Job’s response to God’s first speech could probably be simply summed up in one word: Oops! Job says that he is nothing (NLT) or insignificant (NASB, HCSB). He has said too much and now he covers his mouth. Job says that we should not have spoken even once (40:5)! We are not God’s equal! Now God has silenced Job. Job has had many words and speeches up to this point. But now he has nothing to say but oops! We must see ourselves before the greatness of God and consider, just as Job is doing.
By showing Job that there are many phenomena in nature that humans do not understand, God shows the folly of devising a simplistic system to explain how God runs the world. Now, with all of this, we would expect this to be the end of God’s confrontation of Job. But it is not. The Lord is not done with Job. I believe we can see the reason why. Job has acknowledged his own insignificance before God. But he has not yet exalted the wisdom and knowledge God. Therefore, the Lord does not end this confrontation but continues it in Job 40:6.
You will notice that God’s challenge begins the same way it did in chapter 38. Prepare yourself because God is going to question Job and Job needs to have some answers. However, in the first speech God asked who this was who darkened God’s counsel and designs. At the beginning of this speech God asks another important question: “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (Job 40:8 ESV) A number of translation read like the NIV to help us understand God’s challenge. “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” (Job 40:8 NIV) Is Job going to condemn God so that he may be right? Are you going to say that the way God runs the world is wrong? Are you going to say that God is not a God of justice? These questions are the basis for the interrogation God will have of Job.
Do You Have The Power To Judge (40:9-14)
God begins by challenging Job since Job has questioned God’s righteousness. Can you, Job, judge the world (40:9)? Elihu observed that the thunder is the voice of God. God agrees with this picture. Job, can your voice thunder like God’s voice does in a storm? Do you have the power to judge the wicked and establish righteousness and justice? Then let’s see you do it! Exalt yourself and do it. Unleash your judgment (40:11-13)? Let’s see your superiority and might. Then I, the Lord, will admit that your power can save you (40:14).
Behold, Behemoth (40:15-24)
God then turns Job’s attention to Behemoth. Behemoth is just an English transliteration of the Hebrew word. The word seems to mean “super beast.” The descriptions given to the Behemoth indicate that it is the greatest of all the beasts of the earth. He has power in his abdomen (40:16) and legs (40:17-18). His tail is stiff like a cedar tree (40:17), which should end the notion that this is referring to a hippopotamus, along with many of the other descriptions. The Behemoth is the preeminent of the land beasts (40:19). He is so mighty that humans dare not approach him even with a sword (40:19). Only God can approach this beast! The mountains provide food for this beast and yet he also can lie in the reeds and in the marsh (40:20-22). A rushing, turbulent rivers does not phase Behemoth (40:23) and no one can take him by his eyes or nose (40:24). This is a majestic beast, one that it does not seem that we have in our creation any longer, or at least have not discovered.
But what is the point God is making? Why is God causing Job to consider the Behemoth? Go back to verse 15: “Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you.” God says that I made the Behemoth. How powerful is God if he made a beast that no human can approach but fears? What power do humans display that remotely rivals the power and strength of God? Job, what power do you have to run the world and bring righteousness when you cannot even deal with one of God’s creations?
The Lord then turns Job’s attention to another animal in God’s creation: Leviathan. This word “Leviathan” is again just a transliteration of the Hebrew word into English. Listen to the mighty and majestic descriptions of the leviathan. Can you draw him out with a fishhook or cord (41:1)? Can you put a rope around his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook (41:2)? No! Will he plead with you or speak softly to you (41:3)? No! Can you tame him so he will be your servant (41:4)? No! Can you make him a pet or play with him (41:5)? No! Can he be traded, purchased and sold to others (41:6)? No! Can you get him with harpoons and fishing spears (41:7)? No! If you try to lay a hand on him, you are going to lose your hand (41:8)! Any hope of capturing him is a false hope (41:9). You fall to the ground even at the sight of him! He is so fierce that no one tries to stir him up (41:10).
