With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (XXI. The Lord Speaks (Chs. 38-40:2)
Thirty-seven chapters — and the Lord has been silent. The only conversations the Lord has conducted have been those with Satan in volunteering His servant Job to be victimized (Job’s perspective) by the enemy of God. Now, the Lord speaks.
What do we see in Chapter 38?
First, the Lord takes the offensive against Job, asking “Who is this that obscures my plans?” (v. 2) This is an important point: God’s work in Job’s life was planned. It was not haphazard. It was not without meaning.
Second, the Lord challenges Job’s ignorance of the earth’s foundations, the boundaries of the seas, whether he has given orders to the morning or the dawn. Does he have the power to shake the wicked out of the earth (v. 13)? The gates of death have not been shown to Job (v. 17). He doesn’t know the abode of light or where darkness resides (v. 19). In great sarcasm God says, “Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!” (v. 21).
Continuing, the Lord queries Job about the storehouses of the snow and hail, the lightning, thunderstorms, the rain, ice, the constellations, and God’s dominion over the earth (vv. 22-38).
The Lord then moves to the category of the animal kingdom. By His questions the Lord indicates that Job has no role in satisfying the hunger of the lions (v. 39) or providing food for the ravens (v. 41).
Chapter 39: God continues His grilling of Job and his non-involvement in when the mountain goats give birth or when the doe bears her fawn (vv. 1-4). He has nothing to do with the freedom of the wild donkey or power over the wild ox (vv. 5-13). He has no power over the foolish, yet speedy, ostrich (vv. 13-18). He is not the one who gives strength or courage to the horse (vv. 19-25). The flight of the hawk or the eagle did not come about by Job’s wisdom (vv. 26-30).
The Lord abruptly ends His lecture to Job in chapter 40 by asking, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” (vv. 1-2).
Tentative Conclusions about the Lord’s Response: What are we to conclude about this final speaking of the Lord? He has been silent throughout the book. Does He come to Job with words of consolation, sympathizing with him in his suffering? Does He console Job and let him in on the secret challenges God has issued to man’s archenemy Satan? No!
Instead we see that the Lord overwhelms Job with a series of questions related to creation. It is fascinating what the Lord does not say. He does not side with Job’s “friends” in accusing him of sin. He does not say that Job’s calamities have come as acts of discipline to keep Job from going down to the pit like the wicked do. Instead, He puts Job in his place, reminding him that he is the creature and God is the Creator. He is under no obligation to explain the whys of Job’s troubles. Confrontation, not consolation, is God’s response to His servant. How will Job respond to the Lord’s devastating questions?
Tags: confession, creation, defense, providence
Gerry T. Neal
February 3, 2023 at 12:03 am
If the Leviathan of Job 41 is understood to be the same Leviathan who appears in Isaiah 27:1 then it is not necessarily the case that God made no reference to His challenges to Satan at the beginning of the book that are the hidden background story to Job’s sufferings in His reply to Job. God’s reference to Leviathan is similar in form to the other challenges God presents Job with. Can he (Job) control and tame Leviathan the way He (God) can? If Leviathan is understood to be Satan then even without letting Job in on the specifics of His earlier exchanges with Satan this portion of God’s response is letting Job know that the monster that has been torturing him, God has kept on a leash the entire time.
Happy birthday Dr. D.!
Dr. Larry Dixon
February 4, 2023 at 12:26 pm
Gerry — Thank you for your insightful comment. And the birthday wishes! What’s happening with you these days?