Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
As usual in our Great Questions in the Bible series, we will begin this one by quickly summarizing our situation in which our question was asked.
In the first two chapters of Job we see the events which would lead up to this climactic moment. Job had lost his children, lost his property and wealth, and been stricken will horrible physical ailments. Job’s own wife had told him to curse God and die!
At the end of Chapter two we see Job joined by his three friends from afar: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite. Still later, these three were joined by Elihu, the youngest and apparently smartest of all of them(that being another story.)
At this point, God checks out of the story, and does not reappear until we see him here in Chapter 38; nonetheless, much was going on in the intervening chapters.
This summary is not a theological dissertation of the Book of Job, but what we might call the Reader’s Digest Condensed version, or the Cliff notes if you like. Job’s three friends spend the next thirty some odd chapters basically telling Job he was suffering all this affliction because of sin in his life. Job basically attempts to refute and counter this charge. Elihu remains silent during this entire conversation, being the youngest of the group, but he eventually speaks up and dresses down the whole crew. He reprimands the three friends for presuming to know why God does what He does, and reprimands Job for claiming to be without fault. And he reprimands everybody for even questioning God in the first place, reminding all of them that whatever God does is right.
Finally, God shows up. How exciting that must have been! Surely everybody thought they were about to get their vindication. Job’s friends surely thought God would inform Job of his sin, and Job surely thought God would prove him righteous in the eyes of his friends. Well, it didn’t quite work out they way anybody planned.
So, God shows up in a whirlwind, he speaks from the whirlwind, and proceeds for the next few chapters to ask Job a series of questions, none of which Job can answer. God even informs Job and one point, the He would do the asking and job would do the answering.
Job 40:7 Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. or (NIV) Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
Wow! What was going on here?
God likely asked these questions to remind Job that He was God, and Job was not. It seems evident by the nature of the questioning that God knew, and wanted Job to know, that He knew these answers. He also made it clear that there were things Job, or any man, was not capable of understanding.
God was always there for Job. We just discussed how God more or less disappeared from this account for 35 long chapters. When he reappeared, it is important to note just who he spoke to, and why. It seems notable that, during the entire discourse which took place in these chapters, Job was the only one crying out to God. Everybody else was simply telling Job what they thought. It seems related that it was Job God finally spoke to.
Job met God personally here. Job had been very faithful to God through out this ordeal, even though he had quite openly questioned and challenged Him during the previous chapters. It also seems that God was not personal to Job at this point. Here, God reveals himself very personally to Job. Note that Job was not punished or chastised for his questions and challenges to God. God simply pointed out who was really God here. God told the truth, but did not punish for the questions. What was Job’s response to his very personal encounter with God? Well, let’s take a look at Job’s final response to God as we near the end of this book:
Job 42(NIV) Then Job replied to the Lord:“I know that you can do all things;no purpose of yours can be thwarted.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.“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;I will question you,and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job repented and was restored. In fact, we see later Job was restored in all ways, as he was given his worldly things back as well. But here, we simply see the repentance of a man and his restoration to the joy of the Lord.
What about Job’s friends? Well apparently they were somewhat stubborn and God was angry with them for their continued stubbornness towards God. Job, however, interceded for his friends, they offered sacrifices to the Lord, and apparently were brought back to fellowship as well.
Nothing has changed, we are still like Job and his friends. We are quick to point fingers at our brothers and sisters when things go wrong in their lives; we are quick to tell them how surely they have messed everything up. If we are the suffering person, we are quick to defend ourselves and challenge and blame God.
The simple facts are that neither of these may be the answer. Sure, sometimes we suffer because of our sins, and God may even chastise us when we head in the wrong direction to repoint our paths in the right direction. But, we can never know that in relation to another person; we can’t even always know that about ourselves.
What can we glean from this section of Scripture?
God is God, and we are not. Tough, yet easy. Sometimes we simply won’t understand they whys of things. Not only that, but God is not obligated to share with us the whys
God, even when He doesn’t share the whys with us, is still with us. He never leaves us, even when times are tough.
God is with us personally. Now, He doesn’t reveal Himself personally in a voice from a whirlwind, but through His Son Jesus Christ.
Upon our repentance and faith, God will establish and/or restore our relationship with him. He may not fix all the wrongs as He did with Job, but he will be in fellowship with us again.