A Study in Wisdom:
Job 1:5-6 (pt. 1)
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[Here we continue a reprint of a small portion of Joseph Caryl’s study in Job. Mr. Caryl wrote twelve volumes on the book of Job. His study is a great example of how deep one can dig into the truths of the Bible.]
Job 1:5-6 (part 1) -
Job’s Offering, by Joseph Caryl
5And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning and offered burnt offerings, according to the number of them all. 6For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.
Now follows the second act of Job’s holy care, He “rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all” (vs. 5).
It is ill to perform a holy duty with neglect of preparation; it is as bad to make preparation and then neglect the duty. We see both joined in Job, he is careful to prepare, and he is as diligent to perform.
He “rose up early”. This notes the extraordinary diligence and zeal of Job toward God in this duty. He was so zealous, that he riseth not only in “the morning”, but “early in the morning”. In Scripture, to do a thing in the “morning”, and to do a thing diligently are the same. For instance, in Psalm 101:8: “I will early destroy the wicked of the land”, the word is, I will destroy the wicked of the land in the morning, and the meaning is only this: I will with all diligence and all care root out of the land all wicked persons. So also there is an expression in Proverbs 7:15, which illustrates this. The wicked woman, the harlot, tells the young man that she came forth to meet him and diligently to seek his face: the original word there is, to seek thy face in the morning, and yet we know that in verse 9, it was in the twilight, in the evening, that she met him. But the Hebrew phrase is, I came forth in the morning to seek thy face, that is (as it is rendered), “I came forth diligently to seek thy face”. So this coming forth of Job in the morning, besides the time, that it was at such an hour (the beginning of the day), notes the great diligence and exceeding care of Job about this work.
Yet more exactly, it is not only said, “he rose in the morning” (for there is a great latitude in the morning, there are many hours which are all called morning), but it is said he rose “early in the morning”, in the very beginning or first of the morning. As it is commanded, “The first of the first fruits of the Land you shall bring into the house of the Lord” (Ex. 23:19). God would not only have the first fruits, but the first of the first fruits, if there were any ripe sooner than others, God would have them; some fruits that ripened after, were first fruits, but God would have the very first of them. So here, Job gave God not only the first fruits of the day, but the earliest time, in the morning, which is the first of the first fruits of the day.
“Early in the morning”. Then observe,
1. That it is God’s due, and our duty to dedicate the morning, the first and best of every day, unto God.
“My voice shall you hear in the morning, in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up” (Psalm 5:3). We have a saying among us, that the morning is a friend to the Muses, that is, the morning is a good studying time. I am sure it is as true that the morning is a great friend to the Graces, the morning is the best praying time.
Again, in that Job did rise so early in the morning to offer sacrifice, and did this because he was afraid that his sons had sinned (as we shall see afterward), hence observe,
2. That it is not safe to let sin lie a moment unrepented of or unpardoned upon our own consciences or the consciences of others.
If a man’s house be on fire, he will not only rise in the morning, or early in the morning, but he will rise at midnight to quench it; certainly when you have guilt on your souls, you have a fire in your souls. Your souls are on a flame: therefore you have need to rise and rise early, and get up as soon in the morning as you can to get it quenched and put out.
“And offered burnt offerings.” There were many sorts of sacrifices among the Jews, when the law of rules of sacrificing were established. There were, first, whole burnt-offerings. 2. Trespass-offerings. 3. Sin-offerings. 4. Peace offerings. That which Job is here said to offer was a whole burnt-offering, so called, because it was altogether consumed; there was no part of it reserved for the priest, or for the people, but all was offered up unto God. Of other sacrifices, as the sin-offering and trespass-offering, there were parts and portions reserved for the priest, and part of the peace-offerings for the people. The burnt offering was wholly consumed; the word in the Hebrew does signify, an ascension, or a thing lifted up. “He offered burnt offerings”, word for word out of the Hebrew it is, “He lifted up an elevation”, he caused an ascension to ascend. And it was so called, because the sacrifice which was a whole burnt-offering was all-consumed upon the altar. And did as it were evaporate or ascend up unto God.
It was called a lifting-up or a thing lifted up for three reasons.
