Alfred Place Baptist Church

40-41 The Lord answered Job (II) Let him who accuses God answer Him!

“The LORD said to Job: ‘Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? Let him who accuses God answer him!’” (Job 40:1), and so on to the end of chapter 41. If we ran the world, we wouldn’t run it the way God does. Every tyrant imagines that he could run it better, and because God doesn’t run it their way, men refuse to submit to him. “Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?” said a despot at the time of Moses, and men say just the same today. “If I ruled the world”, sang Mr Pickwick, “every day would be the first day of spring”. That’s how we imagine we would operate. We wouldn’t permit the Sabeans and the Chaldeans to rustle all our herds of camels and donkeys and cattle and kill our servants. They would be puppets not real men with that freedom required by being made in God’s image. We wouldn’t run the world so that natural disasters happen, buildings collapse and our own loved ones are killed. We’d organise things so that there would be no illness unto death. Being in charge we would stop families being divided. No wife would turn against her husband and belittle him. We’d prohibit friends turning out to be cold-comfort, hard-hearted acquaintances accusing us of hiding our vile acts from them, but that God knew everything about our rotten lives. We would abolish all of that unpleasantness if we were God, so we think. We could do a better job of running the world than God. We aren’t pleased with the way God does things. Even Job has not been pleased with God, and he has put the Lord in the dock and he has been calling on God to give him some explanation for why he has acted as he does.

Now, some of us might think we would never act like that, that we are the people who always pray with a hundred per cent sincerity “Thy will be done”, that we are submissive always to God and that we always humbly receive what God gives us. So we imagine . . . Maybe Job had thought like that, that his faith was strong and impeccable until all these trials, one by one came into his life, and finally Job cracked under the strain; he cursed the day that he was born wishing he had been a stillborn child. Job does not find the will of God easy, either to accept or to understand. He wishes God, on many days, would whisper a little explanation making it clear and giving him reasons why all these hosts of troubles had come crashing into his life. Job summons God: “Come near”, he says, “Come and tell me, come and explain a thing or two to me,” and if we had passed through half the experiences of Job, would we display any more peace? Would we be stronger in faith after enduring some of the pain that this man had endured? You will remember when God’s will was for his blessèd Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to go to Golgotha that that wasn’t easy. In fact the Lord Jesus asked if there could be another cup. Could God’s will for his death be different in any way? God sometimes gives his people the wine of astonishment to drink.

GOD SPEAKS TO JOB.

The Lord speaks to Job and he tells his servant that he has been discrediting the justice of God, the fairness of God (40:8). However God acts it is never out of malice, nor capriciousness, nor even out of mere sovereignty. God is straight; our God is light and in him is no darkness at all. God speaks to Job in an utterly extraordinary way. He addresses rationally and poetically this speck of dust. The God of beauty speaks aesthetically to this maggot. Jehovah speaks like Tennyson to this ant, this utterly insignificant sinner who imagines he’d make a better job of ruling and running the world than Triune Omnipotence himself.

i] The impotence of man.

Now Job is asked a question, but it is not one about wisdom. God has been asking Job questions about his wisdom in chapters 38 and 39. About fifty questions come to Job and they are unanswerable, and Job is silenced. His only response is to acknowledge what an ignorant man he is; “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more”. There is nothing of which the omniscient one is ignorant. In his wisdom he made the cosmos, planning the microcosm of the atom and the macrocosm of the distant galaxies. The angle at which the earth tilts, the speed at which it spins, the distance it is from the sun and from the moon, the composition of water and air, plant life, zoological life and our place with our gifts of creation and communication in this world were all made by an all-wise Maker. He alone could have made a world like this. We are not like that at all. We’re not all-wise. We can’t answer one of the fifty questions that God asks and there are fifty million more which would stump us. So, no matter how we complain and grumble about God’s running of the world, we would do a miserable job of it ourselves, because of our creaturely limitations and sinfulness. We’re neither smart enough nor holy enough to create a grain of sand let alone a cosmos and a world full of people.

