Sermon title: God’s Wisdom & Power in Creation
Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, May 23, 2021
Our heavenly Father reveals himself to us through the Bible,
and also through the creation around us.
Romans 1:20 says,
Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made.
The things God made in the creation around us
reveal to us his great power
and that he is Almighty.
And occasionally, we need to be reminded of that.
We find such a reminder in the final chapters
of the Bible book of Job.
It’s common for people to use the expression,
“the patience of Job,” when describing
someone who has suffered a lot.
And, when we look at the book of Job,
our focus is usually on that faithful man
and how he remained faithful to God
even after Satan the devil
took away everything Job had—
even his children and his good health.
Job teaches us to trust in God
through the ups and downs of this world,
where so many bad things happen to good people.
Those lessons are found in the opening chapters of Job,
but there’s another lesson found in the closing chapters,
and that’s the message about how creation
reveals God’s almighty power and wisdom.
Job needed that lesson, because,
even though he was faithful throughout his hardships,
he complained that God was treating him unfairly.
He thought he had a better grasp of justice and fairness
than God did.
And, so, God reminded Job
of his almighty power and wisdom.
We, too, can benefit from considering the evidence
that God presented to Job.
We find it, beginning in Job 38:1.
38Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said:
2"Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?
3Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
What greater reminder of God’s power could there be
than for God’s words to Job to come
from a whirlwind or wind storm.
When God the Father spoke to Jesus from heaven
in John Ch. 12, people standing by who heard it
said that it had thundered.
And when God’s thunderous voice from the sky
gave the 10 Commandments to the Israelites,
they trembled in fear, and begged Moses
to serve as an intermediary, so they
would not be terrified by that voice again.
But the Lord told Job to
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.
and Job braced himself
for the questions God was about to ask.
The Almighty said,
4"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
5Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone...?
What could Job say?
He knew he wasn’t there, when God created the earth.
It was God who decided this planet’s size and shape
and everything else about it.
The next question involved the earth’s oceans.
God could have made the sea,
so that it sloshed around unpredictably,
making it impossible for men
to build anywhere near the seacoast.
You couldn’t have seacoast cities
like New Bedford & Fall River,
because the unstable ocean
would sweep away anything man built.
He could have done it that way, but instead,
the Creator set fixed limits for the sea,
so that it would stay within fixed boundaries,
allowing us to build along the coast.
God asked Job,
8"Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb,
9when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place,
11when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt'?
Obviously, we have God to thank for the sea’s stability,
which allows us to have a church building
that’s stood for over a hundred years
less than a mile from the water’s edge.
Further on, in Verse 22, God asks Job,
22 "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?
Snow can certainly be beautiful in small amounts,
but can become a problem in larger amounts.
God says he has “storehouses” of snow
that he’s keeping in reserve for war and battle.
Anyone who lived through the blizzard of ’78 recalls
how whole cities were immobilized for days
by just 36 inches of snow.
That was 3 feet of snow.
Just imagine how human society
would be brought to a halt
by an 8-foot or 10-foot snowfall!
Yes, God has powerful weapons at his disposal
for his final war of Armageddon.
The Lord calls Job’s attention to all the forces of nature
that he created and controls.
Then, in Verse 29, he says,
29 From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen?
Yes, it’s the forces of nature under God’s control
that can freeze the ocean’s surface,
so that powerful ice breakers
can barely make their way through it.
Man can only struggle, when God unleashes snow & ice.
Those who take part in that struggle
recognize that these forces are beyond their control.
After making his point,
God lifts Job’s eyes to the heavens
with further questions:
31 "Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? 32Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons...?
The Pleiades was the smallest constellation
know to the Hebrew shepherds
who watched the stars at night.
It’s actually a tight cluster of stars,
six of which still appear especially bright & beautiful.
In the Japanese language, the name of the Pleiades constellation
is “Subaru”—and you can see it in the Subaru logo.
Orion is another constellation,
a favorite among amateur star-gazers today.
God reminded Job—and us—that he is responsible
for this heavenly beauty.
And not only beauty, but also complexity and mystery.
The Almighty went on to ask Job,
33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?
The stars, planets and galaxies all follow strict laws
in the way they move and interact with each other.
It wasn’t until thousands of years after Job, that
Nicolaus Copernicus described
circular planetary orbits around the sun.
Then in the early 1600’s Kepler’s Laws of planetary motion
showed those circles are actually elliptical paths.
And Kepler worked out the mathematical formulas
that govern the movements of orbiting planets.
Job had little idea what God meant, when he asked,
Do you know the laws of the heavens?
But the more we learn about them today,
the more impressive are the laws of physics
God put in place to govern the physical universe.
The Lord continued to show Job
one aspect of his creation, after another,
soon turning to the living creatures he made.
God pointed out that he made a distinction
between wild animals and domestic animals.
Some were designed to come under man’s yoke,
while others were made in such a way
that they thrive only in the wild.
At Job 39:5 God said,
5"Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? 6I gave him the wasteland as his home, the salt flats as his habitat. 7He laughs at the commotion in the town; he does not hear a driver's shout.
