Job - Why Things Go Wrong 

Part 3: "Job's Five Mistakes"

1 - Introduction 

2 - A Narrator Mistake 

3 - Job's Five Mistakes (this page)

4 - The Accuser Enters 

5 - The Enemy Attack 

6 - More Mistakes, Another Attack

The Background to Job's Mistakes

Let's continue the story up to verse 4.

"And there were born to him seven sons and three daughters."  v2

"He possessed seven thousand  sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very great body of servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east."  v3

"His sons used to go and feast in the house of each on his (birth)day in turn, and they invited their three sisters to eat and drink with them."  v4

That is a very straightforward description of the prevailing situation and leads us straight to verse 5.

Verse 5 Shows Five Mistakes That Job Made, and a Sixth Mistake is Implied

"And when the days of their feasting were over Job sent for them to purify them (to sanctify or make them holy)

"...and rose up early in the morning and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all.

"For Job said,

" may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts

"This Job did at all times."

It seems obvious from this verse that Job was acting as a priest. Who gave him that role?

What about Abraham? After he left home as God told him to do and started his journey to an unknown land, when he reached certain places he would build an altar and preach about God. (See Genesis 12 and 13.) That must have been something that God placed in his heart.

Or consider Cain and Abel - how did they know that they could offer up something to God from their daily activities? He must have placed that knowledge in their hearts, in their spirits.

Some people, like Abraham and Moses, got it right most of the time. Others, like Samson and Job, didn't.

Let's look at each part of verse 5 in turn.

"And when the days of their feasting were over Job sent for them to purify them (to sanctify or make them holy)."

Job's Mistake 1: When Job called his sons to "purify" them he was doing something that is not possible for someone else to do. 

There are many church traditions and teachings today which blur the meaning of the word holy.

As explained in this article, Holy, Holiness & Sanctify, the word holy as used both in the Old and New Testaments means to "set something apart." It does not refer to behaviour, but attitude, intention or purpose.

It's easy to make an object "holy" or set apart. When I speak in conferences I have a water bottle with me, which could end up being left anywhere in the room as I speak. So that I can identify my bottle easily and separate it from others I remove the label and ask everyone else to not do the same. In this way both the bottle and the action to identify it are "holy," set apart to me.

As for people themselves they, too can be holy or "set apart," but only through their own actions, not through the actions of someone else.

Consider Samson: even though God called him into service through his parents before he was born, he himself never became "holy," he never set himself apart to God. We see Samson performing mightily when Holy Spirit came upon him, but it was always according to Samson's ideas of what should be done, not according to any purpose God might have had in mind.  Of course, God was able to still use him, but Samson only got the idea right at the end, when it was too late for him to adapt his ways.

Consider Hophni and Phineas, Eli's two sons.

Even though they would have gone through rites of purification to become priests their behaviour was appalling - they would sleep with the young girls who served in the temple. Nothing could change their own attitude to be "holy unto the Lord" except their own decision, which they didn't make.

No priest, pastor, bishop, evangelist or pope can make you holy, set apart to God. Not even God will do that - it has to be our decision; it has to come from within us.

Or consider this: If someone gets angry with you can you go before God and say, "I'm sorry, they didn't mean it like that?" That would help you to get past it, but for the other person to be set free they would need to come before you and before God.

This was Job's first mistake - for any purification to occur within Job's children, if it was even needed, the decision to go ahead and do it had to come from the children themselves, not from their father.

We continue in verse 5 of Job 1.

"...and (Job) rose up early in the morning and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all."

Job's Mistake 2: For Someone to Make an Offering or Sacrifice to the Lord They Must Bring It Themselves

Or to put it another way: a priest cannot offer a sacrifice on behalf of someone else unless they first bring the offering or sacrifice to the priest. 

This is the one that gets me.

I don't think you need to be a theologian, or have a doctorate, or even be a pastor or Bible College graduate to know that what Job did was wrong. You just need to read Leviticus 1, or Leviticus 2, or 3, or any of the first seven chapters of Leviticus, or even read Job 42 to know that this was totally wrong.

This is how Leviticus describes the burnt offering process:

"When anyone offers a cereal offering to the Lord...he shall bring it to Aaron's sons, the priests." 2:1-2a

"And you shall bring the cereal offering that is made of these things to the Lord; it shall be presented to the priest, and he shall bring it to the altar."  2:8

"If a man's offering is a sacrifice or peace offering...he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord. He shall kill it at the door of the tent of meeting, and Aaron's sons, the priests shall throw the blood against the altar round about. And...he shall offer the fat that covers the entrails...Aaron's sons shall burn it all on the altar on the burnt offering." 3:1-5

"If any one of the common people sins unwittingly in anything that the Lord has commanded not to do...when the made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a female goat without blemish. The offender...shall kill it at the place of the burnt offering. And the priest shall...pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. And all the fat of it...the priest shall burn it on the altar for a sweet fragrance to the Lord. And the priest shall make atonement for the person and he shall be forgiven." 4:27-31.

It's interesting to see how in each case the person who has committed the offense brings the offering and is deeply involved in the process.

"He who offers the sacrifice of his peace offerings to the Lord shall bring his offering to the Lord;...he shall bring with his own hands the offerings made by fire to the Lord." 7:29-30

This shows the general sacrificial process. The person who wants to make an offering or sacrifice to the Lord first brings it to the priest with his own hands.

