The Lord Speaks
38 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
Job had requested to meet God. He assumed that God would act like a judge by vindicating him and explaining the reason for his suffering. However, he believed that God had caused his trouble. He wrestled with the idea that God may be a cruel enemy(Job 16:9-14). He argued that he himself was right and that God was unfair (Job 32:2).
God now enters the dialogue out of the storm and instead of giving the answers that Job requested he lists a number of things that Job could not explain or comprehend.
Job had spoken of his own greatness and had taken the position of advising God (Job 23:13-17; Job 24:1). Hearing God’s speech however exposed his erroneous thinking (Job 42:1-6).
God’s speech is a little reminiscent of Jesus words in Luke 12:13-15. A man asked Jesus to act as a judge. The man wanted his fair share of his inheritance. But Jesus refused to be the judge. Instead, Jesus used it as an opportunity to teach the man about where he should place his security.
There are a total of 39 questions in chapter 38, which easily ranks it as the chapter with the most questions in all the Bible. When added to the 20 questions in 39:1 – 40:2, the total comes to 59 questions that God asked Job in the first cycle of interrogation. The second cycle 40:6 – 41:34) contains another 24 questions. The significant thing about these questions is that Job cannot answer a single one! God answers to no one.
Some are the same questions that Elihu had asked Job. Now, God demanded Elihu to answer the same questions. If he knew God better than Job, then he could answer the questions.
Verses 38:4-38: The questions cover a wide range of the marvels of God’s creation, with the emphasis placed on the inanimate world: earth (verses 4-7), sea (verses 8-11), the dawn (“dayspring” verses 12-15), unseen wonders (verses 16-21), weather phenomena (verses 22-30), and heavenly bodies (verses 31-38).
In verses 4-11 we will read how God challenged Job’s wisdom immediately with an inquiry about Job’s lack of omnipotence and omnipresence. Proverbs 3:19-20 and 8:22-31 reveal the connection between God’s wisdom and creation.
In verses 4-38 God asked Job if he participated in creation as He did. That was a crushing, humbling query with an obvious “no” answer.
In verses 4-7 Creation is spoken of using the language of building construction.
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
Suddenly everything that has been brought to the table in the discussion about God’s ways and his intervention with Job is put in it’s place with this first question alone
Job was not there at the creation. But Job had spoken as if he was wiser than God (Job 23:13-17). He knew nothing of how the world was formed or of the heavenly realms. His friends also knew nothing.
What about me? I am quick to decide that God has caused or allowed something to happen because of a certain observation or judgment I have made but my understanding is so unbelievably limited. I would not count myself as wise as Job and yet sometimes I can act as though I know the mind of God or have some special insight.
I should probably shut up and let God be God. He is better at it than me. He’s been doing it a lot longer and he has never made a mistake in his entire existence. My life however is littered with mistakes, erroneous judgments and dishonesty to cover my tracks.
8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?
God’s power over the sea by raising the continents is described. God set the laws of nature in motion which restrains even the sea!
We get a little more insight to the DNA of creation in Job’s encounter with God. Centuries later when Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples asked the question “Who is this that controls the wind and the waves”. They would have been familiar with this passage in Job. They perhaps were asking a rhetorical question!
12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
15 The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.
I am such a morning person. I love the break of day when first light appears and most days I am lucky enough to see it and experience it. I love the quiet and the peace and seem to experience a very special connection with God and my own spirituality in those moments. There is something special about the early morning. One time I remember driving through the Highlands in Scotland just as day is breaking we experienced some of the most breath taking sights. A stag looking very majestic watching us from a distance, mist on a beautiful lake.
and No, I have never been able to give orders to the morning or shown the dawn it’s place. At the break of day and first light everything looks new and untarnished but you see it’s imperfections as the day moves forward and interacts with humans.
Dark activities take place at night when they cannot be seen. Most of my extreme behaviour either took place at night or was schemed during the night. Daylight brings clarity and focus.
The point in these verses is that as dawn rises it brings light and exposes the evil deeds in the same way we take the edge of a cloth and shake it to get the dirt out of it.
In the darkness everything is seen in shadows but the detail can be seen when light breaks
16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.
19 “What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
20 Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
21 Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!
A series of unanswerable questions continues as God challenges Job and his friends with what do you know?
The sources or the depths of the sea? Do you know where they are? Have you been there?
