February 14 – Job 38:1-4


I mentioned earlier in the series that the big middle portion of Job involves dialogues between Job and his friends. This week we’re jumping past most of that , and for the next two weeks we’ll look at God’s response to Job in chapter 38 before wrapping up with the end of the story in chapter 42.

In Job 38 we’ll see two big important aspects of God’s nature, first his immanence, then his transcendence. By immanence we mean that God is right here, as close as your breath, and that no corner of the universe misses out on his presence. That’s not to say that God is the universe, that’s a whole different theology. The scriptures counsel us that Creator and creation are separate entities, so it’s not as if God is in piece of creation, like a river or mountain. These created things are bound by space and time, but God is limitless so he can’t be contained by his creation.

Here’s the biggest takeaway for us when it comes to God’s immanence: we often operate as if God is far off elsewhere, either because he doesn’t want to talk to us or because he’s so otherworldly we can’t reach him, and this notion is harmful to us. When we think like this we’ll inevitably grow disaffected with God, especially when we suffer; we’ll think he doesn’t love us all that much, or that he’s not present enough to save us from our suffering. Three things can happen: 1. Our obedience can falter—why obey a God who isn’t paying attention to you? 2. Our worship can falter—why keep in touch with an absentee Father? And 3. Our Christian witness can falter—why would someone else want to join you in believing this?

Now, the one kernel of truth in this idea has to do with sin. Sin separates us from God into self-imposed exile; our ancestors were kicked out of God’s presence due to sin (Gen. 3:24), and you could say the the rest of the Bible is all about us getting back into his presence. Now, this presence is a different thing than his immanence. For example, in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) Jesus tells us to pray to “our Father in heaven.” This doesn’t mean that God is confined to heaven or any one place, as we’ve already mentioned. Jesus is referring to heaven as the physical space of God’s special presence, the place where his glory dwells in full, what we could call his celestial temple. Since the Fall mankind has been separated from the presence of God’s glory due to sin, so we don’t have unfettered access to him like we would in heaven.

But here’s the cool thing, and we see it in our passage this week: into our exile, God speaks. God could’ve left us to our own devices, suffering in a broken world because of our sin. And yet, while mankind was entirely unworthy of it, God began speaking to them, revealing his character and his cosmic rescue plan that would ultimately be accomplished by Jesus’ death and resurrection, the incarnate Word (John 1:1). Revelation from God is always a disclosure, God letting us in on things we have no inherent right to receive, and so God’s word is a precious thing.

Furthermore, when God speaks, he condescends. We’ll see in the passage this week that God didn’t have to visit Job. He could’ve left Job to fend for himself, and that’s true for us too. God could have forever remained in transcendent silence, untouched by our sin and unharmed by our rebellion. And yet God stooped down to speak to us like he did Job, even bringing his message in person. Now, sometimes it’s hard to receive God’s words, and we’ll see that in how he talks to Job—God goes after Job’s ignorance here in order to bring him to repentance, which we’ll look at in two weeks. And yet, when we wait on God’s every word, hard or not, we’ll find ourselves truly nourished, as Jesus says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”(Matt. 4:4)

Questions for Discussion

• Would someone read Job Job 38:1-4 for us?

• What stands out to you from this passage?

• God wasn’t required to visit Job; why do you think he did?

• Why do you think God primarily targets Job’s lack of knowledge?

• How do you think Job initially felt, hearing from God like this?

• God was close enough to speak to Job; what can this tell us about God?

• The God of the Bible is a God who speaks to us. How does his Word help us have peace in the midst of suffering?

• Practically speaking, what do you think this passage means for your life?