We also lack the power. To sustain six thousand million human beings and countless other living things in the world, let alone the dynamic core of each atom, illimitable, unimaginable power is essential. Everything lives and moves and has its being in God. Let him have that power and never covet it for yourself. It is enough for you to fear him and keep his commandments. How did I cope with the power I had to do that? So Job, having been silenced by God’s questions concerning his ignorance, is now silenced by God’s question about his impotence, that is, Job’s utter helplessness. So the same phrase ‘out of the storm’ that God used in chapter 38 we meet again in chapter 40 and verses six; “Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm: ‘Brace yourself like a man [remember, I said that it was like a wrestler, preparing now for an onslaught]; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’” God has dealt with Job’s ignorance, and now God is going to deal with the helplessness of this little speck, the fine dust on the balance – this grasshopper. God is speaking to him, and this is what God says: “‘Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn yourself with glory and splendour, and clothe yourself in honour and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand. Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.’” (Job 40 8-14). That’s what God said to Job! “If you can do this”, he says, “if your voice can thunder like God’s, if you can adorn yourself in glory and splendour and honour and majesty and coming judgement on the world unleashing the fury of your wrath, humbling the proud and crushing the wicked, then I would bow before you”, God says; “I would humble myself before Job.” That’s the extraordinary thing God says. “I would abdicate, and you could rule”, God says. He’d worship at Job’s feet.

Since our first parents fell, men and women have thought that they know better than God, that if God says something in his Word even as plain as, “The day you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall surely die,” men think they are smarter than God, their judgements more sympathetic to fellow human beings. They are not harsh, or remote, or severe. That’s how man without God, the natural man, thinks. All the time the pagan people around us put the Ancient of Days in the dock. They make themselves God and they stand in judgement on him. What am I talking about? Let me illustrate it like this, that you start talking to them about God and they reply, “My mother died at an early age and she was a wonderful person. She was a Sunday School Teacher and I could never believe in a God who could permit something like that.” They’ll justify their own unbelief in God by the allegedly monstrous actions of a God who doesn’t exist. “How do you explain Iraq?” they’ll shout at you. I remember an open air meeting, preaching in the Fair about the worthiness of Jesus Christ to be our God and Saviour, and a heckler shouting repeatedly, “What about Afghanistan?” as though that answered the question of the existence of God and his own answerability to him. What about the heckler’s own sin and his need of this Saviour?

So, God shows to Job something first of his ignorance, and then something of his utter weakness. “You are too stupid to be God and you are too weak to be God”, he says. “And who are you, then, to contend with the Almighty? Who are you to accuse God?” Now it’s very blunt, isn’t it? It’s extraordinarily straight. God is so confrontational here, isn’t he? But it does happen; occasionally God’s eyes will flash. He is provoked as the full measure of his people’s sins overflow. Then God speaks very plainly to them. Romans chapter nine and verse twenty, “Who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” Doesn’t the potter – the potter! – have such rights? Does the clay whine, “I must be a fine Dresden vase. Don’t make me a chamber pot.” No. The clay has no authority. It is the potter that will form it his way. God has the power to spare Mrs Job from any illness at all and visit Mr Job with any illness in the medical textbook. Doesn’t God have the right to deal with sinners – rebel sinners who defy him! – in a just and fair way? No man has a right to protest. We men and women are ignorant and we are also impotent. God alone is almighty and God is all-wise. At times God will remind us of that. God can be absolutely straight; God can be blunt and direct because he is God. Read some of the utterances of Jesus to the Pharisees or Paul to the Galatian Judaizers and you will see how confrontational God can be to those who defy his grace.

ii] The Justice of God.