You might say, "But wasn't Job written, didn't the events take place, before the ceremonial law concerning offerings and sacrifices was given to Israel? And didn't the events in Job 1 & 2 take place before God's correction of Job in chapter 42?"

God Corrects Job's Mistake in Chapter 42

Job's three friends heard about his misfortunes and came to console him at the end of chapter 2. Unfortunately, their tent-side manner was less than encouraging and they tended to send him even deeper into despair and defending himself.

In the end God moved to correct Job's attitude and knowledge of God, and spoke correction into the lives of his three friends for not handling the situation better than they did. Look carefully at God's solution and see if it doesn't match the sequences given in the Law at Sinai. As you read, though, remember that this is before the New Covenant, and so some of the procedures mentioned, while relevant for that time, are not relevant today. 

"The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me the thing that is right as My friend Job has." Job 42:7

Oddly enough, God had just spent chapters 38 to 41 reprimanding Job for his attitude towards Him, but something happened with Job that his friends did not follow - he recognised that he was puny in comparison to God and repented. That is, Job changed his mind towards God and apologised for his bad attitude in 42:1-6. His friends did not. God does not speak of us as we were, but as we are now.

God continued addressing the three friends:

"Now therefore take (animals) and go to my servant Job and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering;" Job 42:8a

Then, as now, there was no need to go through an intermediary like a pastor, prophet or priest - each person could stand before God for themselves.

There's the correction to Job's misguided and misdirected attempts to blackmail God into overlooking the problems with his children: the friends had to supply the animals required for the sacrifice. The effort, the involvement had to come from them, not Job. 

There also is this evidence that Job knew that this was the correct procedure but simply did not follow it with his children:

Job still had a role to play as a father, friend or observer - like us, he was meant to be connected to the world around him. Here was God's final instruction for Job:

"And my servant Job will pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly." Job 42:8b

Job could get involved like this because the friends had mistreated him. By absolving the three friends from any guilt they might have had towards him Job was freeing them from punishment from the enemy that could otherwise apply. In doing this Job was also freeing himself from any penalty that the enemy could apply to him for unforgiveness, for holding a grudge against them for what they had done.

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God is Faithful, He Warns and Teaches Us Beforehand

There is an over-riding principle ruling all of God's interactions with mankind, demonstrated first in Genesis 2 and 3 and admirably summed up by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:13b.

"But God is faithful, He will not leave you to be tempted or tested above what you are able, but together with the temptation or trial (which He does not send) He also provides the way out, that you might survive."

It's important to know that there is one Greek word, peirazo, which is translated as either test or tempt depending on the context and the translators' world view. It would be better if translations gave both words at the same time, as shown above.

TEMPTATION: a thought, feeling, suggestion or opportunity to do wrong. The thoughts, feelings or suggestions are applied internally to our thinking from an external, spirit source in such a way as to appear that they are generated within us as a valid way to deal with a situation.

TEST or TRIAL: an event or situation that leads to stress, sickness, accident, loss, pain*, injury, destruction or death. These things do not come from God but are the work of the enemy. They are not random attacks against us but result from mistakes we make, as we will see from the story of Job. 

*Pain that is designed to warn us of danger, such as when we touch something hot or sharp, or when we are damaging some part of our body, is not from the enemy, but is a built-in part of God's protection in Creation.

There are two types of testing or trial

 and there are two words in the Greek which are used in the New Testament, peirazo and dokimazo, which can be translated as tempt or test, or try or prove. These are the subject of another article.

For the moment it is sufficient to describe peirazo as a temptation, test or trial where test or trial refer to a test to destruction, such as a manufacturer might do to test a new product's durability.

The other "test," dokimazo, is best understood as a way to evaluate something, like taking a car for a test drive or trying out a new recipe. God is involved in this type of testing but it is instructive, not destructive, and is detailed elsewhere, not in this article.

According to James, the younger brother of Jesus, God has nothing to do with peirazo, tempting or testing to destruction. This is the work of the enemy, who are not fighting God, but us. (No one in the spirit realm, least of all the devil, is stupid enough to think that they could fight God. God has no enemies, no rivals, no equal.)

I will substitute the original Greek word in its basic form in the translation below to help clarify what James is saying in chapter 1.

"Let no one say when he is peirazo, I am peirazo from God; for God is incapable of being peirazo and He Himself (will) peirazo no one.  v13

"But every person is peirazo when he is drawn away by his own evil desire.  v14

"Then the evil desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin...brings forth death."  v15

Not surprisingly this description of the way that destructive testing (peirazo) works can easily and more reasonably be applied to Job.

The other, important ideas from the 1 Corinthians 10 verse are these:

I) God is fair - He pre-warns us about the impending danger 

- "God is faithful..."

We see this in the story of Adam and Eve, and with their son, Cain. Or with the young man David, who somehow knew from God that he must not, himself, remove King Saul from the throne but that it would happen in God's timing.

Or Paul the Apostle: he had two clear warnings from Holy Spirit not to go to Jerusalem (Acts 21), but he took no notice and was taken captive. He ended up going to Rome in chains, rather than "in the abundant blessing of Christ" (Romans 15:29) as intended.

Ultimately God either teaches us about choices we need to make before the event or shows us enough information before the event to enable us to make wise decisions.

It's not uncommon during relationship difficulties for one partner to claim that the other is exhibiting behaviour that was not evident before the marriage. In each case, when I asked them to think back to earlier times because God is faithful and lets us see what a potential partner is like, after thinking about it for a short time they admitted that they had, indeed, seen the signs or the behaviour that was now a problem, and agreed that they had closed their eyes to it for one reason or another.

