[Reverent gesture (RG): This culture uses a gesture to refer always and only to God. The gesture consists of a single hand, palm tilted inward, raised in front of the shoulder, slightly higher than the head, leaving the elbow bent a bit and all five digits pointing up and separated as branches.]

[Irreverent gesture (IG): This is the same as the reverent gesture, but only the little finger is pointing up, with the rest of the fingers in a fist.]

“Ah, I see what you mean Elihu,” Abram said, “Noah died shortly before I was born, but we have Eber here to pass on those teachings.”

“Right,” said Elihu, “after Noah’s death, I continued my studies under Eber and Job. Eber had instructed me that Job was second only to Noah, as the pinnacle of role models for our language-tribe. Job and I did a lot together, in those days, since his oldest daughter and I were betrothed. She and I were to be married the following month.

“When we heard of Noah’s death, several of us, including Eber, Job and I, travelled to the funeral. We had gone on the trip to meet other students of Noah, to comfort them and to mourn his death. What remained of the ark had been destroyed in a volcanic eruption, just the month previous. That, coupled with the death of Noah, brought a turning point in history. It was like we were in a different world than we were just short weeks earlier.

“Quite a few people were there for the funeral. Invitations were given to those of us who were disciples of Noah to also attend a memorial service. This meeting was very different from the public funeral. We were filled with gratefulness to God |RG| for Noah and the blessing that he was in our lives. There was grief, but it contained no despair.

“A leading disciple of Noah’s shared one of Noah’s favourite messages. It was a gospel message, of course, regarding why there is pain and suffering. We had each heard Noah deliver this message more than once, so it was easy to imagine Noah himself, with his towering figure and large ears and nose, walking around the room.”

Elihu recited the short sermon from memory, as his imagination turned to his recollection of Noah himself preaching.

“In the beginning, God |RG| made paradise on Earth. The start of our world was a perfect garden. Imagine no disease, no sin, no one suffering or dying; not even any thorns … paradise! Imagine it! I am begging you to think about what that would be like. God |RG| created this world very good. Our Creator |RG| included no evil. Do not weep for my sake when I die. You can be sad, but I won’t be weeping. God |RG| has made a new paradise, and that is where I am going. I know it is sad when someone you care about departs, and you need to wait to see them again. When two believers part due to the death of one, the waiting is one-sided. When I leave this earthly life, I will be ushered into the presence of every believer in history, past and future; my waiting will be over!

It is plain to see that paradise on Earth is lost. Eden was ruined by sin … my sin. Now we have painfully hard work in place of joyful enterprise. Yes, Adam was the one in the transgression, but I have proved by my own rebellion that I would have done the same. It was indeed my own sin that cursed paradise. Adam was in a perfect environment, with no lack of mental capabilities, no lack of physical provision. His failure proved that all humans are sinful and I have validated it again in my own life. Be honest with yourself. You have demonstrated the same with your life. We have each gone astray.

God |RG| has made another paradise where no sin is allowed. That is the point. I am here on this Earth to choose. Do I want life or death? Do I want blessing or cursing? Do I want God |RG| on the throne of my life or myself on the throne? Do I want to live in sin or do I want to live in Heaven?

It is not always my sin that causes my suffering. The curse of sin is on this world. There will come a day when God Himself |RG| will come from Heaven, in the flesh, and even He |RG| will suffer. We have a glorious God |RG|! Ours is a benevolent Creator |RG|. He |RG| chooses to feel our pain. He |RG| chooses to bear our punishment. He |RG| offers us pardon we do not deserve. This grace is offered freely to anyone who is willing to receive it. When I see the cost He |RG| pays to make this offer, I will not dare to attempt to earn it or pay for it myself. In comparison, the entirety of my pitiful life is of little value. It would be an insult to God |RG| for me to offer payment for the unspeakably priceless gift He |RG| offers.

“As we were returning home, Job and I accompanied each other on this leg of the journey.”

At the home of Job you can see his wife naal binding, then getting up to join a servant woman in the kitchen to knead some bread dough.

Near the horizon, Job and Elihu see a bolt of lightning striking a wooded knoll, starting a fire. “We saw smoke rising on the horizon to the west.”

In the south, bandits are attacking, seen in the distance. The Sabeans are stealing Job’s oxen and asses. Ed is posted on the north outskirts of the camp. The main duty of this post is to bring the message back to Job, so he can’t risk being killed himself. He must force himself to watch, without going to assist his colleagues.