Notice in the midst of his description of Leviathan God makes a point (41:10-11). “Who then is he who can stand before me?” If no one can stand before the Leviathan, then who could possibly stand before God? Further, God asks, “Who has first given to me, that I should repay him?” This is the point that Elihu made. What does God owe you? What have you given God that you have put God in your debt? “Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine!” Job has believed that he should be rewarded for his righteousness. No person can give anything to God because everything already belongs to God. The apostle Paul quotes this verse in Romans 11:34-35 in the context of proving that God has imprisoned all to disobedience so that he may be merciful to all (Romans 11:32). You cannot give anything to God such that he owes us, not even our righteousness.
Then God returns to his description of Leviathan’s might. Look at his strength and might (42:12)! Who can open his mouth or strip off his hide (41:13-14)? His back is made of rows of shield, tightly joined together (41:15-17). He sneezes flash light and from his mouth fire breathes forth. Smoke comes from his nostrils and his breath kindles coals (41:18-21). His skin is so strong that swords, spears, darts, and javelins are useless (41:21-26). When he raises up, the mighty are afraid (41:25). He crushes everything in front of him and arrows do not make him run (41:27-28). Its underbelly is like sharp, broken pottery pieces (41:30). When he goes into the water, it causes all the depths of the sea to churn (41:31) leaving a massive wake when it moves (41:32). Nothing has an equal to Leviathan (41:33), powerful and well-protected. He stands tall and looks down on all humans (41:34).
Again, I do not think this animal exists for us today. The common idea that this is a crocodile does not work with the descriptions that are given. Some think that God is describing something mythological. The problem is that this would not make God’s point at all. Everything God has said to Job has been real. There is no reason to take Leviathan as mythological. God’s point is for Job to consider these real animals to grasp the majestic power of God.
Understanding God’s Argument
This ends the speech of God to Job. We need to stop and consider what God is saying because these are his answers to Job’s questions. Job wanted to stand before God and have an opportunity to set matters straight. God has now given his answers. How is this response an answer to suffering and how God runs the world?
Please consider that God does not defend his justice. This has been Job’s primary concern. He thinks that God has not been just toward him. But God does not defend his justice. Rather, God defends his wisdom and power. God urges us to look at the world, not on the principles of justice, but on the principles of God’s wisdom. The creation does not reflect God’s justice. But the creation does reflect God’s wisdom and power. Please remember that the apostle Paul made the same point when looking at the creation.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 ESV)
In the creation you are to behold the eternal power of God and the divine nature (God’s wisdom and intelligence). This is what God wants Job to see. This is what God wants his people to see. This is what God wants the world to see. Can you begin to grasp the power, glory, and wisdom of God?
Job Understands (42:1-6)
Notice that God has moved Job to the right response to him in 42:1-6. “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” God can do all things. Now Job defers to God’s knowledge and power. This is what you are supposed to do in suffering! Defer to God’s knowledge, wisdom, and power! God accomplishes his designs, plans, and purposes. Acknowledge God’s sovereignty and do not question his plans.
Job confesses in verse 3 that he spoke in a way that showed his ignorance. “I did not understand.” God asked, “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?” Job admits that this is exactly what he did. But now Job gets it. He had heard of God (42:5) but now he truly sees and understands God. Now I see how glorious you are! Now I see your power, wisdom, knowledge, and providential care. This is the goal of life and the purpose for suffering. Oh, that we would not just hear about God but that we would truly see God! See God in your suffering. When you see God the way you are supposed to see God, then you will respond like Job and despise yourself (42:6). We will stop elevating ourselves (our knowledge and understanding) and we will defer to God’s knowledge and understanding. Bring yourself low and exalt God.
So what is God telling us to do in suffering? God is telling us to trust him. We all can relate to Job because like Job he does not get answers for his personal suffering. In the same way, you are not going to have answers for your personal suffering. But we do not need to know God’s purposes but to trust in wisdom and power. We must trust God rather than attempting to figure out answers to our “why” questions. God says that you do not have to know any answers. Trust God. Do not trust in needing answers.
Friends, parents expect their children to trust them even when they do not give the answers because the parents are working for the good of the children. We have a perfect, loving, kind heavenly Father. We can trust him in suffering. We do not need answers. We just need God. God’s wisdom is greater than mine. God’s power is greater than mine. God’s knowledge is greater than mine. I do not need to know. I need to trust God. This is why God displays his power in the creation. God is calling for you to trust him in all that endure and experience. Trust God.