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Chapter 38:1-18 (ESV)

Posted on June 23, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 38:1-18 (ESV) - Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
    I will question you, and you make it known to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
    or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
    and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who shut in the sea with doors
    when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
    and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed limits for it
    and set bars and doors,
and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
    and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

“Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
    and caused the dawn to know its place,
that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
    and the wicked be shaken out of it?
It is changed like clay under the seal,
    and its features stand out like a garment.
From the wicked their light is withheld,
    and their uplifted arm is broken.

“Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
    or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
    or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
    Declare, if you know all this.

Question to consider: Can you think of a time in which God has allowed you to experience disappointment or devastation in order to bring about some greater blessing?

The words of men have ended, and God finally answered Job’s prayer. Job had longed for this day to contend with God for his innocence (as if he had the ability to do so), but we can see immediately that God was not pleased with this encounter. At other times, God spoke to His people in a comforting whisper or a still small voice, but now He spoke from the midst of a tornado. 

As people who have been redeemed by Christ, we come to God as a dear child comes to their beloved heavenly father. Job, however, was treated as a fool who argued in ignorance. “So you think you want to contend with me? Well then, gird up your loins because I have a few questions for you!” Girding up your loins was an act of wrapping up the bottom edge of your tunic into your belt to free your legs for battle (or flee from battle in Job’s case).

Surely if Job thought he could contend with God regarding his ordeal, he must have mastered his knowledge of life and death and how the world works. God poetically paints a picture of the absurdity of Job’s claim. Scientists may have drawn up theories by what they can observe about the universe, but imagine if they tried to explain their theories to the one who actually created everything?

As a parent, you get an inkling of this situation when you have been confronted by your child about how your household should be run, but even a child can raise a valid objection, and a parent can act in error. However, we have no standing to object with God, and God never acts in ignorance or error so our understanding is extremely limited.

Obviously, there are those who walk away from God due to calamities far less devastating than that which Job experienced, but consider that the very ideas of justice, mercy, beauty and blessing come from God. He desired that the world be filled with good things dependent on the truth of His word, but this world was devastated by willful sin. If it wasn’t God’s desire to redeem the world from the effects of this sin, then He wouldn’t have allowed His Son to come into the world to redeem it. If Christ was willing to suffer the penalty for our sin, we should consider that our own suffering has also been necessary. I do not wish to diminish or dismiss anyone’s suffering, but I can promise you that when all has been restored, you will look back on it and praise God for allowing it in Your life.


Dear heavenly Father, please ease our suffering where possible, and where it is not possible, please help us to keep an eternal perspective on it and realize that we will one day praise You for having gone through it. Help us to encourage one another to stand firm in the promises of Christ. Amen.