JOB 38–42 GOD SPEAKS, JOB LISTENS-AND SEES!
Bible Background: Job has demanded and dreaded a ‘hearing’ before God. God’s speech is divided into two parts (#38–39, and then #40–41). Job gets in just a word of humility in between (41:3-5). The divine speeches focus on God’s work in creation (humans are not God’s only concern!), and moves in 3 directions: 1-the Structure of the whole creation-which provides good order; 2-God’s knowledge and power over the Weather; 3-God’s wisdom and authority over the Animal Kingdom, including the ‘wild’ creatures and the mythical ones (like Leviathan in #41).
Digging Deeper: 1. The large section of poetry in the book continues with the divine speeches. The poetry is filled with deep and amazing images, everything from the way the constellations are arranged in the sky, to the way God distributes rain upon the earth, to the way the mountain goats give birth! Why this wide-ranging ‘answer’ to Job’s complaints? Perhaps to remind Job that there’s a lot more to life than his current suffering and his efforts to prove his innocence. Perhaps to help Job (and us) see our true place in God’s whole creation. While God cares deeply for humans, it’s not “all about us!”
2. God peppers Job with one question after another “Where were you? Do you know? Can you do this or that?” It might appear that God is coming down hard on Job, and even mocking Job at times. But in a number of ways, God’s speech is giving back what Job dished out. Job freely and at times cynically questioned God. Now he’s on the receiving end of things!
3. God’s response to Job does not provide answers to the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” This will leave many readers unsatisfied. Interesting enough, in 42:1-6, Job does not seem dissatisfied! Though he hasn’t gotten answers to his many questions, he “sees” God. (And he ‘sees’ how much he didn’t know when he was in the midst of his suffering.) In what ways is God’s presence what we ‘need’ most when life is troubling or hard?
4. This focus on all of creation in God’s speeches can also serve as a reminder of how important our relationship with nature is. For one, the quality of human life on earth depends on the health of the whole creation. Beyond that, new studies show that time spent in nature provides many benefits to our physical and mental health! (Many of you know that already!) How do we view the natural world as God’s gift to us? What are you doing to enjoy nature? What are you willing to do to help care for God’s creation in the small ways and in the big ways?