II) God always sets limits on what can be done to us

- "He will not let you be tested or tempted (peirazo) beyond your ability"

For Cain He placed a mark of protection upon him so that he would not suffer a revenge killing.

For David there was a trouble-free accesion to the throne - because he had not tried to remove Saul, Saul's faction accepted David.

On the night He was betrayed Jesus said to Peter, "Simon, Simon, the adversary has asked excessively that you (plural, meaning all the disciples) be handed over to him to be sifted like wheat...when you have turned encourage the others." (Luke 22:31-32)

Jesus had been told what was happening in heaven. The adversary knew from what he had already organised that the disciples would desert Jesus in His hour of need, and so the adversary had come before God, as is permitted, to claim the right to attack Peter and the other disciples according to the provisions in the laws of the universe that God has written. There is no evidence from Scripture that this "sifting" took place to any great extent. Jesus' mention of it like this suggests that God did not permit it to the extent that the enemy demanded. (This will be covered in greater detail later.)

For Paul, there were threats on his life after his capture, and those threats were thwarted in Acts 23. He could be beaten or stoned and left for dead, but he was not allowed to be killed. Note that much of the mistreatment Paul experienced after his conversion was much the same as he meted out to Christians before his conversion.

III) God always provides a way out

- "He also provides the way out, that you might survive."

The way out is usually a warning or teaching beforehand. That could come through Bible reading, while listening to someone preaching, through a dream or vision where you see yourself in a bad situation, through something that someone else sees (called a word of knowledge), or through a prompting in your spirit. That last one usually comes as a quiet remembering of a Bible verse or something someone said, as in a church situation, that randomly pops into our thoughts. Sometimes it will be a sentence delivered quickly into our thoughts which suggests an alternative approach.

We ignore those things at our peril, or at someone else's peril - I know from painful experience!

Sometimes the way out is a God-manouvered rescue.

I am a professional driver. I drive as a courier in busy, city traffic and God has told me that I won't be involved in an accident. That still means that I have to be extra careful, so I always keep a good, extra-long distance between my car and the one in front, both on surface streets and on freeways.

I was travelling at 60 mph (96 kmh) in the outside lane and just glanced at my speedo and rearview mirror to check my surroundings as good drivers do, :-) but when I looked back my lane had stopped. My 70-yard advantage had shrunk to 30 and was disappearing fast. There was no way that I could brake in time, so with no time to even check my outside mirror I swung to the left to move into the adjacent lane. The car twitched and then corrected itself, and I missed the last car in line by a few feet. It was obvious to me that I had had outside assistance and the proof was in the fact that my heart wasn't racing and I was perfectly calm as if nothing had happened.

A week or two later I had stopped at a red light and had kept a car length away from the vehicle in front, to allow me room in case someone behind didn't stop in time. The car behind me had not left any room to spare and, sure enough, I soon heard a loud, prolonged squeal of brakes to show that someone had not been concentrating. I glanced in the side mirror to check that the adjacent lane was clear and could see a large cloud of blue smoke from the errant vehicle's tyres as it tried desperately to stop in time. I wasn't going to wait around to see if it made it - I quickly pulled into the empty left lane to make sure I wasn't a part of the concertina that was sure to develop, heart pounding wildly. That's when I knew the difference between a God-organised rescue and one which I had worked on.

There are two aspects to the ways-out that God provides: 

i) there's an ultimate rescue attempt if we have done things correctly in the lead-up to the problem (such as keeping correct car lengths from vehicles in front);

ii) there are principles supplied beforehand, (such as keeping a safe distance behind leading traffic in case something unexpected happens(. 

God does both the above, continually, but people often don't or won't listen or heed the advice.

The Apostle Paul is a Good Example of All These Things at Work

Note: There is a more complete article which deals with the events which led Paul into the deception which led to his arrest and imprisonment. Here we are mainly looking at God's attempts to rescue him from his own folly.

a) Some time before his arrest Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome:

"But now...since I have longed for enough years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go on to Spain."    Romans 15:23-4

"And I know that when I do come to you I shall come in the abundant blessing of Christ." Romans 15:29

b) Paul had experience in hearing from Holy Spirit about his plans:

"And Paul and Silas passed through the territory of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the word in the province of Asia.

"And when they had come opposite Mysia, they tried to go into Bythinia, but the spirit of Jesus (not another spirit but another name for Holy Spirit) did not permit them."  Acts 16:6-7

c) Paul also decided things according to his own spirit

"Now after these events Paul determined in the spirit that he would...go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there I must visit Rome also."  v21

This wasn't Holy Spirit Paul was talking about - he was talking about his own spirit. In modern language we might say in the same circumstances, "Paul had a deep, personal conviction that he wanted go to Jerusalem."

He confirmed this sometime later when he met with the elders from Ephesus He told them:

"And now I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the spirit..." Acts 20:22a. The "bound in spirit" part shows that it was a type of compulsion for him that was leading him in the wrong direction. As we will see shortly it wasn't Holy Spirit who was asking him to go to Jerusalem.

d) Holy Spirit was already warning Paul not to go

Paul continued his explanation to the elders. I will repeat the first part of the verse quoted above, for clarity and context.

