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Spirits In The Night

November 21, 2009

Amid disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep falls on men, fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end.

Sounds like a good opening for a horror story, doesn’t it? Certainly something that many authors would love to write as a way to catch readers' attention and keep them glued to their book. But – it’s not an opening line. It’s not even in the first chapter of the book. In fact, it’s from a book that is actually a large collection of books. And it’s in the 18th book in that collection – the 4th chapter – and not even the first line of the chapter but the 13th!

To top all that off, this particular book starts off with the rather unexciting line:

In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job.

Not exactly what most authors would be striving for in the first line of their work. But this is no ordinary book, and it has no ordinary author. The book is Job – and it’s in the Bible – the most widely read book – ever.

So – things aren’t always as they seem. This boring sounding line that starts off with “In the land of Uz…” is part of something truly great. But you wouldn’t think so by today’s writing standards. And so it is with those spirits in the night. They aren’t necessarily what they seem either. Let’s look at this a little deeper – in context:

Job 4:12 “A word was secretly brought to me, my ears caught a whisper of it.

Job 4:13 Amid disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep falls on men,

Job 4:14 fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake.

Job 4:15 A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end.

Job 4:16 It stopped, but I could not tell what it was. A form stood before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice:

Job 4:17 ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?

This is Eliphaz, telling Job about a visit in the night that he received, supposedly a message from God, telling him why Job was undergoing so much trauma in his life. OK – so far so good – it all appears like it could be true. But let’s keep going.

Job 4:18 If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error,

Job 4:19 how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth!

Job 4:20 Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces; unnoticed, they perish forever.

Job 4:21 Are not the cords of their tent pulled up, so that they die without wisdom?’

If God places no trust in His servants.” “If He charges them with error.

WAIT! Who said He does those things? If we blindly accept those two statements, and proceed with the rest of what this “spirit” said – the conclusions are obviously reasonable. The problem is – the conclusions are most certainly not reasonable – the assumption is equally not reasonable – and therefore the belief that this spirit was sent by God needs to be questioned.

Going back to the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, we need to remember that the very first trick of Satan is to takes God’s words, twist them a little bit to make them sound similar to what He actually said, and then ask a question.

What was really said:

Ge 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Ge 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;

Ge 2:17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

What Satan said to Eve about this:

Ge 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Ge 3:2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,

Ge 3:3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

Ge 3:4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.

Ge 3:5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

There’s enough truth in there that – if we don’t pay close attention – it sounds like Satan is correct. Eve also misstated God’s command, which compounds the problem. But if we do pay attention – there’s also enough of a twist to what was said that the conclusion is absolutely wrong.

So we learn from this that Satan can quote scripture – and he can also twist it to misquote it and lead us to the wrong conclusion. So it’s important for us to not only know and understand as much as we can about what God really says to us in the Bible – but to question as well. We must be certain that what we read / hear / feel / believe is truly in line with what God has said. And, we need to be sure that the source is also from God, and not from Satan.

In the case of Job, as you may remember, Job was being tested by Satan – with God’s permission. Job didn’t know that. Neither did his friends. It’s also very possible that Satan was working his ways on the friends as well – and that the spirit that Eliphaz thought was from God was actually not from Him at all. To be sure – this is not something on which Biblical scholars agree. But it is a possibility, and one that we must be very aware of and consider carefully.

As it turns out, in the case of Job – Eliphaz was wrong about the advice he gave to Job. As the book says in the opening -

Job 1:1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.

OH – did I leave out that second sentence earlier? (That’s why there are no links in this article - you had to take some extra steps to find out the real truth before this paragraph.)  See – it IS important to know scripture. We are told that Job was blameless at the very beginning. We know that what Jobs friends are saying isn’t true – just as Job himself knew it wasn’t true. But the friends were blind to the truth – just as we are if we don’t pay attention, and question.

It’s OK to question. It’s essential to question. Otherwise we end up – all too easily – following and giving our allegiance to the wrong god.