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Upon the crag of the rock and the strong hold.
The poetry of all this is sublime: but what is its bearing upon the subject of debate? The. link of thought appears to be this. Alike Job and the Friends have confined their attention to the mystery of human suffering, the mystery of Evil. The thought that comes to us out of the whirlwind is that the Good, the Great, the Sublime, in the universe is just as mysterious as the mystery of Evil. The mystery of human suffering is not solved; but mystery ceases to be a burden, when it thus appears that the Mystery of Good is as great as the Mystery of Evil.
At the close of this speech out of the storm Job is heard making submission.
I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear;
It may be asked, Of what sin is Job here repenting? Job, conscious of innocence from any sin that would be commensurate with the judgment visited on him, has passionately longed to come into the presence of his Judge. Miraculously, this longing has now been satisfied. But in the immediate presence of God innocence feels itself guilty, and repents in dust and ashes.
Here drama stops, and we return to narrative story for the Epilogue.
STORY EPILOGUE And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Now therefore, take unto you seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my
servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you; for him will I accept, that I deal not with you after your folly; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath."
So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: and the LORD accepted Job.
And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: and the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him concerning all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one a ring of gold.
So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: and he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.
And after this Job lived an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations. So Job died, being old and full of days.
The opening words of this Epilogue show us God justifying Job as against the Friends, thus bringing out one more aspect to the problem of human suffering; a solution in so far that it puts the true attitude to suffering while it is yet a mystery. The strong faith of Job, which had dared to appeal from a visible judgment of God to the eternal justice behind it, is more acceptable than the servile adoration of the Friends who would ignore facts for the glory of God. Passionate groping after truth, however involved in ignorance, is a higher thing than passive orthodoxy.
Then the Epilogue describes the deliverance of Job from his trouble, and the restoration of his former prosperity. The narrative story is thus complete; viewed as a whole it suggests the most important of the solutions offered in the Book of Job to the problem of human suffering. What the Council in Heaven has put before us
is the picture of suffering sent, in the counsels of providence, upon a man, not because of sin, but because of his righteousness. Suffering thus appears as a test of saintship; the test made the more severe as the saintship is stronger to endure it. If this idea of making experiments on character seems harsh, it must be remembered that it is no more than is implied in calling this life a state of probation. One use of trouble is to develop character: with the preciousness of character no material prosperity can compare. But it is involved in this train of thought that, when the experiment has done its work, the original prosperity must be restored.
The reader will observe that the Notes which follow are of two kinds: (1) Notes to Particular Passages or Books of Scripture, cited by pages ; and (2) General Notes (commencing page 509) on points common to many books.
NOTES TO PARTICULAR PASSAGES OR BOOKS
Notes to the Historic Outline
Page 9. Book of Genesis.—This first book of the Bible must be thought of as in two parts. The Historic Outline really begins with the Call of Abraham; what precedes this is the Preface to the Old Testament as a whole. It contemplates the world before the appearance in it of the Chosen Nation.
Page 9. The World before the Call of Abraham.—This prefatory matter differs from what follows in regard to two important points.
As to Covenants. This is the key word to the Bible, which is concerned with covenants between God and man: covenant with a Nation (the Old Testament) and with a spiritual People (New Testament). But it gives recognition to covenantal relations between God and men outside the chosen people. In this Preface we have covenants between God and all mankind as represented in common ancestors; at first Adam, and after the Flood, Noah.
As to the Prefatory Stories. It is a clear principle of the Bible to use Story for the emphatic points of History. From the Call of Abraham onwards these Bible stories are to be understood as records of events. But ancient literature is distinguished by its use of Symbolic Stories, in which the form of story is thrown over philosophic reflections. There has always been a great difference of opinion among Bible readers as to whether these stories in the Preface to the 0. T. are to be understood as records or symbolic stories. Without deciding this disputed question it may be well to explain what is meant by calling these symbolic. The Historic Outline, which is the framework binding together the elements of the 0. T., commences with the Call of Abraham. The Preface may be interpreted as reflections on what the world was before the appearance of Abraham.-1. There is first the Creation of the World. This does not read like a mere record: it is a celebration (see note below) of the harmony of the universe with God as its Creator.-2. From the Bible point of view the next stage would be the appearance of evil in this good universe. The Story of the Temptation suggests symbolism especially at two points: (a) the mention of a serpent speaking (without anything to call attention to the miraculous nature of such an incident); (b) the designation of a tree as “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”—3. Sin so far is a principle; it solidifies into crime in the Story of Cain and Abel: a typical picture of family jealousy becoming in a moment of passion a criminal act which cannot be recalled.-4. The Flood. The traditions of all nations include the sweeping away of an early generation by water; the Biblical story is eminently reasonable in the way it lays stress on the contrast of corrupt and righteous, the preservation of all types of life, the renewal of God's covenant with Noah, as new ancestor of mankind. This Story of the Flood almost announces itself as a symbolic story by attaching to God's covenant