Job 38-39 The LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind

From Job 38-39

18 Job three friends

One well known saying is, ‘Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it’. Job has hoped for the opportunity to question God. In today’s reading the LORD answers Job.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

18 Job 38-39

38 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

3 Dress for action like a man;

I will question you, and you make it known to me. (Job 38.1-3)

It might have been easy for Job to plead his case and question the justice of his suffering before his friends. But when the LORD comes everyone gets put in their place. Instead of Job questioning the LORD, the LORD questions Job.

4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

Tell me, if you have understanding.

5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!

Or who stretched the line upon it?

6 On what were its bases sunk,

or who laid its cornerstone,

7 when the morning stars sang together

and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors

when it burst out from the womb,

9 when I made clouds its garment

and thick darkness its swaddling band,

10 and prescribed limits for it

and set bars and doors,

11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,

and here shall your proud waves be stayed’? (Job 38.4-11)

The LORD asks a series of questions that highlight the stark contrast between God as sovereign creator and Job as limited creature. Job was not present during creation. He does not know its size or what happened at each step.

12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,

and caused the dawn to know its place,

13 that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,

and the wicked be shaken out of it?

14 It is changed like clay under the seal,

and its features stand out like a garment.

15 From the wicked their light is withheld,

and their uplifted arm is broken.

16 “Have you entered into the springs of the sea,

or walked in the recesses of the deep?

17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you,

or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?

18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?

Declare, if you know all this. (Job 38.12-18)

The LORD persists in his line of questioning. Continuing to highlight Job’s limitations. Job has questioned the justice of his own suffering and whether the LORD executes justice in the world. The LORD has responded saying he is far greater than Job could ever imagine. The wicked are not given light, their power is broken. The LORD speaks about the deep and the darkness. Perhaps alluding to the destiny of the wicked.

19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light,

and where is the place of darkness,

20 that you may take it to its territory

and that you may discern the paths to its home?

21 You know, for you were born then,

and the number of your days is great! (Job 38.19-21)

The LORD’s questions end in sarcasm. ‘You know, for you were born then’. Not. ‘The number of your days is great’. Not.

The LORD’s response to Job’s earlier questions is unexpected. He could have explained Satan’s challenge. ‘Stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face’ (Job 2.5). But he hasn’t. Job has questioned God’s justice in his situation and the wider world. The LORD has responded by basically saying he is sovereign over all. Huh?

This makes sense only when we consider the implications of what suffering and evil on how we view God. Is God all powerful and loving? If so, why does he allow suffering? God’s answer is that he is sovereign and will bring the suffering of his people to an end. Is God all powerful and just? If so, why does he allow evil to exist? God’s answer is that he is sovereign and will ultimately punish sin and wrongdoing. Both of these come about in his control over his creation.

The LORD will continue to describe his power and control over creation. He controls and knows about all the animals. He has made and ordered the earth and nature (Job 39).

Story of Jesus

There are not many passages in the New Testament describing God is such overpowering terms as the LORD describes himself in Job 38. But they do exist. In the Book of Revelation John writes,

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,

who was and is and is to come!”

9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created.” (Rev 4:6–11)

I think when we are truly confronted with the glory, majesty and sheer power of God, we will have no words to say. I dont mean to diminish our suffering. Rather I would hope to bring comfort by learning from Job’s example and redirecting our attention to him.

When God speaks he changes things.

The passage above is soon followed by another familiar with suffering.

9 And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll

and to open its seals,

for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God

from every tribe and language and people and nation,

10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,

and they shall reign on the earth.” (Rev 5:9–10)

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.