What does it say?
Ironically, Elihu just spoke piously about God’s voice thundering in divine excellency (37:4-5), never dreaming that might become a reality in his life moments later. What a surprise when God himself shows up in 37:1-3 and his voice speaks out of the whirlwind! But, God bypasses Elihu, addressing Job directly and asking who is causing confusion by speaking ignorantly. Is he speaking of Elihu, the three friends or all?
Job 39-39 is essentially a series of questions more difficult than the SAT, bar exam and medical licensing exam put together. If you feel a bit flustered, confused, or impotent – that’s the point. God is speaking here and needs no interpreter, advocate or representative to speak for him. I just have to be aware of how much I do not know.
What does it mean?
Let’s review. We began a missional, chronological journey through the Bible seeing that all begins with God’s desire to receive glory from his creation. Sin corrupts the human race and all creation, and God launches his amazing mission of redemption and restoration.
Before we can even settle in, we switch to the very first biblical book written – Job. This book ties God’s promise of a redeemer (Gen 3:15) to the necessity of suffering. Job’s inexplicable suffering prefigures the Redeemer’s suffering to deal with sin. We also suffer as we follow him in this redemptive mission, often never knowing God’s reason or purposes.
What keeps us from being effective in this mission is thinking that all we need is to live righteously and quote tons of Bible verses strung together in our tight little theological systems. We should, of course, live righteously and know the Bible. However, just about the time we think we have all the answers and presumptuously start tossing around our great knowledge, God himself shows up with questions of his own. Not good. Our starting position as God’s ambassadors is this: stand in total awe of him with mouth shut.
How will I respond?
Instead of action steps, examples and suggestions, I want to do something different today; I want to allow God to speak for himself. Can I simply keep still for three minutes and listen for God to speak to me about how Job’s story applies in my own life? If I “hear” nothing specific, I will press ahead with what I already know to do, but will keep learning how to love God more by listening to him more carefully.