At the beginning of chapter 40 God repeated his initial question to Job; let him who curses God answer Him. Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? God used language that reflected Job’s desire to take God to court and argue his case. They are in court but it is God who is asking all the questions, not Job. In chapters 38-39 God presented His case. Now it was Job’s turn to respond. But Job has no case to present. Job’s brief and humble response does not acknowledge guilt but he does admit his insignificance. Job’s first words to God…I am unworthy. Other translations have Job saying I am nothing, or vile. Job is admitting he has no right to debate with God. Back in chapter 21 Job had asked his friends to cover their mouths. Now Job had to put his hand over his mouth to prevent himself from saying something he shouldn’t. And…Job had nothing more to say. Until we are silenced before God, He cannot do for us what needs to be done. As long as we defend ourselves and argue with God, He cannot work for us and in us to accomplish His plan through us. However, Job is not broken yet. He is silent but not at the place of true repentance yet so God continues on with His speech to Job.
God had already confronted Job with the vastness of His creation and He left Job nearly speechless. Now God selected two of His creatures and asked Job to consider them. Clearly the broad sweep of God’s creation was way too much for Job to process. Better to look at just two creatures. It is as if God was saying…here are my two best creatures. What might you do with them? Really the issue wasn’t so much about the power of God but His justice. Remember Job had said God was unjust in the way He treated Job and in the way God failed to judge the wicked. Now God has asked Job…do you have the strength and the holy wrath it takes to judge sinners? If so, then start judging them. Humble the proud and crush the wicked. You have claimed to be able to do a better job at this than I so knock yourself out. Before God could turn Job loose however, Job needed to practice. God gave him the hippopotamus and the crocodile. If Job could subdue them, then he would be qualified to judge men in the sinful world.
Behemoth is a Hebrew word that means super-beast and most agree this is the hippo. Others have suggested the elephant or the water Buffalo. God reminded Job that He was the creator of both Job and the hippo, even though they were very different. Job could not tame them but God who made them, could. The hippo ate grass and was very strong while Job ate fine food and was very weak. The hippo has a powerful body, with strong muscles and bones like iron rods. But man’s body was weak and easily damaged. Hippos lounge along the River and man has to work to earn his daily bread. Nothing frightened a hippo. In Job’s day it was nearly impossible to capture a hippo yet it was easy to capture a man. How then could Job possibly prove to God that he was capable of anything. It didn’t get any better for Job with the second animal, the crocodile or leviathan. The Hebrew root word for crocodile means to twist or writhe. Many used the word leviathan for sea monsters that may or may not have inhabited the Mediterranean. In mythology the leviathan was a many headed monster that ruled the waters and feared no man. God’s question for Job…can you capture the leviathan? And what would you do if you did? They do not make good pets. No merchant would buy one that was still alive. And they are not the sort of animal you would even think of trying to train. And if you try, you will only try once. So, Job, if you cannot do this either how will you ever be able to stand before me? God has painted a very vivid picture of these two beasts. The crocodile has armor so strong it can go anywhere without fear. And the hippo has strength that will destroy.
Now Job knows for certain; he has been beaten. He could answer no questions and his case seemed paper thin at best. And Job admitted God is sovereign. He can do anything. Nothing is too hard for God. Nothing can thwart His plan. Now Job sees crystal clear how much he is unlike God. He admitted he had been wrong and he had spoken about things he didn’t understand. Job withdrew his accusations that God was unjust and not treating him fairly. And in a sentence we all need to be reminded of, Job acknowledged that whatever God does is right, and we accept it by faith. Job could not answer any questions. All he could do was confess his sins, his pride, humble himself, and repent. Up until this point Job knew of God but he didn’t have direct knowledge. Now he did. Job had encountered God personally and now saw himself as nothing but ashes and dust.
In the climax of the Book of Job, Job the sinner became the servant of God. Four times God calls him ‘my servant’. How did Job serve God? By enduring suffering and not cursing God, thereby silencing the evil one. Suffering in the will of God is a ministry that God gives to a chosen few. Job suffered because God wanted to prove Job’s integrity to the evil one. God’s own judgement of Job was positive from start to finish. His reactions are normal. He does not stand like a rock in reverent stoicism as though the trials did not affect him. But Job also doesn’t broadcast heroic defiance of his troubles as though they could never bring him down. Job rages, protests, moans, and vacillates between confidence and despair. But Job never gives up. He does not curse God and he does not make a false confession of guilt in the hope that God will then let up on him. And although Job doesn’t understand his situation, he knew that his answer would be found in God.
Job the servant became Job the intercessor. God was angry with Job’s three friends because they had not told the truth about Him. Because of this they had to be reconciled to Job so he could pray for them. Job became the referee between God and his three friends. And by forgiving his friends and praying for them Job brought blessing back to his own life. You see, we only hurt ourselves when we refuse to forgive others. Job ended up with twice as much as he had before. Remember, God created humans in order to bless them, not curse them. We see that once Job’s fortunes were restored the friends and family he had previously, were once again willing to come around. They brought money for a restoration fund but it may also have been money to honor and seek the favor of an honorable and influential man. They may even have brought money to assuage disfavor. And if God doubled everything then Job must have been 70 years old when disaster struck.
The names of Job’s daughters reflected their beauty. Jemimah means dove, Keziah means cinnamon flower and Karen-happuch means horn of antimony, which refers to a lustrous container used for cosmetics. In the East parents rejoiced at the birth of sons but beautiful daughters brought great pride. Job put his three daughters in his will, something quite unheard of at the time. Daughters normally only inherited when there were no male heirs. This may well have shown Job’s super abundant prosperity. Only an extremely wealthy man could afford to pass some of his wealth along to the families his daughters would marry into. To die old and full of years was every persons goal. It means more than just a long life. It also means a rich and full life that ends well. This is the way Abraham and Isaac died and King David as well.
We have come to the end of Job’s story. It is the story of some of us as well. It is the story of Sovereign God who loves his broken and sinful creation. In the a book of Job we have seen the majesty and glory of God. And we have seen that God and God alone can be God. We are His creation and that should be more than enough for us.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W