JOB STUDIES 11
Job and his three friends have spoken. Young Elihu has added his own opinions to the debate. Now, God Himself addresses Job. The exact circumstances of this meeting are not given to us. It is not described as a “vision” or a “dream.” Rather, it seems to have been a real life experience. Did all the men hear God speak? Or only Job? We do not know. (They do hear from God later, 42:7.) We are told that a tornado-like, violent wind arose. Did this drive the men to seek shelter? What about Job? He really had no place to go. Perhaps he covered himself as best he could, and remained, sitting alone, on the ash heap.
Eventually, over the roaring of the wind, Job here’s a voice. It is God. And the Lord gives Job a unique revelation of Himself. Job had been seeking to question God regarding his trials. But instead of coming to answer Job’s questions, the Lord begins to question Job relentlessly (1:3). He asks more than 70 questions. They are not difficult questions. Job does not even need to respond, because the answers are obvious.
1) What is God asking Job in 38:4-6?
A BRIEF WORD ABOUT HEBREW POETRY
English poetry often makes use of rhyming words, words that sound alike. (Jesus paid it all, / All to Him I owe; / Sin had left a crimson stain, / He washed it white as snow.”) Hebrew poetry (in books like Job and Psalms) uses a different technique. Instead of matching sounds, it uses matching ideas. The wisdom of God can be seen in this. He knew the Bible would need to be translated into many different languages. Sound-alike words would often be lost in the process, but not matching ideas. Time does not permit a detailed discussion of Hebrew poetry. But here are four examples of the kind of matching ideas you can watch for.
¤ Sometimes two lines express a common idea (saying a similar thing in a different way). For example: “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, / And cleanse me from my sin” (Ps. 51:2). Washing and cleansing are similar. Iniquity and sin are, as well.
¤ Sometimes two lines of poetry will express contrasting ideas. For example: “Weeping may endure for a night, / But joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5).
¤ Sometimes two lines express a completing idea, with the second line adding more information. For example: “His delight is in the Law of the Lord, / And in His Law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:2). The second line gives us behaviour to demonstrate the attitude in the first line.
¤ Sometimes two lines give us a comparing idea, with one thing being compared to another. For example: “As a father pities his children, / So the Lord pities those who fear Him (Ps. 103:13).
2) Which of the four kinds is found in each of the following passages?
¤ Ps. 1:6
¤ Ps. 25:4
¤ Job 11:19
¤ Ps. 42:1
¤ Ps. 40:4
Determining which combination has been used is not an exact science. Sometimes Bible scholars disagree. The two lines in Job 38:7 are usually taken to express common ideas. Thus, “morning stars” in this case is thought to be a poetic description of “the sons of God” (angels). (Similarly, many take Isaiah 14:12 to be referring to Satan before his fall as “Lucifer”--the Day Star.)
3) What did the angels witness that caused them to rejoice (38:4, 7)?
4) What other special occasion was accompanied by an angelic celebration (Lk. 2:13-14)?
INSIGHT: These two events are brought together in a familiar Christmas carol by James Montgomery: Angels from the realms of glory, / Wing your flight o'er all the earth; / Ye who sang creation's story, / Now proclaim Messiah's birth.” (Though Luke does not say specifically that the angel’s sang, “praising God and saying” (Lk. 2:13) could also be translated “singing praises and declaring.”)
5) If the angels sang before man even existed, what does that tell you about music?
6) What does Zephaniah 3:17 add to our understanding of where music comes from?
7) What question does the Lord ask Job in 38:12?
8) And what is the question in 38:16?
9) What area does the Lord question Job about in 38:31-33?
INSIGHT: “Mazzaroth” (38:32) means divided, referring to the twelve constellations of the Zodiac that from our view divide the heavens into a circular path of groups of stars.
10) What does the Lord ask Job about in 38:34-35?
11) What area does God ask Job about in 38:36?
INSIGHT: Job knew the answer to this question, as he showed us earlier (28:20, 23, 28). And Job really knows the answers to all of God’s questions, as we shall discuss in a moment.
12) And what does the Lord ask Job about in 38:41?
INSIGHT: Consider the touching picture this poetic passage gives us (38:41). Tiny birds in a nest, lifting their voices to God in their need. Of course, the Lord is not saying they are conscious of His existence and “praying” intelligently. The point is that God hears the cry of each little bird as though it were a prayer. This is truly comforting to praying saints everywhere.
13) Why is it a comfort (compare Lk. 12:6-7)?
14) What is the basic answer to all of God’s questions about the realm of creation?
15) What is Job’s reaction to this amazing revelation of God (40:3-5)?
INSIGHT: In the NKJV (and KJV) Job says, “I am vile” (40:3). This does not mean he is admitting he has sinned. The Hebrew word means light-weight, something that doesn’t amount to much. Job is saying he is insignificant compared to God. (The NIV has “unworthy,” and that is close to it.)
16) The Lord asks a very significant question in 40:8. What is it?
17) It is important that 40:8 is worded as a question, rather than a statement. Why?
INSIGHT: Job believed that he was righteous before God--and the Lord agreed. What then could be the reason for his trials? Job is in danger of coming to a conclusion based on limited human knowledge--that the only other possibility must be that God is somehow in the wrong! God’s confrontation of Job is simply meant to demonstrate that the Lord is infinitely superior to Job in every way. Job gets the point, and responds with deep humility.
18) God’s words are not meant to teach Job that he is a sinner who needs to repent. Rather that he is a mortal man, needing what?
INSIGHT: “Look now at behemoth [ba-HE-moth]” (40:15). This is a large animal whose exact identity is unknown. In some ways it seems similar to the hippopotamus or the elephant But perhaps it is now extinct. Some commentators suggest it is mythological and not real. However, God made it (vs. 15), and He commands Job to “look” at the animal, so it must have existed. There is a similar uncertainty in 41:1 where “Leviathan [La-VI-a-than]” is described. It sounds quite a bit like a crocodile. But it may possibly be one of the ancient dinosaurs, a survivor of the flood, preserved in the ark. The point is that these are both huge creatures that terrorize man. Only an omnipotent God is able to control them.
INSIGHT: The Hebrew word dabaq is translated “joined to one another” (41:17). It is a description of the scales of Leviathan.
19) How firmly are the scales of Leviathan fastened together (vs. 15-17)?
20) The same Hebrew word (dabaq) is translated “joined” (“united,” NIV) in Gen. 2:24. What important truth does this suggest?
21) What important point does God’s question in 41:11 emphasize?
INSIGHT: Suppose an intelligent creature were to visit our planet for the first time, and stand on a railroad track. He might examine the tracks with scientific tools and learn a great deal about them--about the steel, the wooden ties, the gravel used between the ties. However, as he looks off toward the horizon at a straight stretch of track, he might easily come to the conclusion that the two tracks eventually meet off in the distance. (They do seem to come closer and closer together toward the horizon.) Standing where he is, he will not know otherwise unless someone teaches him about the laws of perspective, or unless he is somehow able to gain a view of the tracks from above.
22) How does this illustration relate to Job’s situation (and our own) in trying to understand his trials?
23) In this long speech, does God give no answer at all to why Job is suffering? (Or if He does, what is it?)