Exiting an Unresolvable Disagreement

This is a study of Job 26 where we learn about exiting an unresolvable disagreement. The Bible tells us when Job was unable to convince his friends they were falsely accusing him of sin, he exited the dialogue with the statement that once they died, all their mistakes would be exposed by God. For us, this raises the question of whether or not that is a correct assumption for us when we are falsely accused or find ourselves in an unresolvable disagreement. In this video we’re going to learn that we can count on the fact that someday the Lord will return and make known the truth.

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Context

At the beginning of Job’s story, Job was healthy, wealthy, blameless, and upright. There was a dialogue in heaven between Yahweh and Satan and Yahweh touted Job’s uprightness. Satan insisted if Job lost his possessions, then he would curse God. Yahweh gave Satan permission to test Job so Satan destroyed all Job’s possessions, killed his children, and afflicted Job with boils from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. However, Job did not curse God, he remained faithful and loyal to God.

As Job was suffering, three friends named Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar went to visit Job. Job and his friends did not know about the dialogue in heaven between Yahweh and Satan so they didn’t know the real reason for Job’s suffering. There was a long dialogue between Job and his friends. Job spoke, then Eliphaz, then Job, then Bildad, then Job, then Zophar, then Job, and this pattern continued. Job’s friends tried to convince Job he was suffering because he had sinned. They believed God is fair; therefore, since Job was suffering, he must have done something to deserve the suffering. Job insisted he was innocent. Job believed God was treating him unfairly. We know the whole story. We know Job was not suffering because of sin. Job was suffering because he was a casualty of a battle between Yahweh and Satan.

After a long dialogue, Job and his friends did not come to an agreement. Job 25 contains the last speech by one of Job’s friends. Job 26 contains one of Job’s speeches. In this speech Job pointed out that eventually God would resolve the impasse.

Job 26

Job 26:1 Then Job responded,
Job 26:2 “What a help you[Bildad] are to the weak!
How you have saved the arm without strength!

In English we can’t differentiate between a singular “you” and a plural “you”. In Biblical Hebrew they could. The pronoun “you” in verse 2 is singular in the original Hebrew, so it probably refers to Bildad because Bildad had been the speaker in the previous chapter.

Job was being sarcastic. He meant Bildad was not a help to the weak. Much of the book of Job is this dialogue between Job and his friends and throughout this dialogue, Job and his friends traded insults like this back and forth.

Job 2:11 tells us Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had gone to visit Job to sympathize with him and comfort him after his calamity, but Job obviously did not think they were sympathetic nor comforting.

Job 26:3 “What counsel you[Bildad] have given to one without wisdom!
What helpful insight you have abundantly provided!

Again, Job was being sarcastic. He meant Bildad was not giving good counsel nor insight.

Job 26:4 “To whom have you[Bildad] uttered words?
And whose spirit was expressed through you?

These were rhetorical questions and the answer was no one.

In verse 4b Job meant no spirit was expressing itself through Bildad which meant Bildad was speaking on his own and had no authority to say what he was saying. Throughout this dialogue Bildad and his friends had been trying to convince Job he was suffering because of sin. Job meant Bildad did not have any authority to say that.

Job 26:5 “The departed spirits tremble
Under the waters and their inhabitants.

The phrase “departed spirits” is a reference to dead people. Notice Job believed dead people exist under the water.

Notice the word “tremble”. Verse 6 tells us why dead people tremble.

Sheol and Abaddon

Job 26:6 “Naked is Sheol before Him[God],
And Abaddon has no covering.

Notice the word “Sheol”. Job and his friends believed Sheol was the place dead people descended to after death. The definition of Sheol is clear when looking at other uses of “Sheol” in the Bible.

Prov. 5:5 Her feet go down to death,
Her steps take hold of Sheol.

This is Hebrew poetry. Hebrew poetry is different than English poetry. English poetry is about rhyme. Hebrew poetry is not about rhyme, hebrew poetry is about repetition, addition, and contrast. This verse is repetition. When using repetition, a Hebrew poet says the same thing over and over in different ways. Both of these lines mean the same thing, which means dying and going to Sheol are the same thing.

Is. 28:15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
And with Sheol we have made a pact.

A “covenant with death” is the same as a “pact with Sheol”. So Sheol is a reference to death. Let’s go back to Job.

Job 26:6 “Naked is Sheol before Him[God],
And Abaddon has no covering.

Notice the word “Abaddon”. Abaddon is another term for Sheol, meaning Abaddon is also a reference to death. The definition of Abaddon is clear when looking at other uses of “Abaddon” in the Bible.

Job 28:22 “Abaddon and Death say,

Notice the word “and”. The word “and” means Abaddon and death are the same thing.

Prov. 15:11 Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the LORD,
How much more the hearts of men!

Again, notice the word “and”. Sheol and Abaddon are the same thing. Let’s go back to Job.

Sheol is Naked

Job 26:5 “The departed spirits tremble
Under the waters and their inhabitants.
Job 26:6 “Naked is Sheol before Him[God],
And Abaddon has no covering.

Notice the statement “Naked is Sheol” in verse 6. This explains why Job believed dead people tremble (see verse 5). When a person is aware they are naked, they are aware that all their bodily flaws are exposed and fully on display. The phrase “Naked is Sheol” means all the dead people are aware their character flaws are exposed and fully on display and that all their thoughts, priorities, and values are exposed and known.

The pronoun “Him” probably refers to God. Job had not mentioned God in the previous verses, but he didn’t mention anyone else who “him” could refer to, so by looking at the context the logical conclusion is Job was referring to God.

The phrase “before Him[God]” indicates God is the One who can see all the flaws and knows all the thoughts of dead people; therefore, “the departed spirits tremble” because dead people are aware God knows all their flaws, shortcomings, thoughts, priorities, and values.

