LoS: Exposition – Job 38:1-7, 31-36

William Blake - The Lord Answering Job Out of the Whirlwind

William Blake – The Lord Answering Job Out of the Whirlwind

38 1Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:

   2“Who is this that darkens my counsel

      with words without knowledge?

   3Brace yourself like a man;

       I will question you,

       and you shall answer me.

The impact of the LORD’s arrival must have been awesome in every dimension of experience. The combination of vast natural and supernatural forces with the LORD’s own angry WORDs booming like thunder into this beaten man’s consciousness could only bring on a terror that is beyond our poor ability to imagine.

The LORD’s first words (v. 2) set the theme for what is to follow. But the next phrase, “brace yourself like a man,” is striking; for it addresses Job as an entity that is capable of dignity, of honor – a man – “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27).

4“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?

       Tell me, if you understand.

   5Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

       Who stretched a measuring line across it?

   6On what were its footings set,

       or who laid its cornerstone-

   7while the morning stars sang together

       and all the angels shouted for joy?

The cascade of impossible questions continues for four chapters. They remain unanswerable even today. But what do they have to do with Job’s situation? Why is Job in the dock? It is God who willed suffering into existence, who unleashed Satan to inflict this terrible suffering on Job.

Even though it doesn’t seem to make sense, let’s follow the thread of thought to see where it leads. The LORD has accused Job (and us?) of “darkening his counsel with words without knowledge.” He’s now asked a series of questions that Job and we can’t begin to answer, but that clearly the LORD can. So, we can agree that the LORD does have more knowledge than do we.

     31“Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades?

       Can you loose the cords of Orion?

   32Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons

       or lead out the Bear with its cubs?

   33Do you know the laws of the heavens?

       Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

   34“Can you raise your voice to the clouds

       and cover yourself with a flood of water?

   35Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?

       Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?

   36Who endowed the heart with wisdom

       or gave understanding to the mind?

The unanswerable questions continue. The cumulative impact can only be felt by reading these four stunning chapters in one sitting. They have a terrible beauty that both draws one in while simultaneously eliciting a sense of holy fear.

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