Last Thursday night, we heard the Lord begin to speak from the whirlwind, answering Job's questions with questions of His own. God began to ask Job things he could not answer.
After asking Job about the measurements and creation of the earth, the depths and boundaries of the sea, the angels in celebration, and the science of light and darkness, we might wonder if there are any more subjects for God to bring up that would illustrate the inadequacy of man compared to God. But no. Tonight, as we pick up in verse 29 of chapter 38, the Lord's demonstration of His awesome power, knowledge, and methods continues.
Next on the list was ice. "Job, who gave birth to ice and frost?" Do you understand how water becomes hard as a rock?
As simple as it seems, the whole concept of ice can blow your mind. After all, unlike most materials, the solid has less mass than the liquid, and takes up more space.
The density of water is at it's maximum at 39 degrees, but suddenly, at 32 degrees its density reduces radically, and the water turns to ice, occupying 111% more space than it did as water!
If God had not made it this way, instead of the deep being imprisoned by ice floating on the top of lakes, it would sink, cooling and freezing the water beneath until everything in the lake was dead.
Some scientists have even asserted that if ice were denser than water, life on earth could not even exist!
The Lord now directs Job's attention from the earth to the stars. "Job, how powerful are you? Can you have any influence on the stars at all?" A star's distance from earth is measured in light years. That is the distance that light travels in one year. Since light travels 186,000 miles per second, that is quite a distance!
He asks Job about the Pleiades, a grouping of stars also called, "The Seven Sisters." They are 400 lights years away. "Can you move those, Job?"
How about Orion? One of the only constellations in the sky that I can find, because of Orion's Belt - three bright stars in a row. As bright as they seem, the one in the middle is 40,000 times brighter than our sun! The reason it seems so small and dim is that it is 1,500 light years away!
Then the Lord brings up the Bear - called "Ursa Major." You have probably seen this many times without knowing it - the Big Dipper's handle is actually the bear's tail. It's main stars range between 62 and 108 light years away. A human being would have trouble leading a real bear - how do you think he'd attempt to lead the Bear with her sattelites? Do you think Job is feeling yet like maybe he should have never opened his mouth?
Putting things on a closer level, God asks Job if he could speak to the clouds to make it rain, or make lightning travel to a certain place.
Man has learned that air becomes moist from evaporation of warm waters. Then a mechanism to force the moisture to condensate by cooling it down is necessary. That commonly occurs when the air is forced upwards because of either hills and mountains, or air pressure systems. This causes dense clouds to form, often producing rain.
What a system God has devised! What can we say to the clouds to make them rain? During dry seasons of drought, what can we do with our wisdom that could tip the water jars of the heavens?
Getting our feet back on the ground, let's look at the lions. They are not light years away like the stars, or just out of reach like the clouds. They're walking on the same ground we are. And yet, we're not out there chasing down prey for them.
Lions have been called "the king of the beasts" because they are among the highest animals on the food chain. They eat whatever they can kill or scavenge from other predators. Why aren't we out on the Serengeti hand-feeding them? Because they would just as soon eat our hands as eat from our hands!
Nothing will put a prideful human in his place quicker than putting him in the middle of a pride of lions!
Not nearly as intimidating as the lion, the raven illustrates God's point just as well.
Many people mix up ravens and crows - both being large, black, noisy birds. Ravens are similar to crows, but are about 1/3 larger, have heavier bills, and more fan-shaped tails.
They are both predators and scavengers, being omnivorous (in other words, they'll eat almost anything!).
Many people do not know that ravens can mimic speech like parrots do. But, they actually have the ability to have much larger vocabularies than parrots. However, long before any raven could begin to speak, it's young cry arises to God, who provides for it. Jesus said,
Luke 12:24 "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them..."
The Lord asks Job about the secret lives of mountain goats and deer. Before National Geographic sent cameramen into the wilderness for months at a time, much of animals' lives was unknown to us.
Now we know that deer calve in the November/December months. The odds of Job having seen this were next to none, since it occurs in the middle of winter, takes only about 2 hours, and the calves hide for the first four or five days.
Similarly, Job would not have extensive knowledge of mountain goat behavior. Each spring, 1-year old mountain goats will leave their mother - never to return - when the new kids are born.
Does Job know how or why this happens? No, but God does.
Early in man's history, in the days of the patriarchs, we know that mankind tamed donkeys to ride and bear burdens. Even Abraham saddled and rode a donkey to escort Isaac to Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:3).
The tamed donkeys came from the wild donkeys. "But Job, where do the wild donkeys come from?"
Maybe you've seen the world-famous Cripple Creek Donkey Herd down in Colorado Springs. They're mostly wild, often seen wandering around town. But we know where they came from - they're the descendants of tame donkeys who worked in the mines.
