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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Facing Trials: Job [16]

God is speaking to Job, but rather than discussing his obvious troubles, the Almighty draws Job's eyes away from his sufferings, away from himself and to the grandeur of his God.

To begin with, God demonstrates that his wisdom and power are infinitely beyond that of any human being.

"Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?" (Job 38:35)

"Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread his wings toward the south?" (Job 39:26)

From the wonders of His creation, God moves to his loving care for the things he has made:

"Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?

Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?

Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?

Do you count the months till they bear?

Do you know the time they give birth?

They crouch down and bring forth their young: their labor pains are ended.

Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds; they leave and do not return. (Job 38:41-39:4)

In 39:13-17 God also points to the ostrich, whom he has not endowed with great wisdom. Yet the Ruler of the Universe protects the baby ostrich, even though its own mother does not!

The application from all this should be clear to Job. If God so carefully governs the birth of ravens, wild goats and ostriches, won't he care about man, the pinnacle of his creation?

The is the same thing Jesus tried to tell His disciples, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Matthew 6:26)

Now God challenges Job:

"Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!" (40:2)

Suddenly, Job doesn't have so much to say about how the Almighty does His job; and his friends have nothing to say at all. All he can reply are these few words:

"I am unworthy--how can I reply to you?

I put my hand over my mouth.

I spoke once, but I have no answer—

twice, but I will say no more." (Job 40:4-5)

Job's desire to meet with God face to face has been fulfilled. But now that it has come, Job is almost mute! It is one thing to smugly talk about God's injustice, but it is quite another to make those assertions in the presence of the Lord of the Universe.

The Lord continues...

He points out that Job has sinned by calling God unfair. In trying to judge God, Job has placed himself above the Almighty (Job 40:8-14). But God is God! He is judge over all.

The Apostle Paul wrote, "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” (Romans 9:20)

In concluding his speech, the Lord spends considerable time on two mighty creatures, the behemoth (Job 40:15-24) and leviathan (Job 41).

People have always been interested in just what animals these Hebrew words might refer to. Behemoth simply means "cattle' or "beast." In Job 40 the word probably refers to a hippopotamus or elephant. Either of these animals could fit the description of this powerful beast, whose ''bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron" (Job 40:18). It is possible that in ancient times such animals did live in the Jordan Valley (Job 40:23). Today, however, they are not to be found in that region.

The leviathan is most likely a crocodile, with "rows of shields" (Job 41:15) on his back.

God declares that both animals, whatever they may be, are so powerful that no man can match their strength. Yet the Almighty emphasizes that both are under his control. For he is Lord over all, the King of Creation.

I think this falls in the category of "be careful what you ask for!"


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