The God of Job
by Rich Murphy
Nowhere in the Bible does God reveal Himself to us in the same way that He does in the book of Job. While we can find out about God all throughout the Bible, nowhere do we see God the Father speaking of Himself, except when He is speaking to Job.
But, why does God reveal Himself to Job? Out of all the people living in the world at that time, why does God pick out Job? What made him special in the eyes of God?
I think that I would have to say that Job wasn't any more special than anyone else, except in that God recognized him as one who was seeking Him. As God looks down upon the world, those who have rejected Him appear as a sea of darkness. Those who are His probably stand out as lights in that darkness. But, then there are those who are seeking Him, they too are lights, but I can imaging them as red lights, instead of the white light of those who are saved.
God constantly has His eyes open for those red lights. It was prophesied in First Chronicles, chapter 16, verse 9: "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him." That word perfect means, "totally committed." God isn't just sitting back, waiting for people to come to Him, He is actively seeking those who seek Him.
Even though Job was a self-righteous man, who was making sacrifices to placate God's anger against his children; those same sacrifices showed that he was seeking God. God recognized this, and put the events of the story of Job into action.
God always recognizes those who are seeking Him. He will take whatever action is necessary to insure they have the opportunity to know Him personally; even if those actions seem rather extreme. What God did in Job may seem extreme to us, but I am sure it was the exact action necessary in his particular case. Others might not need to be treated as Job did, but each has his own specific needs.
God speaks of Job as His "servant" (Job 1:8; 2:3). That was a true statement; Job was serving God. But, he was serving God from a point of ignorance, not of knowledge; and especially not from a point of relationship. God's desire was to give Job the opportunity to know Him.
I have herd many testimonies over the years of ministers who have been sent by God to the other side of the earth, just to get one person saved. That too seems a little extreme. Why not use someone who lives in that part of the world? Maybe because that person needed to hear the gospel from someone who had traveled that far, just to know that God sent them.
God is constantly revealing Himself to those who are seeking Him. He revealed Himself to Abram through the stars. He revealed Himself to Moses in a burning bush, and He revealed Himself to Job by speaking to him in his suffering.
More than anything, here in the book of Job, we find God speaking of Himself as the creator. Although we know from Genesis chapter one that He created the heavens and the earth, and all that is in it, here we see some insight into what God thinks of His work of creation.
God's very first words to Job are a direct challenge to everything Job had said. More than that, they are a direct challenge to Job as a man. He said, "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me" (Job 38:2-3). I don't know about you, but this comes across to me like, "You fool. You're trying to talk about me, but you don't even know what you're talking about." It is clearly a direct challenge to Job's knowledge, wisdom, and even integrity.
Have you ever had to sit and listen to someone talk about something that they obviously know nothing about? That's how it must have been for God, listening to everything that Job and his friends had said. Finally, when He speaks, He makes it very clear that He thinks they've spoken only their ideas of Him, and not said anything that even comes close to the truth.
Once God finishes this opening statement, getting Job's attention, He starts immediately to instruct Job. To do this, He must first establish His own credentials as a teacher; that is, one who knows more than the student. Job had the idea that he was a great man, with much wisdom and understanding. Before God could get Job to listen to Him, He had to show Job that he didn't know as much as he thought he did.
I remember a marriage retreat we once gave. There was a couple there who had been invited to come and receive. This man started out by telling us how much he knew about marriage. According to him, he was only there so his wife could come and learn. Obviously, it was impossible to teach this man anything, until we showed him that he didn't know as much as he thought he did. There were two ways I could go about this. One would be to teach until he heard enough things that he didn't know to gain that realization. Unfortunately, this method takes a lot of time; time in which he wouldn't receive anything. The second method was to ask him a bunch of questions that he didn't know the answer to. This would give him the same realization, but much faster.
God chose to burst Job's bubble of confidence in his own knowledge by asking him questions that Job couldn't answer. At the same time, each of these questions taught Job something about God.
That very first question should give the evolutionists pause. Since they weren't around when God laid the foundations of the earth, how can they say they know when it happened? Then, the second question puts a seal on the first. Do you know, that with all our modern technology the scientific community still can't tell how big the universe is? Anyone who takes these two questions seriously has to realize the limits of their own understanding.
The amount of scientific knowledge, specifically knowledge related to the creation of the earth that is contained in God's discourse with Job is incredible. Nobody but God could speak of His creation in the way that He does.
