God's Matchless Questions
G. Campbell Morgan called Job 38-41 the “matchless part of the book” of Job (Unfolding 222). And it is “matchless” because of the matchless questions that compose these chapters. There are one hundred twenty-nine verses in these four chapters. Henry Morris said, “[W]e can count about seventy-seven questions” in the chapters (Remarkable 98). Swindoll concurs with this same number of questions (267). In his older work on Job, Wayne Jackson suggests these chapters contain “a series of more than seventy, rapid-fire questions” (Book 79). In more recent material, Jackson says there are “roughly sixty” questions (“Life’s” 144).
The significance of these four chapters rests ultimately, not in the number of questions recorded, but in the nature of these questions. C. S. Lewis once said that “half the questions we [humans] ask—half [of] our great theological and metaphysical problems” are “nonsense questions” (81). However, the questions asked by God in Job 38-41 are not “nonsense questions.” They are “scientific accuracy questions” (Pugh 6). Hailey is correct when he says, “These questions are of such a nature, and manifest an understanding of the universe so far above man’s knowledge and wisdom of the day, that they offer irrefutable evidence that God the Creator was the speaker” (Commentary 331).
Jackson well summarizes the continued relevancy and challenging nature of these questions:
. . . Jehovah asks the patriarch a series of questions about the mystery, power, and beneficence of the universe. The queries are designed to show how very little man knows about the things of God’s world. Though the language style is poetic, it is amazing how scientifically precise it is as we are able to compare our modern knowledge with the information of this portion of scripture. We are forced to say, however, that even though our knowledge has increased tremendously since the days of Job, we are far from fathoming the great mysteries posed there.” (Book 126)
I will address these four chapters (Job 38-41) with the following areas serving as the basis for my observations: (1) The Context of the Questions, (2) The Content of the Questions, and (3) The Consequences of the Questions.
THE CONTEXT OF THE QUESTIONS
Not only is it the case that the four chapters before us (Job 38-41) are about the crucial questions that God asked Job, but there is the sense in which all of this ancient Book of Job is set against the backdrop of great questions. The outstanding questions raised and answered in the Book of Job include the following:
- How can God be both good and just while allowing a righteous man (such as Job) to suffer so terribly?
- Is there such a thing as sincere, disinterested piety or is it the case that only when righteousness is profitable in a material sense that it is displayed (in which case, it is not righteousness but hypocrisy)?
- Can one know that there is good reason for what happens in the world?
- Would God be unrighteous if He allowed the righteous to suffer?
- Is there any man who would remain faithful to God if he lost everything?
- Is God to be arraigned before the bar of human reason?
- Is all suffering the consequence of sin?
- What is God’s solution to this problem?
With words that compose no less than fifteen chapters, Job’s friends had attempted to answer these questions. They failed. Just before the text states, “The words of Job are ended” (Job 31:40), Job had cried, “Oh, that I had one to hear me! . . . Oh, that the Almighty would answer me, that my Prosecutor had written a book!” (Job 31:35). Earlier Job had requested that God would call, and he (Job) would answer, or that he (Job) would speak, and God would answer (Job 13:22). “The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said. . . . Now prepare yourself like a man: I will question you, and you shall answer Me” (Job 38:1, 3). God speaks. He answers, but He does not answer—He questions. Job will answer; But Job answers very little. Out of the total of one hundred twenty-nine verses in the four chapters (38-41) there are a mere two verses that contain all that Job says (Job 40:4-5). [Note: Job does respond a second time (42:1-6) after God has completed His interrogation. However, this was not to vindicate himself but to acknowledge God, repent, and submit to the Almighty.] Job’s plea for God to speak is granted. But God’s solution to the problem is not as Job (or anyone of us) might expect. What does happen is the revelation of God’s “absolute awe-inspiring greatness and judicial grandeur” (Delitzsch 312) through a divine interrogation that entails “question after question, all reflecting [God’s] role as the creator and sovereign Lord of the cosmos. And with question after question [H]e prods Job to reflect on his own limitations” (Hicks 173).
