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The Humbling of Job (Job 40)

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CHAPTER 40 Dec. 31 
Moreover Yahweh answered Job, 2Shall he who argues contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.
Job Admits He Cannot Answer
3Then Job answered Yahweh, 4Behold, I am of small account. What shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5I have spoken once, and I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further. 
God Questions Job
6Then Yahweh answered Job out of the whirlwind, 7Now brace yourself like a man. I will question you, and you will answer Me. 8Will you even annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me, that you may be justified? 9Or do you have an arm like God? Can you thunder with a voice like Him? 10Now deck yourself with excellency and dignity. Array yourself with honour and majesty. 11Pour out the fury of your anger. Look at each one who is proud, and bring him low. 12Look at each one who is proud, and humble him. Crush the wicked in their place. 13Hide them in the dust together. Bind their faces in the hidden place. 14Then I will also admit to you that your own right hand can save you. 15See now, Behemoth, which I made as well as you. He eats grass like an ox. 16Look now, his strength is in his thighs. His force is in the muscles of his belly. 17He moves his tail like a cedar. The sinews of his thighs are knit together. 18His bones are like tubes of brass. His limbs are like bars of iron. 19He is the chief of the ways of God. He who made him gives him His sword. 20Surely the mountains produce food for him, where all the animals of the field play. 21He lies under the lotus trees, in the cover of the reed, and the marsh. 22The lotuses cover him with their shade. The willows of the brook surround him. 23Behold, if a river overflows, he doesn’t tremble. He is confident, though the  Jordan swells even to his mouth. 24Shall any take him when he is on the watch, or pierce through his nose with a snare? 


40:8 Will you condemn Me, that you may be justified?- God is as it were placed in the dock by our allegation that we have not sinned as He claims, and that our sufferings are unjustified. Paul plays on this idea throughout the legal language of Romans 1-8. 
41:1 God almost jokes with Job, that he had been trying to draw out Leviathan with a fish hook; this is a commentary upon so many human attempts to get a handle on the way God is the adversary / satan figure in our lives. Shrugging it off as chance and bad luck, believing in a personal Satan in the sea or in Heaven, thinking God is punishing us... all this is trying to capture Leviathan with a mere fishing rod. The book of Job isn't an explanation for specific human suffering- and many who turn to the book looking for that come away disappointed. Rather is it an account of God's sovereign power, putting meaning into the word "All-mighty" when applied to God. On a 'doctrinal' level it is indeed a deconstruction of the ideas of supernatural 'Satan' figures. But on a more personal level, it challenges us to follow in Job's faithful footsteps, as it challenged Judah in captivity. The monster figures of Leviathan and Behemoth appear at the end of the book of Job, forming a kind of inclusio with the opening reference to Satan; and they are clearly part of God’s final answer to Job’s “case”. Behe-mot can be understood as a reference to Mot, the Canaanite god of death; and Leviathan appears to be the Canaanite version of the orthodox ‘Satan’ figure, perhaps a reference to the ‘Lotan’ of the Ugaritic myths. In great detail, these figures are deconstructed. They are shown to be created beings- created by the one almighty God of the Old Testament, to be completely under His control to the point that He can even tease them, so enormously greater is His power than theirs. These Canaanite ‘Satan’ figures are thereby shown to have no significant existence; and they certainly don’t exist as opposed to God. They are totally under His control. ‘Evil’ in a form independent of Him, in radical opposition to Him, simply isn’t there. It is He who not only created Behemoth, but can effortlessly control him in accord with His purpose (40:15). That’s the comfort of the message. Indeed the descriptions of the natural world which lead up to the Leviathan / Behemoth passages are there to underline this point; and it’s interesting that those passages zoom in upon the cruelties and even brutalities within nature. Yet these are all of God’s ultimate design and creation, and under His providential control. Job had earlier perceived this; for he responds to the friends’ allusions to an evil ‘Satan’ figure as the source of his suffering by observing: “Ask the animals... the birds of the air... [they show that] the hand of the Lord [and not any supernatural ‘Satan’] has done this” (12:7-9). The same Hebrew words are used about God’s binding and loosing of the stars [which were thought to control evil on earth] and His binding, loosing and opening of Leviathan’s mouth (38:31 cp. 40:29). Whether or not Leviathan / a ‘Satan’ figure, or the bad stars, are for real... God is in utter control of them, and there is thus no conflict, no war in Heaven, no ultimate dualism at all in the cosmos. Which is just the message we would expect from a monotheistic Old Testament book. Israel’s God is truly the Almighty. Just as Job is described as God’s “servant” (1:8), so is Leviathan (40:28; 41:4). No evil power uncontrolled by God is at work in Job’s life. We also need to give due weight to the fact that God speaks the Leviathan / Behemoth passages “out of the storm”, which had been gathering since 37:2. This is significant because storms were seen as manifestations of evil powers. Yet here (and elsewhere in Scripture), the one true God speaks out of such storms, to demonstrate how far greater He is than any storm god; and showing by implication that such storm gods don’t exist, and the ‘evil’ which supposedly came from them was in fact under His control. Much of the language used about Leviathan and Behemoth is also used about God's manifestation of Himself: Smoke from nostrils, flame from mouth (41:11,12) is said about God in Ps. 18:8; Strength before and dismay behind (Job 41:14) = Hab. 3:5; Strong ones and leaders cringe in fear (41:17 Heb.) = Ps. 18:7; Hab. 3:6; Deep sea stirred up (41:23,24 Heb.) = Ps. 18:5; terrible teeth = 16:9 about God; breath that carries men away = 15:30 about God; none his equal (41:33) = true about God. Leviathan is called the 'cruel one' (41:10)- and the very same word is used by Job about God in His afflicting Job in 30:21. Leviathan, the seemingly overbearing power of evil in the world, is in fact a manifestation of God to such an intense degree that effectively it 'is' God; God, ultimately, is the adversary / satan to Job. The epilogue and prologue to Job are evidently related. Job begins sitting in dust and ashes and ends repenting in dust and ashes (2:8; 42:4). The silence of the friends at the opening of the book is matched by the silence after God has finally spoken (40:4). Job intercedes for his children (1:5) and ends up interceding for his friends. Job begins with the description of being the Lord's servant; and the book concludes on the same note (42:7,8). The question of course is: 'So what's the equivalent of the 'Satan' figure in the epilogue?'. The omission is intended and obvious. Ultimately the answer is the essence of the whole book: the 'satan', the adversary, is none other than God Himself, in His love.