Job 41 Leviathan

Job 41 Leviathan

Job 41 Leviathan
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 41 Leviathan: Let’s turn to Job chapter 41. We’ll be studying verses 12-21 today. You can read our study in Job 41:1-11 here.

And of course, this is a continuation of God’s response to Job. And God’s response has included drawing Job’s attention to this creature named Leviathan.

And we’ve learned that no one can control this creature. No one can kill him. No one can make him beg for mercy or make him serve them or make him their pet.

And God then made the transition from Leviathan to himself when he declared that no one can stand before him. And finally, God declared that he owes no man anything.

So, through all of that we’ve seen that God mentions Leviathan here in order to help us think more accurately about God himself. The fear and caution that we would exercise in the presence of Leviathan informs us as to how we should behave with this God who is perfectly controlled – and yet is completely uncontrollable. Our God is kind and loving and patient. But he is not tame.

Job 41 Leviathan: Leviathan’s Physical Construction

And so, as we continue on in Job chapter 41 we witness the Lord continuing to speak of Leviathan by declaring that he is going to boast of the physical construction of this creature.

12 I will not [conceal/keep silence concerning/fail to speak of] his [parts/limbs],
[nor/or/and] his [power/mighty strength/might/strength],
[nor/or/and] [his comely proportion./his orderly frame/the grace of its arrangement/its graceful form]

So, the limbs of this beast and its strength and the orderliness of its arrangement are all points that God will not be silent about. Leviathan is God’s creation and he did an awesome job of it and so he’s going to talk about these things in regard to Leviathan in the rest of this chapter.

And once more though – if Leviathan is a thing of awesome power – something to behold with awe – then how much more worthy of such awe – how powerful the Lord – its Creator is!

Job 41 Leviathan: Q81-82: Scales

And then, God continues to extoll this magnificent creature in verse 13 by drawing attention to its scales.

13 Who can [discover/strip off/uncover] [the face of his garment/his outer armor/its outer covering/his outer coat]?
or who can [come to him with/come within/penetrate to the inside of/approach him with] his [double bridle/double mail/its armor/bridle]?

So, apparently the outer layer of this beast – his coat of scales perhaps – was impenetrable. That’s at least what that first line is saying.

For the second line about the bridle – God is saying either what’s being said in the first line – that no one can stab through his outer scales. Or God’s saying that no one can put a bridle on Leviathan to subdue him and ride him anywhere.

Either way, you get a picture of invulnerability when it comes to Leviathan. You can’t stab him. You certainly can’t ride him anywhere. He’s undomesticated and he will stay that way.

And of course, God his Creator is also invulnerable. You can’t find a chink in his armor. There are no vulnerabilities to expose in the Lord – not in him personally and not in his word.

Job 41 Leviathan: Q83-84: Teeth

So, God continues to speak of Leviathan in verse 14 and he focuses on the teeth of this creature.

14 Who [can/dares] open the doors of his [face/mouth]?
[his teeth are terrible round about./Around his teeth there is terror./Its teeth all around are fearsome./ringed about with his fearsome teeth?]

And so, if Leviathan were around today you’d be very careful not to get close to his teeth. It’s like how I treat the bottom of my lawn mower – do not touch – do not get close – not with your hands or your feet – not when it’s running at least. And Leviathan is always running. And so, it was always best to stay away from the terror-inspiring teeth of this creature.

Job 41 Leviathan: God Can Be Dangerous

Teeth can be dangerous in any animal – especially when they’re sharp. And as strange as it seems at first, God can be considered dangerous.

We’re used to – and very thankful for – a God who is love and who is mercy and peace and who has reconciled us to himself by his son.

And yet, we need to remember the means by which God reconciled us to himself – by nailing his son to a cross and punishing him for the sins of the world.

And we also need to remember the fate that awaits those who reject this gift provided in Jesus Christ. That fate is eternity burning in darkness.

In light of those facts, yes, God is dangerous. Now, he’s not capricious. He’s not a God who’s going to make a promise and then not keep it. In that sense he’s not unpredictable. But he is dangerous. As dangerous as – and even more so than – Leviathan’s sharp teeth.

Job 41 Leviathan: How Job & Co. Had Been Treating God

And Job and his friends – I think we can say that they hadn’t been dealing with God on that level.

As the three friends were trying to convince Job that if he just confessed his secret sins and resumed praying to God, then God would start blessing Job again – had these men taken into account that God isn’t some magical Pez dispenser or gumball machine that can be manipulated? Put good works in – get blessings in return! No – God is a dangerous being! Show him the respect such a being deserves!

As Job has been demanding that God answer his summons to a court of law – as he’s been explicitly accusing God of being unjust to him – as Job has been pointing to numerous situations in which he thinks that God has not been executing justice on people who deserve justice – Job has been treating God on a far-too-familiar basis.

Job 41 Leviathan: Don’t Be Too Familiar

Now, God is our Father and he’s kind and gracious. But at the same time – he’s not a teddy bear! Treat him like you would a creature who has sharp teeth. Show him some respect and fear! Don’t let your familiarity with the Almighty breed contempt of him in you.

I think we get the point. I think Job did, too.

So, now, with verse 14 that we just read, we saw the 83rd and 84th questions that God asks Job. And worthy of noting – after that verse, God asks no more questions for the rest of the book. After 84 questions – one after the other – God is satisfied to leave off any more questioning.

And yet, God’s not done speaking.

Job 41 Leviathan: Scales (15-17)

Because in verses 15 through 17 the Lord speaks of the scales of Leviathan.

15 His scales are his pride,
shut up together as with a [close/tight] seal.

NAU Job 41:15His strong scales are his pride,
NET Job 41:15 Its back has rows of shields,
NIV Job 41:15 His back has rows of shields

16 [One/Each one] is so [near/close] to [another/the next],
that no air can come between them.

17 They are joined one to another,
they [stick together/clasp each other/cling together], that they cannot be [sundered/separated/parted].

And so, Leviathan is protected from external harm. Nothing can get to him. Nothing can physically harm him.

And not only can no external force physically harm Leviathan – but no external force can physically affect Leviathan on any level. His armor is so tight that not even air can get through!

Job 41 Leviathan: God is Impervious to Outside Influences

And once more, this teaches Job and us a lesson about God. God is impervious to outside influences.

Job’s three friends have been acting as though God could be moved in some sort of automated way based on the effort of man.

Job had been acting as though he could somehow encourage God to change his behavior and dealings in Job’s life.

But ultimately, if God wants to remain unaffected by external forces he is able to do that.

Job 41 Leviathan: God Allows Himself to Be Affected

And yet, there are ways in which the Lord does allow himself to be affected by external forces. You can think of some ways.

How about prayer? As we ask God to do things that are in keeping with his will, he allows us to – as it were – move his hand to action!

Job 41 Leviathan: Jesus Was Touched

And once again, we’re reminded of God’s supreme exception to this rule of his being unaffected by external influences – when he sent his son to be our Savior. Jesus Christ was touched. He was handled. His human creatures grasped his garments to be healed. They grasped his garments to apprehend him. They nailed his hands and feet to a cross. They hit him. They spit on him. They killed God – the God who by his very nature is untouchable.

What irony and even paradox! That God who is unaffected by external forces allowed himself to not only be touched – but also abused and killed – because he loved us so much!

And this doesn’t make Jesus any less God – that he allowed himself to be affected by external forces in a way that’s contrary to his very nature. It simply shows God’s extreme love in sending us his son.

Well, so, God can’t be affected by external influences – just like Leviathan.

Job 41 Leviathan: Firemouth talk! (18-21)

And as we return to a consideration of this beast – we are alerted to an additional factor in why Leviathan is so unapproachable – so impervious to external forces. He literally breathes fire out of his mouth. That’s what we hear in verses 18-21.

Job 41 Leviathan: Sneezing and Eyes

And the explanation of that begins in verse 18 with a focus on Leviathan’s sneezing and his eyes.

18 [By his neesings/His sneezes/Its snorting] [a light doth shine/flash forth light/throws out flashes of light],
and his eyes are like the [eyelids/red glow/rays] of [the morning/dawn].

Job 41 Leviathan: Mouth

Then God focuses on Leviathan’s mouth in relation to his ability to breathe out fire.

19 Out of his mouth [go/stream forth] [burning lamps/burning torches/flames/firebrands],
and sparks of fire [leap out/leap forth/shoot forth/shoot out].

Job 41 Leviathan: Nostrils

Next, God turns to consider Leviathan’s nostrils in terms of his ability to breathe fire in verse 20.

20 Out of his nostrils [goeth/goes forth/streams/pours] smoke,
as out of a [seething/boiling] pot [or/and/over] [caldron/rushes/burning rushes/a fire of reeds].

Job 41 Leviathan: Breath

And lastly, the Lord considers Leviathan’s breath in relation to his ability to breathe out fire in verse 21.

