Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? — Job 40:6-9
In his book on Job titled Dialogue in Despair, William E. Hulme tells about a scientist who was instructed to describe his research on human intelligence in 150 words. For his response, the scientist wrote the three-word sentence “I don’t know” . . . fifty times!(1)
Perhaps that simple sentence accurately describes how Job felt after God bombarded him with a series of questions about His work as the Creator of the universe. Job recognized that he was exceedingly small when compared to the immeasurable greatness of God, and he stood submissive and silent before his Maker. However, God was not done with him! In today’s focus verses, the Almighty again spoke out of the whirlwind and asserted that Job had condemned Him in order to justify himself.
Like Job’s friends, we can mistakenly assume that following God always results in a trouble-free life, and resisting God always results in a troubled life. How easy it is to wonder why God allows bad things to happen to good people. If God is in control, why do His followers experience trials and suffering? As we endure tribulations, we may find ourselves thinking or even telling God, “This isn’t fair!” The Book of Job is a call to review our perspective.
There is benefit in challenging ourselves to consider who we are and who God is. When Job saw God in His awesomeness, he repented — his perspective had completely changed, and he stated that he abhorred himself. When we have a right view of God and truly grasp where we stand in comparison to Him, we will also cast ourselves before Him. Who are we to say that what God allows is not fair? How can we accuse God of injustice? He is the Creator and is sovereign in all things.
Job did not know why God allowed the trials He did. We might not know God’s reasons for what He allows in our lives either. But will we trust Him anyway? Will we cling to our faith in the trials? Will we trust God about unanswered questions? God has said that He cares for each of us. Let us hold that promise fast in our hearts and remember that He is in control.
God is not indifferent to our situations, nor is He uncaring or powerless. Even though we do not understand why He allows difficulties in our lives, we can cling to the knowledge that God knows what He is doing and has our best interests at heart.
In his time of trial, Job had felt that God was treating him unjustly, and he had repeatedly expressed his thoughts and feelings to God. In Job 40:6-14, God questioned Job, in essence asking him, “Do you refute My wisdom? Do you condemn My justice? Do you question My power? Do you speak with My voice?” He challenged Job to demonstrate his power if he thought he was equal to the Omnipotent.
The remainder of chapters 40 and 41 are a description of two animals: the behemoth (a land mammal) and the leviathan (a sea creature). There are a variety of speculations about these animals. The word translated behemoth comes from the root word for beast; the word translated leviathan denotes a “coil” or “twist.” They may have been (as Hannah’s Outline indicates) the hippopotamus and crocodile. Whatever the exact animals, God showed by His description that the One who could create such powerful creatures was far superior to insignificant man. If Job was not able to control them, how dare he stand before God, the Creator, and complain about his rights or question how he had been treated?
In Job 41:11, God interrupted His long description of the leviathan to remind Job that He is in control of the whole world. Because everything belongs to Him, He has no obligations to His creatures. Anything God bestows is given completely by grace.
Job 42:1-6 gives Job’s response to God’s challenges. In the end, Job said, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job’s friends had been exhorting him to repent, and he had refused. Yet this passage tells us that he did repent — not of the secret sins that his friends had accused him of committing, but of questioning God’s sovereignty and perfect justice. Job repented of his attitude, which had developed in his time of trial. He humbly acknowledged God’s power and greatness, and confessed that he had talked about things that he did not understand. Job stated that he had heard of God before, but now he knew Him for himself.
Job 42:7-17 is an epilogue to the book which details Job’s restoration. God spoke directly to Job’s friends, telling them that they had been wrong. He laid out His requirements: the friends were instructed to make a sacrifice, and Job was to offer prayers for them. When Job interceded for those who had accused him so mercilessly, God restored the suffering man’s material blessings as well.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The solution of Jehovah
B. The second speech (40:6 — 42:6)
1. Jehovah’s address (40:6 — 41:34)
a. The invitation to rule the world (40:6-14)
b. The description of the hippopotamus (40:15-24)
c. The description of the crocodile (41:1-34)
(1) His untamableness (41:1-11)
(2) His description (41:12-34)
2. Job’s answer (42:1-6)
V. The conclusion (42:7-17)
A. The rebuke of Job’s friends (42:7-9)
B. The restoration of Job’s possessions (42:10-17)
We may not always understand the “why” of suffering, but we can maintain our integrity and our trust in God in spite of it.
1. McKenna, David. Mastering the Old Testament: Job. Volume 12. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1986, p.294.