God Speaks to Job
The Lord answers Job out of the whirlwind.
Job previously had asked the Lord to call to him, and he would answer. (13:22) The Lord now calls on Job, and the first thing He says is: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? . . . I will question you, and you can make it known to Me.” (38:2-3)
Isaiah gives us the important clue to understanding Job chapters 38-41. “Woe to anyone who argues with his Maker, one earthenware pot among many!” (Isaiah 45:9 RNJB) Remember that God is the Potter and we are the clay.
The Lord appeared to Job. Just as He appeared to Israel at Mt. Sinai “with thunder and lightning and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast” (Exodus 19:16); and just as He appeared again at Pentecost with “a sound like a mighty rushing wind and tongues of fire resting” on each person there (Acts 2:1-3), so He appeared to Job in the whirlwind. God, in all His might and majesty, appeared to Job.
- But at the same time, God appeared to Job as YHWH, I AM – I AM HERE for you. Chapter 38 is the first time the personal name for God appears since the earlier chapters of Job. Almighty God – Job’s eternal Father – appeared to Job.
Job has lost sight of the wonder and mystery of God’s creation. In the words of J. B. Phillips, who produced a beautiful translation-paraphrase of the New Testament, “Your God is too small!” Job has focused only on his own pain and suffering; He has argued with his Maker. His understanding of God was much too small.
- God appears to Job both as his Father who loves him without condition and whose plans for him are for good and not for evil, and also as Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth who upholds all things by the word of His power and who destroys the plans of Satan.
- The Lord begins with a rebuke. “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (38:2) He does this not to intimidate Job, but to make him realize his foolishness as a creature attempting to argue with his Creator. God speaks out of His power but also His compassion.
- Job 38:1—38 He begins by speaking of His creation and care for nature. He asks Job a question: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (38:2) Job has allowed his suffering to cloud his understanding of who God is and how majestically He works in the universe.
- When we read of God’s creation of the universe we learn that He, in His unlimited wisdom created a world of intelligent design. The scientific and mathematical precision of God’s creation continues to amaze scientists today.
- The universe is orderly, without chaos. God speaks of how He limited the sea from overflowing onto land, how dawn knows precisely when to arise, how snow and rain function to maintain the universe. When we read about how Jesus calmed the stormy sea with a simple word, we understand the confession of the author of Hebrews: “He (Jesus) upholds the universe [and all things] by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:3)
- B. God is the God of life, not of death. He is the God of order, not of confusion.
- Job 38:39—39:40 The Lord continues to speak of the glory of His creation of the animals and His provision for them that requires no human help.
- God created the birds and animals and provides for them directly. He feeds the raven, enables the mountain goat to give birth in a way that its young ones grow healthy and strong. He gives the horse its might, and enables the eagle to soar to great heights and make its nest on high, and gives it an eye that can spy out food from nearly 3 miles away.
- Jesus reminds us of God’s great provisions when He tells us that the birds are not anxious over lack of food, for His Father feeds them; the lilies of the field are clothed in more beauty than Solomon in all his glory. He tells us that God provides for His creation, and we have no reason to be anxious. (Matthew 6:19ff.)
- Job 40:1—5 God rebukes Job for arguing with the Almighty. Job answers, “I will proceed no further.” His big error was to accuse God of being unfair, and wanting to take Him to court. God accused Job of seeking to prove that he was right by condemning God. (40:8)
- Job 40:6—41:34 God concludes with His description of two powerful creatures that terrify humans, and He tells Job that He rules over them as well. These two beasts seem to be almost supernatural, completely uncontrollable by humans.
- Behemoth – No one knows what kind of animal this was. If it actually existed in Job’s day, he would have understood, but there is no biological record of today. It has been understood variously as a form of hippopotamus, or perhaps a kind of dinosaur. The main point that God is making to Job is that He created an animal that was so ferocious that no one could control it. God alone has dominion even over the Behemoth.
- Leviathan – God describes this animal as “king over all the sons of pride.” Leviathan has been compared to a crocodile or possibly a form of dragon, but no one knows what this animal actually was. Both these animals created chaos on the earth, but God was the Master of them both.
- God’s description of both these animals is so graphic and powerful that it seems that both were mythical animals. But we have no way of detecting what they actually were. The main point of God’s including them seems to be to overwhelm Job with His majesty and power over all His creation, and to inform Job that he must not, and cannot, argue with His Creator.
- There are other elements to consider in God’s appearance to Job in these four chapters. He is speaking not only about the wonders of His creation and His unlimited power over all things. He speaks also of His character and of His victory over evil.
- Good and evil. God speaks of light as good and darkness as evil. Later, the apostle John speaks in this same way, in his gospel. God speaks of the dawn as the coming of His goodness, so that “the wicked may be shaken out of [the day].” (38:13) He withholds light from the wicked. (38:15) Job himself is caught up in the struggle between good and evil. Satan is determined to destroy Him. But God is holding him tight.
- Lovingkindness. He speaks of His lovingkindness by describing His loving care for all creatures. If God shows His loving care to all the animals and birds, would He not much more show His love and care for Job in his suffering?
- Wisdom. God created and continues to maintain the universe by His wisdom. Even though Job himself spoke of wisdom (Job chapter 28), he is responding to his suffering through ignorance and complete lack of wisdom. God speaks of this lack of wisdom, which results in cruelty in both animals (the ostrich) and humans.
- Pride and humility. Throughout the long dialogue between Job and his friends, and between Job and God, Job speaks with pride. God confronts him in his audacity to challenge his Creator. He calls Job a “faultfinder” (40:2) who is daring to present himself as a peer with God. God closes His last words to Job by indirectly referring to Job as one of the “sons of pride.” It is not accidental that God, when he spoke of Leviathan, called him “king over all the sons of pride.” (41:34)
Some things to consider
1. Take some time to read this section (chapters 38—41) slowly (read aloud if you can), and let this grand poetry reach into your soul. Our study of Job must never become academic, merely asking questions and seeking answers. A great drama is taking place. Take your place in the drama.
2. What aspects of God’s character can you detect as you see God’s wisdom and care for all of His creation?
3. Why do you think Behemoth and Leviathan were included in God’s speaking to Job? Do they represent God’s control over all the evils of Satan? Share what you learn.
4. What do you consider the main message God is sending to Job by appearing to Him directly in the whirlwind?
5. In preparation for our last study of Job (Job chapter 42), you will be benefited greatly by reading and meditating on Psalm 104. This psalm speaks directly to the section (Job chapters 38 – 41) and gives us the proper response of a person (including Job) who stands in the presence of God. (If you do nothing else in preparation for our study of Job 42, please read and meditate on Psalm 104.