Picture the scene. Job had been a devout servant of God over many years, and God had blessed materially with family and flocks. Then suddenly, with no warning and no obvious reason, Job was subject to extreme pain, firstly in the loss of his family, flocks and farmworkers, and then in physical pain and discomfort in his body. On top of this, his own wife had told him to “curse God and die.” Then his three friends came to “comfort him”, but ended up blaming him for his own sins which had brought on these calamities. Their long speeches were full of condemnation and criticism. Much of what they said was true in general, but they were totally mistaken in applying these things to Job. Finally a young man who had listened to the whole debate between Job and his three friends got very angry that they had not got it right and decided he would weigh in with his own opinions, which were no nearer the truth.
Job was at his wits end, not understanding what was happening. Where was God? Job cries out, “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat!” (Chapter 23 v 3). There were questions in Job’s mind, and he wanted to clear it all up. He was a righteous man, but perhaps a little pride crept into his heart as he went on to say “I would present my case before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know the words which He would answer me, and understand what He would say to me. Would He contend with me in His great power? No! But He would take note of me. There the upright could reason with Him, and I would be delivered forever from my judge” (vs 4 – 7). Have you ever tried to justify yourself before God, or do you reckon you could win an argument with Him?
Then at the end of the young man Elihu’s long and eloquent speech, there is a whirlwind, and out of that whirlwind comes the voice of God Almighty! “Who is this that darkens council by words without knowledge?” (v 2). All these characters were speaking out of their ingnorance. People say that of me sometimes. Making conclusions without knowing all the facts! God continues to ask Job a series of questions.
- Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? (v 4)
- Have you commanded the morning since your days began? (v 12)
- Have you entered the springs of the sea? (v 16)
- Where is the way to the dwelling of light? (v 19)
- Have you entered the treasury of snow? (v 22)
- Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loosed the belt of Orion? (v 31)
- Can you lift up your voice to the clouds? (v 34)
So Job thought he could reason with God! God then asks the question “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?” He finishes with “He who rebukes God, let him answer it!” (ch 40 v 2).
What was Job to say next?
“Behold I am vile; what should I answer you? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.” (ch 40 vs 4, 5).
Job thought he could reason with God, but once God spoke Job realised his own worthlessness and that he could not question the Almighty God, creator of the Universe. Although he had gone through immense tribulation, he was still able to appreciate the power of God and His unanswerable authority, and bow before Him in contrition, surrendering himself to God’s will and purpose.
Perhaps this story will encourage us in these difficult days to understand that God has plans far above anything we know, and any suffering we experience will end in God’s time and in glorious blessings that God has prepared for those whom love Him (2 Corinthians 4 vs 17 – 18).