1. Because when the sacrifice was offered, the smoke of it did ascend, and besides there were sweet odors put upon the altar, which did fume up also with the sacrifice towards heaven, and so the sacrifice too: its denomination from ascending and going upwards.
2. Because the priest when he offered the sacrifice, did lift it up upon the altar, and hold it toward heaven, to God.
3. Because at that time when the sacrifice was burning, all the people that were present did lift up their hands and their eyes, but especially their souls and their spirits, heavenwards and powered themselves forth in prayer unto God. That of David, in Psalms 141:2, will give some light to this, “Let” (said he) “my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” David at that time (as interpreters note upon the psalm) was barred the enjoyment of the public ordinances; he could not come to sacrificing as formerly he had done. Now he seeks unto the Lord that he would accept the lifting up of his hands and heart, instead of sacrifice; as if he should say, “Lord I have not a sacrifice now to offer unto Thee; I am hindered from that work. I cannot lift that up. But I will lift up what I have, and what will please Thee better than a bullock that has horns and hooves. I will lift my hands and my heart unto Thee, and let these be accepted for sacrifice and all.” Prayer (which is a sacrifice of the gospel) is nothing else but a lifting up of the soul, an elevation of the spirit unto God. So some of the ancients call prayer, an ascending of the soul unto God. And in allusion unto this, Hezekiah, when he sent to Isaiah the prophet to pray for him in that time of distress and day of trouble, said, “Go and desire the prophet to lift up his prayer for the remnant that are left,” (II Kings 19:4), alluding to the sacrifices which were wont to be lifted up. The like expression prayer you have in Psalm 25:1: “Lord” (said David) “I lift up my soul unto Thee.” Hence, prayers not answered, not accepted, are said to be stopped from ascending: “Thou has covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.” (Lam 3:44). When you meet with such expressions in the Old Testament concerning prayer, you must still understand them as allusions to the sacrifices, because the sacrifices were lifted up and did ascend. That for the act.
For the person, it is said that Job offered these sacrifices: Job rose early and offered… Was not this to usurp upon the priest office? Was it not this for which King Uzziah was reprehended and told by the Priests: “It appertains not to thee, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests, the sons of Aaron” (II Chron. 26.18); and was he not smitten with leprosy for doing of it?
I answer in a word by that rule of the ancients. Distinguish the times and Scriptures will agree: it was Job that offered and Job had right to offer. The time wherein Job offered sacrifice does reconcile this; it was before the giving of the law (as we have showed in the opening of the former points about the time when Job lived). Now in those times, the Father or the elder of the family was as a priest to the whole family: and he had the power, and the right to perform all holy family duties; as the duty of sacrificing and the like. This you may see carried along in all the times before the law was given in the holy stories of the patriarchs; they still offered up the sacrifice.
But it may here be further inquired, If it were before the law was given, who taught Job to offer sacrifice? Where had he the rule for it?
I answer, this was not will-worship, though it was not written worship. For howsoever Job did offer sacrifice before the law of sacrificing was written, yet he did not offer a sacrifice before the law of sacrificing was given; for the law of sacrificing was given from the beginning, as all the other parts of worship used from the beginning were. God could never bear it that men should contrive Him a service; therefore Job did not offer up an offering unto God according to his own will, a thing that he had invented to pacify and to please God with: God had been so far from accepting, that He could not have born such a devised worship. God does never trust man with the making of holy institutions. There is nothing does please Him in any act of worship, unless He sees Himself obeyed, “Obedience is better than sacrifice,” and therefore a sacrifice which is not out of obedience cannot be accepted; he that sacrifices does but offer up a beast, but he that obeys, offers up himself, sacrifices his own will. It could not be therefore, but that Job had a word, a word as all the world had at that time; a word given by God, and so carried down from one to another by tradition (as it was for more than 2,000 years). All the will that God would reveal or had revealed to them was carried from hand to hand, or from heart to heart, from the Fathers to the children, till at the last of law was written, and the scripture penned by Moses. So then Job offered sacrifice according to an institution, though it was not an institution written, yet it was an institution sent forth and given by God himself.