The Book of Job - Lesson 28

God and Inanimate Nature (Job 38-41)

The questions of the book of Job are, “How does God address the problem of evil and why do we serve God? God created a world that is stable and not chaotic. Where there was chaos, God brought in light, shape and beauty. Chaotic forces are necessary for life and God controls them.

Duane Garrett
The Book of Job
Lesson 28
Watching Now
God and Inanimate Nature (Job 38-41)

I. God’s Speech and Job’s Responses Have Parallel Structure

A God challenges Job (38:1-3)

B. God’s dominion over creations (38: 4-40:2)

1. Inanimate Nature (38:4-38)

2. Animate Nature (38:39-40:2)

C. Job answers (40:3-5)

A’. God challenges Job (40:6-14)

B’. Behemoth and Leviathan (40:7 - 41:34)

1. Behemoth (40:15-24)

2. Leviathan (41:1-34)

C’. Job answers (42:1-6)

II. Many People are Confused by God's Speech

A. God gives Job a lesson in natural history

B. God seems to berate Job for being a mortal

C. The book of Job does not answer the question, 'Why do the righteous suffer?"

III. What does God's Speech Do and Not Do?

A. Does not say that Job's affliction is punishment for sin

B. God accuses Job of having imputed injustice to God

C. God is rebuking Job for his theological conclusion

IV. God and Inanimate Nature

A. Things are fixed because God made it so [Clay seal is a “bulla”]

1. The earth

2. The sea

3. The dawn

4. The stars

B. Distant and dangerous places

C. Chaotic forces

  • When you see what you would describe as evil and injustice in the world, how does that affect your view of God? When someone is suffering, do you assume that it’s because they are getting what they deserve? This lecture gives you an overview of book of Job by describing his situation, how he interacts with his friends and God, and what we can learn about how God is managing the world.

  • Because there is nothing specific in the text that tells you when the book of Job was written, the sections in Job that allude to other passages of scripture give you some helpful clues. The structure of the book of Job focuses your attention on the main subject of the book which is God’s wisdom.

  • Other cultures in the ancient near east created literature with themes that are similar to the book of Job. The book of Job is unique because of his character and the answer that the book provides for the situation he is in.

  • Job is one of the wisdom books of the Old Testament. It covers more “advanced” topics than Proverbs and uses a variety of literary genres and allusions to other Biblical passages to explain and illustrate profound truths about God’s nature and his involvement in the world.

  • There is limited information in the book of Job about its geographical and historical background. However, it can be helpful to understand general information about the geography and history of the area to give you a context for reading and studying the book of Job. The author of the book of Job was a Hebrew poet who had an extensive vocabulary. Being uncertain about history and geography is good because the message is timeless.

  • Job contains literary elements that are similar to what you find in other Biblical books that are Apocalyptic. These elements include depictions of events in heaven and on earth, the emphasis on specific numbers and persevering in your faith in God, the references to mythological animals and God’s supernatural control of all events. 

  • Satan appears before God with an accusation against Job. Even though Job is described as, “upright and blameless,” Satan accuses Job of serving God only because Job is prosperous. God allows Satan to take away Job’s possessions, children and health. The remainder of the book is the dialogue of Job and his friends attempting to determine why this is happening.

  • Job curses the day he was born. When you carefully examine what he is saying, you realize that it is more intense than just saying that he wished he had never lived.

  • Eliphaz begins tactfully in his remarks to Job. He did not intend to do harm. However, he thinks God is causing Job to suffer because of a sin Job committed. He speaks accurately of the justice of God, but in Job’s case he misapplies it. He also gives a message he received from the, “night spirit.”

  • Eliphaz considers the message of the, “night spirit” a revelation from God. However, at it’s core, this message is inconsistent with God’s attitude toward Job, and creation in general.

  • Job’s theological worldview has fallen apart because he knows he doesn’t deserve to suffer. Eliphaz calls Job to repent. Job responds questioning why he is suffering, because according to his worldview, he hasn’t done anything to deserve it.   

  • Bildad is direct is his rebuke and admonition of Job. He uses metaphors to get his point across.

  • When Job’s friends describe God as all powerful in an attempt to comfort Job, he becomes terrified because he sees God as causing his suffering and there is nothing that can stop it.

  • Zophar assumes that Job is being punished because he sinned and accuses him of mocking God. Job's three friends move from tactful suggestions to open hostility. As Job is searching for answers, he becomes disappointed in his friends.