"And now I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the spirit. not knowing what will befall me there;

"Except that the Holy Spirit clearly affirms to me in city after city that imprisonment and suffering await me." Acts 20:22

There was the warning. Not just once but, according to Paul, the warnings were continual. I think a lot of people believe that suffering and imprisonment were part of God's plan for Paul; and that it was a part of God's strategy for Paul's ministry that he be arrested and jailed and not heard of again after he finally made it to Rome as a prisoner in chains.

Nothing could be further from the truth, which is why Holy Spirit was warning Paul not to go.

e) God warns us beforehand of impending danger

Some years ago, about six weeks before I was due to fly overseas for a series of conferences, I woke up early in the morning to a disturbing, albeit short dream. I was paddling around with someone else in a pool of water surrounding a fountain. Officials came up and arrested us and charged us with criminal trespass. I didn't see that part happen but I heard the charge and knew that we were arrested.

As I was dealing with the shock of this (it all seemed very real) I heard what country this would happen in, and then God said, "It's up to you - you don't have to go, but if you do you will be arrested and charged." Being somewhat adventurous I thought about it for some minutes before I woke my wife, told her the dream and that I had decided to go. I figured I could handle anything, including deflecting the situation, the temptation, that might lead to being arrested. Within a few hours I had forgotten the dream.

Eight weeks later a carload of us ended up in the wrong place. We had all made mistakes which allowed the enemy to attack us. We were arrested late at night with three different forces (police, military and government security) involved and held incommunicado and without food for two days in fairly primitive conditions, charged with criminal trespass. It was only on the third day, just before we were released with all charges dropped, that I remembered the dream. (The paddling in the fountain part was relevant in that the offence took place at a seaside resort area.)

There Is no doubt in my mind that, had I not made some repeated mistakes In the days prior to our arrest, the others In our party would also not have made the mistakes that they did and we would have never been In a position where we could be arrested for anything.

f) God sent other people to warn Paul

A few days later, in another area entirely, Paul met some believers who had a special message for him.

"Prompted by the spirit they kept telling Paul not to set foot in Jerusalem." Acts 21:4.

Once again there is no mention of holy with the word spirit, but within a short time period, perhaps a few days, and among another group of people, Paul got a message that left no doubt as to who it came from.

"While we were remaining there for some time, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.

"And coming to us he took Paul's belt and with it bound his own feet and hands, and said, 'Thus says the Holy Spirit, The Jews at Jerusalem shall bind like this the man who owns this belt, and they shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" Acts 21:10-11.

God knew beforehand that Paul would disregard the warnings, but to show His faithfulness He arranged for enough warnings to teach us this important truth: "God is faithful, and He never lets us be tested beyond our ability, but with the testing (which He does not send) He provides a way out."

g) Paul showed that it was his idea to go against God's advice

After hearing from Agabus and the others accompanying him, who then begged him not to go to Jerusalem, Paul said:

"What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart like this?" v13a

If their weeping was breaking his heart that showed conclusively that it was his decision to go, especially since he had also ignored two prophetic messages (that is, messages coming from God) not to go. God did not want Paul taken prisoner. Paul continued:

"For I hold myself in readiness not only to be arrested at Jerusalem, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus."

Once again, that wasn't God's idea, that was not His plan for Paul's future, otherwise the warnings to not go would have never been sent. Sometimes the things we say in bravado come to pass because of the extent of our authority - when we give the enemy permission to do things to us that they should have no access to, they can come to pass, as happened here.

When we go against what God says to us we give the enemy power over us to cause us harm. Paul travelled to Jerusalem against the advice of God and was easily tricked into appearing at the temple, where he was never intended to be. He was arrested while engaging in deception, pretending that he wasn't teaching what he actually was teaching. You can read about this In Acts 21.

It is important to understand that I am not saying that Paul was a bad man. However, like the rest of us he made mistakes, some of which ultimately affected his ministry.

h) God limited what the enemy were able to do to Paul after he was arrested

After Paul was seized in the temple by some Jews who knew him from the province of Asia where he had previously been teaching they dragged him outside the temple gates and started beating him to death, on false grounds that he had defiled the temple.. A nearby Roman garrison heard the commotion and rescued Paul by arresting him.

After appearing before the Sanhedrin (Jewish council) where the Pharisees supported him, saying that they could find no fault in him while the Sadducees, another Jewish sect, condemned him, more than forty men took an oath to not eat until they had killed Paul. Upon hearing this the commander of the garrison ordered a huge contingent of hundreds of soldiers to escort Paul to Caesarea to be examined there.

i) God had a plan to free Paul, but he panicked and missed out

Paul was kept in prison for two years in Caesarea. After a new Roman governor was appointed the Jewish leaders asked for Paul to be brought back to Jerusalem to be tried there. Paul did not like that option, perhaps fearing an attempt on his life while travelling or while jailed there. It's also possible that he realised his mistake in going to Jerusalem against God's advice and was not sure that God could save him again from an angry mob there. He appealed to be tried in Rome before Caesar instead. (Acts 25:11)

Within a few days Agrippa, the Roman-appointed king of Judea had travelled to see Festus, the governor who was previously prepared to send Paul back to Jerusalem. They and others listened to Paul's defense of himself, and his testimony about Jesus. After they left Paul they declared that there was no crime worthy of sending him to death or imprisonment, and that he could have been a free man if he had not appealed to Caesar in Rome. (Acts 26:31-2

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We continue in verse 5 of Job 1.

"...for Job said..."

