The Book of Books—Part 3

God’s Assurance of Survival

TODAY a dreadful fear haunts the minds and hearts of millions, a fear that the human race will be destroyed by nuclear bombs. Scientists declare that the nations of earth now have it within their power to do this, and militarists indicate that they would not hesitate to use their devastating missiles of death should the need arise. Since the world’s statesmen and diplomats seem unable to find a solution for the problems which lead to war, the outlook from the human standpoint is not bright. But God has a plan, and in this section of our review of “The Book of Books” we will find many of his promises and prophecies assuring us that the human race will not be destroyed from the earth, as so many are now fearing.


Why evil is permitted … Human restoration illustrated

Now we come to the Book of Job. This book, in allegorical form, epitomizes the divine plan of redemption and restoration. Job was a godly patriarch who stood high in the esteem of his fellowmen, and was greatly blessed by the Lord. As the story concerning him unfolds, we find Satan accusing Job before God, insisting that this rich man’s piety and his loyalty to God were based wholly upon self-interest, that if his blessings were taken away he would curse God.

Satan was permitted an opportunity to try to prove his accusation by bringing calamity upon Job, whose flocks and herds were destroyed and his children killed. He was stricken with a loathsome disease, and then his wife, thinking that God had withdrawn his favor from her husband, turned against him. But in spite of all these misfortunes, Job maintained his integrity before God. He proved that it is possible to serve God without receiving material reward, and in spite of great loss and severe pain.

With Satan’s accusations proved false, three friends of Job visited him—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Finally a fourth appeared—Elihu. These first three are sometimes referred to as Job’s comforters, although they said little to console him, but instead endeavored to prove to him that his suffering was evidence that he had committed some gross sin for which he was being punished.

Job argued with his comforters that this was not true. The eloquence of Job and of those who reasoned with him has no parallel in literature for beauty, style, and the skillful use of words. While the discussion is based upon the personal experiences of Job, in reality it points up the larger question as to why any of God’s intelligent creatures are permitted to suffer; or why evil of any sort is permitted.

Job refused to admit that he was guilty of any special sin. Nevertheless, neither he nor his friends succeeded in reaching a definite conclusion as to why so much evil had befallen him. Then God spoke to Job out of a storm and set the facts before him. This part of the book—chapters thirty-eight to forty-one—is superb in its style. In language of incomparable grandeur God silenced Job, making him realize that while he was able to refute the charges of his comforters, he actually was a sinner, and stood in need of divine grace.

The lesson learned, Job was restored to health, and again became a rich man. God also gave him another family, and in the end he was far better off in every way than he was before Satan asked for the privilege of testing him.

As we have suggested, many see in this wonderfully interesting narrative a beautiful illustration of the permission of evil as it relates to the experiences of the entire human race. All mankind has suffered because of sin, but in God’s providence, and as a result of the loving provision he has made through the Redeemer, Christ Jesus, they are to be restored to health and life. This means that ultimately the human race, by reason of actual experience with sin, will be in a much more favorable position than our first parents were before they transgressed God’s law.

After Job realized more clearly the meaning of his trials he said to God, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.” (Job 42:5) This will be true of the entire human race. Millions have heard about God, but when the lessons are learned from the experience with evil they will see him; that is, they will truly know and appreciate their loving Creator. This, the Bible reveals, will be at the close of the thousand-year reign of Christ and his church.

At one stage in Job’s experience, although still trusting God, he began to wonder if life under such trying circumstances was really worth living, so he prayed, “O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave … until thy wrath be past.” (Job 14:13) The Hebrew word here translated ‘grave’ is sheol. As we have already noted, Jacob was the first Bible character to use this word to describe the death condition. It is the only Hebrew word in the Old Testament which is translated ‘hell’. This proves that the Bible hell is simply the state of death, not a place of torment, for Job was asking for release from suffering, not to have it increased.

God has provided a resurrection from the Bible hell. Job stated his faith in the resurrection, saying, “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.”—Job 14:14,15

To read the Book of Job is to be inspired to place greater trust in God and to serve him more faithfully. At the same time, as we have seen, this wonderful book does much to reveal the loving plan of God for human salvation and survival, emphasizing, as Job does, the great hope of the resurrection. And certainly Job’s own restoration to health and riches is a beautiful illustration of God’s plan for the whole world.


Thanksgiving … Earth removed … Recovery from hell … Redemption provided

The Book of Psalms is sometimes called the songbook of the Bible. Many of the psalms are expressions of devotion, thanksgiving, and praise to God. The opening psalm in the book reads, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Ps. 1:1,2) This theme is reiterated in various ways throughout the book, and associated with songs of praise for the marvelous manner in which God blesses those whose delight is in his law. The whole book rings with thanksgiving and glory to God, closing with the grand hallelujah crescendo:

“Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.”—Ps. 150

However, this book of praise to God also contains some of the most outstanding prophecies of the Old Testament. As we continue our review of the books of the Bible, we find that God’s great plan of restoration Is associated with the idea of a kingdom, with Christ, the Messiah, as the King In that kingdom. The Book of Psalms reminds us of this in a number of its prophecies. The second psalm contains a prophecy concerning the time when Jesus begins to exercise his authority and power in his kingdom. He is shown dashing the nations to pieces like a potter’s vessel. Parts of this psalm are being fulfilled in the world-shaking events of our times.

