By David Faust
After Job and his friends speculate at length about the meaning of life and suffering, the Lord speaks to Job. It’s the longest single speech attributed to God in all the Bible. God speaks “out of the storm” and tells Job, “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (38:1, 3). Clearly this conversation isn’t going to be a casual walk in the park.
God, the Creator and Caretaker
The Lord begins with a basic question: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand” (v. 4). We live a few years; God has existed forever. We weren’t around when he created the world. What makes us think we can operate it better than he can?
The Lord’s discourse goes on. Can Job describe how the oceans were formed? Can he explain the nature of light? Can he detail the processes that produce rain, snow, dew, frost, ice, lightning, and hail? God asks, “Do you know the laws of the heavens?” (v. 33). Could Job organize the stars into constellations and orchestrate the orderly movements of the heavenly bodies in outer space? The more we learn about the size and complexity of the universe, the more we should stand in awe of the Almighty.
Do we understand everything there is to know about animals? In chapters 38 and 39, the Lord takes Job on a whirlwind tour of the zoo—sort of a spiritual safari—to remind him about God’s intimate knowledge of the living things he created: roosters, lions, ravens, oxen, storks, hawks, eagles, and other creatures. Tenderly the Lord describes how mountain goats give birth while he looks on; playfully he portrays the untamable spirit of the wild donkey (39:1-8). The Lord depicts the ostrich with a touch of ironic humor: “She lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand, unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some wild animal may trample them. . . . for God did not endow her with wisdom or give her a share of good sense. Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider” (vv. 14-18). (I suspect the duck-billed platypus is also on God’s list of animals that elicit bewilderment from us and a delighted chuckle from him.) Equine lovers can appreciate the way God describes the majesty of the horse with its mane flowing as it charges fearlessly into battle (vv. 19-25).
God, the Moral Ruler
Job can’t argue with God’s power to create the universe, nor can he dispute God’s moral authority. “Would you discredit my justice?” God asks. “Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” (40:8). We don’t possess the moral authority to “look at all who are proud and humble them” (v. 12), but God does.
It’s natural to ask questions when we suffer—even, like Job, to demand answers from God. But when we finally see the big picture and recognize the creativity and concern of the all-wise Father, we come to the point where we simply have to say with Job, “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?” (v. 4). Author Philip Yancey rightly points out, “Our arms aren’t long enough to box with God.”
1. What makes you stand in awe of God’s creative power?
2. Do you identify with the unworthiness Job felt when God confronted him? Why, or why not?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for December 16, 2012
Micah 4, 5
Micah 6, 7
Zephaniah 1, 2