THE CONTENT OF THE QUESTIONS
It is not possible to give a detailed consideration of each one of the hundred twenty-nine verses contained in the relevant chapters. Therefore, my methodology will be to provide a summation of the divine interrogation of Job by providing a basic representation of the questions asked by God.
The interrogation of Job by God can be divided into two basic sets of questions. The first set asked by God to Job is contained in Job 38:4-39:30 and involves (1) the inanimate creation (38:4-38) and (2) the animate creation (38:39-39:30). Henry Morris presents an excellent summary of these two sets of questions:
. . . [E]ight verses deal with the early history of the earth, twenty-seven with the physical world as it functions today, and thirty-three verses with the nature and needs of the animals (not including the behemoth and the leviathan, which are treated in more detail . . . [in the second set of questions, chapters forty and forty-one]). All of these are a part of God’s creation, giving clear testimony of his omniscience and omnipotence, his providential care [omnibenevolence] for all his creatures. . . . (Remarkable 108)
Inanimate Creation Origins
The questions concerning the inanimate aspects of creation begin with the origin of all things (cf. Genesis 1:1; Job 38:4). This is why Smith says, “. . . [O]nly in this discourse of Jehovah . . . [w]ill one find so detailed a panorama of natural ways or so eloquent a portrayal of her mystery for man. It is an inspired commentary on the first chapter of Genesis” (qtd. in Smith 345, emp. added).
The very first question God addressed to Job (Job 38:4) implies a fundamental truth concerning origins (i.e. the origin of the universe and humans). This crucial truth is that “since no human being was present to observe the origin of the universe, origin of first life and/or origin of new life forms, there is no possible way to scientifically examine or explain such events. They cannot be tested” (Sztanyo 3). Origin questions are philosophical and/or revelational in nature. God asked, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth. . . . To what were its foundations fastened . . .?” (Job 38:4, 6). Job was not there at the beginning (nor was any other human). Therefore, to receive detailed answers to these kinds of questions one must have revelation from one who was there, and/or synthesize information from various disciplines to determine what occurred. However, such synthesis is not, strictly speaking, a function of natural science, but it is philosophy (cf. Thomas B. Warren, “Responses to Evolution.” Sufficient Evidence. 1.1 (2011): 15-28). In this first set of questions (38:4-38), Job is challenged concerning the origin of the Earth, the stars; power, control, and depth of the sea; death, light, darkness, snow, hail, rain, ice, and even the constellations.
Concerning the sea, God asked, “Have you entered the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in search of the depths?” (Job 38:16). “Depths” is translated “recesses of the deep” in the English Standard Version. Dubach and Taber say:
. . . The sea bottom is divided into three distinct areas: the continental shelf, the continental slope, and the ocean floor.
The continental shelf has numerous hills, ridges, terraces, and even canyons comparable to the Grand Canyon. The average width of the shelf is 30 miles, but it may extend several hundred miles from shore. . . .
. . . Many mountains under the sea are higher than Mt. Everest [29,000 ft.]. All oceans except the North Pacific are divided by an almost continuous system of mountains, the largest being the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. (23)
The depth of the sea is profound. The deepest known point in the oceans is 36,198 feet in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean (Museum of Science). Although the science of oceanography confirms the reality of awesome canyons, recesses, or mountain ranges of the oceans, even yet our knowledge of the oceans is extremely limited. Printed in 1969, Dubach and Taber’s work published by the U. S. Naval Oceanographic Office is still accurate in its claim that no more than “five-percent of the world’s ocean floor has been charted” (99, cf. oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/exploration.html).
