Our Big God Job 42:1-6

OK Lord, I Get It

Job 42:1-6 

Overview of Job

God allows Satan to test Job (1-2). This results in him losing his family, health and possessions. But Job remained loyal to God. (God’s description of Job in 1:1,8 hasn’t changed - Blameless, Upright, Fears God, Shuns Evil - cf 1:22.)

Job’s friends accuse him of sin (3-37) They point out that his suffering means he is guilty because righteous people don’t suffer.

Job counters by proclaiming his innocence (3-37). Furthermore, Job bitterly vents against God for unjustly punishing him and demands an opportunity to speak to God directly and set him straight.

God addresses Job’s concerns (38-39) with a stunning tutorial regarding the mystery and majesty of His creation. Unexpectedly he peppers Job with questions about the Creator and the creation. Incredibly his speech offers no explanation for Job’s suffering. Nor does God address Job’s claims of innocence or his friends’ accusations of evil. In fact, God doesn’t answer any questions! He just asked questions; and in so doing he gave the only answer Job needed: “I did what I did because I am the eternal self existent God.”

Job admits that he is small (40:1-5). God pauses (39:30). How will Job respond? Finally, Job offers a brief reply that basically is “I’m small” (40:4).

God responds by telling Job that he doesn’t get it (40:6-41:34). Essentially God says something like, “You give me only empty words. You still don’t get it! Sit down. I have more to say.” He then exposes Job’s arrogant pride in trusting in himself rather than God. (Apparently, Job thought he could govern better than God.) So, God is done speaking.

Job finally gets it (42:1-6). Now what does Job say? At last he sees that God is good as well as powerful and that only God can deliver him. He recognized that his new view of God meant that he had to change.

God restores Job’s losses (42:7-17).

When Job finally gets it:  

NAU  Job 42:1 Then Job answered the LORD and said, 2 "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. 3 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' "Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know." 4 'Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.' 5 "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; 6 Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes."

Let's look more closely at Job’s admission. Here are five didactics from this speech:

The supreme rule of God in the universe is a massive fact that has no limits or conditions 2. 

 Bedtime prayer from six-year-old Suzie… Dear God,

Before I finish, I want you to take care of mommy, take care of daddy, take care of my sister and my brother. And please, God, take care of yourself, because if you don’t we’re all sunk. Amen!

Little Suzie got it! She knew everyone was totally dependent upon God.

Job had tried to dictate terms to God. But now he has come face to face with the reality that God is both omnipotent and sovereign. He alone can triumph over evil in his creation. But he does so as He sees fit; not at the behest of mere men. This is really all Job needs to know. In a real sense, all else is non-germane. No further explanation should be necessary.

The “purpose” hM'zIm that can not be thwarted refers to God’s specific plans. In fact, the term is used to describe the evil “schemes” hatched by wicked men. You are aware that God has comprehensive plans for the universe? And, for each day of your life?

So, Job verbalizes his conclusions. Job would be the first of many who would learn this lesson; some the hard way.

Nebuchadnezzar -  Daniel 4:35 "All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'

Solomon - Proverbs 19:21 Many plans are in a man's heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand.

The Preacher - Ecclesiastes 3:14 I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him.

Isaiah - Isaiah 14:27 "For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?

Paul - Ephesians 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

The person and ways of God are clothed in deep mystery 3.  

Here we bump into another attribute of God – he is incomprehensible.

In vs 3, Job recalls/rephrases God’s question, who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge (38:2)? (note that NIV clarifies that this is a quotation this by supplying “You asked” at the beginning of v3)

Job says that then he refused to fully admit it.  Now he meekly, yet in plain sight, raises his hand – it was me, Lord. I did “darken” your counsel. I was like a blind man groping in the dark. Only here he says he “hid” his counsel (~l;[' meaning conceal). This isn’t pretty.

Further he expands his culpability by saying he was indeed utterly off base. He didn’t understand and he didn’t know! Simply put, he was in over his head – he spoke arrogantly about things he completely misunderstood. Yes, he stupidly opened his yap.

When we encounter “things too wonderful for me” it might be best to keep our opinions to ourselves. 

Job’s tardiness in fully admitting his grievous error demonstrates both the inexplicable obstinacy of man as well as the merciful patience of God 3.  

