Introduction: Here, God addressed Job’s complaints about God’s moral order and His divine justice. Through His questions, God reveals seven aspects of His holy character. He is a God of: (1) love, (2) holiness, (3) patience, (4) justice, (5) divinity, (6) judgment, and (7) deliverance.
First, God asked Job if he would rebuke the Creator of the universe. Out of love, God disciplines us to restore us to fellowship with Him. Second, Job covered his mouth and confessed that he could not respond to God. Because He is holy, He wants to humble you to be before Him. Third, instead of rebuking Job, God told Job to listen as God continued with His revelations about Himself. God is also patient and long-suffering with sinners like us. Fourth, Job had questioned whether God was fair with him. Many sadly make the same complaint against God. God is in fact just and fair in dealing with mankind’s sin and injustice. Fifth, because Job thought the world could be run better, God asked Job if he had God’s divine power. The Triune God alone is divine, no one is like Him. Sixth, because Job questioned why he saw so many unpunished sinners while he suffered, God challenged Job to punish the wicked and judge evil. God alone has the power to humble the wicked and judge evil. Finally, God challenged Job if he could subdue a massive creature called the “behemoth”. Job could not do so. It is God alone who can deliver us. Deliverance comes through faith in Jesus’ atoning death.
God asked Job if he would challenge Him. After asking Job to explain how God created the universe, the Earth, the atmosphere, the water cycle, the laws of nature, and the animal kingdom, God challenged Job to rebuke his Creator: “1 Then the Lord said to Job, 2 ‘Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who rebukes God give an answer.’” (Job 40:1-2). While these words in isolation might suggest that God was angry, God instead had acted as a loving teacher to a student who was ignorant of His greater plans: “This continued God’s challenge to Job, where God answered Job’s heart without specifically answering Job’s questions. It came after the extended time of fellowship, wonder, and teaching described in Job 38 and 39 . . . Job, speaking from what he felt to be his God-absent agony, longed to contend with God. Yet after God appeared in His love and glory, Job now felt humbled about his previous demand. He rightly felt he was in no place to contend with the Almighty, much less to correct Him or rebuke Him. We might say that Job and God had a wonderful time together in Job chapters 38 and 39; God taught Job all about His greatness using the whole world as His classroom. Yet in it all God remained God and Job remained a man.” (David Guzik on Job 40).1 God wanted to bring Job to a place of fellowship and full trust in his Creator and Savior.
Job had repeatedly expressed his desire to argue with God about his suffering. Job sadly believed that God had treated him unfairly. Thus, he previously believed that he would present his case to God if only he had the chance: “I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue with God. . . Behold now, I have prepared my case; I know that I will be vindicated.” (Job 13:3, 18). “Oh that I knew how to find Him, that I might come to His home! I would present my case before Him and fill my mouth with arguments.” (Job 23:3-4). “I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me; let me know why You contend with me.”’ (Job 10:2). “Oh that I had one to hear me! Here is my signature; let the Almighty answer me! And the indictment which my adversary has written,” (Job 31:35).
Out of love, God shows us mercy and grace. In addition to wanting to argue with God, Job had cursed the day that God created for his birth. And he called upon the Leviathan to attack it: “2 And Job said, 3 ‘May the day on which I was to be born perish, . . . 8 May those curse it who curse the day, who are prepared to disturb Leviathan.” (Job 3:2-8). Job did not curse God Himself. Yet, he called upon “Leviathan” to attack the holy day that God created (Job 3:8). In Hebrew, the name Leviathan meant “twisting one”. It referenced a mythical sea serpent (Job 26:12-13; Ps. 74:12-14; 89:8l 104:26; Is. 27:1; 51:9). The name is also associated with the devil as either the cursed serpent or dragon (Gen. 3:14; Rev. 12:9; 20:2, 10). He also called upon people who were hired to place curses, like Balaam (Nu. 22:5-6), to curse the day (Job 3:9). He also called for the light that God created to be made dark (Job 3:9). Thus, Job cursed God’s holy creation and invited Satan to attack it. This was the closest that Job came to cursing God. Yet, the creation that Job cursed was effected because of mankind’s original sin (Ro. 8:20). Nevertheless, he expressed doubt about God’s wisdom and His plan for creation. Where God said ‘“Let there be light”’ (Gen 1:3), Job called for this light to become dark (Job 3:4). God, however, declared that everything that He created was “good” (Gen. 1:31; 1 Tim. 4:4; Rev. 15:3). Job had a right to grieve. But his attack of God’s creation was an attack on the Creator of the universe. Thankfully, God showed Job mercy and grace.