There are powerful questions posed by God concerning the elements of snow and rain respectively. “. . . The secrets of snow and hail, of the distribution of light and wind, of rain and lightning, dew and ice, are demanded of the man who had assumed to judge and censure the ways of God mainly because he could not comprehend them. . .” (Smith 347). God asked Job: “Have you entered the treasury of snow, or have you seen the treasury of hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?” (Job 38:22-23). The Bible contains twenty-five references to snow. Interestingly, the Book of Job, which may be the oldest book in the Bible, contains more references to snow, ice, and frost than any other biblical book. This is certainly significant in light of the fact that Job’s homeland was in what is now essentially a desert area. Morris wrote,
The snow is a treasure. . . . The winter’s snow pack in the mountains is often called “white gold,” because of its indispensable water storage capacity, released in the melting season each spring to provide life to teeming cities and irrigation in the desert for needed food supplies. The snow also aids in maintaining the planet’s chemical cycles by returning various elements in the nuclei of its flakes back from the ocean to the lands from which they were leached and transported by rivers to the ocean. When the snowpack becomes a glacier, it can greatly assist in the breakup of rocks to form fertile soils. (Heavens 215)
In his book, The Wonder of the World, Roy Abraham Varghese proposes a list of one hundred “wonders of the world.” He defines a wonder as “any phenomenon or hard fact that intrigues or awe-inspires” (397). The thirty-sixth wonder on Varghese’s list is snowflakes. He explains,
We’re captivated by the somber silence of snowfall, the majesty of snow-capped mountain peaks. But the microstructure of snow is no less fascinating than its macro-manifestations. Every snow crystal is hexagonal but within this basic six-sided shape there are endless intricate . . . combinations so that virtually very flake is unique. A collision of atmospheric dust particles and droplets of water gives us a spectacle that is as structurally ingenious as it is esthetically elegant! The three most striking things about snow are its origin, its magnificence and its transience. What is the return on investment on such a colossal production? Is there some underlying beauty about reality that has to constantly manifest itself? (405)
God also interrogated Job concerning the rain:
Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water, or a path for the thunderbolt. To cause it to rain on a land where there is no one. A wilderness in which there is no man; To satisfy the desolate waste, And cause to spring forth the growth of tender grass? Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew? . . . Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that an abundance of water may cover you? . . . Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven, when the dust hardens in clumps, and the clods cling together? (Job 38:25-28, 34-35, 37-38)
The existence of rain is a marvelous wonder manifesting “an arrangement which no chance could have produced” (Duncan 30). Paul affirmed that the rain is one of the details within the volume of General Revelation that implies the existence of the true God and His goodness. He said, “He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven . . .” (Acts 14:17).
. . . [I]t is a big assignment to water the earth and to keep on watering it day after day and year after year. Multiplied millions of tons of water must be lifted from the oceans, suspended in the atmosphere, blown over the dry land and then dropped as rain in such a manner that it will not injure the soil and vegetation. . . .
. . .[W]hen it’s time to rain, electrical impulses flash through the atmosphere causing the moisture to gather into small drops which patter down upon the thirsty land in such a gentle way that there is no harm done. This is such a natural thing and happens so frequently that we fail to realize its tremendous significance. . . .
Law after law and principle after principle are bound up in the complex structure of our rainfall, teaching us unmistakably over and over again of the good hand of our God in His gracious provisions for our needs! (Orr 24)
In the set of questions concerning the inanimate creation (Job 38:4-38), God also took Job on a brief, but challenging journey into space. He asked: “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion? Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear [Arcturus] with its claws? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the [E]arth?” (Job 38:31-33). Biblical revelation challenges humans to give thought to the implications of the existence of the starry skies above (cf. Psalm 19:1ff). Not only did God create the stars, but He arranged them in star groupings (constellations) “for signs and seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14). The Book of Job contains more references to the constellations than are found in any other part of the Sacred Scriptures. The Pleiades is a cluster of hundreds of stars that appear in the Spring. Its “seven sisters” are the brightest members of the cluster (Steidl 133). Orion is a constellation of stars visible in late October and containing a star that is estimated to be 250 times larger than the diameter of the Sun. The awesomeness of this is realized when one considers the diameter of the Sun is approximately 865,000 miles, which makes the Sun 109 times larger than Earth. Approximately 1,300,000 Earths could fit inside the Sun (Enchanted Learning)! And one of the great stars in Orion is 250 times larger than the Sun’s diameter! Job was in way over his head as he was challenged by these profound questions. And, even yet today, in this age of great technology and scientific advancement, these questions continue to evidence their divine origin. In an old (1874) work on The Astronomy of the Bible the argument implied by God’s questions to Job is still seen to maintain its soundness in our contemporary world.
