Have you ever been put in your place? Has a moment of brash talk ever resulted in someone “setting you straight”? It hurts, doesn’t it? I’ve been there and felt that. In hindsight, it was not so much a punishing experience as it was a learning experience. These moments of correction are painful, and often necessary. But we have to be open to their instruction … that’s the trick.
In today’s passage we find God giving Job the ultimate moment of instruction. Wowzers, this is a doozy. God begins by calling Job a “darkening counsel” and says that Job’s words lack knowledge:
Job 38 (Common English Bible)
Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:
2 Who is this darkening counsel
with words lacking knowledge?
3 Prepare yourself like a man;
I will interrogate you, and you will respond to me.
Yikes. But as you read this next part, see how God describes all of his omnipotent power in a way that is reassuring, even as Job is being rebuked:
The establishing of order
4 Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?
Tell me if you know.
5 Who set its measurements? Surely you know.
Who stretched a measuring tape on it?
6 On what were its footings sunk;
who laid its cornerstone,
7 while the morning stars sang in unison
and all the divine beings shouted?
Can you issue an order to the clouds
so their abundant waters cover you?
35 Can you send lightning so that it goes
and then says to you, “I’m here”?
36 Who put wisdom in remote places,
or who gave understanding to a rooster?
37 Who is wise enough to count the clouds,
and who can tilt heaven’s water containers
38 so that dust becomes mud
and clods of dirt adhere?
If you needed to be reminded of who is in control, this is it. God sends lightning and wisdom alike. He counts the clouds, tilts heaven’s water containers, and gives understanding to the rooster. Can you do that?
Lion and raven
39 Can you hunt prey for the lion
or fill the cravings of lion cubs?
40 They lie in their den,
lie in ambush in their lair.
41 Who provides food for the raven
when its young cry to God,
move about without food?
Job is a righteous man who experiences a humbling lesson. So should we. But rather than receive these words as a chastisement, as Job had to, may we embrace them as a beautiful reminder that God is God … and we are not.
Thanks be to God!