21 His breath [kindleth/sets ablaze] coals,
and [a flame/flames] [goeth/goes forth/shoots/dart] [out of/from] his mouth.

And so, we’re faced with a creature that is presented as breathing fire out of his mouth. And that fire causes smoke, which billows out of Leviathan’s nostrils.

Job 41 Leviathan: Is this Poetic?

And we might hear this and think that God is being poetic or hyperbolic. And that certainly is a possibility in this book in which poetry is so extensively used.

But we need to remember that poetic descriptions of things that tend to use concrete images to convey some abstract idea – well, there needs to be some abstract idea.

Job 41 Leviathan: “The Lord is My Shepherd”

I’ll give you a basic example. “The Lord is my Shepherd.” That’s poetic.

The Lord is not a man whose job is to herd sheep. David was not a literal sheep.

But picturing God as a shepherd is a concrete image. You can see that. You can picture that in your mind. You know what a shepherd looks like. You know what sheep are like.

And then you can transfer all of that meaning into the realm of the abstract. Where God’s being a shepherd means in the abstract that he cares for you. He feeds you. He sees to it that all of your needs are met. He’s close to you. He knows you. He is willing to get dirty in order to help you. He will help you get out of the problems that your own – I don’t know how else to say it – your stupid decisions get you into.

Now, Psalm 23 could mention all of those abstract ideas – that God helps and heals and feeds and provides and comforts and rescues – and on and on.

But there’s a beauty to the poetic picture that David paints with simply stating “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

Job 41 Leviathan: Back to Leviathan

So, bring that into the discussion of Leviathan. If God intends to use the concrete imagery of breathing fire to teach some abstract lesson about Leviathan… then what is it? That his breath is really offensive? I don’t think so.

I can’t think of anything that God would be trying to communicate in a poetic way by relating that Leviathan breathes out fire.

Job 41 Leviathan: We Know of No Creature Who Can Do This

And so, that leads me to think that the only reason that we might want to view Leviathan’s ability to breathe fire as poetic or fictional is because we don’t know of any creature that can do this exact same thing in our day.

Now, you might be aware of a little creature known as the Bombardier Beetle. This little insect is able to shoot out a combination of chemicals and enzymes from inside its body. And what comes out of them is hotter than boiling water. These little creatures are able to make smoke and fire come out from their bodies.

Could it be that Leviathan did something like this? Maybe.

Is it entirely possible that Leviathan had some other way of making fire come out of its mouth that we have no idea about? Yes. And we have God’s word – God himself – saying that Leviathan did this.

How? We don’t know. But we do know one who cannot lie and is giving us infallible testimony that this did happen.

So, that’s all been an attempt to prove that Leviathan did literally breathe out fire.

Job 41 Leviathan: Why Does God Mention Fire?

But why does God mention that?

Remember that we’re supposed to think of God the way that we’d think about Leviathan. Leviathan breathes fire. … Does God breathe fire?

Well, not literally. God did not have a literal mouth that breathes out literal fire.

But we can think of a few times in Scripture where God sent fire from himself. Even in this book and the first few chapters we had one of Job’s servants testify that fire from God came down from heaven and consumed Job’s things. The fire came from God.

We have testimony concerning the wicked sons of Aaron – Moses’s brother. They didn’t approach God’s holy things with due reverence and God sent out fire that consumed them.

God actually calls himself in Deuteronomy 4 and several other passages “a consuming fire.” God appeared to Moses in a bush that was on fire. When God came down on Mount Sinai it was in fire. God sent fire to consume Elijah’s sacrifice on Mount Carmel. As soldiers came for Elijah later on, God sent fire to consume those soldiers. And of course, the end of every soul that rejects God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ involves eternal fire.

Job 41 Leviathan: God vs. Leviathan

And so I think that we can say that God’s use of fire far supersedes Leviathan’s. We look at Leviathan and how he’s described as breathing fire and it would strike fear into our hearts to have to confront that beast with this frightening ability to call forth fire from his mouth and burn us.

Are we not to fear the being who not only sends out fire at will – but whom to reject is to suffer fire for all eternity?

So, God is warning Job and all of us here.

Job 41 Leviathan: God vs. a Beetle!

I mean – if I was aware that there was a Bombardier Beetle living in my yard, I would alert my kids and tell them to stay far from it. I would help them learn to identify this creature and keep their distance. I myself would not play with this little bug. I wouldn’t handle it or try to step on it or get near it in any way. It might burn me and my family!

But do I – do you – show such caution when approaching God? Do we even extend the carefulness to God that we would extend to a beetle?!

Job 41 Leviathan: Acting Like a Child

How do you speak to God when you’re not happy with the way your life is going?

I imagine that we might respond the way a small child would to a parent who is intent on not reacting to the child’s impatient questioning.

The child asks for something that the parent has already said “no” to. The parent doesn’t respond. He’s already given his answer – “no.”

The child ratchets up the impatience a little and maybe asks in a louder voice. No response from the parent.

The child stomps his foot and swings his arms around. No response.

The child might get up into the face of the parent. He might try to shake the parent with all of the strength his little body can muster.

And at some point, the parent has to react. And he might react in a way that puts that child back into the place of being the child – not as an equal to the parent.

Job 41 Leviathan: God Treats Us Like Children

And I think that’s what God is doing here.

Job has been complaining to God. And like he usually does, God has not verbally responded to Job.

So, Job has started to accuse God of being unjust and unkind. And God has patiently held his tongue.

So, Job has demanded God to come to court and explain his actions – the God of the universe needs to come and explain his actions to one of his weak small human creatures! No response from God.

Job continues to make himself look good at God’s expense.

And so, finally the Lord needs to respond and say, “Don’t you remember that I’m ultimately the God who utilizes fire to deal with people both in time and in eternity? Are you really going to approach me like that?

I use fire. I am untouchable. I have teeth!

And while I am gracious and merciful and slow to anger and abounding in loyal covenant love… don’t treat me lightly.

Job 41 Leviathan: How Do You Treat God?

So, let me ask. Has God been dealing with you in this life in ways that you don’t like? Maybe you’re frustrated with what God is doing. Maybe you’re dissatisfied for one reason or another. And maybe your pleas and cries to God – your supplications – your pleas for mercy – maybe they’ve transformed into bitter insults against the Almighty! Insinuations that you are right and God is out of his mind!

No, no! God is in control. God is all wise. He knows what he’s doing. And he has the right to do anything he wishes in your life – both good and what we would consider to be not-so-good.

He can arrange things so that you can get a promotion at work. He’s equally entitled to arrange things so that you get fired or that your boss quits leaving you with no direction or allowing you to stay in a job where everyone hates you and you aren’t so fond of them either.

God can make it so that your family situation is one of bliss and comfort and joy. Or he can bring great difficulties into that situation.

He can make you rich or poor – healthy or weak – abounding or suffering need. You might be rejoicing right now. Or you might be filled with heaviness and sorrow.

Job 41 Leviathan: Trust Him

And either way, when it really comes down to it – we don’t understand God’s ways – the ways that he has not revealed in Scripture. And so, when we don’t understand his ways, we must trust his wisdom.

God knows what he’s doing – even though we don’t.

He is good. He is gracious. He is loving. But we’ve been reminded in this portion of Scripture that he has teeth. He is completely able to remain untouched by external influences. And when it comes down to it, we owe him more fear and reverence and respect than is due a fire-breathing monster like Leviathan.

So, may the Lord help us to think of him the way we would think about this awesome creature of his that we know as Leviathan.

Job 41 Commentary

Job 41 Commentary

Job 41 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 41 Commentary: We’ll be in the 41st chapter of the book of Job today.

I anticipate at most two more lessons after this one.

As we enter Job 41, we look back and realize that we’ve been through a lot so far.

We were introduced to a man named Job back in chapter 1 who was upright and blameless. Then a being known as Satan accused God to bribing Job to worship him. So, God allowed Satan to afflict Job in numerous ways.

Then Job’s three friends came to comfort him. But they just ended up arguing with him and accusing him of secret sin.

Finally, Elihu came and began to set these men straight. And then of course the section we’re in right now has God finishing the job that Elihu began in correcting Job.

And that correction has come in two parts.

First, God has asked Job sixty-some questions about how stuff works in this world. Or whether or not Job can do this thing or that thing that only God can do. And so, of course, Job’s first response to God was one of contrition and repentance. That was the first section of God’s confrontation of Job.

We’re now in the second part of God’s confrontation of Job. And so far we’ve seen God basically tell Job that if he thinks he can do a better job at “Godding” or being God than God is able to do – well, then go right ahead and try it.

After that, God turned Job’s attention to Behemoth. And Job and you and I are supposed to imitate Behemoth. Behemoth lived free of anxiety with the strength that God gave him. And Job and you and I are supposed to live that way, too.

