In the Shadow of a Cloud

The Adversary departed from the Lord’s presence and struck Job with severe sores from the sole of his foot to the top of his head. Job took a piece of broken pottery to scratch himself and sat down on a mound of ashes. Job’s wife said to him, “Are you still clinging to your integrity? Curse God, and die.”  Job said to her, “You’re talking like a foolish woman. Will we receive good from God but not also receive bad?” In all this, Job didn’t sin with his lips.  When Job’s three friends heard about all this disaster that had happened to him, they came, each one from his home—Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuah, and Zophar from Naamah. They agreed to come so they could console and comfort him. When they looked up from a distance and didn’t recognize him, they wept loudly. Each one tore his garment and scattered dust above his head toward the sky. They sat with Job on the ground seven days and seven nights, not speaking a word to him, for they saw that he was in excruciating pain.  After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said:   “May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’   That day—may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine on it.   May gloom and utter darkness claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm it.   That night—may thick darkness seize it; may it not be included among the days of the year nor be entered in any of the months.   May that night be barren; may no shout of joy be heard in it.   May those who curse days curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan. – Job 2:7 to 3:8

Well we have crashed headlong into the book of Job on our float through the bible.  I feel like Ezra and Nehemiah were sort of an overland portage between the turbulent and troubled water of 1 and 2 chronicles and kings and the book of Job.

The preceding passages are a familiar story to many.  Job, described as “that man was honest, a person of absolute integrity; he feared God and avoided evil” is tested by “the adversary”, presumably the deceiver…Satan…the devil…an evil spirit….a fallen angel.  All the worldly things that Job could place before God are taken from Him to see whether His ability to faithfully follow God will falter.  First his sons and daughters are taken, then his worldly wealth, then finally in this passage his health is taken.  He is afflicted with severe sores from head to toe.  His wife is ready to give up on God but Job is not.

Three of Job’s friends arrive to “console” him.  As we will see the input from the friends is far from consolation—more like condemnation at times.  When they see Job from a distance they weep.  The tears that are samples of their souls reveal a deep emotional response to the man before them.  He is not the man they knew from an earthly perspective.  Job is quite literally stripped down to the soul.  They sat with him for seven days in complete silence.  This could not have been easy.

The silence is broken by Job cursing his own existence and the day of his birth in particular — “That day—may it turn to darkness”.  He also invokes a cloud to settle over it.  The hyperbole here is extreme, but I suppose so was the state of Job’s soul at the time he was saying this.  He must have felt utterly helpless and worthless.  The image I am getting is the change one feels on a sunny spring day when the sun is obscured by a cloud.  The cold and sense of loss at the disappearing sun can be profound and palpable.  I think this is the way Job feels at the moment.  The sun has been obscured by a very large cloud…a “leviathan” of a cloud in fact.

The very last bit of the passage contains a reference to a “leviathan” and those that “curse days” being ready to rouse leviathan.  I have had serious conversations with Christians who wanted to point to this verse as evidence that dinosaurs (leviathan) are mentioned in the bible.  I think this is a stretch beyond reason.  The leviathan in this hyperbolic passage is not describing the dinosaurs that roamed the earth and are preserved in many locations around the world.

As a christian who is also a geologist I see no reason or justification for a connection between the leviathan described here and dinosaurs.  What is the meaning of leviathan?  I don’t know, but I am confident that it is referring to something, probably in the spiritual realm, that is not intended to be taken literally.  Perhaps it is merely the overwhelming darkness and depression that is attempting to overtake Job.  A “dark cloud” that makes all his days dark and could darken even days gone by if he were to let it.  Only by trusting God can Job slay this leviathan.  He will never do so with swords or shields.

Prayer: God comfort those who feel as though they are afflicted and covered with a dark cloud of depression and discouragement. 

This entry was posted in Christian Community, Christianity, Conflict, Covenant, Death and Dying, Following God, God's Love for Us, Healing, Job, Miracles, Obedience, religion, Satan, Sin, The Earthly Realm, The Spiritual Realm, Trusting God and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to In the Shadow of a Cloud

  1. Pingback: Religiosity over Relationship | Walking on Water

  2. Pingback: Canals of Connection | Walking on Water

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