A few years ago, I started to write another book, and got as far as Chapter 6. However, in light of how hard it is to get a publisher, and how many books are out in the marketplace, I decided to begin to feature it here on The Christian Woman. Titled, “Living in the Light of God’s Lamp,” this book is about “the lamp of God,” which is mentioned a handful of times throughout scripture, in both the Old and New Testaments.
Each chapter is very long, so it will have to be broken up with each installment. Today, I’m featuring the first part of Chapter 1. I hope you enjoy it, and would love to get your comments.
And Job again took up his discourse and said,
“Oh that I were as in months gone by,
As in the days when God watched over me;
When His lamp shone over my head,
And by His light I walked through darkness…” (Job 29:1-3)
Before God allowed the devil to make Job’s life a living hell, Job had lived a blessed and prosperous life, where he was revered even by princes. In describing his life pre-Satan, he said, “…my steps were bathed in butter, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil! When I went out to the gate of the city, when I took my seat in the square; the young men saw me and hid themselves, and the old men arose and stood. The princes stopped talking, and put their hands on their mouths; the voice of the nobles was hushed, and their tongue stuck to their palate. For when the ear heard, it called me blessed; and when the eye saw, it gave witness of me…” (Job 29:6-11)
Job is quick to explain what was at the base of his notoriety. “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban.” Job had walked with God throughout his life, and to please God, he had “put on righteousness,” which means to do the right thing. In fact, the very first verse of the book of Job describes Job as one who was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil. Subsequently, God rewarded his righteousness and gave him unearthly wisdom, making him like a prince among the people.
Job’s wisdom was so highly esteemed that people waited for the virtual pearls to fall from his mouth. “To me they listened and waited, and kept silent for my counsel. After my words they did not speak again, and my speech dropped on them. And they waited for me as for the rain, and opened their mouth as for the spring rain.” (Job 29:22-23)
While this sounds like a man bloated with self-importance, Job was actually describing his life in realistic terms. In fact, the Bible says that he was “the greatest of all the men of the east.” (Job 1:3) In describing his wealth, the Bible first states that Job had ten children. This is significant, because children were considered a great blessing in those days, and therefore the number of children he had came first, and then a listing of his material wealth. (We would do well to note this order of importance.) He also had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys and “very many servants.”
It’s interesting to note that the author counted how many “female” donkeys Job possessed. I did some research and found that donkey’s milk is the closest to breast milk (along with mare’s milk) and was once given to premature babies, sick children, and people suffering from tuberculosis. Donkey’s milk contains more sugar and protein than cow’s milk, and less fat, and was better for children who were allergic to bovine proteins. Perhaps the real ka-ching in Job’s herd of female donkeys was its use as a cosmetic. Cleopatra took baths in donkey milk to preserve the beauty and youth of her skin, as did Poppaea Sabina, the second wife of the Roman Emperor Nero, and even Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon’s sister. So Job surely had male donkeys, but the milk from the female donkeys was most likely a significant income stream, and therefore considered more valuable.
I had to smile when I saw that he had “very many servants.” Why was it important to note how many animals he had, yet not the number of servants? Were the animals considered more important? Possibly, because that was his form of commerce.
All in all, Job was a giant among men, in wisdom, wealth and honor. Even more notable is that he knew he was not a self-made man, not at all. We know this because during his discourse, he wasn’t congratulating himself; he was talking about how life was when God’s “lamp shone over his head.” In fact, he went on to say that his counsel wasn’t his counsel, it was God’s.
“As I was in the prime of my days,
When the friendship of God was over my tent;
When the Almighty was yet with me…” (Job 29:4-5a)
The word “friendship” above is actually translated as “counsel,” so we could read it as, “When the counsel of God was over my tent.” The Online Hebrew Interlinear Bible translates it this way: “As in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle.”[i] God had revealed to him wisdom and heavenly secrets that no one else was privy to at that time. Everything about Job made it clear to the rest of the world that he was profusely blessed by God, even his face:
“I smiled on them when they did not believe,
And the light of my face they did not cast down.” (Job 29:24)
When the people did not believe his counsel, he smiled on them, and something about the light of his face gave him heavenly authority. Maybe it was a halo of sorts. However it appeared, his face was something like a lighted candle. And why? Because God’s lamp “shone over his head.” Job knew exactly where his wisdom, riches, honor and even his inner light derived from: God. And when it was all taken away, Job longed for the good old days when he lived in the light of God’s lamp.
The word “lamp” in Job 29:3 comes from the Hebrew word “Niyr,” which means, “a light, a lamp; prosperity, instruction.”[ii]
Living in the light of God’s lamp has other distinct advantages. Remember the verse at the beginning of the Introduction to this book?
Every good thing bestowed and every perfect is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:17)
Who would best fit the description of a “shifting shadow”? Satan, of course. Where God, the Father of lights, is, Satan is not. When God’s lamp shone over Job, the devil couldn’t get near him. Although Job said, “As in the days when God watched over me;” God did far more than watch over him. The words “watched over” are from the Hebrew word, “Shamar,” which means “to hedge around something (as with thorns), to keep, to guard.”[iii]
If you picture in your mind an old-fashioned oil lamp when it is lit and placed in a dark room, you can actually see the rays of light streaming from it, bathing everything in a soft glow. So, too, God’s lamp is something like His glory, and it bathed Job with its power. Consider the things that King David said he could do when God was his lamp:
“For Thou art my lamp, O LORD;
And the LORD illumines my darkness.
“For by Thee I can run upon a troop;
By my God I can leap over a wall.
“As for God, His way is blameless;
The word of the LORD is tested;
“He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. (2 Samuel 22:29-31)
God’s lamp first and foremost, illumined his darkness. Clearly David had oil lamps like anyone else, so he’s not talking about actual darkness. He was talking about spiritual darkness, and lack of understanding. God gave him knowledge and wisdom.
“For by Thee I can run upon a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall.” The Online Hebrew Interlinear Bible translates it this way: “For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.” No one in their right mind would run single-handedly through a troop of the enemy, but you must remember that David was the same one who marched up to the giant nine-foot Goliath, and by so doing, marched up to the entire Philistine army (who were lined row upon row behind Goliath), and declared, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”
Yes indeed, by God and God alone, David ran upon a troop, and ran through a troop as well: after he brought Goliath down with a single stone, he took his sword out of his sheath and ran it through him. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. (1 Samuel 17:51) An entire army, literally thousands, turned tail and ran when they saw Goliath go down. In the light of God’s lamp, David was given the ability to do things supernaturally that in any other circumstance he would not be able to do.
I like to take this verse figuratively as well. If we consider a troop being someone who comes against us to defeat us, in the light of God’s lamp, we are able to run through it. If something stands in our way, a wall that we can see no way to get around, God enables us to leap over it. This is what it means to live in the light of God’s provision.
More of Chapter 1 to come in the next installment.