Job 38:1-42:17 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Encounter With The Creator
Comments for Study 10

Job 38:1-42:17
Key verse: 42:5


Job 38:1 "Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:"

* "LORD" -Hebrew for "YHWH" or "Yahweh" which is the Israelite covenant name for God. Not used in the book of Job since chapters 1 and 2 (See note there). Neither Job nor his friends used this word, as far as I know, in their conversations. Most likely this is because the LORD's covenant with Abraham, even though he had most likely received it by Job's time, was not known to anybody but Abraham and those few people in his families household.

* "Then the LORD answered Job" -Job has been full of questions for God. God directly answers none of them. Instead he asks dozens of questions designed to shut Job's mouth and open his heart.

Job's understanding of God is based predominately on conclusions drawn from observation of the natural world. So God comes to him as Creator.

The characters of Job refer to God as "my Maker" six times (see also 4:17; 9:9; 32:22; 35:10; 36:3). Most of the information believers of Job's time had concerning God came from observation of the created universe, illuminated by the Spirit of God. The creation theme increases as the drama moves to its conclusion.

Job is an Easterner, a poet, master of words. So God speaks Job's language, employing the colorful rhetoric of Eastern metaphors, biting sarcasm, hyperbole, and other pungent word pictures.

Job has demanded his "day in court" with God. The day has arrived. He finds himself being cross-examined by God. God's questions concern creation and are in three groups;
    a) Do you know the sources? (38:4-21)
    b) Do you understand the systems? (38:22-38)
    c) Do you appreciate the specialization? (38:39-39:30).

* "out of a storm" -The Hebrew word for the storm was used to designate a wind storm, whirlwind, or hurricane. In Job's part of the world the desert burns with temperatures well over 100 degrees in the summertime. In such places visible waves of thermal heat rise from the desert floor. Against those waves dust-filled wind cones appear, whirling, dipping and dancing over the searing sands. In the deserts of the south-western United States they are called "dust devils". On a typical hot afternoon several of these whirlwinds tear across the landscape throwing dirt and debris hundreds of feet in the air. (Christian Publication's Adult Teaching Guide (June-Aug. 1995)). These men would have to shield themselves from the dust being blown around, thus obscuring their view of the Lord. Moses did too at first.

Often the Lord appears in forms, or perhaps it is better to say he "wraps" himself with something. Example: One of Abraham's three angle like visitors was the LORD, Moses' burning and yet not consumed bush, Israel's column of smoke in the day and fire at night for fourty years in the desert, John the Baptist saw the Spirit come on Jesus looking like a dove, Jesus' three apostles heard God the Father speak from a thick cloud that engulfed them, Jesus appearing to Saul (later Paul) as a bright light that blinded him, etc.

It seems that Elihu had foreseen this appearance. (37:21-24)

Job 38:2 "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?"

* Elihu says this of Job in 35:16.

In 42:3, Job echoes the LORD's words and then agrees with them. So Job understood that God was talking to him. Those with him also understood this for they did not answer these words and God didn't rebuke them for not answering it. (Why would he if they were addressed to them?) And the LORD does not say, "No Job, I was talking to those amongst you." Therefore the LORD is speaking to Job is this whole conversation. He does not address anyone else until 42:7-9 where he addresses Job's three friends.

Therefore, in verse 2, God states that Job's complaining and raging against him are unjustified and proceed from limited understanding.

* The Lord had bragged to Satan in 1:8 that Job was blameless and unique in the world. Now the Lord says that Job had darkened his counsel with words without knowledge. Job is a good illustration how the natural man is weak and easily swayed. 1 Corinthians 15:42-49 confirms the weak natural man by contrasting it to the future resurrection body. "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven."

Job 38:3 "Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me."

* Repeated by the LORD in 40:7, at the beginning of his second discourse with Job, and by Job in 42:4 again showing that these words are for Job.

The format of God's response is to ply Job with rhetorical questions, to each of which Job must plead ignorance. God says nothing about Job's suffering, nor does he address Job's problem about divine justice. Job gets neither a bill of indictment nor a verdict of innocence. But, more important, God does not humiliate or condemn him -which surely would have been the case if the counsellors had been right. So by implication Job is vindicated, and later his vindication is directly affirmed (42:7-8). The divine discourses, then, succeed in bringing Job to complete faith in God's goodness without his receiving a direct answer to his questions.

