Job Chapter Thirty-Eight
As in a court of law today, after all the defense and prosecution witnesses have had their say, the opposing lawyers have summarized their cases the Judge has the last word. Job had often appealed to God, and had talked boldly about how he would order his cause before him and by his definitive sentence that every man must stand or fall and every cause must be won or lost at his judgment seat. Now God will speak and close this record in the next four chapters.
Read Job 38:1-3
v1-2. “THEN THE LORD ANSWERED JOB OUT OF THE WHIRLWIND, AND SAID, WHO is THIS THAT DARKENETH COUNSEL BY WORDS WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE?”
First of all we need to recognize who speaks. God, not an appointed angel; spoke out of a whirlwind and answers all of their questions, removes any doubt from their minds. He takes up where Elihu left off, the young man had come the closest to the truth of this matter, speaks to Job, but provides enlightenment for everyone.
God charges him, Job, with ignorance and presumption. He says that Job aspired to provide counsel or advice to Him without knowledge of His counsel beyond what He has chosen to reveal. Not only is Job in this situation but all men share the same shortcoming.
v3. “GIRD UP NOW THY LOINS LIKE A MAN; FOR I WILL DEMAND OF THEE, AND ANSWER THOU ME.”
God now challenges Job, gird yourself up like a man, prepare to discuss these issues with the One you have called to speak. Those that go about to call God to account must expect to be chastised and called into account themselves.
Read Job 38:4-11
v4. “WHERE WAST THOU WHEN I LAID THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE EARTH? DECLARE, IF THOU HAST UNDERSTANDING.”
God starts off with Job by showing him his ignorance even of those things concerning the earth and sea. He could not give account of their origin, beyond the fact that God made them. Let him tell where he was when this lower world was made, and whether he was advising or assisting in that wonderful work.
v5. “WHO HATH LAID THE MEASURES THEREOF, IF THOU KNOWEST? OR WHO HATH STRETCHED THE LINE UPON IT?”
How did the world come to be so finely fitted together, with so much exactness, and in such wonderful symmetry and proportion of all the parts together? Where you the architect who drew the model and then established the measurements of it?
v6. “WHEREUPON ARE THE FOUNDATIONS THEREOF FASTENED? OR WHO LAID THE CORNER STONE THEREOF;”
How is it fastened to its foundations, and who laid the cornerstone? How is it so firmly fixed yet resting on nothing? God’s building is perfect, precise, man in all of his centuries of spoilage has not been able to change one law that God put in place to govern the universe. He has discovered a great many of these laws, uses them both to his advantage and to his shame but not only has he not changed them; he doesn’t understand why they work.
v7. “WHEN THE MORNING STARS SANG TOGETHER, AND ALL THE SONS OF GOD SHOUTED FOR JOY?”
Where were you, Job, when the songs of praise and glory were sung when the morning stars were hung in the heavens and what the angels shouted for joy when they saw the foundations of this earth laid.
v8. “OR who SHUT UP THE SEA WITH DOORS, WHEN IT BRAKE FORTH, as if IT HAD ISSUED OUT OF THE WOMB?”
Who brought order out of that chaos that was without form and void, shut in the waters of the sea, as it were with doors, barriers that hold them in place and brought forth the earth much like a child being born? Or, as the psalmist described it:
Psalms 33:7 “HE GATHERETH THE WATERS OF THE SEA TOGETHER AS AN HEAP: HE LAYETH UP THE DEPTH IN STOREHOUSES.”
v9. “WHEN I MADE THE CLOUD THE GARMENT THEREOF, AND THICK DARKNESS A SWADDLINGBAND FOR IT,”
Where were you, Job, when this newborn earth was then clothed and swaddled in the clouds and given a period of darkness that it might rest and refresh itself for the coming of the new day?
v10. “AND BRAKE UP FOR IT MY DECREED place, AND SET BARS AND DOORS,”
God also provided a cradle for the sea in his new born earth, set it in its decreed place and placed the barriers and doors that keep it in place. Or as Paul spoke to that Athenians about men, so also has he done with all the forces of nature:
Acts “AND HATH MADE OF ONE BLOOD ALL NATIONS OF MEN FOR TO DWELL ON ALL THE FACE OF THE EARTH, AND HATH DETERMINED THE TIMES BEFORE APPOINTED, AND THE BOUNDS OF THEIR HABITATION;”
v11. “AND SAID, HITHERTO SHALT THOU COME, BUT NO FURTHER: AND HERE SHALL THY PROUD WAVES BE STAYED?”
And God has said to the sea that these are your bounds, you can come to here and no further. Though it is a great body, and though its motion is sometimes extremely violent, yet God has it under control. Its waves rise no higher, its tides roll no further, than God permits; and this is mentioned as a reason why we should stand in awe of God.
