Circles by Abidan Shah, PhD

CIRCLES by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  How many of ya’ll have ever played the game “Capture the Flag?” There can be two or more teams, and the goal is to capture the flag of the other team(s). Each team has a flag or some other object at their base, and you must go across the line into the other team’s territory, steal their flag, and bring it back safely to your own base without getting tagged. If you get tagged by the team you are trying to steal the flag of, then you must go to jail and sit there until one of your own teammates runs across the line and sets you free without getting tagged. It’s a lot of fun to play and a lot of fun to watch! Our message today is very similar to that game, especially when it comes to running across the line into the Enemy territory and setting one of your friends free. This message is coming from the Book of Job and it is called “CIRCLES.” Main point: The living true God is a rescuing god. He sent his Son, the second person of the godhead, to cross the line and come into this world to set us free. Jesus won our freedom by dying on the cross for us and rising from the grave on the third day. Now, he wants us to go out and set others free.

Job 2:11 “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.” 

Context: The Book of Job is perceived by some to be just an ancient piece of literature from a primitive time with little or no benefit for us today. If anything, it is looked upon as being depressing and pointless. Yeah, some ancient rich guy named Job had a wonderful life and plenty of possessions. He tried to live right until one day Satan got permission from God to test him, and, within 24 hours, he lost everything. The Sabeans raided his farm and stole his oxen and donkeys and killed the servants. Fire fell from heaven on his sheep and the servants keeping them. The Chaldeans stole all his camels and killed the servants. A great wind destroyed his house, killing all his children, 7 sons and 3 daughters. If that weren’t enough, Satan even got permission from God to attack him with boils all over his body. Ultimately, we are left with the image of a man sitting on an ash heap, scratching himself with a potsherd. His wife has advised him to curse God and die. All he could say is “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). In reality, Job was at a low point in his life with little faith and plenty of discouragement and doubts about the character of God. His friends came to console him, but they were of no help. In his emotional state, he questioned the justice of God and wanted to put God on trial. Then God showed up and told him all the things he had made, especially the Behemoth and the Leviathan, and Job had an awakening moment. Is that all there is to Job? As George Bernard Shaw (Irish playwright and critic) made a wisecrack: If I complain that I am suffering unjustly, it is no answer to say, ‘Can you make a hippopotamus?’”

Application: How do you see the book of Job? How do you see God’s answer to suffering and trials in this life? Do you think they are just primitive and depressing and pointless?

How could a story like this have any application for our lives today? To start with, there are two things that we must amend in our understanding of the Book of Job:

  1. It is true that the Book of Job is an ancient book. 3 reasons for that:

A. The unusual character of the language of the book of Job: The dialect seems to be different from the Hebrew of Jerusalem, much closer to Aramaic. In fact, the words used are rare and unique but also reflect a combination of various dialects of Hebrew. Based on this, it seems that this book must go back to ancient times. 

B. The mention of Dinosaurs in the book of Job: If you remember from our message last year titled “Leviathan,” Job talked about the Behemoth and the Leviathan, massive creatures on the land and the sea. This means that Job was written somewhere after the Great Flood mentioned in Genesis 6 and 7.

C. The references to the Ice Age in the book of Job: No other book in the Bible talks about ice and snow like Job. Listen to Job 37      9 “From the chamber of the south comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds of the north. 10 By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen.” Again, Job 38      22 “Have you entered the treasury of snow, or have you seen the treasury of hail…29 From whose womb comes the ice? And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth? 30 The waters harden like stone, And the surface of the deep is frozen.” Now, Job could’ve been talking about the frozen lakes in the Middle East or just the harsh winters that come occasionally, but it could be that he is actually referring to the Ice Age caused by the Great Flood in Genesis 6 and 7. Dr. Jake Hebert gives the following scenario in The Ice Age and Climate Change: Oceans became hot from the magma coming from the catastrophic plate tectonics during the Great Flood. This led to lots of evaporation causing much snowfall. The volcanoes through the plate tectonics also caused Aerosols (tiny droplets and particles) into the atmosphere that blocked sunlight. This caused the summers to be cold and thick ice sheets to be formed. We do know that the glaciers did not come all the way to the Middle East, but Job could have travelled or heard from others who had seen massive snow drifts and large sheets of ice elsewhere. By the way, it is mistakenly assumed that the whole world was covered under ice at some point in the past. Only 30% percent was covered and now only 10% in the North and South poles. 