  • Job agrees with his friends that God is causing his suffering, but disagrees with them about why it’s happening. Job believes that God will eventually vindicate him.

  • Eliphaz appeals to the night spirit and the tradition of the elders to tell Job that he is a babbling and blaspheming fool.

  • Job begins by criticizing what his friends are saying to him and then professes his faith in God. Bildad responds harshly to Job.

  • Even though Job’s friends have criticized him, he has grown in his faith in God. Job is worn out and begs for compassion. When he gets nothing but contempt and hostility instead, he confesses his faith and hope in God. The messianic theology of Job is different from any other book of the Bible.  

  • Zophar uses metaphors that are found in other passages of scripture as well as Job’s own words to accuse Job of being wicked. However, Zophar made a serious error, which we need to avoid in our lives.

  • Job continues to wrestle with the presence of evil in the world and the apparent injustice of God. 

  • Eliphaz attacks Job as being wicked by twisting the meaning of what Job has said previously. The irony is that Job will be reconciled to God and will pray for Eliphaz.

  • Job wants to lay out his case before God by claiming his innocence. Job says that God is hidden and does as he chooses, but that God neither judges the guilty nor helps the righteous. Bildad responds by contrasting God’s holiness and human lowliness.

  • Job sarcastically thanks the friends for their wise words, which he doesn’t think were wise at all.

  • This is a poem about wisdom that divides the content of the book and points to a deep truth. It is inserted by the author of the book and is not attributed to Job or the friends.

  • The crisis that Job is experiencing is not just the material losses and physical suffering, but also his crisis of faith. He thought he understood what his relationship with God is all about but he feels that God has abandoned him for no apparent reason. Job laments the pain he feels from being disgraced and humiliated.

  • This is the last major statement that Job makes, other than his responses to God that come later. Job is taking a series of oaths that he has not committed any of the sins he mentions. The Bible is distinctive in declaring that all people are created equally, in the image of God. In ancient cultures, some people intrinsically have more value than others because of heritage, wealth, gender, race, etc. God looks on everyone impartially.  

  • Elihu is not mentioned either before or after his speech. He claims to be perfect in knowledge. Elihu thinks that the other three did not convince Job because they did not give a satisfactory answer, but Elihu ends up repeating what they have already said. He thinks that the doctrine of retribution is the answer to Job’s situation. Elihu is a warning to us that we don’t have all the answers.

  • The questions of the book of Job are, “How does God address the problem of evil and why do we serve God? God created a world that is stable and not chaotic. Where there was chaos, God brought in light, shape and beauty. Chaotic forces are necessary for life and God controls them.

  • People in ancient Mesopotamia lived in constant fear of the chaos, danger, ferocity of nature and they valued subduing, controlling and pushing back nature. Wilderness was something to be tamed and pushed back by civilization. In the Gilgamesh epic poem, Enkidu is transformed into a civilized man who protects the domestic animals from the wild animals. In Egypt, there were gods of the Black Land and gods of the Red Land. God sees everything in the world as entirely under his control.

  • God’s care for the animals and how this relates to the problem of Job. All of the things that we see as chaos, and out of control depend on God and thrive because he provides for them and things that he manages and glories in. God describes nature as good, unlike the night spirit that describes it with contempt and loathing. God knows how to manage the chaotic elements of creation.

  • The societies of the Ancient Near East had a high concept of justice. It was the duty of the rulers to uphold justice and protect the powerless. If you are a man who leads, you need to make sure that evil is held in check. Listen to people who come to you with a grievance. God is asking Job if he comprehends what it means to bring justice to the world. It involves both power and wisdom.

  • Behemoth is the plural form of a Hebrew word that refers to animals in general also specifically to wild animals. In Job, it’s also used as a metaphor representing the composite forces of the powers of the earth that are against God.

  • Behemoth is a dangerous power that God must reckon with. Some people think this is an allusion to animals that God created in Genesis 1:24. “Lady Wisdom” is the wisdom that God built into creation. Behemoth is dangerous and a force to be reckoned with, not the embodiment of good behavior. One aspect of principalities and powers is forces outside of the world we can see. In Revelation, God protects people from the fury and wrath of the beast, which is an oppressive power that seeks to take the place of God.  

  • Job 41 describes Leviathan. Leviathan is not a natural animal like a crocodile. Sometimes Leviathan refers to a large sea creature, and sometimes death, chaos and the embodiment of evil. Satan is present at the first of the book but he is never mentioned again. In order for God to deal with evil in the world, he must defeat Leviathan.

