Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known 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? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:1-7 ESV)
When I picture this scene, I imagine Elihu’s friends were sitting at attention while he spoke his final words. I imagine Job sitting on the ground covered in filth and ashes. Presumably while Elihu was speaking his words to Job, a storm was rolling in across the sky. I am guessing Job and all of the friends are looking up at this whirlwind that has now descended upon them. As they gaze up into the heavens to see this great cloud, a powerful and majestic voice shakes the very ground on which they rest.
God has come to give Job the opportunity to argue the case he has prepared. Yet the scene starts not with God explaining to Job the purpose of his suffering, but to humble him under the vast and eternal wisdom of the Lord.
“Who is this that …”
The voice shakes the heavens and commands that the one who has been darkening the sovereign counsel of the Lord step forward. The friends all probably look over at Job and maybe even point their self-righteous fingers at him. God tells Job to dress for action, but not to make his case of innocence before the Lord quite yet, but rather to be placed in the dock of God’s courtroom. Job is about to be questioned over and over again by the Lord.
After the dock door is closed and Job is seated inside, the question God has for him is whether he is a trustworthy eyewitness to the creation of the world. In a courtroom, the credibility of an eyewitness is essential to prove before the words and perspectives are taken into account. Job has written down a case he desires to present before the Lord. But the Lord will not hear him quite yet. He has something to prove first.
In 2003 I built the house we currently live in. I stretched out the line where the foundation would be dug. I marked out the trees that needed to be removed. I squared the corners, I directed the excavating crew. I had the plans designed, knew where the footings needed to be, and witnessed every detail of the entire operation.
My son Sammy is five. He was not alive in 2003 when we built our home. Imagine that his entire life has spent in his room upstairs. He has never opened the door for any reason. He can only look out the window and observe what he sees from there. Image that he begins complaining that his room has no purpose. He spouts off statements about his room floating in mid-air with no fixed points. He states the house is shifting and unstable. He tells me people float into his room because he has never seen the hallway that leads to it. He thinks the lights come on by magic when the switch is flipped, and the warm air that blows into his room is the breath of a large monster. He complains that the entire design is junk and desperately needs to speak to the builder about his mistakes.
I carry a stool down the hall and bring it into his room. I lift up my son and place him on the stool I have set in the corner. I look him in the eyes and tell him to dress for action like a man and I will question him. “Sammy, where were you when I laid the foundation of this house. Tell me if you have understanding!” This is kind of like the situation Job finds himself in in chapter 38. It is a good and humbling place to be. It is a good place for you and I to be as well. I mean where were you when God laid the foundation of the earth?