Job 42

Throughout this book, Job’s three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) were convinced that he had committed some horrible sin that he would not admit. In their limited understanding, God’s judgment of sin was the only explanation for the extreme suffering of their friend. Their assumption was, “There is something wrong with Job or he would not be suffering. He needs to repent and do right.” Ironically, they were the ones who were required to repent for falsely accusing Job and adding to his misery (v.7-9).

Job held an equally false assumption regarding his suffering: “There is something wrong with God or He would not allow me to suffer. He needs to repent and treat me right.” For that attitude, Job was the one who needed to repent, and he did (v.6). He admitted that while he still did not understand why he had lost so much, he did understand something new about God — he was seeing God in a new light (v.5). Job could see clearly that God’s will is perfect, even when we can’t explain it, and His plans are good and right, even when they include suffering. Job understood that his place was not to question or reason with God, but to trust God. Sometimes suffering is God’s way of calling us into deeper fellowship with Him.

In an expression of humility and repentance, Job grabbed a handful of dust and ashes and tossed them over him. He was expressing his awareness that as a person created from dust, he was destined for ashes if it were not for God’s grace.

God could have left it at that. Satan was proven wrong and doubly shamed. Job’s story would be recorded and preserved forever as a testimony for suffering saints. Job’s faith was intact and stronger than ever. His friends had been humbled and set right. God could have left it at that. But in a generous display of grace He restored what Job had lost. In fact, He doubled the blessings He had given Job previously and “blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (v.12). What a gracious God!

Job 41

God’s arguments in the last part of Job chapter 40 and all of chapter 41 are unusual and interesting. He describes in great detail two of the wildest and most powerful creatures of the animal kingdom: Behemoth and Leviathan. Nobody really knows the exact identity of those animals, but good guesses abound.

Behemoth, described in Job 40:15-24, sounds like it could be a hippopotamus. Hippos are massive, weighing up to four tons, and extremely aggressive. They can charge at speeds approaching 20 miles per hour and are said to be the most dangerous animals on the African continent, killing around 200 people every year. Whether Behemoth is the hippopotamus or not, it is a reflection of the untamable power of its Creator. If Job could not subdue a creature like that, he had no business thinking he could contain or restrain the One who created it. A God like that is to be respected, trusted, and loved — not controlled.

Chapter 41 records God’s presentation of Leviathan. Behemoth may be big and bad, but Leviathan is bigger and badder. Again, no one knows for certain the identity of this animal. Some have suggested that the description fits that of a large crocodile, but I prefer the idea that it is a long-extinct sea creature from ancient times — a dinosaur. God describes it as a massive animal with thick, impenetrable scales. No man-made weapon could harm it. Most frightening is the idea that it breathes fire like a mythical dragon (v.18-21)! So what is the point of the lengthy description of this creature?

God was putting Job in his proper place. The question in verse 10 makes the point: God asks, “Who then is he who can stand before Me?” The answer of course is, “Not Job, not me, not anybody”. Along with Job we must conclude that if we could not contend with Leviathan, we could never hope to stand up against the Maker and Master of Leviathan. So we bow down before Him and we surrender to His authority. And the wonderful thing that we find is that this great and awesome God is full of love and grace! Depending on how you respond to Him, you will either be crushed by the power of His judgment or lifted by the power of His love. Your choice.

Job 40

By my count, God asked Job 42 questions in chapters 38 and 39. All those questions revealed the limitations of Job’s understanding and his utter inferiority compared to the majesty of Almighty God. Surely Job was getting the point of the interrogation: God didn’t owe him an explanation for his suffering — and even if God did explain why Job was enduring such hardship, the man probably wouldn’t understand the explanation. Job had questioned God and demanded answers, but he was regretting that now. He still didn’t understand his troubles, but the fact that God is supremely good, perfectly wise, and eternally loving would have to be enough.

In this chapter, God asks a 43rd question of Job (v.2), “Shall a faultfinder (a critic) contend with the Almighty?” God is using divine sarcasm here: “If you are arguing with Me and criticizing My decisions, you must have all the answers — so let’s hear them!” But Job had been humbled: “I am so small; I have no answers; I have said too much already” (v.3-5). But God kept pressing, putting Job in his place once and for all. As a man — even a very good man — he was in no position to condemn God (v.8).

Job was speaking to the God whose voice is like thunder, drowning out all others (v.9); the God whose majesty, dignity, and glory is unparalleled (v.10); the God who alone has the right and the authority to pass judgment on mankind (v.11-13). Job had to admit, “God, you are God…and I am not.”

