Job 38


‘Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ Job 38:1-3

The LORD Speaks

Job’s wish to speak with God, Job 31:35-37, at last, comes true and he probably now wishes it hadn’t. God speaks to him in a way he hadn’t imagined it would be.

He approaches Job with a series of more than 70 rapid-fire questions, similar to the approach of Eliphaz in Job 15:7ff, although Eliphaz’s questions were malicious in intent.

It is as if the Lord hammers Job to his knees, the outcome is that Job will see himself as he never had before. God’s questions are designed to emphasise two great propositions.

1. God’s sovereignty in the natural order of the universe.

2. God’s sovereignty in the moral order.

God’s questions are designed to demonstrate the concept of power. God is the One who is all-powerful, omnipotent, and therefore is in control of everything. God also has all knowledge, omniscient. Because of His great attributes, Job needs to learn to completely trust God and His ways.

Even though spoken 1000s of years ago these words have such meaning. God wants to know who is it by ignorant words that darken his counsel. Who is it that is trying to make Him and His plans look foolish? Job was told to be ready to answer God’s demands and answer His questions.

The Lord spoke to Job out of a great storm, Exodus 19:16 / Psalm 18:8-16 / Job 36:22-37:24 / Ezekiel 1:4 / Ezekiel 1:28. The four friends, and on occasion Job, haven’t had all the facts together. Their words have come from a limited understanding of things. God, however, doesn’t have that problem.

Job has boldly asked to speak with God and so, now, God gives him the opportunity. Is there something Job needs to point out to God? Is there something God has missed? Since God is perfect in knowledge, nothing has happened to Job that He isn’t aware of.

Job probably didn’t expect this type of response from God, he was probably looking for a debate, Job 40:3-5.

‘Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?’ Job 38:4-11

God now declares several aspects of His creation, all designed to contrast the knowledge and power of God with the ignorance and weakness of man.

Notice that God has power over the following in this chapter.

1. The earth, Job 38:4-7.

2. The sea, Job 38:8-11.

3. The morning, Job 38:12-15.

4. The underworld, Job 38:16-18.

5. The light, Job 38:19-21.

6. The storms, Job 38:22-30.

7. The heavens, Job 38:31-33.

8. The clouds, Job 38:34-38.

Notice that God has power over the animal kingdom, which we read about at the end of this chapter and in the next chapter.

1. Lions, Job 38:39-41.

2. Mountain goats, Job 39:1-4.

3. The wild donkey, Job 39:5-8.

4. The wild ox, Job 39:9-12.

5. The ostrich, Job 39:13-18.

6. The horse, Job 39:19-25.

7. Birds, Job 39:26-30.

Who put the finishing touches on it all in the beginning? If Job could answer he wouldn’t have much to say because he wasn’t around at the creation.

We only know what God has chosen to reveal to us. Creation is compared to a builder stretching a plumb line over a building in order to establish the perfection of what was built.

The personification of stars expresses that even that which was created, including the angels, rejoiced over the creation. God uses the figure of childbirth for the creation of the sea. The Spirit of God hovered over the waters, Genesis 1:1-2.

After the initial creation of all things, God then separated the waters from the dry land. The earth was first covered with a canopy of clouds in order to create a greenhouse effect of warmth throughout the surface of the world.

It’s clear that Job knows nothing about all of these things.

‘Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken. “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.’ Job 38:12-18

The order that’s evident with the sun, moon, stars and earth is exact, and so, demonstrates the uniformity of nature that God created among heavenly bodies.

As the sun rises, the deeds of the evil are brought to light, who says that God doesn’t take into account what the wicked are doing. Each new day brings a message of hope, God’s moral justice is good.

In the days of Job, no one had any idea that ocean springs and currents existed. In the days of Job no one had any real idea about life after death, 2 Timothy 1:10, and in the days of Job, no one had any idea that the world was round.

The questions continue to be framed to highlight Job’s lack of knowledge, and how then is he able to judge or question Him who created it.

‘What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years! “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth? “Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? Who gives the ibis wisdom or gives the rooster understanding? Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together?’ Job 38:19-38

In the days of Job, no one had any idea of the source of light from space or the limits of the darkness of space. God using irony says, ‘Oh Job, but you were there when I said let there be light’.

In the days of Job, no one had any idea of the nitrogen that snow brings to plant life. God uses His natural forces of snow and hail to fight against men, Joshua 10:11 / Revelation 16:21.

The gracious providence of God extends beyond humankind where no human lives, Matthew 6:24ff.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Four of the great constellations that adorn the heavens are mentioned here.

1. The Pleiades, are always prominent in the Spring.

2. Orion which dominates the wintry skies.

3. Ursa Major, The Bear, or Great Dipper, prominent in the northern skies.

4. The Mazzaroth, that is, the constellations. The meaning is obscure, but it is possibly the twelve Zodiacal signs or those that dominate the southern skies.

Significantly, the entire expanse of the starry heavens is brought into view here, the skies of summer and winter, and those of the northern and southern hemispheres. God is asking Job, do you have the power to alter the seasonal changes?

The point is if the stars operate by the laws there has to be a lawgiver.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The laws which control the heavenly bodies are the most sublime.’

God gave stars to be as signs, Genesis 1:24. Astrologers say they determine the destiny of people, 2 Kings 23:5 / Isaiah 47:13-14 / Jeremiah 10:21. Stars can serve as signs to get bearings for physical direction and they can serve as signs that relate to faith, Psalm 19 / Romans 1:14 / Psalm 8:3-4.

God asks, who has endowed the heavenly elements with wisdom to do the creations bidding, 1 Kings 17:1 / 1 Kings 18:45 / James 5:17-18. Some commentators suggest that God states that He put wisdom in man. Anything man knows, he knows because God put it in him.

This is a key concept in the book, and it isn’t surprising when it is found in the speeches of God. The word ‘wisdom’ is found in Job 38:36-37 / Job 39:17, and the word ‘understanding’ occurs in Job 38:4 / Job 38:36 / Job 39:17.

‘Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?’ Job 38:39-41

God is going to quiz Job on the animal kingdom here and in the next chapter. He asks Job if he installs the instincts in a lioness to hunt for her family. How does the raven provide food for its young when they cry out, Psalm 104:21 / Matthew 6:26. The raven was a despised bird but it was even fed.

God created the innate behaviour of animals in order that they provide food for themselves. Job has to admit that only God instilled this behaviour in animals.

Go To Job 39