GOD’S POWER DISPLAYED - Mankind cannot fanthom, comprehend, or match God’s Power.
JOB 40: 1-14
MEMORY VERSE: JOB 40: 9 Do you have an arm like God's, and can your voice thunder like his?
Things would be different if we were in charge. We may have been jealous if someone else received what we thought to be better treatment. They may have let us know that we would be free to make that decision once we were in charge. But at this time, they were in charge. Job raised this issue, and God responded by reminding Job of His credentials and power.
THE CONTEXT (Job 38:1-41:34)
Throughout the Book of Job, his three friends argued that Job’s only relief from suffering would come after his repentance. They assumed Job was holding onto a sinful reliance on earthly gifts rather than loving the Giver of those gifts. Job maintained that the answer to his questions regarding suffering would come from God. Ultimately, he believed God would vindicate him and prove his claims of innocence to be true. For this reason, he longed for the opportunity to meet with God. In chapter 38, Job was finally granted what he desired. However, their face to face meeting did not go the way Job anticipated. Ready to confront God for all the suffering he endured, Job found himself being confronted by God.
In God’s first speech proceeding from a whirlwind, He confronted Job with questions – questions for which Job had no answer. This should not surprise the reader. After all, what human was there when God created the world? What human can give an account for how it was made (Job 38:4-8)? How could any human find the source of the sea or explain how to control it (38:8-11)? Has any human being been to the realm of the dead and lived to tell about it (38:16-17)? Is there any human who can command the morning, control rain, or intimately know the heavens above (38:12-38)? Even when it comes to the creatures of the earth, what human being can demonstrate complete dominion over the animal kingdom (38:39-39:30)? Absolutely no one can. Thus, in the first speech, God put Job in his proper place. The wisdom and power of God towered over Job to bring him to a place of humility.
Then when Job was made aware of his ignorance, he responded by pledging silence (40:3-5). In His second speech, God inquired of Job’s power compared to the other creatures God had made (40:6-41:34). Job responded by humbly submitting to God’s authority and apologetically showing remorse for his earlier wild and irresponsible words (42:1-6). Even while Job had defended himself against his friends’ accusations, he admitted here his insufficiency for the mysterious purposes of God. In this section of the book, the Creator-creature distinction is on full display in God’s monologue and questioning of Job.
CORRECT ME? (JOB 40:1-5)
40:1 The LORD said to Job:
2 "Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!"
After God’s initial barraging Job with questions (chaps. 38-39), illustrating Job’s lack of power and wisdom, God landed a final question to end His first speech. The question was simple yet powerfully profound: will man correct God? Let man who accuses God answer Him.
God asked Job to justify his heart’s intent in approaching Him the way he did. Whenever the understanding between Creator and creature is blurred, error and idolatry result. We see this in the actions of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3). Humans are made in God’s image and likeness; He is not made in ours. Many incorrect understandings in theology are on account of the implicit idea that God must act as we would act, or that humans can fully understand the ways of God where they have not been revealed. God reveals Himself to us in human terms, but we must not think that our limited understanding can challenge God’s actions.
What mere creature would contend with God and instruct Him? The usage of the name “Shaddai” helps for understanding the foundation of this speech. This name is sometimes translated “My God” or “Almighty”. Job was speaking to the Almighty God, the One who created the heavens and earth and all creatures that dwell therein. God did this by simply speaking. The name “Shaddai” carries with it another meaning, “the overpowerer”. This reminds us that it is impossible for anyone or anything to keep God from accomplishing His sovereign decrees. In this section of Job, God gave Job an intensely clear and awe-inspiring description and display of His power. No one can thwart God’s will, and no creature can fully understand His ways.
3 Then Job answered the LORD:
4 "I am unworthy--how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.
5 I spoke once, but I have no answer-- twice, but I will say no more."
Knowing that Job intended to confront Him, God revealed Himself as the Almighty to humble Job and to shut his mouth. God set Job straight before He began to address the perceived unfairness of his suffering. When God demanded a response, Job realized his inadequateness. Job really had nothing to say, even though God invited him to do so. Job rightly recognized that these matters are beyond his understanding. They are beyond the reach of a human’s power of knowledge. It is clear that Job realized his ignorance in these matters and his mistake in suggesting that he might correct God.
Job had previously thought he would put God in His place, but it was God who set Job straight. In relation to almighty God, Job rightly described himself as small and insignificant. Job covered his mouth and remained silent, just as others had once done in His presence (Job 29:9). Job knew better than to fire back at God. While he had spoken in previous chapters, now that he had an audience with God, he regretted his prideful intent. In sum, God challenged Job to explain his credentials to correct Him, leading Job to admit that he could add nothing more to what he already had said. He thus pledged to remain silent.
