Job 38:1-42:6 – Death to Self

By way of summary of this series, we began in chapter 1 by being introduced to this righteous man named Job. He was wealthy, respected, faithful and feared God. Then Satan didn’t believe God’s word about Job’s love for God, so God allowed Satan certain limits to bring upon suffering to Job to see if he would worship God if his wealth, health and family were taken from him.

After Satan was done with Job, Job was stuck in unrelieved misery for months with open sores all over his body. During this time he bore the grief of seven dead sons and three dead daughters. All of his wealth had vanished in one afternoon. He had become disgusting to his wife, loathsome to his brothers, and even little children despised him as he lay on the ash heap outside of town.

At first Job bore these calamities with amazing submission: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (1:21); Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? (2:10).

But as the misery drug out over the months, Job wavered in his confidence that God was for him. In defending himself against the bad theology of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, he said things about God that were not true. He began to insist on his own righteousness at the expense of God’s justice.

For example, in 13:23-24 he said, 23 How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. 24 Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy? Although, he did reach the point where he confessed that after death he would see God as his Redeemer (19:25-27).

Then we come upon the bad theology of Job’s friends. They had taken the position that the severity of Job’s suffering must be the sign of some terrible sin in his life, so God is punishing Job.

But Job silences his friends by showing them that there is no correlation in this world between righteousness and prosperity or between wickedness and suffering. The righteous often suffer more than the wicked and the wicked often prosper more than the righteous. Job is victorious over the superficial theology of his friends.

Then last week we covered Elihu’s rebuke and counsel of Job and his 3 friends in chapters 32-37. The three friends of Job had not been able to account for the suffering of this good man with their theology. And Job had said rash and presumptuous things about God in order to justify himself, and Elihu burned with anger towards them.

Elihu’s point of view is that Job is a righteous man, though not perfect, and that he is loved by God. God is not treating him as his enemy but as his child and friend. God originally allowed Job’s sufferings to commence in order to show Satan and the armies of heaven that Job cherished the worth of God more than his possessions and his family and his health.

But after Job showed that he did in fact love God more than all else in the world, there was another purpose that God sought to achieve by letting his suffering drag on for several months.

According to Elihu, God’s purpose was to purge out of Job’s life a residue of pride that had rested quietly at the bottom of his life. When Job was shaken by suffering long enough, the real pride of Job surfaces and showed its ugly face.

The twofold purpose of suffering in Job’s life was to demonstrate God’s value and glory (on the outset), and its ongoing purpose was to refine Job’s righteousness. His suffering was not punishment. It was not a sign of God’s anger.

Job’s pain was not the pain of the executioner’s whip but the pain of the surgeon’s scalpel. The removal of the disease of pride is the most loving thing God could do, no matter what the cost.

Remember the words of our Lord: It’s far better to suffer the terrible pain of plucking out your eye than to let any sin remain in your heart. If this does not seem obvious to you—namely, that sanctification is worth any pain on this earth, then it is probably because you don’t hate sin and prize holiness the way God does.

We must examine ourselves carefully at this point, so as we dive in to this text this morning, let’s lay our hearts on the surgery table for the Lord to work on:

38:1-3: 1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.

God has been questioned by Job long enough. Now it is time for Job to be put on trial. It’s time for God to be who He always has been…the Righteous Judge. SInce God’s discourse is so long, we must try to summarize His interrogation of Job without reading the whole thing. The outline basically goes like this:

God questions Job about the created order
38:4-5: 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? “It was I who laid the foundation of the earth and determined its measurements. You weren’t there Job when I made the earth!”

38:8: “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst from the womb?” “It wasn’t you Job, it was I. You don’t know my power. You weren’t there when I created the seas.”

38:12: “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?” “You can’t do it Job. It is I who does, and it is I who always will.”

38:18: “Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.” “You have never even been across the ocean to see all the earth that I have created and you take the liberty to call me out.”

God questions Job about the heavenly order
38:19-21: 19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, 20 that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home?” 21 You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!
“You do not know these things Job, yet I do, because I AM!”

38:22-24: 22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, 23 which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? 24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth? “What about the snow, the hail, the lights, the wind, the rain, the dew, the ice, and the frost? Make them at your command Job, if you can?”

38:31-33: “Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?” “If not, then maybe we should come back down to the earth again…”

38:34-35: 34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you? 35 Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? “It seems as if you are unable to give me an answer to my questions Job. But what about your wisdom in your questioning of me Job?”

When before the Lord, Job is weak and powerless and speechless! Job realizes that he is surrounded by mysteries all around him. We are too! And God is not impressed with our recent scientific understandings over the last 200 years. We should be utterly humbled and overwhelmed with our ignorance.

And as if Job hasn’t gotten the point, God now questions him about the order of the animals:
38:41: Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help,
and wander about for lack of food?