Job's Mistake 3: This was Job's idea, not God's

This was entirely Job's idea. There's no record that Job actually said this to someone else so this, then, is yet another figure of speech, Elipsis, where an expected part of a sentence is left out. 

Job would have said to himself, "It might be..." He did not hear this from God, as a later correction from God in chapter 42 demonstrates. He thought in his heart, "I'm going to solve this problem for my sons, even if they are not interested or willing."

We continue in verse 5 of Job 1.

"...It might be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts."

Job's Mistake 4: There is no sacrifice for "might have sinned."

That's just fake, all the way. Some people would call it "religion," which is the practise of certain behaviour to mollify, please or "get on the good side" of a harsh deity.

The amazing thing about life is that for anyone who can think, reason and articulate, we seem to know when we have done something wrong. If we persist in doing things that are wrong we start to lose our sensitivity to doing wrong. That's what happened with Job.

The book of Job highlights the real issue, the real aspect of the kingdom of God that the Godhead want us to experience: relationship.

We can't be fake with the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) because they know what is going on. So do the enemy.

Did Job really think that he could "put one over on God," or trick Them into seeing things from his aspect? Evidently, he did.

We continue in verse 5 of Job 1.

"Thus did Job at all times."

Job's Mistake 5: This was not a one-off mistake - Job did this continually.

Mind you , even if Job had only done it once, a penalty would still apply from the enemy. They pick up on the tiniest details and hammer us for our mistakes.  A small mistake will have a small penalty, while a big mistake will generally have big penalties. We'll see how this works shortly.

We continue in verse 5 of Job 1.

Job's Mistake 6: There's a 6th mistake, implied in his actions. Job was trying to blackmail God into saving his children.

Job was saying this through his actions:

"Because I'm offering sacrifices on behalf of my children You will have to honour that if they have done anything wrong."

Job wasn't interceding for his children, he was interfering in their connection, their relationship with God. As others have noted, God has no grandchildren - each person has to make their own connection with the Godhead and follow it through. His better option was to talk with them about what he thought was happening.

Maybe Job knew what was happening and wanted to circumvent the possible negative outcome. The problem is that when we don't require people to take responsibility for their own actions they never grow up. Many parents have continued bailing out their children from the messes they created. Without consequences for their bad actions, people don't grow.

Another problem with offering a sacrifice like this is the mistaken thought that the sacrifice itself somehow frees the person from guilt - it doesn't. A sacrifice of blood or fire is only a sign of what has already taken place in the person's heart, based on what has been offered from Heaven. It does not produce or trigger a forgiveness response from Heaven, because God walks and lives continually in forgiveness. We see this In God's encounters with Adam and Eve, Cain, Abraham, Moses, and so on.

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Genesis 3 demonstrates the forgiveness and love nature of God.

Adam and Eve had everything but wanted more.

How could doing something God had said not to do make you more like God?

Yet, they bought into the lie even though they were already like God. We still make the same sort of mistakes.

How did God handle it?

Was He angry? No, why would He be - they were acting with free choice in the way He knew they would. They were not messing up God's plans for a perfect world - They had planned Redemption from the beginning.

John recorded in Revelation 5:6, "I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain," and then extends it in 8:13 where he refers to "the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world." Genesis 3 was not the foundation - the foundation preceded Creation and probably precedes the record which begins in Genesis 1:1.

Why didn't God deal with Adam and Eve from Heaven, why did He come down into their space?

This is dealt with in depth in the Love page but the quick answer is:

He wanted to give them a chance to deal properly with their problem, not for His sake, but for Adam and Eve's sake, so that healing could come to them.

Why did God come down in the cool of the day?

He came at the most suitable time for them. There was no need for Him to rush the process.

Why did God call to Adam?

This was confrontation from a distance, to ease them into His presence from their position of shame.

God knew what had happened, so why did He keep questioning them?

To draw them out. He was giving them opportunities to take responsibility for their mistakes and admit what they had done. This brings healing.

There are three things: Contrition = "I'm sorry," Confession = "I should not have ..." where you name what you did wrong, and Repentance = changing your mind about what you have done. Repentance includes speaking out the first two parts already given and then adding, "I won't do that again," with genuineness of spirit.

When we follow this process it definitely brings healing, both to us and any other human involved in the wrong. Adam and Eve admitted nothing and passed the blame, which meant they they didn't receive the healing God has built into Creation. As a result they passed on their rejection to their older son, who killed his younger brother out of anger, hatred, jealousy and spite. Rejection and Shame do that when they are not dealt with, and can then pass from one generation to the next.

No. It's easier to see this by looking first at what He said to Adam.

"The ground is under a curse because of you." Genesis 3:17b  

God did not say, "I have cursed the ground because of you." Instead, because they had yielded allegiance to the enemy the enemy were now able to do damage to what God had freely provided for them.

"Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you." Genesis 3:18a

Was there an 8th day of Creation where God produced thorns and thistles to harass mankind?

No, of course not. They had always been there and were probably beneficial as designed (thistles can have medicinal properties while thorn bushes are used as fences in many countries). However, now that Adam and Eve were out of control, everything that had been placed in their control would also be out of control. 

What about Eve?

I have serious doubts that the first part of Genesis 3:16 can be attributed to God. I rather regard some New Testament declarations as being more definitive.

Before we look at the evidence let's look at blessing and cursing. These definitions are based on incidents found in the book of Genesis, especially, but also in other places in Scripture.

