My Paraphrase of the Passages:
Job 38:1-11, 34-41; 40:1-14
1 Then the Eternal answered Job out of the tempest: 2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words lacking knowledge? 3 Gird up your loins like a man, for I will question you, and you shall teach me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Speak, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements-doubtless you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what was its foundation fastened, or who laid its cornerstone 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the children of God shouted for joy? 8 “Or who fenced in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb?- 9 when I made the clouds its garment, and dark gloom its swaddling band, 10 and appointed limits for it, and set bars and doors, 11 and said, `Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your swelling billows be stopped’?
34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a multitude of waters may cover you? 35 Can you send lightnings, so that they may go to and fro and say to you, `Behold’? 36 Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind? 37 Who can number the clouds in wisdom? Or who can pour out the waterskins of heaven, 38 when the mud grows hard and the clods cleave fast together? 39 “Can you hunt the prey for the lioness or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, 40 when they crouch in their dens, or lie in wait in their lair? 41 Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young cry to God, and wander about for lack of food?
40:1 And the Eternal said to Job: 2 “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let the one who argues with God answer.” 3 Then Job answered the Eternal and said, 4 “See, I am contemptible; how can I answer you? I put my hand upon my mouth. 5 Once I have spoken, but I will not speak twice, I will go no further.”
6 Then the Eternal answered Job out of the tempest, 7 “Gird up your loins like a man, for I will question you, and you shall teach me. 8 Will you void my judgment? Will you condemn me that you may be righteous? 9 Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?
10 “Adorn yourself with majesty and grandeur; clothe yourself with beauty and splendor. 11 Spread abroad the rage of your anger, and look upon all who are proud, and cast them down. 12 Look upon all who are proud, and humiliate them; crush the wicked where they stand. 13 Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the darkness. 14 Then I will confess to you that your own right hand can save you.”
Job 42:1-13, 15-17
Then Job answered the Eternal: 2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no plan of yours can be thwarted. 3 `Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have spoken what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 `Listen, and I will speak; I will inquire of you, and know’ 5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I abhor my words and and repent in dust and ashes.”
7 After the Eternal had spoken these words to Job, the Eternal said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger blazes against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken right of me, as my servant Job. 8 Take now seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall intercede for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your foolishness; since you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Eternal had commanded them; and the Eternal accepted Job’s prayer.
10 And the Eternal restored the prosperity of Job after he interceded for his friends; and the Eternal added to Job double what he had before. 11 Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his home; they consoled and comforted him for all the evil that the Eternal had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a silver coin and a gold ring. 12 So the Eternal blessed the latter ends of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand female donkeys. 13 He also had seven sons and three daughters. 15 In all the land there were no women as beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. 16 After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. 17 And Job died, old and full of days.
In chapter 23 Job is angry. He is angry at his so-called friends, angry at his situation in the world, and angry at God. He has had enough, and we, who know even more than Job about the cause of his distress, can readily empathize with him. After all, we know that all that has befallen Job is the result of a wager, a bet made between God and Satan. We may well be ready to cast a few dispersions God’s way as well. After all, who does God think he is? In chapters 38-41, we get the answer to that question.
God is God, God is sovereign, God is in control, and God will do whatever God wants to do. And in effect, God asks Job, “Who do you think you are to question me or my ways?” God then overpowers Job with a litany of questions, all of which point out Job’s, and consequently our, limitations.
After two chapters of this, Job is more than ready to submit to God. In fact, Job tries to interrupt God in chapter 40, but God is not ready to quit yet, and so two more chapters of questions ensure from God. It is as though Job becomes a punching bag for the divine’s questions, and at the end, it is clear to all who has won the bout.
But what I find particularly interesting about Job’s response is this: He tells God that he had heard of him before, but now he has seen God; he has experienced God. It is the difference between (as Fred Craddock once put it) knowing here (pointing to the head) and knowing here (pointing to the heart), and the journey between these two places is often the longest journey anyone can ever make.
The Thoughts of Others:
Chris Haslam in his reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary has this to say about chapter 42:
Now Job answers: he acknowledges God’s “purpose” (v. 2). God has taught him a lesson. Job acknowledges God’s sovereignty. In vv. 3a & 4, he quotes God’s words spoken earlier. He admits his ignorance (v. 3b). He has long had faith in God; this has now been replaced by seeing (and experiencing) God. (V. 6 is incomplete in the Hebrew. Because v. 7 implies that Job is godly, “repent” here is not repentance of sins, it may mean approach you in awe.) It is sufficient that God has come to him; he seeks no explanation of his suffering. In a turnabout, God is angry with Eliphaz and the other friends for their ungodliness (v. 7); he orders them to ask Job to intercede on their behalf (v. 8); God accepts Job’s prayer for them (v. 9). The ancient story begun in 1:1-2:13 now continues. All Job has lost is restored to him, some in double measure. He is no longer shunned by his relatives (v. 11). Whether his health is restored is not mentioned. To ancient people, possessions and progeny indicated God’s favour: God loves him even more dearly. Gifts are God’s to give. Their absence or withdrawal is hard for a virtuous person to accept.
Bryson Smith, pastor of Dubbo Presbyterian Church in New South Wales, Austrailia ends his reflection on Job – Good Times, Bad Times with “THE LESSON OF JOB IN A NUTSHELL”
If we want to get the most out of this life, its not a matter of knowing why things happen, its a matter of knowing the God who knows why things happen. This is a radical way of thinking, because we don’t tend to value knowing God all that much. Being comfortable and happy is what we value. But the really important thing in life is not to be a well adjusted person with a good self image. The really important thing is to know God. It is exactly for this reason that following Jesus is always more important than being comfortable. Therefore, the big question in life is not, “Why is this happening to me?” The important question is; “Since this is happening to me, how can I trust and obey Jesus better as a result of it?”
Other Resources Online:
Excerpts from Jung’s “Answer to Job” from The Portable Jung.
When the Answers Don’t Fit the Questions – A sermon by Will Willimon at Duke Chapel
“Job: Mystery and Faith” – An article by by D. A. Carson in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (This is a PDF document and you must download entire journal to access article.)
Job: The Revelation of God in Suffering – A Sermon by John Piper on Job 38-42:6
Powered by Zoundry