God Is Big and I Am Small
Topic: Expository Passage: Job 38:1-38
When I lived Detroit, our church held an open gym on Monday nights. Each week we’d play lots of basketball and share the gospel. Many of the guys who would come to play were very athletic and impressive ball players.
But one athlete will forever stand out in my mind. His name was Ed Johnson. As a rookie in the NFL he had started all 16 games at defensive tackle for the Indianapolis Colts, but they cut him during his 2nd season for a drug arrest. That winter, he was trying to stay in shape in hopes that he would get a second chance. So, he came over to our gym a couple of times to play basketball.
I remember watching him play and just being in awe, because this guy was on a different level from everyone else. He was huge. He weighed 300 lbs., and I’ve never seen anyone else with such massive hips. But he was quicker than guys half his size. It was incredible to watch such a large man move with such athleticism.
It put the rest of us in our place, because the great athleticism we thought we had suddenly didn’t look that impressive. Turning to Job we’ve listened to several guys who think they are something. Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar have all proudly pontificated on the ways of God. Then Elihu does the same in Job 32–37. I decided to skip over him, because he doesn’t add anything of value to what the other guys have said.
What is particularly important is that Job has proudly asserted that God is treating him unfairly; therefore, he has demanded an audience with God. Last week we studied his closing argument, in his appeal for justice. Now Job is confidently awaiting God’s apology. He’s sure it’s in the bag.
In Job 38–41 God finally speaks, but it’s not anything like what Job expected. Today, we are going to cover Job 38:1–38. My title is, “God Is Big and I Am Small.” My outline consists of 5 truths that God communicates. The 1st truth is…
I. God is sovereign, not man (vv. 1–3).
It’s an incredible scene. Job has responded pretty well to his suffering, but he has also made some bold demands of God. So, Job expects God to show up with his tail between his legs, apologizing for how he caused Job to suffer.
But God had different plans. God doesn’t arrive with a still small voice, but in a “whirlwind.” This isn’t some harmless dust devil. No, this is probably a massive, intimidating storm. I’ve been in some scary storms growing up in the Midwest. Some of them make you feel very small. So, God makes a statement, before saying a word.
And he makes another statement when he begins to speak. Remember that for 35 chapters, these 5 men have proudly pontificated about the ways of God. They think they have so much insight. But then God thunders, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge.” Job is probably looking around hoping God is talking about someone else. But he’s not. God says that Job’s words have brought darkness, not light and that he has spoken foolishly. Ouch!
Then God says, “Now prepare yourself like a man…” Imagine how it would feel to have God take off the kid gloves and say to your face, “Let’s talk man to man. I’m done listening to you. It’s time for you to listen to me.”
God then launches into 2 long speeches where he asks Job over 70 questions intended to put Job in his place. Before we get to them, we need to consider why God was so confrontational? Afterall, Job is suffering, and he has said a lot of good things. Shouldn’t God show a little compassion and understanding? Where is the, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” sales pitches of American Christianity?
The reason is that God knows that Job’s greatest need is not a tender touch but a right view of God. He knows that all the compassion in the world was useless, if Job continued to hold onto a wrong understanding of God and his standing before him. Therefore, God knows that the most loving action he can take is to show Job who God is and where Job stands with him.
Boy, do we need to heed the Lord’s example in our day. Atheists, agnostics, and, sadly, even many Christians proudly love to sit in judgment of God and demand that he justify himself to us. And so often, we try win these people by manipulating the gospel to fit what they want to hear.
But we must remember that a watered-down God is no God at all, and a gospel that is void of righteousness and justice is no true gospel. Rather, genuine conversion and godliness begin with humbly acknowledging God as Lord and myself as a feeble sinner. We don’t love people well when we undermine these realities.
And we need to make sure that we submit to them ourselves. It’s not my place to sit in judgment on God or his ways. Instead, I must humbly believe and obey. We desperately need to believe and communicate that God is sovereign, not man. The 2nd truth God communicates is…
II. God created the world and established order (vv. 4–15).
In these verses, God leans into the 1st 4 days of the creation week and magnificently demonstrates both his glory and wisdom and Job’s utter weakness and lack of understanding.
Verses 4–7 describe the creation of the world itself, using construction language. God asks, “Job, ‘Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding?’” Job is thinking, “Yeah, I wasn’t around yet, and I don’t understand that.”
Then God describes how he measured out an orderly and perfect world. We could talk a long time today about how God placed the earth the perfect distance from the sun, and included so many other genius details in creation. It all demonstrates that God’s wisdom is far beyond our own.
Verses 8–11 move to day 3 of the creation week, when God separated the dry land from the sea. God sarcastically asks Job if he was the one who “shut in the sea with doors”? The oceans are incredibly powerful. If you’ve ever waded out into the ocean, you know that it only takes a couple feet of aggressive waves to knock you around. That’s nothing in comparison to the might of the deep oceans. Job knew he had no ability to control this power.
But on the 3rd day of creation, God commanded the oceans, “This far you may come but no farther.” Isaiah 40:12 states that God “has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand.” Their immense power fits in his palm.
God is strong, and the obvious implication is, “Who are you, Job, and who are we to sit in judgment on God and to demand anything from him.” It’s utterly absurd that we would imagine that we have such authority.
Verses 12–15 refer to the 1st day of creation, when God created the day and the night and the 4th day when he established the sun and moon to rule over each one. These are creations that we easily take for granted, because we don’t know any different. But the daily cycle is essential to our climate and the cycle of activity and rest. They display God’s marvelous wisdom.
But we have no control over them. Imagine Job’s response, when God asks, “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?” Job thinks, “There is no way I could control the movement of the sun, moon, and earth!” Even with all our technology, we can’t even imagine such a thought. But God spoke all of this into motion.
