Job 38-40: God's First Speech

In Job 38-40, Job gets his wish. God speaks to Job and gives Job the chance to speak. Of course, when the Almighty asks Job what he has to say, Job is suddenly very aware of his boldness to think he could accuse God of treating him unfairly.

Introduction

Who are we that we could approach God and question His actions? We often complain about the fairness of the world and why God let this or that happen, but as Elihu pointed out, we know nothing compared to what God knows. We are not more righteous than God, therefore we cannot judge a situation. When God speaks to Job, He opens the floor for Jon to question Him, but Job realizes at that moment that he has been foolish. The description of the scene reminds me of the times I would mumble somthing smart in response to my mother, but when she confronted me about what I said, I would clam up and hold my breath. I image Job reacting in similar fashion.
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God Speaks

God answers Job from out of a whirlwind. I want to dwell on this because previously, I always envisioned God simply speaking out of nowhere. A whirlwind could be anything from a tornado to a simple wind storm, but either way, Job would have been in the midst of such weather. Hearing God's voice seems terrifying enough, add in a whirlwind, an it's no wonder Job lost his resolve. Job realizes its in his best interest to keep his mouth shut.

God tells Job to "gird up now thy loins like a man," which is basically the predecessor to "man up." Now that God had made His presence known, Job wasn't springing forth to take advantage of the opportunity as he said he would. God says that Job has spoken without knowledge and echoes much of what Elihu has already said, reminding Job that he wasn't there when God created everything. Job can't affect change, only God can, because God created these things. Job has no wisdom of what's in the world, but God does, again, because He created everything. It is He who created and cares for everything. This is why we cannot question Him.

As God reminds us that He created everything, God mentions several types of animals—"unicorns" ostriches, peacocks, wild donkeys, horses, and hawks— that despite being unintelligent, He looks out for. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, were under the impression that only good can happen to the righteous and bad to the wicked, but these animals were neither righteous nor wicked. As animals, they don't have the ability to choose a side, yet God cares for these animals because He created them. Similarly, God cares for us because He created us.
Photocredit: Jon Taylor

Behemoth

During God's comments to Job, He brings up Behemoth. Behemoth is a reference to a legendary creature that no one can figure out, or rather agree upon. Scholars have identified the creature with well known creatures of today such as the elephant and the hippopotamus, mythological creatures, and dinosaurs. There is no consensus of which category the animal actually falls into.

Some of the descriptions seem to rule out the elephant and hippopotamus of today, however. God tells us that the animal is only approachable by God. While I wouldn't advise running up to an elephant or hippopotamus, both have been cared for by humans. People even ride on the backs of elephants. It seems unlikely that this description applies to these two creatures. Behemoth is described as follows:
  1. Herbivore (eats grass like an ox)
  2. Strong
  3. Tail like a cedar
  4. Bone like iron or brass
  5. Lives in marshes
  6. Chief of God's ways (Large?)
  7. Can drink up an entire river
  8. Only God can approach it
Based on this description, I'm not inclined to believe the creature is a hippopotamus or elephant. That leaves mythology or an extinct creature like a dinosaur. God says that He made behemoth just as He made Job; therefore it seems that God is not referencing mythology, but something real.

Naturally, scholars then assert that the animal in question must be a dinosaur, specifically, a sauropod.[1][2] The most well known sauropod is probably the Brontosaurus. Another possibility is found in the Baluchitherium. Baluchitherium was one of the largest animals to ever walk the earth and was something like a massive, hornless rhinoceros.[3]

God uses behemoth as an example to ask Job, if he couldn't approach an animal such as behemoth, how could he judge anything? God was able to tame the creature the way we tamed dogs and cats. The contrast is meant to remind us that we are small and helpless while God is infinite and all powerful.

Science

Once again, we find reference to science in the text of Job 38-40.[4] Below, we discuss the relevance of these verses.

Ocean Springs

Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?Job 38:16
Topically, we can see lakes, rivers, streams, and the ocean. We know that rivers empty into the ocean, but the Bible gives more than one hint that there are other sources of water. In the details of the flood, we learn that water didn't just come from the sky, but from the earth as well. Job 38:16 tells us that there are springs in the depths of the ocean. Scientists began expecting hot springs in the ocean in the early 1970s and found the first one in 1977, 1.24 miles (2 km) below sea level. God said asked if Job had entered the springs of the sea, but until recently, we didn't possess the technology to dive that deep.[5][6][7]

Light

Job 38 actually has quite a bit to say about light. Light is probably one of the most pervasive of God's creations and God is often compared to light Himself, so it makes sense that there is a lot more to the phenomena than meets the eye.

