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Chinese4/6/2006English
經文:約伯記四十一至四十二章
鑰節:「約伯為他的朋友祈禱,耶和華就使約伯從苦境轉回。並且耶和華賜給他的,比他從前所有的加倍。」(42:10)
提要

        就像「河馬」(Behemoth,伯40:15)一樣,「鱷魚」(Leviathan,伯3:8)也是上帝所創造的巨大海獸,而且它究竟是什麼,直到今天尚未為人所知(註:顯然不是今日動物園可見到的河馬、鱷魚);這兩種巨獸也許都已滅種了。關於Leviathan身份的推想包括鱷魚、海龍/海蛇,或是某種恐龍。由於詩人的想像力與加強語氣,有關這種海獸的描述也許誇張了一點,但也是古代中東及現代詩篇中常有的事(例如41:18~21,寒冷海面上的熾熱呼氣就像冒出來的煙霧一樣)。不過,很明顯的,就像河馬(Behemoth)是人們最害怕的陸上巨獸一樣,鱷魚(Leviathan)也是人們最害怕的海中獸類。上帝使用這些巨大有力的獸類說明祂是無所不能的;由於祂是牠們的創造主,祂的能力與力氣自然要比牠們大得多。人若是想抵擋這些巨獸,實在是愚不可及的行為,就像他們想在上帝面前站立得住也同樣是愚蠢的(41:10)。

        上帝描述的所有獸類都缺乏理解的能力(尤其是駝鳥Ostrich,伯39:13~17),要其順服是違反牠們本性的。人祇有憑藉強制的力量才能馴服一些獸類。人類與低等動物不同,因為人有上帝所賜的理性、了解、選擇能力、及永生的靈魂。我們必須選擇完全順服上帝,因為祂不會使用力量逼迫我們順服祂。上帝固然可以使約伯害怕,或用強硬的手段迫使他悔改,但是祂沒有這樣做;相反的,祂樂意用很多的時間,跟約伯溝通及講理,好讓約伯能完全地了解上帝,然後再決定愛上帝,並且完全順服。雖然上帝一直沒有正面回答約伯的問題,「為什麼」他會受苦,但上帝親臨與約伯對話就是要告訴約伯,祂是一位有恩典、有愛心的上帝。因此,為何受苦的理由也就不那麼重要了。

        當上帝給約伯機會回應時,約伯心裡早已同意,上帝的確是全能的上帝。他承認自己缺乏了解,也承認上帝與他的溝通使他明白了真理。如果約伯從來沒有受過苦,他就絕不會更進一步地接近上帝。約伯說:「我從前風聞有」,這就是說,在過去,他對上帝祇有一部份的了解。然後,他又說:「現在親眼看見」,這就是說,他現在已能完全了解上帝。這種對上帝的認識使他明白自己是何等的人;他不僅是卑賤的(40:4),而且也是可惡的。他承認自己犯了悖逆的大罪,而且這一認識促使他在上帝的面前痛切悔改(在塵土與爐灰中懊悔;42:6)。

        主耶和華已高興約伯的悔改,但是依然不滿意他的朋友以利法、比勒達、及瑣法,因為他們對他作不實的指控。就像約伯一樣,他們也聽到了上帝的話語;但是他們不像約伯,他們不明白他們自己的罪,也沒有在上帝面前謙卑自己及悔改認罪。因此,上帝對以利法說話(由於年紀最大,他是他們的發言人),譴責他們三個人。以利戶則未被提及,因為他沒有像他們那樣愚蠢。這三個人誇說他們已明白了上帝的目的(比較羅11:34),但是這樣做,他們錯誤地論斷了約伯(沒有憐憫、愛心,或了解),苦待約伯的程度更甚於上帝(比較羅14:4)。

        上帝在這段經文中共有四次提到約伯是「我的僕人約伯」(42:7~8),等於是公開稱他為義。當約伯聽到全能的上帝這樣說時,他一定會感到高興;上帝的讚賞使他感到他所受的苦是值得的。約伯的義在另一件事上更是得到肯定,即就是他將在三個朋友所獻的悔改之祭上禱告和代求(請注意:這是在摩西律法定立之前)。實在值得玩味,先前為他們所傷害的約伯,卻被上帝吩咐為他們禱告,因為上帝現在已接受約伯的祈求(42:8)。約伯為他們禱告時,就已寬恕了他們,而這也是上帝所喜悅的。約伯一饒恕他的朋友,並祈求上帝祝福他們之後,上帝就使約伯從苦境中轉回(42:10)。這段經文已經充份地說明了,為什麼你要寬恕那些傷害過你的人。當約伯對他朋友的痛苦與憤怒消失時,上帝就再一次使他蒙受祝福。他生活中每一方面的損失都恢復了:友誼、家庭、財產、聲望、長壽;但是最大的福氣還是靈性的恢復。約伯的信心是經過試驗的;由於受到火的淨化,他的信心比以前更堅強了(比較詩66:10~12)。

        約伯記以得勝收場。我們必須記住,約伯的受苦是出自撒但對上帝的攻擊(1:9~12),但上帝仍是勝利者,因為雖然約伯質疑過祂的公義,並感到絕望,他從來沒有像撒但所說的那樣咒詛過上帝。更有意義的是,約伯從撒但的手中得到釋放,及他的朋友們蒙赦免,都是獻祭的結果,這便預表了未來主耶穌基督的彌賽亞之祭。我們祇能藉著祂在我們裡面的救贖聖工才能稱義。

禱告

        父啊,我們唯有領受您的寬恕與慈愛,才能寬恕及愛別人。我們今天渴望更認識您,好使我們能更加事奉您。奉主耶穌基督聖名,阿們!