But you see in particular at this juncture that God focuses on this aspect of his justice because that’s the theme raised by Job’s friends. God is a God of absolute integrity. A man sins; he abuses a child, and God does not shrug in indifference; he judges him for such an evil action. Job has been under fearful judgement and so his acquaintances argue that Job must have sinned. That’s how the world thinks. So God speaks to Job and inquires whether Job is any good at evaluating the instincts and imaginations and omissions and words of fallen man, to judge men righteously? Job has been saying, “I don’t think God can be straight to deal with me in this way. God is unjust.” Do you remember the great problem that John the Baptist had in prison? John the Baptist had been preaching: “When the Messiah comes there will be justice again in the world”. You remember? He said, “The axe will be laid to the root of the trees and those that don’t bring forth any righteous fruit will be hewn down. He comes! His winnowing-fan is in his hands and he’s going to separate the chaff from the wheat. He’s going to gather together all the wheat. He’s going to burn the chaff with unquenchable fire”. That was the great message: “Bring forth fruits meet for repentance. Don’t say, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’” You remember John’s great message, and the Baptist was faithful to that message that God had given to him. You remember what happened because of his faithfulness to the message. Evil King Herod took him and threw him in prison and his life is suspended by a thread, and incarceration goes on and on. Why doesn’t Jesus do anything about it? John has prophesied about Jesus and said: “He, when he comes, will baptize with fire.” Where’s the fire? Where’s the justice? That is John the Baptist’s problem. The days go by and Jesus goes to parties; he even goes to weddings! Where is the axe being laid to the root of the tree of recalcitrant godless Israel? John in prison is beginning to think that Jesus can’t be the one who should come. “God is unjust in delaying for so long his judgments on this judgment-deserving generation,” he is thinking. His attitude is similar to Job’s friends. They are just like the man who says, “What about Afghanistan?” Why doesn’t God condemn the USA for invading that country? They don’t see any evidence of divine justice operating as they think it should in this world.

So you remember what John did? He sent a message to Jesus via two disciples and they spoke out: “John asks you, Are you the one that should come or do we seek another?” Has John made a mistake as to the identity of the Messiah? Is there another Jesus to look for? We know, my friends, there cannot be another Jesus, can there? Only one Jesus. The just Jesus. But you see, God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved. Jesus Christ didn’t come with his axe and his sword and with his angels of wrath to punish sinners because if he had, men and women, not one of us would be here today. We’d all be shrieking in the flames of hell in agony at this moment. God sent his Son for the axe to be laid into Jesus and the fires of judgment to fall on Jesus on Golgotha, that mercy might come to us, that forgiveness might be ours. Now the men in the world are very good in talking about justice and “Flog ’em and birch ’em and lock ’em up in prison and throw the key away.” That’s what the men of the world want. “Nuke them and destroy them.” that’s what the men of the world are capable of. A woman who is a mother will strap on a suicide bomb and get onto a bus of strangers, children and old folk, and detonate it, killing many and maiming horribly many more. People know about justice; they will build Auschwitz in the name of justice; they will send planes in the skyscrapers of New York in the name of justice; they will detonate explosives on tube trains and buses and it is all in the name of justice. But Job is leaning that he isn’t capable of displaying the faintest echo of the justice of God.

None of Job’s friends are super policemen in the world, and so God speaks to him about his inability to judge aright. Righteous Job would fail if he were faced with the whole world and he was to sit on the great white throne judging all mankind. He would fail then, let alone now in the sphere of abundant long-suffering, patience and kindness, waiting for men to come to themselves and then to come to him.

You might be disappointed, then, if that’s how this book ended, with God’s challenge of Job. Firstly he doesn’t know anything, he isn’t all-wise, and he is also weak, and so he can’t do anything and he has to accept that God is in control and you might think, “Oh well, that’s the message I’d expect in Alfred Place, a message of the sovereignty and the wisdom of Almighty God” but it doesn’t end like that. See how this consummate writer surprises us again.

iii] The behemoth.