And now for the final speech of God in this book to end this second section of God’s rebuke of Job. And God is going to bring to the attention of Job another creature. His name is Leviathan. He’s not a land animal like Behemoth – but is rather a sea creature. And whereas we’re supposed to imitate Behemoth, it seems that God has a different purpose for Leviathan.

With Leviathan, we’re supposed to think of God the way we think of Leviathan. We’re supposed to approach God the way that we approach a dangerous, unpredictable, uncontrollable animal like Leviathan. And I trust that we’ll see that emphasis as we start studying Leviathan today.

Job 41 Commentary: Q64-65: Control

So, the first issue that God wants to point out in regard to this creature is that it’s impossible to control him. But God phrases it in the form of a question. So, verse 1 contains the 64th and 65th questions that God has asked Job thus far if my counting it accurate.

KJV Job 41:1 Canst thou [draw out/pull in] leviathan with [an hook/a fishhook]?
or his tongue with a [cord/rope] [which thou lettest down/can you (press/tie) it down]?

So – no – Job cannot catch Leviathan with a hook or tie down his tongue with a rope. He cannot control this animal.

And Job would have known this. He would have answered these questions in the negative.

And so, what God wants Job to do then is to recognize that Job has no control over God. If Job can’t control one of God’s creature, how would he ever think that he can control God?

And yet, isn’t that what Job had been trying to do? By demanding God show up to a court room and explain his ways to Job, wasn’t Job trying to control the uncontrollable – not uncontrolled, I say but – uncontrollable God?

And where do you try to control God in your life? Do you recognize where you might be doing that? Where you’re trying to make him do your will rather than submitting to do his will?

Job 41 Commentary: Q66-67: More Control

Well, the next two questions also focus on Job’s total inability to control Leviathan.

2 Canst thou put [an hook/a rope/a cord] [into/in/through] his nose?
or [bore/pierce] his jaw [through with a thorn/with a hook]?

So, neither can Job pierce Leviathan’s nose or jaw in order to capture him.

Once more, Leviathan – and Leviathan’s Creator – are unable to be controlled by man.

Job 41 Commentary: Q68-69: Begging for Mercy

But God seems to assume for argument’s sake that Job could catch Leviathan. Because in verse 3, the Lord pictures Leviathan as pleading for mercy and he asks Job if that picture is even possible in real life.

3 Will he make [many/numerous] supplications unto thee? [i.e., will he keep begging you for mercy?]
will he speak [soft/tender/gentle] words unto thee?

And of course, the picture that God paints is ironic. A creature that’s like God describes Leviathan to be in this chapter would never be put in the position of being captured by Job – let alone be found pleading for mercy from this imaginary captor.

And God is implying here that he also will not be at the mercy of any man. And that sounds like a superfluous statement to make – like why does God need to bring that point up? It’s a given, right?

Well, it is. And yet in times of trial and suffering and uncertainty, we – like Job– can get to the point where we start talking and thinking as though we could get God into some strangle hold where he has to plead with us for mercy.

But not even the patriarch Jacob who wrestled with God got this kind of response from the Lord. The Lord merely told him to let him go. There was no pleas for mercy. No cajoling. It was a straightforward statement. And when it comes down to it, all God had to do to make Jacob let him go was to touch his thigh. That worked pretty well.

So, God is not at the mercy of any.

Job 41 Commentary: Q70-71: Serving

And yet, once again, God is going to go along with his farcical pretend scenario of the helpless Leviathan pleading for mercy from Job in verse 4. And now, God pictures Leviathan as promising to serve Job forever as a servant.

4 Will he make [a covenant/a pact/an agreement] with thee?
[wilt thou/so that you/for you to] take him [for a servant/as your slave] for [ever/life]?

And once more, the answer to God’s questions is “no.” Creatures like Leviathan don’t enter into covenants and they don’t make an intentional agreement to serve humans.

And God himself is not required to serve any. Now, amazingly he does serve his creatures – and he did so preeminently in the person of Jesus Christ who took on him the form of a servant – who came not to be served but rather to be the servant.

And yet, God is under no compulsion whatsoever to serve anyone. He’s not anyone’s slave. No one has any claim over his person to make him do anything.

And I’m afraid that Job and his friends basically got to the point where they conceived of God as being someone who was obliged to serve them and do their will. If they do good, then in their minds God was obliged to serve them good things.

But that’s not why God gives good things – not because somehow he’s our servant. But rather he gives us good things because he is merciful. And slaves aren’t merciful – they’re just doing what they must do. And that’s not how God operates. Not for Job and his friends – and not for us.

The moment we get this formula mixed up is the moment we depart from reality. We are God’s servants. We are his slaves. Not the other way around.

Job 41 Commentary: Q72-73: Leviathan a Domesticated Pet?

And yet, God continues the ridiculous scenario between Job and Leviathan in verse 5. And this time, God speculates that perhaps Leviathan would be willing to become Job’s pet!

5 Wilt thou [play with/make a pet of] him as with a bird?
or wilt thou [bind him/tie it on a leash] for thy [maidens/girls]?

Now, my family has no pets. We almost got one when a kitten crawled into our engine compartment the other night after prayer meeting – but we were resolved not to take that cat home!

Anyway, you might have a pet. They apparently had pets in Job’s time – at least some people did.

And most people who have pets in this country might have a dog or a cat. Maybe you might have a bird – like God mentions here.

But I guarantee you that no one has ever had a pet Leviathan. And even though we don’t exactly know what this creature was – my best guess from the text is that he’s something like a giant crocodile that breathes fire!

And even though I’ve never seen that kind of beast in real life, I would venture to say that that kind of animal doesn’t make a very good pet – a fire-breathing super-sized crocodile!

And do you know what would make an even more bizarre unlikely pet? God. You and I cannot put God on a leash. He won’t fetch for us like a dog. You would be insane to think that you can make him beg. You certainly won’t teach him how to play dead.

And you’re not going to be able to impress anyone with the control you have over God like you would a tamed animal on a leash. The realty is – you have no control over God. He does according to his will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand or say unto him “what doest thou?”

Job 41 Commentary: Q74-75: Roast Leviathan???

Well, back to Leviathan. And, you know, in our culture we typically don’t eat animals that would otherwise be pets – right? The typical American diet does not consist of cat and dog and gerbil and guinea pig.

And so, if Leviathan can’t be Job’s pet – maybe he can be Job’s dinner. Verse 6.

6 [Shall/Will] [the companions/partners/traders] [make a banquet of/bargain for] him?
[shall/will] they [part/divide up] him among the merchants?

Now, that second line pictures Job’s companions – who would apparently be traders or merchants – divvying-up Leviathan amongst themselves – either for food or as a rare commodity – like “Look, I have a piece of Leviathan!

And yet, God – as he suggests this – is doing so in a way that we could characterize as absurd. Like – this would never ever happen.

And God is going to get to his main point eventually in this chapter. But for now, we need to keep taking in the absurdity of God’s questions. And they’re intentionally absurd. And we’ll see the reason for it in a few verses.

But just like Leviathan, no one is able to divvy-up God. No one is able to devour and consume him. No one can trade him or bargain for him. He’s not for sale.

Job 41 Commentary: Q76-77: Kill Leviathan?

Alright, so if you can’t catch or enslave or domesticate or eat or trade Leviathan – maybe you can just kill him. God asks whether that’s possible in verse 7 – with the implied idea that this indeed would not be possible.

7 Canst thou fill his [skin/hide] with [barbed irons/harpoons]?
or his head with [fish/fishing] spears?

And these two rhetorical questions imply the slaying of this animal. Filling his skin with harpoons and spears would mean death for Leviathan. And yet, God implies that this cannot happen.

And though the phrase “God is dead” was coined around the end of the 1800s and is an idea that some assert, God cannot die. He never will die.

And yet, he allowed himself to be killed in the person of Jesus Christ. But even then, God cannot remain dead. Jesus Christ rose from the dead and lives to his day and is coming back any time now.

So, no one can kill Leviathan. No one can kill God.

Job 41 Commentary: Fighting Leviathan

And now – after so many of these questions that expect a negative answer – God is going to cut to the chase and he tells Job what would happen if anyone were to try to do any of these things to Leviathan.

8 [If you…] Lay thine hand [upon/on] him,
[you will…] remember the [battle/fight/struggle],
[do no more./you will not do it again!/and you will never do it again!/and never do it again!]

So, if anyone were to try to lay hands on this creature, they would certainly remember that battle and they’d never do it again.

And now, as Job is listening to God’s rebuke, I wonder if Job feels the same way. He wrestled with God. He questioned God’s goodness and justice. And he’s now experiencing a little bit of wrestling back from the Lord. And we’ll see at the end of this book – he’ll never do that again!

Job 41 Commentary: Q78: No Hope

Ad even though Job is resigned to never approach God like this, some really tough guy might think that he could in fact subdue this beast. And God says in response, “That’s a vain hope!

9 Behold, [the hope of him/your expectation/his expectation/any hope of subduing him] is [in vain/false/wrong]:
shall not one be [cast down/laid low/overpowered] even at the sight of him?

