklahoma Christian Univeristy, CD 22:26-22:44.
Shakespeare, William (2011), Hamlet, The Literature Network, http://www.online-literature.com/shakespeare/hamlet/10/.
Stubbs, Kelvin (2009), “My Path to Agnosticism,” Meditations,http://uctaa.net/articles/meds2/med39/med752.html.
Warren, Thomas B. (1972), Have Atheists Proved There is No God? (Ramer, TN: National Christian Press).

RoboLobster’s Inspiration by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


RoboLobster’s Inspiration

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Although not all scientists approve of the terms biomimicry and biomimetics (since some allege that scientists only “learn” from life, rather than “mimic” it), one thing is certain: increasingly, more scientists are looking to the biological world for inspiration for their inventions (see Benyus, 2002). In a recent Business Week article titled, “Mother Nature’s Design Workshop,” Carlos Bergfeld reported that scientists are finding “the inspiration for the latest in surveillance and defense technologies...by looking long and hard at insects and other small creatures” (2006). Bergfeld listed several recent inventions inspired by “nature’s design,” including tiny reconnaissance drones, inspired by the “micro-sized, flappable, flexible wings of bees,” and RoboLampreys, which imitate the lamprey’s ability to “stealthily probe upper-level waters, searching for underwater hazards.” One other defense mechanism listed is known as RoboLobster (“cousin” of RoboLamprey).
Lobster on Beach
At Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center in Nahant, Massachusetts, Joseph Ayers built RoboLobster in hopes of saving lives. The 7-pound, 24-inch lobster-inspired robot can search for deadly mines and carry out other tasks by “mimicking how an actual lobster combs the ocean floor for food” (Bergfeld, 2006). Of all the amazing creatures to imitate, one might wonder why scientists chose lobsters to study. Apparently, it’s all in the way they move.
Lobsters can stealthily navigate turbulent water and land, and can even automatically adjust their posture and position in order to stay still in choppy waters. Lobsters walk the ocean floor preying on clams, starfish, sea urchins, and other forms of sea life. So the theory is that an artificial lobster would be adept at prowling for mines in harbors and coastlines. According to the Office of Naval Research, shallow waters are particularly difficult areas for mine hunting because of the surge of waves and the lack of visibility (“Robotic...,” 2003).
Though not yet implemented by the Navy, RoboLobster’s minesweeping techniques show great potential. The lobster-like robot has been so impressive that Time Magazine named it one of the “Coolest Inventions of 2003” (see “Coolest...”). Normally lauded for their exquisite taste, lobsters are now recognized for their amazing design and ability to “automatically adjust their posture and position” in turbulent waters (“Robotic...,” emp. added).
Imagine seeing RoboLobster crawling in the shallow waters off of a beach. Its eight industrial-strength plastic legs work just right to move it in any direction. Its antennas sense obstacles to avoid or destroy. Its claws and tail stabilize it in rough waters. This engineering feat would not go unnoticed. You would conclude (like any rational person) that this gadget is the product of intelligent design. One or more individuals must have spent countless hours researching, designing, and assembling this lobster-like robot.
Now imagine seeing a real lobster scurrying along the same ocean floor. You recognize that its body is designed perfectly for the actions it performs. You observe its claws, legs, eyes, antennas, and tail. You watch how effortlessly it maneuvers, “automatically” adjusting its posture and position in turbulent waters. Every organ in its body functions perfectly.
To what do we owe the real, living lobster—mindless time and chance, or an Intelligent Designer? Carlos Bergfeld alleged that the “tried-and-true designs” (emp. added) of many creatures (e.g., lobsters) are the “product of millions of years of evolution” (2006). Supposedly, “Mother Nature’s 4 billion years of research” (Bergfeld, 2006) inspires these scientists in their life-like inventions. The Bible says otherwise (Genesis 1; Exodus 20:11). Common sense also tells us that design demands a designer. Poems demand poets. Paintings demand painters. Songs demand songwriters. And, just as bio-inspired robots demand an inventor, the living organisms that are increasingly imitated in science laboratories all over the world demand an Intelligent Designer.
For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God (Hebrews 3:4).
The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; the world and all its fullness, You have founded them. The north and the south, You have created them (Psalm 89:11-12).


Benyus, Janine (2002), Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature (Canada: HarperCollins Publishers).
Bergfeld, Carlos (2006), “Mother Nature’s Design Workshop,” Business Week Online, June 27, [On-line], URL: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jun2006/ tc20060627_504809.htm?campaign_id=bier_tcj.
“Coolest Inventions 2003” (2003), Time, [On-line], URL: http://www.time.com/time/ 2003/inventions/invlobster.html.
“Robotic Crustacean Crawls to Victory” (2003), News from Northeastern, [On-line], URL: http://www.nupr.neu.edu/11-03/time-robolob.html.

Does the Hebrew Word Yōm Endorse an Old Earth? by Justin Rogers, Ph.D.


Does the Hebrew Word Yōm Endorse an Old Earth?

by Justin Rogers, Ph.D.

