The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Job 38

Job 38:1

Job 38 - Job 42:6: The Voice of the Almighty. A commentary on the Creation. "Revelation is a mystery, but so is nature."

Job 38 -- 41: Job 38 deals with the first four days of creation by making repeated reference to light, stars, clouds and waters. The later chapters -- Job 39; 40; 41 -- deal with days five and six by looking at the wonders of the animal kingdom.

Job 38: "Now that Elihu has addressed Job's complaints, God declares His mightiness and power, and makes it clear He cannot be called to account.

"This chapter introduces the final section of the book of Job. It opens with a dramatic, sudden, startling interruption. It was to be an answer to Job (v 1), and a conclusion to the address of Elihu (v 2). So the voice of Heaven revealed that the supreme authority and wisdom of the Almighty was beyond the knowledge of created man, and therefore beyond that of Job. It constitutes Yahweh's challenge to mankind (Job 38:1-42:6). Job 38 shows: [1] Job's ignorance in relation to the wonders of the earth: vv 1-7. [2]. The glory of the oceans: vv 8-11. [3] The hidden realms beyond normal experience: vv 12-17. [4] Divine instruction in relation to the heavens; its light and ark: vv 19-21. [5] The elements of creation: vv 22-30. [6] The heavenly bodies: vv 31,32. [7] The powerful laws of nature: vv 33-38. [8] Divine declaration concerning living Creatures; the beasts and birds of prey: vv 39-41.

"The glory and greatness of the Divine Architect is brought to attention as Elihu grows silent, and Job required to heed the instruction. The earth was created to be inhabited (Isa 45:18). Careful planning was thus used to that end (Pro 8:27-30). The earth rotates on its axis at approx 1,000 miles per hour; if it were 100 mph, our days and nights would be 10 times as long, and the hot sun would likely burn up the vegetation, whilst surviving sprouts would freeze or die in the long night. Every part of the creation is in harmony with the work of the Creator, and performs its remarkable work. Job was being taught that as he could not plummet the mysteries of creation, nor understand the way in which all nature works -- so he was unable to understand the purpose of trial, and the reason for suffering. That great mystery is about to be revealed to him, and by which he will see 'the end of Yahweh' (Jam 5:11)" (GEM).

Job 38; 39: " 'O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder --
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

" 'When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze...

" 'Then sings my soul, my Saviour, God, to thee:
How great thou art, how great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee:
How great thou art, how great thou art."

"If we ever begin to downsize God and think that He is not much more than us, we need to re-read these chapters. The power and glory of God leaps off the pages -- displaying His awesome majesty and creative works. What hope does any man have of answering His questions? All we can do is bow in humility and worship, giving honour and praise to our creator.

"O Lord my God, how great thou art!" (RP).

God waits until Elihu has prepared Job's mind for this onslaught (out of the whirlwind) before He presents it. God organizes our lives the same way. We need to be prepared by circumstances -- perhaps over years -- before He might finally makes a move on a particular issue. Let us be sure to remain open to God's working with us.

Job 38:2

Job understands this as a condemnation of himself, and repents in Job 42:3, "'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."

Job 38:3

As Elihu has been pointing out, Job had set himself up as superior to God: Job 13:18,19, "Behold now, I have prepared my case; I know that I will be vindicated. Who will contend with me? For then I would be silent and die." Job 23:6, "Would He contend with me by the greatness of {His} power? No, surely He would pay attention to me."

Job 38:7

STARS: Sym saints in kingdom: Mat 13:43; Dan 12:3; 1Co 15:41.

THE ANGELS: Lit, as mg, "sons of God". But here, esp, the "sons of God" is a name for ALL the wonders of the Creation -- including the stars and sun, and clouds, and light: see figures of vv 8,9,28,29. "This is simply part of the poetic language of the LORD that gives to His creation a personality where even lightning can talk (v 35). By comparing God's ancient creation, born so long ago, to the comparably recent birth of Job (v 21), the argument drives home Job's own inadequate council.

Although the creation is nowhere else spoken of as a 'son of God' there are two areas that draw close connections in other scriptures. First it will be noted that God's creation is put in terms of birth [Pro 8:23-29; Psa 90:1,2]. Secondly that these inanimate works of his hands can give him praise, sing and speak as if they had a personality [Isa 44:23; 49:13; Isa 35:1,2; Psa 19:1-6; 65:8,11-13; 148:1-5]" (TY). This same language is appropriated in the NT, and applied to the spiritual "creation" by Paul (Rom 8:19-23).