If we admit . . . that the Book of Job was composed in an age of the world when all were ignorant of the true system of the universe, and if within its compass we should find a series of astronomical inquiries, professedly selected and put to overwhelm the human mind, in case these same inquiries, at this day and in the full blaze of science, and with all our knowledge of the system of nature, should be equally overwhelming, we should in reason acknowledge that they could not have been propounded by human ignorance, and must have proceeded, as is professed, from the mouth of Him who built the universe, and to whom all secrets were open as the face of day. (Mitchell 219-20)
The first set of questions concludes with God’s challenge to Job concerning the animate creation (Job 38:39-39:30). It is a study in Zoology (i.e. animal life). Man can learn from the animals great lessons concerning what life is all about. Earlier Job had said, “[A]sk the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air . . . will tell you . . . and the fish of the sea will explain to you” (Job 12:7-8). Job’s words about the value of the animal world to teach life lessons now return to him. Warren addressed this great value when he wrote:
. . . [T]he existence of animals in the world affords God a medium of teaching various spiritual truths to man. This is done by statements in the Bible and by man’s careful observation of and thought about animals. The Bible contains many references to animals of various kinds which make it clear that God expects man to learn profound moral and spiritual lessons from animals. (Atheists 65-66)
There are nearly 3,000 mentions of animals in the Bible with about 150 animal names referenced (Cansdale 11, 13). Morris observes that God’s questions to Job in this section involve twelve animals and “all the other animals can be included in his expressed concern for these twelve representative animals” (Remarkable 107). The questions are designed to imply God’s omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence as over against Job’s limitations in knowledge, power, and care.
God asks if Job “knows” (e.g. 39:1), but he also asks whether Job can manage this creation and care for it the way God does. Does Job hunt for the lion (38:39), feed the young ravens (38:41), give the wild donkey his home (39:6), use the wild ox in his service (39:9-12), care for the ostrich even though she has no sense (39:12-18), and give the horse his strength (39:19[-25]). God asks, “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom” (39:26) or “does the eagle soar at your command?” (39:27). Through his power God manages his creation with wisdom and care. God’s creation is not the playground of his power but the nursery of his care. The world is not out of control; God is managing it quite nicely. (Hicks 174)
The zoology exam administered by God to Job had two parts. The first part was completed (Job 38:39-39:30). Job failed part one! He could not handle a single question! And, in one sense, the most difficult questions about the animate creation are yet to come (Job 40:15-41:34) as God interrogates Job concerning the most powerful land and sea animals (i.e. Behemoth and Leviathan). Preceding the divine interrogation about these two awesome animate displays of God’s creative power and knowledge, there is an interruption: The Lord says, “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it” (Job 40:2). Job asked for this whole process. He had challenged God: “Call and I will answer; Or let me speak, then You respond to me” (Job 13:22). God accepted Job’s challenge—weak as it was—and, through the preceding first set of questions (Job 38:2-39:30), God had masterfully responded to the words Job had spoken without knowledge (Job 38:2).
God allowed Job to “catch his breath” (Jackson, “Life’s” 145), but it is only a brief “calm” before the storm. He does ask, “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it” (Job 40:2). However, Job wants nothing to do with this and says, “Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4-5). Job says that he is “vile” (Job 40:4). It means that he (Job) is a lightweight. He is saying that he is in “way over his head.” He knows that he cannot compete with God. He is “out of his league.” Additionally, Job says, “. . . What shall I answer You?” He knows that he cannot confute (refute) God. He had thought he could answer God (cf. Job 13:22), but, he now admits he knows better. Finally, Job says, “I lay my hand over my mouth.” He will constrain his words and say nothing. However, “silence” is not “trust” (Jackson, Book 84). God will continue the interrogation.