Job’s wife sees a messenger arriving at the home of Job. The sentry is standing near the door. As the messenger is allowed in, Job’s wife says to him, “Job is due home very soon.”

Back to Elihu’s address, “The weather was terribly stormy, but we continued, since we were so close to Job’s home. Upon arriving we found Job’s wife in such deep grief that she could not speak. He rushed to her side, putting his hand on her shoulder. The question on his face was soon answered. Four men were there as well. Job recognized them. Three of them were servants of his, and the forth was a servant of his eldest son. I see that Job’s servant, Ed, who was there that day is here with Job today. One after the other the four messengers broke the tragic news. After the first three told of the loss of his wealth and the death of many of his servants, the worst news was reported by the fourth. All ten of his children had died in that day’s storm.

“Of course, Job was shaken and stunned by the heart breaking news, but he turned to his wife in pity, knowing she shared all of these losses. I could see his concern and grief for her sake. We all felt helpless to do anything for Job and his wife. We just wept together. Then Job arose, and tore his mantle. It was puzzling to see him walk over and pick up a razor. When he started shaving his head in mourning, then it made sense. He then went to his prayer corner and knelt down on the ground, and worshipped, and said, ‘Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD |RG| gave, and the LORD |RG| hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD |RG|.’ In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God |RG| foolishly.”

Ed is wearing the typical armour of the culture. It is made of leather plates, about 10 centimeters square, with a slight radius. Each plate is hung from the top with metal links to the under-mesh, then tethered from the bottom, with a short chain, to the center of the next lower row of plates. Each row is covered half-way by the row above and offset half-way between the two plates above it, much like shingles. A horizontal bar of metal is strapped, with wire, to each plate, a quarter of the way up from the bottom edge. These shingles covered the torso and shoulders down to include the upper legs. At the outside of each elbow and each knee were a metal circular target, strapped so that they did not impede bending the joint. Below the elbow and below the knee were tight fitting leather with longitudinal metal bars in sections. The sections in each row were offset from the adjacent row. Extended over the back of the hand, angled away, there was the protrusion of a flat metal bar, about 3 centimeters wide, that ran the length of the forearm, fastened to the leather.

Abram asked, “Now I am curious about Fred also. Did he ever turn to the Lord |RG|?”

Job sadly shook his head and Ed spoke up, “I can answer that. I was with Fred when the Sabeans attacked. His heart had been getting harder and harder, over the years, and he was cursing God |RG| with his dying breath. It was my job to get the message back, or I would have died that day … unforgiven. It was only after that day when I finally woke up and made it a priority to seek forgiveness for my sin. I had already heard everything I needed to know from Job.” Ed added, “I need to be going now, since I need to bring back the package of beetle lights before Abram leaves, then I am on sentry duty.”

Abram explained, “Scott advised us that anyone travelling from this region can profit from taking along a cargo of the beetle lights. As long as this factory keeps operating, it is the only remaining source.”

“And when some critical piece of this factory breaks, the world will be thrown into darkness!” Eber joked, “But let us get back to Elihu’s report, shall we?” Everyone nodded.

Disease

Elihu explained, “Job set aside 60 days for grieving over the death of his children. During this time he spent more than his usual time meditating on the teachings of the prophets of God |RG| and worshipping. There were still many people depending on him, so he still did what he could for the poor widows and fatherless children, plus guiding what remained of his business enterprises. Before the 60 days were done, Job became very ill. We know, from Eber’s second heavenly vision, that Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD |RG|, and smote Job with this disease. It was a torturous disease of his skin from the sole of his foot to the top of his head. He kept completely cloaked, so as not to cause disgust in any who might see him. He had no relief, night or day. He took a broken piece of pottery, to scrape his skin, and went to sit out by his garden, where the ashes from the household fires were discarded. This was even harder on Job’s wife than it was on him. You know how it is. Watching a loved one suffer is worse than suffering yourself.

“Then his wife said to him, ‘Are you still trying to hold onto your integrity? curse God |IG|, and die.’

“But he said to her, ‘You are speaking as one of the foolish women would speak. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God |RG|, and shall we not receive evil?’ In all this, Job said nothing sinful. When his wife forsook him, Job turned to God |RG| again for strength to bare the loss. No man could bare all of these things, and the reason Job stayed true in his integrity, up to this point, is because of his continual reliance on God’s |RG| strength. This is the source of the patience of Job. Even during this time when the integrity of Job’s wife failed her, I know that he was not even tempted to disannul his commitment to her. His faithfulness to her would remain until death parted them.”

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