Why Does God Rebuke Job in Job 40:2?
If you live long enough, you will experience things in life that seem unfair. There may be times when you do everything right to the best of your ability, and yet something goes wrong. This can cause you to ask “why do bad things happen to good people”? If you have ever felt this way, you were not the first. Long before someone asked that question, the Bible gives us the account of the life of Job.
Job was a righteous man who lost everything. In his suffering, he declared his frustration and his innocence. Like many of us, he even questioned God, wondering why this was happening. In response to Job’s questions, and Job’s defense, here is part of God’s response.
"The Lord said to Job: ‘Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!’” (Job 40:1-2).
These words spoken to Job forces us to inquire, what does Job 40:2 mean? God responded to Job’s questions with questions of his own. God was not angry with Job; he was trying to bring understanding. Often when God asks us a question, it is not because he is searching for an answer; He is often trying to reveal the truth to us.
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Job’s Case before God
“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1).
For living right and walking uprightly before the Lord, there was no better example than Job. But, as we know from the story, Job was tested. He lost his family, his health, and his wealth. Out of Job’s suffering, he made his case before the Lord, asking God some very pointed questions.
Job 10 records some of the questions Job asked. As you read them, think of some of the most excruciating circumstances you have experienced in life and see if you can relate to how Job was feeling.
“I loathe my very life;
therefore I will give free rein to my complaint
and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.
I say to God: Do not declare me guilty,
but tell me what charges you have against me.
Does it please you to oppress me,
to spurn the work of your hands,
while you smile on the plans of the wicked?
Do you have eyes of flesh?
Do you see as a mortal sees?
Are your days like those of a mortal
or your years like those of a strong man,
that you must search out my faults
and probe after my sin—
though you know that I am not guilty
and that no one can rescue me from your hand?
Your hands shaped me and made me.
Will you now turn and destroy me?
Can you hear the frustration, confusion, and maybe even anger in Job’s voice? It is almost as if Job is saying “I have done my best to serve you, and this is how you reward me.” I know some of you reading this can relate to how Job felt.
Within Job’s questions is a complaint directed to God. He is crying out because the pain of his situation is so great, and he desires answers. When you reach this place in life, then everything can become a question. You question God’s character, God’s love, and even wonder if he knows or cares about your situation. This is what Job was feeling. From these questions and Job’s defense of his innocence, God speaks. This will get us to the heart of what Job 40:2 means.
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What Does Job 40:2 Mean?
In this verse, God asks Job a question. However, it is important not to read this verse in isolation. The question God asks Job is related to what God said to Job in the previous two chapters. In these chapters, God establishes his sovereignty and reminds Job of his humanity. Listen to the first thing God tells Job.
“Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
‘Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand’” (Job 38:1-4).
For the rest of the chapter and into chapter 40 and beyond, God confronts Job with his wisdom, his majesty, and his authority. When confronted with this question and the revelation of who God is, Job has nothing to say. The question in Job 40:2 speaks to our ability to see ourselves for what we really are. Even if we think we have done everything right, we cannot stand before God in our own righteousness. That’s why when asked this question, Job suddenly went silent.
I am reminded of people who foolishly say “if I were to see God, I would give him a piece of my mind.” No, you wouldn’t. When confronted with God’s holiness, you realize your own sinfulness and, like Job, you too will be silent. As we all would be.
The truth of this life is that we see dimly, which is what leads us to ask questions. However, the reality of your walk with God is it is a walk of faith and trust. You can experience the frustrations, but you trust God’s heart that he has not forsaken you. For many, that is difficult to do.
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Can We Question God?
I have heard people say you cannot question God. I am not sure where that idea came from, but it is not true. That is not what Job 40:2 means. The reason we can question God is that he is not only God, but he is our Father. Because of our relationship with him, we can go to him with the questions we have about life. Truly, where else are you going to go?
The issue is not asking the questions; the issue is the attitude you bring with the question. It is okay to express your anger, fear, and any other emotions you may have to God. Where you must be careful is that you don’t become a grumbler or complainer in the process. People who are chronic grumblers quickly forget the long track record of all that God has done for them in their life.
Job did not do this. He did his best to maintain proper perspective. Early in Job’s story, you see Job giving us the correct way to deal with some of life’s harshest realities.
“His wife said to him, ‘Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!’ He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ In all this, Job did not sin in what he said” (Job 2:9-10).
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What Does This Interaction Teach Us about God's Character and Power?
When trouble hits your life and when hardships come, they are not a reflection of God’s character. They are often tied to God’s purpose. I wish God would accomplish his purpose in other ways, but the road to maturity and understanding more of who God is is often paved with hardship.
The ultimate example of this is not Job, but Jesus. Jesus endured a painful cross and unimaginable suffering so he could provide the sacrifice for our sins. When faced with the cross, even Jesus asked if there was another way. This is further evidence that you can have honest conversations with God.
However, like Job and like Jesus, the place you must always land is, not my will, but yours be done. This is the part of the faith journey that we sometimes don’t like. But it is often the part that creates in us the greatest maturity and ultimately gives God the greatest glory. You don’t glory in the trial. You glory in what you learn in the trial and how God uses that to help someone else.
This is the path Job walked. This is the path Jesus walked. Don’t be surprised if this is the path you must walk as well.
Trust God in the Storm
You might be in a storm right now, and just like Job, you may have questions. Bring those questions to the Lord in prayer. He wants you to and he won’t reject you because you do. However, just like Job, remember your walk with Jesus is a walk of trust. Even when you can’t see it or feel it, know that God is working in you and your situation. This is the trust factor that is part of your faith journey.
I will not tell you that you will understand everything that is happening or that you will even like it. I will say in these moments, focus on your walk with Jesus. He will be with you and he will bring you through it. You may not see it or even believe it right now, but when it is all said and done, you will be better for it. If you don’t believe me, just look at Job.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.