Reader: take note, for days 15-37
Greetings and welcome to this second edition of the Reader: Take Note series. This is an occasional series aimed at providing extra commentary and encouragement for those following the Digging Deeper Daily reading plan. No matter where you are in the reading calendar, I hope that the things I share in this episode will support the idea that God’s Word has many treasures for us, and it always pays to dig deeper.
If you have questions or comments, my favorite way for you to send messages to me is via the contact button at dailybiblereading.info. I’m always interested to hear your thoughts.
On day one of our journey I mentioned Solomon in connection to Job. I challenge you to find similarities to Solomon’s writings in Job, in particular, I am most often thinking of Ecclesiastes. Actually, not all commentators think that Solomon was the writer of Ecclesiastes. But that need not concern us. As for Job, I found in a Wikipedia article that scholars consider that Job was written surprisingly late, from the 7th to 4th century BC. However Solomon lived in the 10th century BC. Other writers think the writing of Job to far predate Soloman. So far I have found no one who supports my hypothesis that Solomon wrote the book of Job. Nevertheless, let’s look at some parallels.
Job hated his life and so did Solomon.
GW'20 Job 7:16:
16 I hate my life; I do not want to live forever. Leave me alone because my days are so brief.
GW'20 Job 9:21:
21 If I am a man of integrity, I have no way of knowing it. I hate my life!
GW'20 Job 10:1:
1 “I hate my life. I will freely express my complaint. I will speak as bitterly as I feel.
GW'20 Ecclesiastes 2:17:
17 So I came to hate life because everything done under the sun seemed wrong to me. Everything was pointless. ⌞It was like⌟ trying to catch the wind.
GW'20 Ecclesiastes 2:18:
18 I came to hate everything for which I had worked so hard under the sun, because I will have to leave it to the person who replaces me.
Both Job and Solomon complained that life is hard and futile.
GW'20 Job 7:1-4:
1 “Isn’t a mortal’s stay on earth difficult like a hired hand’s daily ⌞work⌟? 2 Like a slave, he longs for shade. Like a hired hand, he eagerly looks for his pay. 3 Likewise, I have been given months that are of no use, and I have inherited nights filled with misery. 4 When I lie down, I ask, ‘When will I get up?’ But the evening is long, and I’m exhausted from tossing about until dawn.
GW'20 Ecclesiastes 1:2-3:
2 “Absolutely pointless!” says the spokesman. “Absolutely pointless! Everything is pointless.” 3 What do people gain from all their hard work under the sun?
Job chapter 9 is full of the idea that it is futile to argue with God, which agrees with Solomon’s complaints.
GW'20 Job 9:14-22:
14 “How can I possibly answer God? How can I find the right words ⌞to speak⌟ with him? 15 Even if I were right, I could not answer ⌞him⌟. I would have to plead for mercy from my judge. 16 If I cried out and he answered me, I do not believe that he would listen to me. 17 He would knock me down with a storm and bruise me without a reason. 18 He would not let me catch my breath. He fills me with bitterness. 19 If it is a matter of strength, then he is the mighty one. If it is about justice, who will charge me with a crime? 20 If I am righteous, my own mouth would condemn me. It would declare that I am corrupt even if I am a man of integrity. 21 If I am a man of integrity, I have no way of knowing it. I hate my life! 22 It is all the same. That is why I say, ‘He destroys ⌞both⌟ the man of integrity and the wicked.’
GW'20 Ecclesiastes 7:13-15:
13 Consider what God has done! Who can straighten what God has bent? 14 When times are good, be happy. But when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one time as well as the other so that mortals cannot predict their future. 15 I have seen it all in my pointless life: Righteous people die in spite of being righteous. Wicked people go on living in spite of being wicked.
Unique in Job: The need for a mediator
Job 9:32-33: "A human like me cannot answer God, ‘Let’s take our case to court.’ There is no mediator between us to put his hand on both of us."
Uncertainty of an afterlife
Job 14:10,14: "But a human dies and is powerless. A person breathes his last breath, and where is he? … “If a person dies, will he go on living? I will wait for my relief to come as long as my hard labor continues."
Eccl 3:19-22: "Humans and animals have the same destiny. One dies just like the other. All of them have the same breath ⌞of life⌟. Humans have no advantage over animals. All ⌞of life⌟ is pointless. All ⌞life⌟ goes to the same place. All ⌞life⌟ comes from the ground, and all of it goes back to the ground. Who knows whether a human spirit goes upward or whether an animal spirit goes downward to the earth? I saw that there’s nothing better for people to do than to enjoy their work because that is their lot ⌞in life⌟. Who will allow them to see what will happen after them?"
The wicked often have seemingly blessed lives
Job 21:7-8,13: "“Why do the wicked go on living, grow old, and even become more powerful? They see their children firmly established with them, and they get to see their descendants. … They spend their days in happiness, and they go peacefully to the grave."
