One more “friend,” a young one, speaks to Job more harshly than the others, but same old, same old. Then in chapter 38, “the Lord answered Job “out of the storm.” Storms are awesome and scary things, and there is obviously a reason the Lord chose that out of which to answer Job, principally to get across the message: I am God, you are not. The Lord’s first words are chilling:
2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
Then for two chapters the Lord declares that He is the Creator, and that that alone is enough to silence any human critic. The theme of God as Creator and thus as ultimate authority, the ultimate arbiter of reality, of what is right and wrong, good or evil, what is true and not, is woven all throughout the OT. Especially as compared to idols, and of course to us, usurpers, ones who by our sinful, fallen nature want to “be like God, knowing good and evil.”
After two chapters of this, the first part of chapter 40 goes like this:
The Lord said to Job:
2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!”
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.”
Isn’t it fascinating that the Lord God Almighty is reasoning with one of his creatures, stooping down to show him why being THE CREATOR is a big deal, that there is an infinite, qualitative difference between creature and Creator. I think it is instructive that Satan’s temptation and bold faced lie in the garden was, “you will be like God.” This assumes that we will get to sit in judgment of him! That we will call the shots, that we will get to determine truth and right and wrong. But when the Lord, notice “Almighty” in this verse, says Job is accusing him, he challenges him to answer. In the face of God’s awesome majesty, the one who created everything, all of it the product of his thoughts and power, what could Job say. His silence is an indication of his character, why the Lord chose him in the first place.
Verse 8 might be the key thesis statement of the whole book, when the Lord says:
Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
In fact, it could be the thesis statement of all human existence since the fall! Um, yes in fact I would, Lord, all the time. The default position of the fallen human heart is blame God for the bad, take credit for the good, when we acknowledge him at all. Remember Adam and Eve’s response to God after they had sinned? They hid among the trees. God became our enemy, and our judge, and thus we want nothing to do with him. Thankfully he wanted something to do with us!
Job at the end gets it:
2 “I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
In other words, you are God, I am not. What more needs to be said. But human beings continue to accuse God and know almost nothing of ultimate reality. Humility and trust, as hard as that may be at times, is the only rational response.
I wonder here what Job actually saw when he says his eyes have seen the Lord. The commentaries seem to agree that it didn’t actually “see” God; this wasn’t a theophony, but rather he “saw” God, his spiritual eyes, his understanding was open, and he knows that God is God, and that is enough. Finally, God’s anger against Job’s “friends” and their “folly” is assuaged by a sacrifice and Job’s prayers. Then Job was blessed more in the later part of his life than the former.
What can we say about the problem of evil, why bad things happen? Nothing, really. Despite all we don’t know, which is pretty much everything, we can trust that God does, that Moses’ confession in Deut. 32:4 is the final word.
He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.