Praise God’s mercy and forgiveness. To keep the Jews grateful during times of distress, Moses led the Jews in celebrating God’s mercy and forgiveness for their sins: “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;”’ (Ex. 34:6; 33:19; Nu. 19:18). “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” (Dt. 4:31). Nehemiah also led the Jews in praise for God’s mercy and grace: “You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy; and You did not abandon them.” (Neh. 9:17). Everyone needs God’s mercy and grace. Are you praising God for His mercy and grace?
God’s wisdom is beyond human understanding. Because God’s mind is far beyond our understanding, there is nothing that we can teach Him: “Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has informed Him?” (Is. 40:13). “But when I look, there is no one, and there is no counselor among them who, if I ask, can give an answer.” (Is. 41:28). “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?” (Ro. 11:34). “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that He will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16). But Job had already come to this realization: “Can anyone teach God knowledge, in that He judges those on high?” (Job 21:22).
God disciplined Job out of love. God saved His rebuke for Job’s friends (Job 42:7-9). They failed to comfort him, and they falsely accused him of sin. It was out of God’s goodness that He led Job to repentance instead of punishment: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and restraint and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Ro. 2:4). Anytime God disciplines a believer, He again does so out of love: “For whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He punishes every son whom He accepts. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Heb. 12:6-7; 1 Cor. 11:32). Thus, you can give thanks that He only disciplines you out of love to build up your faith.
Job humbled himself before God. Although pressed to respond, Job was unable to do so. With shame, he put his hand over his mouth, and he conceded that he could not respond: “3 Then Job answered the Lord and said, 4 ‘Behold, I am insignificant; what can I say in response to You? I put my hand on my mouth. 5 I have spoken once, and I will not reply; or twice, and I will add nothing more.”’ (Job 40:3-5). Job’s emotional and physical pain had not disappeared. But they were insignificant when he stood before his Creator. In a prophetic moment, Job had conceded that he could not expect to actually to argue his case before God: “If one wished to dispute with Him, he could not answer Him once in a thousand times.” (Job 9:3). “For though I were right, I could not answer; I would have to implore the mercy of my Judge.” (Job 9:15). “Though I am righteous, my mouth will condemn me; . . ..” (Job 9:20a). Yet, although humbled, Job did not actually repent. Thus, God’s self-revelation and teaching to Job would continue until Job repented.
Job confessed that he could not answer God2
Because God is Holy, submit yourself to Him. God had twice declared Job to be “blameless and upright.” (Job 1:8; 2:3). Job had also claimed that he would walk before God like a prince: “I would declare to Him the number of my steps; like a prince, I would approach Him.” (Job 31:37). Yet, before the Creator of the universe, Job saw himself as “insignificant”. Thus, he “put [his] hand on [his] mouth”. (Job 40:4). According to the New King James, he saw himself as “vile.” (NKJ). God is holy and we are not: “For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, because I am holy.” (Lev. 11:44(a); 1 Pet. 1:16). The man that had once openly questioned God now submitted himself before God in humility. He no longer wished to argue his case or prove his innocence in God’s Court (Job 40:5). This was one of God’s great lessons for Job. Instead of seeking vindication, Job sought out God’s fellowship.
All have fallen short and are in need of salvation. Like Job, God gave Solomon great wisdom (1 Kgs. 3:11-12). Yet, even with his great wisdom, he could not keep himself from sinning: “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” (Ecc. 7:20). “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” (Prov. 20:9). Instead of allowing Solomon to die for his many sins (including idolatry, polygamy, and covetousness), God disciplined him out of love: “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” (2 Sam. 7:14-15). Paul later quoted from Solomon to preach universal sin and mankind’s need for salvation (Ro. 3:23). Thus, like Job and Solomon, the first sign of wisdom is to stop trying to defend yourself before God: “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth.” (Prov. 30:32). “Nations will see and be ashamed of all their might. They will put their hand on their mouth, their ears will be deaf.” (Micah 7:16). “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.” (Jam. 3:13).