Also, a heads up, we will be going back to our Contend series through Genesis to answer some of these questions about Ice Age, Climate Change, and Global Warming. It is amazing how some of these ideas are now accepted as verified and bona fide science. That’s just not true! What we believe about these topics has tremendous implications for policies that will inevitably affect our lives, and our kids need to know how to think about these matters and give educated reasons why we believe what we believe.

All this to say that the Book of Job probably goes back to a century or two after Noah’s flood, probably the generation before even Abraham (2100 BC). In other words, this is an ancient part of the Word of God, going all the way back to about 4200 years. The age of this book does not make it irrelevant; it actually makes it timeless.

2. It is not true that Job is just some primitive book about primitive people. We are so conditioned by evolutionary propaganda that we think that humans were first cavemen and then they slowly evolved into the civilized people of today. To the contrary, the book of Job actually mentions cavemen and talks down about them! Job 30      1 “But now they mock at me, men younger than I, whose fathers I disdained to put with the dogs of my flock…3 They are gaunt from want and famine, fleeing late to the wilderness, desolate and waste, 4 Who pluck mallow (tiny plants that were edible) by the bushes, And broom tree roots for their food. 5They were driven out from among men, they shouted at them as at a thief. 6 They had to live in the clefts of the valleys, In caves of the earth and the rocks. 7 Among the bushes they brayed, Under the nettles (little plants that have stinging hairs that cause irritation) they nestled. 8 They were sons of fools, yes, sons of vile men; They were scourged from the land. 9And now I am their taunting song; Yes, I am their byword.” So, yes, there were cavemen in the past, but, no, we didn’t evolve from cavemen. In fact, they were cavemen because they made bad decisions and were driven away from civilized society. They were the ones who taunted Job when he was down. Cavemen do exist today. They are the ones that taunt you when you are down. They are the ones who want to know the gory details. They are the ones who want to spread the word and embellish it. They revel in the pain of others.

Pay attention to what civilized people (Job’s friends) did when they found out that Job was in trouble. Job 2:11 “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.” In other words, they didn’t just rush in. They ya‘ad. They made an appointment to meet together. They made a plan of action. They had an objective and a target. Their goal was to come, mourn (nud = sway or shake your head in sympathy), and comfort (nechem = console) their friend.

Application: What do you do when you hear that someone is going through a difficult time? Do you just rush in? Do you pray and see what is needed and then seek to provide that help?

Job 2:12 “And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven.” In other words, they were truly shocked and identified with his misery.

Application: Do you truly put yourself in the shoes of the person who is suffering?

Job 2:13 “So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.” In other words, they were at a loss for words for an entire week!

Application: How long are you willing to be there for the person in need?

Last weekend, we talked about having cities of refuge (Sunday School, Bible Study groups, Tuesday morning men’s prayer groups at 6, Tuesday morning once a month women’s prayer group at 8, small groups, circles at homes, circles at work). This message is about coming together in circles to be the friends that someone needs, men and women. Are you seeing the need for circles? This is the ancient wisdom of civilized godly people. Cavemen don’t do this!

We don’t have time to go through the whole book of Job, but ultimately what Job needed was only what God could provide. If you think the circles are places where we will have bro-time or sisterhood, you missed it. The ultimate goal is for the person in need to look to Christ because Christ is the rescuer. Job saw Christ through his conversation with his friends:

  • Job 9      32 “For He is not a man, as I am, That I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. 33 Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both.”
  • Job 19       25 “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, 27Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
  • Job 42      5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. 6Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Ultimately, Job was blessed by God even more in his second life. Even his friends learned about God in a fresh and new way. They were all rescued by Christ.

Contrary to Bernard Shaw’s negative remark about Job, there was another literary genius named Victor Hugo, who said: “Tomorrow, if all literature was to be destroyed and it was left to me to retain one work only, I should save Job.”

This is the blessing of connecting with each other, but don’t forget that we are to ultimately connect with Christ. Do you know him? Are you saved?

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