English

Scriptures:Read Job 41 &42
Key Verse:"And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before."(Job 42:10)
Overview

        Like the behemoth, the "leviathan" was a real animal created by God and its identity is also unkown today; they both may be extinct. Speculation of the leviathan's identity has included the crocodile, a sea dragon/serpent, or a type of dinosaur. The description of the leviathan is probably exaggerated for the sake of poetic imagery and emphasis, which is common to ancient (and modern) middle-eastern poems (e.g. 41:18-21; it's warm breath on top of the cold sea would have resembled smoke). It is clear, however, that just as the behemoth was the most feared beast of the land, leviathan was the most feared of the sea. God used these magnificent and powerful beasts to illustrate His omnipotence, for He, as their creator, had infinitely greater power and strength than they. It would be a foolish act for a mere man to stand against these beasts, just as it would be an even greater folly to stand against God (41:10).

        All the animals God described lacked understanding (especially the ostrich. 39:13-17), and it is against their nature to be submissive. Only through force has man been able to tame a few animals. Unlike lowly animals, God gave human beings reason, understanding, choice, and a never-dying soul. We must choose to willingly submit ourselves to God, for He will not use force with us. God could have terrified Job and forcefully, harshly, and very quickly caused him to repent, but He would never do this; rather, He lovingly took much time to speak and reason with Job, so that he might gain a fuller understanding and then choose to love and submit himself to God. Although He never directly answered Job's questions concerning the "whys" of his suffering, the fact that God condescended to speak with him showed Job that God was indeed gracious and loving. It was no longer important that he know the "whys" of it all.

        When God gave Job the opportunity to respond, Job began by giving mental assent to the fact that God was indeed all-powerful. He confessed his lack of understanding and admitted that God's communication with him had enlightened him to the truth. If Job had never suffered, he would have never come to know God better. Job said, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear", meaning that in the past he had only a partial understanding of God. He then went on to say, "but now my eye sees You", meaning he now had a fuller understanding of God. This knowledge of God caused him to see himself as he actually was; not only vile (40:4) but abhorant, for he recognized his sin of rebellion against God, and this led to his sincere repentance and humility before God ("in dust and ashes", 42:6).

        The Lord was pleased with Job, but still not pleased with Job's friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, who had falsely accused him. Like Job, they too heard God's words; but unlike Job, they did not see their own sinfulness, nor did they humble themselves and repent before God. Therefore, God addressed Eliphaz (as the eldest, he was the spokesman) and rebuked all three men. Elihu was not mentioned, since he did not share in their folly. The three men had boastfully claimed to understand the purposes of God (cf. Romans 11:34), but in so doing, they judged Job wrongly (without mercy, love, or understanding), and they were harder on Job than was God (cf. Romans 14:4).

        Four times in this passage, God referred to Job as "My servant Job" (42:7-8), which was a public justification of his righteousness. It must have thrilled him to hear those words from the Almighty; this made all his suffering worthwhile. Job's righteousness was also reaffirmed in God's remedy for the sinfulness of his three friends, as Job was to mediate for their sacrificial offering, which was a public expression of their repentance (Note: this was before the Law of Moses). Interestingly, Job, whom they had hurt, was told by God to pray for them, since God would now accept his prayers (42:8). In praying for them, Job showed that he forgave them, and this was God's desire. Once Job forgave and prayed for God's blessing upon his friends, then God restored all his losses (42:10). The importance of forgiving those who have hurt you is clear in this passage. When Job's bitterness and anger against his friends was dispelled, God could once again shower Job with blessings. He was restored in every area of his life: friendships, family, possessions, prestige, and a long life; but the greatest blessing was his spiritual restoration. Job's faith had been tested, but he emerged from the fire purer and stronger (cf. Psalm 66:10-12).

        The book of Job ends on a triumphant note. Let us remember that Job's sufferings originated as an attack of Satan in a challenge to God (1:9-12), but God was victorious, for although Job questioned God's justice and fell in despair, he never cursed God as Satan had claimed he would. Significantly, Job's deliverance from the hands of Satan and the salvation of Job's friends was marked by the offering of a sacrifice, which typified the future Messianic sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Righteousness can only come through His redemptive work in our lives.

Prayer

        Father, it is only in the receiving of Your forgiveness and love that we are able to forgive and love others. We long to know You better this day, that we, in turn, might better serve You.


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