However, we find here not only God's declarations of what He has done in creation, but His personal interest in that creation. He speaks of the rain, and the lightning, and the stars, in a way that shows us His love for each of them. That He holds each of them in His hands, keeping them, protecting them, using them for their purposes, and insuring that the delicate balance of nature continues as it should.
In most translations of the Bible, we encounter God's words, here in Job, divided into stanzas, or paragraphs; each dealing with a specific area of His creation. Although each of these is spoken in the form of questions to Job, each is intended to reveal to Job how small, weak and insignificant he is.
Each stanza also reveals to Job, and to us, a part of the greatness of God. As He speaks of the various parts of His creation, He identifies His involvement with that specific part. In that process, Job gained an insight into knowing the God that he had previously heard about. Let's look at a few of these revelations that God shows of Himself:
To start, we have to take into account the verses I mentioned above; chapter 38, verses 4-6. Here we see God as the great Architect and Builder of the Universe. He makes it clear from the very first that He is the creator, "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundations?" (Job 38:4). This statement of God goes all the way back to the story of creation, in Genesis, chapter 1. We can actually take it, and the following three verses as an amplification of verse 1.
The image these verses create is very clear. In my mind's eye, I can see God stretching out a line to measure the dimensions of the universe. Picking the place where He wanted to establish the earth, and setting its foundation in a good secure place. Setting the cornerstone in place to make sure that nothing can come apart. Finally, commanding it all, "Be!"
We must recognize God as the creator, otherwise we don't know Him.
What a wonderful image of God's power. Here He takes the sea, one of the greatest forces of nature, and contains it. The hurricanes of 2005 were a great reminder of the power of the sea, destroying whole cities, the work of years, in a matter of hours. Yet, by the force of God's voice, He is able to contain it.
If, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…" (Prov 1:7); then, ignorance of the Lord is the beginning of folly. Who is man to think that he could contend with God. Oh, what fools we can be at times. If we have trouble contending with the sea, only a small part of what He created, how can we contend with Him? Our limits are so great, and He is so limitless.
It is a great blessing to us that God is patient. Otherwise, as we walk in our folly, He would strike us dead. I remember a brother in the Lord, who had been a biker. As with many bikers, he was also a brawler. On many occasions he said, "I'll fight anyone. I'll fight God, if He'll come down here an fight me." One day, this brother was in the desert on his motorcycle, and suddenly found himself off the road, lying on his back, having what appeared to be a heart attack. He cried out to God, and God instantly healed him. Now he says, "God fought me; God beat me; and I won. I didn't win the fight, when God beat me, I won salvation."
We must recognize God's power. Otherwise, we don't know Him.
The first verse of this passage comes directly against many ancient religions who worshipped the sun. In fact, in all pagan religions (religions which worship nature), the sun is their greatest God. But here, God is telling Job that He Himself commands the sun; King over all kings, Lord over all lords, God over all gods. The one and only true God.
This passage speaks of God's authority. If our God can command the sun, which many in ancient times thought of as the greatest of gods, then He was obviously a superior authority; the greatest authority that can exist.
God even holds authority over time. We here on earth are subject to time. It goes on whether we want it to, or not. We cannot stop it, or even slow it down. But God, as creator of the universe also created time. He is not subject to it, it is subject to Him. He lives outside of time, and it has no effect on Him.
We must recognize God's authority. Otherwise, we don't know Him.
As with all of these other questions, there is no way that Job can answer this. His knowledge, like ours is limited, while that of God is limitless. Oh, I know we have more scientific knowledge today than existed in the time of Job, but I wonder how much that has gained us. Job didn't know the depth of the oceans, but we do. He didn't know the dimensions of the earth, but with our modern instruments and methods, we have calculated it exactly. We have discovered things that Job had no way of seeing.
But, with all that, what have we truly gained? All too often, science is trying to disprove the existence of God, instead of understanding Him, as He is revealed to us through His creation. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork" (Ps 19:1). Anything that doesn't show God's glory doesn't edify and is not worth our effort.
God's knowledge of the universe far surpassed that of Job, and still greatly surpasses that which we have gained. We shall never know all that He knows, even in eternity. But, praise be to God, He is willing to share His knowledge and wisdom with us.
We must recognize God's wisdom and knowledge. Otherwise, we don't know Him.
In the story of creation, the first thing God spoke forth was light (Gen 1:3). This was before he created man, before he created the animals, before he made the dry land appear, even before he created the sun and the moon.
