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Not Why? Who?

Job  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  17:29
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One of the hallmarks of being a child is the inherent drive to ask questions. What is the single most asked question by a child? Why? Why daddy? Why? It doesn’t take long as a parent to realize that the answer to a lot of those questions is, “I don’t know.” “Daddy, why do cats purr?” “I don’t know.” Even scientist have no real idea why cats purr. Most think cats purr when they are happy, but they also purr when they are eating, or injured, or giving birth. We really don’t understand why they do it. In fact there are a lot of things we don’t understand- even with all of our scientific knowledge, we don’t know why.
A species of glowing beetles known as Synchronous fireflies, indigenous to Tennessee’s Great Smokey Mountains, are a rare and striking sight. They have the unique ability to synchronize their blinking. How they are able to do this is still not known.
Why whales sing, why certain animals glow, why humans yawn, why the sun’s corona is hotter than its surface, how do birds migrate without google maps, how do salmon know to return to the exact place of their birth, why 9 out of 10 people are right handed, and the list goes on and on.
There are many things that we do not know.
Yet the question why? has been the chronic question plaguing the mind of Job throughout the book. Job has been sitting in the ash heap, the garbage dump of his culture, since chapter 3. And from the very beginning Job has been asking the question, why?
Job 3:11 KJV 1900
Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
Wherefore = why
Job 3:20 KJV 1900
Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, And life unto the bitter in soul;
Job 3:23 KJV 1900
Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, And whom God hath hedged in?
Job 7:20–21 KJV 1900
20 I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? Why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, So that I am a burden to myself? 21 And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, And take away mine iniquity? For now shall I sleep in the dust; And thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.
Wherefore then = why
Job 10:18–19 KJV 1900
18 Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me! 19 I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave.
Wherefore = why
Job 13:24 KJV 1900
24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, And holdest me for thine enemy?
Wherefore = why
Job 21:7 KJV 1900
7 Wherefore do the wicked live, Become old, yea, are mighty in power?
The question of why? has soured over time and Job’s question of
“Why would you do this to me, God?”
“How could you do this to me, God?”
Job’s question of why had been polluted in his mind into a compliant against God.
Job 7:11 KJV 1900
11 Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
This led Job to his courtroom case against God. His avowal of innocence- summary.
Job 31:35–37 KJV 1900
35 Oh that one would hear me! Behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, And that mine adversary had written a book. 36 Surely I would take it upon my shoulder, And bind it as a crown to me. 37 I would declare unto him the number of my steps; As a prince would I go near unto him.
There was a fundamental flaw in Job’s relationship with God. There was a critical misunderstanding of God’s persona and character- retribution theology. I am innocent God, HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!?!
And so God answers Job.
Job asks why? God asks who? Who are you Job? And most importantly who am I?
God’s answer to Job reminds us that the book of Job is not ultimately about Job or suffering after all; it is about God and our relationship to Him.
What does God want Job to understand about Who He is? What about Job’s relationship to God needs to change?
I believe we find two truths that God wants us to understand about Who He is.

I. The God who is wise and powerful enough to create is wise and powerful enough to manage my life too

The God who is wise enough and powerful enough to bring into existence and to maintain all of the created universe has to be wise enough and powerful enough to manage my little tinny life as well.

A. Introductory Issues

Job 38:1–3 KJV 1900
1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel By words without knowledge? 3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; For I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

1. The Whirlwind

God answers Job out of the whirlwind
Notice the first word of Ch 38- “Then” We need context!
Job 37:21–24 KJV 1900
21 And now men see not the bright light Which is in the clouds: But the wind passeth, and cleanseth them. 22 Fair weather cometh out of the north: With God is terrible majesty. 23 Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, And in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will not afflict. 24 Men do therefore fear him: He respecteth not any that are wise of heart.
Fair weather = golden splendor
bright light, clouds, wind, golden splendor, awesome majesty, great power, abundant justice and righteousness, a healthy fear of God.
I picture Elihu standing there finishing his speech to Job and he is overwhelmed by the approaching storm, he has to shout to be heard over the roar of the wind- “See God is here is terrible glory and majesty and justice and righteousness”
Then, God answered Job out of the whirlwind
Whirlwind is the same term used to recount Elijah’s departure into heaven (2 Kings 2:1, 11) and Ezekiel’s experience when he saw the Lord (Ezek. 1:4). Job used a form of this word to complain that God was crushing him with a tempest (9:17). The same form occurs in
Nahum 1:3 KJV 1900
3 The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, And will not at all acquit the wicked: The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of his feet.

The word way (derek) means “road” or “path” and parallels the next phrase, which poeticizes the clouds as God’s dust-raising footsteps. The verse reads literally: “In whirlwind and in storm is His way, and clouds are the dust from His feet.”