Job is being humbled, as should we. Creation declares that God possesses a power and knowledge that is infinitely greater than ours. Who are we to sit in judgment on God? The 3rd truth God communicates is…
III. God knows every detail about his creation (vv. 16–24).
The sarcasm continues as God drives home how little Job actually knows (read). God begins in vv. 16–18 by pointing out Job’s ignorance of what would be considered the most remote places. In Job’s day, no one had ever seen the bottom of the ocean. Of course, we know a lot more about the ocean depths today, but there is still so much that we don’t know. We’re constantly discovering new species and understanding more about how they live.
Verse 18 asks if Job “comprehends the breadth of the earth.” Of course, we understand how massive the earth is, but Job didn’t. The oceans seemed endless. The same could be said for us about space. We really have no idea what’s out there.
Then vv. 19–21 return to the creation of day and night. Of course, Job knew very little about how God created the daily cycle. We know much more, but these cycles still declare God’s perfect wisdom. Just think of how much goes into the earth spinning on its axis and all the detailed factors that God used to calculate 24-hour days. It’s so far beyond our little brains.
Finally, in vv. 22–24, God challenges Job’s knowledge of the weather. Again, we know a lot more than Job about how the weather works, but the weatherman is still wrong as much as he is right, even with the powerful computer systems they use to make predictions. There are so many factors that affect the weather. God’s design of it all is truly incredible. He created a system that waters the earth and provides everything necessary for life to flourish.
So, vv. 16–24 challenge Job’s knowledge of creation. God points out that for as much as we know, our understanding is still very limited. If we know so little about the things we can see, how can we think that we comprehend the purposes of infinite God? Therefore, we must stand in humility, not judgment on God’s infinite ways. The 4th truth God communicates is…
IV. God’s purpose extends beyond mankind (vv. 25–30).
This passage continues to focus on the weather, but it focuses on how God blesses the desert with rain. Since we live in the desert, we’re thankful for that. But the reason God raises this issue is because in Job’s world, very few people lived in the desert. They didn’t have the technology to survive.
But even though no one lives in these deserted places, God waters the desert and causes plants to grow. The point is that God cares for everything he has made, not just what affects people. Therefore, we are not the center of the universe, and God does not exist to serve us. His purpose and his glory go well beyond us.
It’s another humbling reminder, because we like to think that everything revolves around me. Even many Christian slogans like, “You matter to God,” appeal to the idea that I’m what really matters. Certainly, we matter to God, but the most important person to God is God, because if God loved anyone more than himself, he would be an idolater. So, God reminds us that we are not the center of the universe. God is. The only way I will see God, myself, and the world rightly is with this perspective. The 5th truth God communicates is…
V. God rules over all creation (vv. 31–38).
You probably noticed that God asks Job several pointed, sarcastic questions. God begins by asking Job if he can control the movement of the constellations. Job’s thinking, “Uh, no.” But God created them and established the movements of the galaxies. He perfectly understands the “ordinances (laws)” that govern all of it, because in his marvelous wisdom, he invented those laws. God’s glory is evident in the laws of thermodynamics.
Then God glories in his control of the weather. He creates the storm and sends lighting and rain at his command. And he does it all based on his own great knowledge. I love v. 36, “Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart?”
The point is that God is the source of all wisdom and understanding. He never learned anything from anyone. He never stole an idea or built off someone else’s idea. Rather, everything in creation originated at his command and exists by his power. He is the sovereign Lord of it all. And everything we know and enjoy, are ours simply by his grace and kindness.
We’ll stop there for today, but God is far from done instructing Job. But I’d like to pull everything we’ve seen today into 3 conclusions. The first and central message of this text is…
God is big, and we are small. I realize that this is nothing new, but like Job and his friends, we tend to get a too big for our britches. We begin to think the world revolves around me, and we think that we understand far more than we do. But we need to remember that if God’s purpose were a 1,000 piece puzzle, our knowledge would be the equivalent of 1 piece.
This piece is blue with a streak through it, so we boldly declare that the puzzle is a picture of a partly cloudy sky. We are so sure. The problem is that we are missing 999 pieces. If we had all of them, we’d know that the streak is actually a scratch on the side of a blue car.
God’s knowledge and God’s power are so far beyond us. The more you live with this reality, the greater will be your peace, your joy, and your hope. Never outgrow the fact that God is big, and we are small.
God sits in judgment over us, not us over him. One of the most important features of God’s speech is what he does not say. Specifically, he never gives Job an explanation of why he allowed Job to suffer. He never walks Job through the logic of his choices. Instead, he simply tells Job, “I’m God, and you’re not. I have infinite understanding, and you know very little, so, how dare you question.”
As such, Job 38–41 is one of the clearest statements of “Big-God Theology” in the Bible. God ruthlessly undercuts the “Big-Man Theology” so prevalent in the Christian church. Yes, we naturally resist Big-God theology, because we want to be big. But the truth is that we are not. The only way you will find rest and joy is if you see God as he is in this chapter. There is no real hope or real answers in a small god, who exists for our joy instead of his own. In light of this my 3rd conclusion is…
Walk humbly before the Lord. It’s worth emphasizing that I become a Christian by humbling myself at the foot of the cross, acknowledging that I am sinner who has offended a righteous God. I cannot save myself, so I come to him acknowledging his lordship over me and in faith and dependence on the salvation that Jesus alone provided in his death and resurrection. If you have never humbled yourself like that, I’d urge to receive Christ today.
And once I am saved, my whole life is a life of humility. I humbly bow day by day to the lordship of Christ. I submit to his commands. I trust his purpose and his Word, and I do it all in the strength that he alone provides. So today, let’s see God in all his power and glory, and let’s see ourselves for how small we are. And then let’s live under the shadow of his grace in complete dependence on him.