There is no other who can claim to exist before God did. To try and leave Him out of the story of creation is ridiculous, for He is the creator. We must take His word on what He says about His creation, just as we must take the word of an artist about a painting, or sculpture he has created. Nobody can know the creation in the same way as the creator.
In addition to this, in the case of the earth, nobody living here on earth can know what God did, because nobody else was there. He has existed since before time, and He will exist long after this world is gone.
We must recognize God as the eternal being who created the world. Otherwise, we don't know Him.
Many have the idea that God put the world in motion, then let things alone. But, our God is an active God, constantly working for our benefit. Yes, He did put things in motion, and create natural laws which govern this universe. But, that doesn't mean that He's taken His hand off of this world, and doesn't do anything. The Bible is full of examples of God doing "supernatural" works. That is, works where natural things are working in supernatural ways.
Since God is the creator, all creation is subject to Him. He has the right, and the ability to make the natural things He created work in ways that they don't normally do. Why? To remind us that He is, and that He is involved in our lives.
Many call natural disasters "acts of God." This isn't true. It would be against God's nature to be destructive solely for the purpose of being destructive. Destruction is Satan's nature (Isa 54:16, Jn 10:10). But Jesus, as God in the flesh, "came that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (Jn 10:10).
I'm not saying that every time it rains it means that God decided it was a good day for rain. What I am saying is that God is supreme, and He has control over the forces of nature. If He needs to make it rain for His purposes, He will. Likewise, if He needs to cause a drought to change people's heart, He can and will do that as well. No matter what, we can always be assured that God is in control.
We must recognize God as being in control. Otherwise, we don't know Him.
Until recent times, the idea of space travel was only a dream. Even today, decades after we've landed men on the moon, we still haven't reached Mars, the closest of our neighbors. To reach out to the stars makes a nice story, but I seriously doubt there's enough time, before the Lord comes back, to make it more than a story.
However, the throne of God is even higher than the stars. In the natural, there's no way to reach it. But, for those of us who are sons and daughters of God, we don't need a spaceship to get there, we are given the right to come boldly before His throne, whenever we want (Heb 4:16). Our praise and worship brings us into His presence (Ps 100:4).
God, and His ways are so far above us that we cannot understand them (Isa 55:9). Yet, even without understanding, we can still worship and serve the one true God. The true beauty of all this is that He has not put Himself outside of our reach, but just as He did with Job, He has time to speak to each one of us.
We must recognize God as being high above us, as king of the universe. Otherwise, we don't know Him.
Glory be to God that He is our provider. Jesus said, "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things" (Mt 6:31-32). Job understood that it was God who gave him all the good things of his life, why do we have so much trouble understanding it?
Praise the Lord that "it is He that gives us ability to gain wealth" (Deut 8:18). That word "wealth" doesn't mean that God has made us rich, but that God has given us the ability to gain the resources we need. We don't all need a new Cadillac to drive, we need provision for our families, and provision for the work He has called us to do.
I can't think about God's provision without thinking about Elijah. When God commanded him to prophecy drought over the land of Israel, he obeyed. Then, to make sure nobody could find him, God sent him to hide in the wilderness by a brook, and commanded ravens to bring his food. How about that? I think if God could arrange for ravens, which are scavenger birds, to bring food to Elijah, instead of eating it themselves, I'm sure that he can bring us what we need as well.
Until we gain the faith to trust in God as our provider, we really aren't walking in faith. Many people say they live by faith, but those that truly do literally live Mathew, chapter 6, verse 33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
We must recognize God as our provider. Otherwise, we don't know Him.
We can see from various healing miracles that Jesus performed, that God is a healer. Even denominations that don't accept the power of the Holy Spirit as active and working though the believer today still believe in divine healing. But, here we see God the Father in another medical role, that of being midwife to the animals.
Who, besides God, is there for the animals. Yes, I know, we have veterinarians today. But, I don't think there are many of them working in the wilds of Africa. Nor do I see too many films of veterinarians helping polar bears in Alaska. Nor, for that matter, pulling a splinter out of a lion's paw.
God is so great that he takes care not only of us, his children, but of all the animals that He created. Jesus said, "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" (Mt 6:26).
Our God is a nurturing God. That is, he doesn't just let his creation go on by itself, but cares for it. He cared for Job, he cares for the animals, and he cares for you and me.
We must recognize God as the one who cares for us. Otherwise, we don't know Him.