* Job's friends had said that if God were to appear he would be struck down. This did not happen. As 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

Job 38:4-7 ""Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone--while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?"

* This is be beginning of part a) Do you know the sources" (38:4-38:21). (See above note on the three divisions.)

* What insights into the creation of the earth does God give?

* "all the angels shouted for joy" -Psalm 148 reflect this statement.

Job 38:8-11 ""Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt'?"

* Psalm 33:7 and Jer. 5:22 also state this.

Job 38:12-15 ""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? The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken."

* The righteous often work in the light of day and sleep in the darkness of night. So the evil perform and prepare their activities where the righteous are not and perfect God's order of the day.

Job 38:16-18 ""Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this."

* The springs of the sea and the bottom of the ocean can not be accessed unless we are in a special suit or submarine. For Job this was impossible. Job claimed he knew a lot and could make a convincing case against the Lord. The Lord is showing otherwise. We should never expect to understand everything; however, we can always trust in the LORD.

Job 38:19-21 ""What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!"

* The sarcasm with which the LORD dresses Job down in verse 21 indicates he feels very strongly about Job's attitude. Job's demand for an explanation of his suffering is close to the deceptive reasoning which cause Eve to eat the forbidden fruit -the prideful assumption that human beings can be as wise as God.

If we compare ourself with others around us we could find some way to say, "I am better than that person." So we fool ourselves in thinking we are great, strong, smart, wise, beautiful, etc. Comparing ourselves with other sinful people is foolish. We should compare ourselves with the holy God and remain humble.

God does not intend to answer Job's "Why?". Thus when the dust thrown up by this whirlwind settles back to earth, Job will be left to humbly trust God without direct answers.

* James 4:10 "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."

* 1 Peter 5:6 "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."

Job 38:22-30 ""Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen?"

* This is the beginning of part b) Do you understand the system" (38:22-38). (See above note on the three divisions.) In this part, God probes Job's knowledge of how, where, and by whom the powerful systems of the universe are controlled.

These questions strike at the demand hidden in the request to know why-the demand to know how. We want to know the reasons for everything because that brings us closer to being in control. It is the trap Lucifer fell into.

God is in control of his creation. It's fun to try to understand how it works, but the mysteries of it all have never been nor ever will be fully fathomed. We are free to ask why and search for answers concerning the things that happen in our lives, but the asking and searching are only right when pursued with humility and confidence in the greatness and goodness of God.

* Verses 22-23 -Does Job know where snow and hail come from, and how to manage them in order to stop armies in their tracks?

* Verses 24-28 -Can Job trace the movement of thunderstorms and winds?

* Verses 29-30 -Can Job explain ice-the miracle by which water turns to "stone"?

Job 38:31-33 ""Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God's dominion over the earth?"

* Can Job harness the forces of laws which control stars and constellations?

Job 38:34-38 "Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are'? Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind? Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together?

* Verses 34-Can Job make rain fall?

* Verse 35 -Does the lightning strike at Job's command and then report to him where it has stuck?

* Verse 36 -Does Job understand the workings of man's heart and mind.

* Verse 37 -How many clouds are there in the sky right now, Job" Is it the right number?

* Verse 38 -Can Job cause a drought?

Job 38:39-41 ""Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?"

* This is the beginning of part c) Do you appreciate the specialization? (38:39-39:30). (See above note on the three divisions.)

* Verse 39-41 -The dependence of lions and ravens on their Maker to supply prey, seeds, and carrion.

Job 39:1-4 ""Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn? Do you count the months till they bear? Do you know the time they give birth? They crouch down and bring forth their young; their labor pains are ended. Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds; they leave and do not return."

* Verses 1-4 -The unpredictability of the birthing and development of mountain goats and deer.

Job 39:5-8 ""Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? I gave him the wasteland as his home, the salt flats as his habitat. He laughs at the commotion in the town; he does not hear a driver's shout. He ranges the hills for his pasture and searches for any green thing."

* Verses 5-8 -The freedom of the wild donkey.

Job 39:9-12 ""Will the wild ox consent to serve you? Will he stay by your manger at night? Can you hold him to the furrow with a harness? Will he till the valleys behind you? Will you rely on him for his great strength? Will you leave your heavy work to him? Can you trust him to bring in your grain and gather it to your threshing floor?"