We need to come to the same conclusion. God’s ways are good even when I don’t understand them. God’s timing is perfect even when He seems too slow. God’s sovereign will is being accomplished even when I don’t see how. God is love even when I don’t feel it. God is in control even when my life seems out of control. God is God and I am not — and that is enough.

Job 39

In this chapter Job continues to listen as the Lord continues to speak. Job is a broken man, and the voice of the Almighty is a welcome change from the faulty wisdom and the false accusations of his friends. In the previous chapter Job’s notion that the Lord owed him an explanation for his suffering began to unravel. Hearing the Lord recount His creation and control of everything must have made Job feel very small — and that was the point. There is both comfort and clarity in understanding the greatness of God. When we see ourselves in light of who He is we find the grace-perspective: God doesn’t owe me anything and I am not worthy of knowing Him on any level, so the fact that He chooses to reveal Himself to me and to love me is pure grace. I think Job was beginning to understand that. (Note: did you miss God’s “you’re so old” joke yesterday? I did, but I got it today! See Job 38:21, “You’re so old, you remember when I said, ‘Let there be light!'”)

Chapter 39 is surely one of the most interesting sections of this book. In it the Lord asks Job about nine different species of the animal kingdom (if you include 38:39-41). He was making the point that the astounding biodiversity in the world was created by Him and is sustained by Him. Job’s limited understanding of creation further revealed his inability to comprehend God’s ways — much less question them and argue about them.

Along with Job we learn that it is God who provides nourishment for every creature (v.39-41, previous chapter). As Pastor David Platt has noted, “Nature does not survive by natural selection, but by supernatural provision.” God feeds the lion and the raven. We learn that God supervises the reproduction of every species (v.1-4). God attends the birth of every baby mountain goat! We learn that God delights in the freedom of untamed animals (v.5-12). He made the wild donkey wild!

God made the ostrich amazingly swift, apparently because He just like to see it run (v.18). He made horses to be majestic animals (v.19-25), birds to soar to dizzying heights (v.26-28), and scavengers to clean up nature’s crime scenes (v.29-30). And that is just the beginning! Biologists are still discovering new species, like the four new species of legless lizards recently discovered in California. Read about it here.

We serve a God of amazing creative power. He is the source and sustainer of life. He can take care of you today. Will you trust Him?

Job 38

Job was a broken man. He was struggling and suffering physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Unaware of Satan’s attack on him, God’s confidence in him, or the meaning of the test he was enduring, he cursed the day he was born. Job assumed that God had forsaken him and that his many years of faithfulness were for nothing. Adding to his depression were his friends, who came to console him but ended up berating him with accusations. They reasoned that Job’s suffering was actually punishment from God for some great sin (see chapters 3-37), but Job maintained his innocence. (Note: the speeches of Job’s friends contain elements of truth, but they are built on faulty assumptions.)

At long last, God spoke to Job “out of the whirlwind”. I can only guess at what that means, but the idea is the power of God’s voice and the force of His words. God opened with a convicting question for Job (v.2): “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” Job had questioned God’s wisdom and demanded an explanation for his suffering, but God was about to reveal the depth of Job’s ignorance. Job needed to be reminded that he did not know enough about God’s ways to question them.

The series of questions in this chapter teaches the majesty and sovereignty of God over creation. By declaring His control over all He created, God was preparing Job to rest in His control and to have faith in His will.

Hearing the story of creation from God’s perspective is awesome. As the architect of our world, God measured and laid “the foundations of the earth” — the mantle and core beneath the earth’s crust (v.4-7). He determined the dimensions of the oceans, decided their depths and boundaries, and set the timing of the tides (v.8-11). God set the rhythm of daylight and darkness by spinning the earth at a certain speed and tilting the earth at a certain angle (v.13-15).

God controls what we can only observe and attempt to predict: the weather. He controls all the cloud formations, the weather patterns, the seasons, and the various forms of precipitation (v.22-30). He created the constellations of stars and controls their movements (v.31-33). God’s point in asking Job if he could comprehend and control these forces of nature was to reveal his weakness compared to God’s strength and to reveal his ignorance compared to God’s wisdom. The bottom line: Job was in no position to question motives or to demand explanations. He didn’t have an intellectual, philosophical, or theological leg to stand on. Like the snowflakes, the stars, and the photons of light, the man just needed to yield to God’s control.

Rest in God’s control today. Don’t worry; don’t be afraid. God’s got this.

Job 2

The book of Job teaches us about suffering and the sovereignty of God, but it also gives us an intelligence report on our enemy, Satan. We learn here that Satan is neither more powerful than God, nor does he share God’s ability to read our minds or to know the future. He had to seek permission from God to torment Job, and if he had foreseen the outcome of his actions he would have known that the man would not forsake God, even under intense pressure.

