“Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.”
Job 38:4 ESV
I was reading through Job 38, and as I read through the chapter, my thoughts were captivated by the wisdom and the power of God. The book of Job in its entirety goes against conventional wisdom and by that I mean, the book of Proverbs says; “No ill befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble” (Proverbs 12:21 ESV). But the book of Job turns that logic on its head. At the beginning of the book, it was established that Job was ‘blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.’ (Job 1:1 ESV). Like Solomon wrote in Proverbs, ‘no ill’ befell him. Life was great for Job, he had much livestock, had many children and served God faithfully and joyfully. What more could a man ask for from God?
But God took all that away from him, leaving him with sores from his head to toe. And the Scriptures tell of this picture of Job sitting in ashes, taking broken pottery pieces and scraping himself. Job’s story is a tragedy of tragedies. The book of Job begs the question, why would evil befall the righteous? And I think that the book of Job gives the most beautiful and terrifying answer at the same time… but it can only be understood through faith.
In chapter 38, after a long-winded debate over why Job’s life turned sour, God suddenly appears and speaks in a whirlwind;
“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said; Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you and you make it known to me.”
Job 38:1-3 ESV
As I read this, I tried to imagine the awe-inspiring sight that is God’s glory being manifested so clearly before these men’s eyes. What kind of fear gripped Job and his friends as they heard God reply back? The fear must’ve been overwhelming to see that whirlwind and to hear the voice of God.
What I love about God’s response is that He doesn’t actually answer the question of why He took everything away from Job. Instead, he says, “I will question you”. In other words, God was telling them, “hey you don’t have a right to question me, I’m God and you’re not! If I choose to give, I have every right to, and if I choose to take, I have every right to do that also”. From there God just asks them some very loaded questions, like ‘where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?’ (Job 38:4 ESV), or ‘have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?’ (Job 38:12 ESV). After a plethora of questions asking Job, he answers ‘Behold I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth’ (Job 40:4 ESV). We don’t put God on the stand and question Him as if He were in a courtroom. It is God who is the judge, and it is us who has to answer to him. But yet when calamity strikes, the very first thing that men are so prone to do is to lay it upon God and question him, asking him a cascade of questions. God doesn’t have to answer us, and we don’t deserve an answer from him, other than “I’m God and you’re not, deal with it”. We should know our place, as we’re the creatures and He’s the creator. And because He’s the creator He has every right to do whatever He wishes, as the Psalmist wrote, ‘Our God is in the heavens, he does all that he pleases’ (Psa 115:3).
Now to the humanist, this is not the response that would satisfy. The reason for this is because for the humanist, man is the final arbiter of his fate, not God. For the humanist, religion exists to serve man, fulfilling his needs and desires. But the humanist forgets that from dust he came and to dust he will return. But God on the otherhand, He is self-sufficient, creator and everlasting, having created all things for the glory of His name. And whether the humanist likes it or not, he is within the domain of God’s creation, leaving him forever beneath His sovereign rule and therefore He must never dare question God, nor accuse him.
But for us Christians, we must trust our God’s sovereign hand, never questioning Him. Because we know, that “all things work together for (our) good” (Rom 8:28 ESV). We as Christians must always remember that our God is a wise and benevolent Father. He’s not a cruel and seeking our destruction. In the same way a human father loves his child, how much more greater is the love of our Father who is in heaven?
“Lord remind us always that you are a benevolent and wise Father. Though we may never question your goodness in seasons and storms that may seem bad on the outset; may we see that these afflictions are but light and momentary, having eyes to see the things that are unseen. All praise and glory and honour be to your name.”