Jeremiah “FEAR YE NOT ME? SAITH THE LORD: WILL YE NOT TREMBLE AT MY PRESENCE, WHICH HAVE PLACED THE SAND for THE BOUND OF THE SEA BY A PERPETUAL DECREE, THAT IT CANNOT PASS IT: AND THOUGH THE WAVES THEREOF TOSS THEMSELVES, YET CAN THEY NOT PREVAIL; THOUGH THEY ROAR, YET CAN THEY NOT PASS OVER IT?”
Read Job 38:12-24
v12-15. “HAST THOU COMMANDED THE MORNING SINCE THY DAYS; and CAUSED THE DAYSPRING TO KNOW HIS PLACE; THAT IT MIGHT TAKE HOLD OF THE ENDS OF THE EARTH, THAT THE WICKED MIGHT BE SHAKEN OUT OF IT? IT IS TURNED AS CLAY to THE SEAL; AND THEY STAND AS A GARMENT. AND FROM THE WICKED THEIR LIGHT IS WITHHOLDEN, AND THE HIGH ARM SHALL BE BROKEN.”
God continues to question Job with many more puzzling questions to help him understand his ignorance and to shame him for speaking as he did in the early chapters of this book. We welcome the morning or day-spring and the light brought about by it but why and how is that light provided? It is pleasant to the eyes and services the earth, being received by the earth as readily as the clay received the seal of an officials ring. It is as if the earth were clothed in a garment of light. God makes his light a minister of justice as well as a herald of his mercy. Job in one of his discourses had described light as a terror to criminals because it causes them to be discovered or seen in their wickedness.
v16. “HAST THOU ENTERED INTO THE SPRINGS OF THE SEA? OR HAST THOU WALKED IN THE SEARCH OF THE DEPTH?”
Job, have you entered the springs of the sea? Do you understand the continuous cycle of vapor rising from the ground and the water surface; the rain and the rivers that flow into the sea without it overflowing? Have you ever walked the depth of the ocean to know what the bottom might harbour?
v17. “HAVE THE GATES OF DEATH BEEN OPENED UNTO THEE? OR HAST THOU SEEN THE DOORS OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH?”
Job do you understand death? We don’t know beforehand when, how or by what means we or others shall be brought to the threshold of death. We don’t know by what road we must take in that journey which has no return, or what disease, or what disaster might let us into the house appointed for all living. We cannot describe what death is, how the body and soul are parted or where the soul goes to live except what has been revealed by God.
v18. “HAST THOU PERCEIVED THE BREADTH OF THE EARTH? DECLARE IF THOU KNOWEST IT ALL.”
The knowledge of the breadth of the earth might seem almost within the reach of Job, but mankind didn’t figure out that the earth was round for several thousand years after these events were recorded. We have our residence on the earth, God gave it to men. But at the time of this writing it had never been surveyed, nor could any man give an account of it size in acres or miles.
v19-24. “WHERE is THE WAY where LIGHT DWELLETH? AND as for DARKNESS, WHERE is THE PLACE THEREOF, THAT THOU SHOULDEST TAKE IT TO THE BOUND THEREOF, AND THAT THOU SHOULDEST KNOW THE PATHS to THE HOUSE THEREOF? KNOWEST THOU it, BECAUSE THOU WAST THEN BORN? OR because THE NUMBER OF THY DAYS is GREAT? HAST THOU ENTERED INTO THE TREASURES OF THE SNOW? OR HAST THOU SEEN THE TREASURES OF THE HAIL, WHICH I HAVE RESERVED AGAINST THE TIME OF TROUBLE, AGAINST THE DAY OF BATTLE AND WAR? BY WHAT WAY IS THE LIGHT PARTED, which SCATTERETH THE EAST WIND UPON THE EARTH?”
God continues to pose questions to Job to emphasize and convince him of his ignorance of many things and his shortsightedness in questioning God’s providence. Do you know the where light dwells, as for darkness where does it go and where does it come from? What are its bounds? Where does it stay? Where you born with this knowledge or did you gain it by reason of the years of your life? Have you entered into the treasures of the snow or hail and know what causes them to exist? Do you know how I use them as weapons of war and battle to bring into subjection those who rebel? Do you understand how the light is parted in the morning, when, in an instant, it shoots itself into all the parts of the air above the horizon, as though it flew on the east wind?