In chapter two Satan came to God with a familiar accusation against Job: he only loved God because God blessed him. In the previous chapter Job proved the validity of his faith when he praised the Lord even after the blessings of fortune and family were taken away. Satan’s second attempt to prove his accusation involved the removal of Job’s health, something God had forbidden in the first round (see 1:12). The only restriction in this second round of torment was “don’t kill him” (v.6).

Some may read this and draw the conclusion that God was being unkind to Job in granting Satan permission to harm him. But God allowed it because he knew the eventual outcome of this test of faith: God would be glorified, Job would pass with flying colors, all he lost would be restored (and much more), and his faith would inspire millions — including you and me. The truth we learn from God’s actions here is that He is more concerned about our character than our contentment. Sometimes He allows problems to come in order to refine our faith. And sometimes, for reasons unknown to us, pain is just a part of His will for our lives.

Job’s response to the physical torment God allowed is amazing, especially when you consider that Job did not have the book of Job when he was going through his troubles! He did not know about the accusation of Satan or the confidence God had in his faith. All he knew was that he had lost everything (except his nagging wife who told him to curse God and die!), and that he was hurting. Picture poor Job, his body racked with pain, scraping his sores with a broken pot, at the lowest point of his life, and he had no idea why it was happening. And yet, he made the amazing statement of faith recorded in verse 10: “Shall we receive good from God, and not evil?” To rephrase his question, “Does God cease to be worthy of our worship and love when He doesn’t give us what we want? No! We trust God the same when He gives blessings and when He takes away those blessings.”

​He makes a similar statement of faith in Job 13:15: “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” Could you say that? Could you say…

“God, if it’s cancer, I will still trust You.”
“God, if I lose my job, I’ll still trust You.”
“God, if my marriage doesn’t make it, I will still trust You.”
“God, if I lose my business, I will still trust You.”
“God, if life is not fair, I will still trust You.”
“God, if nobody supports me, I will still trust You.”
“God, if I can’t understand what You’re doing, I will still trust You.”

Job 1

The book of Job is a masterpiece of the Bible. It is very ancient (some say the oldest literature in the Bible), it is beautifully written, and it tackles some tough questions that we all ask: Why does God allow the innocent to suffer? Why do bad things happen to good people? Where is God when it hurts? Down through the centuries, God has used the character of Job and the message of the book that bears his name to encourage people who are suffering. So many times in my ministry people have told me, “Pastor, I never paid much attention to the book of Job until life had knocked me flat on my back – but then I read it, and God used that book to build my faith.”

Job was a godly man (v.1). The distinguishing characteristic of his life was that he was “blameless”, or spiritually whole and mature. He was “upright”, literally meaning “to be straight”. Job was a man of integrity, following the straightness of God’s way. We are told that he “feared God”, meaning that Job knew the Lord, and his consistent response to this knowledge was trust and reverence. And he “shunned evil”, consciously confronting sin in his life and rejecting ​it. We see him rising early to spend time with God (v.5) and taking seriously his role as spiritual leader of his family.

Job was a blessed man. He was healthy, wealthy, and godly. He had a well-ordered, happy life — but oh, how quickly things can change!

Verse 6 mentions “the sons of God”, a term for the angels God created to serve Him. Apparently all angels, including fallen angels like Satan, have to answer to God and report on their activity. As Satan reported, God mentioned Job. ​(Note: Job was unaware of what was happening on the other side as God and Satan discuss his life. If he had known about this conversation, it would have made his problems easier to handle. But he didn’t, and he just had to endure his trials by faith.) God pointed to Job as an example of what a godly man ought to be, but Satan accused Job of being a hypocrite: “The only reason Job serves You is because he is so blessed. Take away all those blessings – everything and everyone that is precious to him – and he will curse You to Your face!”

​With God’s permission, Satan left to attack Job’s personal possessions and his children. In the space of only a few hours Job heard report after report of devastating loss, and when the day was over all his possessions and his children were gone. Maybe you can relate to Job: you’re still getting over one issue when another one arises. It feels like your problems are multiplying, like you can’t get a break – and you don’t know if you can take any more. How did Job respond to his parade of tragedies? According to verses 20-22 he grieved over his losses, but he turned to God.

What an awesome display of faith! What an embarrassment to Satan! He had said, “Let me take away everything that is precious to Job and he will curse God to His face.” But Satan didn’t know who he was messing with! Job didn’t curse God — he did the opposite. He bowed down to worship and he blessed the Lord.

One sign of the depth of your faith is what happens when tragedy, loss, disappointment, or failure come. When it happened to Job, the depth of his faith was revealed in his direction: he did not run from God, he ran to God. How about you? What is your direction?