Job 38:1-42:6: Broken Silence to a Broken Man 

Over the last several months, we’ve looked at 37 of the heaviest chapters in the Bible. A great and godly man’s world disintegrated, and 35 chapters of dialogue followed. Yet God remained silent. How would God respond to one who had steadfastly refused to blaspheme Him but who also had questioned His ways? Would God come to Job with soft, gentle words, or would He condemn Job for the statements Job made about Him?

Chapter 38 begins what few people in the history of the world have experienced: The Lord speaks directly to Job. His response, however, is what no one could have foreseen. The Lord’s words are questions, and these questions come like a barrage of missiles. The Lord doesn’t condemn Job, but His words are still bracing. He speaks out of a whirlwind and not a still, small voice: “Gird up now thy loins like a man” (Job 38:3, KJV).

The Lord asks Job about the act of creation. He questions him about the ocean, the sunrise, light, snow, hail, wind, rain, ice, constellations, lightning, lions, ravens, mountain goats, wild donkeys, wild oxen, ostriches, horses, hawks, and eagles. These creatures and natural phenomena were beyond what Job could control or understand. Had Job answered them, he would have repeatedly said, “I don’t know.” In the second speech, the Lord mentions His own majesty before describing the behemoth and the leviathan. Although many claim that these creatures are the hippopotamus and the crocodile, neither description is perfectly accurate. Regardless of their identification, the point is that they are far too much for Job to control.

What is the Lord doing in asking these questions? Before his encounter with the Lord, Job had much to say. He had so many questions for God. God, however, never explains to Job why Job’s children died, why he lost his possessions, or why his health failed. The Lord never mentions the conversations with Satan. The Lord’s questions highlight Job’s own ignorance and powerlessness. If Job can’t control or even understand creation, why should he expect to understand why the specific tragedies of his life occurred? After each speech, Job speaks with contrition and humility (Job 40:3-5, 42:1-6). Job does not say what he thought he would say when he directly encountered God. After hearing from God, Job has no more questions.

God is certainly not like who or what many of us think He is. The Jesus we sing to and about each Sunday is the One before whose feet the elderly apostle John fell as dead (Revelation 1:17). He is the One whose overwhelming power compelled the Gerasenes to ask Him to leave their region (Mark 5:1-20). The prophet Isaiah was undone at the sight of this God (Isaiah 6:5), and His presence terrified the Israelites (Exodus 20:18-19). This God is Job’s God, and God gave Job something far greater than his possessions, his health, or even his children: God gave Job Himself.

We will not encounter God in this life the way Job did, but we can learn from his experience. Crying out to the Lord in our pain is appropriate, but we can do so knowing that if creation is beyond what we can fathom, what should we expect of our Creator? After Job met God directly, his questions, doubts, and accusations evaporated. We, like Job, are ignorant creatures. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we will one day encounter Job’s God. Our questions then will not be what they are now, and we will not be then exactly who we are now.

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