Job 38-42


Job 38-42
When approaching the book of Job, one is often overwhelmed.  Its length, subject matter, and theology press the reader as much as any book of the Bible. Its message is clarified if we can picture Job and his friends in a courtroom: Job was the defendant, claiming righteousness even though he was suffering like one who had committed a heinous crime; Job longed for God to arrive at court, so he could call the Almighty to the witness stand and prosecute Him for allowing such difficulty to come upon one who was righteous; but all Job got was the cross-examination from his ‘friends.’ Chs 38-42 are the conclusion of the drama. God entered the legal proceedings as Job had hoped—but Job was yet in the chair of the defendant. As God cross-examined him, Job came to understanding about his situation: he had been in the midst of a great spiritual battle, and clear-headedness about his situation could only be found by contemplating the greatness of God.
Here the LORD spoke to Job “from the whirlwind” (38.1). The LORD’s first speech (38.1-40.2) began with a confrontation to the four interlocutors, who had obscured His counsel with ignorant words (v. 2). The LORD then turned straightway toward Job, beckoning him to answer like a man; He challenged Job’s thinking by asking him to consider:
  1. The structure of the created world (38.4-24). In each of his speeches, Job had longed for understanding from God; here God showed that He lacked none—and had revealed much of His wisdom in the created order
  2. The function of the created world (38.25-39.30). God boasted of His rule over creation so that the ever-constant cycle of supply-and-demand is kept in check; neither animate nor inanimate life function apart from His Providence
After the LORD’s self-disclosure to Job, He asked, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? Let him who argues with God give an answer” (40.2). Job’s confession to the LORD was brief: “I am so insignificant. How can I answer You? I place my hand over my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not reply; twice, but now I can add nothing” (40.4-5). The LORD continued to speak from the whirlwind (40.6-41.34):
  1. He questioned Job’s strength, of which He Himself had no lack (40.6-14). The LORD cross-examined Job: “Would you really challenge My justice? Would you declare Me guilty to justify yourself?” (v. 8). The LORD’s catena of questions would only reinforce Job’s earlier confession, “I am so insignificant. How can I answer You” (v. 4)
  2. He demonstrated His power to Job, claiming dominance over the most foreboding creatures (40.15-41.34). The LORD provided Job with an object lesson in strength; Job would cower before the likes of Behemoth and Leviathan—animals that even in their great strength are yet part of the created order, under the constant control of the Almighty
Job was left with few words.  The LORD had argued a perfect case and Job could do nothing but confess: “Surely I spoke about things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…I had heard rumors about You, but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I take back my words, and repent in dust and ashes” (42.3b, 5-6).
But the LORD was not done. He turned toward the prosecutors’ table and condemned Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, who had yet to repent and speak the truth about God—as Job had done (42.7-8). Only after a burnt offering, and the prayer of Job, would they be spared God’s wrath. The epilogue of the book displays how “the LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the earlier” (42.12)! Job’s property was restored two-fold, he was reacquainted with friends and family, he had 10 children, he saw his children and grandchildren for four generations (42.10-17)!
On the whole, the book of Job is God’s providential display to Satan that as the Almighty He is worthy to be feared by His righteous-ones, even if He allows suffering to come their way. Satan had wished to attack Job with suffering so that the righteous-sufferer would curse God, and thus Job’s fight throughout was to think truthfully about God. All things considered, Job endured well—and is thus a role model for believers of all ages, especially for those in the Church era. While Job’s situation forced him to wonder if God had in fact abandoned him, the coming of Christ and the flow of the storyline of Scripture make it abundantly clear that no spiritual forces or physical threats can separate believers from God’s love. Because of what God had done in Christ, we can be assured of His care at present, and endure all manner of spiritual and physical difficulty. This was part of Paul’s theme to the Romans:
“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son, but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ?...I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Rom 8.28-35, 38-39).
*For a complete list of references, please see