God has spoken at various times and in various ways in the past – at creation and called all things into existence out of nothing; through prophetic messages communicated to His people in dreams and visions; to Moses in burning bush, to Balaam through a donkey and His voice was heard rumbling from the fiery cloud that covered Israel in the wilderness. But in today’s reading from Job 38 – 41 we see that God breaks his silence and speaks to Job out of a whirlwind / storm (we can start to imagine what that might have been like given the recent thunderstorms).
Having been berated rather than supported by his friends, I would imagine that Job was by now more than a little miffed and at end of his tether. He was ready for answers.
When Job and his friends fell silent, God finally speaks. But it wasn’t what either Job or his friends expected to hear! Instead of explaining Job’s suffering, God brought Job and his friends (and us) to a new awareness of his majesty and awesome power.
God confronts Job with a series of questions in rapid succession regarding the creation and nature, that contrast God’s great power and wisdom with Job’s limited ability and understanding (38-40:2). This first discourse concludes with a repeated challenge for Job to answer these questions. Overwhelmed, Job admits his unworthiness and inability to answer.
“I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.” (Job 40:5 Message Version)
However God is not through with Job, a second discourse (40:6 – 41:34) begins with another challenge for Job to answer God’s questions. Job is asked whether he truly thinks he can annul God’s judgment, or condemn Him so that he can be justified (cf. Elihu’s charges, 32:2; 33:8-13). If Job can thunder with a voice like God’s, adorn himself with majesty, splendour, glory and beauty, bring the proud down low, then God would confess that Job could save himself.
To once more illustrate the power and wisdom of God, Job is asked to consider two impressive mysterious creatures, the behemoth and Leviathan (thought by commentators to be the hippopotamus and crocodile). If man is fearful before them, how then could one stand against God.
In spite of what Job felt or thought, God was in control of Job’s situation. Job was not alone, God was uncovering levels of pride in Job that could only be exposed revealing how the God who was control of the universe and who cared for the natural world was intimately involved with Job’s pain. God had a goal in mind all along. What he asked Job to do was to trust him.
In our other reading from 2 Corinthians 12, we see parallels to the story of Job. Paul continues to share some insights about his life, and reflects on a painful, humbling experience that he had brought before God (his thorn in the flesh). Again Satan was permitted to afflict God’s servant, yet only within the parameters set by God (cf. Job 2).
God’s answer to Paul as it was to Jo and to all of us – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
John Piper writes – “God’s design for suffering is that it magnifies Christ’s worth and power. This is grace, because the greatest joy of Christians is to see Christ magnified in our lives.”
If you have the time – you may like to view and meditate on this Youtube clip which visualises our passage from Job.