Unfortunately, we are somewhat like the disciples whom the risen Lord rebuked while walking with them on the Road to Emmas – “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe” (Lk 24:25).

I am reminded of one “Peanuts” comic strip, in which there was a conversation between Lucy and Charlie Brown. Lucy said that life is like a deck chair. Some place it so they can see where they are going; some place it so they can see where they have been; and some place it so they can see where they are at present. Charlie Brown’s reply: “I can’t even get mine unfolded.” I am a bit of a blockhead like good ole Charlie Brown.

So, why did it take Job so long? And why did God put up with it? I can’t answer these why questions satisfactorily.

But here is what I know. Job did finally confess that he didn’t know what he was talking about. He got there. He did get the deck chair unfolded.

And God waited. This is far more important than that it took Job so long. I repeat, “and God waited” - don’t you like the sound of that!

Like Job, it is possible to be a person of faith yet not live out faith fully 4-5. 

 Job recalls that God challenged him to listen and then reply (in both speeches – 38:3 and 40:7). Job says he did hear God. However, what he was hearing about God had not penetrated his very soul. He heard with his ear only, not his heart.

Finally, he says he “saw”. In vs 5 the implied “then” I heard in contrast to “now” I see is vivid. The light came on. He now sees internally from the heart. How did this happen? Can we explain it? I think not. I lean toward chalking this up to the mysterious ministry of God’s Spirit. You don’t know how, but the light comes on.

However, I have one observation. Up to this point Job’s perception of God was formed by his “tradition” – what he and all the others believed about God, namely that God prospers the godly and punishes the wicked (retribution). This sounds a lot like our current health and wealth gospel! Now, Job’s understanding of God is formed by his direct experience with God. And his conclusions are much different! (see Delitzsch 382)

Job’s ultimate response to his private tutorial by God shows us that when we personally encounter God we will be profoundly transformed 6. 

Circle “therefore”. At last what Job knows shows up in what Job does; he moves from head knowledge to heart knowledge. The reiteration of the awesome power of God is a theological exercise; but it is much more. It should revolutionize us – they way we think, the way we live, our view of God, ourselves, and the creation . This is a principle for the ages.

The text says he “retracts “. The idea is that he “despises” or now “rejects” what he had previously said (the object is not stated; must be determined by context – KJV, NIV, ESV supply “myself”; however, I think the focus is on what he said). In other words, Job repudiates his bitter complaints and prideful boasts.

And he also “repents” (~x;nO). This is not the more common word for repent that means to turn or change. This word carries an emotional flavor – remorse or sorrow. The root idea is “to breathe deeply (TWOT). So, Job is grieved over his conduct. Again, I think this refers to what he said and did.

He is not repenting of sins he committed that brought on his suffering. He is not admitting that the counselors were right. But he did have much to regret!

But just what is he “repenting” of? Could it be something as simple as his view of God? He is deeply grieved that he saw his God as so small! To me this is the key. Things dramatically changed for Job when he saw the awesome grandeur of God. He wonders how he could have missed it. If he only would have seen the bigness of God he would never have questioned the goodness of God nor would he have bitterly complained about his circumstances.

Why the “dust and ashes”? It probably alludes to the fact that he was sitting on the city dump ash heap scraping his sores (2:8). Perhaps this is Job’s way of graphically acknowledging that God was completely just and good in assigning him this awful lot in life. “I don’t like the excruciating pain of life in the city dump but it is from the good hand of God.”

But there is another interesting thought. In addition to “repent”, the term also often means “comfort or console”. So, is Job now saying that after his meeting with God he no longer sees him as an unjust bully? He now sees him as the good God who loves him. Thus, he is consoled by this new insight! And, even though he is still suffering, he rejoices in his God!

Whatever the case, never forget this: I can not exit God’s presence the same as when I entered.

Questions for thought:

 How big is your God?  Big enough to bring catastrophic events into your life?

How good is your God? Is He still worthy of your praise and worship?

How big are you? Over what do you have control? I suspect not much except how you respond.

How good are you? By whose standards – God’s or yours? Do you deserve health, life, or wealth?

Job was not the author of Psalm 77, but it sure reads as if he could have penned it.  

ESV Psalm 77:7 "Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? 8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?" Selah 10 Then I said, "I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High." 11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. 12 I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. 13 Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? 14 You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. 15 You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah