God Is So Great

Job 39

How great is God! Song we sing frequently – How Great Thou Art. Good song, encourages looking beyond creation to Creator. He is not only good, saw that last chapter; is exceptionally great. So great that all things came into existence simply by his word of command. But how is God’s surpassing greatness supposed to help Job? How does it help you where you are, how does it help you bear your cross in way pleasing to God? After all, maybe this great God is so great can’t be bothered with / take time for little old you.

Easy to think animals can take care of themselves; must be able to, don’t all live in zoos. Manage to survive, even thrive most of the time. We know Deists were wrong – God did not create all things, then withdraw from active role in processes of nature and ways of man. But often see deism’s error only with regard to man – of course God takes care of his people, restrains evil, etc., but the rest of creation pretty much on its own. Our text makes it plain: we don’t see their Caretaker at work but he is present and active.

All but one of animals undomesticated, that one trained for war. Have significance to God but not for any reason that man would have. Unlike Adam (animals brought for naming), goal for Job is different: he is to learn from them, not show dominion over them. Even in midst of distortion wrought by the Fall, God still continues his benevolent oversight.

Might say: because of distortion wrought by the Fall, God must continue his benevolent oversight… because fallen man can no longer carry out his original mandate. Design in beginning was that man would manage what God had created – cultivate ground, practice responsible animal husbandry, make the earth a productive place and keep it orderly as created. Fall changed all that: both ground and creatures resist man’s efforts at management. Now, this side of the Flood, creatures fear mankind, further hindering God’s original mandate to Adam and Eve.

In Job’s day, and in ours, God’s greatness displayed in natural world is mind-blowing. Back to previous question: how does that help? Here’s short answer: if even lowly creatures can count on certain things from God, what are you worried about?? God is good and does what is good for his children – his greatness ensures nothing escapes his notice or ability to provide. God gives to his creatures: sustenance, shelter, significance, safety and sight. What more could you want or need?

As God’s challenge to Job continues, God asks a bunch more questions – bring to Job’s attention many things that he (Job) obviously cannot do. In many cases, are things Job would never think of doing for sake of creatures. God’s point is not that Job is incompetent idiot who can’t get it right; point is that God is great and competent sovereign who does it right. Not only can take care of his creation, actually does so 24/7 without any breaks or breakdowns.

A. sustenance – lion and raven (vv. 39-41)

particularly in light of recent vote (let’s not give human predators unfair advantage over wild things), wouldn’t seem like lion should have any trouble coming up with lunch

king of the beasts should be perfectly capable of hunting its own prey…successfully; at least, that’s impression from Marlon Perkins, Wild Kingdom

lions perfectly designed for what they do – have physical characteristics, instincts necessary to be effective predator; is what God intended, right?

um, not exactly: “Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food“; and it was so.”Gen. 1:30

so, the lion is acting contrary to original design, in very important way: what it requires for daily food

who do you suppose taught lions how to get food? not just for themselves, for offspring too? yup, God, back in Noah’s day and as needed ever since then

now think about their lunch: God didn’t design their prey for sole purpose of being lion food; original purpose in some way fit into how Adam and Eve were to manage the earth

life at Creation didn’t involve bloodshed, everybody was vegan at beginning; taking of life for whatever reason clear evidence something is wrong

that predators don’t starve to death gives witness to God providing them with not only skill but success

now, opposite end of spectrum, the raven: symbol of bad things like death or disease – probably because mostly feeds on dead things, that something else killed

just like lion, before Fall was none of that kind of food…for any creature; had to learn new and different diet

are at mercy of other forces in order to have food: certainly would not be mankind who cares for ravens, God must be one to hear cry of its young and answer

