God finally ends His silence in chapter 38. God neither mentions Job’s suffering nor the reason for it. Job does not even receive the indictment he requested in 32:35; “Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!” (ESV) Rather, God holds court. Rather than Job confronting God, God confronts Job. According to the ‘Reformation Study Bible’, “Job learns he must rest his case, including his desire for vindication, in the hands of a sovereign and good God, who is not his enemy (1 Peter 4:19*). God has come not to stand in the dock but to preside over the court. Job does not confront God; the Lord confronts him.” *“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:19, ESV).
I was devastated when Evan was killed by hitting the side of the van of a negligent driver. I did not “indict” God or roil in anger. (If you remember from an earlier blog, I had already done that after the divorce from my children’s mother). I cried more during the year after Evan’s death than all the years before and since. I remember crying out to God for assistance. I did not even cry out in anger at the one who did not stop at the T-intersection. I had no place to turn except to God who had loved me through all of life’s hardships and tragedies. I vividly remember being aware of three questions that I continue to ask myself: “Who do I turn to? What can I learn?” And, “How can I use what I learn; not only for myself, but for others.
Interestingly, God never answers even one of Job’s questions. God confronts Job: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (38:2, ESV). Then, God begins to ask Job questions that he cannot answer. After two chapters of questions, God said to Job: “Shall a fault finder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” (40: 2) Job, confronted by the Almighty God, promises silence: “Then Job answered the Lord and said: ‘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.” (40:3-5) Again, God challenges Job: “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Dress for action[a] like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?” (40: 6-9)
I find myself like Job, unable to utter a response. How can I contend with God? He is Lord God Almighty, sovereign, beyond comprehending. And yet, He spoke to Job. He created all who was, is, and will be. He made provision for sin before the foundation of the world. He became the man, Jesus, and dwelt among us. He gave up His life on a cross that we might have forgiveness of sin and eternal life. How can I respond considering His greatness? I (we) live on the short sliver of eternity. Some might be appalled at God. I know those who feel so betrayed by Him that they do not know how they could ever recover their trust in Him. I do not judge or condemn them. I know a bit of their story. I have no right to condemn or look at them with anything but empathy and compassion. And, I don’t hold a candle to God, who loves and longs for them.
Thankfully, I have a sense of Job’s wonder. After being confronted by God, having listened to God’s questions and responded to God’s challenges, Job confessed: “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.” Truly remarkable. May I be like Job.