So, just looking at this creature is enough to lay a person low. You dare not even look at Leviathan!

And this is where God begins to reveal the purpose behind mentioning Leviathan at this point in his response to Job.

Job 41 Commentary: Q79: God vs. Leviathan

And the purpose is in the next verse – verse 10. God is going to point to the unparalleled fierceness of this creature in the first line. And then…God speaks of himself in relation to this creature.

10 None is so fierce [that dare stir him up/when it is awakened/to rouse him]:
who then is able to stand before […”him?” … Leviathan? No! God says…] me?

Ah hah! So, there it is. This is where God begins to meld together our conception of Leviathan and himself. I’ve been assuming this for the whole chapter because I knew this was coming. But up to this point God has not made it very clear why he’s mentioning Leviathan. But he just connected the dots here in verse 10.

So, we’re to think of this awesome, mighty, fierce creature. And we can’t catch him. We can’t enslave him. We can’t have him as a pet. We can’t eat him. We can’t kill him.

And we’re supposed to compare this creature and how we think of him to how we think of the awesome Creator of this awesome creature.

And recall, we studied Behemoth last time. And the point of Behemoth was that we were supposed to imitate him. He lived fearlessly with the strength that God gave him. And that’s what Job and we are supposed to do with that beast.

But Leviathan is different. With Leviathan we’re not to imitate him. We can’t! Just look at how he’s described – can the same things be said of you? No – instead, we’re supposed to think of God like we would think of this creature. We are like Behemoth – or should be. God is like Leviathan – only even bigger and better and stronger and more dangerous and more uncontrollable!

We fear Leviathan – or we would if it existed today. But, do we grant God that same healthy fear?

We’re aware that man can in no way manipulate Leviathan for his own purposes. But, are we aware that no man may manipulate God for his own selfish purposes?

Job and his friends had been acting as if God can be manipulated. You want good from God? Well then, just do good. It’ll work like clockwork! Like sliding your credit card into the gas pump and getting a full tank of gas in return.

Now, Job didn’t approach God that way in reality. He really did serve God for nothing – contrary to what Satan accused him of. But the way that Job was thinking of how God ought to treat him bordered on that way of thinking. God was giving him bad even though Job was still being good. And that bothered Job immensely. And so, Job needs to be warned here to stop treating God like that.

Job 41 Commentary: Q80: God Owes No Man

Because to think that if I give God something, he owes me in return is just foolish. To think that if I do good then God will give good in turn is not the way this world works and it’s not how God works – and that’s what he says in verse 11.

11 Who [hath prevented/had given to/has confronted/has a claim against] me, that I [should/must] repay him?
[whatsoever is/whatever is/everything] under [the whole heaven/heaven] [is mine/belongs to me].

So, to whom does God owe anything? Is God obliged to treat Job or us in a certain way beyond what he has actually stated in his word? Is God obliged to give you health and wealth and ease? Have you given him enough to the point where he would be constrained to repay you?

No, no one is in that kind of position with God. And that’s amazing when you think about it. Because most of us are in a position of some sort of obligation to someone. You need to pay your school bill or your property taxes or your rent. You and I are obliged to someone. We owe someone something.

But not God. God owes no man anything.

And that’s because God owns everything. There is nothing that is not his.

And that includes Job’s life and your life and mine. If we were somehow able to give our life to God – literally, not in a metaphorical sense – if we gave our life to God, we’re only giving back to him what’s rightfully his. He made us. He gave us breath. He owns us!

And so, this is the message of Leviathan. Let’s treat God with respect and dignity. Let’s not act like we can somehow manipulate the Almighty for our own purposes. Let’s give him the fear and reverence that is due even one of his creatures. How much more worthy of such respect is the Creator than the creature?

May the Lord help us to interact with him more on this level than we’ve known to this point in our lives.

Job 40 Behemoth

Job 40 Behemoth

Job 40 Behemoth
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 40 Behemoth: There is in the heart of every person who tries to communicate God’s word a desire to make God’s word relevant to those to whom they’re ministering. And that’s a right and good desire. We want people to see that God’s word applies to their lives where they are. It’s not just theory and hypothetical.

And yet, as we’ve been studying the book of Job for these past months I am struck every so often at how unconcerned God seems to be to make this book “relevant.”

There is something that strikes our flesh as totally irrelevant about 30-some chapters of back-and-forth arguing between four grown men.

And as we’ve recently seen the Lord appear to Job and speak to him – he never once answers any of Job’s accusations. God doesn’t provide explanations. And I speak as a fool when I say this – but it seems like God really just keeps missing opportunity after opportunity to make this book “relevant” as we could consider it.

And yet, at the same time, I think that we’ve seen over and over again that the message that God is communicating through this book is utterly relevant to our lives. To trust God’s wisdom when we don’t understand his ways is a theme that we can’t review too much. It’s one that I know that I and my wife have been blessed with being reminded of over and over.

But we’re going to be in Job chapter 40 today – so you can turn there if you haven’t already. And in this chapter, we’re once again challenged with the seeming irrelevance of what God says here.

Because today in Job 40, verses 15-24, in response to all of Job’s deep questions – in response to Job’s tragic loss of children – in response to Job’s struggle to interpret life as it’s been going for him… God has Job think about an animal. And that animal’s name is Behemoth. That’s just a word that means “cattle” – though we’re going to see that Behemoth is not a bovine.

Now, God asks no questions about Behemoth. He just wants Job to look at and consider this amazing animal. And as strange as it might sound, God wants Job and us to imitate this creature.

If that sounds far-fetched, stay with me. Hopefully you’ll see it too by the end.

Job 40 Behemoth | Creation & Diet

Now, God begins by directing Job to consider Behemoth – and he points to both its creation and its diet.

15 [Behold now/Look now at/Look at the] behemoth,
which I made [with/as well as/as I made/along with] thee;
he eateth grass as an ox.

Job 40 Behemoth | “Behold”

So, Job is told by God to look at this creature. This creature then is one that Job would have apparently had some access to and knowledge of – otherwise, this whole section would have all just flown right over Job’s head. And that’s not what God was aiming for. Job would have been familiar with this beast referred to by God as Behemoth.

Job 40 Behemoth | “which I made with thee”

And then God wants Job to consider the creation of Behemoth. God says that this creature was “made with Job.” What does that mean?

Well, it could mean that God created this animal on the sixth day just like he created mankind. That would be true. All land animals were created on the same day during Creation Week as was man.

But this could also be the Lord stating more broadly that he created both Behemoth and Job. Even though we’ll see that this animal is amazing in numerous ways, it’s the same God who created both it and Job. God has the right to make both weak and vulnerable Job as well as to create this monstrous beast that he’ll be describing for the rest of this chapter. But it’s God who sovereignly does whatever he wishes.

Job 40 Behemoth | “he eateth grass as an ox”

And finally, God relates to Job the diet of Behemoth. Because even though this animal is so amazing and powerful – the creature apparently was an herbivore. He ate grass like an ox.

By the way, that tells us that Behemoth is not an ox. He eats grass like an ox. So, it and the ox are separate creatures.

Anyway, Behemoth – for all its size and strength eats grass and plants and herbs.

So, God wanted Job to consider Behemoth’s creation and diet.

Job 40 Behemoth | Locus of Strength

But next in verse 16 the Lord wants Job to consider the locus of Behemoth’s strength.

16 [Lo now, his/Behold now, his/Look at its/What X he has] strength is in his loins,
and his [force/power] is in the [navel/muscles] of his belly.

Job 40 Behemoth | “his strength is in his loins”

So, God wants Job to consider the location of the power of Behemoth. The central hub of its strength is not in its neck or its back or its shoulders. Its strength is not centered in its head or in its feet. Its strength is focused in what we could call its “core.” Its strength is concentrated in and emanates from its abdominal.

Job 40 Behemoth | What is Behemoth?

Now, this is where we can start consider what this creature really is and compare it to how God describes it. I’m fairly convinced that we don’t have this creature with us today for reasons that I think will become clear as we study this text.

And that’s OK – because identifying what this creature is, is not the main concern of the Lord. We can get a good idea of what this beast is like even without being able to identify it because of how thorough the Lord is in describing it. But he’s making a point by mentioning this creature beyond mere identification.

Nevertheless, we do like to try to figure out what Behemoth is. So, we already know that it eats grass. And now, we hear that its abdomen is very strong – and that that’s where its strength is centered. I think that doesn’t really give us enough to get a very complete picture of this creature just yet, so we’ll move on for now without further comment.

So, the Lord has pointed Job to the creation of Behemoth – it’s diet and the locus of its strength.

Job 40 Behemoth | Tail & Thighs

And next in verse 17, the Lord describes the tail and thighs of this beast.

17 He [moveth/bends/makes/sways] his tail [stiff…/sways…] like a cedar:
the sinews of his [stones/thighs] [ßhapax legomena…] are [wrapped together/knit together/tightly wound/close-knit].