BLESS: to speak to or about someone in a positive, beneficial, up-building way, or to do something positive or beneficial or up-building to someone.

CURSE: to speak to or about someone in a negative or harmful way, especially intended to put someone down, or to do something negative or harmful to someone to cause them pain, loss, injury accident or death.

In 1 John 1:5 we read:

"God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all."

That's a figure of speech, a metaphor. In this case the word "light" represents good, while "darkness" represents evil. John says that God is good, and that there is no evil in Him.

Or consider what Jesus' younger brother wrote:

"Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights, in whom there is no shadow as if He turned." James 1:17

Once again "lights" represents goodness of all sorts. James is definite that God's goodness does not vary, nor does it have an evil (darkness) component.  

Jesus was also very clear about this.

"The thief (the enemy) comes to kill, steal and destroy, but I have come to bring life, and to bring it more abundantly." John 10:10. In other words, death, loss and destruction (and that includes sickness and most pain) come from the enemy, not from God.

When people read the story of Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5 they tend to think that, when this couple died suddenly after trying to deceive the church about property they had sold, it was God executing judgment upon them. Instead, what they did was so shocking in the circumstances that they gave great power to the enemy to cause them harm, such harm that the shock of discovery resulted in death.

Death does not come from God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:26 that "Death is the last enemy to be overcome." An enemy cannot come from God, but as we will see shortly in Job, when we do the wrong thing the enemy get power over us to do us harm, and sometimes that harm can be death itself. The New Testament can be very clear about clarifying incidents in the Old if we just believe what it says.

Does God change His mind or His ways? 

Maybe He was doing curses and bringing evil in the Old Testament, but stopped it in the New? It seems to say that in more than a few places, but maybe there is a different way to understand these verses?

Let's look at some good definitions of God's character from the Old Testament.

"God is not a man that He should lie, or the son of man that He should change His mind." Numbers 23:19. The word "repent," which normally appears in this verse, in its basic sense means "to change your mind."

Samuel puts it like this:

"The Strength of Israel will not lie or change His mind, for He is not a man that He should change His mind." 1 Samuel 15:29

Once again I have substituted "change His mind" for the word "repent" which appears in English translations.

In Isaiah 31: 2 we read, "And yet He is wise, and does not take back His words." In other words, God knows what will happen and never needs to modify anything He has said or planned because things did now work out as expected.

Psalm 89:34 sums up this characteristic of God like this:

"My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone from My lips."

The Old Testament was written by Jews for Jews, and accordingly it contains concepts, some of which Jesus corrected, which need to be filtered through the eyes of Holy Spirit-filled Christian men and women. If God doesn't curse, but blesses instead, then what He said to Eve in Genesis 3:16 would or should read like this:

To the woman He said, Because you resisted and rejected My act of Creation, you will experience much pain of resistance during your act of creation, giving birth. 

We know that pain does not come from God except when it warns us of impending danger, such as an imminent cut or burn, or perhaps a toothache which warns us of decay that needs attention. There is probably no scientific need for pain in childbirth, and I have spoken to at least two women who gave birth in just a few minutes with no real pain or discomfort.

The pain in childbirth is the work of the enemy, not a punishment from God.

In a similar way something as regular as period pain and discomfort are not a natural or compulsory part of Creation. On two occasions young women attending conferences and suffering period pain and discomfort were set free by speaking to the pain and discomfort, simply saying, "Pain, go," and "No more discomfort." It was good to see the surprised look on their faces as the  change took place within a matter of seconds.

There's a second part to verse 16 which has caused much confusion and misunderstanding.

"Yet your desire shall be toward (some authorities read 'against') your husband, and he will rule over you."

What was happening here - had God changed Their mind about the equality of men and women, and then changed Their plan for them?

Of course not.

Just like He explained to Adam, because they had yielded authority to the enemy they (the enemy) would cause problems for them. The woman would challenge her husband but he would rule over her because of his greater physical strength and because disunity and controlling behaviour go together. (See "The Equality of Men and Women" for more details.)

This was not God, but the enemy at work.

Adam and Eve did not confess, they did not say sorry and, there was no sign of repentance, a change of mind towards God's leadership. Nonetheless, God clearly demonstrated that they had been forgiven.

How do we see this?

"For Adam also and for his wife the Lord God made long coats of skins and clothed them." Genesis 3:21

Where did God obtain the skins?

Death had not yet come to the Garden, and so there was no way to obtain an animal skin except by...

God took two of the magnificent creatures that had just been created and slew them. Leviticus 17:11 says that "the life is in the blood," while Hebrews 9:22 says that "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins."

Or, to turn it into a positive statement, "With the shedding of blood there is forgiveness of sins." In reality it is only the shedding of the blood of Jesus which has brought forgiveness - animal sacrifices were just a sign of what was to come. 

"For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." Hebrews 10:4.

What, then, is the solution? Hebrews 10:14 puts it succinctly:

"For by a single offering He (Jesus) has forever completely cleansed those who are set apart (to God)."

Those animal skins covered Adam and Eve as a sign of God's forgiveness, but actually "the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin." 1 John 1:7.

Someone once said to me, "Adam and Eve must have confessed and repented because God forgave them."

God does not work like that. If we could manipulate God as easily as that then They would no longer be God. God is not affected by what we do - instead, we are meant to be affected and change according to what God does and has done for us.

"And the Lord God said, Behold, the man has become as one of Us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever - " Genesis 3:22

To understand this verse we need to go back to an earlier point in the chapter, and also look some more at figures of speech.

