First-Hand Knowledge.

I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?” Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. “Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.” I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;  therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. – Job 42:2-6 ESV

Things had not gone well for Job. He had lost everything – his health, his wealth, his children, his pride, and from his perspective, His God. Time and time again Job had cried out to God, but there had been no answer. The only thing he heard was the steady flow of accusations and bad advice from his so-called friends. Job had grown weary and despondent. He had lost all hope. He couldn’t understand why all these things had happened to him. He insisted on his innocence, but had to constantly put up with self-righteous condemnations of his friends. The only way their theology could explain Job’s predicament was to blame it on sin. From their perspective, Job was simply getting what he deserved.

But God finally broke the silence and the first thing Job heard was a question and then a warning. “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me” (Job 38:2-3 ESV). God then preceded to interrogate Job regarding his right to doubt His integrity or question His actions. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4 ESV). For two solid chapters God gives Job a lecture on the incomparable nature of His power, character and status as the Creator of all things. Then God concludes it with yet another question: ““Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it” (Job 40:2 ESV). And all Job can say in response is, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4-5 ESV). Then God goes on for another two chapters, establishing His unquestionable integrity and power. God assured Job that He was in complete control. His might had not diminished. His sovereign power was the same as it was when He created the universe. And God’s loving reprimand produced a spirit of confession and repentance in Job. He realized that he had been speaking out of ignorance, talking about things he didn’t understand. His questioning of God had been uncalled for and inappropriate. It had been disrespectful at best and rebellious at worst. Even in his pain and sorrow, Job realized he had no right to treat God with disdain or express his displeasure over how God had been treating Him. God’s ways were beyond his ability to comprehend.

It is interesting to note that everything God told Job was not new news. For the most part God simply recounted His creative powers and used nature to remind Job of His might and sovereignty. God simply gave Job a refresher course in theology. By the time God was done, Job was been reminded of the stark difference between mortal men and the almighty God of the universe. One of the great benefits of the Bible is that it provides us with wonderful stories of God’s power. It reminds us of His divine interactions with mankind and how, over the centuries, God has continued to display His power in unexpected ways. The Bible reminds us that it is risky business to judge God based on circumstances alone. Just when it all looks lost and God is nowhere to be found, we read of Him stepping in and doing incredible things to redeem and rescue His people. Difficulties are never too difficult for God. Tough times never prove too tough for Him. Moments of despair are simply opportunities for God to display His power in our lives.

Job came to a sobering realization that God was in control. He had no legitimate reason or right to question God. And even before God had done a thing to remedy Job’s problem, Job repented. He confessed his arrogant, prideful and disrespectful treatment of God. Up to that point, everything Job knew about God had been second-hand information. But now he had heard directly from God. He had first-hand knowledge. God had spoken to him and He had made His point very clear. Rather than judging God based on the circumstances happening around him, Job had learned to judge his circumstances based on what he knew about God. God was sovereign. God was powerful. God was creative. God was in control at all times. Who are we to question His actions? Who are we to doubt His integrity?