Job had wrestled with what happens after death in chapter 3 and chapter 26 but of course God knows exactly what happens after death. Job barely knew anything about the earth, the planet he lived on let alone what is outside of that.
Where does the sun go at night? What happens to the darkness during the day? Are older people really wiser … Job you are really not that old at all !
We may know a little more than Job did in his day but still the more we know and discover, the more we are baffled and filled with wonder about the things we don’t know about or the complexity and perfection of design in the universe.
22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
26 to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?
God controls the weather. End of story. We have no control over the weather, we barely can predict the weather. He is in control of wars and battles.
Job was not sure that God would act as judge (Job 24:1). Later he remembered that every evil person will die (Job 24:18-24). In a situation where death intervenes he can no longer cause trouble. Therefore death is like God’s judgement. The result being that the evil man is snuffed out and those that are still here are no longer under his tyranny.
There is a lot of war recorded in the Bible. War is established under the designs of man for reasons of control, power, fear, pillaging resources and whatever else causes war. In these wars, God would be impartial (Joshua 5:13-14). Instead, God would use them to serve his own purpose and will.
God intervened in some spectacular ways in some of these battles. In Joshua 10:13-14, God delayed the end of the day. In the same battle, he caused large hailstones to fall from the sky (Joshua 10:11). These were a clear display that God’s people did not win the battle by their own strength. God won the battle.
God controls the weather. And he uses the weather for his own purposes. He even waters the grass where nobody lives (verse 27). A man would not choose to water that grass.
Everything is under his sovereignty and he is in complete charge. This is a world where rivers flow to the sea but the sea does not get over full, rain comes down, water turns to ice … Job and his friends had no clue how all that occurred or how this complex and beautiful world is synchronized to provide perfect living conditions with incredible provision.
Really, what could they bring to God? What could they offer him? What can they question him about? What about me? Here I am complaining about work and life and tiredness and yet God has given me all I need and taken care of me in a way that is way more than I deserve. Incredible.
31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
Pleiades, Orion and the Bear (Arcturus in some translations) are stellar constellations of the stars. What does Job and his friends know about the operations of the heavens? What do we know? Again we may know more than the ancients but everything newly discovered brings with it many more unanswered questions.
The stars were of great use to the ancient world and they would be watched with great care. The stars are like a calendar, because different stars appear in each season. The stars also helped travellers with their navigation.
Job and his friends would have known the patterns of stars but would not be able to explain how God arranged them or how they came into being.
There are millions of stars that we cannot see and don’t have much idea about. The distances between the stars are immense. God created the stars. Scientists and astronomers have discovered a lot about the stars and the data is mind blowing. We can celebrate our brilliant minds that filled with the ability to work out all this data but we are only describing what God has already done. The description of Gods handiwork .
34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
36 Who gives the ibis wisdom
or gives the rooster understanding?
37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
38 when the dust becomes hard
and the clods of earth stick together?
Job and his friends had just watched a storm. It had given them insight into the power of God. The lightning was a visible reminder of God’s power. The rain changed the solid ground into mud. Job had said that God’s power was like the power of a storm (Job 26:14). Of course a great storm is a mere shadow of God’s power. Some storms are spectacular and even scary.
I can remember one time when I was about 18, I visited Yugoslavia on holiday with my family. I experienced the most incredible thunderstorm all around the mountains. I had never seen such a scary storm. English storms seemed tame by comparison. The dramatic setting of the mountains and the sea and the ferocity of the storm was a combination that made me think about God and his power. There are times the weather can make us feel vulnerable and exposed and be aware that all we have to protect us is God. Even our most brilliant engineering and clever structures and buildings can be crushed by the weather or a flood or some natural force that reminds us of God’s power. We have no control over the weather.
39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
and satisfy the hunger of the lions
40 when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in a thicket?
41 Who provides food for the raven
when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?
God switches his discourse from the control of the cosmos to the provision of food for wild animals. Job does not even have any part to play in taking care of the beasts of the earth.
God has taken care of all the minute details in creation and the sustainability of the earth to ensure that all of creation is taken care of.
Lions lay in wait for God to provide their food, ravens do not wait for their food to come to them, they make a lot of noise and go searching for their food but God takes care of the raven and the lion.
The point is that God has taken care of all of the details of provision throughout creation in a way that everything has been perfectly balanced. What has Job done? What does he know about the eco system and perfect sustainability? Evidently not much.