The climax of the book of Job occurs over the space of six chapters (38–42) amidst what must have been a most dramatic scene.

The voice of Yahweh booms out over the noise of the whirlwind to Job. “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?” Elihu is right—Job was guilty of speaking without knowledge of things he had no idea about. God challenges Job in 38:3 to brace himself and dress for action because He was going to now question Job. The questions relate to creation and God makes two speeches, which are followed by responses from Job.

At first glance God seems to bombard Job with questions he can’t possibly understand or answer. It initially appears that, having overawed Job with His superiority in power and wisdom, He then sidesteps past his complaints. This is not the case, however. These speeches are about to illustrate true righteousness; and in demonstrating how it is to be achieved, they will answer all Job’s questions and soothe all his grievances.

In 38:1-38, God deals with the non-animal creation, answering Job’s allegations that:

  • God uses His power arbitrarily and destructively (9:5-7,12-13; 12:14-25; 23:13-16; 26:12)
  • God is not concerned with justice, letting the wicked prosper (9:22-24; 12:6; 21:7-21; 24:12-17)
  • God hides His wisdom from man and can’t be understood (26:5-14; 28:12-14,20-28)

Job needs to learn these lessons from the natural elements, their actions and activities. A master architect’s design and a master builder’s skill are described. God’s care and control of the systems and cycles affecting earth for the good of mankind, creation generally and for His pleasure are emphasised. God’s ultimate purpose with earth’s human population—to break the power of sin, to dispel ignorance of His ways and to save man—are revealed.

The language of parenthood promotes the earth as God’s figurative child, subject to the care and attention only a divine parent can provide. God’s only begotten Son received this same attention from his Father to ensure he achieved dominion over sin and death.

The language of architecture and construction portrays the earth as God’s figurative house. In a similar way, the purpose of God in the work His son was given to do is the formation of the ecclesia as the bride of Christ. In the ecclesia, the multi-faceted wisdom of God is refracted like a rainbow in the day of storm.

In 38:39–39:30 God deals with the animal creation, answering Job’s allegations that:

  • God is treating him cruelly and unjustly (7:19- 21; 9:17,28-31; 10:14-18; 13:25-27; 16:9-17; 19:8-12; 27:2; 30:20-23)
  • God again uses His power arbitrarily and destructively (9:5-7,12-13; 12:14-25; 23:13-16; 26:12)
  • God hides His wisdom from man and can’t be understood (26:5-14; 28:12- 14,20-28)

Lessons are to be learned from the animals presented and the characteristics they are given. A principle is taught about the innocent dying so the one who caused death can live. This seems unjust, but only if God’s care and love was limited solely to the victim. Fortunately for us God cares for all creation and doesn’t exclude Himself from this principle. Jesus Christ, the only innocent and sinless individual, suffered, “the just for the unjust”; from a human perspective it is not fair, but this is how God designed creation and His plan of salvation to work.

There are many people in the world with different characteristics; we need to be able to deal with them and their various impacts upon us in our walk towards the kingdom. Many lessons in how to view and respond to the influences we’re subjected to in daily life are taught.

All these character traits are also found in the ecclesia; God calls people from all walks of life out of the darkness of the world into the light of the Truth. The animals are listed in pairs in a specific reference to Noah loading pairs of animals on to the ark for the salvation of his house through baptism (Gen 7; Heb 11:7; 1 Pet 3:17-22). In the context of salvation, seven pairs of animals are presented to Job; six in chapters 38 and 39 and a seventh in chapters 40 and 41.

A challenge is issued: (YLT) “Is the striver with the Mighty instructed? The reprover of God, let him answer it” (40:2). Job responds in verses 4-5 saying, “I have sinned, what can I say to You; I’ve already said too much”. Job’s complaints against God’s justice, wisdom and power are answered.

But in 40:6 God again challenges Job, as He did in 38:2. He has more questions to ask of Job in a second speech.Why? (RSV) “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be justified?” (v8): the issue of Job’s righteousness has not yet been dealt with. This is why repentance is absent from Job’s first response.

Between verses 9-14, Job is told to put on his royal robes (his righteousness). He was to judge the wicked, to bring down the proud and to tread them all into the dust where they belong. If he could do that, then God would acknowledge that Job could save himself.

The two animals presented to Job in chapters 40 and 41 represent the greatest challenges man needs to face. The Behemoth of 40:15-24 best fits the physical description and behaviour of the hip- popotamus. The Leviathan of chapter 41 best fits the physical characteristics and behaviour of the crocodile. Clearly, the description given of the tail of the Behemoth and the mouth of the Leviathan are not representative of the animals we know.These features of the animals are deliberately exaggerated by God to teach Job about himself. The reason

God calls these animals Behemoth and Leviathan is found within Job itself:

  • The root word for Behemoth is used by Job in 12:7 where he tells the friends to ask the beasts (Heb ‘behemah’) of the field and the birds of the air to teach them wisdom. God’s lesson for Job is that he needs to see himself in the Behemoth and learn that his pride (tail) separates him from God. Also his superior attitude towards his friends is completely wrong; he is just as much in the thrall of pride as any of them.
  • Leviathan is taken from 3:8 where Job curses the night of his conception and the day of his birth. Leviathan’s exaggerated feature (its mouth) illustrates the problems with Job’s speech. In 3:10,23 the first hints of Job’s bitterness and attitude towards God surface. Also as debate with the three friends became increasingly fiery, insult replaced reasoned speech on both sides. Job’s attitude towards his friends is highlighted as also preventing restoration of his relationship with God.