  • Leviathan is a ferocious creature that no human can subdue. God is saying that he is willing to oppose Leviathan and  is not frightened of Leviathan or intimidated by his boasting. God is the one who will defeat this enemy who seems unbeatable to humans. God tells Job that he will deal with Leviathan but God doesn’t tell him how he will do it. Job embraced God’s answer even though Job didn’t know how God would deal with evil.

  • Job announces that he has changed his outlook on evil, God’s governance of the world and his own suffering. Job knew that God is all-powerful. Now Job knows something more about how God uses his power. Should God be merciful to people who will still be evil? Eschatological is an event that can only happen by a work of God. Emergence of divine power within the historical context. Job admits that he didn’t understand the complexity that is involved in God conquering evil. God forgives Job’s three friends because Job interceded for them. God is showing his approval with job by publicly restoring him.

  • Job’s suffering brought him to a new understanding of who God is and what God is doing in the world. Job’s hope, and our hope, is in a heavenly redeemer that rose from the dead. Legalism comes about often when people hold to essential teachings but they don’t know God. They substitute the rules for relationship.

  • Job mentions composite animals similar to those described in other apocalyptic passages. Job had faith that God would do a work of salvation but didn’t understand everything that Jesus would do. There is a hidden plan of God to redeem people and conquer evil that is a major theme in apocryphal books and also in Job.

  • Job tells us about the heavenly mediator. Prior to his afflictions, Job’s life was almost god-like because he was relatively free of suffering. Job through his affliction, faces the problem of evil and the enormity of suffering in the human race. Even though some people commit evil and violent acts, Job describes them in pitiful terms.

  • Should virtue, or piety, be disinterested? If it’s not done for it’s own sake, is it real? Job’s love for God is not disinterested, but it is real.

If God is good and powerful, why do you see suffering in the world? Why do you serve God even when you experience suffering? How do you respond to others when they ask these questions? How have you answered them for yourself? These are such important questions that the entire book of Job is devoted discussing only these issues in the context of the perspective of the experiences of one person. 

The theme of the book of Job is timeless and singular. There are clues about its geographical and historical setting but nothing in the book itself that identifies the place or time of its writing. However, the setting is irrelevant because the questions that are addressed in the Book of Job are ones that people have asked in all cultures, throughout time. It would be distracting and even limiting to frame the dialogue in a specific time or culture. There are enough clues in the text to give you a general idea of the culture and time it was written in to help you understand the logic and metaphors used by the main characters in their dialogue. 

The complete book of Job is composed of the dialogue of Job, his friends and God regarding the issues of God's goodness, his power, and evil in the world. No historical events. No other personal, corporate or theological issues. Since these questions are central to your understanding of God's character and how he works in the world around us throughout history, the book of Job compels you to consider this question deeply and exhaustively. The point is that by the end of the book, you can understand and articulate who God is and how he works in your life and in the world. 

The value of this class is that Dr. Garrett helps you understand what the text means, the historical and theological implications, and how you apply it to your life. Dr. Garrett's knowledge of the Bible, understanding of the Hebrew language and background in Ancient Near Eastern history and culture inform his insights into the message of the book and what it means to you. He is skilled at explaining technical linguistic and theological issues in a way that helps you comprehend them and see how they apply to your life. Whether you are just beginning in your study of the Bible or you have had training at an advanced academic level, studying the Book of Job with Dr. Garrett has the potential change the way you understand God and also how you live each day. 

Recommended Books

The Book of Job: A Biblical Answer to Pain - Student Guide

The Book of Job: A Biblical Answer to Pain - Student Guide

This Student's Guide is for the class on The Book of Job in BiblicalTraining.org. It contains the outlines to the lectures, a summary of each point, and reflection...

The Book of Job: A Biblical Answer to Pain - Student Guide


I. God’s Speech and Job’s Response Have Parallel Structures

A. God challenges Job

B. God’s dominion over creation

At last we come to the speeches of God. The outline of God’s speech is fairly
straightforward. First, God challenges Job in chapter 38:1-3, telling Job to gird up
his loins and God will speak to him like a man. Then B: God’s dominion over all
creation is described, 38:4 to 40:2. This is in two parts: First, God describes
inanimate nature, 38:4-38 and then animate nature, that is the animals, 38, 39 to

C. Job answers

Job then gives a brief answer in chapter 40:3-5. Then we have a second major speech of God. God challenges Job again, 40:6-14. Then God describes Behemoth and Leviathan in chapter 40:7 to 41:34 with Behemoth in 40 especially focused on in 15-24; and Leviathan, 41:1-34. Finally Job answers again in 42:1-6.