Before God unleashes His final interrogation of Job concerning the two greatest land and sea creatures (i.e. Behemoth and Leviathan), He asks Job four questions by way of introduction (Job 40:8-9).
- Will you discredit my justice (41:8)?
- Will you condemn Me in order to justify yourself (41:8)?
- Do you have such power as God that enables you to dispense perfect justice (41:9)?
- Do you have such a voice as God that enables you to speak and command the execution of judgment (41:9)? (cf. Hailey, Commentary 350)
If Job can do these things, then God will acknowledge that Job can take the exercise of moral justice into his own hands. If Job can adorn himself in the majesty, splendor, glory, and beauty of divine holiness, then God will admit and confess the reality of supernatural power possessed by this man (cf. Job 40:10-14). But Job has no answer! He cannot “play God” successfully! Warren sums up the utter failure of Job (and all humans) when it comes to man’s great inability to question God’s right of disposition of the entire creation of which He is the ultimate originator and sustainer:
. . . God makes it clear to Job (and to all other men who may read the book) that while man may properly exercise his mind in the attempted solution to many questions, it is simply beyond man’s ability and prerogative to question whether God’s creative activity (including God’s right of disposition of what He had created—including the eternal disposition of wicked men) is proper (right). . . .
God, in effect, says that man cannot fully explain even the things which he finds in the world. How, then, could he expect to be able to come into such knowledge as would enable him to question God’s creative activities. . . . (“Living” 204)
Behemoth and Leviathan
In the final section of this awesome and overwhelming display of God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence, attention is directed to the two greatest animals of all. First, Behemoth. God says, “Look now at the behemoth, which I made along with you. . . . See now his strength . . . and his power. . . . He moves his tail like a cedar. . . . He is the first of the ways of God; Only He who made him can bring near his sword. . . .” (Job 40:15-17, 19). The word “behemoth” means “‘the beast,’ i.e. the beast par excellence” (Smith 348). It is the “plural form of beast . . . regarded as a plural of intensity meaning great beast” (Jackson, Book 85). The animal has been identified as an elephant by some, but the common identification has been a hippopotamus even though the textual description does not fit. Morris (Remarkable 113-14) and Jackson (Book 85-86) both make a good case for behemoth being “some form of dinosaur, such as the brontosaurus” (86). Jackson presents seven factors that make it likely that this is some form of dinosaur:
. . . (1) Dinosaurs are known to have survived the flood. In Rhodesia there are cave paintings of the ancient brontosaurus left by a race of tribesmen who lived about 1500 B.C. (2) “Behemoth” is thought by some scholars to be related to an Egyptian term, pehemu [ox of the water], but this is not the Egyptian term for the hippopotamus. (3) The hippo has a short, slim tail, which hardly fits the description, “he moves his tail like a cedar” (17). The brontosaurus has a massive, long tail. (4) His description as “chief [largest] of the works of God” (19) more nearly fits the brontosaurus (30 tons) than the hippopotamus (4 tons). (5) Behemoth dare not be approached with the sword (19b), yet the Egyptian monuments frequently picture single hunters attacking the hippo with a spear. (6) The vegetation of whole mountains is said to supply behemoth’s food (20); the hippo normally eats about 200 pounds of food daily and stays near the water. (7) No man was able to capture behemoth (24), but representations of the capture of the hippopotamus are common in Egyptian art. (86)
The second monstrous animal God uses in His final interrogation of Job is Leviathan. This animal appears to have lived at sea (Job 41:31-33). Some insist that Leviathan was a crocodile. Others say it is a whale. However, neither really fits the description provided in this powerful excursus. In the following, Morris makes the case for Leviathan being some kind of now-extinct dinosaur:
“Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? Or his head with fish spears? . . . Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him? None is so fierce that dare stir him up: . . . the sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold” (Job 41:7, 9, 10, 26). These and other verses indicate that the leviathan was impregnable to human efforts to capture or slay him. Yet zoos are full of crocodiles, and crocodiles have been hunted so successfully that they are often considered an endangered species. The same applies to whales.
