Pastor Cosand: February 2019
WHERE WERE YOU, JOB?
meditation on Job 38-42
One of the great lessons from the book of Job is that in the lives of God’s people, afflictions are not only beneficial to our spiritual growth, but necessary for our greater understanding of and communion with our God and Father. John Newton (1725-1807), English pastor and author of "Amazing Grace," wrote about trials and the Christian life. He said, "They [afflictions] are useful, and in a degree necessary, to keep alive in us a conviction of the vanity and unsatisfying nature of the present world, and all its enjoyments; to remind us that this is not our rest, and to call our thoughts upwards, where our true treasure is, and where our conversation [life] ought to be."
In Job 31:35, Job made the following statement . . . "Oh that I had one to hear me! (Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!)" Job was looking for a legal hearing. What he got, instead, is something more like a stern lecture … in the form of multiplied rhetorical questions from the LORD Himself. In Job 38, God comes to Job (and to us) and He does not justify Himself. He does not explain His ways. What He does is to ask repeated questions and in the process He lauds His majesty and justice and power. He emphasizes the fact that He is way beyond the scope of human comprehension. And the only reasonable and proper response before such a God is to bow down in humble submission and trust Him completely. This is exactly what Job did in Job 42 and it is exactly what we should do all the days of our lives.
God begins His questions in Job 38:4 and they run for 4 chapters. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” The answer is obvious, and so humbling to Job … and to us. Job wasn’t there. He doesn’t know how the earth was created by God’s speaking a word. He wasn’t there. He is a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to the universe. Then God has Job glance around the universe and the world, and asks Job if he can do the things that need to be done to sustain creation. These are pride-shattering questions.
Job 38:12 - "Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place?"
Job 38:31-33 - "Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, and guide the Bear with her satellites? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, or fix their rule over the earth?”
Job 38:34,35 - "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?'"
Job 39:1 - "Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the deer?"
Job 39:19,20 - "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."
Job 39:26,27 - "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?"
God is causing Job (and us) to see His glory and power and wisdom and justice in ways that he had not thought of. And Job’s initial response is, "Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to you?" (Job 40:4). Job realizes that there are ten billion events going on in the world every second that he is not even aware of and over which he has absolutely no control. The way one commentator put it: Job is ignorant and Job is impotent, when it comes to the governing of the world.
We usually don’t deeply laud the glory of God in our souls with a fire that burns for Him. We don’t look for His hand in every event of our lives, including the painful ones. We tend to do exactly what Job did … justify ourselves before God’s righteousness, thinking that our sense of justice is more acute than His. One of the great effects of the book of Job on our hearts is to humbly affirm God’s sovereignty …"I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted" (Job 42:2). The book of Job causes us to affirm God’s wisdom … "I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know" (Job 42:3).
The Almighty is not 'the man upstairs.' He is not some impersonal 'higher power.' He is the wonderful, infinite, glorious, omnipotent Creator. He beyond our complete comprehension, on the one hand. But on the other hand, we can know Him. He has revealed Himself to us in creation, in the Bible, and most of all, in His Son. Through Jesus we can know Him.
The story goes that someone once asked Albert Einstein's wife if she understood the theory of relativity. "No," she replied, "I don’t understand the theory of relativity. But I understand Professor Einstein. And that is enough." We cannot understand all of God’s mysterious ways, but we can know Him … and that is enough.
Bowing before divine mysteries,