To find your life, you must lose it. Like Job, you must lose your worldly life to find Jesus: “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 10:39; 16:25). “‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” (Lk. 9:23; Mk. 8:34). Paul later realized that his prior accomplishments were nothing compared to the value of his life in Christ: “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Phil. 3:7; Heb. 13:13). If you lost your wealth, family, and health, would you still trust God? Or, is your faith limited to when He blesses you?
Allow God to humble you so that He can also exalt you without pride. God had to humble Job as a servant before He could exalt him. He did this so that Job would serve without pride. He also wants you to allow Him to humble you through your suffering so that He can exalt you in heaven without any pride. “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; 18:14). “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.” (Lk. 1:52). “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Ja. 4:10). “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,” (1 Pet. 5:6). “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5 KJV). Your suffering is one way for God to humble you. Are you staying humble so that He can later exalt you without pride?
If a nation humbles itself before God, He will deliver it. God promises to deliver any nation that humbles itself before Him: “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chr. 7:14). It is the role of the Church to pray and be His salt and light in leading the nation to repent. Is your church fasting and praying for your nation to return to God in humility?
God again challenged Job. Because God had more to teach Job, He again told Job to prepare himself for God’s revelations through further questions about His justice: “6 Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind and said, 7 ‘Now tighten the belt on your waist like a man; I will ask you, and you instruct Me.” (Job 40:6-7). God previously answered Job out of a whirlwind (Job 38:1). This was again a symbol of His power (E.g., 2 Kgs. 2:1-11; Ps. 77:18; Nah. 1:3; Is. 66:15; Jer. 4:13; 23:19; Ezek. 1:14). God had also previously used the same words for Job to prepare himself: “Now tighten the belt on your waist like a man, and I shall ask you, and you inform Me!” (Job 38:3). God could have rebuked Job for failing to provide a complete repentance. Instead, God was patiently teaching Job until Job could come to his own realization.
God is patient and long-suffering with mankind. We can also give thanks that if a celebrated hero of the faith like Job can question God without being condemned, God also won’t condemn you for your struggles in your faith. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9). Peter also denied Jesus three times during a crisis in his faith (Matt. 26:57-75; 27:1; Mk. 14:53-72; 15:1; Lk. 22:54-71; Jo. 18:13-27). God saw these people not as the sinners that they were but as the heroes of the faith that they would become. God is also patient with you and sees you as the person of faith that you will become through your trials. This is one of the many reasons to stop and praise God for being patient and long-suffering with us.
God calls upon you to be patient as He molds you for His greater plans. Job had previously asked God to let him die (e.g., Job 6:8-9; 7:15-16; 10:1). God did not tell Job why he had to suffer. Nor did He reveal His plans to restore Job in the future. God also forced Sarah and Abraham to wait 25 years in the Promised Land before He transformed her 90-year-old womb to allow her to conceive Isaac (Gen. 17:17). David would also have to wait to become king as God molded Him as a servant within Saul’s court. He would then suffer under Saul’s rule. Yet, God uses suffering to mold believers for His greater glory: “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (Is. 48:10; Ps. 66:10; Zech. 13:9(a); Dt. 8:2-3). God also wants you to be patient as He molds you: “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” (Ps. 37:7). “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.” (Ps. 40:1(b)). “I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.” (Ps. 130:5). Even when you don’t know God’s plan for you and things seem hopeless, will you patiently wait for God and His timing?
God puts you through trials so that you may rely upon Him. After the Jews had escaped from Egypt, Moses explained that God frequently tests His people: “for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” (Ex. 20:20(b); Dt. 8:2). David also warned that even the righteous are not beyond God’s testing: “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked . . .” (Ps. 11:5). “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, . . .” (Jer. 17:10). God’s testing and discipline are done out of love (Heb. 12:6). When you are tested, you may find that your heart has hidden anger, lust, or covetousness. When God exposes wickedness, He expects you to repent of it: “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). David invited God’s testing to show him where he needed to change (Ps. 139:23). Your trials produce perseverance and endurance: “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;” (Ro. 5:3). “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (Jam. 1:2-3). Paul faced a similar trial when he faced death in Asia. He advised that God put him through trials so that he would rely upon Him and not his own strength: “8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; . . . He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,” (2 Cor. 1:8-10). God uses trials to prepare you for even greater conflicts to come. Are you turning to Jesus to build up your faith and deliver you during your trials?
