Who can give an answer to God that He does not already know? Who dares to judge Him? Who has something by which he would recommend himself to the Almighty? Isn’t God the one who gave that gift in the first place? It is not good for us to think too highly of ourselves. A man can be the smartest man in his nation, but he does not know as much about the shelves in the market where he lives as the one who has been granted the task of keeping those shelves well-ordered every day. God knows all things, but we are limited in everything we do. A humble heart is a most excellent gift for the man who would like to learn how to love others better.
There are many ways that God can move a person toward humility and love. Grief is a great schoolmaster for all kinds of important lessons. Through loss, pain, and shame, a man learns that he is not God. Job was an admirable man who suffered immensely, but he was also a man who grew through a deep encounter with God’s Word in the midst of unusual trial. He learned that it was not right for any man to suggest that he might be able to judge God. He learned that he could not gain his own vindication as a righteous man by pointing out supposed flaws in God’s perfect righteousness.
God is the Ruler over all realms, seen and unseen. There are many beings in this world that are far too dangerous for us. Though man is an impressive creature, yet any man would be wise to humble himself before God. Man’s excellence, when compared to other impressive species, is found in his ability to reason, to communicate with language, and to offer to his Maker spiritual worship. There are other animals that are faster and stronger, but they can be defeated by the plan of even one human being.
You may readily agree with this high assessment of humanity, but how strong do you feel today? Would you want to suddenly face a whale on the high seas? A whale is a very dangerous and resourceful opponent. You cannot expect to take him in with a fishhook. How will you defeat him? What is your plan? When the whale sees you coming, he will not send out a delegation to negotiate. If you expect to defeat him, you will probably have to find a way to kill him, because he will not be your pet. A whale cannot be handled like a bird. You will not be able to keep him in a cage and satisfy him with some seed and a little bottle of water for him to peck at. Many dead men have thought that they could win a fight against a whale. They paid for their pride and presumption with their lives.
If you would rather not risk an encounter in the ocean with an angry beast, why do you think that it is safe to offend God? We say, “But God can take our outbursts.” Why do people assume that it is safe to hurl insults at God? Why does anyone imagine that he can stand before God and make a case for his own righteousness at God’s expense?
With that in mind, consider God’s purpose in talking to Job at length about “Behemoth” in the previous chapter and “Leviathan” in this one. Though Job may not know it, this entire trial has something to do with a creature of God who is stronger than man, amazing in knowledge, unusually crafty, and very evil. If he seems to masquerade as an angel of light, or if he claims that he comes under a flag of truce, beware. He steals, he kills, and he destroys. We are told that we will judge angels one day. What is it that we have as human beings that will allow us to fight against a fallen angel like Satan? Only this: We are united with the head of the church, Jesus Christ. In Him we have one offensive weapon, the Word of God. Our King has also provided us with the very best defensive armor including a shield of faith with which we can extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one.
Yet our hope is not in our faith or in our ability to use God’s Word. These four chapters of humbling questions teach us a different lesson. In the face of any serpent of the raging seas, God is able. One little Word from Him shall fell the strongest enemy.
There is an adversary of whom it can be said, “On earth there is not his like.” He seems to be “a creature without fear. He is king over all the sons of pride.” Yet with the beginning of the preaching of the kingdom of God by men like Peter and John, Jesus saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven. That was not because of any strength or goodness in them, but because of the power of our righteous God over all of His creatures and all of their actions. Let us do the amazingly powerful thing that redeemed human beings were created to do. Let us worship God through Jesus Christ our Lord, and let us use our reason, our speech, and our lives to give to others the gift of love, which can be the best fruit of godly suffering.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Mighty God, Your Word is wonderful. When You speak of Your creatures, we know that You are greater than them all. Give us the sense to bow before You. Thank You for the holiness of Your Son for us. We have sinned against You first in Adam, and then in our own lives. Yet You have redeemed us with all Your great power and love. We remember again who You are, and we worship You. We cannot fight against You as if You were our inferior. We have been proud and rebellious. Please forgive us. We remember the love of the cross and have hope.