Before we begin, let us pray….
Living God, help us to hear your holy Word with open hearts so that we may truly understand; and, understanding, that we may believe; and, believing, that we may follow in all faithfulness and obedience, seeking your honor and glory in all that we do. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
We are going to end our Book of Job sermon series this month to give way for Advent. So instead of completing the other speeches from Bildad, Zophar and even Elihu, I jump right to Yahweh’s speeches.
We can understand from the back and forth from Eliphaz and Job that Eliphaz considers Job’s lament an insult to God and he must repent in order to go back to his original blessed and prosperity state. And yet Job insists on his innocence, continues to petition before God is case and pleads for his intervention.
Well, soon enough God meets Job and answered him in a storm. Of course, it is a form of theophany but a sense of irony considering a storm wiped out Job’s fortune and family and yet God uses this way of showing himself in order to communicate his sovereignty and power over creation.
In sum, God wants Job to understand that he is a sovereign, wise, good, and merciful God who takes care of his creation. That he governs, provides, and concurs every action happening on earth as it is in heaven. God communicates this directly to Job through his speech by challenging him to speak about his own understanding of the origins and acts of sustaining everything in creation. In end, Job and all of men’s ability is limited and ultimately depended on God. So God calls Job to put his trust in him even in the midst of the storm. And Job in the end trusted Job, abandons his petitions, and submits his own will to God. This is what Scriptures us to do: we are called to be thankful in prosperity but more so patient during adversity.
Let us begin our study with the first sermon point this week and end with the second sermon point next week. The first sermon point is Yahweh’s first speech and it is composed on four parts: 1) Yahweh’s Appearance in the Storm; 2) Yahweh’s Hand in Creation; 3) Yahweh’s Providential Care; 4) Job’s Submission.
Yahweh’s Appearance in the Storm
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. (verses 1-3)
God appears to Job in storm. Again, it is a theophany. Theophany is God visibly showing himself for man to comprehend him and the storm displays the glory of his power and might. We also need to understand at this point God does not owe Job anything. God is supreme over his creation and this is what we mean when we say he is transcendent. And yet because of his tender mercy and compassion towards Job, God choose to appear to him. But instead of affirming is innocence or even condemning his sins, God invites Job to wisdom match or duel. He asks Job series of rhetorical question in a form of a hymn praise over God’s creation and providence in order to test Job’s understanding on the matter. The goal of God is to demonstrate to Job the knowledge and wisdom required to govern, provide, and concur over creation. God wants Job to know his place in the created order. He calls him to trust his goodness and justice for he alone is charge all over these matters, and Job can believe that his will and work is perfect and does not lack anything but all works together for our good.
God prepares Job to answer and the irony of the poetry says it all. Job is not God and while he does not understand his condition now, he can rest and be assured that God knows everything and he is in good hands.
Yahweh’s Hand in Creation
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’? “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment. From the wicked their light is withheld, and their uplifted arm is broken. (verses 4-15)
Everything about God’s reply in his response to Job is meant to overwhelm us with details. We can go through this details but given we have only two Lord’s Day left to finish this sermon series, I decided simply gloss over them and comment about it in a general sense for a short exhortation.
The point here is mainly about God’s hand in creation and He alone is responsible for all thing created. God alone is the Creator and we are his creatures. Hartley explains how God describes the task of creating the foundations of the world, the forming of the seas and land, the heavenly bodies and the forming of seasons like a master builder, a midwife, and a commanding general. Ironically, he challenges Job to explain how he measures the foundations of the world like a master builder who plans and executes everything to perfection. Of course, Job cannot for he was not there. Next, God asks Job to tell him how the seas were made and how he limits the expanse of the seas in order to bring forth the land. Then finally, God wants Job to explain how time and seasons were made. He call him to narrate how light overcomes darkness and exposes and judges every evil deed. Of course, Job cannot for he is not the Judge of this world and even the world to come.
At this point, God’s rhetoric’s falsifies any claim that he work towards his creation is unjust and he is not in control. By pointing out first that he made the foundations of the world means nothing goes outside his sovereign control. In the same way, second to this is the limit he sets at everything means he alone binds them and he alone can loose them and since he is the one who determines it foundation and limits, he alone works it out for our good. Finally, third and most important of all, when God says he controls time and season, it means he alone determine the proper timing of them all including the season and timing of our events and trials of all our lives. He is the Judge of all things and he overcomes darkness with light, evil with good. In short, Job is since he cannot account for these things and only God himself can control them then he must know that he is in good hands with God on his side. This is then the rhetoric of the succeeding verses below:
“Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this. “Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home? You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great! “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
“Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass? “Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven? The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.
“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind? Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, when the dust runs into a mass and the clods stick fast together? (verses 16-41)
God obviously labors the point and the entire created order has been laid down to Job for his to explain its source and providence. And in the end aside from the point of justice is attained by his appointment in time and season, we can know for sure that God rules with goodness and wisdom. Every detail explained above shows how God imparts his goodness and impartiality. He alone decides what is good for the time and season he appointed. He takes care of the abandon and even actively puts to justice those does wrong using the means of creation he can easy dispose by his command.
