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Job 38:1-40:5 – Do you really know anything?

After wading through the comments of Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu, and Job, we were left scratching our heads. Were any of them right in their commentary? I think that each of them said some good things, but the good was a mixture of truth and error. None of them got things completely right. As they faced an unexplainable situation, they decided to pool their ignorance and it didn’t work very well.

Happily, God finally put an end to their discussion and confronted Job about his response. However, His response is not what we would expect. Having watched various Christian debates, I would expect God to pick apart each person’s ideas and then explain why they were wrong. I would have preferred that God did this and then explained what the truth was. But God took a different tack. He chose to ask Job a lot of questions. These questions are divided into a first set of questions (Job 38:1-40:2) along with Job’s response (40:3-5) and then a final question (40:7-14) bolstered by a description of behemoth (40:15-24) and leviathan (41:1-34) followed by Job’s final response (42:1-6).

  1. God’s first set of questions (Job 38:4-40:5)

    In the first set of questions, God uncovers Job’s lack of knowledge and control of God’s Creation. He begins by pointing Job to the earth. God’s control over all the earth began with creation but continues through every day.

    Questions about the earth (Job 38:4-38)

    What do you know about the creation of the earth? (Job 38:4-7)
    Who keeps the sea from overflowing the earth? (Job 38:8-11)
    Are you able to control when the sun rises or sets? (Job 38:12-15)
    Do you know where the gates of death are located? (Job 38:17)
    Do you know how broad the earth is? (Job 38:18)
    Where do light and darkness come from? (Job 38:19-21)
    Where are snow and hail kept? (Job 38:22-23)
    How is light and wind distributed around the world? (Job 38:24)
    Do you know how water overflows, where lightning travels, how rain falls on the wilderness, how grass grows in the wilderness, where dew, ice, and frost comes from? (Job 38:25-30)
    Can you control stars or understand how they move? (Job 38:31-33)
    Can you control the rain or lightning? (Job 38:34-35)
    Who gives wisdom to people? (Job 38:36)
    Who knows how many clouds exist and can cause it to rain? (Job 38:37-38)

    Questions about animals (Job 38:39-39:30)

    In God’s second group of questions, He points Job to his lack of knowledge about animals. If you recall, Job owned many animals on his farm. But God pointed Job to what he didn’t know and couldn’t control.

    Can you provide food for hungry lions and ravens? (Job 38:39-41)
    Do you know the reproductive details of goats and deer? (Job 39:1-4)
    Do you know about wild donkeys, onagers, and oxen? (Job 39:5-12)
    Do you know about the ostrich? (Job 39:13-18)
    Have you empowered the horse? (Job 39:19-25)
    Have you enabled the hawk and eagle to fly? (Job 39:26-30)

    Job’s response (40:1-5)

    God stopped to give Job a chance to respond. In strong language, He asked Job to correct Him. Job had been working himself up into righteous indignation about his situation and had crossed the line. His words had been a rebuke to God and now God gave him the opportunity to speak.

    Can you imagine what Job must have been thinking at this moment? God Himself had answered his complaint and had spoken to him. It was easy to speak about his situation when it was just his friends listening, but now God was there.

    Job responded wisely. He rightly considered himself vile in the presence of God. Who was he to rebuke God for what had happened? He also made a good decision by covering his mouth and not responding. He admitted that he had already spoken too much.

Conclusion

As you listened to the many questions asked by God, what were your thoughts? The first questions about Creation were quite humbling. What do we know about the earth, sky, and sea? We are just created people with very little power over our circumstances. The second questions about animals were also revealing. Although I know some things about ducks and chickens, I am actually oblivious to how their bodies work and how they lay eggs. God, the One asking Job the questions, actually created all of the animals, fish, and birds. He knows how they work in every aspect of their lives. We don’t.

This is why we should be careful in our response to life events. Instead of being quick to blame God for tragedies, remember who you are and Who He is. God is the Creator and we are the creatures. He has everything in control and we don’t. Knowing those truths ought to limit our complaints and increase our awe of God.