God says, “Look at … the Flood”? No. He doesn’t speak about God’s great judgements. “Look at … the Plagues of Egypt”? No. He doesn’t speak of the judgements that come on Egypt’s recalcitrance. “Look at the Bible”? No. Not at the great revelation that God has given to us in the Bible. “Look at the Milky Way and the vastness of space I created”? No. God doesn’t refer to his judgements or his power. In fact God says, “Look at … the behemoth” (v.15). The what? The behemoth. Look at an enormous animal. That’s what God says. Isn’t that strange? Imagine a great debate on Mars Hill and there all the philosophers of Greece are gathered. Then Paul gets up and he says, “Now, let’s look at the elephant.” Or imagine at the United Nations, or some European Court of Human Rights who are discussing world suffering and world poverty and world injustice, as they have for years without any reference to Almighty God, the Creator, the Fall of Man, the judgements of God on this world, without any reference to that and so they are as baffled today with the groaning world as they were a century ago. Suddenly, in the midst of all this high-powered debate a man gets up, a very distinguished man, and he says, “Let’s look at the hippopotamus”. Can you be serious? This seems to be The Goon Show; this is Monty Python; this is The Theatre of the Absurd. What has a hippopotamus got to do with Job and his pain? Why is God doing this? Why is God introducing at this juncture two animals? Is he playing games? He can’t be playing games, of course. Why, then, is God raising this subject? What in the world is a behemoth? It’s the plural of the word for ‘beast’ in Hebrew. ‘Beasts’, it means. And as you heard the passage read to you, it probably struck you most of all like a hippopotamus. Okay, let’s look at chapter forty, verse 15 onwards: “‘Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly! His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron. He ranks first among the works of God, yet his Maker can approach him with his sword. The hills bring him their produce, and all the wild animals play nearby. Under the lotus plant he lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh. The lotuses conceal him in their shadow; the poplars by the stream surround him. When the river rages, he is not alarmed; he is secure, though the Jordan should surge against his mouth. Can anyone capture him by the eyes, or trap him and pierce his nose?’”

We see a deer running across the road; we see a video of an Africa game park. We go to the zoo and we say to our children, “It was God who made these things, do you know that God made them. God designed the panda”, we say. The beautiful panda. “How can you be an atheist when you look at a panda?” we want to say, but then we add, that this is a wild animal after the fall and so brutal and merciless. God made the hummingbird. It was God who designed the whale. How incredible! What an extraordinary, inventive, colourful Creator God is. However, more than that is intended here. We do admire the extraordinary power of a God who could design and make a hippopotamus and then God compares Job to the hippopotamus. He says in verse 15: “I made you both”. He could be specific and say, “I made you both on the sixth day of creation from the dust of the earth.” God made all the living things then, all the animals, and he made man on the sixth day, and we were all made out of the same stuff. He made us out of the dust of the earth and we all became living creatures. Job and the hippopotamus made by the same hands of God on the same day of creation, and yet they’re so different. Job . . . a hippopotamus. A hippopotamus is a grass-eater. He has no conscience, no speech, no powers of reason, no appreciation of beauty. He couldn’t sit down then with the four men counselling Job and giving him his opinion, tossing in his sixpennyworth about the problem of human suffering and theological insights. He has no powers at all. He has no rationality. The things of the Law aren’t written in his mind. He doesn’t know God. Yet, he reflects something of his Maker; how immensely strong he is. Verses sixteen, seventeen and eighteen comment on this. “Are you strong? Have you got strength, Job?” God is saying, and there is Job and he’s a wimp. He’s in the last stages of a disease; he’s covered in sores; his breath stinks; his teeth are rotting; he’s sitting on an ash heap. God is looking for physical strength, but he doesn’t look at Job. He does look at the hippopotamus. “Look at the behemoth!”

God is looking, of course, for strength in us. Not the strength of militant aggression that can nuke and kill, not the strength of the suicide bomber, but the strength of love and forgiveness and the strength of patience and the strength that turns the other cheek; the strength that checks the angry word; the strength of endurance and submission that deems other people better. God is looking. He looks into your heart for the graces of the fruits of the Spirit there in your life, there in your minds. Do you have strength? The strength of God, is it there in your weakness?

And the hippopotamus, where is he? He’s hidden under the reeds. That’s where he’s left in this picture, and he’s not worrying. He’s not fretting. He’s got peace. He’s a contented creature. There’s a flood, we’re told. The lakes overflow and the valley is filled. The hippopotamus just sinks to the bottom. He takes a deep breath and he stays there half an hour. He’s quite contented there (v.23). He’s not alarmed. He doesn’t say: “What is God doing? Is God in control?” He’s secure. “Job, you were made the same day as the hippopotamus. My hands made him. My hands made you. You’re far greater than the hippopotamus. I put eternity in your heart. I’ve given you a soul. I’ve made you in my image. I’ve made you a little lower than the angels. Job, you and I have been friends. My blessing has rested on your home and on your life”, he says. A hippopotamus. What is a hippopotamus? A big pig who can hold his breath under water for a long time. That’s what the hippopotamus is — a big pig! And yet this big pig is never alarmed. When Jordan is in flood, when the Nile is in flood, he’s at peace. And you are not. You go home with your frets and your tensions and there is your dog, and he wags his tail, and there is your cat. She comes up to you and she wraps her mobile body around your ankle and she snuggles and she purrs, and you are fretting. She knows you are here and you will provide for her, you’re going to take care of her, you’re going to do that. “You can learn”, God says; “You can learn, from a dumb animal, you can learn”.

iv] The leviathan.

