19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
and where is the place of darkness,
20 that you may take it to its territory
and that you may discern the paths to its home?
21 You know, for you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!
22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war?
24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
25 “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
and a way for the thunderbolt,
26 to bring rain on a land where no man is,
on the desert in which there is no man,
27 to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
and to make the ground sprout with grass?
28 “Has the rain a father,
or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb did the ice come forth,
and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
30 The waters become hard like stone,
and the face of the deep is frozen.
31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
or loose the cords of Orion?
32 Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
or can you guide the Bear with its children?
33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you establish their rule on the earth?
34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
that a flood of waters may cover you?
35 Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
36 Who has put wisdom in the inward parts
or given understanding to the mind?
37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
38 when the dust runs into a mass
and the clods stick fast together?
39 “Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40 when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in their thicket?
41 Who provides for the raven its prey,
when its young ones cry to God for help,
and wander about for lack of food?” – Job 38:19-41 ESV
God finally speaks. Job has heard from his three friends and Elihu, the young, arrogant upstart. But now he hears from the only one who matters; God Himself. And God’s response is full of not-so-subtle sarcasm as He peppers Job with rhetorical questions designed to accentuate His divine nature. He starts out His response to Job by saying, “Brace yourself, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them” (Job 38:3 NLT). God tells Job to brace himself like a man because He has a few questions for him. “Who are you…?” “Where were you when…” “Have you ever…?” “Can you…?” “Do you know…?”
At one point, God’s sarcasm becomes painfully clear and pointed. He sardonically states, “But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced!” (Job 38:21 NLT).
God is questioning Job’s right to question Him. Who is Job, a mere man, to question the intentions and integrity of the holy, righteous, all-powerful, God of the universe? Every one of His questions is a statement of His sovereignty and superiority. He is providing Job and his four friends with a much-needed reminder of His surpassing greatness. God’s emphasis on nature is intended to get Job’s focus off of himself. His myopic and rather morbid perspective has tainted his view of God, and produced faulty reasoning and a fragile faith.
“The function of the questions needs to be properly understood. As a rhetorical device, a question can be another way of making a pronouncement, much favoured by orators. For Job, the questions in the Lord’s speeches are not such roundabout statements of fact; they are invitations, suggestions about discoveries he will make as he tries to find his own answers. They are not catechetical, as if Job’s knowledge is being tested. They are educative, in the true and original meaning of that term. Job is led out into the world. The questions are rhetorical only in the sense that none of them has any answer ventured by Job. But this is not because the questions have no answers. Their initial effect of driving home to Job his ignorance is not intended to humiliate him. On the contrary the highest nobility of every person is to be thus enrolled by God Himself in His school of Wisdom. And the schoolroom is the world! For Job the exciting discoveries to which God leads him bring a giant advance in knowledge, knowledge of himself and of God, for the two always go together in the Bible.” – Francis I. Andersen,
By drawing Job’s attention to the wonders of creation, God is showcasing His power and providential care. There are wonders surrounding Job that reveal just how great and good God really is. The presence of light and dark are the handiwork of God. From the human perspective, these elements simply appear in the sky and little thought is given as to their source. But God demands that Job explain where light comes from and where the darkness goes in the morning. Then He sarcastically adds, “But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced!” (Job 38:21 NLT).
God is not being mean; He is simply driving home the extents of the vast gulf between His own reality and man’s infallibility. He wants Job to contemplate the inconceivable greatness of the One who controls the entire universe and all it contains, including Job.
Job wants answer from God. He demands to know the source of his own pain and suffering, but God asks him, “Where is the path to the source of light? Where is the home of the east wind?” (Job 38:24 NLT). God is letting Job know that there are greater questions to consider other than the ones he keeps asking. If Job wants to understand the nature of his circumstances he needs to know his God, and a quick look at the creative order would provide Job a masters-level course in theology.
King David had graduated with honors from God’s divine school of wisdom, having learned the lessons of God’s greatness found in the world around him.
The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world. – Psalm 19:1 NLT
And it was Jesus who used nature to teach His disciples the wonder of God’s providential care so that they might understand His unwavering faithfulness and their need for enduring faith.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” – Matthew 6:25-30 NLT
God turns Job’s attention to the clouds that produce rain, ice, hail, thunder, and lightning. These everyday, commonplace meteorological events are not the result of chance but are the handiwork of God. The very presence of rain is a reminder of God’s faithfulness. Without it, nothing on earth would survive. Yet, God can turn life-giving rain into crop-destroying hail. He can transform a gentle rain into a torrential, flood-producing downpour that takes away life and livelihood. These kinds of occurrences are an inexplicable yet inescapable part of life on this planet, and so is human suffering.
God’s point seems to be that there are some things men will never fully comprehend. Despite our modern scientific capabilities and our incessant obsession with solving the riddle of the universe’s creation, there are certain aspects of God’s creative order that will remain a mystery to us. Job was earth-bound and suffered from a limited understanding of the heavens. He could see the stars and even know some of them by name, but he could not explain their existence or comprehend the magnitude of their number.
In a sense, Job had been trying to give God directions concerning the future of his own life. He wanted to provide the God of the universe with some helpful guidance regarding his future state. But God asks Job if he has any insight into the “the movement of the stars” (Job 38:31 NLT). If Job knows that is best for himself, can he also “direct the constellations through the seasons?” (Job 38:32 NLT). And the answer is clearly, “No!”
Job has no business giving God advice. He is in no place to tell God what to do. And to ensure that Job understands that point, God asks, “Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the earth?” (Job 38:33 NLT). If the answer is no, then why does Job seem to believe he knows the laws concerning his own universe and how they should be used to regulate the affairs of his life?
Sometimes, a simple upward glance will help take our eyes off of the worries and concerns we face in this world. The prophet Isaiah echoes the words of God and provides a much-needed reminder to reminder to acknowledge the greatness of God rather than attempt to advise Him.
Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth
or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?
Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord?
Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice?
Does he need instruction about what is good?
Did someone teach him what is right
or show him the path of justice? – Isaiah 40:12-14 NLT
And Isaiah recommends that we consider a bit of star-gazing before we resort to advice-giving. God doesn’t need our recommendations, but He is worthy of our veneration.
Look up into the heavens.
Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
not a single one is missing. – Isaiah 40:33 NLT
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.