8He ranges the hills for his pasture and searches for any green thing.
The Creator is the one who figuratively ‘untied the ropes’
of the wild donkey and
“gave him the wasteland as his home”
so that he does not carry people into town
or submit to a driver’s shout.
The wild ox is another example God showed Job
at Job 39:9.
9"Will the wild ox consent to serve you? Will he stay by your manger at night? 10Can you hold him to the furrow with a harness? Will he till the valleys behind you? 11Will you rely on him for his great strength? Will you leave your heavy work to him? 12Can you trust him to bring in your grain and gather it to your threshing floor?
Like the wild donkey, the wild ox could not be tamed.
It could not be harnessed to plow a field,
or made to live in a barn and eat from a manger.
Also known as the “aurox,” the wild ox was created by God
to roam the wilds, untamable by man.
This sketch of the wild ox is from a book
published in Europe in the year 1556.
Although it once roamed freely
over Asia, Europe, and North Africa,
the wild ox went extinct
when the last known survivor
died in a Polish forest in 1627.
God turns Job’s attention now to the ostrich,
the largest of all living birds,
weighing up to 320 pounds.
13"The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, but they cannot compare with the pinions and feathers of the stork.
14She lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand,
15unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some wild animal may trample them.
16She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers; she cares not that her labor was in vain,
17for God did not endow her with wisdom or give her a share of good sense.
The ostrich lays huge eggs—longer than a dollar bill,
from one end to the other, and more than twice as wide.
But she lays them on the ground, as the scripture says,
leaving them open to all sorts of dangers.
And God designed the ostrich that way, as he tells Job.
She pushes some of the eggs out beyond the nest,
to distract predators from the main batch,
but fewer than 10% of the eggs survive to hatch.
Yet the ostrich lays enough eggs
to keep the species going.
God concludes the message about the ostrich
18Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider.
Yes, while most horses gallop at 25-30 miles per hour,
an ostrich running 45 miles per hour
may leave a horseman behind in the dust.
It shows the power God gave this unusual bird.
The Lord interrupts showing Job his creation
to remind Job of the lesson from all of this.
At Job 40, Verse 6, we read,
6Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm: 7"Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 8"Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? 9Do you have an arm like God's, and can your voice thunder like his?
Job had questioned God’s justice—accusing God
of treating him unfairly.
God’s answer is that he knows what he’s doing,
and he is doing things correctly—
after all, he created everything,
and made it just right,
so he must know what he is doing.
And then God continues showing Job
what his wisdom and power can do.
At Job 40:15, he continues,
15"Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. 16What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly! 17His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. 18His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron.
It’s not clear to us today whether the Hebrew word here
actually refers to the elephant or the hippopotamus.
The word translated “tail” may also refer
to the elephant’s trunk.
Both are powerful creatures that feed on vegetation.
And both frequent rivers,
although the name “hippopotamus” actually means
“horse of the river” or “river horse.”
21Under the lotus plants he lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh. 22The lotuses conceal him in their shadow; the poplars by the stream surround him. 23When the river rages, he is not alarmed; he is secure, though the Jordan should surge against his mouth.
Neither of these huge animals is troubled in the least
by raging river water.
Nor are they afraid of puny humans.
24 Can anyone capture him by the eyes, or trap him and pierce his nose?
Just one look at these powerful creatures
would keep anyone from even trying.
And the next creature God called to Job’s attention
is even more intimidating—the leviathan,
generally believed to be the African crocodile—
a creature much more fearsome
than the alligators found in Florida.
God asks at Job 41:1,
41 1 "Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope? 2Can you put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook? 3Will he keep begging you for mercy? Will he speak to you with gentle words? 4Will he make an agreement with you for you to take him as your slave for life?
5Can you make a pet of him like a bird or put him on a leash for your girls?
No, men don’t wrestle crocodiles,
like the wrestle alligators in Florida.
This fearsome beast would make short work
of a man’s arm.
And God compares Himself to the crocodile,
when He tells Job in Verse 8,
8If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again! 9Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering. 10No one is fierce enough to rouse him. Who then is able to stand against me? 11Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.
Yet, people who know better
than to mess with a crocodile
turn their back on God, as if he were nobody.
They will regret it.
God points out the crocodile’s scales
that are like armored shields,
and his fearsome teeth.
13Who can strip off his outer coat? Who would approach him with a bridle?
14Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth?
15His back has rows of shields tightly sealed together;
16each is so close to the next that no air can pass between.
17They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.
So, did Job get the point?
Did he learn the lesson our Father was teaching him
using all these illustrations from God’s creation?
And, what about us?
Do we get the point?
Chapter 42 starts out by saying,
1 Then Job replied to the Lord :
2"I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
4"You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.'
5My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.
6Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."
Job learned his lesson.
He came to have a new and deeper appreciation
for who God is—his almighty power
and his unquestionable wisdom.
We do well, too, to consider the creation,
as well as the written Word of God.
His almighty power and unsearchable wisdom
inspire us to put stronger faith and trust
in our all-powerful heavenly Father.