Job was challenged to “Look on every one that is proud (Behemoth) and bring him low; and tread down the wicked (Leviathan) in their place” (40:12). God presented these animals to teach Job that he cannot control sin or pride; man cannot achieve righteousness independently of God. Only God can conquer the Behemoth and the Leviathan; only God is able to make man righteous.These two animals would frighten and repel Job, just as pride and sin repel God. We are invited to see how God views pride and sin and how we ought to feel when we identify them in our own characters.

The interview is over and now Job’s response is a little longer (42:2-5). We see humility and repentance under rebuke, understanding and acceptance of God’s actions and a deep appreciation for God’s purpose with mankind. Job saw that he had been too self-focused, overvaluing his way of life and behaviour. He now realises that all humans have Behemoth and Leviathan—the carnal mind—living within them. So Job, with expanded mind and deepened understanding, repents of his hurt and angry words “in dust and ashes” and is forgiven by a gracious and loving God who was delighted with His servant’s response to Him.

In 42:2 Job said, “I know that thou canst do everything”. This together with the phrase “dust and ashes” in verse 4 are drawn from Genesis 18 where the angel says: “Is anything too hard for Yahweh?” (Gen 18:14). Where Abraham laughed for joy (Gen 17:17) because he saw the Lord’s day ( John 8:56), Sarah laughed in incredulity (Gen 18:12). She lags behind Abraham in the development of faith at this moment. She doubts, in contrast to Abraham, who was fully convicted that God IS ABLE to perform the humanly impossible.

This great affirming theme of the Scripture is linked with Sodom’s destruction, which seems odd at first. Abraham understood the blessing of being promised a seed and he was about to be told how God would deal with the scourge of sin so apparent in Sodom (Gen 18:17-19). Because he understood God’s purpose of forgiveness through “the seed” of promise, he properly understood the vast scope of God’s love. Abraham, understanding the depth of God’s love, intercedes on behalf of those he be- lieved may have kept their faith in Sodom to try to preserve them from the consequences of sin; this is exactly what God wanted him to do. God delights in responding when His servants understand His love towards them and try to act like He does, showing His love to others (see Jude 20-25).

The same principle is demonstrated in chapter 42. God judges the three friends (v7-9) saying the friends are guilty because they “have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath”. We read of Job’s accusations and complaints based on his skewed reasoning in chapters 3–31. Job has not always said the right thing about God. The clear difference between Job and his friends, however, was in the way they portrayed God. Job consistently said that God doesn’t act by exact retribution; the friends consistently argued that He does. They have misrepresented God and put words into His mouth because they were too inflexible in their thinking to see past the received wisdom and tradition they trusted in.

In 42:8 the three friends are told to ask Job to intercede on their behalf and offer seven bullocks and seven rams as burnt offerings or their own theory would be poured out on their heads. Job willingly offers animals and intercessory prayer on their behalf to a gracious heavenly Father. Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar renounce their folly and rededicate themselves to serve God in spirit and in truth. In this act of intercession Job’s captivity is turned (v10); God figuratively raising him out of the dust and ashes of mortality and placing him in the kingdom.

So, the latter end of Job was blessed more than his beginning (v12). He received a double portion of everything—a token of honour for a firstborn. The number of cattle is doubled compared to those mentioned in chapter 1; but only 10 additional children are born to Job and his wife (v13-15), suggesting that the original 10 will be raised when the Lord returns.

His daughters are given an inheritance not covered in the law, showing that inheritance is by grace and illustrating the principle that whether male, female, bond or free, we are all one in Christ Jesus. In their names we see a representation of the bride of Christ:

  • Jemima, ‘the dove’ – the ecclesia is like a dove, innocent and virtuous and having dedicated herself to identify with her bride- groom (Psa 45:10)
  • Kezia, ‘cassia’ – the sweet aroma that perfumes the Lord’s garments symbolising the union between the bride and her Lord (Psa 45:8)
  • Keren-happuch, ‘horn of antimony’ (literally eye shadow) – the beauty of the bride, “all glorious within”, an inward beauty that is plainly visible (Psa 45:11, 13)

It is this end we all hope to be part of—this is “the end of the Lord” ( Jas 5:11) when he comes manifesting God’s wrath and judging the world in righteousness. Sometimes God takes us through ex- periences that we can’t understand, that are beyond our control and to which we have no answers, that we may learn the lesson that GOD IS ABLE, and we are not. This is the point of Job’s story—GOD IS ABLE to do more than we can possibly imagine. Our part is to come to Him faithfully “in Christ”, accepting the “gift by grace”, receiving it with joy and showing God’s love to others.