"If there weren't enthusiasm in creation, it would soon run down. Everything is made of atoms, protons, neutrons and electrons, things you can't keep still -- not for a second! They dash in all directions at tremendous speeds, and the heavenly bodies move the same way. The old Greeks called the movement they made as they passed through space 'the music of the spheres.' I don't think they've missed it by very much at all. I believe that God sang when He created things. The motion and speed of the heavenly bodies, the working of little creatures in the earth to make the soil soft, the working of the sun on the earth -- all this is God joyously working in His creation.

"Enthusiasm is seen in creation; it's seen in light. Did you ever stop to think what it would be like if there were no light? If God Almighty were to put a lead sack around all the heavenly bodies and suddenly shut out all the light there is, I wouldn't want to be alive... Some people are afraid of color. They think that spirituality consists in being drab. But God made color! He made all shades of colors. Look at the sunset -- what is it, just something scientific? Do you think that God splashed the lovely, beautiful sky with rose, cerise, blue and white and wasn't smiling when He did that? Is that just an accident of nature, scientifically explained? Then you've got too much learning for your own good! Go empty your head and get your heart filled and you'll be better off. The Holy Spirit wrote 150 psalms and in those psalms God celebrates the wonders of His creation.

"In my state of Pennsylvania the money-greedy scoundrels have bought the coal rights in certain sections of the state. There were beautiful hills there that I grew up to see and love, beautiful sun-kissed hills sometimes mystic blue in the setting of the sun. And the creeks ran below out to the rivers and down to the sea. It was all very beautiful. But I went back to my old place years later, and I found that these money-hungry fellows didn't dig a hole to get the coal; they took bulldozers and dragged the top off the earth -- trees, grass, everything -- to get down to the coal. The result was that thousands and thousands of acres -- whole hills that used to go up with their green to meet heaven's blue -- lay gashed like one vast, gaping grave. The state of Pennsylvania said, 'You've got to fill them all in or we'll fine you $3,000.' And the mining people looked at each other and grinned and paid the $3,000. They left it as it was, and I went away grief-stricken to see my beautiful hills now great ugly sand pits. I went back in a few more years, and do you know what nature had done? Dear old busy, enthusiastic, fun-loving, joyous Mother Nature began to draw a green veil over that ugly gash. And now if you go back you will see it has cured itself. It's God Almighty in that!

"We ought to stop thinking like scientists and think like psalmists. This infinite God is enjoying Himself. Somebody is having a good time in heaven and earth and sea and sky. Somebody is painting the sky. Somebody is making trees to grow where only gashes were a year ago. Somebody is causing the ice to melt out of the river and the fish to swim and the birds to sing and lay their blue eggs and build their nests and hatch their young. Somebody's running the universe... And I believe I know who it is" (AWT).

Job 38:8

See Lesson, Leviathan -- esp the "Creation" myth.

Job 38:9

AND WRAPPED IT IN THICK DARKNESS: "When I made... thick darkness a swaddlingband for it" (AV) -- carrying on the figure of childbirth, from v 8. This is the blanket reserved for wrapping up the newborn child (Eze 16:4).

Job 38:11

See Act 17:26.

Job 38:14

"Or didst thou take clay of the ground, and form a living creature, and set him with the power of speech upon the earth?" (LXX).

Job 38:19

The eternal struggle between light and darkness: Gen 1:4,18; 2Co 6:14.

Job 38:20

Only God knows: Dan 2:22.

Job 38:31

CAN YOU BIND...?: "If inclined to boast of our abilities, the grandeur of nature may soon show us how puny we are. We cannot move the least of all the twinkling stars, or quench so much as one of the beams of the morning. We speak of power, but the heavens laugh us to scorn. When the Pleiades shine forth in spring with vernal joy we cannot restrain their influences, and when Orion reigns aloft, and the year is bound in winter's fetters, we cannot relax the icy bands. The seasons revolve according to the divine appointment, neither can the whole race of men effect a change therein. Lord, what is man?" (CHS).

BEAUTIFUL: "Sweet influences" (AV)? "Cluster" (RV), referring to the constellation (or group of stars).

PLEIADES: "Head" or "cluster". Appeared in spring, at the time of planting (Sh 85:3:23).

Job 38:32

CONSTELLATIONS: "Mazzaroth" (AV), "12 signs" (AV mg). The 12 signs of the Zodiac, answering to the 12 months of the year (Sh 85:3:23).

THE BEAR: "Arcturus" (AV). In Heb, "ayish" = assembly "Can you guide the great assembly of northern stars which follow their courses around the pole?" (Sh 85:3:23).

Job 38:35

Cherubim, like "lightning", run to and fro.

Job 38:41

The raven eats the food left by the lion (vv 39,40). God provides for both together.

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