Next, God wants Job to extend himself and explain the limits God provided the details for the forming of water. Can Job attend to the minute details of these waters? Of course, Job cannot explain them because he does not know them and yes even with us modern men who has explored the microscopic world of atoms and cells, we still cannot fathom every corner of God’s work in creation.
Next, from micro to macro, God calls Job to explain the mysteries of the movements of the heavenly bodies. Yes even now modern men can put a big telescope in the skies to probe the stars, seeing more means the multiplication of mysteries and more questions than answers were given. So if Job can fathom them surely he can impart his wisdom to God about these things God created.
In short, God rules with goodness and wisdom. He remains impartial and cares of all of his creation and this the continuing point of his succeeding speech.
Yahweh’s Providential Care
The Lion and the Ravens
“Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in their thicket? Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food?
The Mountain Goat
“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the does? Can you number the months that they fulfill, and do you know the time when they give birth, when they crouch, bring forth their offspring, and are delivered of their young? Their young ones become strong; they grow up in the open; they go out and do not return to them.
The Wild Donkey
“Who has let the wild donkey go free? Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey, to whom I have given the arid plain for his home and the salt land for his dwelling place? He scorns the tumult of the city; he hears not the shouts of the driver. He ranges the mountains as his pasture, and he searches after every green thing.
The Wild Ox
“Is the wild ox willing to serve you? Will he spend the night at your manger? Can you bind him in the furrow with ropes, or will he harrow the valleys after you? Will you depend on him because his strength is great, and will you leave to him your labor? Do you have faith in him that he will return your grain and gather it to your threshing floor?
The Fast Ostrich
“The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, but are they the pinions and plumage of love? For she leaves her eggs to the earth and lets them be warmed on the ground, forgetting that a foot may crush them and that the wild beast may trample them. She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers; though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear, because God has made her forget wisdom and given her no share in understanding. When she rouses herself to flee, she laughs at the horse and his rider.
The Strong Horse
“Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? Do you make him leap like the locust? His majestic snorting is terrifying. He paws in the valley and exults in his strength; he goes out to meet the weapons. He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; he does not turn back from the sword. Upon him rattle the quiver, the flashing spear, and the javelin. With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground; he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet. When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’ He smells the battle from afar, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
The Hawks and Eagles
“Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars and spreads his wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high? On the rock he dwells and makes his home, on the rocky crag and stronghold. From there he spies out the prey; his eyes behold it from far away. His young ones suck up blood, and where the slain are, there is he.” (Job 38:39-41 and Job 39)
God moves now from inanimate objects to animate creatures. God tests Job in his knowledge over these creatures. It is a lesson in Biology and Zoology all from the point of view of God as their creator. First the lion and the ravens, they are both animals who prey on other animals for food and even them so appears to be harmful animals, it is God who provides for them. In short, God is impartial towards all this creation, Second, the mountain goats who are in isolation from everyone else. God makes sure they reproduce even when no soul attends to them. How? God is the one who attends to them. Again, God takes care of everything even those which seems insignificant to others. God’s goodness is impartial. Third the wild donkey and ox, God takes care of them even though these are wild and free animals. God directs their every path and action. God limits their freedom and makes sure they are well taken cared of. This means God’s goodness is also perfected in wisdom. He controls everything and sets their limits according to wise counsel. Forth, the ostrich and horse, at first we can discern the ostrich ridiculous appearance, it a bird with small wings which cannot even fly. But we know that Speedy Gonzales can outrun even the most majestic horse. In short even purposes of God is not determined only the outward appearance of weakness, pain and suffering. God makes all things for our good. Fifth the hawks and eagles, even these majestic and powerful birds come to God for his care and submits to his will. As with these creatures, the same is expected from every man.
And the LORD said to Job: “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.
Then Job answered the LORD and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:1-5)
Again, God issues a call to Job to explain these things he raise and if unable to do so, summons him to submit to him and this is what Job did. Job simply acknowledges God’s superiority over him and in the midst of suffering and pain, succumb to the wisdom and power of God.
We will continue and learn about the next set of answers God gave Job but at this point, I exhort everyone to simply acknowledge the wonderful sovereignty, wisdom, power of God. He alone is sovereign over all our lives and he works all things for our good. The theme of these verses echoes for us again what Paul replied to anyone who would dare question God’s sovereign over the salvation of both the Jews and Gentiles in Christ, their election and even the reprobation of those who will receive the wrath of God. He wrote in Romans 9:20-24, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this? ”Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory…”
In the end, we live and dies by God’s own choosing and we can trust these things happening for our own good. Christian, do you believe in God’s sovereignty, wisdom, power, and goodness? May we all bow down and worship God who is full of grace and mercy and compassion towards his people.
ZCRC(Imus), God alone is good, wise, powerful, and sovereign. He rules, provides, and concurs with compassion and care. Let us continue to trust in him even in the midst of troubles and affiliations. Amen.
Rev. Lance Filio is a minister of the Word and Sacraments at Zion Cornerstone Reformed Church (Imus). He finished his Bachelor Degree in Electronics Engineering at Mapua Institute of Technology and He is currently taking his Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS) at MINTS. He lives in Taguig City, Philippines with his wife and three children.