THE GOD OF ALL GRACE IN THE LIFE OF JOB
PART 4 – God in the Whirlwind; Job’s Experience with God
“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind…”
This 4th key text in the life of Job is not so obvious as the previous three, yet it is crucial to our understanding of the Book of Job and the mysterious providences of God.
While the sight of Job sitting down in utter devastation and blessing the name of His God (Job 1:21), His remarkable faith in anticipating the coming Redeemer (Job 19:25) and the peace he experienced knowing that he would come out of the furnace of affliction pure as gold (Job 23:10) are well known in the life of Job – the contents of chapter 38 are less so.
Chapters 38-42 are vital, to our understanding of this book, however, because here the Lord enters the conversation.
The Book of Job, as well as being the story of one man’s multiple tragedies, is also a conversation.
Chapters 1 & 2 records the conversation between the Lord and Satan.
Also in Chapter 2 there is the briefest of conversations between Job and his wife.
At the close of the second chapter Job’s 3 friends arrive after hearing of his losses; Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.
Chapters 3 to 31 record the conversation between Job and his friends. While the proverb ‘Job’s Comforters’, is used of people who create pain rather than bring comfort, we often forget that the friends of Job were godly and spiritual men. A close study of their speeches will show that they had a firm grasp of theology and deep sense of the divine. Nevertheless, despite their knowledge they misjudged Job’s predicament. They were guilty of treating Job as a sinner, whom God had chastened sore with frightful visitations of wrath.
“Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.” (Job 5:17-18)
“Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water? Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb. So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish.” (Job 8:11-13)
“But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee; And that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.” (Job 11:5-6)
Being bombarded with such cruel words, from those who purported to be his friends, it is no wonder that Job retorted:
“I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.” (Job 16:2 )
This is salutary lesson to all of us, be careful before ever judging a situation!
Nevertheless, Job in his reaction to the accusations of his friends – over compensates by protesting his innocence in a way that was improper, even tainted with pride.
“Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps? If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit; Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands; Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.” (Job 31:4-8)
Job, therefore, held onto the idea, perpetrated by his fiends that terrible events occurred because of sin – therefore he held himself up and declared that he hadn’t sinned. While it is wrong to be harsh on a man who was in such a dark place, yet there was something missing in his language. Job was in effect questioning God in protesting his innocence, therefore failing to recognise the wickedness of his own heart, a fact that is true of all of us.
Therefore, there a need for someone else to enter the conversation.
From Chapters 32 – 37 a younger man called Elihu, who had been sitting silently listening in, entered the discussion. He was frustrated by all 4 older men, and their failures to assess the situation aright.
“Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment. Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will shew mine opinion.” (Job 32:9).
Elihu’s purpose was to show these men the absolute sovereignty God. The tragedies of Job, rather than being linked to his sin, must be attributed solely to the hand of providence which no man can challenge.
“Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters.” (Job 33:13)
In this, Elihu certainly was a greater help to Job, than any of his friends. The younger man was much wiser than his seniors in this regard.
The progress of this conversation, warns us not to declare with certainty why God acts in a certain way or why he permits particular events to unfold. Ultimately the mysteries of providence are veiled in secrecy.
“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform”
After men have had their say, God must have the final word. Chapters 38 – 42 contain God’s conversation with Job as an individual. God must have the final say. Our thoughts and ideas must be subservient to the thinking of the Almighty. We need an ear for His voice. When God speaks our sins are uncovered and our wrongs are put to right.
God in the Whirlwind; Job’s Experience with God
“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind…”
1: His Presence in the Whirlwind
The whirlwind is a fearful natural phenomenon, that uproots, devastate and can kill. As Job and his companions, who now numbered 3, a watched the cloud of swirling dust moving in from the wilderness, they were to learn that the presence of God was in the whirlwind.
The whirlwind, was a fitting emblem of all Job’s calamities. The failure of his business, the loss of his children, the deterioration of his health, the abandonment of his wife, the accusations of his friends, the depression of mind, the confusion of his soul – was an awesome whirlwind of turmoil and upheaval.
Yet in a very visual way God was showing Job that He was in the whirlwind. Job was not abandoned.
When we face our whirlwinds sorrow and suffering let us remember that God’s presence is in the storm , even though we fail to recognise Him.
“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a smiling providence
He hides a smiling face”.
2: His Voice in the Whirlwind
Ultimately God revealed His presence by speaking. This is how God continues to reveal Himself to us…by speaking. Without His voice we never could be aware of His presence. It is His voice in His Word that makes us so sure that we will never will be left alone ( Hebrews 13:5), that He is present to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20) and that all things work together for good for those that love the Lord (Romans 8:28).
But when the whirlwind comes, His voice is heard in a clearer way. He brings the whirlwind to teach us new lessons about Himself. The whirlwind has an awesome sound, of deafening wind. But God’s voice is heard above the storm.
In these days, of disease, of death and of confusion let us listen out for the voice of God above the storm. He has words for us that we would not hear, were it not for the experience of this pandemic.
The message God had for Job, echoed the sentiments of Elihu. This is the same message we need to hear and appreciate today; He has laid the foundations of the earth (Job 38:4) and as a result every aspect of the natural world is under His control. A close study of these chapters will reveal a God who is in absolute control.
As God spoke out of the whirlwind – this was the message Job heard.
Let us as God’s redeemed children, hear this same message today.