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!