Jesus sometimes takes you into the wilderness so that you will listen. In Hosea 2:14, God says “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her.” Sometimes life becomes so busy that you can’t hear the Holy Spirit’s direction. Sometimes, He must pull you into the wilderness before you will listen. If every minute of your day is filled with activity, how much time does He have to speak with you?
God challenged Job for questioning His divine justice. In response to Job’s complaints as to God’s fairness, God challenged Job to state whether he would now condemn Him: “8 Will you really nullify My judgment? Will you condemn Me so that you may be justified?” (Job 40:8). “Rather than ask more questions about nature, God now confronted Job about his not-so-veiled statements concerning divine justice and his innuendos that God was apathetic and uninvolved in the administration of His world. After the initial questions God ordered Job to enforce the laws and punish the wicked. Only then would God relinquish to Job His role as Savior . . . Job surely would not have said that God was unjust, but in places (e.g., 9:24) he came close to discrediting divine justice.” (Robert Alden, The New American Commentary, Vol. 11, Job (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 393). “Job has already admitted that he is not in God’s league when it comes to understanding the world of nature or caring for the animal creation. Now God says, ‘What about the moral realm? That is the realm you have been charging me with fault in. Can you handle that? Are you able to put me in the wrong in this area of morality and justice and fairness?”’ (Ray Stedman on Job 40).3
Job had repeatedly questioned whether God had been fair to him. In his uncertainty, Job had sadly questioned God’s fairness to him: “Behold, I cry, ‘Violence!’ but I get no answer; I shout for help, but there is no justice.” (Job 19:7). “Is it right for You indeed to oppress, to reject the work of Your hands, and to look favorably on the plan of the wicked?” (Job 10:3). “The earth is handed over to the wicked; He covers the faces of its judges. If it is not He, then who is it?” (Job 9:24). “The tents of the destroyers prosper, and those who provoke God are secure, whom God brings into their power.” (Job 12:6). “Why do the wicked still live, grow old, and also become very powerful?” (Job 21:7). Job should have been less interested in justifying himself. “Throughout Job’s questioning of God, it could be said that he seemed more concerned with the defense of his own integrity rather than God’s. This was natural (Job’s integrity was under harsh attack), but not good. We might say that Job fell into the trap of thinking that because he couldn’t figure God out, that perhaps God wasn’t fair. Yet in this larger section of God’s revelation of Himself to Job, God has demonstrated that there are many things that Job doesn’t know, and therefore was not a fit judge of God’s ways.” (David Guzik on Job 40) (italics in original).4 Job’s protests posed an additional problem. He could have undermined the faith of another believer or turned a potential convert away from God: “God must prove to be true, though every person be found a liar, as it is written: ‘So that You are justified in Your Words, and prevail when You are judged.”’ (Ro. 3:4).
Job was not the only man of God to question God’s fairness. Job was not alone in raising these questions. Jeremiah raised similar questions. “Righteous are You, LORD, when I plead my case with You; nevertheless I would discuss matters of justice with You: Why has the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease?” (Jer. 12:1). Habakkuk expressed a similar lament: “Your eyes are too pure to look at evil, and You cannot look at harm favorably. Why do You look favorably at those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?” (Habakkuk 1:13). While Job lacked the benefit of scripture, neither Jeremiah nor Habakkuk had this excuse. But God still showed them grace.
Mankind repeatedly questions God’s justice. Throughout history, there have been countless people who have rejected God because they have alleged that a real God would not allow evil and suffering. Or, people will invite a god who conforms to their beliefs. Like Job, all of these people will be confronted one day by their statements. The problem of evil and suffering is not with God, it is with mankind. “And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil.” (Jo. 3:19). God could have made mankind to be perfect robots. But He instead gave every person free will to choose between good and evil. When someone around you calls God unfair, will you be God’s light to the lost?
God is just and will judge evil. Because God is just, He will one day judge evil: “But the LORD of hosts will be exalted in judgment, and the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness.” (Is. 5:16). “He does not keep the wicked alive, but gives justice to the afflicted.” (Job 36:6). “He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD.” (Ps. 33:5). “For the LORD loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.” (Ps. 37:28). “The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.” (Is. 33:5). Among your many reasons to praise God, you can give thanks that He will avenge any wrong against you.