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I'm not sure who first said that, but E W Bullinger listed more than 180 different types of figures of speech used in the Bible and identified many thousands and marked where they were actually used.

A figure of speech is the arrangement of words out of their normal context or meaning, to draw attention to something in order to make a point of truth.

Below is an example of how ancient Hebrew manuscripts are written, from which the Old Testament has been translated.

Hebrew is written from right to left and from bottom to top. Like many ancient languages there is no separation of words and no punctuation, while all the characters are generally what we today call upper case or capitals.





Some of the early Greek Manuscripts (New Testament) are written in the same way, except that the text flows from left to right and from top to bottom, just like today:





It's only in much later times that lower case letters were developed, and in the last few hundred years that things like different fonts, bold type and italic type and underlining were developed to draw attention to things that an author wanted to highlight. 

In very early times, then, figures of speech were used extensively, to highlight certain points for emphasis, to create word pictures in the reader's mind by association and, in the case of both Testaments, they change the content from the simple reporting of facts into vivid, living screenshots of God interacting with mankind.

Here is a simple example of a figure of speech, in Psalm 103:15.

"As for man His days are as grass;"

That sort of comparison, which uses as or like to compare one thing to another, is called a simile. In this case the psalmist is saying that mankind, just like a plant of the field, has a fixed lifetime, a fixed life cycle. The word man is also a metaphor, representing all of mankind, men, women and children.

Peter says much the same thing, but with a twist:

"All flesh is like grass." 1Peter 1:24

It's the same truth, again with an extra, figure of speech, a metaphor added, where the word flesh represents all of mankind. The simile, "like grass" is still there.

There's a figure of speech in Genesis 3 which a lot of people miss - they take it literally instead, and this seriously changes their worldview of the Godhead.

As part of the temptation of Adam and Eve the adversary said this:

"For God knows in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be as God, knowing the difference between good and evil." Genesis 3:5

Jesus did not give the devil a very good wrap in John 8:44.

"...there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood he speaks what is natural to him; for he is a liar and the father of all that is false."

Right at the beginning of the part of the verse I just quoted from Jesus is a figure of speech, called hyperbole, which is exaggeration for effect. It is not literally true that the devil never speaks the truth because, as we will see in the Genesis 3 passage, he mixes truth with lie to confuse. He did the same in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.

Let's examine his statement in Genesis 3 piece by piece and ask the question, Truth, or Lie?

"For God knows..." = True, but there is a subtle suggestion here, an insinuation that God might be keeping something from them that is worth having.

" the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened..." = True. Note the figure of speech "in the day you eat of it," which is not the same as saying "on the day you eat of it." "In the day" means "once you eat of it you will become subject to death." If it had been "on the day" then they would have died that very same day.

(Some say that they did die, that they died "spiritually." There is no such thing as spiritual death - you cannot kill a spirit, not even figuratively. Spirit is eternal.)

"...and you will be as God..." Lie. They were already "as" God, having been created in the image and likeness of God. They missed the irony that it is not possible to be more like God by doing the opposite of what They say.

"...knowing the difference between good and evil." True for them, Lie for God.

How could that be a lie for God, doesn't God know everything? 

In a sense God does know everything, but in the sense of the Hebrew word that is used here, yada, which means to have a close, personal and intimate knowledge of something, God has no knowledge of evil.

The very same word is used in Genesis 4:1 which says, "And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she became pregnant and bore a son..."

God does not have that sort of intimate knowledge or connection with evil.

God has no connection with evil whatsoever. 

As 1 John 1:5 says, "God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all." As elsewhere in Scripture light represents good, while darkness represents evil. Oh, another figure of speech!

After shedding blood for Adam and Eve, and covering them, God spoke something that has confused many people.

"And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil; now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever - " Genesis 3:22

The first part of that is almost a direct quote of what the enemy said to Adam and Eve, and we have already decided that that was a lie: they were already like God. So what is going on here?

We have a massive figure of speech containing several types at once. The first is antiphrasis, saying the opposite of what is actually the case.

1) Adam and Eve had not become more like God in any way.

2) Adam and Eve had become less like God through not following what They said;

3) God does not "know" evil. God knows 'of' evil but has no intimate connection 'with' evil.

The second figure is irony, where the opposite to what is expected occurs. In this case we would say, "Isn't it ironic: Adam and Eve were already like God, and in trying to be more like God they became less like God, and lost some of what they had!"

Because God was quoting the enemy our immediate reaction to what He said should be, "As if that is possible!" These days young people often just say, "As if!"

Unfortunately, because it was God speaking some people think that it must be true because they don't know about or understand figures of speech. But because we know the author (the enemy) and we also know that the idea is ridiculous, we would say that God was speaking "tongue in cheek" or that They were showing 'a wry sense of humour'.

Genesis 3:22a is not unlike Job 1:1 in that both verses have a high degree of verisimilitude, the appearance of being true.

Love (God) sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden so that they could not eat from the tree of Life and live forever as fallen people, unable to be saved.

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Another instance where verisimilitude tricks people is in Luke 4:6. The adversary is tempting Jesus and takes Him up to show Him all the kingdoms of the world in an instant.

"And he said to Him, To you I will give all this authority and their glory; because it has been given to me, and to whomever I will I give it. If you, then, should ever be worshiping before me, it will all be yours." 

There are several issues at work here - we need to be careful.

