ancient court of justice January 16-17 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Job 38, 39, 40, 41, 42

Note: since this is a combined Bible study, it is suggested that the Scriptures be read the first day and the Bible study the second day.

Your Day in Court

Have you ever wished for your day in court? By that you mean you believe you have suffered some injustice and want to be given a hearing—you seek justice and clearing from all blame. This is what the Biblical patriarch Job wanted. Job probably lived at the time of Abraham (more...). Job believed he was righteous and blameless in every way; and yet, he was suffering and believed he was being treated unfairly by God.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you tried to live a Christian life but things went terribly wrong, and God did not seem to listen or care to do anything about them?

Job suffers the loss of his family, business, health and respect; and although he seeks God, the LORD is silent. To add insult to injury, Job's friends think he is an arrogant sinner who must be guilty of wickedness! But they can't convince him.

Job asks God for time to present his case in a heavenly court of appeal. Finally, the LORD speaks out of the approaching storm. Instead of allowing him to further question his majesty, however, the LORD calls Job to symbolically stand before the judge's bench. He is the judge who is now asking Job questions. The kind of questions which God asks of Job shows he has greatly underestimated the LORD's majesty, power and understanding, and that he needs a fresh reminder of it. Perhaps we need it, too.

God begins his directive to Job by questioning his knowledge of creation, using the imagery of a construction engineer:

Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone--while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7, NIV)

Have you ever considered just what was involved for God to create the earth with all of its complexity and design? God is the master architect. Most of our modern sciences teach that the world just evolved, but how did it design itself without some powerful all-knowing being to engineer it? A commonly recognized law of nature is that things do not naturally become more organized with time—they become less organized (humorously speaking, think of a young toddler's room when you think of that law). Therefore, because nothing in our lives or the universe in and of itself becomes more organized with time, there must have been an intelligent designer and creator. The one and only Almighty God is the designer and creator.

God then asks Job,

What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years! (Job 38:19-21, NIV)

We might ask this question of ourselves—if we are so smart, where is the origin of light? We may say the sun is the main origin of our light. Who put the sun there? Many scientists theorize that there was a supernova (the exploding of a super star) and we got our sun from that explosion. Since we were not present when it supposedly happened, that idea is a conjecture at best, or at worst, an arrogant assumption. We can only guess the origin of stars from observing what seems to have happened in other galaxies. Given that conjecture, however, it still does not explain the origin of light. Hydrogen and Helium gases may fuel the fires which produce light, but where was the spark which ignited the innumerable suns in all the universes? The point is, like Job, if we are so smart, then tell God the answers since we were certainly there to witness it!

Next, Job is asked where rain, snow, sleet, hail, and ice come from. Well, we may say that is easily explained—they are simply acts of nature. Who controls the acts of nature? A person that believes there is no God believes no one does. A person who believes in God believes that many times in history the Almighty intervenes in the lives of people for good or bad, using the weather. The LORD reveals to us in today's Bible reading and in many places in the Bible that he is sovereignly in control of everything. Do we believe this? If we do, we can be sure God is Sovereign in our lives as well. That is a good thing to know when, like Job, our own life seems to be coming apart.

Who provides for the animals of the earth? Evolutionists say it is the natural law of the survival of the fittest. There is certainly truth in this, but there are many times when God provides for animals for their survival. There is an undeniable interdependency between the species of all plants and animals. It is a strange “coincidence” that some species can only survive if there happens to be another particular species present to contribute to its survival (for more insight on this topic go to Strangely and wonderfully the Almighty provides for them and all creatures.

Animals and birds have wonderful and unique qualities. Watching them give birth is fascinating. Observing some who have power, strength, dignity, and grace remind us of the God who made them. The LORD cares for all of them, and he cares for you. Jesus said,

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31, NIV).

Let's not put our heads in the sand. If we look around we will see evidence of God's creativity, wisdom and care in creation.

In Job 40-42 we learn about the great Behemoth and the Leviathan. There are debates about just what these creatures were. Many believe the Behemoth refers to a hippopotamus and the Leviathan refers to a crocodile. Victor E. Reichert, in his book on Job, p.216, observes that when a crocodile surfaces and snorts, it resembles fire in the light of day, and that God may be referring to this phenomenon using hyperbole.

Regardless of the particular identity of these creatures, the point is that these animals are so powerful and fierce that no one can harm them without great difficulty; and yet, God is their creator. If the Almighty is much greater and mightier than they, then he should be that much more feared or reverenced. Job realizes this and repents in dust and ashes.

What about us? Do God's wisdom, might and greatness cause us to revere him and be afraid to speak against him? The Bible says we will all appear before a judgment seat of God (Hebrews 9:27). The Apostle Paul tells Christians that “… we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2Corinthians 5:10, NIV). Although this is difficult to think about when we are suffering, we should learn to fear our Lord and not question his ways.

Job has his day in court, but he is the defendant, not the plaintiff. When Job is questioned by God, Job begins to realize the greatness of the Almighty and his own foolishness. Because he repents of his foolish charges and makes the LORD his trust, God doubles all he has lost in property, wealth, and family.

Our lives may be difficult at times, and we, too, may be tempted to blame God. If we consider the greatness and loving care of God, however, we will also come to realize our foolishness. God will be gracious to us and merciful if we repent (more...). Will we choose to trust the LORD, even though we do not understand our circumstances? If we do, we will eventually be rewarded—if not in this life then in the next.

Repenting in dust and ashes is a way Job expresses disgust for himself and his actions. He sits in an ash heap and throws dust on top of himself in an expression of deepest humility and regret. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., edited by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, p.774)

Lessons to Live By

•  As Job, we will all be called to account some day. Let us not think God does not see what we do or does not have perfect wisdom and understanding.

•  Let's open our eyes to what God has done in nature and fear him. He is much greater than we have ever considered. He is much greater than our problems.

•  God forgives our foolishness and sin if we humble ourselves and turn to him away from our sins. (more...)

•  The LORD is worthy of all praise, honor, and glory, and he is worthy of our trust. Stay faithful and keep trusting the LORD! He rewards the faithful.

Here is an encouraging song from Greater Vision: It Pays to Pray

Focus Verse

Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV)

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

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A Look Ahead: We have finished the life of Job. As we return to the book of Genesis we begin the life of Abraham, a man who discovered God, Our Shield and Reward. Find out how he can be yours in our Next Lesson.

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