Among the first heresies which challenged the very existence of the church were Gnosticism and docetism. Both presented a perverted view of the nature of Jesus, in which his absolute humanity as a Jew among his Jewish brethren was denied in favor of a view that made him solely the cosmic Christ, the good God who stood in opposition to the malevolent Yahweh of the Old Testament.
The Gnostics believed that man was saved by esoteric knowledge, not by faith. Marcion developed his own version of Gnosticism by declaring that Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, was the Demiurge who created the evil material world in which the immortal souls of men were trapped. He believed that Jesus was the good God who came to end this contamination by destroying Yahweh and his religion, Judaism, and establishing a completely new, unforeseen religion– Christianity. Marcion purported that Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah, was not born of Mary, was never incarnate, and only appeared in spirit during the time of his ministry.
The docetists, including their most extreme sect, the monophysites, believed that there was only one nature of Jesus– the divine. He was not human, did not suffer on the cross, and did not need a resurrection. His physical appearance was only a phantom, a disguise of his spirit so that men might perceive and worship him. This heresy totally denied the incarnation of Jesus as a Jew among his Jewish brethren. Though both the Gnostics and the docetists were branded heretics by the church, their influence infiltrated the consciousness of the church so that it more and more tended to ignore the historical Jesus in favor of the cosmic Christ…
Out of the raging inferno of several centuries of conflict and polemics, orthodox Christian theology and Christology emerged. The Nicene Council in 325 A.D. concluded that Jesus was very God, of one substance with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. There was one God in three persons, one Being of substance yet three personalities. It was the person of the Word of God who had become incarnate, lived, suffered, died, resurrected, and ascended. This was the teaching of the deity of Christ, the foundation of theology. Later, the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. concluded that Jesus was both God and man, very God and very man, not part God and part man, but all God and all man at the same time. This was the teaching of the two natures of Christ, the foundation of orthodox Christology…
With these clear and irrefutable teachings in place in the church for over fourteen hundred years, how is it that a large part of the church today has virtually denied the historical Jesus in favor of the cosmic Christ? How is it that Jesus is hardly thought of as a Jew who lived his entire life in the midst of his fellow Israelis? How is it that we have so many different conceptions of Jesus, including the Nordic, Aryan Jesus with blonde hair and blue eyes, the African Jesus with black skin and hair like wool, the oriental Jesus with oriental features? And, these are only the Christian versions. What of the Jesus who is portrayed as a first-rate medium by the consciousness philosophers, who is one of the many incarnations of God in Eastern Monism, who is another of the prophets leading up to the prophet Mohammed in Islam, who is the healer of Christian Scientism, who is a rabbi among many Jews, who is the great moral example in nominal Christianity? Every religion and philosophy wants to claim Jesus for its own purposes and to create him in its own image. If we are to understand Jesus, however, we must accept the record of Holy Scripture that places him and his sayings in the historical and cultural milieu in which he was born, lived, died, resurrected, and ascended. – John D. Garr, Our Lost Legacy: Christianity’s Hebrew Heritage
So, today it’s excerpts from Job’s reply to Bildad, then Job’s complaint to Jehovah God, and finally, a new “friend” Zophar and his response to Job’s plight… These are some tough chapters for me to trudge on through… What with Job having such a difficult time of it, and his “friends” spouting off their opinions… At this point, the dialogue is becoming rather predictable…
Then Job answered and said, I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? If he will contend with Him, he cannot answer Him one of a thousand. He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength; who has hardened himself against Him, and has prospered? Which removes the mountains, and they know not; which overturns them in His anger. Which shakes the Earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. Which commands the sun, and it rises not; and seals up the stars. Which alone spreads out the heavens, and treads upon the waves of the sea (Job 9:1-8 KJV).
The Apostle Paul addressed the question of “how should man be just with God?” in his letter to the Romans:
Even the Righteous of God which is by Faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them who believe; for there is no difference. For all have sinner and come short of the Glory of God. Being justified freely by His Grace through the Redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through Faith in His Blood, to declare His Righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God (Rom 3:22-25 KJV).
From this dialogue, it would appear that Job has an understanding that man cannot win an argument with God. In fact, if God questions, man cannot even answer one question of a thousand from his own ability, no matter how educated he may be. God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things.
Considering Job’s circumstances, he thinks that God must be angry with him. Under such dire pressure, he makes many assumptions. He admits that he does not even know what to say—how to pray. And he doubts that God would even hearken unto his prayers. Job believes that Jehovah God is his afflicter, as he seemingly has no knowledge of Satan.
If I speak of strength, lo, He is strong; and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead? If I justify myself, my own mouth shall condemn me; if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul; I would despise my life (Job 9:19-21 KJV).
As we saw in the second chapter, Jehovah God has already made a gracious statement about Job. However, it was unknown to Job. So far, all Job has heard from is his “friends.” And these men are influenced by a different spirit.
My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; show me wherefore You contend with me. Is it good unto You that You should oppress, that You should despise the work of Your hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked? Have You eyes of flesh? Or do You see as man sees? (Job 10:1-4 KJV).
Jehovah God does not see as man sees, but infinitely greater, which means that He knows all things.
You have granted me life and favor, and Your visitation has preserved my spirit. And these things have You hid in Your heart: I know that this is with You. If I sin, then You mark me, and You will not acquit me from my iniquity. If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see You my affliction. For it increases. You hunt me as a fierce lion; and again You show Yourself marvelous upon me (Job 10:12-16 KJV).
This is a man who has walked with Jehovah God, who has experienced countless visitations, who has known God’s Power and God’s Grace. And now he wonders if God’s intent has always been to destroy him. At the end, Jehovah God does not condemn Job for his confusion.
And now enter Zophar the Naamathite to give his two cents…
Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said, Should not the multitude of words be answered? And should a man full of talk be justified? Should your lies make men hold their peace? And when you mock, shall not make you ashamed? For you have said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in your eyes. But oh that God would speak , and open His lips against you. And that He would show you the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacts of you less than your iniquity deserves (Job 11:1-6 KJV).
Zophar appears to argue his case from the position of human merit. He jumps right out of the gate with an accusation that Job is essentially full of hot air. Job has been called a hypocrite, and now he’s called a liar.
If you prepare your heart, and stretch out your hands toward Him. If iniquity be in your hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in your tabernacles. For then shall you lift up your face without spot; yes, you shall be steadfast, and shall not fear. Because you shall forget your misery, and remember it as waters that pass away. And your age shall be clearer than the noonday; you shall shine forth, you shall be as the morning. And you shall be secure, because there is hope; yes, you shall dig about you, and you shall take your rest in safety. Also you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid; yes, many shall make suit unto you. But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost (Job 11:13-20 KJV).
So, Zophar, much like the other two “friends,” declares that Job must be wicked or he would not be suffering like the wicked.
All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out? I applied my heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness (Eccl 7:23-25 KJV).