BIBLE STUDIES ON SUFFERING
© Copyright Rosemary Bardsley
11. GOD'S RESPONSE TO THE SITUATION
A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF JOB
A. Things we must remember
- God's statements about Job in 1 & 2: that 'he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.'
- God's statement in 42:7 that Job spoke what was right about God.
- The devil's accusation that Job's faith lacked integrity, focusing on the blessings God gave rather than God himself.
- The sources from which the three friends got their knowledge of God: experience, tradition, and the limits of the human mind.
B. Job's conclusion about knowledge of God (28)
 Man is capable of finding treasures hidden in the earth that not even birds of prey, with their keenest of eyesight, can see, nor the strongest of animals come near (28:1-11).
 Even so (28:12-22), man is incapable of either discovering, appreciating the value of, or purchasing wisdom:
it can't be found in the depths of the oceans (14); it cannot be bought with even the most valuable of man's possessions (15-19), for none of these treasures can compare with it; it is hidden, and even the grave knows nothing about it (20-22).
 Only God understands and knows (28:23-27).
 And he has told man how to find it: 'The fear of the Lord - that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding' (28:28).This verse tells us exactly why Job was right and the friends were wrong: he was a God-fearer - a believer. That, God has said, is wisdom, and that is understanding. There was a lot about God and his working that he didn't know, but he knows God. Confronted now by the trauma of his own massive suffering he also knows this other thing: that the traditional explanation, which up to the point of his suffering he had carelessly and thoughtlessly assumed to be true, cannot be true about what God is now doing to him. He knows there has to be some other explanation.
But when God speaks, it is not with answers and explanations, but with a whole series of questions (38:2-41:34). By these questions, and their implied answers, he teaches Job.
C. What God said to Job (38-39)
 That he is the creator and sustainer:
- He was there at the beginning, Job wasn't (38:4).
- He is the great architect and builder (38:4-6).
- He set the limits (38:5,8-11).
- He keeps the whole system running (38:12).
- His creative work brought forth praise and joy (38:7).
 That he knows things that Job hasn't even thought of:
- The depths of the oceans (38:16).
- Death (38:17).
- The immensity of the earth (38:18).
- Where light and darkness come from (38:19-20).
- Where snow, hail, lightning and wind come from (38:22-24).
- The gestation periods of wild animals (39:1-4)
- Why some wild creatures are the way they are (39:5-18).
 That he does things Job cannot do:
- He forms and sends the rain, ice and frost (38:25-30).
- He created and controls the stars (38:31-33).
- He controls the floods and lightning (38:35).
- He put wisdom in man's heart and mind (38:36), but only he has enough to count the clouds (37).
- He can send rain from heaven to break the drought (38:37-38).
- He provides food for the creatures (38:39-41).
- He made the horse what it is (39:19-25).
- He commands the hawk and eagle to live as they do (39:26-30).
This self-revelation of God to Job makes no attempt to answer Job's 'WHY?' Instead it
- identifies the enormous contrast between God and man, contrasting the greatness and control of God to the insignificance and real helplessness of man; and
- draws attention to the unlimited knowledge, the incredible power, and the delicate carefulness with which God governs the world.
Thus it teaches Job that, despite what may appear, God knows what he is doing and is in control. Thus God's revelation on the one hand, vindicates Job's conviction that God is not punishing him for sin, and on the other hand, calls him on to an enlarged knowledge of God, and thus to an enlarged faith (40:4,5). Job's knowledge of God had been true; what it needed was a massive filling out of the meaning of that truth.
From 40:6 to 41:34 God points out that just as it is impossible for man to capture or subdue behemoth or leviathan so also it is impossible for Job to call God to account for his justice, or even for Job to administer justice on earth.
D. Job's response (40:4,5; 42:1-6)
God has revealed himself, making known his power and wisdom. Such a self-disclosure draws only one response from the man of faith: 'God, be merciful to me a sinner' (Luke 18:13 KJV);'Woe to me! ...I am a man of unclean lips... and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty (Isaiah 6:5); '...now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes' (Job 42:5b-6).This is always the response of faith, face to face with almighty God.