It really is an awesome thing that God would take interest in people or in an individual person. That’s exactly what happens in Job chapters 38-42. God speaks to Job. What statement does God make?
God asks, “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, so that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it” (38:13)? Obviously, the answer Job has to give is “um, no; no I have not commanded the morning since my days began.” God has.
God asks Job, “Who has cut a channel for the torrents of rain, and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no one lives, on the desert, which is empty of human life, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground put forth grass” (38:25-27)? Job must answer, if he is truthful, “You have done that, God.”
Throughout the conversation, it repeatedly established that God is God, and Job is not. God is talking about awesome features of the creation, places inaccessible to man (e.g. “the storehouses of snow” – 38:22). Even the example of rain in the desert (v.25-27) shows God involved with the earth completely independent of man. God has interest in this planet God made. God does not need man’s advice or help. In all that is said in Job 38-42, God never mentions human beings as God discusses the creation.
Leo Perdue of
J. Gerald Janzen of Christian Theological Seminary looks at the same evidence. In Job 38-41, God speaks of creation, but never mentions mankind. However, Janzen’s conclusion (in the book Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching: Job) based on what is happening in the book of Job is different than Perdue’s. Janzen thinks the speech raises the importance of humans in God’s view because while humanity is not accounted for, the conversation is with a person. God doesn’t talk about men and women, but he talks to a man!
So which scholar gives a more helpful reading of Job 38-41? I think both contribute to our understanding of what God is saying. Perdue shows what we all know implicitly but sometimes need to be reminded of. God is God and we are not. God doesn’t exist to meet our needs. God is creator of a world that overwhelms us and it is an act of God’s grace that God would ever deign to speak to a person. Janzen points out that God does in fact extend that grace in the speech to Job! Job has longed for an audience with the divine and he gets it. He is not told why he suffers, but he hears from God, he lives, and in the end (Job 42), his blessings are restored.
Of the many conclusions I draw from the book of Job, one is this. We in 21st century