God as the "Watcher of Mankind"

(SeanO) #1

I’ve been reading Job as part of a Bible reading plan, and one description Job gives of God in his distress intrigued me.

Job 7:20 - If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of all humanity? Why make me your target? Am I a burden to you?

If you read in the OT when God visits the Tower of Babel the description is reminiscent of this idea: And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.

Again, in the Garden of Eden, after the fall: And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden

There is almost a sense that God ‘watches’ humanity - offering them the chance to obey or disobey - and then visits in the aftermath to either deliver righteous judgment.

At the end of Job, God shows up to bless Job and in Jesus God showed up to bless all humanity.

But this idea of God as the ‘watcher of mankind’ intrigued me. I think it is a sentiment we often feel when life is hard and God seems distant.

Curious about your guys’ thoughts.

(angelina Edmonston) #2

But this idea of God as the ‘watcher of mankind’ intrigued me. I think it is a sentiment we often feel when life is hard and God seems distant.

I also see Job could be kind of blaming GOD in these questions… He does not recognize he has sinned, he just wants the attack to stop, he laments his condition… If I recall Job was complaining and stating his rightness then GOD begins to question him in Job 38 and instructed him. Job had a heart for GOD but was not sinless. I think of how many times I have felt what JOB said only to see my own weakness in the flesh. How can the dust ask or tell GOD anything… Job 40:2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. Job seemed a bit prideful, fearful and kind of religious to me. Then Job realized he needed to repent Job 42:6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Yes I think we may all feel like Job. Maybe GOD is not distant but we are?

(SeanO) #3

@angelina_Edmonston Those are good points.

Actually, what makes this story so amazing is that God never accuses Job of any sin. In fact, because Job is righteous God declares in Job 42 that Job must pray for his friends:

After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has."

However, Job does say the following after seeing God with his own eyes:

You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.

So - I do not think Job was ever accused of sin, although I do agree none of us are sinless, which is why Job offered sacrifices for himself and his children on a regular bases.

However - in the end Job recognized what God says in Isaiah 55:8-9:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We may not understand why God allows the righteous to suffer (those in right standing through repentance), but if we see His glory and have His Spirit we can know in our spirit that He is both good and almighty - not to mention glorious!

At least that is my take on it.

Regarding your point about feeling distant from God, I 100% agree that if we grieve God’s Spirit through sin it is our fault that we are distant and that if we walk in the Spirit we should do as the author of Hebrews suggests and boldly approach the throne of grace with all confidence - for God is near to all of us:

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

(David Cieszynski) #4

Hi Sean & Angelina,

While reading you posts the following texts came to mind:

In Genesis Adam & Eve were in God’s creation and when Mary first sees Jesus she thinks he’s the gardener, Adam & Eve were tasked to tend to God’s creation in the garden of Eden and Jesus firstly been seen as a gardener who is now tendering to our needs just as a gardener tends to his garden, by watering, pruning and enjoying his works. (Hope I make sense)

The poetic Footsteps in the sand in that during our troubles even though it may not feel like it God is looking out for us.

We must remember though we have freedom of choice in our actions but not freedom from the consequences.

(SeanO) #5

@David_Cieszynski Having a will and a responsibility to care for creation / honor God is certainly important to remember. God did not man to please himself, but to become fully himself through service to God and others - expressing love for God through purity, good works and joy in the Spirit!

(Helen Tan) #6

Hi @Sean_Oesch, the book of Job has always challenged me. I was reading the verse you quoted and looking at the Hebrew words used, there can be a slight change in perspective in the following way which I would like to present for further discussion.

The word ‘watcher’ is ‘natsar’ which means to guard, watch, watch over, keep, preserve, or guard with fidelity and from dangers. Do you think that looking at the verse in terms of God wanting to guard and preserve man provides us with a different view of God? He would not be watching to judge us to see if we would obey or disobey but more so to help, and to preserve and keep us from harm. Hence, Job was questioning why the Preserver of mankind was, in his mind, against him.

I think too that you have touched on an interesting subject relating to the ‘hiddenness of God’, a topic which would lend to an interesting discussion.

(SeanO) #7

@Helen_Tan Good observation!

I think the context certainly suggests that Job is upset that God is using His position to target him (see below). This is the NIV translation - “watcher of mankind” is “you who see everything we do”. But perhaps “guardian” would make an interesting translation.

If I have sinned, what have I done to you, you who see everything we do? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?

However, thinking of God as guardian and talking about the hiddenness of God made me think of C. S. Lewis and Narnia.

In Narnia, Aslan appears at critical times in history to act directly and preserve those who are faithful. Yet for hundreds of years there is silence. But Lewis portrays Aslan’s presence with different characters in different ways.

  1. Shasta in The Horse and His Boy - the cat by the tombs and the lion walking beside him on the lonely journey over the mountains
  2. Lucy in Prince Caspian - appearing to those who are faithful even when others cannot see
  3. The Silver Chair - they must obey God’s commands even when they cannot see - that is the great test
  4. The Last Battle - evil is being done in the name of Aslan - but it’s not really Aslan at all - just a donkey with a lion skin atop it

I’m sure there are more - I really think Lewis had many interesting ways of thinking of God’s presence and the nature of walking with Him when He does not seem near.

Perhaps you could start another thread on that topic if it is of interest?

(angelina Edmonston) #8

It is really wonderful when the topic of the Hebrew is brought into these topics as it sheds such deeper meanings.