Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? — Job 38:4-5
Recently our daughter came home chuckling about an activity she had volunteered for that morning in her high school Sunday school class. In an effort to demonstrate how ludicrous it is for someone weak to strive against someone much more powerful, her teacher had asked for a volunteer to pit his or her strength against him in an arm-wrestling match. None of the big, strapping boys in the class had been willing to take on their teacher, who is 6’4” and weighs 225 pounds. Our petite, 105-pound daughter decided that, if no one else would accept his challenge, she would! We joined her in laughing at the picture they must have made. Of course, she lost. He was so much bigger and stronger that there was simply no contest.
Today’s portion of Scripture paints a picture of a far more dramatic “no contest” situation. Job’s wisdom was nothing compared to his Creator’s wisdom. God’s series of questions regarding nature pointed out Job’s complete inability to understand the workings of His physical creation. If Job could not answer God on this level, how could he possibly understand God’s mind and character? If he could not unravel these natural mysteries, how could he hope to fathom God’s dealings with the human soul?
The wonders of creation reveal the might and wisdom of a God who could shape such a universe. In contrast, man clearly is weak, finite, and very limited in understanding. This comparison of the Creator’s greatness versus man’s insignificance was not lost on Job, nor should it be on us. Because of this great contrast, we can completely trust what God is doing in our lives, even when it does not make sense to us.
While the Bible gives us some knowledge of God, and our own personal experience with Him broadens our understanding, we can never know the answers to all of life’s questions. Still, we know that the mighty God sent His only Son to die for us, and that is proof of His great love for humanity. Let us rest in that, and anchor our confidence in the One who created and controls the entire universe.
Up to this point, Job had been crying out for God to appear and answer his questions. In these chapters, Job heard God speak at last, but not with the answers Job was looking for. God’s first words were, in effect, “Who do you think you are, speaking words without really knowing what you are talking about?” Rather than answers, God presented questions — more than fifty of them in today’s portion of text — and Job could not answer a single one.
Among the questions, God asked Job if he had “entered into the springs of the sea” or “walked in the search of the depth” (Job 38:16). At that time, man was limited to going just a few yards below the surface of the ocean and staying under water for only a few minutes. Today, submersible crafts scan the very bottom of the ocean, and man has learned that the deepest oceanic trench is over 36,000 feet deep. However, each new discovery brings recognition that there is much more yet to be learned.
In Job 38:31-32, God asked Job if he could “bind the sweet influences of Pleiades” (the cluster of seven stars in the constellation Taurus, which is among the nearest to earth), or “loose the bands of Orion” (a constellation located on the celestial equator and thus visible throughout the world), “bring forth Mazzaroth in his season” (a band of stars), or “guide Arcturus with his sons” (the three most brilliant stars of the Northern Hemisphere in line with the tail of Ursa Major, also known as the Great Bear). This reference to Biblical astronomy is not to be confused with astrology, which is the study that attempts to interpret the influence of the heavenly bodies on human affairs. Biblical astronomy recognizes that God created the heavens and that the stars are given as signs to us (see Genesis 1:14).
In these, and all of the other questions, God was not seeking answers from Job. Instead, He was leading Job to recognize and submit to His power and sovereignty. Only then could he really understand what God was saying to him.
In chapter 40, God summed up all his earlier questions by asking Job, “Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it” (Job 40:2). The questions had demonstrated the tremendous contrast between Job and the One who created the universe, and Job quickly recognized his extreme human limitations. He responded humbly and with a determination to keep silent before the greatness of God.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The solution of Jehovah
A. The first speech (38:1 — 40:5)
1. Jehovah’s address (38:1 — 40:2)
a. The intervention of Jehovah (38:1-3)
b. Creation and preservation of the world by Jehovah (38:4 — 39:30)
(1) The physical world (38:4-38)
(a) The foundation of the earth (38:4-7)
(b) The sea (38:8-11)
(c) The morning (38:12-15)
(d) The depths (38:16-18)
(e) The light and darkness (38:19-21)
(f) The snow and hail (38:22-23)
(g) The light, rain, dew and ice (38:24-30)
(h) The stars (38:31-33)
(i) The lightning and rain (38:34-38)
(2) The animal world (38:39 — 39:30)
(a) The lion and raven (38:39-41)
(b) The mountain goat (39:1-4)
(c) The donkey and ox (39:5-12)
(d) The ostrich (39:13-18)
(e) The horse (39:19-25)
(f) The hawk and eagle (39:26-30)
c. The challenge of Jehovah (40:1-2)
2. Job’s answer (40:3-5)
When we face painful situations in life, as Job did, it is natural to seek for understanding. Although God may not always provide us with direct answers, we can be assured that the One who has the forces of nature at His command is in control of our circumstances as well.