And what about the following description? “By his sneezings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth” (Job 41:18-21).
This is surely not a crocodile! To the possible objection that not even dinosaurs breathed fire, we could answer that no one knows what dinosaurs could do.
Dragons of various kinds were capable of breathing out fire—at least according to traditions from all parts of the world. Certain insects can, in effect, give out light or fire (e.g., the bombardier beetle and the firefly), as can various luminescent fish. Perhaps more to the point, dinosaur fossils have been excavated that show a strange protuberance, with internal cavity, on the top of the head. It is conceivable that this could have served as a sort of mixing chamber for combustible gases that would ignite when exhaled into the outside oxygen. (Remarkable 118)
“So God created great sea creatures, and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind. . .” (Genesis 1:21). The “great sea creatures” are “great sea monsters” (ASV; NASV) or “sea monsters” (McCord 454). Dubach and Taber ask:
Are there really sea monsters? Although we discount the fabled sea monsters, such as the kraken which could swallow vessels whole, we have not yet explored the ocean thoroughly enough to say with absolute certainty that there are no monsters in the deep.
Scientific observations and records note that giant squids with tentacles 40 feet long live at 1,500 feet and that sizable objects have been detected by explosive echo sounding at greater depths.
Oarfish 40 to 50 feet long also have been observed by scientists. Either the oarfish or the giant squid with its long tentacles may have given rise to the sea serpent stories told by sailors of old.
In recent years, Danish scientists have studied large eel larvae that would grow 90 feet if their growth rate is the same as eels of other species. (90)
The Psalmist had some awareness of this monstrous ocean creature when he wrote, “Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. You divided the sea by Your might; [Y]ou broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters. You crushed the head of Leviathan . . .” (Psalm 74:12-14, ESV). When the Psalmist affirmed life’s great acclamation (God), he included Leviathan as evidence of God’s greatness, honor, and majesty.
O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions—This great and wide sea, in which are innumerable teeming things, living things both small and great. There the ships sail about; There is that Leviathan which You have made to play there. (Psalm 104:24-26)
THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE QUESTIONS
As set forth earlier, the Book of Job raises and answers a number of crucial questions. Some of these questions are explicitly stated while others are implied in the chapters considered in this essay (38-41). From these questions great lessons are learned. What are some of these lessons, and how do they apply to one’s life today? For one living in the 21st century to study the Book of Job (or any other book in the Bible) and fail to inquire concerning how the information in the book applies to his life would be a serious mistake. One may study for many years this conversation God had with Job and never exhaust the depth of truth contained therein. It likely is the case that its application is inexhaustible. However, consider a few basic principles of application implied from the report of this marvelous exchange between God and Job.
Creation’s Revelation is Crucial
Undergirding the information revealed in these chapters is the implication of the value of the revelation of God in the creation—i.e. the universe, the world, and man. Although it is insufficient to meet all of man’s spiritual needs while he lives on Earth, the general revelation of God, when properly handled, proves the existence of God and from it one can know at least some things concerning the nature of God (cf. Psalm 19:1-6; Psalm 139:14; Proverbs 20:12; Acts 14:17; Romans 1:20; Hebrews 3:4).
Although a man (like Job) may suffer with great intensity, such does not remove the proof in creation one finds for the existence of God. Former atheist, Antony Flew, following his acceptance of theism, wrote:
Certainly, the existence of evil and suffering must be faced. However, philosophically speaking, that is a separate issue from the question of God’s existence. From the existence of nature, we arrive at the ground of [God’s] existence. Nature may have its imperfections, but this says nothing as to whether it had an ultimate Source. (156) [Note: As Thomas B. Warren has shown in his book, Have Atheists Proved There Is No God?, the existence of evil, itself, implies the existence of God. If real, objective evil exists, then God exists.]