Article in Brief
[EDITOR’S NOTE: A.P. auxiliary writer Dr. Rogers serves as an Associate Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He holds an M.A. in New Testament from Freed-Hardeman University as well as an M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Hebraic, Judaic, and Cognate Studies from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.]
How old is the Earth? It has become standard for many scientists to believe the Universe is over 10 billion years old, and the Earth over six billion years old. Public school textbooks implicitly teach our children the biblical account of Creation is at best incomplete, and at worst erroneous. It is no wonder that many Bible-believers have sought to harmonize the “facile” narrative of biblical Creation with the complex and engaging portrait of universal origins in modern “science.”
The Bible never dates the creation of the world explicitly. But the Bible does provide a straightforward account of the first week of universal history. There is no obvious implication that the days are really billions of years, or that the first week is a quasi-mythological construct. Yet old-Earth creationists who wish to utilize the Bible need something in Genesis 1 to divinely approve their position. In this quest for evidence, many have fixated on the Hebrew term for “day” (yōm).
Understanding each day to be an “epoch” of time, the word yōm has been required to carry the weight of old-Earth creationism and evolution—a weight it is incapable of bearing. With little attention to context, to other markers of time in Genesis 1, and to common linguistic sense, many have blindly accepted that the Bible endorses old-Earth creationism. It is not the place here to discuss the larger question of the age of the Earth. However, I hope to establish in this article that the Hebrew word yōmcannot be used as ammunition for old-Earth creationism.


Many researchers have noted that the term yōm is not always literal in the Hebrew Bible. This is true. The term can be used both in the singular and in the plural simply to mean “time” in a generic sense. In the King James and New King James versions of Genesis 39:11, the Hebrew is translated, “It came to pass about this time.” The other major versions, however, more literally render the Hebrew word yōm, “Now it happened one day” (e.g., NASB). Is the KJV wrong? No. It simply rendered the term “day” as “time,” which, although not the most literal translation, is certainly acceptable in the context.
The same can be observed for the plural form “days” (yāmîm) in the Bible. Scripture informs us, “And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days [yāmîm] of Abraham his father” (Genesis 26:18). The passage is obviously not referring to the specific number of 24-hour periods of time that Abraham lived. We might differently translate “in the time of Abraham” to capture the essential meaning. The book of Joshua is summarized similarly: “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua” (Joshua 24:31). No literal number of days is intended, although a limited “period” of time is implied.
We should note here that the non-literal use of the word “day” has a perfect parallel in English. We often speak of “days gone by,” meaning not, of course, the consecutive 24-hour periods of time that have elapsed, but “times gone by.” Likewise, one might look forward to “better days,” again referring to a nonliteral period of time in the future. The generic use of the word “day” in English and Hebrew has led some to believe that the same term in Genesis 1 is also generic, and thus need not be taken as a literal, 24-hour period of time. The generic meaning of the word “day,” however, is entirely irrelevant for Genesis 1 for reasons we will consider below. But at this juncture let us emphasize that the Creation account does use the term yōm in a non-literal fashion.
The work of the first week is summarized as follows: “This isthe history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day [yōm] that the Lord God made the earth and the heaven” (Genesis 2:4, NKJV). If one forces this passage into literalism, then God did not create the world in six days, but in one day! Some ancient readers of Genesis did, in fact, derive from this verse that the Creation took place in one day, and Genesis 1 therefore must be a non-literal account (e.g., Philo of Alexandria). Knowing little to no Hebrew, and not recognizing the non-literal use of the word “day,” these thinkers drew the wrong conclusions.
The term yōm in Genesis 2:4 is not to be taken in the sense of a literal, 24-hour period of time. The same can be said of God’s warning about the tree in Genesis 2:17: “for in the day [yōm] that you eat of it you shall surely die.” The term is again referring generically to a “time” of indeterminable length and not to a specific 24-hour “day.” Now the big question: Is this non-literal usage relevant for Genesis 1?


Words mean nothing outside of contexts. In other words, reading a sentence is similar to piecing together a puzzle. The picture of the whole emerges only after the individual pieces are put in their place. Such is the case with the term yōm. It can be literal or non-literal, depending on the context. But a distinctive syntactical feature of Genesis 1 ought to be observed. An adjective accompanies every occurrence of yōm in Genesis 1, a fact that fundamentally limits its meaning.
Virtually every language uses adjectives to modify a noun’s scope of reference. I may declare, “Women are wise!” Is this a general truth or an absolute truth? The hearer doesn’t know. It is a generic and ambiguous statement. But if I add the adjective, “All women are wise!” it is an absolute truth applicable to all women. If I say, “Some women are wise!” then the truth of the first statement is limited. In the Hebrew language, as in English, numbers are adjectives. Since every time the word “day” occurs in Genesis 1, a numerical adjective accompanies it, the generic application of the term “day” that we have observed does not apply at all. The scope of reference is limited.
Allow me to illustrate. If I say, “These days have gone so quickly,” you do not know how much time has elapsed. All you know is that more than one day has gone by. But if I declare, “These five days have gone so quickly,” you know exactly how many days have passed. The latter example is a much better illustration of the term “day” in Genesis 1. When the Bible declares “one day,” “a second day,” “a third day,” and so on (Genesis 1:5,8,13), the numerical adjective naturally limits the scope of reference so that the Hebrew word “day” cannot be taken in the generic sense of “one block of time,” “a second block of time,” and so on. The term must be used in accord with the numerical adjective that accompanies it. Its scope of reference is limited.
Moses expected the original audience of the Pentateuch to understand his intention of a literal, 24-hour day in the Creation account. In commanding the observance of the Sabbath day he wrote, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11). Israel was to imitate God’s example of working for six literal days, and resting on the seventh. If Moses’ audience had understood the days of Genesis 1 as hundreds, thousands, or billions of years, as many modern interpreters wish to do, they could have lived their entire lives without ever observing a single Sabbath! This would not be the intention of biblical law. Violating just one Sabbath required execution (Numbers 15:32-36). Clearly the readers of Genesis were to understand a literal Creation week.