So we can see a parallel pattern. The text is clearly in two halves. Both halves begin with God challenging Job and both end with Job answering God. That is the basic structure of it.

II. Many People are Confused by God’s Speech

A. God gives Job a lesson in natural history

Many interpreters, however, many readers are frankly confused, if not disappointed by God’s speech. He does not say what you would expect him to
say. Instead of giving profound answers that describe why Job suffered, God seems to give him a lesson in natural history, talking about the sky and the
animals, etc.

B. God seems to berate Job for being a mortal

Worse than that, God seems to berate Job for being a mortal. God will repeatedly say, “Job, where were you when I made this? Where were you when I did that? Job, can you control the lions? Job, can you feed the wild goats? Job, can you do this? Job, can you calm the storm?” Job, of course, will only say, “No, no, I can’t do any of that.”

Of course he cannot do any of it. He is a mortal. So we wonder, why is God doing this? Why does God seem to just constantly rub Job’s face in the dirt? showing him again and again, you are just a mortal, you are just a mortal, you are weak, you are of the flesh. God is not really rubbing Job’s face in the dirt. What he is doing we will see. The main point is, we need to read the speeches of God very carefully because on a superficial reading they don’t seem to answer anything. They just talk about the fact that God is powerful; God rules the animals; God rules the storms; and God deals with these creatures Behemoth and Leviathan; and that is pretty much the end of that.

C. The book of Job does not answer the question, “Why do the righteous suffer?”

A big problem comes because people expect the book to answer the question, “Why do the righteous suffer?” But, as we described at the very beginning of the course, that is not really the question of the book of Job at all. The question is closer to Satan’s challenge, “Will Job serve God for nothing?” It is the idea, “Is service to God just something you do so that he doesn’t hit you?” It also is the question of the righteousness of God. With all the injustice in the world, how can God be good and powerful and wise and just? Why doesn’t God do something about all of this evil and all of this suffering and corruption?

We are certainly going to be disappointed in God’s speech if we come to it asking the wrong questions. The question is, “How does God address the problem of evil and why do we serve God?”

III. What does God’s Speech Do and Not Do?

A. Does not say that Job’s affliction is punishment for sin

Very quickly, what does the speech do and not do? First, as we mentioned previously, nowhere does he say that Job’s affliction was punishment for sin; and
nowhere does he even say that Job got all this affliction in order to prevent him from committing future sins, like some kind of preventative punishment.
Punishment is not the issue. Job’s sin is not the issue. We should lay that to rest once and for all. If there were any guilt to be imputed to Job or if there were even the possibility that Job was about to fall into sin, surely God would have said so; but God never does, so that is not the issue.

B. God accuses Job of having imputed injustice to God

God does, however, accuse Job of having imputed injustice to God, which Job did; not in the sense that Job turned away from God or Job lost his faith in God or something like that, but that Job essentially said, “God is not handling the world with justice. With all this evil in the world, God doesn’t do anything about it, so God is not handling things right.” God does rebuke him for that.

C. God is rebuking Job for his theological conclusion

However, we should realize, God is rebuking Job for his theological conclusion; he is not rebuking Job for the behavior and conduct of his life. That is an important distinction. Here is what it means. It means that God intends to change Job’s mind. He intends to tell Job something that will make him re-orient his thinking. He is not going to tell Job, “Job, you are an evil man and you need to repent of your sin.” That is a very different thing.

IV. God and Inanimate Nature

Now we get into God’s speech and we are going to begin by looking at the introduction and looking at how God speaks of inanimate nature. In chapter 3 Job began a series of speeches in the book of Job and you will remember he cursed the day of his birth and he spoke in terms of bringing creation down, undoing of creation. He spoke in terms of having the sun and moon go dark, the sky go dark. He spoke in terms of bringing about an end to light and allowing all to be engulfed in darkness, which I suggested to you was kind of an undoing of creation.

