Sermon on Job 38:1-11
Text: Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: 2 “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone — 7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, 9 when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, 10 when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, 11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?”
There are so many tragedies that we hear about. Names like Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Stoneman Douglas have come to our attention with school shootings that have taken place there. A storm rips through an area causing destruction of property and loss of life. A car accident happens and a young person is killed. A child gets a fatal disease. When these things happen, people start to ask questions. Maybe, you have thought them, too. Why? Why did this happen? People may even begin to question God. God, why did you let this happen? How can there be a loving God when this has happened? As we study this portion of Job, we are going to use this occasion to look at this. We look at THE MYSTERIOUS WAYS OF GOD. We will see 1. They Are Not To Be Questioned. Rather, 2. They Are Only To Be Accepted.
We begin with a quick review of Job’s story. Job was a wealthy man, who lived around the time of Abraham. Job was also a believer. When God pointed out Job’s faithfulness, the devil countered that he was only faithful because God had so richly blessed him. If he were to lose everything, he would turn his back on God. God allowed the devil to take away all that Job had. In one day, Job became destitute. He lost 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 1,000 oxen, and 500 donkeys. As if that was not bad enough, all ten of Job’s children all died on that same day. In response to this, faithful Job said, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21) Then the devil told God that Job was still being faithful, because he has his health. God allowed the devil to bring physical misery into Job’s life. He was covered with such painful sores that he used broken pieces of pottery to scratch himself, in hope of finding relief. Still, he remained faithful. When Job’s friends came to console Job, they accused Job of committing some horrible sin. If Job would repent, God would relent. Job protested their accusations. It wasn’t that he hadn’t sinned. He knew that he had. However, there was no one specific sin that God was punishing him for.
As Job’s misery continued and having been attacked by his friends, Job does get to the point where he starts to question what God was doing. In Job 13:22, Job addresses God and says, “Let me speak, and you reply to me.” Later in Job 31:35, Job said, “Let the Almighty answer me.” Job was going to call God on the carpet. He wanted some answers to what had been going on in his life. ‘God, I’ve got some questions for you. What do you have to say for yourself?’
It is here that we pick up our text. In verse 1, it says, “Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm.” In the Bible, God’s appearance is often accompanied by a storm, thus dramatizing the awesomeness of the occasion. It was a reminder of the power of God. The storm through which God spoke to Job was also a display of God’s divine glory in keeping with what he was about to say to Job.
God said to Job, “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.” (Verses 2-3) God’s opening question is a rebuke to Job’s line of questioning. Job had questioned God’s dealings with him. God said that he was obscuring God’s plans without knowledge. In other words, God was telling Job that he didn’t know what he was talking about. He was speaking “words without knowledge.” Job thought that he knew better how his life should go. However, Job didn’t know all of the facts. He didn’t know about the heavenly controversy between God and the devil. All he knew was that his life was difficult right now. He thought that God should be treating him better than he was. God said, “Brace yourself like a man.” When men of Job’s day were about to do something strenuous, they would take the bottom of their robe and tuck it into their belt. They would get ready for the arduous task at hand. In our vernacular, we may say, “Man up!” God told Job, “I will question you, and you shall answer me.” Remember that Job had wanted God to submit to his line of questioning. God goes from the accused to the accuser. ‘Job,’ God said, ‘you are going to answer my questions.’
Then God begins a series of dozens of questions that he asks Job. We have two of the sections in our text. First of all God asked, “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?” (Verses 4-7) God takes Job back to creation. He used pictures of constructing a building. He talks about the foundation, dimensions, a measuring line, footings and cornerstone. Yes, Job knew that God had created the world. However, that knowledge had not come with Job’s observation. It had been told to him. The stars and angels had been there and sang God’s praises at his creation. Job wasn’t there to see what was going on nor to advise God on how the world should be created. Since Job was unable to do these things, how could Job possibly hope to advise God now? His deficiency of the knowledge of the earth’s origins disqualified Job from governing the earth. That was God’s job.
In the next set of questions, God asked Job, “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’?” (Verses 8-11) God turns his attention to the seas. In Job’s day, there was a fear of the sea. There was so much openness. When you sailed, you generally hugged the coast. By means of these questions, God showed that he was over that which caused so much fear in the people’s eyes. He showed his almighty power over the mighty sea. Job had nothing to do with this majestic work. It was only performed by God. By means of these two sets of questions, God was telling Job that, rather than questioning God’s ways, he should accept them.
There are many things in life that God does that do not make sense to the human mind. The greatest of these is God’s plan of salvation. God didn’t ask anyone how mankind should have been saved. It certainly must have seemed to Jesus’ disciples that everything was out of control as they watched Jesus being arrested and, ultimately, put to death. We might think that there could have been some other way to rescue mankind. However, any ideas that might have been contributed would only have led to mankind’s spending their eternity in hell, because none of them could have fulfilled all that was necessary for our salvation. There had to perfection, which we do not have. Jesus lived perfectly for us. There had to be payment for sins, because God is a just God. Rather than having you and me pay for them, God punished Jesus in our place. God had to do everything for us. Otherwise, we would have been lost forever. We thank God that, in his love for us, he planned and he carried out every detail of our salvation. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we are now God’s children and have the assurance that his love is always there for us and his power is always there to care for us. We are reminded how much greater God’s plan for our spiritual and physical lives are as he said in Isaiah 55:8, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.”
However, what about those situations that we spoke about at the beginning of our sermon? How do you answer when people ask “Why?” What do you tell yourself when these questions begin to creep into your mind? There are certain things that we must keep in mind. First of all, is the fact that we live in a world that has been corrupted by sin. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, creation’s perfection was lost. Damaging storms, illnesses, and violence became a part of life here on this earth.
The second thing to keep in mind is that God is almighty. There is nothing that goes on in our world without his allowing it to happen. Things don’t get away from God. Just as he allowed those evil things to enter Job’s life, he might allow evil things to enter our life. Closely connected with this is God’s wisdom. When you and I are experiencing those tough times, we can only see them from the present point of view. God sees them from a broader point of view. Our God is in complete control.
However, this doesn’t mean that we have a fatalistic point of view of life. ‘What’s going to happen is what’s going to happen.’ Rather, we remember the one who is in control of our lives is the one who loved us so much that he sent his Son to be our Savior. He did everything necessary so that our sins would be forgiven and eternal life would be ours. Since he loved us so much that he did all of that, he will not abandon us in our time of need. We have the assurance that whatever might come our way, it will always be for our benefit, though it may not always seem that way. Remember that you and I can only see things from the here and now. God sees into our future. He knows what is the best for us. Finally, all of the evil things that happen in our lives can only make us long for that time when we will be in the eternal bliss and peace of heaven. As Paul reminds us in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
When Jesus’ disciples were battling that storm on the Sea of Galilee, it certainly seemed as though all was lost. They came to Jesus with the question, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38) Jesus showed that he did care and he calmed the storm. He had not abandoned them, as they had thought. My dear friends, remember this when you are going through the storms of your life. That same Jesus, who calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, has the ability to calm the storms that rage around you. He is there to calm your troubled mind. He will never leave you. Take comfort and find your courage in your God’s assuring words, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
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