Job 40 Behemoth | “his tail”

So, God draws attention to this tail of Behemoth. He says that this animal moves its tail as if the tail were a cedar tree. You get the picture of a massive swaying tail attached to this creature.

Now, I think that description alone disqualifies a number of candidates for identifying Behemoth. Some of those would include the elephant and the hippopotamus – the tails of which could hardly be compared to cedar trees.

Job 40 Behemoth | “the sinews of his thighs”

Well, God also wants Job to consider the sinews of Behemoth’s thighs. They’re strong – knit together.

Now, another word for sinew is “tendon.” Tendons and sinews typically connect muscle to bone. And the Lord in this verse has been speaking to Job about the muscles of this beast and how strong they are.

Job 40 Behemoth | Bones

And so, now God is going to focus on the bones of Behemoth.

18 His bones are [as strong pieces/tubes] of [brass/bronze];
his [bones/limbs] are like [bars/rods] of iron.

Job 40 Behemoth | “his bones are as strong as” “bronze” and “like bars of iron”

So, God wants Job to consider the strength of the bones and limbs of Behemoth. And the Lord compares these things to the two strongest metals of that time – bronze and iron. This creature is turning out to be a picture of strength in every way.

I would say that if we’re trying to identify Behemoth – the crocodile is at this point ruled-out. Some have said that Behemoth may have been a crocodile – but when I think of the bones and limbs of crocodiles, a description like the Lord gives here doesn’t really fit the bill. Plus, crocodiles don’t eat grass like Behemoth is said to do.

But whatever Behemoth is and was – he’s strong. From its muscles to its bones – its thighs and tail. And all that strength from an animal that eats only grass and plants!

Job 40 Behemoth | Preeminence & Danger/Inferiority to God

I’d say that the animal that’s being described is really quite amazing! And God is going to agree with that assessment in verse 19 – but he’s also going to point to the fact that the one who made this beast is even more powerful.

19 He [is the chief of/is the first of/ranks first among] the [ways/works] of God:
[he that made him/let his maker/the One who made it/yet his Maker] [can make his sword to approach unto him/bring near his sword/has furnished it with a sword/can approach him with his sword].

Job 40 Behemoth | “the chief of the ways of God”

So, God wants Job to consider that Behemoth is one of the crowning achievements of God’s creation. Since this creature was a land animal, it would have been created on Day 6 of creation week as we’ve mentioned. And so, this was one of God’s crowning achievements – one of his last creative works. And even though mankind is the pinnacle of God’s creation – yet, in terms of size and strength, mankind doesn’t hold a candle to Behemoth.

Job 40 Behemoth | “he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him”

And yet, God then also wants Job to know that either a) God can destroy Behemoth or that b) God has given this creature dangerous weapons on himself. It depends on how you translate that last part of verse 19.

Either God is saying that the one who made him – the Lord himself – is able to draw near to this creature with a sword – which apparently a man like Job would have been unable to do.

Or the other way to translate this is that God is saying that when he created Behemoth, he furnished him with a sword. Perhaps this creature had something on his body that was sharp and dangerous and which he would use in battling other creatures.

I prefer to read this as God saying that even though this beast is one of the highlights of God’s creation – yet, God can slay it. And apparently, mankind could not say that regarding Behemoth. They would have been fairly powerless to capture and kill this creature.

Well, God has had Job consider both the preeminence of this animal as well as God’s ability to slay it.

Job 40 Behemoth | Eating Situation

And next in verse 20, the Lord speaks of Behemoth’s eating situation.

20 [Surely/For] the [mountains/hills] bring him forth [food/their produce],
[where/there/nearby] all the [beasts of the field/wild animals] play.

So, the Lord wants Job to consider Behemoth’s eating situation.

Job 40 Behemoth | “the mountains bring him forth food”

First, Job should take note that it’s as if the mountains or hills bring forth their produce just for Behemoth. It doesn’t need to make its own food. It doesn’t need to hunt its food. It’s just there for Behemoth.

Job 40 Behemoth | “where all the beasts of the field play”

Second, Behemoth’s fellow-beasts don’t seem all that frightened by this creature. This is a very peaceful scene that the Lord is painting. You do get the sense that though Behemoth is strong, it’s not a violent or aggressive creature. Other animals play near where it eats.

Job 40 Behemoth | At Rest

And when Behemoth is done eating, it takes a nap – verse 21.

21 He [lieth/lies down] under the [shady/lotus] [trees/plants],
[in the covert of/in the secrecy of/hidden among] the [reed/reeds], [and fens/and the marsh/in the marsh].

So, God wants Job to consider where Behemoth rests.

Job 40 Behemoth | “under the shady trees”

It does so under shady trees. We’re not sure if those trees were large or small.

Job 40 Behemoth | “the reed and fens”

And another place that Behemoth would rest is in the marshes – the swampy land filled with reeds.

So, Behemoth rests in these places.

Job 40 Behemoth | At Rest, Cont’d.

And then the Lord restates where Behemoth rests in verse 22 – with a little bit of a progression away from swampy areas and into the setting of a brook or stream with flowing water.

22 The [shady trees/lotus plants/lotus trees/lotuses] [cover/conceal] him with their [shadow/shade];
the [willows/poplars] [of/by] the [brook/stream] [compass him about/surround him/conceal it].

And perhaps this is God simply restating in a different way where Behemoth rests.

Job 40 Behemoth | “cover him” and “compass him about”

But there’s also an element of hiding and concealment. In verse 21 God spoke of Behemoth lying down under the shady trees. In verse 22 here God speaks of those shady trees once more – but he asserts that Behemoth is covered or concealed by the shadow of those trees.

Either way, there are elements of hiding and secrecy and also of rest in both verse 21 and 22. So, God wants Job to consider how Behemoth rests and hides himself.

Job 40 Behemoth | “the willows of the brook”

And whereas verse 21 spoke of Behemoth taking cover in what would likely have been a stagnant swamp – now in this verse God moves our thoughts of Behemoth in a stream of water that’s not stagnant but is rather flowing and fresh. The creature is surrounded by willows or poplars that surround this kind of stream.

Job 40 Behemoth | No Fear of Water

And then the Lord moves us along in this progression from swamp to stream – to now in verse 23 – a river.

23 [Behold, he drinketh up a river/If a river rages/When the river rages], [and hasteth not/he is not alarmed/it is not disturbed]:
[he trusteth/he is confident/it is secure] [that/though] [he can draw up/X rushes/X should surge] Jordan [into/to/up to/against] his mouth.

Job 40 Behemoth | “he drinketh up a river and hasteth not”

So, the Lord wants Job to consider that Behemoth is not afraid of the water in which it resides. The KJV says that Behemoth drinks up the river and doesn’t make haste about it. Another way to take that is that the river might rage against Behemoth but it is in no hurry to escape. This creature is not at all disturbed by a raging river.

Job 40 Behemoth | “he can draw up Jordan into his mouth”

And the second line according to the KJV makes it sound like Behemoth could take the entire Jordan River into his mouth! Which is surely hyperbolic. Other translations say that Behemoth is not afraid even if the Jordan River rages up to its mouth.

Whatever way it’s translated, it’s clear that even in the midst of a great deal of water, Behemoth is calm and not at all alarmed.

Job 40 Behemoth | No Fear of Man

And not only does Behemoth have no fear of water and the possibility of drowning in raging rapids – this creature also had no fear of man.

24 [He taketh/Can anyone capture] it [with his eyes/when he is on watch/by its eyes]:
[his/can anyone?] nose pierceth [through snares/with barbs/with a snare].

Job 40 Behemoth | “he taketh it with his eyes”

So finally, here the Lord wants to draw attention to the fact that no one is able to capture Behemoth.

Job 40 Behemoth | “his nose pierceth through snares”

And for that reason, this creature had no fear of man. No one apparently was able to pierce this beast’s nose with snares to catch it.

And that’s Gods message for Job. Job – the man full of questions and doubts and struggles – this is the answer that he gets from God – “think about this animal, Job.”

But why? Why does God answer Job in this seemingly-eccentric way?

And to try to answer that, let’s finish our consideration of Behemoth by attempting to answer two final questions.

  1. What was Behemoth?
  2. And why does God mention this creature at this point?

Job 40 Behemoth | What was Behemoth?

So, let’s just recap briefly what we’ve been told by God about this creature.

  • It was created with man, so it’s a land animal.
  • It eats grass.
  • It has really strong abdominal muscles.
  • It has a large strong tree-like tail and massive strong thighs.
  • It’s bones and limbs are thick and solid and strong.
  • It’s one of God’s most fascinating creations and yet God has mastery over it – to the point where God can kill it when he wants.
  • It eats where other animals play, so it probably posed little danger to its fellow creatures.
  • It rests under trees and in marshes and in streams.
  • Sometimes it found itself in rivers – even ones with raging currents.
  • But it wasn’t afraid of those rivers.
  • And it wasn’t afraid of humans, either.

