National Geographic and the wisdom of God

goat 1Imagine this terrible scenario: You are lying in a hospital bed being kept alive artificially by plastic tubes in your arm and nose. A killer hurricane has destroyed everything you own and all you’ve worked for – your house, you car and your savings. You family has not survived. You’re hanging on to life. You move through the normal stages of grief, but your prayers are tinged with bitterness, “If only God would visit me and give me some answers. What has happened contradicts everything I know about God. If I would just show up and explain why!”

 Why God?

In Job chapters 38-42 this is exactly what happens. God shows up and answers Job. However God’s answer is a big surprise. God doesn’t answer Job’s question, but rather tells Job about himself.

In Job 38:1 it says, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said…”

Remember that a “great wind” had killed Job’s children in ch 1 and now God speaks to Job out of the whirlwind. CS Lewis famously said, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” We have something of that here.

Now God could have:

(1) Laid a tender hand on job and said how his suffering made him a better person. But he didn’t.

(2) Expressed satisfaction in Job and told Job how his perseverance in faith despite suffering had vindicated God’s reputation before Satan. But he didn’t.

(3) Delivered a philosophical lecture on suffering, the effects of sin and a fallen world. But he didn’t.

Instead, God almost aggressively rebukes Job and asks him a series of questions:

In 38:2-7 it says,

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? (In other words, you do not know what you are talking about!)

Dress for action like a man;

I will question you, and you make it known to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements—surely you know!

Or who stretched the line upon it?

On what were its bases sunk,

or who laid its cornerstone,

when the morning stars sang together

and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Where were you?

God ask Job: Where you there when I created the earth? Do you know how I put it all together? Do you know its measurements? God then takes Job on a tour of all the wonders of creation. God tells Job of the sunrise, of rain and snow, of thunderstorm, of lions, of mountain goats, of wild donkeys, of ostriches, of horses, and of the birds of prey. After each description God asks or implies, “Are you powerful enough to duplicate these feats? Are you able to run the world like me? You keep asking me to explain myself and my ways to you. Do you think you can do better?”

Indeed 40:9 says, “Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?”

The wisdom of goats

I like the example of mountain goat in 39:1-4:

“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?

Do you observe the calving of the does?

Can you number the months that they fulfil,

and do you know the time when they give birth,

when they crouch, bring forth their offspring,

and are delivered of their young?

Their young ones become strong; they grow up in the open;

they go out and do not return to them.

God says: Look at the mountain goat, it’s not looked after by people who breed their own flocks. Yet these goats have their young unnoticed and unsheltered. The mother gives birth and the young goat quickly learns self-preservation and self-protection. God has given them those instincts. Their instincts are actually wisdom of divine origin. God is wisely and carefully ruling his universe.

When you watch National Geographic or Animal Planet you should say, What a great God we serve to create these animals and care for these animals! National Geographic should lead you to God, not away from God.

Can you do better than God?

God says to Job, “Unless you can do all these things, don’t presume to tell me how I should run the universe. Until you are wise enough to orchestrate a snowstorm, or even make a single snowflake, or teach the mountain goat – do not presume to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do.”

Here is the big lesson: A God wise enough to rule the universe is wise enough to watch over Job’s life. A God wise enough to create me and the world in which I live is wise enough to watch out for me.

40:1-5 contains God and Job’s responses:

And the Lord said to Job:

“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?

He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?

I lay my hand on my mouth.

I have spoken once, and I will not answer;

twice, but I will proceed no further.”

Often life does not make sense and we face time of great trial, frustration and suffering.  Are we willing to entrust our lives to a God who is all-knowing, all-good, all-powerful and all-wise?  A God who has revealed himself in and through Jesus.