It is conveniently selective for those who wish to age the Earth from Genesis 1 to focus exclusively on the Hebrew word for “day.” There are, in fact, other references to time in the same paragraphs in which the term “day” occurs. These terms help further to limit and define the specific meaning of the word yōm in the context.
After each day’s creative activities, the Bible utilizes the same formula: “And there was evening and there was morning” (Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31). While it is true that the Hebrew term “day” can be used in a nonliteral sense in other contexts, the terms “evening” (‘erev) and “morning” (bōqer) arealways used in a literal sense. The former occurs 134 times in the Old Testament and the latter around 200 times. So our representative sampling is high enough to draw absolute conclusions about what these words mean.
The words ‘erev and bōqer are used to specify holidays on the Israelite calendar (Exodus 12:18), to mark the exact span of one’s ceremonial uncleanness (Leviticus 11:31), to regulate the timing of the required sacrifices (Numbers 28:23), and to mark the exact time of historical events (Nehemiah 8:3). Therefore, the Bible counts on the literal understanding of the terms “evening” and “morning,” for the Israelites’ very religious and secular calendar depends on it. There is to my knowledge no place in the Bible in which the terms “evening and morning” refer to a broad scope of time. They are always literal, both when they occur separate from one another, and when they occur together; both when they are singular and when they are plural. When these terms occur with the word yōm, the obvious conclusion is that a regular, 24-hour day is in view (Leviticus 6:13; Numbers 19:19; Deuteronomy 16:14).
Even if one insists on explaining the term yōm in a non-literal fashion, this explanation does not permit him to force non-literal applications of other time references in the same context. How long was the morning of day 1 anyway? The linguistic acrobatics applied to Genesis 1 are never applied consistently to other contexts of the Old Testament. Why force words to fit a preconceived theory of truth? Why not allow them to speak clearly from their contexts?


In language, words are bound to their contexts. The meaning of biblical words is determined by their use in the sentence, paragraph, chapter, and book in which they occur. The term yōm occurs in many contexts, both in the singular and in the plural, in a non-literal fashion. In the context of Genesis 1, however, there can be little doubt that the Hebrew noun yōm, accompanied by numerical adjectives and limited by further references to time, should be understood literally. So those who wish to defend old-Earth creationism must look elsewhere to support their doctrine.

More Babies on the “Hit List” by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


More Babies on the “Hit List”

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

As if the murder of the unborn were not enough, the next stage in moral perversity has arrived. Dutch medical authorities have proposed guidelines for performing euthanasia on newborns who are deemed terminally ill. The Groningen Academic Hospital’s guidelines would create a legal framework for permitting doctors to actively end the life of newborns deemed to be in pain from incurable disease or extreme deformities. Dutch doctors are urging the Health Ministry to create an independent board to review euthanasia cases for terminally ill people “with no free will,” including children, the severely mentally retarded, and people left in an irreversible coma after an accident. The guideline says euthanasia is acceptable when the child’s medical team and independent doctors agree that the pain cannot be eased and that there is no prospect for improvement, and when parents concur (Sterling, 2004). Though child euthanasia remains illegal everywhere, the hospital admits it carried out such procedures last year on four children—a procedure that entails injecting a sedative along with a lethal dose of muscle relaxant. Three years ago, Holland became the first nation to legalize euthanasia. [NOTE: For a discussion of the medical and ethical issues surrounding euthanasia, see (Harrub and Thompson, 2003 and Thompson, 2003.]
Extending “mercy killing” to children is the next step in the slippery slope of moral decline. As one prominent critic observed: “The slippery slope in the Netherlands has descended already into a vertical cliff” (Sterling, 2004). King David denounced euthanasia as “put[ting] forth your hand to destroy” (2 Samuel 1:14). Euthanasia advocates need to listen carefully to the question posed by Joseph to his brothers: “Am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:19).


Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2003), “A Christian Response to ‘End-of-Life’ Decisions,” Reason & Revelation, [On-line], URLhttp://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=7&article=58.
Sterling, Toby (2004), “Netherlands Hospital Euthanizes Babies,” Associated Press, November 30, [On-line], URL: http://apnews.myway.com/article/20041130/D86MEAA80.html.
Thompson, Bert (2003), The Christian and Medical Ethics, [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/cme.pdf.