Let’s talk about Job. Many theologians today argue that the book of Job was the first book ever written in the Bible. I find this incredibly interesting due to the intense focus on pain and suffering in Job’s life. Basically, this book tells the story of a man who is blameless and upright in God’s sight. Satan eventually requests of God to torment Job by killing his family and taking all of his earthly possessions in an attempt to get Job to curse God. God allows this.
By the end of the story none of Satan’s plans have succeeded in getting Job to curse God, but these events do not go unnoticed. It is almost as if a year-long discussion breaks out, between Job and his friends, wondering why there is pain in the world, who is to blame, and why God would allow such evil to oppress a child of His. Some of Job’s friends are convinced that Job has brought this pain upon himself because of sin. Job argues back that he is blameless and upright. Back and forth they go for over thirty-five chapters getting nowhere but more and more frustrated with each others’ particular beliefs about the other and God.
And then something strange happens in Job chapter thirty-eight, God begins to speak. God speaks for four chapters, asking a multitude of questions. This is how it all begins: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” By the middle of God’s speech Job has one opportunity to respond. He answers God’s first number of questions by stating the following: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.”
At the end of Job’s story, healing begins to occur and his life begins to be restored. Job even responds to God again by saying,
“Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things to wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
So what can we learn about God’s voice from the story of Job? Maybe we can spend a large portion of our lives talking about God. Maybe we can get high level degrees in our efforts to understand Him. Maybe we can even talk to God with theologically correct statements and traditionally honored prayers. Maybe we can be spontaneous with our prayers to God and claim to be moved incredibly by His Holy Spirit. Maybe we can try all of these approaches and, at the end of the day like Job, never truly see God for who He is. Maybe one truth we can learn from Job is that if we really want to see, hear, and know God then we need to do what Job eventually did, which is acknowledge our own inferiority, and then, shut up and listen.