Today, as I was reviewing the translation of a list of names in Chronicles, I thought I might search out other lists of names in scripture and enjoy a little translating to see if there was something "new" to look at. I started to open my Bible, and felt "Job."
I have to admit, I sighed a little. This has been a familiar pull for a few weeks. Why do I keep getting drawn back to the book of Job? It's a great book in Scripture, but I feel like I'm parked here and would like to move on. It's not as if there's a list of generations or priests in Job. There's only a short list of three friends who make shoddy work of comforting their suffering friend, Job.
Well, since I'm here (again) why not look more closely at those names?
Satan then tells God that he should smite everything Job has, sure that Job will curse God instead of worshiping Him. Did God smite Job? Of course not, but he did allow Satan power to take everything from Job. Satan's plan was to no avail, because Job still worshiped God.
The bell rings for round two of this prize fight.
God again praises Job to Satan, pointing out Satan's mistaken assessment of who Job is. It's almost certainly insult added to injury, compounding Satan's rage against the mortal man. Satan responds by telling God that he should physically smite Job, which would surely lead to Job cursing God instead of worshiping Him. Did God smite Job? Or course not, but he did allow Satan to afflict him. Job is now covered in boils, having lost everything.
His pain is punctuated by his very own wife urging him to curse God and die. You know Satan had to be behind that blow, too. He didn't ask permission from God to take that measure, meaning he overstepped the authority given to him (as usual). Job dismisses his wife's suggestion as foolish talk. That's not surprising, considering women were not known to be reliable witnesses.
Eliphaz is used in Job and in Genesis in the Bible. In Genesis, he's Esau's oldest child, from Adah, one of the Hittite wives that so grieved Isaac and Rebecca. That Eliphaz had a son named Teman. Who can say if these are the same Eliphaz? If not the same man, they certainly seem to be of the same lineage.
Eliphaz means "My God is Skill" and Teman is translated as "south." When I searched for the symbolism of the south in scripture, I read that it often represents wisdom or light.
Let's look at the next guy. Bildad from Shuh. The etymology of this name is ba'al and yadad. Ba'al is a false god so it would appear that a possible meaning for Bildad is Lover of Ba'al, or Loved by Ba'al. Either way, it's not good. Shuah is a son of Abraham's concubine, Keturah, and is one of the sons who was sent away from Isaac. Presumably, he is an ancestor of Bildad's, as he hails from this region. The name Shuah means "brought low, or put in a pit."
What could the name and origin of Bildad represent? I suggest he represents an affinity for idolatry and the low pursuits that accompany idolatry. Bildad is the essential man of this world, who is closely aligned with the temporary ruler of this world, Satan. He's against God in every way.
And finally we have Zophar from Naaman. There's only one Zophar in the Bible. If we take the definition of his name from the Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names, it means "chirper" or "insolence." Naaman, on the other hand, means "plesantness." When one combines the name Zophar with Naaman, it leads me to an image of a bird, chirping insolence amidst pleasures. It's a sweet and beguiling song, but what's being chirped about is more like decadence or self-satisfaction. Maybe even prideful hedonism.
So what does all this matter? Well, perhaps we can come to understand which tactics our Enemy employs to draw us away from God, if I'm correct about the following ideas:
1) The book of Job being the ultimate playbook that Satan uses against us (remember that God is very displeased with what these three friends have to say to Job about God, and they appeared in the story right after Satan was given leave to harm Job the second time).
2) Satan is the one who brought Job's friends against him with words that initially sounded like wisdom, but were actually lies about God's nature.
3) If we understand these tactics, we can be more aware of and prepared for what's being fed to us by religious and political leaders, close friends, social media, pop culture icons, educational institutions, the entertainment industry, etc.
NAMES THAT REVEAL TACTICS
|Nope, it's not. That's a lie.
The Eliphaz Tactic
We see this all around us. It's labeled Enlightenment and Intellectualism. Most of us have a desire to learn and understand our world. Telling people that God is a myth, a social construct used to help people make sense of a natural world, or an archaic means of population control minimizes God and maximizes us. We believe we can become like God - or even better than God. New age thinking is similar, in that it creates spirituality based on horoscopes, crystals, etc. Beware. All that appears to be enlightenment is not. Wisdom comes from God, not rocks or professors in exclusive colleges.
The Bildad Tactic
This is more overt in some ways. Alignment with pagan or Satanic or low pursuits like drugs, fetishes, gang violence, BDSM, is definitely of ba'al. And you can bet he loves that people pursue it. Look at the way bad boys are glorified in the entertainment industry, and the good guys are often portrayed as witless do-gooders. In the Marvel series, the supposed heroes are pretty dark, when it comes right down to it. Assasins, megalomaniacs, genetic modification experiments, sorcerers...these are the "good" guys. Victoria's Secret models are on bilboards and internet ads as "beauty." There are even movements that call pedophilia "love." It's all a trap.
The Zophar Tactic
This is one of the worst because it can be so subtle. Think about what distracts us, if we have the means to pursue it. Fast cars, fine dining, fine wines, spa vacations, expensive art collections, haute couture, plastic surgery, obsession with travel, large bank balances. It all seems like fairly innocent fun, doesn't it? It may even make us feel like we're better people than most. But my goodness, it does lead us to do some chirping from our pleasant places, doesn't it? Look at my social media feed...I do plenty of chirping from my kitchen and garden, and am proud of both of these aspects of my life.
The big danger is that these items of pleasantness aren't bad, unless they become our idols. And because they're so pleasant, they can easily do that, leading us to forget about God entirely or place him in a little box labeled "Sunday Mornings at 9am."
Here's the big warning to us all: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were all dressed as friends, ripe with age and full of wisdom and authority. The enemy has placed these friends all over our lives in person, and in circumstance. The world we live in has far more enemies in it than true friends.
Be watchful for these guys. They can just as easily be on Fox News as CNN. They can just as easily be in your Bible study group as a Burning Man event.
Here's how we win this fight according to Ephesians 6:10-20
The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Eyes up. The days are short.