God Shatters His Silence

Job 38

Must admit getting a good grasp on this portion of Job is a challenge. Has become the go-to proof-text for creationists – look at all God has to say about what he did at the beginning. Often viewed as an elaboration of the Creation Story from God’s perspective, is used to beat evolutionists into submission. Another common perspective: an example of God showing up after he’s been challenged, then blow by blow (77 of them to be precise) reducing Job to a quivering mass of abject humility. There, little man, take that; see if you really want to challenge God to verbal duel ever again!

I believe both perspectives are wrong: God didn’t need to brag about anything to get Job back in line. He didn’t need to beat Job into submission either. Remember what this whole scenario is about:

Job 1:9-11So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing?“Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.“But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

Job 2:4-5 So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.“But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

Now, after Satan has beat up on Job, his three friends and another all take their turns at trying to humble him and help him see his sin – where is Job? Still hanging on to his faith, perhaps not by much, but he has retained his integrity and his trust in God. God makes himself known to Job in the whirlwind, by doing so declares his and Job’s victory over Satan – Satan has lost the challenge, Job has not cursed God!

At this point, when God so to speak “shows up”, what is it that Job needs most from God? Not what did he want, what did he need? And, just as vital, what did God want Job to understand??

Job needed, first, to know that God was not his enemy. Then he needed reassurance that his faith had the right object: that the God he trusted was worthy of his trust – before, during, after his time of affliction. And…Job needed to understand it was because of God’s keeping power that Job kept the faith. Yes, Job had faith; but was in exactly same boat as father of demon-possessed boy – he asked for Jesus’ help with his son, Jesus told him “all things are possible to him who believes.” The father’s reply: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Left to himself, Job just like that father and you and me, when tested like Job was – the object of Satan’s best shots – would all have denied the faith. Was God’s greatness, not greatness of Job’s faith, that enabled him to persevere. Cannot over-stress that point: don’t look at Job and be discouraged, think your faith isn’t close to what Job had. What is important: is your faith in same God as Job? If so, cry out to God same as father did to Jesus: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Now, God is neither braggart nor bully; when he challenged Job, his purpose to increase Job’s understanding, but of what? Let’s back up: what did Job not understand? Look at v.2: “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”

What in the world does God mean by that? “darkens counsel by words without knowledge”? Job did not have a grasp on God’s providence; trying to figure it out only muddied the waters. Job and his friends had a lot to say about things they didn’t understand – were talking way above their pay grade. Rather than shed light on Job’s circumstances, they did the opposite – obscured the real truth about the full scope of God’s character and purpose.

More to God’s purpose than beating Job down, bragging about creation – enabling Job to understand some important, helpful and comforting truths about God. Now in the process, Job learned some things about himself. That is something that should be true about every encounter we have with God: the finiteness of our wisdom and power and existence, the greatness of our failings and our needs are all things we learn about ourselves. But all that should be overshadowed by the glories and wisdom and greatness and goodness of God. Remember Paul’s exclamation in Rom. 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!“For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?”“Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

When God shattered his silence, didn’t give commentary on first chapters of Genesis; he elaborated on what he showed Moses:

Ex. 33:19Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

Ex. 34:5 Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.

What we have in God’s self-revelation to Job in chapters 38 and following – a disclosure of his goodness as seen in his works of creation and providence. The two cannot be separated – creation has providence in view, providence carries out purpose of creation. But in all of this don’t lose sight of the goal: do not allow the greatness of God’s works obscure the greatness and glory of God. God didn’t ask all questions of Job just to wow him with what he (God) did; they were just means to end of seeing and knowing God better.

LBCF 5.1. God the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom, upholds, directs, arranges, and governs all creatures and things, from the greatest to the least, by his perfectly wise and holy providence, to the purpose for which they were created. He governs according to his infallible foreknowledge and the free and unchangeable counsel of his own will. His providence leads to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy.

A. the earth v.4-7

foundations (4)

has a foundation, not wandering around in space without purpose; is positioned relative to other celestial bodies in just right place for good of its inhabitants, especially mankind

measurements (5)

its size, mass exactly right for it to stay on foundation; measure and content of atmosphere designed to both support and protect life – supply life-giving oxygen and carbon dioxide, protect from harmful cosmic radiation; moon is right size at right distance to keep large lakes and oceans healthy

fasteners (6)

intended to be stable and durable, to serve God’s good purpose for as long as he intends; not just earth, rest of universe must be in right proportions of size/mass/distance and with right qualities (gravitational attraction e.g.) to prevent uncontrolled expansion or collapse

B. the sea v.8-11

dominion – shut in, this far but no farther

not Neptune or Poseidon who determines what sea does for good or ill; is God who exercises absolute dominion

definition – fixed limit, proportions

land masses are habitable since seas have fixed limits; proportion of water to land mass right for maintaining temperature, producing food, facilitating travel/commerce

duration – has both Creation and Flood in view

God’s word that birthed sea and land; God’s word that sent sea back to its appointed boundaries so earth would be habitable again following Flood

C. day and night v.12-21

time – the dawn to know its place (12)

one of first steps in bringing order out of original chaos: morning and evening 1st day; orders our days for good

safety – dawn restrains evil; purpose of DST (13)

“everyone practicing evil hates the light” John 3:20; daytime is safer because of human limits of vision

source – remains locked up with God (19-20)

God hasn’t given away keys to light switch; imagine what evil powers would do!! given that God is light, probably has power and uses far beyond what we imagine

D. snow and rain v.22-30

purposeful – how it is used (23, 26)

according to God’s purpose: show his power on behalf of his people (Josh. 10:11) and his goodness – growing things

plentiful – overflowing (25)

most of time falls in right amounts in right places to do good, not harm; is sufficient to sustain not only present life but support future growth

compassionate design (30)

the way water freezes (ice floats) – means food supply not off limits, things don’t die in winter, temperature is regulated

E. the human mind v.31-38

understanding of the seasons, navigation (31-32)

cannot control or direct constellations; do have sufficient understanding to read their story, use for finding way around

understanding the weather (37-38)

cannot control or direct weather; do have sufficient understanding to predict – especially important for safety these days

source of understanding (36)

rhetorical question, like others in our text: who did it? well, God, of course! But he did it because he is good; could have kept all his secrets locked up, not given ability to understand or keys to unlock

Because God is good, has done what is good and what will demonstrate his goodness. One of his good gifts is understanding; but…that gift has limits! Only God understands everything; has not granted same scope of understanding to us. Here’s what he has done though: has given us all understanding we need to be able to trust him and obey him.

Read his two books and what do we reach for conclusion? His world book tells us he is all-powerful; his word book tells us he is good and uses his power for good of his people. If all God has done in his works of creation and providence are for his glory and our good, God can certainly be trusted in our circumstances. There’s not a detail, a complication, an aspect or experience that is part of our lives that escapes God’s understanding. Means we can trust him no matter what is going on, especially when we don’t understand.

If you are in one of those places like Job, God probably won’t give you answers to all your questions. But…he will show you how absolutely sufficient he is for all your need. Trust God with everything: only he can bring you safely home!

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