Lessons From The Whirlwind (Seven)

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It is written:

Job 38:1-Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

In Job 38-40, God asks Job some 77 questions which are designed to teach Job about His goodness (which can be clearly seen in the Creation).

“But these questions also point to God’s wisdom and care. These are not simply questions about power. Their function is not simply to remind Job of God’s power, but also to remind him of God’s wisdom and care. The questions are not arbitrary; they move from God’s creative work when he laid the foundations of the world (38:4-7) and controlled the chaotic waters (38:8-11) to his transcendence over the chaos of the wicked and death (38:12-21), control over the waters (snow, rain, rivers) of the earth (38:22-30, 34-38), and his regulation of the stars and seasons (38:31-33). The questions then move to the animal kingdom and God’s management of his living creatures. The questions are not just about knowledge but about care. God asks if Job “knows” (e.g., 39:1), but he also asks whether Job can manage this creation and care for it the way God does. Does Job hunt for the lion (38:39), feed the young ravens (38:41), give the wild donkey his home (39:6), use the wild ox in hi service (39:9-12), care for the ostrich even though she has no sense (39:12-18), and give the horse his strength (39:19)? God asks, “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom (39:26), or “does the eagle soar at your command? (39:27). Through his power God manages his creation with wisdom and care. God’s creation is not the playground of his power but the nursery of his care. The world is not out of control; God is managing it quite nicely. (John Mark Hicks, Yet Will I Trust Him: Understanding God In A Suffering World, 173-174 (emphasis added, M.T.); Joplin, MO; College Press Publishing Company)

However, God then moves in another direction with Job. He is going to show Job that He is dressing as a Divine Warrior, preparing to defend Job and save him.

Job 40:8-10-Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified? 9  Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His? 10  Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor, And array yourself with glory and beauty.

Look at how throughout the Old Testament, these ideas (God’s voice, arm, and visage) are used to describe God’s power as He goes to war to defeat His enemies and save His people.

Psalm 18:12-13-From the brightness before Him, His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire. 13  The LORD thundered from heaven, And the Most High uttered His voice, Hailstones and coals of fire.

Psalm 89:14-15-Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face. 15  Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.

Isaiah 40:30-31-The LORD will cause His glorious voice to be heard, And show the descent of His arm, With the indignation of His anger And the flame of a devouring fire, With scattering, tempest, and hailstones. 31  For through the voice of the LORD Assyria will be beaten down, As He strikes with the rod.

Ortlund notes:

“The central point in the first part of God’s second speech is that the references to his arm, voice and radiant majesty are an Old Testament way of describing his preparation for battle (vv. 9–10) against his enemies (vv. 11–13). The same combination of theophanic glory with God’s thunderous voice and upraised arm, all for the purpose of defeating those who resist his rule, is found repeatedly in the Psalms: in Psalm 18: 12–13, it is from the brightness before yhwh that coals of fire come as he thunders in the heavens against David’s enemies; in Psalm 89: 11–16, the upraised arm that scatters God’s enemies is hymned by the people walking about in the light of his presence; in Psalm 93, God is clothed with majesty, reigning high above the storming waters; in Psalm 96, splendour and majesty are before him (v. 6) as he comes to judge the earth (v. 13; this is the same ‘glory and splendour’ [hôd wehādār] in Job 40: 10b). Isaiah 30: 30 is also relevant as it describes God’s making the splendour (hôd, ‘glory’, as in Job 40: 10) of his voice to be heard and the descent of his arm to be seen as he defeats Assyria and saves Judah. Divine theophanic warfare in the Old Testament is a major way God beats back the powers of darkness and executes his blessed rule on the earth, and it is just this theme being activated in this passage. It can be easy for modern readers, unfamiliar with this idea, to revert to abstractions in explaining yhwh’s radiant theophany from the storm in these texts and assume it is only a poetic way of emphasizing divine power. While God’s power is on display in these passages, we must not miss how the theophanic display of his arm and voice shows not just divine power in a general sense but his action both to save those who trust him and to judge those who rebel. This is true in Job 40: 9–14 as well, for the reason why God is adorned with splendour and majesty, raises his arm and thunders with his voice (vv. 9–10) is to humble and judge the wicked (vv. 11–13). 14 This is the salvation God’s right arm wins (v. 14; cf. Job 26: 2; Isa. 51: 9–11). In other words, verses 9–14 show Job how God executes justice in the earth (40: 8)–the very thing Job complained that God fails to do (10: 3; 21: 7). Nor is this judgment restricted to the here and now, for it ends with these wicked being ‘hidden’ in the ‘dust’ (v. 13). 15 The ‘grave’ connotations of dust in the book of Job were already argued for in relation to its use in 19: 25, and I think they should be understood here as well. The verb ‘to hide’ can also evoke death and the underworld (in 3: 16, Job expresses his wish that he were stillborn in Sheol as being ‘hidden’ there). This means that when God describes his judgment of the wicked as ‘hiding them in the dust’, it means that his judgment of the wicked is not partial in the ways that frustrated the Preacher (Eccl. 8: 11–14). It is rather a judgment of death–as total and final as could be imagined. What complaint about a supposed lack of concern for justice can be brought against a God who acts in this way?” (Eric Ortlund, Piercing Leviathan: God’s Defeat of Evil in the Book of Job (New Studies in Biblical Theology 56), 107-108 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added); Downers Grove, IL; InterVarsity Press)

God is clearly telling Job that He is preparing for war (cf. Job 40:19).

Yet who is God going to war against?

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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