Then in chapter 41 God tells Job of the leviathan, and the leviathan is a super crocodile. Now, Job has never seen a crocodile in the land of Uz. They’re south in North Africa, at the Nile, and so again it’s poetically described. Let’s look in chapter 41 at the crocodile, from verse15 onwards: “‘His back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. His snorting throws out flashes of light; his eyes are like the rays of dawn. Firebrands stream from his mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from his nostrils as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds. His breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from his mouth. Strength resides in his neck; dismay goes before him. The folds of his flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. His chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone. When he rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before his thrashing. The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin … His undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing-sledge. He makes the depths churn like a boiling cauldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair. Nothing on earth is his equal—a creature without fear. He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud.”’ Don’t get in its way. Run a mile if Mr Crocodile comes to you, flashing his anger and the sun shines on the spray that he blows out through his nostrils. “It’s as if he were breathing fire”, he says. Now what is one thing significant about that crocodile? It never complains, but, Job, you do. You do complain. The crocodile doesn’t. Again, are you adapted, like the crocodile is, for action, for retreat, for hunting, for preservation? God made the crocodile simply because he takes pleasure in the diversity of creation, in all the range of its beauty. “There’s nothing on earth that can compare to the leviathan” (v.33), God says to him. Isn’t that interesting? Now where have you heard that phrase before? ‘There’s nothing on earth that can compare to . . .’ Remember it in the first chapter of the book of Job where God is speaking to Satan. He is not speaking to Job but saying to Satan that no one in the world can compare to Job. Now he’s saying that there’s nothing in the world that can compare to the leviathan. The leviathan, a creature of God and unique; Job, a child of God. Unique. Didn’t God pay such close attention to the behemoth and the leviathan? He knew every detail about them. The point is this, that God has been paying close attention to Job even when he was silent. He knows Job far better than Satan does. Satan didn’t know Job. He thought Job was serving God for what he got from God. Satan thought Job would crack when great troubles flooded into his life, but God knew what Job could bear and he has kept his servant as he keep all his servants.

God has paid the best attention to Job and now it’s time for Job to pay close attention to God. You see, what is God like? What’s the book of Job about? The book of Job is about God. What is God like? Is he like a sort of machine, a vending machine of rewards and punishments? Man sins, God sees, God punishes, and that’s how Job’s friends have argued. Job was spotted by God, punished by God, so Job must have been a great sinner. It was good logic but bad theology. “Let’s look at the hippopotamus”, God says, “and let’s look at the crocodile.” So, God isn’t simply the Judge, is he? He’s not just one who pulls out his cane and chastens us when we do wrong. A robot could do that. He’s a God who delights in creating: “Glory be to God for dappled things, for skies of coupled colour as a braided cow. He fathers forth whose beauty is past charge. Praise him.” So wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins one day as he looked at the Vale of Clwyd one spring day and wrote that poem saying nothing is as beautiful as spring. He’s seeing the first pussy willows, the catkins, the lambs playing and the birds are singing and building their nests. The foretaste of summer is in the air. We look at the creation and we sing, “When through the woods and forest glades I wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees; When I stoop down at lofty mountain’s grandeur and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze, then sings my soul my Saviour God to Thee, “How great thou art!”

You remember the evangelist and apologist and writer Francis Schaeffer? Francis Schaeffer was walking through a big city like London talking to a young student who was an atheist. The student was initially quite resistant to any sympathetic conversation about God; he’d got every argument lined up against believing in God and produced them one by one, safe in his own perceptions until they crossed the road and entered a park like Regent’s Park. They went in and into the park until the sounds of the city were stilled and they could hear the birds, and the ducks were quacking on the lake. There were some horses being ridden by and there were dogs chasing a ball. The scene was full of greenery, and all those cerebral, skyscraper-high, tightly-constructed arguments of man started to collapse as they stood and talked there in God’s world and the young man heard Schaeffer testify to the God who is there. The glory of God is seen in his creation; Romans chapter one tells us that. He is a God who delights in everything he’s made, even the most insignificant things. The little world of the primary single cell organisms that you see under a microscope. The most trivial and the most weird. You blow them up until they seem horrific monsters and you think, “These are the mites in my bed” and the God who made them is sustaining them. “God made their glowing colours, he made their tiny wings.”

