“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
7 when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7)
Through the Bible: Job 38-39
In my Bible, the chapter heading for Job 38 is “The Lord Answers Job.” This was probably the most excited I’ve ever gotten about a chapter heading. And if this is your first read-through, you may have felt the same sense of excitement. You may have thought, “Finally! Job’s going to get some answers. God’s going to give Job a peek behind the curtain, and he’s going to be let in on the wager between God and Satan that set all this in motion. Finally, Job’s going to get some satisfaction.”
And that last part is true. Job will get satisfaction. But not because he gets an explanation. Don’t miss that the chapter heading is “The Lord Answers Job,” not “the Lord Explains Himself to Job.”
Because God doesn’t explain Himself to Job. Instead, He says, “Brace yourself. You want answers, as but I’ve got some questions for you.”
Side note: Is anyone else replaying the “You can’t handle the truth” scene from A Few Good Men right now? Just me? Ok. Let’s move on.
And for the next seventy-one verses, God grills Job. All God’s questions are variations on the theme of “Where were you when I made the world?” Not once does God offer any explanation. At the beginning of chapter 40, Job throws in the towel, like a fighter who’s ready to give up. And still God isn’t done. For two more chapters, God relentlessly questions Job.
Fun fact: The book of Job contains more questions—330!—than any other book of the Bible. Most people would assume they are coming from Job to God. In fact, God asks Job eighty-six questions! Let that sink in. These four chapters contain over a quarter of the questions. In the end, it’s God who puts Job on the stand, and not the other way around.
And yet, Job is satisfied. It’s in tomorrow’s reading, so I won’t give too much away. But it comes down to this: God’s presence is better than God’s explanation. For 130 verses, Job has one-on-one time with the God who spoke stars into existence. Who upholds the Universe by the word of His power. Who tames the wild, chaotic forces of nature. Who knows when the mountain goats give birth.
Can you even imagine the privilege? One day, you won’t have to.