Ice – Job 38


“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
    or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
    for the day of battle and war?
24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
    or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?

25 “Who has cut a channel for the torrents of rain,
    and a way for the thunderbolt,
26 to bring rain on a land where no one lives,
    on the desert, which is empty of human life,
27 to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
    and to make the ground put forth grass?

28 “Has the rain a father,
    or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb did the ice come forth,
    and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven?
30 The waters become hard like stone,
    and the face of the deep is frozen.

Job 38:22-30 NRSV

Photo of ice on Lake Monona, Madison, WI  2/17/2016


Job’s Christmas Present

We found a sermon titled “Christmas at Uz” which described the last chapter of Job where his loved ones come and there is an exchange of gifts, as a kind of Yule celebration.  That is interesting, but it seems better to compare those places where Job called out for “someone” to help, and see if he did not find the reply in Bethlehem.

Job 9:32-35; Job 16:19-22 and Job 19:23-27 are three such passages.  Job looked in one for an Arbitrator, in another for an Witness in heaven and in the third for his Redeemer.

If we take the bigger Christmas story, which is the Incarnation of the Son of God into the man Jesus of Nazareth, we find that the scriptures give him these roles.  As Arbitrator, he stands between God and humanity as the g0-between.  As Witness, he is our Advocate and pleads for us in the courts of heaven.  As Redeemer, he has paid the price for our liberty.

Merry Christmas Job.

Conquering Leviathan

Job 41:1-8  – ESV
     “Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook
        or press down his tongue with a cord?
    [2] Can you put a rope in his nose
        or pierce his jaw with a hook?
    [3] Will he make many pleas to you?
        Will he speak to you soft words?
    [4] Will he make a covenant with you
        to take him for your servant forever?
    [5] Will you play with him as with a bird,
        or will you put him on a leash for your girls?
    [6] Will traders bargain over him?
        Will they divide him up among the merchants?
    [7] Can you fill his skin with harpoons
        or his head with fishing spears?
    [8] Lay your hands on him;
        remember the battle—you will not do it again!

    Now then, Job fell silent before this question.  How to fight the sea monster Leviathan, and how it is hinted can anyone fight the entangling power of evil in the world?  Job can not overcome his own portion of evil.  Is he then going to capture Leviathan with a fish hook?  Will he spear him with harpoons?

   Leviathan was taken on by another Champion.  Not with harpoon.  Not by denying the existence of entangling evil in the world.  The war on Leviathan was begun in a feed trough in Bethlehem.  Power was confronted with weakness.  And Power sought to consume the Child in the form of Herod’s atrocity and in the form of Roman injustice.  but the Child, if we believe the Gospel story, has won.

This is not something you will find among the Christmas cards you receive this year, but it is part of the story.


Behemoth & Leviathan

These two un-cuddly creatures present a classic case for the need to read the text.  If you read the history of how B and L have been treated in mythology, in prophetic speculation, and in western literature in general, there would be no way to decide what they represent in Job.

We prefer to read the text, knowing that there is some unknown external history, but also seeing what Job does with the critters.

There are two beasts that follow the previous speech where a number of wild animals are mentioned.  So it could be that these are merely poetic descriptions of existing creatures such as the hippo and the crocodile.

Yet there is something more imposing about them, and they are treated separately and more extensively.  Why should these two beasts get special treatment.  Could they be symbolic or mythic?

Or is it a description of dinosaurs?

The text starts with Job 40:7-14, which raises the questions whether Job is able to bring down the mighty – so that he has the ability also to seek an answer from God.  The beasts seem to be illustrations of the Lord’s power to overcome what man can not overcome.

Then again, we have records of the ancients hunting hippos and alligators.

We, for now, tend to think that the two beasts are the hippo and the crocodile, kicked up a notch poetically, so that they can also represent the power of evil.  Behemoth, a bulk that can not be withstood, and Leviathan, with armor and twisting coils that envelop.

Is his sneezing fire or the mist he blows out caught in the sunlight? Is that smoke or just hot breath blowing from his nostrils?  (41:18 ff.)  Either way, he is unassailable to us, but a mere creature to the Almighty.

Leviathan was previously mentioned in Job’s first speech (3:8).  So we come full circle in this answer.

The first speech by the Lord (Ch 38-39) show the extensive knowledge of the Lord.  The second seems to show his power -even over unconquerable force.

Fresh Read

God Speaks – Job 38-39

The Almighty took Job on a rhetorical tour of the created order (38:4-15), the forces of creation (38:16-38) and a menagerie of animals (38:39-39:30).  He arrived in a whirlwind, and spoke in front of all the speakers, but to Job.

Some are disturbed that the philosophical questions are not answered:  What is the answer to the problem of evil?  Is Job a saint or a sinner?  Are Job’s friends right or wrong? 

But if the anguish of Job was that God had abandoned him, is the consolation of Job that God gives him an answer?.  The time where God stood at a distance is over.

The answer is not to the What? When? Where? and Why? questions, but to the Who? question.

What is with Elihu? Job 32-37

Here are some ways the commentators read Elihu:

  • Gassy windbag who says nothing new
  • the only friend with insight, leads us into the “God Speeches”
  • Does not fit Job outline, must have been added by a pious editor
  • Gives us dramatic pause with long speeches, causing a restless anticipation for what will follow.
  • Summarizes what has been said to this point.
  • Offers the “human estimate” of Job – to be followed by “God’s estimate”.
  • Sort of like John the Baptist, in 37:22 and 33:23, points us to Christ.
  • Adds the idea of the benefit of suffering for the believer (33:12-22)

Fresh Read is still reading the Elihu speeches afresh. However, we find this verse interesting – does he not indict himself with his criticism of Job?

 Job 32:17-20 ESV
    I also will answer with my share;
        I also will declare my opinion.
    [18] For I am full of words;
        the spirit within me constrains me.
    [19] Behold, my belly is like wine that has no vent;
        like new wineskins ready to burst.
    [20] I must speak, that I may find relief;
        I must open my lips and answer.