Why does God appear to Job in a whirlwind? What has Job’s life resembled these past months? A Whirlwind. I think God is letting Job know that not only does God allow whirlwinds in our lives and that He is sovereignly able to use them for His own purposes. It is more than that- God’s way, his footprints are in the whirlwind. God is personally present in our lives in the very midst of the whirlwinds.
John 10:4 KJV 1900
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
God sometimes allows whirlwinds into our lives. He even allows them in the lives of the righteous. But He is personally there all the while. At the heart of the sufferings, and the heart of the message of the book of Job is a God who we can have an authentic personal relationship with, even in the midst of the whirlwinds.

2. The Lord answered Job

Job 38:1 KJV 1900
1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
Wow, God condescended to answer Job. This has been Job’s plea from the beginning:
Job 31:35 KJV 1900
35 Oh that one would hear me! Behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, And that mine adversary had written a book.
Job 23:5 KJV 1900
5 I would know the words which he would answer me, And understand what he would say unto me.
I want to know what he would answer me!
Job 30:20 KJV 1900
20 I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and thou regardest me not.
Job 13:22 KJV 1900
22 Then call thou, and I will answer: Or let me speak, and answer thou me.
This whole time Job has been convinced that God has either been absent or unconcerned. But silence is not the same thing. God has been silent, but not absent. All throughout God's answer, He quotes Job and Elihu showing that He has been present and listening all along.
Now God answers. He many not explain, but He does answer, and it is enough for Job.

3. Tell me what you know

Job 38:2 KJV 1900
2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel By words without knowledge?
Who are you Job? And pressing to the matter at hand what do you know? You are finite, fallen, frail human. You have darkened my counsel, you have spoken words without knowledge.

His greatest fault, however, is to presume that his own finite mind can comprehend the infinite mind of God. With such presumption, Job has been staggering along the border between limiting God’s power and denying His justice.

Essentially at the end of Job’s oath of innocence, he challenges God to an ethics debate. Job wants to talk about issues of right and wrong, innocence and guilt, justice and unfairness. God doesn’t talk about any of those things. God is more concerned with the real issues. God wants Job to tell Him what He knows.
In fact, though our translations alternate words for sake of variety, the word know appears in every verse in 2-5.

38:2, “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?”

38:3, “Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and thou shalt make me know.”

38:4, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare if thou knowest understanding.”

38:5, “Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest, or who hath stretched the line upon it?”

God makes his point abundantly clear in
Job 38:18 KJV 1900
18 Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? Declare if thou knowest it all.

The Lord’s first point is to rebuke Job for speaking on the presumption of knowing all about God’s works and ways, of having all the facts at his disposal.

4. Not why? who?

Job 38:2 KJV 1900
2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel By words without knowledge?
Job 38:5 KJV 1900
5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it?
Job 38:6 KJV 1900
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof;
Job 38:8 KJV 1900
8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, When it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
When something bad happens in our life, the first question that instinctively comes into our minds is WHY?

But answering our “why” is never God’s primary concern, nor our chief need.

When God finally speaks, He does not answer Job’s questions of why? Now, there is irony here, because God could have told Job why. God told us why in the prologue of the book of Job, but Job himself never finds that information out.
Now, if you have a problem with this, if it bothers you that God often does not tell us the why, then you have a fundamental flaw in your thinking.
You assume that everything that takes place in your life or in the universe around you OUGHT to be explained to you. You assume that God owes you an explanation. You assume that there cannot possibly be any good reason for God not to tell you everything you want to know immediately.
Knowing the why is not our chief need! God answers Job, but he does not answer Job’s why. Instead God answers with a counter question. Not why Job, Who? Who are you to question God’s actions and attributes? And Who am I Job? You need to know me better.
Retribution theology had clouded their understanding of God’s character. And the book of Job, all of Job’s suffering, was meant to clarify that question in the minds of God’s people. Who is God. And Who are we?
Romans 9:20. “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Nay, O man, who are you to reply against God? Does not the potter have power [i.e., freedom] over the clay?”
The inquisitive mind still asks, why didn’t God let Job in on the reasons? Here we go, asking why again.
-(1) To avert pride. What temptations lie coiled to strike in the heady knowledge that God esteemed him as the most righteous man on earth! Even Paul was prohibited from relating his unique visionary experience to curb his own pride and to prevent others from exalting him too highly (2 Cor. 12:1–9).
-(2) It is necessary for the reader to know that Job’s suffering was undeserved; that is why we have the prologue. But the fact that God did not tell Job what we know preserves the larger issue at stake—submissive trust in what we know the character of God to be even when life looks otherwise.
-(3) To preclude the presumption that God owes every sufferer an explanation. He did not explain everything to Job in order to make the point that He does not have to explain everything to us. The only appropriate response to our sovereign Savior is submission—not blind, servile submission but trusting, loving submission because He has earned our trust and love by a thousand mercies. “Job needs to learn that the issue is not ethical, the question is not why, and the need is not understanding. The issue is spiritual, the question is who, and the need is trust.”
Do you trust God? Do you trust Him even when your life is going bad- really bad?
God is present in the whirlwind. He does not simply exercise His sovereignty over the whirlwinds in our life, but He is present in them. God is always there.
Silence is not absence. God is often silent, but he never abandons us. He does answer us, even if it is not the answer we thought we needed.
We need to know that we don’t know very much. We cannot hope to understand the infinite wisdom of God, so we must not presume to know more than God does.
The question is not why, the real question is who. Your spiritual need is to better understand who God is, and then to submissively trust in His character even when life looks otherwise.
God has to been wise enough and powerful enough to manage my life. Do you trust Him?

