|Series Theme: The Anguish of Job|
1-10 roughly cover Ch.1-4
11-20 roughly cover Ch.4-7
21-30 roughly cover Ch.8-11
31-40 roughly cover Ch.12-15
41-50 roughly cover Ch.16-21
51-60 cover Ch.22-33
61-68 cover Ch.34-42
Meditation No. 32
Meditation Title: Sovereign God
Job 12:9,14 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? … What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; the man he imprisons cannot be released.
We, in the West, live in a sceptical world. Crusading atheists rant about God being nasty or powerless, and largely the Christian Church seems powerless. Mostly we keep quiet about a God who acts into His world, a God who is sovereign Lord. Not so Job! Job may be in a mess but Job knows some stuff and we would do well to listen to him. The remainder of this chapter is all about a sovereign God. Job is under no illusion about what is happening and calls on his friends to listen to the rest of the earth: “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.” (v.8). Look, he says, you may attribute my suffering to my own acts, but the rest of the world sees and knows the truth about it: “Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?” (v.9). This isn't the mechanical result of sin, this isn't an accident, this is the work of God as He works out His purposes!
Then he starts to expound God's greatness: “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (v.10). Every single one of us, he says, is in God's hand. It's obvious, he goes on: “Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?” (v.11). There are patently obvious things in this life; the ear hears words and the tongue tastes food, and in the same way – it's a fact of life – God is sovereign! Don't you know these things? “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” (v.12) Are you aged men full of wisdom so you know this? Don't you realise that “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.” (v.13). God is the all-wise One, the all-powerful One and He knows everything! More than that, don't you realise that He can do what He likes? “What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; the man he imprisons cannot be released.” (v.14)
So then he demonstrates God's power in the earth: “If he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, they devastate the land.” (v.15). Don't you realise, he is saying, that God's power means that He can bring both rain AND drought, and when it comes to dealing with mankind the same is true, “To him belong strength and victory; both deceived and deceiver are his.” ? (v.16). Yes, he says, He has strength than cannot be withstood and so victory is always His against mankind, so it doesn't matter if it is the foolish who have been deceived by others, or the clever who deceive others, they are all His for Him to do with as He pleases.
Haven't you realised, he continues (implied), that no one can withstand Him? “He leads counsellors away stripped and makes fools of judges. He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties a loincloth around their waist. He leads priests away stripped and overthrows men long established.” (v.17-19) i.e. it doesn't matter if they are wise people (counsellors), authoritative figures (judges), people under the control of others (those made prisoners by kings), those who are supposed to serve Him (priests), or even those who have been around in power a long time, EVERYONE is subject to God!
The cleverness of men does not impress Him and He's not stopped by it: “He silences the lips of trusted advisers and takes away the discernment of elders,” (v.20) and it doesn't matter how great and mighty you think you are, you are still subject to Him: “He pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty,” (v.21), so there! Haven't you realised (he implies) nothing is hidden from God? “He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light.” (v.22) and so this ability to see and to know, linked with His incredible power, means that He can do what He likes with the world: “He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them. He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he sends them wandering through a trackless waste. They grope in darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.” (v.23-25). No nation and no leader is so great that they can withstand God!
Now we have worked our way down this litany in this chapter and possibly in struggling to see what it all means, you might have lost its impact. It is simply summarised as, God is all-knowing, all-wise, and all-powerful and so can do whatever He likes, which means that no one in the world is outside His ambit of activity and no one can withstand Him. Now that needs saying in the light of the sceptical attitude that pervades the world and even seeps into the Church. If you think this is not true, go and find the nearest ten representatives of the local Christian denominations, carry out a survey if you like, and ask them if they believe that God still acts into His world, and listen to the evasive language that comes by way of reply.
We need to boldly declare aloud to this unbelieving day, you may deny it, but God exists, God is alive and this is His world, and merely because He graciously tolerates your folly – for the time being – realise that He is still Almighty God and He still holds men accountable. Think back over the last thirty years and observe the downfall of men and nations who looked impregnable. Their fall was not accident. There is a God who is sovereign and who works into His world for His purposes. Do you believe it? The Bible says it again and again, and you and I need to believe it, pray it, sing it and live it!