This is Hebrew poetry. Both of these lines say the same thing. “Abaddon has no covering” is the same as “Naked is Sheol”. Again, Job meant when people die, they are fully aware that God knows everything about them, including all their flaws and thoughts.

Why did Job say this? How did this fit into the dialogue between Job and his friends? Throughout this dialogue Job’s friends had been trying to convince Job he was suffering because of sin. Job disagreed and told his friends they were not being very helpful. In Job 26 Job pointed out that Bildad did not have authority to say the things he was saying, and then Job pointed out that when Bildad dies, he will be naked before God and Bildad will realize he was wrong in what he was saying.

In other words, they had reached an impasse. Job and his friends were not able to persuade each other, so Job began exiting the dialogue by pointing out that someday God would render His judgement.

Keep in mind, we cannot use these verses to form our beliefs about life after death. Job was not necessarily correct about all this and the author of Job did not necessarily intend for us to believe Job was correct. The author of Job was merely recording what Job said. We need to look at other verses in the Bible to form our beliefs about life after death. We will come back to this later.

God is Powerful

In the following verses, Job described God’s power and gave God credit for creation.

Job 26:7 “He[God] stretches out the north over empty space
And hangs the earth on nothing.

Notice the phrase “hangs the earth”. Job gave God credit for creating the earth.

Job 26:8 “He[God] wraps up the waters in His clouds,
And the cloud does not burst under them.

Job gave God credit for creating clouds and filling them with water.

Job 26:9 “He[God] obscures the face of the full moon
And spreads His cloud over it.

Job gave God credit for obscuring the moon with cloud cover.

Job 26:10 “He[God] has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters
At the boundary of light and darkness.

The word “circle” refers to the horizon.

Job 26:11 “The pillars of heaven tremble
And are amazed at His[God’s] rebuke.

The trembling refers to thunder.

Job 26:12 “He[God] quieted the sea with His power,
And by His understanding He shattered Rahab.
Job 26:13 “By His[God’s] breath the heavens are cleared;
His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent.

Job gave God credit for creating the wind that clears the clouds out of the sky.

Job 26:14 “Behold, these are the fringes of His[God’s] ways;
And how faint a word we hear of Him!
But His mighty thunder, who can understand?”

The pronoun “these” refers to everything Job had said about God in the previous verses.

Notice the word “fringes”. Job meant his description of God’s power was just a small portion of God’s power.

Why did Job make these statements about God’s power? How did this fit into the dialogue between Job and his friends?

Throughout this dialogue Job’s friends had been trying to convince Job he was suffering because of sin. Job disagreed and told his friends they were not being very helpful. In today’s passage Job pointed out that Bildad did not have authority to say the things he was saying, and then Job pointed out that when Bildad dies, he will be naked before God and Bildad will realize he was wrong in what he was saying. Then Job described God’s power to point out that God has the power to make Bildad aware of his error.

Again, we cannot use these verses to form our beliefs about God. The author of Job was merely recording what Job said. The author did not necessarily intend for us to believe Job was correct.

Verse 14 is the end of this passage. Let’s go back to verses 5 and 6.

God Looks at Motives

Job 26:5 “The departed spirits tremble
Under the waters and their inhabitants.
Job 26:6 “Naked is Sheol before Him[God],
And Abaddon has no covering.

Notice the word “naked”. Job said when dead people reach Sheol, all their thoughts and motives are exposed before God. Was Job correct? If so, how does this affect us when we are in an unresolvable disagreement.

Prov. 16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the LORD weighs the motives.

Notice the word “motives”. Yahweh looks at a man’s motives.

The following statement occurred when Samuel went to anoint David as King of Israel.

1Sam. 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Notice the word “heart”. Yahweh looks at the heart.

1Cor. 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

Notice the phrase “wait until the Lord comes”. This verse refers to what will happen in the future when we are face to face with God.

Notice the word “both”. The Lord will do two things.

First, He will “bring to light the things hidden in the darkness”. The Lord will expose the things we think are hidden in darkness.

Second, He will “disclose the motives of men’s hearts”. The Lord will expose our motives.

So Job was correct about dead people being naked in Sheol. Job also said dead people tremble.

Dead People Tremble

Job 26:5 “The departed spirits tremble
Under the waters and their inhabitants.
Job 26:6 “Naked is Sheol before Him[God],
And Abaddon has no covering.

The book of Revelation tells us what happened when the Apostle John saw God and this gives us a picture of what will happen when we actually see God.

Rev. 1:13 … I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.
Rev. 1:14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.
Rev. 1:15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.
Rev. 1:16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
Rev. 1:17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.

Notice the last verse. John fell at His feet like a dead man. John was so overwhelmed by the reality of who God is that he fell as a dead man.

So Job was correct about dead people being naked in Sheol. Here on earth we think we are hiding our faults and our sins, but once we die, our thoughts, intentions, motives, and sins will be exposed and we will know they have been exposed. And just as the Apostle John fell at God’s feet like a dead man, so too when we see God and know our sins and motives have been exposed, we may very likely fall at the feet of Yahweh like a dead man.

Exiting an Unresolvable Disagreement

What does this mean for us when we are in an unresolvable disagreement?

Job’s friends tried to convince Job he was suffering because of sin. Job knew he was innocent. Job and his friends had argued back and forth multiple times but Job had been unable to convince his friends of his innocence, so it was an unresolvable disagreement. Job started to exit his unresolvable disagreement by pointing out that someday God would make known the truth. ]Job was correct about this, and when we are in an unresolvable disagreement, perhaps we need to look at it the same way. If we are falsely accused and we know we are right, but we can’t persuade our opponent we are right, then at some point we simply need to remind ourselves that God knows the truth and someday God will return and make known the truth.

“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”

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