Now, crocodiles don’t eat grass, so it wouldn’t be that. Elephants and Hippopotamuses have small tails, so it can’t be them. What else could it be?

Some have suggested that this is a mythological beast or a “chaos creature.” I don’t want to go there. I think there might be an easier way to think of this beast.

I think that the creature described here is not with us anymore today. Job would have known this creature well, but we don’t have it dwelling among us anymore. I think it’s likely that this creature was some sort of what we would refer to as a dinosaur. Maybe something like a brontosaurus but a bit smaller – so that he can actually fit into marshes and under trees and such. Otherwise, the grass-eating, and the limbs and tail and everything else would seem to match what we know of those larger herbivorous dinosaurs.

So, that’s what I think Behemoth was – a dinosaur of some form.

Job 40 Behemoth | Why Does God Mention Behemoth?

But why does God take the time to mention a dinosaur at this point in his monologue to Job?

I think the fact that God starts this discussion by saying that Behemoth was created alongside mankind indicates that Job is supposed to learn something from this beast. It shares the timing of its origin with mankind – what else might it share with Job?

Well, I think that there are comparisons to be made as well as contrasts.

The strength of this creature far surpasses the physical strength of Job or any man.

But something that both Job and Behemoth share is a natural inferiority to their Creator. God can bring a sword against Behemoth as it were and slay him – even though he’s such a marvelous creature. And when it comes down to it, God has the right to take the life of his human creatures – or simply to do in that life whatever he wishes.

In Job’s life, God wished to prove Satan wrong and allow this righteous man to suffer as though he were wicked. And that’s God’s right. He can do that if he wants.

And Behemoth is OK with all of that. It’s at rest. It fears nothing – not water, not other animals, not man. It’s not even presented as being anxious in the presence of its Creator that bears the sword that will slay it. Behemoth is just living the life that God has given it – no fear. Entirely at rest.

And I think we also learn something about God himself from this passage about Behemoth.

Now, Behemoth is not necessarily presented as dangerous. It eats grass. It dwells among other animals. It’s fairly docile.

But it is incredibly strong. And yet it can be undone by God. And that tells you that God is all-powerful. He has power over this most-powerful creature.

So, with Behemoth we have a powerful God and the reaction of one of his most preeminent creatures is to not fear. To live with the strength that God gives and to be at rest.

God’s power allows you and me to fearlessly live with whatever strength that he’s given us.

Behemoth didn’t care at all about God’s ways. It was completely oblivious to them! It implicitly trusted God’s wisdom – wisdom in terms of how God created it. Behemoth lived his life with no fear.

And Job and you and I need to be that way. We are aware of God’s ways. And sometimes those ways don’t make sense to us. But when that’s the case, let’s take a cue from Behemoth. Be steadfast and immovable. Be anxious for nothing.

When God’s ways don’t make sense, trust his wisdom. Live fearlessly with the strength that he gives you. And may God help us do just that.

Job 40 Commentary: Verses 1-14

Job 40 Commentary

Job 40 Commentary: Verses 1-14
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 40 Commentary: Let’s turn our attention to Job 40.

So, the Lord has asked Job about 59 questions so far that are all intended to show Job that God knows what he’s doing – both in all Creation and in Job’s specific circumstances.

Job 40 Commentary: God to Job | 1-2

And so now, God is going to take a little break in the questioning of Job about particular phenomena in creation. And the questions that God wants to ask Job now have to do with whether or not Job has seen how foolish he’s been to question God’s goodness and justice.

KJV Job 40:1 [Moreover the/Then the/The] LORD [answered Job, and said/said to Job/answered Job],

2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty [instruct/correct] him?
he that [reproveth/accuses] God, let him [answer it/give him an answer].

And we need to remind ourselves of how foolish it is to do what Job has done and what God is reprimanding him for now. To contend with the All-Mighty! To reprove or accuse God!

Whenever we might find ourselves contending with God and accusing him – we are so wrong.

Do we really feel as though we’re in the position to instruct the all-knowing Instructor?

Here’s one way that we’d know that we’re qualified to instruct God. We would be able to answer all of the questions that God has posed so far – all 59 or so! Can you do that?

Well, since none of us can answer the questions that God has asked Job, that means that none of us is in any position to contend with or accuse God.

Job 40 Commentary: Job to the Lord | 3-5

And that’s exactly what Job realizes as he finally responds to God’s questions in verses 3-5.

3 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,

4 [Behold/Indeed], I am [vile/insignificant/completely unworthy]; [what/how] [shall/can] I [answer/reply to] thee?
I will [lay/put] mine hand [upon/over] my mouth [to silence myself…].

5 Once have I spoken; but I [will not/cannot/have no] answer:
[yea, twice/even twice/twice]; but I will [proceed no further/add nothing more/say no more].

So, how is that for a response? I’d say it’s just about the only one that’s worthy in this situation.

Job recognizes how insignificant he is. He’s unable to answer any of God’s questions. And so – instead of responding to God’s questions and instead of continuing to question God’s goodness and justice – Job has determined that he would remain silent.

And this certainly isn’t a seething bitter silence. Job is not going to be stewing in anger while he’s biting his tongue. This is a humble and submissive silence that is called-for in the presence of God.

The author of Ecclesiastes tells us that God is in heaven and we are on earth – reminding us of the great chasm that separates us from him – and so Ecclesiastes urges us to let our words be few when it comes to addressing God. And probably the sense behind that admonition is to be careful about what you say – don’t just say any old thing that comes to your mind.

And that’s the course that Job is taking now. He spoke once and twice – and really, we know he spoke much more than that! – and he accused God of wrongdoing.

But now he’s not interested in saying those kinds of things anymore. He will remain silent.

Job 40 Commentary: God to Job | 6-24

And so, that’s the end, right? God made his point. Job yielded. All is well?

That’s what we might think.

And yet, that is not at all what God thinks. God is not done yet with Job. He has more to say to this hushed and quieted man.

6 Then [answered/spoke] the LORD unto Job out of the [whirlwind/storm], and said,

7 [Gird up thy loins now/Get ready for a difficult task/Brace yourself] like a man:

I will [demand of/ask/question] thee,
and [declare thou unto/you instruct/you will inform/you shall answer] me.

So, this is a repetition of what God has said earlier to Job. So, God is not done questioning Job. He’s actually got another section of questions ready for Job. Only in this section, God focuses on a smaller number of topics – with the majority of the material focused on two creatures – Behemoth and Leviathan.

Job 40 Commentary: Q60-61: God Bad, Job Good? | 8

But before the Lord gets to those two creatures, he has some questions for Job concerning the way that Job was thinking about and portraying him both in his own heart and as he spoke with his three friends.

8 [Wilt/Will/Would] thou [also/really/indeed] [disannul/annul/discredit] my [judgment/justice]?
wilt thou [condemn me/declare me guilty], [so…] that thou mayest be [righteous/justified/right/justified]?

And this is exactly what we heard from Elihu earlier – that the effect of Job’s justifying himself was the condemnation of God.

And let’s just remind ourselves of how that worked. Job was suffering. His three friends assumed that he must have sinned to earn such punishment – because of course sinners receive punishment from God.

And in his own defense, Job maintained that he was innocent. But he then expressed great confusion with this scenario because of course innocent people receive blessings from God. At least, that was the conventional wisdom that Job and his friends were working with.

But God wasn’t holding to his end of the bargain. Instead of blessing, he was punishing Job. God seemed to be doing wrong – to Job at least.

And so, in all of his self-justifying, Job was portraying God as if he was mistaken – as if he was being unjust – or ignorant of Job’s true condition, at best.

Job had demanded a day in court with God. And Job expressed that he knew that if he had his day in court, he’d be able to set God straight.

And God’s response that we just saw is something like, “Really?!” “Are you really going to try to discredit my justice in this world?” “Are you really going to try to make me look bad so that you can look good?

Job 40 Commentary: Q62-63: Being God | 9-14

And then the Lord brings Job through a ridiculous scenario that he’s already hinted at for the last few chapters. God wants to challenge Job to just try to be … God.

9 Hast thou an arm [like/as powerful as that of] God?
or canst thou thunder with a voice like [him/his]?

So, is Job as powerful as God physically? Well, if he isn’t as physically powerful as God – how does his voice compare to the Almighty?

And of course, in both of those questions there is a great deal of sarcasm. God and Job and everyone knows that Job does not compare to God in terms of strength – physically and vocally.

Well, it’s as if God – for the sake of argument – assumes an affirmative answer from Job – yes, he is as powerful as God. Because now the Lord is going to command Job to do things that only God himself can do.

10 [Deck/Adorn] thyself [now/then] with [majesty/eminence/glory] and [excellency/dignity/splendor];
and [array/clothe] thyself with [glory/honor] and [beauty/majesty/honor].

