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Job 38:1-42:6: Do You Trust God When He Doesn't Answer All Your Questions? Print E-mail
Sunday, 22 May 2011

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On March 22, 1759, Sarah Edwards lost her husband, Jonathan, of over thirty years.  He died when he was only 55 and had just become the president at Princeton.  On April 3rd, a few weeks after his death, she wrote to her daughter and said: “he has my heart.”  Yet, she was not referring to her husband.  Rather she wrote of her husband’s death: “The Lord has done it.  He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long.  But my God lives; and he has my heart.  O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us!  We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be.”  Sarah made it clear to her daughter that the Lord had her heart and she was content to be given to Him: “there I am, and love to be.”1  On February 6, 1870, George Mueller lost his wife, Mary, of almost forty years.  Shortly after her death he preached a sermon describing God’s goodness even in taking his wife.  He said: “My dear daughter and I would not have her back, were it possible to produce it by the turn of the hand.  God Himself has done it; we are satisfied with Him.”2  Of course, we might dismiss these two as cold and not very affectionate for their spouses.  But that is not the case.  They loved them and missed them very much.  Rather, we must simply conclude that they were satisfied with God and His plan

The book of Job is about being satisfied in God.  It is about being satisfied in God alone.  It tells the story of a man who lost everything and still found God to be enough.  It is a book that seemingly had an impact on the faith of Sarah Edwards and George Mueller.  It is a book that helps us all be able to say on the darkest of days: ‘God has my heart and I am satisfied with Him.’  We see Job’s satisfaction in God in his second response to the Lord’s speeches in 42:1-6.  Of course, in order to understand his response, we must consider what the Lord actually says to Job.  The fact that the Lord answers Job at all is amazing in itself.  As we noted last week, the Lord does not have to address Job.  He does not have to speak.  But He does.  Look at 38:1.  This alone is evidence of God’s grace and goodness toward Job in particular and mankind in general.  The Lord does not owe us any revelation of Himself.  Yet, He has graciously chosen to reveal Himself.  And not just in these speeches but in the whole of Scripture (and in creation itself, see Romans 1:19-20).  We must avoid the temptation of thinking that these speeches are somehow ‘more inspired.’  No, like every passage in the Bible, they are given to teach us about God.  Job was desperate to hear from the Lord.  And so are we.  So then, what does He say?

Passage Overview:

The Lord gives two speeches (38:2-40:2 and 40:7-41:34) followed by two responses from Job (40:3-5 and 42:1-6).  In the first speech, God repeatedly asks Job instructive questions.  He begins in 38:2-3.  Job has spoken in ignorance; innocence indeed (see 42:7), but also ignorance.  Thus, God begins to question Job’s knowledge and power.  He asks him about creation: ‘Where were you when I created the world (38:4-11)?’  He asks him about the bringing forth of each day (38:12-15) and about the unknown depths (38:16-21).  He asks him: ‘Who controls the weather (38:22-38)?’  And: ‘Who cares for the animals: the lion, the raven, the mountain goat, the donkey, the wild ox, the ostrich, the horse, the hawk, and the eagle (38:39-39:30)?’  The first speech ends with God challenging Job: Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?  He who argues with God, let him answer it.  Job can only respond with silence.  Look at 40:3-5.

The second speech of God brings more questions to Job.  Look at 40:6-8.  In one sense, this is the heart of God’s response to Job.  Can one who cannot control the weather or care for the animals put God (who can do both) in the wrong to justify himself?  Does Job have an arm like God (40:9)?  Can Job humble the proud and put down the wicked (40:10-14)?  Can Job tame the Behemoth (40:15-24) or the Leviathan (41:1-34)?  Perhaps at this point, we should pause and try and identify these last two creatures.  Some simply identify the Behemoth as the hippopotamus and the Leviathan as the crocodile.  Others see them as symbolic of cosmic powers.  I tend to agree with the latter interpretation.  God is not merely demonstrating His power over two more animals, but His power over all (death, evil, chaos, included).  Thus, God makes it clear to Job that He has knowledge of and power over all things.  He is the Lord.

Job responds a second time in 42:1-6.  We will look at Job’s humility more in a moment, but I want to first focus on Job’s repentance in verse 6.  What does this mean?  Before we try and answer, we must note what the Lord says about Job in verse 7.  Look at that with me.  If Job has spoken what is right of the Lord, what is he repenting of in verse 6?  He is not repenting of some terrible sin that he had committed to deserve his suffering for that would contradict the whole point of the book (and the friends would be proven right).  Rather, his repentance is part of his humility towards God and what God has revealed to him.  Carson sums it up well: “He repents of his arrogance in impugning God’s justice, he repents of the attitude whereby he simply demands and answer, as if such were owed him.  He repents of not having known God better,” which is what he describes in verse five.3  Job responds with humility and repentance.