The devil is a known liar or dissembler (someone who "plays" with the truth). Let's look at his claims in this passage.

Do the enemy really have all authority over everything on Earth, including governments?

The simple answer is: No, their authority is not absolute, it was not given to them by God at The Fall, but is given to them by us (individuals, groups and mankind in general) when and according to what we do wrong. God also places limits on their ability to cause harm, depending on the circumstances. See Job 1:12; 2:6; 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Perhaps an ordinary person with no eye for the future might have been taken in, but Jesus knew that all the world and everything in it still belonged to the Godhead, and that one day shortly He would take His rightful place In Heaven again and rule over all things throughout eternity. If He had made the mistake of bowing to the enemy He would have given the adversary authority over Himself. Jesus would have then lost everything because there was no guarantee that the adversary would keep his word. And what would He have gained, anyway?

Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."

What is authority?

Authority has two aspects:

a) Permission given or granted to someone or received by someone, to control or direct what someone else or something else will do;

b) The ability to control or direct a person, object or situation by commands, without using physical, verbal or manipulative force or threats.

Authority is exercised by speaking in a normal voice; if you shout or shake a fist and the like you are attempting to achieve your ends by exercising power rather than authority. Authority can be exercised by speaking under your breath (silently) to the person or object.

These words of prophecy about the coming Messiah demonstrate how authority is exercised.

"Behold, My Servant, I take hold on Him,,,I have put My Spirit upon Him.

"He does not cry out nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.

"A bruised reed he does not break, a dimly burning wick He does not put out."  Isaih 42:1-3

Authority works in one or more of three different ways:

c) Positional authority comes from our position in our sphere of influence, which could be work, society, family or church; in any of these spheres of influence we have been given a position which demands or commands respect and/or compliance. The authority God gave mankind at Creation (above or over all of Creation) is Positional. The authority which Jesus extended to us just prior to His ascension (authority in 'heaven', that is authority over all the work of the enemy but not authority over the Heaven of heavens where God dwells) is also Positional.

d) Relational authority comes from our relationship with people in work, society, family or church, and could be based on our good character, integrity, work ethic, morality, perseverance, calmness under pressure, leadership skills or any of a number of characteristics which endear us to people. A good preacher will work to increase the perception of his authority by working on building a relationship with his listeners over a twenty or thirty minute period.

e) Situational authority occurs when someone with neither Positional nor Relational authority takes control in a particular situation that lacks direction, connection, involvement or leadership. In general, situational authority is ephemeral but, depending on the circumstances could become relational or positional. In most cases, though, situational authority ceases once the situation is past. One example would be at a road accident scene, where an ordinary citizen directs vehicles around the accident until police arrive.

The earth and all that is in it has not been handed over by God to the enemy, but in part by mankind. Because of the mistakes we make we ultimately give the enemy authority over us in each and every mistake, and so we get handed over to be mistreated by them. That's situational authority, that's what the enemy have over mankind. The authority God gave mankind at Creation is positional authority, which over-rides situational authority. Section 4 of "Job - Why Things Go Wrong" will look into this further.

Authority can be Personal or Extended

f) Personal authority allows us to control to a great extent negative or 'bad' things which would otherwise happen to us, such as sickness (colds and flu), pain (headaches, period pain or discomfort) and many medical conditions including addictive behaviour. Some methods for dealing with things like this are given in the introduction to Dealing with Problems under the heading Solutions. Even little children have personal authority and I have seen them successfully tell sickness or pain to go from their bodies. Several pre-teens who were listening to me explain to the adults what and how to 'do' this ministry jumped ahead and followed the simple instructions and were healed just by placing a hand near where the sicknes or pain was. 

g) Extended authority allows us to help others deal with problems, either with their knowledge or in the background, unknown to them. Extended authority can also be applied to people, groups, churches, organisations, government organisations as God reveals the need and the solution or step to be followed. Extended authority allows us to change things like the weather, to bring rain or stop rain, to moderate or stop storm events and the like, as God directs. Jesus demonstrated this on a number of occasions.

Authority Can Be Static, Increased or Diminished 

h) Most people's authority is static because they never use it. It's potentially there, but functions a lot like physical muscle - if we don't use them they waste away. The idea is to practice using authority on yourself or your own situation, commanding something that you know God will bring to pass. As we gain confidence from seeing successes in one place we will want to extend into others. 

g) It is much like wanting to be a top athlete or top anything else: you don't just grab your running shoes and head to the Olympic Stadium and say, "I'm the next top athlete for you."  You train, train, train, and compete at small events and then move up. Using our authority works in the same way: as we use our authority, it increases. Authority can eventually be used to change situations around us, in our own country and then overseas, even in the political or governmental areas.

h) Our authority can diminish based on our behaviour, or if our actions don't match our words or God's instructions to us, or if our words are negative. Moses failed to speak to the rock at Meribah to bring forth water, and was not given the opportunity to use that sort of authority again. Elijah showed great control and authority in dealing with the 500 prophets of Baal, but suddenly ran from the threat of one woman. With that he was deemed unsuited for his role and Elisha replaced him. (Nonetheless, Elijah was given the greatest send-off at the conclusion of his ministry.)

There is more on authority, including practical examples of how to use it, at Say to This Mountain.

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1 - Introduction 

2 - A Narrator Mistake 

3 - Job's Five Mistakes (this page)

4 - The Accuser Enters 

5 - The Enemy Attack 

6 - More Mistakes, Another Attack