The forty-sixth psalm is another prophecy of our times, combined with the promise of God to care for his people during this period of world chaos and distress. “God is our refuge and strength,” writes the prophet, “a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” (Ps. 46:1,2) The word earth is used here to symbolize a social order, or what is now called civilization. With this symbolic earth removed, the Lord will say to the people living on the literal earth, “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen [or nations], I will be exalted in the earth.” (vs. 10) The symbolic earth will be destroyed, being succeeded by Christ’s kingdom, but man will survive.

The seventy-second psalm is another prophecy of Christ’s kingdom, and the rich blessings of peace and security which it will assure to all nations. Concerning Jesus, David wrote, “All kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper.”—vss. 11,12

The eighth psalm refers to the original creation of man in the image of God, and of his being constituted king of earth. It prophesies a visit to earth by a messenger from heaven. The New Testament refers to this, identifies Jesus as the visitor, and explains that the purpose of his visit is to restore man’s original dominion over the earth.

Before mankind could be restored to life through the agencies of Christ’s kingdom, he needed to be redeemed. The sixteenth psalm is a prophecy of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Redeemer. The prophet personifies Jesus and, expressing his hope in a resurrection, writes: “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Ps. 16:10) Here again the Hebrew word sheol is used. It is the only hell of the Old Testament. It is the state of death, and it was necessary for Jesus to pour out his soul unto death, that he might redeem the fallen human race from death. (Isa. 53:12) How wonderfully this fundamental teaching of the Bible is thus emphasized!

The ninety-sixth psalm is one of thanksgiving to God for the establishment of righteousness and judgment in the earth through the medium of Christ’s kingdom. In this psalm we have one of the many assurances given us in the Bible that the future judgment day of the world is not to be a doomsday, but one of rejoicing and deliverance.

Many of the psalms are of an inspirational nature, expressing thanksgiving for the assurance of God’s loving care of his people. Outstanding among these is the twenty-third psalm, in which the Creator is likened to a shepherd caring for his sheep: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Another is the ninety-first psalm, which is a song of assurance that God will care for his people regardless of the cunning and strength of enemies who may plot to injure them: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”


Most of this book was written by King Solomon, the son of David. No special theme runs through the book, unless it is the wisdom of obeying God’s law. Solomon had been given great wisdom from the Lord, and much of it is displayed in this book. Perhaps the best conception of its contents and style can be had by quoting some of its sayings and admonitions:

“Better is little with the fear [reverence] of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.”—Prov. 15:16

“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart.”—Prov. 3:3

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”—Prov. 3:5,6

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.”—Prov. 22:1

“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.”—Prov. 25:21


Death, the penalty … Resurrection, the hope … Hell defined … Man survives

This book was evidently also written by King Solomon. During the time of his reign over Israel, Solomon became very rich, and he surrounded himself with much glory and pomp. God had blessed him with great wisdom, yet he was most unwise in his personal life. He wrote much in this book to indicate that in his latter years he realized the folly of his ways, so he sought to admonish others not to follow his foolish example. The book is a reminder that despite riches, pleasure, honor, and glory, life is vain without God.—Eccles. 5:7

However, in addition to this wise counsel to follow closely the way of the Lord, the Book of Ecclesiastes furnishes valuable information concerning the nature of man and the condition of death. As we have seen, God declared to father Adam that he would be punished with death if he partook of the forbidden fruit. But Satan said, “Ye shall not surely die.” (Gen. 3:4) This was the origin of the theory that there is no death. It was obvious from the beginning of human experience that man’s body died, so Satan deceptively induced man to believe that he possessed a soul or spirit, which escaped when the body died, and that this spirit is immortal and does not die.

Evidently this false theory was prevalent in Solomon’s day, for he asked the question, “Who knoweth [who can prove] the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that [it] goeth downward to the earth?” (Eccles. 3:21) Solomon had already answered this question in the two preceding verses, which read: “That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: … so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”—Eccles. 3:19,20

Ecclesiastes 12:7, in a description of death and what it means, reads, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.” The word spirit in this text translates a Hebrew word which simply means the breath of life. Every part of man, both his body and his breath, at death returns to its original condition, which leaves one who has died exactly as before he was born, except that he is remembered by God and will be restored to life in the resurrection.

In Ecclesiastes 9:10, we are furnished a further description of death, and at the same time a concise definition of the Hebrew word sheol, which, as we have noted, is the only Hebrew word in the Old Testament which is translated hell. In this text, however, this Hebrew word is translated grave. We quote: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave [sheol], whither thou goest.”

Ecclesiastes 1:4 is another revealing statement of truth. Here we read that “the earth abideth forever.” This is in full keeping with the plan of God, as revealed throughout his entire Word, to restore the human race to live on the earth forever. It refutes the traditional theory which has come down to us from the Dark Ages that the earth will be destroyed by fire at the second coming of Christ. Thus, again, we are assured of human survival.

Solomon concludes the book with the admonition, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”—Eccles. 12:13,14


This book is also sometimes called Canticles. The entire book may be styled a drama. It seems likely that the Lord directed it to be a general picture of the love of Christ for his church, who, according to the Scriptures, ultimately becomes associated with him in his heavenly home and glory as his bride. In keeping with this, how beautifully stated is the adoration of the church, when she says concerning Christ that he is “the chiefest among ten thousand,” the one “altogether lovely.”—Song of Sol. 5:10,16

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