Jesus will reign with justice and righteousness and one day judge evil. God promised that David’s line would lead to the Messiah, who would reign with eternal justice and righteousness and judge evil: “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, ‘When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’”’ (Jer. 23:5-6). “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” (Is. 9:6-7). “A throne will even be established in lovingkindness, and a judge will sit on it in faithfulness in the tent of David; moreover, he will seek justice and be prompt in righteousness.” (Is. 16:5). Jesus was born into the line of David (Matt. 1:1). He came to fulfill God’s covenant with David as the eternal King of Kings: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (Lk. 1:32-33). “And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.’” (Rev. 19:16). You can also give thanks that you will forever live under His righteous reign where you will be protected from every kind of evil.
God’s plan is beyond our full comprehension. Mankind is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). Yet, we can never fully understand the complexity of the mind of the Creator of the universe: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8). Like Job, we can ask questions of God. But God is not required to give an answer. His answers to our questions may be beyond our understanding. As one example, between 1845 and 1849, Ireland suffered from the “Great Famine”. In 1844, Ireland had 8.4 million people. Yet, by 1851, the population dropped to 6.6 million. Approximately one million people died of starvation, typhus, or other diseases related to famine.5 The Irish were a God-fearing nation, and there was no wide-spread sin. A believer at that time might rightly ask why God would allow the Irish people at that time to suffer so much. Yet, God had a bigger plan that persons living at that time could not have understood. During this time, approximately two million devout Irish persons emigrated abroad. They brought their faith with them and helped to spread the Gospel. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Ro. 8:28). Will you trust God, even when the reasons for your trials are unknown?
Be righteousness and Jesus’ source of justice. You are Jesus’ ambassador (2 Cor. 5:22). You further represent His light (Matt. 5:14). Thus, He calls upon you to be blameless and righteous (Phil. 1:11). He further desires that you be the instrument for His justice (Dt. 16:20). This means that you should care about the oppressed and those in need (Prov. 31:9; Ps. 82:3; Dt. 10:18). How are you helping those in need or the oppressed?
God challenged Job as to whether he had God’s divine power. Because Job questioned God’s moral order, God challenged Job whether he had the power to rule over creation: “9 Or do you have an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like His?” (Job 40:9). God’s hand had stretched out the stars with His arm: “Assuredly My hand founded the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand together.” (Is. 48:13). He is so powerful that His voice is like thunder: “the God of glory thunders, . . .” (Ps. 29:3). “The LORD thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice.” (2 Sam. 22:14). There is simply no one like Him.
Satan wants people to think that they can be like God. One of Satan’s first lies was the promise to Eve that she could become like God if she ate from the forbidden fruit: “For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5). Satan has even deluded entire religions with his incredible lie. In June of 1840, Lorenzo Snow, the fifth President of the Church of Latter Day Saints, declared: “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”6 Satan wants people to turn their worship away from God to him (Is. 14:14).
There is none like God. God later answered His question. There is no other God besides Him: “I am the LORD, and there is no one else; there is no God except Me. I will arm you, though you have not known Me,” (Is. 45:5). “You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him.” (Dt. 4:35). Only His hand has the power to save us: “‘See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can save anyone from My hand.” (Dt. 32:39).
Because we are not like God, we have no right to question Him. Believers should trust that God has greater plans for us in the midst of our suffering (Ro. 8:28). It is not our place to question His plans for us: “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker— A piece of pottery among the other earthenware pottery pieces! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?” (Is. 45:9). “On the contrary, who are you, you foolish person, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does the potter not have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one object for honorable use, and another for common use?” (Ro. 9:20-21). “God is about to show Job his inability to govern the world and administer judgment among men, so as to rule them morally, from his acknowledged inability to govern the more formidable animals of the brute creation. If he cannot restrain them, how is it likely that he will be able to tread down the wicked in their place? And if he cannot hold the wicked in check and compel them to submission, how, any more, can he protect himself from their violence? How can he save himself from the outbursts of their fury? Or, if not save himself from them, how much less can he deliver himself from the hand of God? If he cannot hide them in the dust together, and bind them (i.e., restrain the threatenings of their rage in the hidden world) in the secret prison-house, how much less can he save himself, and be independent of the help of a savior?” (Ellicott’s Commentary on Job 40:8).7
God challenged Job to humble the wicked and deliver himself. Because Job questioned when he saw so many unpunished sinners when he suffered, God challenged Job to punish the wicked and deliver himself from his suffering: “10 Adorn yourself with pride and dignity, and clothe yourself with honor and majesty. 11 Let out your outbursts of anger, and look at everyone who is arrogant, and humble him. 12 Look at everyone who is arrogant, and humble him, and trample down the wicked where they stand. 13 Hide them together in the dust; imprison them in the hidden place. 14 Then I will also confess to you, that your own right hand can save you.” (Job 40:10-14). God again wanted Job to come to the realization that only God can correct injustice and deliver His people.