One of the peculiarities of Christianity, that sets it apart from any other religion in the world is that our God wants to have a personal relationship with us. Another is that our God is one who sets us free. Jesus said of Himself, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (Jn 8:36). There is no other god in the world who sets free. All other religions serve a god who binds them up.
God was revealing to Job that it wasn't his religious service that put him in right standing with the Almighty God; nor is it so with us. When God called us, He called us to be sons and daughters. He called us to be in relationship. He desires to set us free, that we may "love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength" (Mk 12:30).
We must recognize God as the one who sets us free. Otherwise, we don't know Him.
I think that we can safely assume that Job, a man who owned thousands of animals, had some understanding of them. So, for God to ask him if he could trust an animal to do the work of the farm, tilling the fields and harvesting the grain, would have a very strong image for Job, much stronger than for us. Obviously, there is no way he could send an animal to do the sowing and reaping by itself, it would eat the grain, then probably run away.
On the other hand, God is implying that He can command these animals, and they will obey Him. What a wonderful picture of the Lordship of Christ, to think that even the animals obey Him, to the point of going against their nature in order to obey.
Too bad that we aren't that obedient. All too often, we, as believers, don't allow the Lord to have Lordship in our lives. We rationalize away the commands that He gives us, telling ourselves that they were for another time, or another people, or that they go against our nature, or that God didn't really mean it. If we don't have the self control to not do that which is against our nature, or to do that which is not, are we people, or are we just animals?
We must recognize God as the Lord over our lives. Otherwise, we don't know Him.
I imaging to Job the ostrich was as ridiculous an animal as it is to us. I've seen a few people who will hide their heads in the sand to avoid seeing approaching danger, but I've never seen any other animal that will. God truly "deprived her of wisdom."
Yet, even though we don't understand the ostrich, God does. In His infinite wisdom, he created the ostrich, as with many other things we don't understand, for a purpose. Do you realize that there are more than 6,000,000,000 different types of insects in the world? That's more types of insects than there are people. How can our puny minds comprehend such an infinite variety? Yet, in the work of creation, God individually designed each and every one, and gave it purpose for being. Not only that, but He did it so well, that the balance between one type and another is never lost.
We must recognize that God's mind and thoughts are greater than ours. Otherwise, we don't know Him.
Continuing with the previous thought, here we see God's care in design. Comparing the horse to the ostrich is comparing two extremes. To an equal manner that the ostrich is useless, throughout history the horse has been one of the most useful animals to mankind.
God not only talks in great detail about the horse physically, but speaks of its character. Not only did He create its form, but its soul as well. God is the master of details. He knew, before starting the work of creation, exactly what would be needed here on the earth. He formed the horse, one of the greatest animals in creation, exactly as both He needed it to be, and as man would need it to be.
We must recognize the perfection of God's work of creation. Otherwise, we don't know Him.
Throughout the part of God's speech that is recorded in chapter 39, He talks about animals. There is somewhat of a progression here, especially from the part about the ostrich, through speaking of the horse, and finally about the birds of prey. In each, He is demonstrating the specific design that He has placed in them.
Here with the hawk and eagle, God speaks of their wisdom and knowledge. As far as I know, there is no school where they can go to gain wisdom, there are no books written in their languages, and they don't have access to the Internet. So, how do these great birds know what to do? Simple. God has placed within them all that they need to know. He is the greatest teacher there is; there is no other.
If we truly desire to learn, we must learn how to learn from Him. The Holy Spirit is called our teacher, yet very few actually take the time to attend his classes. All too often, like children, we'd rather play outside, instead of sitting in class and learning. But, those who take the time to hear His voice, and let Him instruct them will gain in wisdom, knowledge and stature before man and God.
We must recognize that God is our teacher. Otherwise, we don't know Him.
Finally, God reveals Himself to Job as a righteous judge. Not a judge who condemns, but a judge who rights the wrongs. He even revels to Job what He is doing in Job's heart, talking in verse twelve about bringing down the proud. He finishes by saying to Job, if you can be the same kind of judge that I am, then you can save yourself.
This is the only reference that God makes to Job's complaints. He declares Himself judge, and challenges Job to refute that title. He doesn't answer the complaints, because they don't need to be answered. He is God, and has proven to Job that he is great.
A Depending on the translation of the Bible we use, the word that's translated "unicorn" here can also be translated as "buffalo" and "ox." But the word isn't all that important. Whichever animal is used, the same understanding can apply.
This teaching is also available in our book "The Salvation of Job"
Click here for more information about this book.
Copyright © 2006 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life. All rights reserved.