Summary: We can’t change our circumstances but we can change how we respond to them by looking at the God of Nature and the Nature of God.
God’s Answers to Our Questions
Rev. Brian Bill
I don’t travel much but I did have the opportunity this week to fly to Tulsa to be with my friend Ray Pritchard while he spoke at a pastor’s conference. Flying is not my favorite mode of transportation but I didn’t have much choice. I started getting a bit nervous on Sunday night when I saw that there were a lot of tornadoes in Oklahoma and bad weather slicing through my flight path. I got up early on Monday and drove to Midway in the rain. I arrived in plenty of time and sat in those hard chairs at the gate waiting for our flight number to be called. I got a bit more nervous when I heard a crew member say, “We better load up soon if we want to beat the storm.” I had a frightening flashback of being up in a plane with Scott Peterson several years ago while he practiced his “storm chaser” routine.
When we were all seated on the plane we were told to fasten our seat belts and then one of the flight attendants stood up and went through a safety demonstration. As she explained these very important instructions I looked around and saw that no one was paying attention and she seemed used to that – as a preacher I can relate to those feelings. Businessmen were reading their papers, young families were attending to their kids, and many had their eyes closed. I didn’t do much better but I did try to listen to a few things.
About half-way through our flight I wish I had paid a little more attention because the plane hit some incredible turbulence. I started searching for that laminated card that showed where the exits are and how to get the seat cushion to serve as a flotation device – I don’t think we were over any water but I wanted to be prepared just in case. Do you know what was happening? The stormy weather got me to pay attention to what really matters. Likewise, storms in our life can wake us up.
As we mentioned last week, Job lost everything and then his friends locked and loaded on him, tormenting him with questions and accusations, trying to get him to confess what it was that he had done wrong. Job has some of his own questions for God and asks them throughout the book. His candid questions are filled with angst and even anger. Here are just a few…
6:11 – “What strength do I have, that I should still have hope?”
7:20 – “Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?”
10:18 – “Why then, did you bring me out of the womb?”
It’s normal and natural to ask questions when we go through hard times: Why is this happening to me? What did I do wrong to deserve this? Is God mad at me? I thought He was supposed to be loving and kind—what’s the deal with that? Why God, why?
John Calvin preached 159 sermons on Job but we’re trying to tackle the book in only two messages. I’m going to borrow Ray Stedman’s outline to help us understand these final chapters of the Book of Job. In chapters 38-39, we come face-to-face with The God of Nature and in chapters 40-41, we encounter The Nature of God. After both appearances by the Almighty, Job gives two brief responses.
The God of Nature
Some of you have experienced some terrible turbulence in your life. Maybe you’re suffering through a storm right now. As we come to the conclusion of the Book of Job, the man named Job is told to fasten his seat belt because he’s about to enter another whirlwind. Please turn to Job 38:1: “Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm.” Let’s stop right there. You would think that at this point God would appear like a gentle shepherd, comforting Job by telling him that everything is going to get better. Or, that he would begin to answer his specific questions. He does neither. Instead, He speaks out of a tsunami-like storm, which probably brings back memories of the tempest that had taken the lives of his 10 children in 1:19.
At long last Job gets an audience with the Almighty but it doesn’t go as he wanted it to. You would think that Job had gone through enough storms, why did he need another one? Because Job needed to get to know God and have his perspective restored. When the Almighty appeared to Moses, Sinai was covered with smoke and the whole mountain trembled (Exodus 19:18). When God spoke to Ezekiel, He came to him in a “windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light.” (Ezekiel 1:4). This is not a God to play around with – and this is not just an Old Testament truth. After Jesus performed a miracle in Luke 5:8 Peter was petrified, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Hebrews 12:29 says that “our God is a consuming fire.”