But where did real wild donkeys come from? The ones who don't go into town, scorning the tumult of the city, and living their entire lives in freedom without ever being driven by a man? God has seen their origins, but no man alive has.
This passage is interesting because of the multitude of possible translations of the word rendered here as "wild ox." The Hebrew word is "reh-AME." It comes from the verb "to rise," which lends itself to thinking of an animal whose horn or horns rise up.
Thus, the King James translators put the word "unicorn" here. The word "rhinoceros" has also been inserted in the margin.
Most modern Bible translators think that this might be a similar Arabian word ("rim") meaning "wild ox." That very well may be. But as I read this, I think that the picture God is painting of a strong animal who wouldn't consent to spending the night in the barn or being roped into labor for man is much more fitting of a rhinoceros than an ox.
These verses are different than the other parts of God's speeches in Job, because they are the only place that the Lord doesn't ask any questions. Instead, He points out to Job the forgetfulness, cruelty, and foolishness of the ostrich.
Ostriches are the largest living birds in the world - ranging in size from small adult females being 5 1/2 feet tall, to the largest males growing to be 9 feet tall.
Although they're flightless, they do have wings and use them to both show aggression and to perform their courtship rituals.
Shortly after a female ostrich mates, she begins laying eggs. These eggs are huge - the largest of any creature on earth. They contain the equivalent of two dozen chicken eggs, weighing between 3 and 6 pounds. If you try to hard boil one, it takes over 45 minutes! If you make an omelette out of it instead, it will feed ten people!
She lays one of these eggs every other day - totaling about 10 or 12. But she takes no consideration as to the location of her nest. Most often, the nests are coexistent with predators - right out in the open, completely unconcealed and exposed.
During the day, she'll defend the nest, but come nightfall, she is easily frightened away by nocturnal predators.
Now, olympic sprinters run about 23mph, and horses in the Kentucky Derby run about 35mph. Over long distances, a horse with a rider can go about 20 mph. Ostriches, however, can maintain a running speed of 50mph for 30 minutes, so it is easy to see why, when she lifts herself off the nest, she scorns the horse and his rider.
While the ostrich runs away from the nest, the predator is stealing or destroying her eggs. But, when she returns, if the eggs are broken or stolen, she'll just keep laying more - up to 80 of them. The snack chip motto, "Crunch all you want, we'll make more," seems to apply to these birds.
In their behavior, they really seem to be uncaring and foolish. Why is God bringing this up? Because He has the right to create things the way He creates them. As Paul told the Romans,
Rom. 9:20-21 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
The ostrich is exactly the way God made it, because He chose to do so. He doesn't owe us any other explanation.
Man cannot even be prideful in his domestication of animals. The horse, used for war even in these early years of man, does not get its power or ability from man. "How about the horse's strength Job? Did you give it to him? Or his mane? Or his ability to jump?"
Birds of prey are likewise awe-inspiring. Hawks and eagles have amazing eyesight.
The eagle's eye is nearly as big as ours, but has four times the sharpness of a human being with "perfect" vision!
Eagles can spot a moving rabbit almost a mile away, which means that when they fly at an altitude of 1,000 feet, they can look for prey over a three square mile area! When flying over water, they can spot even a camouflaged fish from several hundred feet in the air.
In addition, they have two centers of focus, so that they can see both forward and to the side at the same time!
"Job, is it by your understanding that this happens? Of course not."
Now comes the challenge from God. "Job, you've been finding fault with the way I've done things. You've spoken plainly about how you would like to go to court and get an answer. Are you able to bring it on? Will you contend with me?"
When confronted with the true and living God, Job realizes his inability to say anything. Who is he to reprove God? Who is he to question His ways? Who is he compared to the Lord?
Saints, I have met many arrogant people in my day. Those who angrily question God's motives and methods. Those who say, "I won't believe in a God who sends people to hell. I can't trust a God who lets children starve in Ethiopia. I refuse to follow a God who won't heal my brother's fatal disease."
Often, we make excuses for the Lord. "Well, you know, we're in an imperfect world..." We try to explain away why the ostrich is so uncaring, and why the boy was born blind.
But God doesn't make excuses. In reality, if this person were making these accusations before the Lord, they would be reduced to quivering Jello, with their hand on their mouth, apologizing for ever having questioned God.
Listen to what Isaiah encountered when he saw the Lord:
Is. 6:1-5 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,"Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory." And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
As much as I want to make excuses for God about why injustice exists in this world, I am not called to do so. I am only to be humbled before His grandeur, and thankful that He loved me enough to send His only Son that I might be saved.