Trust in God to right your wrongs and judge evil. God wanted Job to trust Him to address every wrong and to judge the wicked: “Job had complained that God did not see crime and therefore did nothing about it (12:6; 24:1-2). Now, God summoned Job to look for ‘every proud man’ and appropriately ‘humble him.’ . . . The conclusion of this summons was God’s willingness to terminate His role as Savior and allow Job to save himself. Its intent also was to bring Job to the logical conclusion that the same God who created and controls the universe is and must be the Savior and Lord. The prospect of having to save yourself ought to be frightening, since the possibility is nil according to other parts of the Bible (Pss. 3:8; 62:2; Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5-6).” (Alden p. 394-5). “The imperatives in vv. 10-11 that call on Job to display the attributes of deity are obviously intended to prove to him how helpless he is against the reality of the forces of evil in the world. Verse 14 places the emphasis on salvation from evil. The message is that Job’s right hand cannot save but God can. Indeed, if Job could do what he had claimed God had failed to do, then he did not need God at all – a horrible implication since Job had never denied God was Sovereign. Job’s problems stem from that very belief . . . Job thus needed to acknowledge God not only as Creator but as Savior (v. 14b). It is precisely these two attributes of God that stand behind the Yahweh speeches.” (Frank Gaebelein, Elmer Smick, The Expositor’s Bible Comm., Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kings, 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Zondervan Publishing House 1988) p. 1048).
Praise God for His splendor and majesty. God told Job to “Adorn yourself with pride and dignity, and clothe yourself with honor and majesty.” (Job 40:10). Only God has this honor. Thus, He deserves your praise: “Bless the LORD, my soul! LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty,” (Ps. 104:1). “The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; the LORD has clothed and encircled Himself with strength. Indeed, the world is firmly established; it will not be moved.” (Ps. 93:1).
Trust God to right the wrongs committed against you. Like Job, God also wants you to trust Him to discipline those who have harmed you and others in society: “The proud look of humanity will be brought low, and the arrogance of people will be humbled; and the LORD alone will be exalted on that day. For the LORD of armies will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is arrogant and haughty, and against everyone who is lifted up, that he may be brought low.” (Isaiah 2:11-12). “And You save an afflicted people; but Your eyes are on the haughty whom You humiliate.” (2 Sam. 22:28).
God challenged Job to subdue a creature called the “Behemoth”. To show that Job could trust God, God asked if there was any person with the ability to subdue the Behemoth: “15 Behold, Behemoth, which I made as well as you; He eats grass like an ox. 16 Behold, his strength in his waist, and his power in the muscles of his belly. 17 He hangs his tail like a cedar; the tendons of his thighs are knit together. 18 His bones are tubes of bronze; His limbs are like bars of iron. 19 He is the first of the ways of God; let his Maker bring His sword near. 20 Indeed the mountains bring him food, and all the animals of the field play there. 21 He lies down under the lotus plants, in the hiding place of the reeds and the marsh. 22 The lotus plants cover him with shade; the willows of the brook surround him. 23 If a river rages, he is not alarmed; He is confident, though the Jordan rushes to his mouth. 24 Can anyone capture him when he is on watch, can anyone pierce his nose with barbs?” (Job 40:15-24). The identity of the Behemoth “בּהמוֹת” is the subject of intense conjecture. God used this massive creature and the Leviathan (Job 41) to demonstrate to Job that there are forces of evil that only He can subdue. Thus, Job needed to trust in God for his deliverance. We also must trust in God for our deliverance.
