February 21 – Job 38:1-11
Last week we looked at God’s immanence, he’s surprising closeness. This week we’ll look at his transcendence, his radical otherness. Everything else in the universe is created, meaning everything we know stands under our Creator on the same contingent footing—a star shares more in common with an amoeba than it does with God. Were the whole universe to disappear, we, along with every star and amoeba, would cease to exist, but God would be entirely unaffected. Nothing can touch him, nothing can insult him, nothing can be demanded of him. As the psalmist says, “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.”(Psa. 115:3)
We, on the other hand, are none of those things. We aren’t perfectly other, independent, untouchable—we are fragile, needy creatures. The pandemic has surely shown us this, considering a virus, a single, microscopic scrap of genetic material, has caused death and hardship among humanity worldwide. As created beings we are inherently limited and hindered; as great as human beings can be, we can still never even approach the exalted LORD God—”Who then is he who can stand before me?”(Job 41:10
But as much as God’s transcendence sets us in our place, it can also prime our hearts for worship, particularly when we consider his love for us. We’ll turn to Psalm 8 to get a better picture of this, because in it David talks about how the Lord’s majesty makes his love all the more wondrous, “When I look at the heavens, the work of your hands…what is man that you are mindful of him?”(Psa. 8:3-4) Let’s be clear, this psalm is not about how great and majestic we are. His love for us, as lowly and humble as we are, only makes God more praiseworthy; when he stoops to love us, he is all the more glorified by his magnanimity.
This approach should help us as we continue to discuss suffering. When we suffer we often feel abandoned by God, as if he is absent and letting us fall into neglect. In other times, thinking about God’s transcendence, we may wrongly consider God unapproachable, as if he’s a bigwig deity with no time for us peons. Neither of these things are true. God never abandons his children, and he’s not an absentee Father. Like we saw last week, he’s perfectly accessible, and as we see in the incarnation of Jesus, he even came to be right here with us.
Questions for Discussion
• Would someone read Job 38:1-11 for us?
• What stands out to you from this passage?
• While God is questioning Job, what does God say about himself?
• God is perfectly transcendent, meaning he’s exalted, holy, and totally separate from the created world. When you think about God’s transcendence, how does that affect the way you relate to him?
• Would someone read Psalm 8? How does God’s transcendence lead us to worship in this psalm?
• How can God’s sovereignty over creation and transcendence help us through suffering?
• How does God’s transcendence help us understand his love for us?