Human beings may have questions about how God rules His world but have no justification for demanding answers for circumstances that do not seem appropriate. We do not know enough about creation to understand all of God’s ways. Only God knows the beginning from the end, and we must learn to trust His wisdom in working out His purposes. Most times the proper response to God’s work is not to question Him but to be silent before Him.
YOU QUESTION MY JUSTICE? (JOB 40:6-7)
6 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:
7 "Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
8 "Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
9 Do you have an arm like God's, and can your voice thunder like his?
God then launched into a second speech, directed squarely at Job to search his heart. At this point it is clear that God was not finished; Job had not yet fully learned his lesson. Therefore, in verses 6-9, God answered out of a storm of lighting, thunder, and darkness.
Job knew how it felt to be questioned and judged by those who had drawn wrong conclusions about his circumstances. Here the tables turned, and God was showing Job that he had overextended his perceived judgments about the hidden purpose of God in his life. Throughout this book, Job had agreed that sinners should suffer but did not see himself as meriting the suffering he experienced. Job believed that his suffering had been unjust. Perhaps Job was more concerned with defending his innocence than he was defending God’s justice. After all, Job had unfairly questioned God’s justice (v. 8). Job thought that by allowing the wicked to flourish and the innocent (himself) to suffer, God did not render fair judgment. But as we have seen, there are times when things do not seem to be happening according to our perspective of what is just. For Job, these were strong judgments to land against the Almighty.
In the Bible, the “arm of the Lord” is a vivid image of God’s power in both salvation and judgment. (See Ex. 6:6; 15:16). It is not only God’s arm but also His voice that reverberates like thunder, displaying His unrivaled power. Psalm 29 by David ascribes to the LORD’s voice His glory, power, and might. We see this in Exodus at the giving of the ten commandments - Exodus 20: 18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance
19 and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die."
Job finally got the point! Believers must be careful to avoid viewing God as unfair and unjust. It is important to note in this passage that God did not explain the meaning of Job’s suffering. In the case of Job, as with many of us, suffering is a mystery. Why does this happen to me and that happens to others? Job came to know who God is in light of what He had revealed. He was able to accept what God ordained even though he did not understand God’s ways. Like Job, all humans have a limited perspective. This reminds us that our response to God’s will, even in suffering, matters. We must trust God and continue trusting Him when we cannot grasp His plan and purposes.
GOD’S POWER (JOB 40:10-14)
10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
11 Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low,
12 look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand.
13 Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave.
14 Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.
It becomes clear that Job could not answer God’s questions. When it comes to justice on earth, Job was making claims about things beyond what he was able to accomplish. God is unrivaled in power and majesty. In comparison, Job was insignificant. Mankind, the crown of creation, pales in comparison to the Creator.
In Scripture, God alone is declared as being adorned with majesty and splendor and clothed with honor and glory (Ps. 47:4; 93:1, 96:6). Yet here, God challenged Job to adorn himself with such qualities. If Job could adorn himself like God, then he could act like God and execute justice on the wicked. God continud with His challenge. He told Job to look on every proud person and humble him, to trample the wicked and to imprison them in the grave. The reality was that Job understood that he could not do this. Job had no right to question God. Job did not have the mind or the power of the creator God.
The speech ends with God’s conclusion. Unless Job was able to do the things listed above, there was no reason for God to treat him as an equal and explain His actions. Job knew all too well that he could not deliver on these challenges, much less deliver himself from what God had permitted to befall him. In the end, God challenged Job to see that if he were truly more knowledgeable and just than God, then he should be able to adorn himself with splendor, put down the wicked, and save himself from calamity. However, Job remained silent.
There are times when we are challenged with problems, that we should just shut our mouths – be careful with our actions – and just wait on our creator God to work out his plan in our lives. He has the power to relieve and to save. The way God engaged Job in this passage reminds all of us that there are times when mouths should stop before the great Creator and righteous Judge over all the earth. Job began to find true wisdom in bowing down before the Lord in reverent fear. Job could not stop his suffering – only God could.
As Christians, we should find comfort in this truth, knowing that God is at work even when we do not understand our situation or see how it will be used for His purposes. Only God has the wisdom and power to rule His creation. God is the Creator of all things. He has the right to govern creation according to His will. We must learn to trust that He will do what is good and right according to His purposes. As Creator and Judge, God always has the last word.
The good news of the gospel is the ultimate example of God’s good and perfect will that was worked out in the world through suffering. Jesus was sinless, yet he suffered on the Cross of Calvary to redeem us from our sins. Jesus died for us, in our place, as the just sacrifice for our sins so that we could be saved in trusting Him.