God’s Care and Control are Visible
Although there are numerous questions that no man (including Job) can answer, the very unanswerable questions God asked Job, themselves, imply at least some things about God one can know as he suffers. These divine questions evidence the omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and omnibenevolence of God. The marvelous workings of God in the inanimate and animate creation imply something great that undergirds our faith, even when we may be suffering to great degrees. Warren explained,
. . . [I]n the counsel of the all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving God lies a reason for life’s difficulties, and in this truth we can rest our faith. Men may not know all about a particular incident of suffering or affliction, but they can know that this world is one in which “all things work together for good to them that love God . . .” (Rom. 8:28). We can know that if God is concerned about trees and animals, then we can also know that God is concerned for man. If God can control the universe around us, then He certainly can control (direct) the lives of men. (“Living” 205)
The Call to Trust is Reasonable
Job had asked for an explanation of why he was suffering (cf. Job 13:22; Job 31:35). However, what he received was not the detailed answer he desired, but more questions that implied the answer he needed. Morgan observes that God made “no reference . . . to the sufferings of Job, no explanation was offered of anything that had transpired . . .” (Answers 102-03). “God is less interested in answering our questions than in strengthening our faith. . . . God is under no obligation to explain anything he causes or allows to come into our lives, but . . . calls us to trust him . . .” (Blanchard 540-41).
We (humans) must not know all the specific details of our lives, but we must trust God, because of what we learn in His creation and in His word. It is not that we cannot know anything. God does not call us to a blind trust. We can (and must) know that (1) God is and (2) He can be trusted. From evidence such as that manifested in God’s questions to Job, man can know that there is good reason for what happens in the world. If one knows God, it must be such that he also knows this is the case. However, this does not mean a man can know all the details of his own situation. We can (and should) trust God when we cannot see “why” something has happened. We trust God because of “the very evidence of purpose on the face of the universe” (Hailey, Comments 347).
The Complete Revelation Now Available
Job had sufficient evidence, in the form of the marvelous questions God addressed to him, to cause him to lovingly submit to God in deep trust (cf. Job 42:1-6). He had special revelation from God in addition to the general revelation available in creation (cf. Job 23:12). If it was the case that Job could (and should) trust God with a more limited revelation than is available to those of us who live today, then it is much more obvious that those of us living today with access to the complete revelation of God through the person and work of Jesus Christ, can (and must) trust God no matter what the details of life are for us. Peter wrote, “[T]hough now for a little while . . . you have been grieved by various trials . . . you . . . through [Jesus Christ] believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:6, 21). We can know that “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
Fitting for us as we conclude this look at these great chapters (Job 38-41) is Hailey’s eloquent and insightful summation that includes the following:
Jehovah spoke from the whirlwind in questions to Job, bringing the inanimate and animate world before him that he might behold the difference between God’s greatness and man’s smallness. Jehovah’s purpose was that Job might realize his arrogance in speaking about the Lord as he had, and his impudence in demanding that the Lord answer him.
Another point that stands out in Jehovah’s speeches is that in the creation there was expressed and demonstrated an infinite wisdom, knowledge, and power, and that the design of purpose was stamped upon the entire creation. Seeing that in the creation of all things God was directed by an infinite wisdom, then by that wisdom He can use the adversities of life to discipline and refine man.
We may ponder the question of how God manages the affairs of His universe, but it is not our’s to question His ability and the fact that He does. The knowledge, wisdom, and power to control and direct the kosmos is beyond our power to understand. It is not in man’s ability to comprehend the greatness of God nor to grasp the magnitude of His operation. We must bow in reverence before such a One and worship in adoration, saying, “He hath done all things well.” (Commentary 372-73)
In effect, God said if man in general (and Job in particular) could not fully explain and comprehend the things of God’s awesome creation of the universe, the world, and man, then it should not be thought strange that suffering also has its mysteries to humans. However, this much is sure—God, who is infinite in understanding and power, is in control and will do right! “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). “Let all the Earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him” (Psalm 33:8).
-Charles C. Pugh III
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