“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?
– Job 38: 2-11
“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn? Do you count the months till they bear? Do you know the time they give birth? They crouch down and bring forth their young; their labor pains are ended. Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds; they leave and do not return.
“Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied its ropes? I gave it the wasteland as its home, the salt flats as its habitat. It laughs at the commotion in the town; it does not hear a driver’s shout. It ranges the hills for its pasture and searches for any green thing.
– Job 39:1-8
“Ironically, God enters the scene in a swirling, disruptive storm just as Elihu is explaining why puny Job has no right to ask for divine intervention. …
“God’s magnificent speech in Job 38-42 has attracted much attention, especially from environmentalists who cite it as an example of the Creator’s pride in the natural world. I too marvel at the wonderful images from nature – ostriches, mountain sheep, wild donkeys, crocodiles – and yet along with my marvel comes a nagging sense of bewilderment. God’s speech seems most striking in what it does not say. In fact, the speech avoids the issue of suffering entirely, astonishing after 35 chapters full of nothing else. Why does God sidestep the very questions that have been tormenting poor Job?
“God’s choice of content leads back to chapters 1-2, the origin of Job’s drama as seen ‘behind the curtain.’ …
“God does not enlighten Job on the cosmic struggle he has unwittingly been involved in, because letting Job see behind the curtain would change the rules of the contest still being determined. Nor does God show the slightest bit of sympathy for Job’s physical or emotional condition. To the contrary, God turns the table on Job, rushing in fiercely, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me (Job 38:2-3),” and proceeding from there to sweep Job off his feet. In other words, God abruptly puts Job back in the dock.”
– Philip Yancey, The Bible Jesus Read (emphasis the author’s)
Okay, tomorrow, we will look at the first two chapters, but what about God’s speech. In reading the book of Job in many different translations, I am, as Yancey puts it, bewildered. But in a sense, God establishes a pecking order here. Maybe Elihu was right in saying that Job had no right to confront almighty God.
But let’s look at Job’s mindset. Job was faithful to God. Everything Job touched turned to gold. Then suddenly, nothing. What? What did I do wrong? One day CEO of a massive empire, the next nothing, and in poor health to boot. Job was incredulous. There was no reason for this. He wanted to know why. God was the only one who could answer.
So, God comes in and basically says, “I am God. I created all of this. Where were you when I did it?”
Instant bewilderment. Maybe befuddled is a better word. Shall I mention obfuscation?
But really, have you ever wanted to know the answer to the question ‘Why?’
C. S. Lewis, in his book, Miracles, goes into intricate details on the laws of Nature. He doesn’t say that a miracle violates the laws of Nature, but that there is an interruption in the laws of Nature. Lewis uses a billiard table to explain. You make a billiard shot and the balls will react by the laws of Physics. Say that the cue is heading straight for a ball, surely to sink it in the corner pocket, but then someone taps the traveling cue ball and it veers to the side. Something from outside the world of the billiard table acted upon that world. Someone might take Lewis’ example and cry foul. But what if someone is at a links golf course in Scotland? He lines up the putt perfectly, but halfway along the putt’s travel, the wind blows the ball off course.
Why bring up miracles at this point? God, at any time during this drama, could have stepped in to relieve Job of his suffering, but God has established a set of rules from behind the curtain. Now that He was in front of the curtain, the rules still hold. God does not go against His nature. There is no miracle until the ‘contest’ is determined.
In this beautiful poetic speech, God establishes Himself as the Creator, but also the One who ‘counts the months until the doe bears a fawn.’ Jesus talks of the sparrow, but God has His hand in the lives of every living thing, including us.
And if Satan had tried to exceed his limits, as set in the contest, God would have intervened.
God is saying, “I am the Lord, your God.”
Soli Deo Gloria. Glory to God Alone.