Job 38:1-18 – God Finally Speaks to Job
SummaryAfter being silent throughout the dialogues between Job and his friends, God finally speaks to Job out of the whirlwind. God does not answer their questions about Job's guilt or innocence, but rather speaks about the created order and contrasts what God can do with what humans are able to do.
AnalysisAll through the book, Job had been hoping for an audience with God. He wanted some answers directly from the Almighty. The explanations from his friends connected his suffering with some sins (known or unknown) that he had committed. Job wants God to straighten this out. If Job is innocent, God should acquit him. If he is guilty, God should tell him what is the offense so that he can confess, change, and maybe end the suffering.
God does not declare Job innocent or guilty. God changes the subject and begins to talk about the wonders of the world that God had created. God formed the earth, set its structure, put bounds to keep the sea under control, created all the heavenly bodies, and even controls the weather. All through this speech, God reminds Job--using what sounds like sarcastic asides--that mere humans could never accomplish all of this.
So, what is the purpose of this creation talk? Job remains in the dark about why he, or any human, should suffer. As often happens, we form questions for God, and when the answer comes, it does not deal directly with the questions that we raised. Perhaps the questions were unanswerable. The most common understanding of God's response is exactly this point. Job and his friends have been trying to answer a question that they can never solve. There are mysteries beyond human comprehension, such as, how to make a world or how to explain suffering. Job is advised to recognize human limits and trust that God will take care of what Job and others cannot know or do.
Further, the creation talk also suggests that one can look for signs of God's work in the created world. The order of seasons, the power of waves and storms, the beauty of trees and flowers and lakes and mountains--all point to a benevolent Creator who made and sustains this world. We can find something about God by looking carefully at the world that God has made.