Light Travels

Job 38:19 asks about the way in which light dwells. The Hebrew word translated to way is "derek" which can mean way, road, distance, journey, or manner.[9][10] Essentially, Job is telling us that light travels in a particular direction. Job may not have known the speed of light, but God informed him well ahead of schedule that light travels, which means it has speed. (The calculation of the speed of light started in 1670 with Olaus Rømer.[11])

The Division of Light

Job 38:24 informs us that light can be parted or scattered. The scattering of white light is what creates color. This is part of the process of creating a rainbow. Snell's law, which describes the bending of light, wasn't established until the 984ad and is based on a concept that Ptolemy started in 2nd century ad, well after Job's era.[8]

Light Waves

In Job 38:35, God brings up radio waves! Lightnings, or light, is a wave. There are several types of waves in the light spectrum, one of which is radio waves. It is through radio waves that we send messages. Although we are unable to see the waves, they are still part of the spectrum of light, thus we are sending messages through light, just as God said in Job 38.[4][12]

Dinosaurs

We already talked about the relationship many scholars see between behemoth and dinosaurs. As such, many use the verses in Job 40 that describe behemoth (as well as the verses in Job 41 on Leviathan) to say the Bible discusses dinosaurs.

Astronomy

Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?Job 38:31 KJV
God asks Job if he is able to bind Pleiades or loose Orion. Both Pleiades and Orion are constellations that can be seen in the sky. What's interesting about this question is the fact that the stars that create Pleiades are actually bound by gravity,[13][14] but the stars those that make up Orion are not bound by gravity and are loose.[15]

I have seen people who try to refute the accuracy of this claim since Pleiades is not permanently bound. The fact of the matter is that they were bound at the time the words were spoken, are bound now, and honestly, the world will probably end before they come unbound (the estimate for when they won't be gravitationally bound is about 250 million years). Furthermore, the point of God's question was whether Job (mankind) could replicate this act and the answer is still no.

Animal Instincts

Job 39 concentrates on animal instinct. God informs Job that animals can function without anyone teaching them anything because He made them that way. Today, scientists explain instinct as a product of evolution. It is interesting that lower order species, spiders, are born with knowledge of building webs having little to no contact with their mothers.[16] Turtles find their way to the ocean without their mothers.[17] Yet, humans have to be taught everything; we don't learn to walk until almost a year into life, some of us will never learn to build anything, and navigation is hit or miss.

References

  1. "Behemoth". Wikipedia; visited June 2017
  2. Mart-Jan Paul. "Behemoth and leviathan in the book of Job". Creation; visited June 2017
  3. Melchia. "Behemoth: Largest And Strongest Land Animal In Man’s World!". The Apple of God's Eye. February 22, 2011
  4. "101 Scientific Facts & Foreknowledge". Eternal Productions; visited June 2017
  5. B. Hanks. "Exploring the deep ocean floor: Hot springs and strange creatures". U.S. Geological Survey. June 24, 1999
  6. Steven A. Austin, Ph.D. "Springs of the Ocean". Institute for Creation Research. 1981
  7. Brian Thomas, M.S. "Scientists Describe Job's 'Springs of the Sea'". Institute for Creation Research. July 23, 2015
  8. "Snell's Law". Wikipedia; visited June 2017
  9. Job 38:19". Bible Hub; visited June 2017
  10. "Strong's 1870. derek. Bible Hub; visited June 2017
  11. Jose Wudka. "Light. University of California Riverside Physics Department. September 24, 1998
  12. Thuy Mai. "Electromagnetic Spectrum. NASA. April 28, 2016
  13. "Pleiades". Wikipedia; visited June 2017
  14. Bruce Mclure. "Pleiades star cluster, aka Seven Sisters". Earth Sky. November 7, 2016
  15. Barbara Kennedy. "Speeding star gives new clues to breakup of multi-star system". Phys.org. March 30, 2017
  16. "Spiderlings". Kid Zone; visited June 2017
  17. Carrie Arnold. "How Do Sea Turtles Find the Exact Beach Where They Were Born?". National Geographic. January 16, 2015

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About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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