Read Job 38:25-41
In this section of God’s discourse, he moves from showing Job and his friends of their ignorance to showing them of their weakness in impotency in the face of God Almighty.
v25. “WHO HATH DIVIDED A WATERCOURSE FOR THE OVERFLOWING OF WATERS, OR A WAY FOR THE LIGHTNING OF THUNDER;”
God has sovereign dominion over the waters of the earth, he appointed their course even when they overflow and seem to move in rebellion to any control. He also has dominion over the lighting and the thunder. They do not happen at random but rather follow a pattern that God has set in place.
v26-27. “TO CAUSE IT TO RAIN ON THE EARTH, where NO MAN is; on THE WILDERNESS, WHEREIN there is NO MAN; TO SATISFY THE DESOLATE AND WASTE ground; AND TO CAUSE THE BUD OF THE TENDER HERB TO SPRING FORTH?”
In directing the course of the natural rain he neglects not even the wilderness where no man lives. God does not provide just for mankind but for all of his creation. This earth produced abundantly even where there was no man to till the soil, plant or harvest. God can produce without man but man cannot produce without God.
v28. “HATH THE RAIN A FATHER? OR WHO HATH BEGOTTEN THE DROPS OF DEW?”
Psalms 147:7-9 “SING UNTO THE LORD WITH THANKSGIVING; SING PRAISE UPON THE HARP UNTO OUR GOD: WHO COVERETH THE HEAVEN WITH CLOUDS, WHO PREPARETH RAIN FOR THE EARTH, WHO MAKETH GRASS TO GROW UPON THE MOUNTAINS. HE GIVETH TO THE BEAST HIS FOOD, and TO THE YOUNG RAVENS WHICH CRY.”
v29-30. “OUT OF WHOSE WOMB CAME THE ICE? AND THE HOARY FROST OF HEAVEN, WHO HATH GENDERED IT? THE WATERS ARE HID AS with A STONE, AND THE FACE OF THE DEEP IS FROZEN.”
Who caused ice to come to be? And the frost in which waters are congealed and then a crust of added to the earth? These are very common, everyday things but in their nature a vast change is made and very quickly. What created power could produce such a wonderful work? And, of course, the answer is, none!
v31-32. “CANST THOU BIND THE SWEET INFLUENCES OF PLEIADES, OR LOOSE THE BANDS OF ORION? CANST THOU BRING FORTH MAZZAROTH IN HIS SEASON? OR CANST THOU GUIDE ARCTURUS WITH HIS SONS?"
The references here are to groups of stars, constellations in the sky. God wants to know, who can change the seasons or move the stars from their present place in the sky? Man surely cannot, but God can change them when he pleases, he can make the spring cold or the winter warm according to his wishes.
v33-35. “KNOWEST THOU THE ORDINANCES OF HEAVEN? CANST THOU SET THE DOMINION THEREOF IN THE EARTH? CANST THOU LIFT UP THY VOICE TO THE CLOUDS, THAT ABUNDANCE OF WATERS MAY COVER THEE? CANST THOU SEND LIGHTNINGS, THAT THEY MAY GO, AND SAY UNTO THEE, HERE WE are?"
Do you know the ordinances by which the heavens are ruled? Can you set in dominion over things in the earth? Can you command the clouds to provide water to cover you? Can you send lightning to the earth or cause it to change its path?
v36. “WHO HATH PUT WISDOM IN THE INWARD PARTS? OR WHO HATH GIVEN UNDERSTANDING TO THE HEART?”
Who has given you the wisdom found in your mind? Who has caused your heart to be able to understand? God is the author, giver, father and fountain of all wisdom and understanding. The power and faculties of reason provides mankind with ability that is not found in any other part of God’s creation except in angels, but where did it come from but God himself?
v37-38. “WHO CAN NUMBER THE CLOUDS IN WISDOM? OR WHO CAN STAY THE BOTTLES OF HEAVEN, WHEN THE DUST GROWETH INTO HARDNESS, AND THE CLODS CLEAVE FAST TOGETHER?”
Who has the wisdom to number the clouds of the sky? Who can stop the heavens from providing the moisture held within it as though in bottles? Who knows how or when the dust grows into hardness or what makes clods hold together? As young boys me and my brother’s gardening usually ended in a clod fight but what made the dirt stick together?
v39-40. “WILT THOU HUNT THE PREY FOR THE LION? OR FILL THE APPETITE OF THE YOUNG LIONS, WHEN THEY COUCH IN THEIR DENS, AND ABIDE IN THE COVERT TO LIE IN WAIT?”
Would you hunt prey for the lion or provide for the appetites of young lions when they lie in their dens or hide in their hiding places in wait. God provides for all his creation and it is by his providence, not by any care or pains of ours, that they are fed.
v41. “WHO PROVIDETH FOR THE RAVEN HIS FOOD? WHEN HIS YOUNG ONES CRY UNTO GOD, THEY WANDER FOR LACK OF MEAT.”
Just as animals of prey are provided for by God so also are the birds. God has regard to all the works of his hands, even to the meanest and least valuable and provides for them.