Quick recap from last week: I chose to memorize God’s answer to Job during a hard season because I wanted to see more of God’s compassion and mercy (James 5:11). But as I memorized and reviewed, I mostly felt confused and as if God’s words were the opposite of comforting.
First, God answers from the whirlwind, clearly demonstrating His great power to a still disease-stricken Job. And the answer starts with a question (just one of many to come):
“Who is this who obscures My counsel with ignorant words?” – 38:2
God immediately levels any potential structures of self-produced wisdom Job (and his friends) may have been fashioning. God makes it plain that human words spoken in ignorance actually obscure His counsel. But what we know about God from His revealed Word helps us there.
“Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent…”
“But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief.”
1 Timothy 1:13b
It was like a curtain was being drawn back for me; at first God’s words had seemed harsh and unfeeling. But upon deeper reflection I realized that God rebukes ignorance and foolish words because He desires that we know and believe His truth. He wants us to live in freedom.
What truth does God go on to reveal in His answer? The things we obscure with our ignorant words. He describes how He laid the earth’s cornerstone and set the boundaries of the ocean. Interwoven into the poetic descriptions of His creation, God also proclaims His domain over matters of justice being executed toward humankind. He does this in the form of questions to Job, challenging him to acknowledge His Maker in all things, visible and invisible.
“Have you ever in your life commanded the morning or assigned the dawn its place, so it may seize the edges of the earth and shake the wicked out of it?”
“Who put wisdom in the heart or gave the mind understanding?” – 38:36
And the one that always, always, always just levels me every Tuesday when I recite these chapters:
“Get ready to answer Me like a man; When I question you, you will inform Me. Would you really challenge My justice? Would you declare Me guilty to justify yourself?” -40:7-8
I don’t remember the exact Tuesday it was when this part really hit home. But I do know that the Spirit enabled my heart to absorb this portion of the infallible Word. Every time any person lobs an accusation God’s way for being unfair, indifferent, or cosmically cruel, this is what we’re doing: declaring God Himself to be guilty to justify ourselves.
What comes after this?
“Do you have an arm like God’s? Can you thunder with a voice like His? Adorn yourself with majesty and splendor, and clothe yourself with honor and glory. Unleash your raging anger; look on every proud person and humiliate him. Look on every proud person and humble him; trample the wicked where they stand. Hide them together in the dust; imprison them in the grave. Then I will confess to you that your own right hand can deliver you.” – 40:9-14
Again, the answer every person has to give to these rhetorical questions is, “Nope.”
This leaves Job and us completely aware of our desperate need for a Mediator and a Redeemer. Job looked ahead in faith and was commended for his active and steadfast faith. Chapter 42 tells us of Job’s earthly restoration and of his death after a full life. He still died. So is it a happy ending or not? Let’s look at what we know from the whole unobscured counsel of God to figure out if the compassionate and merciful purposes are solid.
We know that Jesus never obscured God’s counsel with ignorance. He always spoke perfectly. (John 12:49-50)
We know that all of the wisdom and knowledge of God are hidden in Him. (Colossians 2:3)
We also know, amazingly, that Jesus did not challenge the Father’s plan to save us. He was humiliated and trampled into the dust. He died. He was buried. But the grave couldn’t imprison Him. Nor will it imprison those He died to save. (See: the whole New Testament:)
We know that He will return to shake all of the wicked out of the earth. He will judge all humankind on the day that God has appointed. (Acts 10:42)
And so, in His mercy, God has convinced me that His purposes are indeed compassionate and merciful. He often uses seemingly hard words to do so, but who am I to question His ways?
May I daily follow Job’s example of humility and awe in his final recorded response to God, knowing that God’s plan of salvation in Christ has not been and cannot be thwarted and that He truly is merciful.
“Then Job replied to the Lord: I know that You can do anything and no plan of Yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this who conceals My counsel with ignorance? ” Surely I spoke about things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, “Listen now, and I will speak. When I question you, you will inform Me.” 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.” – 42:1-6