39:1-2: 1 “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the does? 2 Can you number the months that they fulfill, and do you know the time when they give birth,” “I do Job, because I am over all things, and I’m always there.

39:5-6: 5 “Who has let the wild donkey go free? Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey, 6 to whom I have given the arid plain for his home and the salt land for his dwelling place?” “I ordain even the steps of donkeys Job…asses!”

39:9: “Is the wild ox willing to serve you? Will he spend the night at your manger?

39:13-14: 13 “The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, but are they the pinions and plumage of love? 14 For she leaves her eggs to the earth and lets them be warmed on the ground,

39:19-20: 19 “Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? 20 Do you make him leap like the locust?

39:26-27: 26 “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars and spreads his wings toward the south? 27 Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?

Job remains weak, powerless and silent! Job still has no answer and is proved to be nothing compared to God. At the beginning of chapter 40, God pauses for Job’s response…

40:1-5: And the Lord said to Job, 2 “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” 3 Then Job answered the Lord: 4 “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5 I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”

Job is now getting the point: a finite creature who has no wisdom to run this world has no business instructing his Maker and Ruler on how to run the world, even condemning God for the way he runs it. Think of how absurd this charge against God is. Yet we all do it when suffering comes.

God begins to press Job some more
40:6-9: 6 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 7 “Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. 8 Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? 9 Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?

This is a disturbing argument. Does God mean that we are to submit to the justice of his ways simply because he has a powerful arm? Are we supposed to acknowledge his right simply because he has might? Is something right and good just because God does it?

Yes and no! There is no greater reality than God Himself in which we can judge God’s actions. He would not be God if he submitted to something outside of himself. But when we say the sentence, “God is good,” or, “God always does what is right,” God wants us to see that his power does not make things right in the sense that He could be volatile, unjustified, or irrational and still be right and good just because He’s God.

Instead he wants us to see that his power is purposeful, He Himself is good, and whether it seems He is meaning earthly good to us or not, that He is always in it for our earthly and eternal good, and His glory! You tracking with me?

So in 40:10-14, God challenges Job to join Him in this holy, good and purposeful might:
10 “Adorn yourself with majesty (beauty) and dignity (worth); clothe yourself with glory (beauty) and splendor (worth). 11 Pour out the overflowings of your anger, and look on everyone who is proud and abase him. 12 Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand. 13 Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below. 14 Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you.

After this passage, God goes on to display His sovereign power to Job, but we are going to pause here at this passage and unpack what God is and isn’t saying:

God isn’t saying, “Job, I want you to acknowledge that my power is right no matter what I do.” Instead, God says, “I use my power to clothe myself with beauty and worth and to bring low the proud and to bring up the humble.” In other words the rightness of God’s power is not merely that it is God’s, but also that its purposes are consistence with his excellence.

So as God is bringing Job into submission, God isn’t simply saying, “Might makes right.” What God has said throughout this whole discourse is this: “Job there are millions of things about running this world that you don’t know the first thing about, but I know perfectly.”

So it is arrogant and presumptuous for Job to assume that he can counsel God about how to run a more “just” world. Job can’t even begin to know all that has to be taken into account in regards to making decisions about how to run the world for God’s glory and for the good of His people….for eternity, not just our short stint on earth

In 40:14, God eludes to that fact that Job cannot save Himself unless he was God, thus Job needs God to become righteous. He cannot obtain righteousness on his own…

Job humbles himself and heeds God wisdom. His confession and repentance is 3fold:
42:1-2: “Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. He submits to God’s absolute sovereignty: God can do whatever He pleases, and is not constrained by anything outside himself.

42:3: He quotes God then gives his response; ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. He submits to God’s infinitely greater wisdom and knowledge: he has spoken about things of which he is very ignorant.

42:4-6: He again quotes God and then gives his response. “‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you declare to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job 1) acknowledges his sin, 2) confesses his helplessness, and 3) turns to God for salvation.

This all points to the gospel, the very thing that Christ has done. We on our own are hopeless to save ourselves, God in His power and goodness, sent His Son Jesus to be His right hand of salvation for proud, arrogant, self-righteous, evil people, so that those who look to God in humility and know that He alone is God and He alone is their salvation, may have eternal life.

Do you see this? This is the beauty and worth of God. This is the beauty and worth of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are all like Job: in pain, afflicted, desperate, confused, and hopeless without
God’s powerful right arm coming in to bring salvation.

Will you surrender like Job did to God’s sovereign and good power?

Will you confess your arrogance and pride in thinking that God sucks at running the universe because He has allowed suffering in your life?

Will you turn from being your own savior, to Jesus who alone is able to make you right with God.

He alone has atoned for our sins. He paid the price of death that we owed, conquered death, rising out of the grave removing death’s power, then sitting at the right hand of God the Father, sending His Spirit to dwell with His people and to reveal Himself those who are perishing. This is our good and powerful and sovereign God.

Let’s pray!

Colossians 2:9-15: 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

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