The Mere Edges of His Ways

Job 26

Beginning with this chapter, continuing through chapter 31, Job gives his final discourse and defense. Understand, this isn’t totally new perspective; is built on theological foundation described in chapters 1 & 2. Modified by affliction and suffering, yet still has same roots.

Job 1:21And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Job 2:10“Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

God is omnipotent and relational. Transcendent and immanent. God is the sovereign provider of all things. One section of catechism devoted to questions and answers about Apostle’s Creed, especially aplicable to this portion of Job.

Q. 26 What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”?

A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them, who still upholds and rules them by his eternal counsel and providence, is my God and Father because of Christ his Son. I trust him so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and he will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this sad world. He is able to do this because he is almighty God; he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.

Q. 27 What do you understand by the providence of God?

A. Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty— all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from his fatherly hand.

Q. 28 How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?

A. We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from his love. All creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.

We know these things because we have God’s word, where God has revealed truth about himself and his purpose we could never discover anywhere else. Job, too, had understanding of God and his ways beyond what he could know simply by observation. Because Job had faith in God, had been given knowledge and insight by God. Job’s friends knew things about God, Job knew God in a personal way; that makes all the difference.

A. foolishness of man v.1-4

commendation (not) (2-3)

are these questions? shaming Bildad (and the other two) into seeing how poor comforters they really were? or are they statements, dripping with sarcasm, intended to put 3 amigos in their place? either way, we get the point

thanks, you’ve been really helpful

Job needed comfort, help; not only lacked the power to change his circumstances, nearly lacked power just to deal and not give up all hope – e.g., when all your children just died, not the time to say “you deserved it” even if true

you’ve given strength when I was weak

very survival in question – physical strength nearly gone, emotional close behind – needed brother to lean on

you’ve provided insight I didn’t have

Job needed insight: greatest struggle trying to figure out “what is God doing? what does God want me to do?” – often someone not in middle of situation has better, more helpful perspective

you’ve sent me in the right direction

had sent Job to look within himself for resources – here’s what you need to do so God will be good to you; Job ran from that advice at top speed, recognized the poison it contained

but wait, who is moving the dummy’s lips? (4)

important point: not everyone who claims to speak for God truly speaks for God; if they did, God wouldn’t have given his people test to use

when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously” Deut. 18:22

further warning in NT: see 1 John 4:1

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

B. wisdom and power of God v.5-13

nothing is hidden from God (5-6)

matters not where, all things even those hidden from us are in plain view to God

God doesn’t only know what is going on in heaven, even heaven and earth, nothing anywhere escapes his notice

comforts the believer: nothing can take God by surprise; he never has to react to a situation, figure it out as he goes

nothing is beyond his power (7-8)

if God can do what he did at first creation and ongoing sustaining of nature, no situation or creature can frustrate or defeat his purpose

many things are insurmountable obstacles to us, things part of everyday life – can’t do, can’t understand, can’t overcome even with little help from a friend – God doesn’t even break a sweat

nothing exceeds his wisdom (9-10)

whether initial creation of all things and the orderly way in which they behave, or, the way all things work out in course of human history – all show the greatness of his wisdom, and God has more to spare

more we figure something out, more we realize there is to figure out; we have exhaustive knowledge of very little

God has absolutely full knowledge and understanding of all things without exception

nothing escapes his rule (11-12)

common wisdom among pagans of Job’s day: each little “g” god has own domain, area of expertise and rule

similar understanding among many today, even Christians: God has his sphere of rule, so does Satan and so does man

yes, God is sovereign, but you gotta understand Satan is in charge of some things, and man’s heart, well, you know, there are some places God isn’t welcome and things that happen that God doesn’t like, but…

Job believed his God is God over all, sovereign ruler of all that is without any qualification, restriction or reservation

remember from last week: Dan. 4:35 God “does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?””

is God who provides real beauty (13)

think about early history of man: perfect people, perfect place, perfect future if….then, they blew it…big time; went downhill until God said enough, then judgment

but God didn’t leave earth a barren wasteland; instead, left remnants of original beauty that had come from God’s creative hand; but wait, there’s more!

God committed himself to regular repeating display of beauty – Gen. 9:12-15And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds,I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.”

C. greatness of God v.14

all we see are the “mere edges” (transcendent)

God exists “apart from, not subject to the limitations of, the material universe”, beyond our natural ability to detect or relate to; but…here’s the wonder of it all…God has enabled us to see the “edges of his ways”

“The remarkable thing is that nature (or God through nature) condescends to set so many well-placed steppingstones in our path, from the world of sense to the quantum mechanical world. Without these, humans would never have discovered the order of the periodic table. (p.145) Just as it was with the order of geometry, we see the way the order of the elements condescends to offer steppingstones to discovery.” (p.172) A Meaningful World, Wiker & Witt

as magnificent and majestic and glorious as God is, he has condescended to reveal himself to us; in part, yes but still real revelation – it is really God and his ways that we see

it is those edges that draw us in, invite us to discover more of God; the closer we get, the more edges we see, the more immense God appears

all we hear is God whispering (immanent)

we not only can see his ways, we can hear his whisper…when we listen for it

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.Isa. 1:18

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”Isa. 45:22

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”Isa. 55:1

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Matt. 11:28-30

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” Rev. 22:17

Sometimes he speaks in a whisper – are you quiet enough to hear him? and are you listening? How do we handle our cross? By listening to God’s whispers, first and frequently coming to the cross where God thundered:

Matt. 27:46, 50-51And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.

Come to the one forsaken by God that he might save his people; the one who experienced God’s thundering wrath so his people might be set free. There you will find comfort and rest for your soul.

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