Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Bible and the Supernatural: God Speaks to Job

Scripture: Job 38-41

Human speculation and arguing had gone on long enough. After Job and his friends had spewed enough words to fill thirty-five Bible chapters, God steps in to face Job, giving us one of the grandest monologues ever composed as He questions Job on his wisdom, knowledge, understanding, experience and power.

Observations: These four chapters of Job, I must confess, are among my favorites in all of Scripture. God reveals His grandeur, His greatness, His utter vastness here with powerful eloquence and vivid imagery; and countless gems of truth and insight adorn these verses, so that their collective brilliance blinds the reader. It would be easy to spend months wandering these verses.

However, that is not the intent of this study. (Insert a deep sigh here from me.) Rather, I will restrain myself to a few observations:

God spoke/answered Job directly. He approached Job in a semi-visible form (whirlwind) and spoke in an auditory voice. This tells me that although God is outside of His creation, He can also invade it in very relatable ways.

God still provided no answer. God didn’t warn Job before Satan struck what was about to happen. God didn’t answer after Job cried out the first time. Only after the debate wound to its conclusion did God step in. And even then, He didn’t tell Job what had really happened or why. God merely reminded everyone Who He Was.

God can speak both poetically and literally at the same time. All of God’s discourse in these chapters are written in poetical form. But poetry doesn’t have to equal metaphor. It is very clear in many spots that what God is saying is literally true despite the beautiful poetry (e.g. 38:39-39:12).

Significance: Sometimes when in the midst of difficult times, we wish, like Job, that we could talk to God face to face. We often think if we could, we would obtain the answers we crave. The story of Job reveals otherwise.

It’s not that God doesn’t know the answers. Otherwise Job 1 and 2 would not exist. Rather, He is more concerned about our trust in Him, which is not rooted in knowing the answers, but in knowing the One who holds the answers. Therefore, the best thing we can do when difficult times come is to focus on Him.

That said, this passage also reminds us that God hears our requests and responds. Oh, it might not be in a physical manifestation or with an audible voice, like Job experienced. (Though again, this passage shows God might; you never know!) And how He responds might not be the way we expect—Job definitely didn’t expect the litany of questions he received; he had expected to question God. But God did respond and He responded with what Job really needed, not what Job thought he needed.

Which brings me to my last point: God says exactly what He means, which is why we can trust Him in difficult times. It’s so easy, to look at a confusing passage or one which seems to contradict what human experience has taught us and say, “What God really meant by that is this.” As if God, the One who created language and who is described as the Word, somehow failed to clearly communicate what He meant!

No, God says what He means, and His Words are always true. Therefore, we must be very careful in taking a passage and saying, “It’s just a metaphor.” For in failing to take God’s words at face value, we creep dangerously close to echoing the serpent’s questions in Eden: “Did God really say…?” And if we can’t trust God’s words 100%, even when confusing, how can we trust the One who spoke them 100%?

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