These are probably not the words any of us really would want to hear, let alone the situation in which we’d want to hear them. Yet God posed them to Job – and recorded it so that we could “get in on the fun!” I am hoping that by describing to you the way that God chose to reveal Himself and the words He spoke will get your attention – as they have truly gotten mine.
Here we see God speak out of the whirlwind to Job. God and the whirlwind are often revealed together. This particular passage in Job 38 was preceded by Elihu’s description of God drawing near in chapter 37. It is a disconcerting chapter to read. God was approaching in a massive storm that made Elihu tremble. He describes a storm that includes lightning, thunder in amounts that should get our attention. He speaks of clouds with ice (hail maybe?) as well as clouds loaded with moisture. These clouds are described as thick and seem to be described as swirling or at least changing direction all over as they approach.
The word “whirlwind” means a windstorm – and can be tied to several kinds of storms in that region. There are the massive wind storms (shaboob storms) that can sweep up massive amounts of water and form a waterspout over the sea – and dust storms that take your breath away as you see them darkening everything on the horizon as they reach heights of 6000 feet or more. The main aspect of them, of course, is the wind involved. There was also another storm, the one that terrified the disciples when they were in the boat with Jesus in the gospels. The description of such storms that came off of the mountains to the north and hit the Sea of Galilee relate them as if a giant hand had come from heaven and hit the surface of the sea so that it seemed instantly consumed by hurricane force winds and a turbulence that shakes everything around it.
This is what was approaching Job in chapter 37 – and has arrived in chapter 38. If such a storm itself was not disconcerting enough, the sound of the voice of God coming from the midst of it had to be utterly terrifying. But then again God and the whirlwind were often seen together in Scripture.
- In Ezekiel 1:4 God came in the whirlwind as He approached the prophet Ezekiel to speak.
- In 2 Kings God took Elijah to heaven by a flaming chariot in a powerful whirlwind.
- In Zechariah 9:14 God is seen marching in the whirlwinds of the south.
Whatever this is – it is awesome and fear inspiring as we read of it. Job must have been terrified as this storm approached – and petrified as it slowed and God’s voice came from the midst of it.
Forgive me – but as someone who grew up in “tornado alley,” I’ve seen the arrival and effect of such storms. My house was destroyed by one when I was 4 years old and we huddled in our basement hoping we would survive it. I remember my father describing it to me. The storm itself was unbelievably powerful with winds whipping every way – and the sound of sheets of rain pelting the windows. Then he said it suddenly became quiet – and he ran with my two brothers in hand for the basement. He said behind him it sounded like a dozen freight trains all descending on the spot where we were.
In the movie “Twister” the final scene focused on a force 5 tornado that was being tracked. When they moved toward it – they were shocked at a tornado that was over a mile in width as it destroyed everything in its path. Now imagine such a thing coming toward you no matter which way you turned. As you were ready for your life to be crushed by its power – it slows as it reaches you. Then if that were not enough to scare you to death – you hear the mighty voice of God speaking to you from the midst of it. That is a pretty astounding situation – and the level of fear Job must have felt could not be measured.
Even more terrifying is what God has to say to you. The words had to thunder to be heard over the raging of the storm. “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” Suddenly Job knew this was about him and the words that he had spoken without a full understanding of Who God is. You see we have a tendency to speak such words when we feel that we could do a better job of managing our own providence – that the sovereignty over our days would be in better hands if it were placed into ours. We might even complain of the things we experience in life – and gripe and moan a little at circumstances that are – how do I say it – difficult.
Honestly – our circumstances cannot come within miles of those that Job experienced. His is an epic story of suffering and hardship as God was working out His perfect will – and Job’s absolute best. Yet, when things get very difficult – we can be very difficult people to deal with as we speak with and of God. So it is with a less than thrilled acknowledgement that we see ourselves in the same light, albeit far, far less severe than that of Job.
Here He comes. God is showing up at the perfect time to do and say what only he can say and do. His timing is perfect and His ways are perfect. We may not want to hear that at the start of things – but by the end of it we will have no more critical comments about Him. He will reveal Himself – amazingly in questions we cannot fathom answering – and – it will be over. We will repent (if we are wise) and He will be praised.
Maybe you, like me, need such a meeting. Maybe you are not all that sold on your current providential situation in the hands of a loving, all-wise God. Maybe we need the Lord to approach us in a way that will leave us speechless and motionless in fear and trembling. Maybe in such a setting we will once again realize how infinitely small we are in this world – and how unbelievably lacking in wisdom and perspective we can be. Maybe – just maybe – we need to field all of God’s questions here – so that we grasp how very little we know. Maybe – just maybe we need to come away humbled, repentant, and focused on knowing Him, walking with Him, and yes – even loving Him as we are reminded why we need to trust Him with absolute trust as He works out and in our lives during the short time of our stay on this earth.