Job 38:22-41: Questions
December 20, 2018
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
John 20:1-9, Revelation 17, Job 38:22-41, Zephaniah 3
The rapid-fire questions from God to Job continue. Who could possibly answer these questions without trembling in worship? Job, you will remember, has been asking God questions. He has asked God why he has suffered. Why has this happened to him? He had not done anything to deserve his pain. What possible reason can there be that he has experienced such calamity?
In his pain, Job has experienced the further trauma of being “preached at” rather that winsomely ministered to. He has been lectured by his so-called friends. They have accused him (over and over again) of having done something wrong. They could not drive him down far enough to admit that he has sinned. And so now Job stands with his complaints apparently unanswered. What will God do?
God, instead of answering Job’s questions, He himself questions Job. The purpose of all these questions is to reveal to Job his own humanity, his lack of insight, his inability to even comprehend the right question to ask about suffering.
Wisdom, the Proverbs literature in the Bible consistently teaches, begins with the fear of the Lord. And wisdom is, therefore, prevented by pride and self-adulation. And as Job braces himself for this slew of humbling and unanswerable questions, he is slowly brought to the position when he realizes that his questions have answers for which he in his humanity cannot possibly begin to comprehend. He may even be asking the wrong questions, let alone be able to grasp the answers.
The purpose of this is to show Job that he is not God, that he is not able to understand God, that he cannot see into the mystery of human suffering.
Perhaps you yourself have many questions. There is a place for questions, and there are questions for which we do have or can find the answers. But then there are topics and themes about which the path of wisdom is to realize that the answers stretch over the horizon of eternity. Is God one or is he three? Is God sovereign or do humans have freedom? We look over the lip of infinity and peer into the mind of God, and there realize that what we must do is worship, not complain.
Suffering, in the end, can only find its satisfying resolution in the arms of the One who suffered, in his nail-pierced hands. Here is Job, traumatized by his pain, and he now has his Creator encounter him. What joy! What humility! What a new perspective!
Our family growing up was given some holidays in the Swiss Alps. There were no mountains near where we grew up. And so to get into training, I remember we would walk up and down some nearby hills. I remember one of my brothers noticing me somewhat out of breath climbing up a hill and remarking, “Just you wait until you get to the Alps.” I had no idea what he meant until I got to the Alps. We lived thousands of feet up the mountain. And from that place climbed for a day before coming to the bottom of a glacier. The scale and size of the Alps was simply inconceivable to a boy who grew up South of London.
Job is having something like that experience. God is simply bigger than he can comprehend. And in these questions, he is staring up the foothills of the Alps and seeing the expanse of God’s lovingkindness extend ever above him, even as he reaches right down to him.
If you are suffering today, take a moment away from asking God why, and instead ask God to reveal himself to you. So often it is in our pain that we see more of God than we thought possible. Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope. It is at the cross that we bow and worship.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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