Sunday, May 13, 2018

Year 8, Day 133: Job 39

Theological Commentary: Click Here

In case you thought that God was done with Job, He’s not.  This whole chapter is a continuation of God’s discourse against Job.  One point to understand is that should we lose our humility and become brazen against God, we need to be big enough to take it.  God is big enough to listen to my wrongly stated rebuke and then forgive me when I repent.  I need to be big enough to understand that with forgiveness comes teaching so that I can grow and understand and become humble again.  That’s part of what makes Job great in this story.  He does become brazen, but he also accepts the rebuke and learns from it.

God continues.  Yesterday, God was reminding Job all about the big processes of nature about which Job is essentially clueless: creation, sunrise, rain, snowfall, drought, etc.  These are all things that Job cannot control, much less explain.  Today, though, God takes a different tack – and I love it.  Today God switches to the nature around him that Job can control.  God talks about things like horses and eagles and ostriches.  We all know that man is to have dominion over the earth, right?

For me, the crux of this whole chapter is in the question that God asks Job in Job 39:12.  Do you have faith that the wild ox will return to you and serve you?  You see, that’s one of the main differences between God and human beings.  We get what we want by force.  How do we domesticate animals?  We stick them in pens so they cannot go where they choose.  How do we train animals?  We deprive them of all experience except the ones that we want them to have so that they respond the way we want them to respond.  Some animals are more happily domesticated than others.  We can train dogs pretty easily.  Horses are not too badly trained.  Oxen are a little more difficult.  Cats are sometimes downright stubborn.  Many wild animals like snakes and fish are downright impossible.

Human beings dominate the earth by sheer force of will.  We dominate the land around us – even the lesser people – by giving them no other choice.  The control that we have isn’t because we really have the power; we exert control by limiting others!

That’s not how God works at all.  God exerts control because He knows the nature of things.  Things want to serve God.  The wild ox in the example that I am lifting up will return to God not because it has no other choice but because it knows God and it wants to.  That’s the difference between God and us.  We want to be in control, so we exert our will.  God is in control, so He can give freedom.

What an incredible analogy for salvation, by the way.  Why is it that we cannot save ourselves?  We cannot save ourselves because we do not really have the power.  The harder we try to save ourselves, the more we miss the mark because we are exerting our own will.  God offers us salvation, but He does it by giving us freedom.