Eccl 8:10: NLT "I have seen wicked people buried with honor. Yet they were the very ones who frequented the Temple and are now praised in the same city where they committed their crimes! This, too, is meaningless."
Eccl 8:14: NLT "And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless!"
Where is wisdom found?
Job 12:12,16: "“Wisdom is with the ancient one. The one who has had many days has insight. … “God has power and priceless wisdom. He owns ⌞both⌟ the deceiver and the person who is deceived."
Job 28:28: "So he told humans, ‘The fear of the Lord is wisdom! To stay away from evil is understanding.’ ”"
See all of chapter 28.
There are many verses like that in Proverbs 1-9. I will quote only the most famous:
Prov 9:10: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
We see in these examples that Job is a book to display the author’s struggle with accepting the boundaries that have been placed on human existence by God. This book is much more than just a debate on why God allows good people to suffer.
For any of my listeners who actually say, “I hate my life,” I beg you to remember these points:
Turning to Mark
I found some interesting ideas about Mark’s Gospel while doing some other reading. Maurice Robinson reports that Warren A. Gage discovered an Elijah sub-theme in Mark. Unfortunately, Gage’s unpublished research was only summarized by Robinson, and I have not been successful in getting a response from Dr. Gage to get his complete article.
According to Gage, we could say that Mark presents Jesus as the new Elijah. (Evidently there is a similar sub-theme in John’s Gospel with Moses.) Not only does Mark overtly use Elijah’s name 9 times, but he alludes to Elijah around nine more times. Allusions to Elijah frame the beginning and the end of Mark, and the overt mentions occupy a long stretch in the middle of this Gospel.
Mark 1:2 (Mal. 3:1; 4:5)
WEBBE Mark 1:2:
2 As it is written in the prophets, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you:
WEBBE Malachi 3:1:
1 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, behold, he comes!” says the LORD of Armies.
WEBBE Malachi 4:5-6:
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
When Mal 3:1 and 4:5 are paired together, we see that the messenger prophesied to come is identified as Elijah.
By the way, Mal 4:6 should remind you of what John’s father (Zechariah) said a week after John’s birth.
GW'20 Mark 1:6:
6 John was dressed in clothes made from camel’s hair. He wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.
In our Indonesian translation, we have a footnote at this verse which says that John’s clothes and food choices would have reminded Jews of his day of Elijah. After all, Elijah spent a long time living alone in the wilderness.
GW'20 Mark 1:12-13:
12 At once the Spirit brought him into the desert, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for 40 days. He was there with the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.
This can remind us of when Elijah was in the wilderness and ravens brought him food (1Kings 17), and chapter 19 when an angel fed him before Elijah took the long journey to Mt. Horeb.
GW'20 Mark 7:24:
24 Jesus left that place and went to the territory of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know that he was staying in a house there. However, it couldn’t be kept a secret.
This can remind us of Elijah, when the stream dried up, and when he then went and a widow in this same area took care of him. Both stories take place in the same Gentile territory. In the case of the widow of Zerephath (1Kings 17), Elijah raised her son from death. In Jesus’ case, He expelled a demon from a Greek woman’s daughter.
————Explicit mentions of Elijah
GW'20 Mark 6:15:
15 Others said, “He is Elijah.” Still others said, “He is a prophet like one of the other prophets.”
GW'20 Mark 8:28:
28 They answered him, “Some say you are John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.”
GW'20 Mark 9:4:
4 Then Elijah and Moses appeared to them and were talking with Jesus.
Note that Elijah is mentioned first by Mark. Both Matthew and Luke put Moses first.
GW'20 Mark 9:5:
5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it’s good that we’re here. Let’s put up three tents—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
GW'20 Mark 9:11-13:
11 So they asked him, “Don’t the experts in Moses’ Teachings say that Elijah must come first?”
12 Jesus said to them, “Elijah is coming first and will put everything in order again. But in what sense was it written that the Son of Man must suffer a lot and be treated shamefully?
13 Indeed, I can guarantee that Elijah has come. Yet, people treated him as they pleased, as Scripture says about him.”
————Another allusion to Elijah
Jesus tells this parable:
GW'20 Mark 12:1,7:
1 Then, using this illustration, Jesus spoke to them. He said, “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, made a vat for the winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to vineyard workers and went on a trip. … 7 “But those workers said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’
This reminds us of 1Kings 21 where Jezebel connived to murder Naboth in order that Ahab could confiscate Naboth’s vineyard. Naboth had refused to sell the property because it was his inheritance.
————————Explicit mention of Elijah
GW'20 Mark 15:34-36:
34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” 35 When some of the people standing there heard him say that, they said, “Listen! He’s calling Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and soaked a sponge in vinegar. Then he put it on a stick and offered Jesus a drink. The man said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.”
————————Two more allusions to Elijah
GW'20 Mark 16:19:
19 After talking with the apostles, the Lord was taken to heaven, where he received the honored position— the one next to God the Father on the throne.