So, Job is commanded by God to assume the physical appearance of deity. How easy and realistic is that?!

But God continues and orders Job to deal with the wicked like God really does ultimately deal with them.

11 [Cast abroad/Pour out/Scatter abroad/Unleash] the [rage/overflowings/abundance/fury] of thy [wrath/anger]:
and [behold/look at] every [one that is proud/proud man], and [abase him/make him low/bring him low].

So, Job has been questioning God’s dealings with the wicked. Job has maintained that God is incorrectly treating him as if he were wicked. And at the same time, Job maintains that there are times when God ignores the wicked and their evil – and he just kind of turns a blind eye to them.

In short, Job is not all that satisfied with how God deals with wicked people.

But God – as it were – hands Job the keys to the car and in effect says, “Alright, then you try it.

And really, God defends how he deals with the wicked even as he instructs Job on how to deal with the wicked. God asserts that he pours out wrath on them. And he admits that he does indeed humble those who are proud.

So, far from ignoring the wicked – God affirms that his anger and humbling effects do catch up with them.

And the Lord continues his command to Job to deal with the wicked the way that only God can and does.

12 Look [on/at] every [one that is proud/proud man], and [bring him low/humble him/abase him];
[and tread down/crush] the wicked [in their place/were they stand/on the spot].

So, once more, God admits to humbling the proud and crushing the wicked on the spot.

And as he commands Job to do this, of course, the irony is thick. There’s no way that Job could ever do this.

And so certainly Job wouldn’t be able to execute the death sentence against these people, either.

13 [Hide/Bury] them [all…] in the dust together;
[and bind their faces/bind them/imprison them/shroud their faces] in [secret/the hidden place/the grave].

And this is yet again another way in which Job would have no idea how to do what God does. Job wouldn’t know the first thing about bringing wicked people to the grave.

So, God has brought out several ways in which Job is unable to be God. But if Job somehow were able to do these things, then the following would be the case…

14 Then will I [also/myself] [confess/acknowledge/admit] unto thee
that thine own right hand can save thee.

And this is a way for God to speak of Job as if he were self-sufficient – that his right could save him. Several times in the Psalms, the author speaks of God saving him with his right hand. This is something that God alone can do.

And so then of course, it’s also something that Job cannot do.

And this kind of reminds me of something that happened this weekend. Watertown, where we live, has a nice Park and Recreation league for youth soccer. It’s actually very large in my estimation and gets many many young people involved from 4 year olds to 8th grade.

The problem is that that many kids requires a number of coaches. Volunteer coaches. But most parents start out like me – they think they wouldn’t be able to do it.

But for me, it only took one year of seeing my son being coached by a high school girl who never played soccer to realize that I can do at least what she was doing! So, I’ve been coaching our oldest son for two years and now I’m coaching our youngest son this season.

And at the level I’m coaching, the coaches are the referees as well. We ref and coach, which maybe explains why I’m so tired these days!

Anyway, the other team we were playing this weekend had no coach for a while into the season. None of the parents were willing to step forward. They all want their son in soccer – but none of them were willing to make that possible by being the coach.

Well, finally someone did step up and took that responsibility. But I don’t know who that is because for whatever reason yesterday he scheduled an oil change during the game. So it was just me – coaching and ref’ing two teams of around seven 1st graders each with numerous family members of these kids sitting and watching the proceedings.

And all of that was fine. But the most frustrating part of the whole ordeal was that a sizeable section of the fans was actually rather critical of me. They were challenging my calls. They were calling out penalties that they thought I should have called, but didn’t.

And of course I am liable to make bad calls and to miss good calls. But I was struck with the combination of two realities at work with these “fans.” The first, is that they have no desire – or perhaps even ability – to put themselves in my position as a referee. And second, despite their total lack of interest in being a creative part of a solution, they feel like somehow they have the ability to make all the right calls at the right time.

Isn’t it amazing how that works? Sometimes, the things that we are least able or even inclined to do, sometimes we get the idea that we are fully capable of doing. That we could do better than what’s currently being done – even though we have no interest whatsoever in doing anything!

And that’s just where Job finds himself. He has been making some very strong statements. He has been calling God to court to explain himself. He has been insinuating that God has been unjust to him.

And God is now coming to him and is in effect saying what I would like to have said to those couch potato fans at that game yesterday – “You want to give this a try? Be my guest!

Only, the difference between God and myself in that illustration is that God is fully capable of filling his position whereas I’m just an amateur who’s willing to be a fool for the sake of my kids.

And God is willing to be a little “foolish” for the sake of his child Job. If Job thinks that he can do a better job than the Almighty Lord of Heaven and Earth – well, then, God says, “Go for it!

And when faced with that offer from God – of course, Job is going to have to decline. God is God. And Job is a limited man – limited in terms of power and of knowledge. Job is Job – and not God.

And therefore, Job and we ourselves do well to allow God to be God in our lives. We don’t need to go through the same thing that we see in Job’s life. You don’t need God to throw you the keys to the universe and say, “Good luck!

What we need is what Job needed. We need to trust God’s wisdom. Not only when things make sense – that’s when it’s easy to trust God wisdom. But we need to trust him even when things are hard – when God’s ways don’t make sense to us. That’s especially when we need to trust his wisdom.

So, may the Lord help us to do just that this week.

Job 39 Summary: Verses 13-30

Job 39 Summary

Job 39 Summary: Verses 13-30
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 39 Summary: Let’s turn our attention to Job 39.

We’re in the section in this book where God appears to Job and speaks to him. And instead of answering any questions that Job may have had – God has been asking question after question to Job.

If my count is correct, then God has so far asked Job 52 questions. These questions have dealt with the earth, the clouds, the heavens, the sea, snow, hail, rain, light, darkness, animals, wisdom, and even death.

And we’ve noted that these questions are all intended to help Job understand that Job ultimately doesn’t know much about anything. On the other hand – God understand all of these things perfectly. And not only does he understand all of these things – he alone is mighty and powerful enough to make them happen.

Now, the last several questions that God asked have dealt with animals. God most recently asked Job about…

Q38-39: Feeding Lions

Q40: Feeding Ravens

Q41-44: Birth of Goats and Deer

Q45-46: Wild Donkeys

Q47-52: Powerful Wild Oxen

And for the rest of chapter 39, God is going to keep talking to Job about animals – about their peculiarities – about their strengths – about their uniquely-excellent qualities.

Job 39 Summary: Q53-54?: Birds

And God begins by talking to Job about birds.

And he focuses first on their wings.

KJV Job 39:13 [Gavest thou the goodly/The ostriches’] wings [unto the peacocks/flap joyfully]?
[or/with the/but are they the/but they cannot compare with the] [wings/pinions] and [feathers/plumage/feathers] [unto the ostrich/of love/of a stork]?

“Gavest thou the goodly wings”

And we need to stop here and figure out what’s being said here.

First of all we have the phrase in the KJV, “Gavest thou the goodly…” And you can see that the phrase “Gavest thou” is in italics – which means that those words were supplied by the translators.

But what we also need to note is that the word translated as “goodly” by the KJV occurs only one time in the Old Testament. And you can guess where that is! Right here, of course.

So, when a word appears only once, it’s sometimes difficult to figure out what it means. Context is the most helpful clue for us. And the KJV decided that the context indicates that the word means “goodly” or something that is beautiful or helpful or commendable.

But most other translations translate that Hebrew word that appears only here as “ostrich” as in “The ostrich’s wings…” So, God is speaking of an ostrich and her wings.

“unto the peacocks”

And we also need to note that there’s another translational issue right after the first one we just discussed. And that is the phrase in the KJV, “unto the peacocks.”

The word underlying that phrase is found three times in the Old Testament. Once it’s rendered the way it is here – as “peacock.” Another time it’s translated in the KJV as “solace” – the idea of comfort or consolation. And the third time it’s translated in the KJV as “rejoice.”

So, think with me here. There was a song on a TV program when I was a kid that went:

One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn’t belong
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song? (Sesame Street)

But at any rate – when you think of these three words: “solace,” “rejoice,” and “peacock” – which doesn’t belong? Which is the odd man out?

“Solace” and “rejoice” both have to do with your emotional state. They’re furthermore to be viewed as positive realities.

And then we have “peacock.” And yes, that’s the thing that doesn’t belong in this group. And ultimately, I think we are justified to seek another way to translate that word here in Job 39 rather than as “peacock.”

So – putting this all together – God is telling Job that the ostrich has wings that rejoice! They – according to one translation – flap joyfully!

That’s good. We finally understand what that first line means!

But wait – there’s more! This verse is pretty difficult to interpret. But we’ll get there, with God’s help.

There are a few more translational difficulties that we need to hammer out.

“or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?”

The word “wings” is fine. No issue there.

But that next word “feathers” occurs six times in the Old Testament. Five times the KJV translates it as “stork.” And once it’s translated as it is here – as “feathers.” So, hold that thought for just a moment.