Was the Behemoth a hippopotamus? Many modern day commentators believe that the Behemoth was a hippopotamus. After the elephant and some rhinoceros, the hippopotamus is the third largest land animal. They fit a number of the criteria for the description in Job. They are grass-eating herbivores (Job 40:15). They mostly dwell in marshes (Job 40:21-22). In fact, the name Hippopotamus comes from the Ancient Greek ‘river horse’. They are also difficult to subdue (Job 40:24). They can approximately weigh 1,800 kg or 4,000 pounds. They have long, thick, razor-sharp canine teeth, or tusks. They can also outrun humans, and they are aggressive creatures. The Hippopotamus kills more humans in Africa than any other animal.8 Yet, some commentators object that they do not have a “tail like a cedar.” (Job 40:17). Others suggest that this was really an elephant, and the tail was its trunk. Still others suggest that the tail was a veiled reference to the animal’s male appendage. In support of this alternative, the Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible translation refers to the second half of verse 17 to reference the animal’s testicles: “He setteth up his tail like a cedar, the sinews of his testicles are wrapped together.”9 The famous Jewish Rabbi “Rashi” also adopts this translation.10 But a bigger problem is that the Hippopotamus was not “the first of the ways of God,” (Job 40:19) meaning God’s mightiest animal creation. Most importantly, the point of this passage was to suggest that God created an animal that no human could subdue but Him (Job 40:24). One only needs to walk into a zoo to see that mankind can indeed subdue the Hippopotamus. The same problem exists with the elephant. Humans can hunt, capture, and kill either animal.
Was the Behemoth an extinct animal, like a dinosaur? Some believe that the Behemoth was a dinosaur, possibly a Sauropod, one of the brachiosaurids. The tallest sauropod was the giant Barosaurus. It stood at 72ft (22 m) tall. (Molina-Perez & Larramendi, Dinosaur Facts and Figures: The Sauropods and Other Sauropodomorphs. (New Jersey: Princeton University Press (2020) pp. 42-267). These creatures had mighty tails. They would also have been impossible for people in almost any time to subdue. But none existed in Job’s time (believed to be after Abraham) for people to subdue. Thus, if it were a dinosaur, it would have carried little meaning to him and others in his time.
Was the Behemoth a spiritual creature? According to Jewish legend, the Behemoth was a primordial land monster that could not be defeated. According to the non-canonized book of Enoch, God created “two monsters”, “a female monster, named ‘Leviathan,’ to dwell in the depths of the ocean over the fountains of the waters; but the male is called ‘Behemoth,’ who occupies with his breast a waste wilderness named ‘Dendain,’ on the east of the garden [of Eden], where the elect and the righteous dwell.”11 Because Leviathan in the next chapter is understood by many to reference the devil and because both creatures come after God’s discussion regarding His divine justice, some scholars endorse a spiritual interpretation for this creature: “The concentration on these two awesome creatures, placed as they are after the assertion of the Lord’s justice and maintenance of moral order, lends weight to the contention that they are symbolic thought their features are drawn from animals like the hippopotamus and crocodile . . . the Accuser cannot be openly mentioned here without revealing to Job information he must not know if he is to continue as a model to those who also must suffer in ignorance of God’s explicit purpose for their suffering.” (Gaebelein, Smick, p. 1048, 1049). The apostle John saw a “beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten crowns, and on his heads were blasphemous names.” (Rev. 13:1). The dragon (aka, Satan or Leviathan) gave it its power: “And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne, and great authority.” (Rev. 13:2). Adopting this interpretation, one author argues that the Behemoth is a Satanic influence in the world that controls people of the flesh: “What God, then, is setting before Job is a very pertinent question for all of us: ‘Are you able to handle the enemy within, and the enemy without, especially that malicious being who is behind them all -- the world, the flesh, and the devil?”’ (Ray Stedman on Job 40).12
William Blake (1757-1827) “The Book of Job - 15” (engraving 1826)13
Trust Jesus to deliver you. God challenged Job to deliver himself (Job 40:14). God later revealed that deliverance is not possible without Jesus. Without faith in His atoning sacrifice, deliverance is not possible. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim. 2:5). If you believe that you are going to heaven because you have been a good person, Jesus died needlessly (Gal. 2:21).
Image credit: William Blake: The Book of Job - 15 (artbible.info)↩︎