God Speaks to Job and his friends

Job 38-41

The words of Elihu dissolve into a faint echo as Job and his friends have nothing to say.

Then the Lord speaks in 124 of the next 129 verses.

“Out of the storm,” Job and his friends hear from God.

“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.
Job 38:2-4

Sit down Job, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar and hear the words you were unable to put together. Listen, Elihu, for affirmation of your words and perhaps a more complete response.

The narrative over the course of chapters 38, 39, 40 and 41 provides a detailed description of the Lord, the Creator, the one who is in all, with a wide range of examples to provide clarity for us all. This could be a very long list, let me provide some highlights:

  • 38:4. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
  • 38:8. Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb
  • 38:12-13. Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?
  • 38:19. What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?
  • 38:22. Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail?
  • 38:31. Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
  • 38:35. Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
  • 38:41. Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?
  • 39:2. Do you count the months till they bear? Do you know the time they give birth? (mountain goats and deer)
  • 39:5-18. The wild donkey, the wild ox, the ostrich and the stork
  • 39:19. Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?
  • 39:26-27. The hawk and the eagle

Interspersed among these physical examples, we read:

  • 38:15. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken.
  • 38:17. Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?

Example after example, then the Lord pauses and asks a direction question:

The Lord said to Job:
“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!”
Job 40:1-2

Job’s response, as it should be, is humble:

“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more.”
Job 40:4-5

For the second time we read:

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm:
“Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
“Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
Job 40:6-8

In short, can you replace God? I don’t think so! In Job 41:11 the narrative begins to draw to a close:

Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me.
Job 41:11

In Job 41:12-34 we read a detailed description of Leviathan, the awesome, terrible, wonderfully horrible creature that is unequaled on earth, “a creature without fear” (Job 41:33) — the common theme of nightmares. Yet even this creature is under the thumb of God. How about you Job? Can you handle this? I didn’t think so.

Through imagery and poetic prose, the Lord convicts Job and his friends of “playing God” with their words and puts them in there place. Humility is not easily swallowed. Lord, help me remember my place, but at the same time remind me that I am yours. Through the blood of Jesus I have been adopted into a royal family, one that desires for all to join. Help me not to focus on myself, but to look for ways to reach others and point them to you.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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