And let’s consider one last word in this verse. It’s the word “ostrich.” That word appears four times in the Old Testament. And three times it’s translated by the KJV as “feathers.” And I’m sorry for sounding like a broken record, but only one time this word is translated as we have it here – “ostrich.”

If you’ll allow me to take a little liberty in using the words as the KJV uses them in the majority of the verses in which they appear, then the end of verse 13 says something like, “wings of a stork and feathers.”

So, putting the whole verse together, we have God saying, “An ostrich flaps her wings joyfully” and then he compares those wings to that of a stork.

Why would God talk about a stork here? From this verse through to verse 18, God talks about the ostrich – not storks. So, why mention a stork here?

Well, from what I could find out, it seems that storks are known for the longevity of their nests. They continue to use the same nest year after year. They’re faithful to lay their eggs and hatch them – in the same spot – year after year.

And that’s an important distinction – because as God tells us for the next several verses – ostriches are really not very faithful when it comes to nesting and caring for their young.

14 [Which/For she/She] [leaveth/abandons/lays] her eggs [in/to/on] the [earth/ground],
and [warmeth them/lets them be warmed] [in/on the] [dust/soil/sand],

15 [And forgetteth/Unmindful] that [the/a] foot [may/might] crush them,
or that [the/a/some] wild [beast/animal] [may/might] [break/trample] them.

So, ostriches do make their nest in the sand on the ground. And when you think about it, this is rather unusual for a bird. When you think of bird nests and bird eggs you typically think of nests being up in a tree or in some other high and hard-to-reach area.

But the ostrich just lays her eggs on the ground – where any old animal can come by and smash her eggs or some human can come along and take them.

Now, I understand that a male ostriches will mate with several female ostriches and they will usually all lay eggs – sometimes up to 70 eggs between all of the females in the group. The problem is that only about 20 eggs can be incubated at once – by the way, the sitting on the eggs that these ostriches do is to actually cool the eggs rather than to warm them – the hot African sun does that pretty well without any help!

Anyway, there’s a dominant female that incubates the eggs during the day and the male does so at night. That process takes about 40 days. If there are more than 20 eggs in the sand nest – the dominant female will push the excess eggs out of the nest to be stepped on or stolen or to rot or whatever else. And of course, it seems that most of the time, the discarded eggs are not hers – but rather those of the minor ostrich hens in the group. (http://www.tektonics.org/lp/ostrich.php)

And it’s that kind of behavior that God is referencing when he utters the following of these ostriches:

16 She is [hardened against/harsh with/treats cruelly] her young ones,
as [though/if] they were not hers:
her labour is [in vain/useless] [without fear/she is unconcerned/she cares not];

So, God could be speaking of any of several realities here when he says that the ostrich is hardened against her young ones.

He could be referring to the fact that the dominant female pushes some of the eggs out of the nest – the ones that she’s been charged with caring for. Or he could be speaking of the minor hens that don’t seem to care that their eggs have been pushed out of the nest. Or it could be speaking of the fact that once the eggs hatch, the hen is not the one to take care of the young – but instead the male does that.

At any rate, from laying the egg to incubating to what happens after the egg hatches – it can be said that in certain ways it seems that the female ostrich is not all that concerned about these lives that she is bringing into the world.

She has labor – hard work – both to produce the eggs and then to hatch them. And yet, she turns around and treats her eggs the way she does without any fear or concern or care.

And that’s just odd! What is wrong with this bird?! Why does she act this way??

17 Because God [hath deprived her of/has made her forget/did not endow her with] wisdom,
neither hath he [imparted/given a share] to her [understanding/of good sense].

It’s not wise to treat your young poorly – whether you’re a bird or a human or anything else. It shows a lack of understanding when this is how a creature acts.

And this is how God says Job has acted – without understanding. Remember how God started out this barrage of questions to Job? “Who is this that darkens counsel without – what? – understanding?

And just as silly and foolish as the ostrich seems for being so callous and careless regarding her young – so too Job is operating carelessly. Job has been questioning God’s justice and his goodness. Job has been demanding that God give an account to him for his actions in Job’s life. And so, God is responding to Job like – “You’re lacking wisdom and understanding. How could you possibly question the justice and goodness of the one who alone is able to both define and embody those very concepts?

And so, Job is receiving a healthy dose of reality from God here. And we’re going to see him later respond right with wisdom and understanding to God’s rebuke. That’s how wise people respond to God’s chastening.

But as for our old friend the ostrich – she is totally incapable of such a response. She’s free and that’s all she cares about!

18 [What time/When/But as soon as/Yet when] she [lifteth up herself on high/springs up/spreads her feathers to run],
she [scorneth/laughs at] the horse and his rider.

She laughs – as it were – at the horse who has a rider. Because she’s free! She has no wisdom, but she doesn’t care. So what if she has no wisdom? She’s free to do as she pleases.

No human rules over her. But God does. God is in charge of ostriches. He’s the one who decided to withhold wisdom from them so that they do these foolish things that we’ve discussed.

And without God’s wisdom we are all just as foolish and care-free as the ostrich.

Job 39 Summary: Q55-57: Horses

Well, as long as God brought up horses in relation to ostriches, he decides to ask Job a question about that animal next.

19 [Hast thou given/Do you give] the horse [strength/his might]?
hast thou clothed his neck with [thunder/a mane(1x in OT)]?

Has Job given the physical traits of strength and dignity to the horse? Of course not – only God has done that.

20 Canst thou make him [afraid/leap] [as/like] a [grasshopper/locust]?
[the glory of his nostrils/his majestic snorting/Its proud neighing/his proud snorting] [is terrible/is terrifying/strikes terror].

And so, rather than being able to scare a horse, Job is more likely to be afraid of this creature than the horse is afraid of man.

Because God’s not talking about some micro-horse or pony or something like that. God is talking about the kind of horse that’s not afraid to charge into battle!

21 He paweth [the ground…] [fiercely…] in the valley, [and rejoiceth in his strength/exulting mightily]:
he goeth on to meet the [armed men/weapons] [as it charges into the fray…].

And whereas the ostrich laughs at this horse – this horse has something else that he laughs at.

22 He [mocketh/laughs] at fear, and is not [affrighted/dismayed/afraid] [of anything…];
neither [turneth he back/does he shy away] from the sword.

No fear! Despite this kind of scene all around him…

23 The quiver rattleth [against him/on him/against his side],
the [glittering/flashing] [spear/lance] and [the shield/javelin/lance].

And rather than deter him, the presence of this kind of danger only seems to invigorate him.

24 He [swalloweth/races over/consumes/eats up] the ground with [fierceness/shaking/excitement] and [rage/impatience/frenzy]:
neither [believeth he that it is/does he stand still at] the sound of the trumpet.

25 He [saith/snorts] [among/at the sound of] the trumpets, [Ha, ha/Aha!];
and he [smelleth the/catches the scent of] battle [afar off/from a distance],
the [thunder/thunderous shouting] of the [captains/commanders], and the [shouting/war cry/battle cries].

And so, God has made this amazing creature what it is. God made the horse to be like this. He made the ostrich to be very different.

And God made Job – and he made you and me – to trust him even when we don’t understand his ways in our life.

Job 39 Summary: Q58: Hawks

Now, God returns to asking Job a question. And this time, he’s going to ask about hawks.

26 Doth the hawk [fly/soar/take flight] by thy [wisdom/understanding],
and [stretch/spread] her wings toward the south?

So, does Job lend wisdom to hawks to help them to soar? So, of course not.

Job 39 Summary: Q59: Eagle

And neither can Job command the eagle to fly and build her nest.

27 Doth the eagle [mount up/soar] at thy command,
and [make/build] her nest on high?

28 She [dwelleth/lives] and [abideth/lodges/spends the night there] on the [rock/cliff],
upon [the crag of the rock/a rocky crag], [and the strong place/an inaccessible place/a fortress/his stronghold].

29 From [thence/there] she [seeketh/spies out/spots/weeks out] [the prey/food],
and her eyes [behold/see it/gaze intently/detect it] [afar off/from a distance].

30 Her young ones also [suck up/devour/feast on] [the…] blood:
and where the [slain/dead carcasses] are, there is she.

So, these animals are amazing. Some are just plain foolish – but even their foolishness is amazing testimony to God’s influence and control over them. Some are strong, powerful, and fearless. Others soar and nest at great heights. Heights beyond the reach of humans.

And God is using all of this to remind Job that it’s not only the heights of birds’ nests that are beyond humans. God’s ways are by-and-large beyond us. We can’t understand them totally.

And that’s OK – because we have a God who knows what he’s doing and how to do it. And so, whenever we find ourselves feeling like God’s ways are beyond us – remember the eagle’s nest. It’s beyond your reach – it’s beyond your ability to access. And yet, it’s all in God’s capable hands. We can trust him.