By David Sanford, Crosswalk.com
When we think of the book of Job, we often think of the opening chapters, where Satan argues with the Lord in heaven and attempts to destroy Job here on earth. We also tend to think of the closing chapters, where the Lord questions Job and reduces human wisdom to size. We sometimes overlook the rest of Job, which has a lot to tell us!
Chronologically, Job lived around the same time as Abraham, and as such is a reminder that God’s family includes individuals like Job and Abraham who believed in God long before the existence of the ancient Israelite nation, the Jewish faith, and the Hebrew Scriptures.
Did you know Job may be the oldest book of the Bible? It appears to set the stage for what Moses writes in the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures.
While Job doesn’t present a detailed creation account, its 42 chapters reveal much about nature. First, let’s consider four truths...
4 Truths about God and Nature
1. The Lord God merely spoke the word and created the heavens and earth.
2. The Lord God created every living thing in heaven. This includes Satan and the angels who joined his rebellion and became his demons. Never forget: Satan doesn’t appear in heaven as God’s equal. Far from it! Instead, it’s crystal-clear that Satan must obtain God’s permission to harm any of His chosen men, women, youth, and children on earth.
3. The Lord God created every living thing on earth. This includes Adam and Eve and all of their descendants. This also includes all other living things encompassed by nature in the oceans, in freshwater, in forests, in open lands, underground, and in the skies (see Job 12:7-8 and Job 35:11).
4. The Lord God controls the inanimate forces of nature. Satan must obtain God’s permission to use any of those forces to harm His people. More importantly, God uses amazing displays of the forces of nature to get the attention of Job, refine him, move him to repentance, restore him, and set the record straight about God’s all-powerful, everything-knowing, everywhere-present sovereignty.
That said, truths about nature aren’t restricted to the closing chapters of Job. Instead, Job uses nature to illustrate what he’s saying.
What the Book of Job Reveals about Nature
Over the course of 64 Scripture passages, Job and his friends name 21 categories of nature and God describes 18. With some overlap, there are 33 categories in total. Each category can and often represents many sub-categories or species. So, the scope is quite large!
2. Water cycle (named in Job 36:27-28).
3. Clouds, rain, thunder, lightning, snow, downpours, hail, storms, and waters frozen like rock (named in Job 35:5, Job 36:27-32, and Job 37:2-15, and described by God in Job 38:22-30 and Job 38:34-38).
5. Flowers (named in Job 14:2).
7. Grapevines (named in Job 15:33).
8. Olive trees (named in Job 15:33).
Creatures in the Sea
10. Rahab, another fierce sea creature (named in Job 26:12).
Wild Land Animals
14. Mountain goats (described by God in Job 39:1).
15. Deer (described by God in Job 39:1).
16. Wild ox (described by God in Job 39:9).
17. Behemoth (described by God in Job 40:15-24).
Domestic Land Animals
23. Horse (described by God in Job 39:19).
26. Ravens (described by God in Job 38:41).
27. Ostrich (described by God in Job 39:13).
28. Stork (described by God in Job 39:13).
29. Hawk (described by God in Job 39:26).
30. Snakes (including the adder, named in Job 20:16).
31. Gliding serpents (vipers or cobras, named in Job 26:13).
32. Moths (named in Job 13:28).
33. Locust (described by God in Job 39:20).
Nature in the Whole Bible
As we’ve seen, the book of Job reveals many descriptions of nature and God’s power over it. When we look at the Bible as a whole, from cover to cover, it names well over 120 categories of nature, with the vast majority being land animals, birds, and reptiles.
The most concentrated naming of creatures doesn’t occur in the account of the Garden of Eden. While Adam does name the animals, those names do not appear in the text. Genesis 1-3 names two supernatural trees and Satan appearing as a talking serpent. The most concentrated naming of creatures also doesn’t occur in the account of Noah and the Ark. While Noah collects all the creatures, Genesis 6-9 only names two kinds of birds and an olive leaf. It turns out that the book of Job talks far more about nature than the whole book of Genesis.
The most concentrated lists of creatures appear in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, which designate the “clean” and “unclean” creatures. Two of the longest books in the Old Testament (Psalms and Isaiah) mention creatures more often than Job, but certainly not as often per chapter as Job.
The 5th Truth about God and Nature
The importance of what God Himself says in the closing chapters of Job can’t be overstated.
Therefore, nature isn’t some force outside of God’s control. Everything in the universe is made by God and under His control. That includes lightning, Leviathan, lions, lambs, and locusts. It also includes you and me.
Like Job, let’s stand in awe – not of nature, but of the great and Almighty God who created it.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Ray Hennessy
David Sanford’s book and Bible projects have been published by Zondervan, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, Barbour, and Amazon. His newest book is Life Map Devotional for Men published concurrently with his wife Renee’s new book, Life Map Devotional for Women.