God in his speech will begin with creation and the importance of creation and what God has done. After his introduction God begins his account to Job. He says, 38:4: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”

Here he begins by telling Job, “Okay, were you there when I created heaven and earth, when I laid it all out, when I laid out the mathematical principles by which the whole of creation is governed?” or as he says, his term, “stretched out its boundary lines.” This is a place where God again appears to be berating Job, just saying, “Where were you? Where were you?” But there is more to it than that.

A. Things are fixed because God made it so

I want you to notice, the thing that it really focuses on, besides the fact that God made heaven and earth, is the fact of the earth’s stability. Verse 6: “On what were its footings set? Or who laid its cornerstone.” These, of course, are architectural terms. The footings, the foundation for a house or a building; the cornerstone, that is, the key stone for holding the walls together, etc. The idea is that the world, the earth, is fixed and stable and unmoving. In other words, God did not create chaos. God did not create a world in which rules don’t apply, in which everything is in upheaval. So how does this begin to answer Job?

Job has kind of described a world that is in upheaval. When he has spoken of how much oppression there is and how much injustice there is and the suffering of the poor, etc., he describes a world that is in moral chaos. But God is saying that He did not create a chaotic world, he created a world that was stable and fixed.

He says the same thing about the sea in verses 8-11:”Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?” The sea, remember, in the ancient near eastern world was thought of as an abode of the dead. It was thought of as a violent place, a place of storms, a place someone could not venture on without great risk. The seashore was thought of as a boundary that protected humanity from the raging power of the sea. God has once again declared that he is the One who did this. He uses the metaphor of a door with bars. So the sea has been kind of enclosed and has been kept in place by a door that has been shut and barred.

The idea is, again, God did not make a chaotic world. God made a world that is orderly and God knows all about how to keep things fair and right and in their proper place.

He then talks about the dawn in verses 12-15: “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken.”

Here he talks about the coming of dawn. He uses quite a remarkable metaphor. He talks about the earth taking shape like clay under a seal. What does this mean? First of all, in the ancient world they would use clay to make seals, for example for a scroll. You write a scroll and you want to identify it as yours. You would get a little lump of clay that was called a bulla and you would put it on the scroll. Then to identify it as yours, you would use your seal to stamp that little lump of clay and your seal would be on it. One way of doing a seal was what was called a cylinder seal, which is what it sounds like, it is a cylinder shape; and you would put the clay down and you would put the cylinder over it and you would roll it. As you rolled it, on one side you would have unformed, just plain clay; but as the cylinder seal rolled over it, then whatever image, whatever picture you had would slowly emerge until the whole clay had been rolled over by the seal; and then you have this beautiful image. By the way, this is an aside, some of these images are incredibly beautiful. If you go to some major museums like the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, you can find a collection of these ancient seals and see how they have been rolled out, and they have exquisite artwork on them.

What happens is, again you start out with nothing but formless clay that has no shape to it; and then slowly as you roll the seal over it, this beautiful image comes out. The metaphor here is dawn. It is describing dawn, how at darkness, everything is just shapeless, it is just black. The sun starts to come out and you start to see shapes, you start to see things appear; and as the sun rises, more and more detail emerges until once the sun is fully up, you can see everything precisely and beautifully. So it is a great metaphor for the dawn and how the dawn works.

God also speaks of how the light shakes out the wicked. Job has already spoken of how the wicked people love the darkness; how they do their deeds in the darkness; how they are people of darkness; and God drives them away with the light. The idea here, again, is not just, “God is real powerful and he made the light.” The idea is that God is a God of order and a God of justice. Where there is nothing but chaos and formlessness, God brings in light and God brings in shape and God brings in beauty; and his light also chases away the wicked. He is saying more than just, “Job, I’m really powerful and you are not.” He is saying, “Job, I am the One who gives the light. I am the one without whom there would only be darkness.”

Up till now we have looked at the earth, the sea and the dawn. What are these things? These are things that are fixed because God made them so. The earth is fixed and on a firm foundation because God made it that way. The sea has boundaries set upon it and the dawn reliably comes every day and drives out the darkness because God made it that way.

There is one other thing God describes that is also fixed and set, and that is in verses 31-33: Look at verse 31 of chapter 38: “Can you bind the chains of the
Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?”

Here he is speaking again of the constellations. We have seen the constellations mentioned already in Job. But what we have here are heavenly bodies that are fixed in place. The ancients were fairly sophisticated in their astronomy, not withstanding they didn’t have any instruments like telescopes. But they knew good and well there are fixed stars and there are planets. They would see some heavenly bodies such as Mars or Jupiter, how they wander across the sky. But they would see also the stars that from year to year never lose their fixed positions. Dawn comes, the sun comes up, the sun goes down, all the stars parade across the sky, but they are always in the same fixed position.

