July 1, 2018: Whirlwind Speeches

Pastor Steve Mechem

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Job 38: 1-5 New Revised Standard Version
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?

Job 42: 1-3 New Revised Standard Version
Then Job answered the LORD:
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.


Warning: There is a possibility that at the end of this sermon, you might think that almost the entire sermon is simply a long passage of scripture. You would be right, it is a beautiful piece of writing.

Job loses his family, his home, his health, his business.

Job loses his status as a blessed friend of God.

Job's wife tells him to curse God and die.
Job's friends tell him he’s at fault.

And Job waits, in grief, in anger, in frustration for God to speak and make it right. And God does not respond, yet.

Job shaves his head, sits in the ashes, complains to God about God.

Job cries out to God, yells at God, questions God, defends himself to God, accuses God, shakes his fist at God, blames God, and waits for God.

And 38 chapters into the book of Job, God answers!

Job 38 - 42 … Quoting swaths of text from the Message Bible

“And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a whirlwind.

God said:

“Why do you confuse the issue?
Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about?

Pull yourself together,
Job! Up on your feet! Stand tall!

I have some questions for you,
and I want some straight answers.

Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much!

Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that! Who came up with the blueprints and measurements?

How was its foundation poured, and who set the cornerstone, while the morning stars sang in chorus and all the angels shouted praise?

And who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb? That was me!

I wrapped it in soft clouds, and tucked it in safely at night. Then I made a playpen for it, a strong playpen so it couldn’t run loose, And said, ‘Stay here, this is your place. Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.’

“And have you ever ordered the Morning, told the Dawn, ‘Get to work!’

“Have you ever gotten to the true bottom of things, explored the labyrinthine caves of deep ocean?

Do you know the first thing about death? Do you have one clue regarding death’s dark mysteries? And do you have any idea how large this earth is?

Speak up if you have even the beginning of an answer.

Do you know where Light comes from and where Darkness lives. So you can take them by the hand and lead them home when they get lost?

Have you ever traveled to where snow is made, seen the vault where hail is stockpiled, The arsenals of hail and snow that I keep in readiness for times of trouble and battle and war?

Can you find your way to where lightning is launched, or to the place from which the wind blows? Who do you suppose carves canyons for the downpours of rain, and charts the route of thunderstorms that bring water to unvisited fields, drenching the useless wastelands so they’re carpeted with wildflowers and grass?

Look upwards. Can you get Venus to look your way, or get the Great Bear and her cubs to come out and play? Do you know the first thing about the sky’s constellations and how they affect things on Earth?

Can you get the attention of the clouds, and commission a shower of rain?

Can you take charge of the lightning bolts and have them report to you for orders?

Can you teach the lioness to stalk her prey and satisfy the appetite of her cubs as they wait hungrily in their den?

Do you know the month when mountain goats give birth? Have you ever watched a doe bear her fawn? Do you know how many months she is pregnant? Do you know the season of her delivery, when she crouches down and drops her offspring? Her young ones flourish and are soon on their own; they leave and don’t come back.

The ostrich flaps her wings futilely— all those beautiful feathers, but useless! She lays her eggs on the hard ground, leaves them there in the dirt, exposed to the weather, not caring that they might get stepped on and cracked or trampled by some wild animal. She’s negligent with her young, as if they weren’t even hers. She cares nothing about anything. She wasn’t created very smart, that’s for sure, wasn’t given her share of good sense. But when she runs, oh, how she runs, laughing, leaving horse and rider in the dust.

Are you the one who gave the horse his prowess and adorned him with a shimmering mane? Did you create him to prance proudly and strike terror with his royal snorts? He paws the ground fiercely, eager and spirited, then charges into the fray. He laughs at danger, fearless. At the trumpet blast races off at a gallop. At the sound of the trumpet he neighs mightily, smelling the excitement of battle from a long way off, catching the rolling thunder of the war cries.

Was it through your know-how that the hawk learned to fly, soaring effortlessly on thermal updrafts?

Did you command the eagle’s flight, and teach her to build her nest in the heights, Perfectly at home on the high cliff face, invulnerable on pinnacle and crag? From her perch she searches for prey, spies it at a great distance. Her young gorge themselves on carrion; wherever there’s a roadkill, you’ll see her circling.”

Now what do you have to say for yourself?

Are you going to judge me, the Mighty One?

I have some more questions for you, and I want straight answers.

Do you presume to tell me what I’m doing wrong? Are you calling me a sinner so you can be a saint?

Can you shout in thunder the way I can? Go ahead, show your stuff. Let’s see what you’re made of, what you can do.

Unleash your outrage. Target the arrogant and bring them to their knees. Stop the wicked in their tracks—make mincemeat of them! I’ll gladly step aside and hand things over to you— you can surely save yourself with no help from me!

Look at the land beast, Behemoth. I created him as well as you. Just look at the strength of his back, the powerful muscles of his belly. His tail sways like a cedar in the wind; his huge legs are like beech trees. Most magnificent of all my creatures, but I still lead him around like a lamb!
He takes afternoon naps under shade trees, cools himself in the reedy swamps,

But you’d never want him for a pet— you’d never be able to housebreak him!”

“Or can you pull in the sea beast, Leviathan, with a fly rod and stuff him in a basket?

Can you lasso him with a rope, or snag him with an anchor? Will he beg you over and over for mercy, or flatter you with flowery speech?

Will you play with him as if he were a pet goldfish? Will you make him the mascot of the neighborhood children?

If you so much as lay a hand on him, you won’t live to tell the story. What hope would you have with such a creature? Why, one look at him would do you in! If you can’t hold your own against his glowering visage, how, then, do you expect to stand up to me?” Unquote.

In other words, God is saying, “you ain’t God! You really don’t know jack.”

And Job listens, and responds, “I get it. You are God and I am me. You are above me and beyond me. I can never fully get you. And in your bigness, you still care for me. Even as I don’t understand the particulars, I will hear your voice and embrace your love. And that is enough.”

Amen.