Have you ever experienced a time when your life was so messed up you wanted to ask God what was going on? Job did.
Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, hat I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. (Job 23:2-4)
If you read Job 1-4 it is easy to see why he felt that way. He feared and obeyed God and God had blessed him with great wealth and with ten children. For a long time he had lived a prosperous and happy life, and then suddenly everything began to go wrong.
He lost his wealth when all of his livestock was stolen or destroyed. The house in which his children were feasting was destroyed by a great wind and all of them were killed. He contracted a disease which caused sores to break out all over his body. His wife, rather than supporting him in his troubles, urged him to curse God and die. His friends expressed the belief that he must be suffering because he had sinned. If all of those things happened to me I would certainly want to ask God what was going on.
Of course we know the reason. Satan had accused Job of being faithful to God because of the blessings he received and God had given Satan permission to test Job by taking away all the good things God had given him. Job knew nothing about this.
Finally God spoke directly to Job. Job 38:1-42:6 records their conversation. But instead of answering Job’s questions, God questioned Job. He first asked a series of questions regarding the creation of the world and then asked about the living creatures he had made to inhabit it. These were simpler questions than the ones Job wanted to ask God, yet Job wasn’t able to answer any of them. This apparently convinced Job that even if God answered his questions he wouldn’t be able to understand the answers.
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.”
But God wasn’t through with Job. He asked about two creatures called Behemoth and Leviathan, and asked whether Job was able to control or conquer them.
There is disagreement as to the identity of these beasts. Some think that Leviathan is a name for the hippopotamus and Leviathan is the crocodile. Here is part of the description of Behemoth.
He makes his tail stiff like a cedar;
the sinews of his thighs are knit together.
Here is how Psalm 104:25-26 describes Leviathan.
Here is the sea, great and wide,
which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
There go the ships,
and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.
A hippopotamus has a small tail, which doesn’t resemble a cedar tree at all, and crocodiles live in rivers, not in the ocean. Furthermore both animals are described as being too powerful for humans to kill or control. This isn’t true of either hippos or crocodiles.
What are the Behemoth and the Leviathan? I believe the correct answer can be found here:
The first series of question demonstrated God’s superior knowledge; the second showed his power. Here is Job’s response.
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“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 42:1-6)
He acknowledged that God is so far superior to humans that we have no right to question him but must submit humbly to whatever he requires of us and to the circumstances that we experience. Once he admitted this, things began to improve for him. First God told Job’s three friends that they had not spoken the truth about him but he would forgive them if Job prayed for them.
After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”
So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Lord had told them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. (Job 42:7-9)
Then he restored what had been taken from Job.
And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold. (Job 42:10-11)
(The Bible doesn’t say Job was cured of the disease that caused him to be covered with sores but I think we can assume that he was.)
Job’s experiences show us that during this life we will go through times when we have no idea what God is doing and we will simply have to trust that what he is doing is good. A time is coming when we will finally understand the experiences of this life.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
As far as we know, while he was alive Job never learned about the conversations between God and Satan that led to his troubles. Now he is in Paradise, waiting for the resurrection of his body, and I am certain that he knows all about what happened, and he probably also knows the answers to all the questions God asked him.