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Job Thirty Eight

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

answered Job. The Lord finally answers Job, after His long silence. Job could not respond to Elihu, since he knew Elihu's charges were false, yet Elihu claimed to be speaking for God. Job would have to leave the answer with God.

Job 38:2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

Who is this. God is rebuking Elihu here, not Job. The latter has not been speaking, but Elihu has been mouthing “words without knowledge” for the equivalent of six chapters and 165 verses!

Job 38:3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

answer thou me. God finally answers Job, but He does so with about seventy-seven rhetorical questions, not one of which has anything to do with the sufferings of Job, or the sufferings of anyone else! Evidently the purpose of the book of Job, in spite of the opinions of most commentators, is not to answer the question as to why righteous people suffer. Although this is the burning theme throughout the entire dialogue between Job and his critics (and a very important question it is!), God never answers it at all in His four-chapter monologue.

Instead, His questions all have to do with His great creation and man's responsibility thereto. That, evidently, is God's great concern. He is rebuking Job (and all men, indirectly), not for sinning or for lack of faith (Job had passed those tests perfectly), but for his inability to answer His questions about the creation. Adam and his descendants had been given dominion over the creation (Genesis 1:26-28), which certainly entailed learning to understand it and to care for its creatures, but it had now been about two thousand years since this first great commission was given, and little had been accomplished, with even the most righteous of men more concerned about their own affairs than about God's creation.

Job 38:4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

Where wast thou. This first question is a rebuke to those who try to explain origins by present processes—that is, by uniformitarianism (note also 2 Peter 3:3-6). The creation of the entire universe had been completed in all perfection by God Himself, by processes no longer in operation (Genesis 2:1-4). Ever since Nimrod, however, men have tried to explain origins by innate evolutionary processes, and this is impossible as well as blasphemous.

Job 38:5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

Job 38:6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

morning stars. The stars of heaven were not made until the fourth day of creation week, whereas the “foundations of the earth” had been laid on the third day. Thus the “morning stars” were the same as the “sons of God,” or the angels (Job 1:6; 2:1); this verse is an example of Hebrew poetic parallelism.

Job 38:8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?

when it brake forth. The Lord next reminds Job of the great Flood, when mighty waters “brake forth” from both the skies and the subterranean deep. This also could not be explained by uniformitarianism, but only by divine power and revelation.

Job 38:9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,

cloud the garment thereof. Prior to the Flood, there had been no rain (Genesis 2:5), but as the great vapor blanket condensed into thick clouds, the earth suddenly was darkened for at least forty days while the torrents poured down all over the world.

Job 38:10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,

bars and doors. After the Flood, great topographic changes confined the waters in great ocean basins, from which they can never escape.

Job 38:11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?

no further. In accord with God's covenant with Noah, the Flood (Hebrew mabbul) can never again return to cover the earth (Genesis 9:11). These two great events of the past—Creation and the Flood—constitute a permanent barrier to any proposed explanation of origins by evolutionary uniformitarianism.

Job 38:12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;

Job 38:13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?

Job 38:14 It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.

turned. This figurative expression refers to God's initiation of the earth's rotation and the day-night cycle. Each night, like a rotating clay cylinder exposing the impressions of the seal, the earth turns to the sun (or “dayspring”), exposing the wicked and their works of the night.

Job 38:15 And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken.

Job 38:16 Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?

springs of the sea. It is only in recent years that springs have been discovered on the sea bottom. Many such scientific mysteries (e.g., “the breadth of the earth,” Job 38:18) have been explained in recent years by modern science, but many of God's questions are still unanswered today.

Job 38:17 Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?

Job 38:18 Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.

Job 38:19 Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,

way where light dwelleth. A remarkable discovery of modern physics is that light dwells along a way, continually traveling at an immense speed. Darkness, on the other hand, dwells in any place where no light is on its way.

Job 38:20 That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?

Job 38:21 Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great?

Job 38:22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,

treasures of the snow. Snow is considered white gold in desert regions, replenishing their annual water supply. Apparently, snow and hail are yet to provide some unknown, but great, contribution to the battles of future days (Job 38:23). Indeed, hail was significant in Joshua's battle with the Amorites (Joshua 10:11) and will be in the future tribulation (Revelation 16:21). Snow contributed to Napoleon's defeat in Russia.

Job 38:23 Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?

Job 38:24 By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?

the light parted. Here is a scientific intimation that it is the energy (“light”) from the sun that controls the wind systems of the earth. This Biblical insight has been verified by modern atmospheric physics research.

Job 38:25 Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder;

Job 38:26 To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man;

where no man is. God cares for the lands He created, even though the men who were given dominion over them do not.

Job 38:27 To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?

Job 38:28 Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?

Job 38:29 Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?

Out of whose womb. This unusual picture of a sheet of ice slowly coming forward as if emerging from a womb may well refer to the ice sheet of the great Ice Age that covered the northern latitudes for many centuries following the Flood. The book of Job has more references to snow, ice and cold than any other book of the Bible.

gendered. That is, “generated.”

Job 38:30 The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.

face of the deep. Job and his friends had never seen the “face of the deep frozen,” in their southern latitudes, but they could surely have heard from travelers about the great ice sheets far to the north.

Job 38:31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?

sweet influences of Pleiades. The word translated “sweet influences” (Hebrew maadannah) is used only once in the Bible. Its basic meaning seems to be “cluster.” It is known now that the stars in the constellation Pleiades, anciently known as the “seven sisters” (although the telescope reveals many more stars in this group), are bound together gravitationally. The stars in the bright constellation Orion, on the other hand, are not so bound. Only God can either bind or release the stars, as He is the one who created them and placed them in the heavens.

Job 38:32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?

Mazzaroth. “Mazzaroth” refers to the signs of the Zodiac. As already noted, God formed the constellations, as well as the stars, as “signs” (note Genesis 1:14; Job 9:8-9; Job 26:13; Job 38:31-33; Amos 5:8). Although the present corrupt astrological use of the signs of the Zodiac is forbidden by God (e.g., Isaiah 47:12-14), the original message of Mazzaroth, “brought forth by God” season after season, centered on the promised victorious coming of the Redeemer.

Job 38:33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?

Job 38:34 Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?

Job 38:35 Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?

send lightnings. One of the most remarkable discoveries of modern engineering science is that electrical currents may be used (radio, television, etc.) to transmit information with “lightning” speed.

Job 38:36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?

Job 38:37 Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven,

Job 38:38 When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together?

Job 38:39 Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions,

Job 38:40 When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait?

couch. “Couch” is better translated “crouch,” or “lie down.”

Job 38:41 Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.

Who provideth. In Job 39, as well as the last verses of Job 38, God's questions center on His providential care of His animal creation. Again the implication of these rhetorical questions is that man should have given more attention to the care of these creatures, since they had been placed under man's dominion.