* Verses 9-12 -The stubbornness of the buffalo.

Job 39:13-18 ""The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, but they cannot compare with the pinions and feathers of the stork. 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. She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers; she cares not that her labor was in vain, 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."

* Verses 13-18 -The absurdity of the ostrich.

Job 39:19-25 ""Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting? He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword. The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance. In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds. At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, 'Aha!' He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry."

* Verses 19-25 -The courage of the war horse.

Job 39:26-30 ""Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread his wings toward the south? Does the eagle soar at your command and build his nest on high? He dwells on a cliff and stays there at night; a rocky crag is his stronghold. From there he seeks out his food; his eyes detect it from afar. His young ones feast on blood, and where the slain are, there is he."

* Verse 26-The migratory instincts of the hawk.

* Verse 27-30 -The perspective of the eagle.

* Knowledge is not the same as wisdom as many believe. Knowledge is good, but wisdom is better. Knowledge should be transformed into wisdom. Both are to be desired for the good of others. Solomon asked the LORD, "Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?" God said to Solomon, "Since this is your heart's desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have." (2 Chron. 1:10-12)

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

* The parade of creation passes Job's mind's eye. There is a disturbing break in the line of march. Suddenly the cross-examiner nails home his point with the most relevant question of all: "Will the one who has been arguing with the Almighty speak up now? What is your answer to MY questions, Job?"

Job 40:3-5 "Then Job answered the LORD: "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 has seen God anew, which stem from God's previous questions, and now speaks with a different attitude, with humility and respect. Thus, God's first phase of Job's recovery is complete.

* Job's change of attitude is similar to Peter's in John's Gospel chapters 13 and 21.

Job 40:6 "Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:"

* This is the second phase of the LORD's words to Job. In this Job learns of God's grace.

Job 40:7 ""Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me."

* Also said earlier by the LORD.

God does not respond to Job's apparent repentance. Instead he teaches Job of his grace. This is done in three parts
    a) God dares Job (40:8-14)
    b) God directs Job's attention (40:15-24)
    c) God challenges Job (41:1-34).

Job 40:8-14 ""Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God's, and can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand. Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you."

* Opposing the proud and exulting the humble is a characteristic of God.

Job 40:15-24 ""Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly! His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron. He ranks first among the works of God, yet his Maker can approach him with his sword. The hills bring him their produce, and all the wild animals play nearby. Under the lotus plants he lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh. The lotuses conceal him in their shadow; the poplars by the stream surround him. When the river rages, he is not alarmed; he is secure, though the Jordan should surge against his mouth. Can anyone capture him by the eyes, or trap him and pierce his nose?"

* See end of this lesson for words about the behemoth.

Job 41:1-34 ""Can you pull in the leviathan with a fish hook or tie down his tongue with a rope? Can you put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook? Will he keep begging you for mercy? Will he speak to you with gentle words? Will he make an agreement with you for you to take him as your slave for life? Can you make a pet of him like a bird or put him on a leash for your girls? Will traders barter for him? Will they divide him up among the merchants? Can you fill his hide with harpoons or his head with fishing spears? If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again! Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering. No one is fierce enough to rouse him. Who then is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me. I will not fail to speak of his limbs, his strength and his graceful form. Who can strip off his outer coat? Who would approach him with a bridle? Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth? His back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. His snorting throws out flashes of light; his eyes are like the rays of dawn. Firebrands stream from his mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from his nostrils as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds. His breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from his mouth. Strength resides in his neck; dismay goes before him. The folds of his flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. His chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone. When he rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before his thrashing. The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. Iron he treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. Arrows do not make him flee; sling stones are like chaff to him. A club seems to him but a piece of straw; he laughs at the rattling of the lance. His undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge. He makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair. Nothing on earth is his equal--a creature without fear. He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud."

* See end of lesson for words about leviathan.

Job 42:1-6 "Then Job replied to the LORD: "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked,'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said,'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.' My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

* Job is on his face in the ashes. He is seeing God and himself more clearly than ever. All his questions now seem unimportant in the light of his new vision of the Creator.

Job 42:7-9 "After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer."

* God opposed the proud men and exulted the repentant Job.

Job 42:10-17 "After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation."