In Job 38—39, after all the speeches and accusations are made, God appears to the suffering patriarch, pins him to the wall, and peppers him with question after question about the creation of the world and how it is maintained. He makes clear several things about being Creator and Sustainer of the Universe:
1. God is sovereign
This was Job’s big lesson to learn. He was allowed to question God. Now he had to learn to trust God. He knew so little, and could do even less — we know so much more, after all, we are privy to the heavenly conversation between God and the devil in the beginning of the book. What has been revealed to us is clear, but how little we still know! The best scientists still haven’t figured out the nature of the universe. How much less we know of the universe’s Creator!
Here, Deuteronomy 29.29 still applies:
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those that are revealed belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we might obey all the words of this law.
What we do know is more than enough to keep us occupied.
The early church knew they lived under God’s sovereignty. They submitted humbly to his rule. When persecution first hit the apostles, note how the church addressed the Lord:
When they heard this, they raised their voices to God with one mind and said, “Master of all, you who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them, …” Acts 4.24 NET.
With that wonderful perspective, what did they ask for? Not to stop the persecution, for that is God’s territory. They asked for courage to be able to continue speaking the gospel, Acts 4.29. And the Lord gave an immediate answer, v. 30.
Let us also, under God’s sovereignty, proclaim the clear message of Christ in all humility. Let us also quit going beyond what has been revealed to revel in theories and theologies that build castles in the air. Let us confess that he is “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” 1 Timothy 6.15.
2. God is orderly
We talk about “the laws of nature,” quite the impersonal phrase. God is the creator and sustainer of creation by his “laws of the heavens” Job 38.33:
Did you proclaim the rules that govern the heavens or determine the laws of nature on the earth? (REB).
Job had no idea how the universe operated or how the world worked. He could observe some things, but he wasn’t the one making it happen.
Phrases are easily spoken such as: “God is in control,” or “Everything happens for a reason,” or even: “God meant it to be”. Job’s three friends knew how to talk this language. The big question, however, is if we are submitting to God’s order in those things that he has revealed to us.
He wants order in the physical world, and in the spiritual. He has given commandments that this order might be respected. Read through the detailed instructions of 1 Corinthians 14. Why such detail? “[F]or God is not characterized by disorder but by peace” v. 33. The writer of Hebrews warns us to offer God acceptable worship, Hebrews 12.28. The New Testament does not leave us guessing what God accepts or rejects on our part.
3. God is good
The Lord’s hard rhetorical questions to the man laid low by the devil don’t sound compassionate. But Job was a humble man who sought to understand. When he recognized that God was sovereign and pursues his purpose in the world, he learned to trust and discovered that God is indeed good. In fact, God made the world as the ideal place for man’s habitation:
For this is what the Lord says, the one who created the sky— he is the true God, the one who formed the earth and made it; he established it, he did not create it without order, he formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, I have no peer.” Isaiah 45.18.
We look at the stars and think how small we are. God wants us to see how important we are to him. He created the heavenly lights as our clock and calendar, Genesis 1.14. This world fell with man’s sin, Romans 8.20, but it still presents the marvelous care of the Sovereign one who doesn’t play games or tricks on man. He “richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment” 1 Timothy 6.17.
God’s creation of the material universe is such a beautiful thing that the language is used to describe what he does for us in Christ:
So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come! 2 Corinthians 5.17.
This is what we must pursue, as we see that God is sovereign, orderly, and good:
For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! Galatians 6.15.
Do you know how to let God give you this new spiritual creation in Christ? We need it in order to enter the new world that will open to those waiting for Jesus’ coming.
But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. 2 Peter 3.13.
In the book, The Right Kind of Christianity, John Henson writes a chapter on “The God Question,” about God’s existence, and the problem of evil and suffering.