Job told God he would not be able to answer Him. But God has more questions. He begins with the same “dress for action” (literally “gird up your loins”) and declares that He will ask Job some more questions (40:7 – see 38:3). God asks Job who he thinks he is to question Him, which implies Job is right and God and wrong (40:8). Is Job sovereign and all powerful (v. 9)? “OK, Job, be as majestic, dignified, glorious, and magnificent as Me, and you humble the proud in your anger and send them to hell (vv. 10-13)! If you can condemn, then you can also save – even yourself – and then I will answer to you (v. 14)!”
God then points Job to the wonder of His creation by describing two great and mighty creatures. First, He points Job to “Behemoth” (v. 15).* We don’t know exactly what animal this is, but the description is of a massive land animal that is herbivorous, muscular, large, and unafraid of other animals (vv. 15-24). In verse 19, God describes this animal as literally “the first of the ways of God.” This means something along the lines of “a great masterpiece of God’s creation.” In verse 24, God makes His point – no man has the power to destroy such a creature. In other words, God can make it, God can destroy it, and man is powerless to do anything.
Second, God speaks of the Leviathan**, and appears to describe a massive and powerful sea creature or reptile. He cannot be controlled by man (41:1-2). He will not submit to the will of man (vv. 3-4). He should not be toyed with (v. 5), and he cannot be owned (v. 6). He is too powerful to fight (vv. 7-8) and will destroy any man that tries (v. 9). If a creature of God is this powerful, then who can stand against God Who made this creature (vv. 10-11).
God continues His description. This creature is mighty and beautiful (v. 12). Nobody can control it (v. 13). His face and teeth are terrifying (v. 14). He has scales that make him invincible (vv. 15-17). His eyes and nostrils shine forth light, and fire comes from his mouth and smoke from his nostrils (vv. 18-21). He is afraid of nothing (vv. 22-24) though everything else is afraid of him (v. 25). He cannot be defeated (vv. 26-29). He leaves his mark where he goes (v. 30). He is the reason the depths burn (v. 31) and he moves swiftly (v. 32). He has no equal on the earth, and he has no fear (v. 33). He knows pride. In fact, he is the king over the proud. (v. 34).
And while this may seem like God is making a comparison between His mightiest creation on the land and His mightiest creation in the sea, that is not what He is doing. He is making a comparison between His mightiest creation of the earth, and His mightiest creation of heaven. Leviathan is Satan. He is the serpent wiser than any other creature God has made (Gen 3:1).
Notice the description of this creature – he is a dragon (Rev 12:9)! The scales, the fire breathing, the fearlessness. God is telling Job that if he has no power against Behemoth – a mere animal no matter how strong – then how powerless is he against Satan? And if Satan is that much higher and mightier than any other creature, then how much more the Creator?
And not only is the story of Job brought full circle, but God makes His point in a powerful way. If Job in his pride gives in to Satan and his works – in other words, if Job gives in to sin – he CANNOT fault God. God is not the author of sin. He may cause both the “good” and the “bad” that we have in this life (Isa 45:7), but we alone are responsible for our sin.
And the story continues. Job answers God. He now knows Who God is (42:2) and who he, Job, is (v. 3). He has heard the voice of God and has seen Him for Who He is (vv. 4-5). Therefore, Job hates his sin, and he turns to God in repentance (v. 6). Job did the only thing he could do. It’s all any of us can do.
And God rebukes Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar and points out that they have not spoken rightly of Him as Job has (v. 7). This is a reference to what Job just said (in verses 2-6). God is calling these men to repentance (v. 8). And they repent (v. 9). And God did what He promises to do when we repent (see 1 John 1:9) – He not only restores us, but blesses us, like He did Job (vv. 10-17). What grace!
But there is more to be gleaned here. There is a battle between good and evil going on. We saw in Job and his reaction to his calamity – and his sin – that battle play out within him. He swung on the pendulum from faithful, to doubting. From trusting God to accusing Him. This is the same battle we face, every day.
And we need to realize two things. First, God is above the fray. He is not involved in the battle, in a sense, because then it would be over. This battle is between us and the powers of darkness (Eph 6:12-13), and between us and our sin (1 John 1:8, Rom 7:15-23).
Second, God put Himself in the fray for us (see Gen 3:8 – Rev 22:21). He got involved in the battle as One of us, and He won a decisive victory. It is over, in a sense. The enemy has been defeated. Both Satan and sin lost at the cross (Gen 3:15, John 19:30). And until the day comes that His victory is revealed fully and finally, we still battle. The question is, will we fight according to our own wisdom, and our own ways, and in our own strength? Or will we – no matter what the circumstances are – remember that God fights for us, and rest in Him?
Let’s rest in Him, and look forward to the revealing of His victory:
In that day the LORD with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea. – Isaiah 27:1 (ESV)
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4 (ESV)
* “Behemoth:” is just a transliteration of the Hebrew word used here. It is the only time in the Bible it is used, and where we get our English word that means something extremely large or powerful. Many point to the Hippopotamus as the animal God was referring to, though I don’t see how a hippo’s tail is comparable to a cedar tree. Others say it is a crocodile, but they do not “eat grass like an ox.” I think it is likely a reference to a now extinct animal, possibly a dinosaur.
** Again, the word is a transliteration of the Hebrew word.