Why a hippopotamus? Because God created it, and that’s the absolutely all-sufficient and totally satisfying answer. God made this diverse and glorious universe. The earth is the lord’s and its fulness. This is the God who is in charge of Job, not a Deity of rationality and cold light but a God of love and beauty, shepherding every one of his people in costly devotion. That’s the God who is in charge of you. That’s the God who has brought you here today, to tell you that the God who made the universe, the God whose beauty is seen on spring days, this living merciful God could become your Lord. He can be your Saviour and forgive you your sins too. He’s not simply the stiff God of rectitude, the Lord of retribution. That was the God of Job’s friends, so limited a God, the guardian of the moral order, and not only a God of beauty and creative love but this God became incarnate and held children in his arms, and allowed a woman to weep over him and dry his feet with her hair. He prayed for those who were nailing him to a cross. That’s the God that we have to deal with. He made the hippo, our God. This behemoth, so huge and grotesque and dangerous and dim-witted, and God made the hippo. In fact before God’s hands touched the dust of the earth the blueprint of the hippo was in his mind and on his heart. Who is God? The one who loves the hippopotamus. That’s the sort of God that we worship. He made an earth of extraordinary diversity, planning all its livingness and how it would survive, and at this moment he is opening his hand and he satisfying the desire of every living thing. That’s a picture of divine grace, you see. If God showed grace to the hippopotamus which is here today and gone tomorrow, surely he will show grace to Job who will live as long as God himself, and he will show grace to you and to me.

Think of the leviathan. Like the hippopotamus he is also a nasty kettle of fish, isn’t he? He will kill a child. A little African girl will walk near the edge of a lake, and the crocodile will have her for breakfast. What does this say to us? Be careful as you say to an unbeliever, “Look at these beautiful animals against the backcloth of this mountain view. Why can’t you believe in God?” Because he has just read of a rottweiler dog who has killed a four year old girl. The news is full of floods in Gloucestershire with people out of their homes for a year. A virus in a number of hospitals has devastated the lives of many people. This is a fallen world where death reigns as the last enemy. There are evil powers and the whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain. That is seen then in the viciousness of a crocodile. Nothing on earth is the equal of the behemoth, a creature without fear. He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud, but he has one who is King over him and the Lord is his name. God can put a ring through his nose and lead the leviathan. You have that great picture in Revelation chapter 20 where God seizes the dragon that leads the whole world, and casts him into the bottomless pit. Principalities and powers are not autonomous. There is not a maverick molecule anywhere in the universe independent of God. Whether it’s the huge beast, the whale, the leviathan, the behemoth, or whether it’s one molecule, God is in control; he determines their every movement. God is in control of Job, God is in control of us, in our pain and in our suffering and Job is beginning to understand the complexity of God’s ways and the reality of the malevolence of the devil’s ways, the spirit that now is working in the children of disobedience. It’s been a theological, biblical ignorance that’s there at the root of Job’s troubles. Of course, it’s the root of all our troubles. We don’t know the God of the Bible. There’s this mysterious problem of Christian unbelief in the living God. Well, how can we be so ignorant? If we can’t comprehend the leviathan and the behemoth we’re certainly not going to comprehend a God who is sovereign over all things, even including the sins that come into our lives, and yet in no way is responsible for any wickedness. Now, if we don’t understand the hippopotamus, we’re not going to understand a God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and is one living God. We are not going to understand that God can make the groans of a world be to his glory while filled with compassion and sympathy for the pains his creatures endure. We are called to trust him where we shall never understand him comprehensively even in a new heavens and earth. In today’s sorrows we don’t know why this suffering should have hit the loveliest and the best, but it happened to the beloved Son and so we can trust the Father loves us.

24th March 2002 Geoff Thomas