66. God Speaks

Meditations in Job : 66. God Speaks from a Storm

Job 38:1-5 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?

All the talking by the humans has come to an end. Now it is the Lord’s turn. He has remained silent and let the variety of opinions be expressed. For the moment He ignores the three friends and Elihu. He simply addresses Job. Note it says “the Lord answered Job.” These words are going to be a direct answer to all that Job has said, but they will not be a point-by-point apologetic. Oh no, the Lord is going to answer by a very different means.  The Lord comes and speaks through a storm. Saying that, it isn’t that the storm brings Job a lesson, but the Lord’s voice comes from the midst of the storm. A storm, by its very nature, displays power. We are reminded of the revelation that Ezekiel received: I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north–an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light.” (Ezek 1:4) I think I have never seen this so well shown as in the film Independence Day when a massive alien spacecraft comes with what appears amazing clouds and a storm. It conveyed well the enormity of the power that we see in the Scriptures when God makes His presence known sometimes.

It is important to note this tangible power and might, because it is simply an expression of the Lord’s activity which He is going on to speak about to Job. He is not going to answer Job on an intellectual argument or emotional challenge level; He is simply going to state some simple facts, revealed through questions.

But first He expresses something about Job.  Now later on He will reiterate His good feelings about Job but for the moment He wants to convey to Job His dissatisfaction with what Job has been saying.  Job may have been a righteous man prior to all this happening, but he has given way to the pressures coming from the three friends and has spoken out about things of which he has no knowledge.  He did not know about the prior conversations in heaven and the causes (and objectives?) of what happened, and so all his words were baseless (literally!).  So he spoke without knowledge and so it is going to be on the basis of the absence of knowledge that the Lord is going to help Job regain his right perspective!

As we said, the Lord is not going to enter into an intellectual debate with Job; He’s simply going to help Job regain perspective and when that happens, that will be enough. He uses rhetorical question after rhetorical question. The answers are obvious. We won’t look at them all; you can read them in your Bible. He starts with three that will show the nature of His approach: Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? …. Who marked off its dimensions? ….  Who stretched a measuring line across it?” i.e. were you around when I created everything?  Of course not!   Immediately there is this implied acknowledgement that the Lord is the Creator of the world and that lifts Him infinitely higher than Job.

The questions roll on, one after another and the answer from Job’s perspective has to be “No, I am a mere man!”  Every now and then the Lord drops in a challenge that reminds Job of that very fact; for example, “Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!” (38:21) and that just rubs the truth in even more.  No, I’m just a mere man and my few years count for nothing.  The questions pour on, covering nature, the constellations, even the origins of wisdom, and then on into chapter 39 about the habits of all the animals and their strangeness sometimes.  Does He know about all these details?  No, of course he doesn’t; he’s a mere man and it’s not the twenty first century where technology has begun to open up some of these secrets that show us just how wonderful Creation is.

We’ll pause it there and continue to consider the torrent of questions in the next meditation. It is a simple lesson of perspective. Sometimes we think we are so great; we have achieved so much.  Some of us have learnt so much that we fool ourselves into believing that the tiny bit of information we have absorbed makes us important.  In a foolish age when so many deny the presence of God, we take for granted the incredible wonder and power of what we can observe in Creation.  We explain it away and fail to see the enormity of the Creator that defies our imagination.  Because we are tainted by this disease called Sin, we are blinded to the truth.  We think we are great.  But then it only takes a bad cold or the flu or a strained back or severe toothache to bring us down to helplessness and we realise afresh our limitations.  We dare to argue with Almighty God?  What crass stupidity!

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29. A Child is Born

ADVENT MEDITATIONS No.29

29. A Son is Born!

Isa 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

As we have gone through these Advent meditations, there has been a tendency to try to put ourselves in the place of the people concerned, in order to catch the reality of the events and the possible impact upon us today. In doing this we have almost ignored the baby! In a sense the baby is the most important person in the story but, by necessity, we focus on the people involved with the baby. In the last of these meditations we now seek to remedy that by looking at this Old Testament prophecy about this coming one.

A child…. a son is given….. the prophecy is all about a male human baby yet to be born who, from the descriptions that follow, will be far from ordinary, who will be ‘given’ as a gift from God!

…. and the government will be on his shoulders… he will carry the burden of rule, a quaint way of saying he will be a king.

….And he will be called…. when you call somebody something, you are acknowledging who or what they are.

Wonderful Counsellor… this is literally wonder-counsellor or supernatural counsellor, one who will come with great wisdom and insight that is beyond human capability. When Jesus came he came with a different level of teaching (Mk 1:23,27, Mt 22:33) and knew what people were thinking (Mt 12:25, Mk 2:8, Lk 5:22, 6:8, 11:17) and stopped with mouths of the religious teachers with his wisdom and insight.

Mighty God… what a staggering prophetic claim! The word mighty gives no room to go off into wondering if the prophet was going off into some fantasy New Age speculations, (“we are all gods”). No this is Isaiah saying this child will be Almighty God. Of course, as we’ve noted a number of times, this defies our intellect and was therefore a stumbling block for the Jewish teachers. But this is at the core of the Christmas story – today we celebrate the coming of God Himself to live on the earth in human experience!

Everlasting Father… again there is no room given by the prophet for us to speculate about this coming child. Everlasting has to speak of God Himself for no other being is eternal or everlasting. The concept of God as Father was limited in the Old Dispensation, and only came to fullness when God came in the form of His “Son”. Contrary to the so-often terrible role models of today, this Father is a faithful, caring, compassionate and understanding provider who is always there for His children – which is what He calls us when we come to Him (Jn 1:12, 1Jn 3:1). Within these latter two descriptions so far, is the sense of unity. Jesus is the Son, but he’s also one with the Father (Jn 10:30 ,38, 14:9). John makes over 110 references to the Father in his Gospel! He understood something of the incredible concept that Jesus was sharing.

Prince of Peace…. a prince is a son of a ruler… hence Jesus the Son of the Almighty Ruler of all things. His role? To bring peace between God and man, to reconcile us sinners to Holy God (Rom 5:11, 2 Cor 5:19). This is what this baby is going on to do. Without him we would be estranged from God and could never know the wonder of His loving acceptance and the blessings that follow.

That is the wonder of this day – God has come to bring the means to bring us to Himself. Rejoice in it! Celebrate it! Worship Him!  Have I received this gift from God?  Has Jesus become the ruler of my life?  Have I acknowledged him for who he is? Is he my counsellor, the one who knows all about me and who guides me?  Do I acknowledge him as God? Is he the way to my knowing the Father, the one who cares for me and provides for me?  Have I received the peace he brings?

If I can respond in the affirmative to all these questions then the only thing left is to thank God for all of those things –  for my gift of life, the leader of my life, the bringer of wisdom and all else that I need, my entry to heaven, my peace here on the earth.

Lord I thank you for all these things. Thank you for this day! Thank you for Jesus!