After looking at Yahweh’s speeches to Job, we are compelled to consider this question: Do we trust God when He doesn’t answer all of our questions?  I mean, what is missing from the speeches of Yahweh?  Well, at first glance, it seems like everything is missing.  Why doesn’t God explain the situation?  Why doesn’t He tell him about Satan and his challenge?  Why doesn’t He fill him in?  As readers, it is what we expect.  We want God to call out from the whirlwind with a glorious explanation of all that has happened to Job.  In fact, many have mocked the speeches of God for this very reason.  They reason: ‘Job has gone through terrible suffering and the Lord shows up to talk about the weather and the ostrich.  Thanks for nothing.’  Yet, that is not how Job responds.  He responds with humility and trust.  How can Job do this?

In the speeches of Yahweh, Job humbly recognizes what God is revealing, namely His sovereignty over all things, including his suffering.  How does God make His sovereignty clear?  He reveals that He is the Creator of all things.  Look at 38:4.  The Lord created all things.  Thus, all things belong to Him.  Look at 41:11.  All the weather, all the animals, and all the people belong to the Lord.  Not only that, all things are for Him.  Look at 38:25-27.  The Lord makes it rain on places where no man is.  When I first went to Ruby Falls, the underground waterfall in the Chattanooga area, the thing that struck me is that it was not discovered until 1928.  For all those years, only the Lord enjoyed it.  It existed for Him (and still does for that matter, although now it declares His glory to man as well).  He reminds Job that He created all things and He also reminds him that He sustains all things.  The Lord controls the weather.  Wind, rain, lightning, are all under His control.  He calls out the stars and keeps them in their place.  And look at 38:8-11.  The Lord tells the seas where to stop.  If you travel around in Southeast Missouri right now and look at all the waterlines left by the various rivers that have flooded, you can take hope in the fact that the Lord told the waters where to stop.  They never were, nor have they ever been, out of His control.  He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things.

Not only that but God also reveals His omniscience, His knowledge of all things, to Job.  Look at 38:5-7 and 17-18.  God knows the measurements of the earth.  He knows what holds it in place.  He knows what lies beyond the grave.  He knows all these great things.  At the same time, He knows the small things as well.  Look at 39:1a.  Think about that.  Every time an animal gives birth, God is aware.  He is sustaining and caring for His creation even in the minutest of details.  He knows everything that is going on.  Not only does He know it all, but He has power over all of it as well since He is omnipotent, or all powerful.  Look at God’s power over the heavens in 38:31-33.  Look at His power over the Behemoth in 40:15 and the Leviathan in 41:9-10.  He has knowledge of all things and power over all things.  He is omniscient and omnipotent.  He is God.

And He is good.  He brings forth the morning to prevent the wicked from ruling.  Look at 38:12-15.  He cares for the animals and provides for them.  Look at 39:5-8.  He rules the world with justice and equity, even though we cannot always understand it.  Look at 40:8-14.  In short, the Lord rules the world right.  His sovereignty is unquestioned and unchallenged.  And His goodness is the same.  He does what is just and right even when we cannot see it.

When the Lord reveals the grandeur of His sovereign reign over the universe to Job, His greatness and goodness, His control and His care, it is enough for Job.  Look at 42:1-6.  When Job confesses that the Lord can do all things, he is also confessing that he cannot.  The Lord’s purposes will stand.  Job admits that he has spoken without knowledge.  His knowledge was limited and he spoke in ignorance.  Yet, he marvels in what God has revealed of Himself.  He had heard of God.  He knew certain things about God.  But now, now my eye sees you.  And that was enough for Job.  God revealed Himself to Job, His character, and that is what he needed most.  His relationship with the Sovereign Lord would sustain him.

So then, let me close with this question: is God enough for you?  Now, before you answer, take a moment to consider how He has revealed Himself to you.  Job got two speeches, you have the entire Bible.  Job got a glimpse of His character, you have God in the flesh.  Job only knew a hint about the Redeemer, you know His Name.  God has made Himself known to us.  He has revealed Himself through His creation (even tonight we can see His handiwork in the Pleiades and Orion).  He has revealed Himself in His Word.  And ultimately He has revealed Himself in His Son, Jesus Christ, who came and died on a cross for our sins.  We have seen more than Job ever new.  So then, is He enough for you?  If you think He is not, then let me just encourage you to look again.  Marvel at His Creation and His sustaining work.  Ponder His knowledge and power over all.  And if that is not enough, be overwhelmed by His goodness at the cross.  He may not give us all of the answers concerning our suffering, but He will be enough.  Amen.

1 Sereno Dwight, Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards, in: The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005), p. ccxxi.
2 Quoted in: John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1991), p.191.
3 D. A. Carson, How Long O Lord? (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990), p. 174.

~ William Marshall ~

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