What does that have to do with the book of Job? Why is it here? Again, God has made things in order. The stars are not chaotic. They are not zipping all around the sky. You don’t see the constellation Orion in one place one night and then see it relatively in a totally different part of the sky a different night. It is always going to be in the same position relative to all the other stars. The Big Dipper will always be the constellation that goes around the north star. That is not going to change.

God’s point in all of these things – the earth, the sea, the dawn and the stars – is that God is the source of order and stability in the world.

B. Distant and dangerous places

Secondly, God speaks of distant and dangerous places that sustain us, but that only God knows. He begins with the deeps in chapter 38, verse 16: “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked the recesses of the deep?” The deep-sea is the place no human can go to safely. Nowadays we can go down with some risk in very expensive, very elaborate machines. In the ancient world you couldn’t go down there at all. So it is a place of danger, a place of death. Only God can go down there and control it.

Thirdly, he speaks of the gates of death, verse 17: “Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you been shown the gates of deepest darkness?” Obviously this is a dreadful and terrible place. Only God can control it.

He then mentions the broad expanse of the earth. “Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me if you know all of this.” Of course the earth is really huge. The ancients had no concept of how big it really was; there was a  great deal of it they had never seen. But they knew it was really big and there were a lot of places they couldn’t go to, a lot of places they didn’t know. The sources of light in verses 19-21: “What is the way to the abode of light and where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths of their dwelling? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!”

Here again, we miss the point if we think God is just berating Job because God is big and Job is small. That is not the point. The point is the fact that there are dangers in the world. There are terrible places. There are frightening places. There is the deep sea. There are the depths, the gates of death. There is a lot of world out there that we don’t know about, that may contain who-knows-what kind of dangers and what kind of wild animals. All of these things are out there, all of these risky things, all of these dangers; and God knows about all of it. God can control every bit of it.

Finally, the storehouses of wind and rain, verses 22-24: “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, to
satisfy desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass?”

Notice what he is saying here. He is speaking of frightening, powerful forces: Lightning, hail, thunderstorms, things that clearly are dangerous; but also things that give life. These are the things that water the earth. Once again, the point is, God controls all of these things. God rules all of these things, however chaotic they are, however dangerous they are. God even uses them for good.

He speaks also of freezing weather in verses 29 and 30: “From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters
become hard as stone, when the surface is deep frozen.” These are all forces of nature that can be dangerous, that can be chaotic. These are places that we cannot go, places that are dangerous for us. But God manages all the dangers, all the chaos in the world; and out of it brings forth life.

Now, to think a little bit about what God is saying. First of all, as a matter of physical reality, we could even go into much more detail than the book of Job has done. For example, we could describe volcanoes. Volcanoes are furious, violent forces. Bright fire comes up from the heart of the earth. It can cloud the skies for hundreds and thousands of miles. It can change the climate. But of course, volcanoes are also necessary. They are an essential part of earth and earth’s history and they do a great deal to add fertility to the land.

C. Chaotic forces

What we are saying is, the universe is full of chaotic and dangerous forces, things we cannot even go to, much less control. But God controls all of it.

To kind of jump ahead, what does this mean for the argument of the book of Job? Remember, the book of Job is the problem of evil and the idea that there is chaos and that there is death throughout the world, and God doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it. The point thus far is that God knows all about it and God manages all of it, so that there can be life; and he preserves life and he protects life. Thunderstorms are violent, but God controls them and he uses them to water the earth.

It is a way of saying to Job, what looks really chaotic to you is in fact something I am managing every moment of every day. So these distant and dangerous places, these terrible and frightening phenomena are inaccessible to Job, but they are necessary for life and God controls them all. They give water, they support the ground under our feet, they provide light, they provide the seasons. Life cannot exist without all these dreadful things, but God handles them.

What we have in this passage thus far is God speaking of how he knows that the earth has a lot of chaos in it. He knows that things are not just simple and calm and easy all the time. Nevertheless, God manages all of it and from generation to generation, the earth abides, life abides, people abide. We are not destroyed, we are not dying because God cares for us all. So God has used inanimate nature just to open the discussion and to make the point, Job, if you think the world has a lot of chaos in it, you don’t begin to know how much chaos there is, but I am managing all of it.