GW'20 2 Kings 2:11:
11 As they continued walking and talking, a fiery chariot with fiery horses separated the two of them, and Elijah [was taken up/went] to heaven in a windstorm.
LXX+ Βασιλειών Δ 2:11:
11 καὶ ἐγένετο αὐτῶν πορευομένων ἐπορεύοντο καὶ ἐλάλουν, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἅρμα πυρὸς καὶ ἵπποι πυρὸς καὶ διέστειλαν ἀνὰ μέσον ἀμφοτέρων, καὶ ἀνελήμφθη Ηλιου ἐν συσσεισμῷ ὡς εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν.
RP'2018 Κατά Μάρκον 16:19:
19 Ὁ μὲν οὖν κύριος, μετὰ τὸ λαλῆσαι αὐτοῖς, ἀνελήφθη εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ ϑεοῦ.
Gage (reported by Robinson) includes
Residue: I can’t see why Gage (via Robinson) listed these verses:
**3:22 and 4:41; 14:12–14; 15:25, 31–39
GW'20 Mark 16:15-19:
15 Then Jesus said to them, “So wherever you go in the world, tell everyone the Good News. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 “These are the miraculous signs that will accompany believers: They will use the power and authority of my name to force demons out of people. They will speak new languages. 18 They will pick up snakes, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them. They will place their hands on the sick and cure them.” 19 After talking with the apostles, the Lord was taken to heaven, where he received the honored position— the one next to God the Father on the throne.
Jesus passes on his mantle, so to speak, as Elijah did.
Now before I bring an important point about all this, I would like to point out that one of the characteristics of Mark’s Gospel is that he likes to not leave loose ends. As Robinson says,
Mark's consistent habit is to demonstrate the reliability of Jesus' words by narrating their fulfillment, even when that narration is incidental to the flow of the main story.
Following the same pattern of tying up loose ends, the fulfillment of Mark 14:62 (being seated at God’s right hand) is recorded in other places in the NT, but of the 4 Gospels, only Mark contains the fulfillment. (16:19)
Mk 14:62: NLT "Jesus said, “I AM. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of [honor//power] at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven. ”"
Mk 16:19: NLT "When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand."
(Matt 22:44; 26:64; Luke 20:42; 22:69; Acts 2:33–34; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet 3:22; cp. the hints in Rev 5:1, 7.)
I didn’t tell you above that the book that I have been reading is Perspectives On The Ending Of Mark, which gives the text of four presentations from a seminar that was given at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2007. The first presentation was given by Dr. Daniel Wallace. I was shocked that this eminently respected scholar, and the driving force behind the New English Translation, represented the view that Mark intended his Gospel to end with chapter 16, verse 8.
I will remind you what Mark 16:8 says:
NET Mark 16:8 NET:
8 Then they went out and ran from the tomb, for terror and bewilderment had seized them. And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
I can’t imagine anyone thinking that could be the ending intended by Mark!
“A Markan intention to end at 16:8, expecting the reader(s) to supply what is “missing” on the basis of subjective reflection, and thereby intuitively filling in gaps in light of a community-based “resurrection faith” or some such concept, requires a sophisticated postmodern viewpoint not typically found within ancient classical literature (even the short Fables of Aesop required moralia to explain the point).”
Remember what I showed above. Mark doesn’t like to leave loose ends. And he is not intending to present a bunch of stories and leave the reader to decide. Had he been doing that, he would not have started his book with
GW'20 Mark 1:1:
1 This is the beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Since Mark was presenting a case for Jesus being the Son of God, certainly he would end with Jesus at the place of honor beside the Father (as shown above). And if Mark were presenting Jesus as the new Elijah, then it is a nice touch to say that Jesus was taken up to heaven in words recalling Elijah’s being taken up. And just like Elijah leaving behind his mantle and miraculous gifts for Elisha, Jesus leaves miraculous gifts for his apostles in chapter 16:17-18.
Many other reasons for the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 are found in my 5th EveryWord podcast from last year.
This is where my reading and study intersected with my desire to give you extra insights to think about in Job and Mark. Before I pray to close this session, I think it fitting to read the last verse of Mark:
NLT Mark 16:20:
20 And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.
I’m thankful that Mark tied up that final loose end, telling us what happened to the disciples. The exciting thing is that this process is still continuing. The Lord Jesus is still working through people who go and preach the Good News. He is still confirming the Gospel in human hearts, bringing people to repentance and new birth, and working in many other miraculous ways. If you tell me that you haven’t seen this happening, then I encourage you to go and start preaching.
Our Lord and our God, through your Word which You have preserved for us, we almost are taken up on the holy mountain where we can still hear the echo of your words, “This is my Son, whom I love and in whom I delight.” In our spirits we feel the confirmation of the treasure you have given us in your Word. So our desire is to pay attention to it, as to a light that shines in a very dark place, and we wait with increasing confidence for the day of your coming, when the morning star will fully rise in our hearts. Amen.
And may the Lord bless you ‘real good’.
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