B. shelter – mountain goat and deer (39:1-4)

mountain goats / deer – can pretty well fend for themselves; equipped to go places many other creatures cannot, can travel at speeds many cannot match

speed and agility provide protection, allow them to reach shelter when in danger from weather or predators

is key time in life of these creatures when their protective mechanisms aren’t much use – most vulnerable moment is at birth, for both mother and young

if they are not to become extinct, must have shelter from harm during birthing process and for time afterward

mountain goats and deer are able to produce successive generations because God provides shelter at exactly right moments, for each individual creature

is especially significant because pain of childbirth not restricted to women – animals experience it also!

young continue vulnerable for period of time after birth – they live in fallen world, need to learn how to cope with danger

knowing how to stay safe not something originally designed in – wasn’t an issue until after the Fall

because of danger that surrounds young, need shelter until they develop strength and skill and stamina to avoid harm

C. significance – wild donkey and wild ox (vv. 5-12)

could put in this category lots of different creatures: platypuses, squids, moose, others that have questionable significance

wild donkey and wild ox a drain on the economy, not a contributor; in fact, strongly resisted any of man’s efforts to make them useful

wild donkey treasured its freedom, lived and thrived in places deemed unfit for polite society

wild ox a feared animal, never domesticated, eventually hunted to extinction by Egyptians and Assyrians

these two of no value to Job, successful farmer – before they would carry freight, wild donkeys would run away; instead of submitting to harness, wild ox would tear up the barn, break the equipment

why would Job, or any civilized person, care what happened to animals that weren’t important part of food chain, had no personal significance?

however….in God’s eyes both these creatures have significance – is he who gave wild donkey its freedom, then taught them how to act and survive in wilderness

don’t forget: untamable wild ox not the way it was supposed to be; we think Sigfried nuts to put head in lion’s mouth, and he was, but wouldn’t have been crazy at beginning

wildness of wild animals a consequence of sin coming into the world; God sees significance of each element of his creation without distortion of sin

D. safety – ostrich and warhorse (vv. 13-25)

might wonder why these two creatures paired together! ostrich has reputation for stupidity, war horse for intelligence

even though reputation and God’s assessment match, something else more important – according to what God said to Job, both creatures had complete disregard for danger

v.18: “She scorns [laughs at] the horse and its rider.” v.22: “​He mocks [laughs] at fear, and is not frightened”

in the one, such disregard is foolish, in the other, a sign of bravery; God takes credit for both – God deprived ostrich of wisdom (17), gave strength to horse (19)

so what is God’s point? creatures who are so little concerned with danger are at great risk, need someone to provide safety

left to own devices, would quickly pass from existence: ostrich has no thought for well-being of next generation

leaves eggs where they can be damaged or destroyed, forgets that when surviving eggs do hatch, fledglings need attention

if not for safety God provides, next generation would never make it in sufficient numbers to survive

war horse has no thought for well-being of present generation – in fact seems to desire the conflict, runs into danger, taking control from his rider and acting on his own

makes for good action video, successful waging of battle, so long as horse and rider are protected from harm

what horse cannot and will not do for himself, God does – ensuring safety in midst of chaos and violence

E. sight – hawk and eagle/vulture (vv. 26-30)

we’re going to use sight here in two different senses – sight as in understanding, then acute vision

hawk as well as lots of other birds has sight to migrate hundreds or thousands from summer to winter home

see and understand the way to go even when it is their first time; see and recognize destination when they arrive

we call it instinct, God gives a different reason – it is God who gives wisdom and sight to hawk, each hawk, each generation

and the eagle – able to see its food from great distances, go through all the specific motions to actually get it

building its nest, seeking out food, doing the aerial acrobatics, all of those skills and abilities not instinct – given by God

God is just as involved with his creation today as he was on Day 8 and it’s a good thing. See just how much God is doing on an ongoing basis to limit awful effects of sin and curse! He cares for his creatures from smallest to largest, smartest to dumbest, prettiest to ugliest.

Matt. 6:30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

If God gives to his creatures: sustenance, shelter, significance, safety and sight, will he not do the same for his child? Whether your name is Job or something else, the answer is a resounding YES. And God is great enough to do it all, perfectly – in his way, on his timeline, for his glory and for our good.


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