Sermon and Bible Study Database
Author: Scott David Foutz
Text: Job 38:1-42:6 Theme: God requires us to approach Him with proper understanding of His sovereignty. Introduction: Self-Centeredness in Worship 1. 1983 Survey of the 8 most productive evangelical presses. 88% of titles published related to self (discovery, nurture) and resolving personal problems and tensions. 2. 1987 Survey of evangelical college students. 62% believed that one's own potential is as important others' needs. 87% said they were working hard at self-improvement. 3. 1991 Survey of 200 published evangelical sermons. 81% man- centered, 19% related to nature, character and will of God. 4. Christianity has come to be viewed through the lens of self- concern. Today's passage directly addresses this issue. I. Setting A. Righteous Job & his suffering B. Friends' advice: sin is punishment, correction C. Job's demand 31:35-37 (cf. w/ contemporary attitudes regarding discomfort) II. God's Reply (38:1 - 42:6) A. God's methodology: 1. God doesn't mention the issue of Job's suffering. (cf. 31:35's "written idictment") 2. Rhetorical questions (Who are you? Where were you? Are you able?) B. God considers Job's presumptions to be a darkening of His plan (38:2-3) 1. God's sovereignty oversaw the creation of the universe (4-11) 2. God's sovereignty oversees the the government of the universe (38:12-37) 3. God's sovereignty has provided all life with freedom and beauty (38:39-39:30) a. all these creatures are free from man's control b. all thes creatures possess a beauty which man can easily see 4. Therefore, God's sovereignty is beyond the comprehension and expectation of man. C. God considers Job's presumptions to be a discrediting of His justice (40:8) 1. Wickedness and suffering are beyond the ability of man to control (40:6-14) 2. God's prized creatures are terrifying and beyond the control of man (40:15-41:26) a. Behemoth (40:15-24) b. Leviathan (40:25-41:26) 3. These are proofs that God's rule may indeed overpower, even terrify us. III. Job's Repentance (42:1-6) A. "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours will be thwarted." (42:2) B. "My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you." (42:5) Conclusion: A. God will not respect our self-centered cries and complaints. B. As for Job, "seeing" may indeed be necessary for our understanding. C. God is to be worshipped as the sovereign and awesome Lord of creation. Illustration: Babylonian Theodicy's conclusion: forsake worship of a distant god. NOTES: See: Book of God and Man (Chaps. 10,11,14) by Gordis R. 1. Since Job cannot fathom the natural world and its workings, he should not expect to understand the problem of evil. 2. God makes no mention of sympathy for Job's suffering. 3. Cf. 9:16-17; Although God does appear to Job in a whirlwind, instead of crushing him with His terror, God questions him to ascertain his wiedom. 4. Three types of questions: Who are you? Where were you? Are you able? I. First speech (38:1-40:2,3-5) A. Wonders of the Inanimate World (38:2-38) 1. God's Creative Activity (38:4-11) 2. God's Government of the Natural World (38:12-37) B. World of Living Creatures (38:39-39:30) 1. Lion (38:39-41) 2. Mountain Goat (39:1-4) 3. Wild Ass (39:5-8) 4. Wild Ox (39:9-12) 5. Ostrich (39:13-18) 6. Wild Horse (39:19-25) 7. Hawk and Eagle (39:26-30) C. Job's Response (40:3-5) 1. Job does not retreat on any point 2. Job reiterates that God is all-powerful and man is weak (cf. 9:19ff.) D. Implications 1. All these creatures have two characteristics in common a. They are all free from man's control b. They possess a beauty that man can easily see. 2. The universe is beautiful and orderly, but man is not the measure of all things and the cosmos was not created merely for man. 3. The Creator cannot be judged from man's limited vantage point. II. Second Speech (40:6-42:6) A. God's Response to Job's Answer (40:6-14) 1. Evil does continue to exist 2. Challenges Job to destroy the wicked, and then God will pay him homage. B. Behemoth (40:15-24) C. Leviathan (40:25-41:26) D. Job's response (42:1-6) 1. Job repents of his error 2. His error was not insisting upon his innocence, but presuming to challenge God to judge Him. E. Implications 1. The creatures are likewise not intended for use by man. 2. These creatures are repulsive and fearful by man's standards. 3. Yet, God rejoices in them as well as finds them worthy expressions of His creative power. 1. Viewed against the backdrop of the cosmos, man's sufferings do not disappear, but they grow smaller and more bearable as elements within the larger plan of God's world. 2. Men's suffering in the world canot be explained fully by the conventional theory of sin and retribution (as argued by Friends). 3. Nor can it be justified in terms of moral discipline designed to guard men against wrongdoing (as argued by Elihu). 4. The existence of real evil and suffering must not be permitted to distort the true nature of the universe, or obscure the pervasive pattern of good in the world. 5. Instead, the harmony and beauty of the natural order support the faith that there is a similar pattern of meaning in the moral sphere, since both emanate from the One God. 6. Sustained by this faith, man can bear the burden of suffering and yet find life a joyous experience, secure in the knowledge that God's world is basically good. 7. God challenges Job to change his orientation and view his case in light of the Creator's total cosmic design.