B. God’s wisdom and power are seen in the creation of the world

Job 38:3 KJV 1900
3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; For I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
These are not rhetorical questions. God wants Job to give Him an answer.

Like a master builder He laid the earth’s foundations (vv. 4-7)

Job 38:4–6 KJV 1900
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof;
Here God uses the imagery of constructing a building to the structuring of the world.
Foundations, measurements, stretched line, foundations fastened, corner stone.
The Book of Job (1) The Fundamental Structure of the World (38:4–15)

The site for the building was carefully traced, i.e., surveyed. A measuring line (qaw) was stretched out to ensure that the earth was constructed exactly according to Yahweh’s blueprints. By implication it is being said that everything created corresponds precisely to God’s plan. But who made sure that the building was framed according to those plans? Who stretched out the measuring line? Was it Job? Of course not!

Illustration: Attempt to build play set.
Yet God constructed the world itself and everything came out exactly the way God wanted it.
It was such a spectacular event that angles cheered at the creation of the world.
Job 38:7 KJV 1900
7 When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Apparently God’s handywork was so wondrous and glorious that when God was finished and said that it was good the angelic host burst forth in song and praise.
Job were you there for that? Did they sing your praise? Did they marvel at your wisdom and power? Who is the one that has that kind of power and wisdom?

2. Like a midwife He brought forth the sea (vv. 8-11)

Here God asks this question of Job- Who formed the sea according to its present dimensions, bringing it forth as a midwife brings forth a child?
Job 38:8–11 KJV 1900
8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, When it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? 9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, And thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, 10 And brake up for it my decreed place, And set bars and doors, 11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: And here shall thy proud waves be stayed?
I can’t even keep water from getting into my house, let alone control the sea. But God he created the sea, like a midwife giving birth to a child. He controls it. He says to the sea, you can come this far, but no further and the proud waves obey His command. Job, can you do that? Who is the one that has that kind of power and wisdom?

3. Like a general He commanded the light to shine (vv. 12-15)

Job 38:12–15 KJV 1900
12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; And caused the dayspring to know his place; 13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, That the wicked might be shaken out of it? 14 It is turned as clay to the seal; And they stand as a garment. 15 And from the wicked their light is withholden, And the high arm shall be broken.
God commands the morning, and causes the dayspring or the sunrise to be exactly in it’s place.
Colossians 1:17 KJV 1900
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
God, in the person of Jesus Christ, holds all things together in the universe
Hebrews 1:3 KJV 1900
3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
There is a very real sense that every morning when dawn arrives it comes at the command of God. Like a general marshaling His troops, God commands the sunrise to consist, it is upheld by the word of His power. The dawn is in it’s proper place every morning because of the power and wisdom of God.
Job can you do that?
Who is the one that has that kind of wisdom and power?
Job who? Who built the foundations of the earth, who formed the sea, who summons the dawn each morning? Who Job?
God is the only one who can do all these things. The very idea of trying to comprehend the amount of wisdom and power necessary to order the universe itself is staggering! Yet God in all of His wisdom and strength can and did. And on top of that the ordering of the world was just a glimpse of God’s power and wisdom- for His power and wisdom are infinite.
What was Job’s initial question? Why?
“Why would you do this to me, God?”
“How could you do this to me, God?”
How dare we question a God who is this wise and this powerful.
The God who is wise and powerful enough to create has to be wise and powerful enough to manage my life too.
How could I possibly do a better job at managing my own life than God?
The question is not why, it’s who? Who created the earth, and the sea, and the dawn? God did.
The only appropriate response to our sovereign and wise God is submission—not blind, servile submission but trusting, loving submission because He has earned our trust and love by a thousand mercies. “Job needs to learn that the issue is not ethical, the question is not why, and the need is not understanding. The issue is spiritual, the question is who, and the need is trust.”
Who do you trust?
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