Job 37

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 27, 2003

The Voice in the Storm

Job is being tested. He has lived a wonderful, righteous life. But a day came when Satan challenged God by saying that Job only loved God because of God’s protection and goodness toward Job. So God is allowing Satan to bring difficulty to Job in order to prove to Satan and the audience in heaven that Job is better than that.

As all the discussions have continued between Job and these various friends, it seems a storm began to develop.

It’s kind of ironic – we often look at our difficult times as “storms” in life.

We call a difficult marriage a “stormy marriage”. We call a person’s life that is filled with trouble and turmoil “stormy”.

On last Wednesday, after having taught through chapters 35-37, my wife commented to me that I sure didn’t make too big of a deal about the seriousness of the storms.

That’s partly due to the fact that I was running out of time.  But it’s also partly due to the fact that she’s from Kansas, and I’m from California.

In California, we really don’t know what it’s like to have powerful storms.  After all, it never rains in California…

But in Kansas, as in many other places, they know about storms.

We went out to eat with my wife’s parents on Friday and my father-in-law got to talking about one of the storms he remembered from his childhood growing up in Oklahoma.  His grandmother died from injuries in that storm.  He was about seven years old and remembered his father and two older brothers coming into the house and the three of them trying to shut the front door.  Instead they were literally blown across the house by the wind.  They finally all made it down to the storm cellar, where they huddled under blankets.  After the storm passed they had trouble getting out of the cellar because a huge tree limb had landed on the cellar doors.  He shared how after the storm, he found trees with pieces of debris embedded in them, driven into the tree by the high winds.
I remember taking a trip with my wife and her family to Arkansas for a family reunion.  While we were there, we got caught in a storm.  We spent a pretty thrilling night at the motel watching the lightning blow up the power transformers and watching the water level in the parking lot creep higher and higher, almost flooding us out.

Job’s storm

As Job has been complaining about his situation and debating with his friends, a storm apparently has been brewing.

We get little hints in the text such as:

(Job 35:5 KJV)  Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds which are higher than thou.
I think it’s possible that as Elihu has been talking, the clouds have begun to gather overhead.  Kind of like the thunderheads we’ve seen over the mountains the past few days.
(Job 36:26-33 KJV)  Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out. {27} For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: {28} Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly. {29} Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle? {30} Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the bottom of the sea.
Either covering the bottom of the sea with the light of the lightning, or the covering of the bottom of the sea with the water from the storm.
{31} For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in abundance.
God demonstrates His power in storms.  He also provides us with food through the work of the storm.
{32} With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt. {33} The noise thereof showeth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour.
(Job 37:1-5 KJV)  At this also my heart trembleth, and is moved out of his place.
Elihu is shaken up when he thinks about God’s power displayed in storms.
{2} Hear attentively the noise of his voice, and the sound that goeth out of his mouth. {3} He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth. {4} After it a voice roareth: he thundereth with the voice of his excellency; and he will not stay them when his voice is heard. {5} God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.
When Job talks of God’s voice, he’s talking about thunder.
(Job 37:5 The Message) His word thundering so wondrously, his mighty acts staggering our understanding.
When God speaks, it is powerful.  David wrote about the power of God’s voice:
(Psa 29 KJV)  A Psalm of David. Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. {2} Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. {3} The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters. {4} The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. {5} The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. {6} He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. {7} The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire. (lightning) {8} The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. {9} The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory. {10} The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever. {11} The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.
We think of this as the power of God shown in a storm – with thunder. Yet God doesn’t just speak through thunder.  He speaks the clearest through His Word.

(Heb 4:12 NLT)  For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.

(2 Tim 3:16-17 NLT)  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. {17} It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

Eventually, God will actually show up and speak, and it’s right from the middle of the storm:

(Job 38:1 KJV)  Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said…


God may be in the storm

God speaks in the storm
(Job 37:5 KJV)  God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.
He may even be in the storm.
(Job 38:1 KJV)  Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
We usually think of life’s storms as something to avoid and run from, but what if God wants to speak to us through the storm?  Perhaps He needs to get your attention.
We usually work extra hard to avoid trouble in our life.  We work overtime to make sure that life is comfortable and stays comfortable.
But Jesus didn’t demand to be comfortable. On the night He was betrayed, He prayed in the garden …

(Luke 22:41-46 KJV)  And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, {42} Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. {43} And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. {44} And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. {45} And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, {46} And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

Jesus was willing to do whatever the Father wanted Him to do.

And it was the Father’s will that Jesus go to the cross. Jesus needed to die on the cross in order to pay for our sins. God was in the “storm”.

Jesus Himself taught that we ought to follow His example:

(Mat 16:24 KJV)  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Jesus and storms

Early in His ministry, Jesus taught about surviving storms:

(Mat 7:24-27 KJV)  Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: {25} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. {26} And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: {27} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.


Obeying the Word

Every one is going to go through storms.  It doesn’t seem there is anything we can do to avoid trouble, to avoid the storms of life.  The issue isn’t about avoiding storms, the issue is about surviving them.
Surviving storms involves hearing Jesus’ word and obeying it.
God wants to speak before and during the storm.  What’s He saying?  Read the Word. Obey it.  It’s the Voice in the Storm.

Shortly after having taught about surviving the storms, Jesus and His disciples experienced a storm. Jesus is going to give the fellows real life experience in handling storms:

(Mat 8:23-27 KJV)  And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. {24} And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. {25} And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. {26} And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. {27} But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

Does this have anything to do with Jesus’ teaching about storms?
Jesus did have a “word” for His disciples.  In the parallel passage Jesus said,

(Mark 4:35 KJV) …he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.

Jesus didn’t say, “Let us pass under”, He said, “Let us pass over”. Their stress in the storm was based on their lack of faith.  They didn’t trust Jesus and His word to them.  Jesus was teaching them a lesson not just in faith, but specifically in trusting in Jesus’ Word.

A little later, Jesus would allow the disciples to go through another storm.  This time they would go through it without Him, at least initially.

(Mat 14:22-33 KJV)  And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

Just as before, Jesus’ command to them was to get in the boat and go.  They were in His will in the storm.

{23} And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. {24} But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. {25} And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

Jesus came to them in the storm

{26} And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

Apparently there was an ancient myth that men at sea would see a ghost just before being drowned –
I’m curious how this myth got started, especially since the only people who would have seen these ghosts wouldn’t be alive to tell about it.

{27} But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

This time, rather than being afraid of the storm, it appears they’re afraid of Jesus.
Note what Jesus’ Word was to them.  He told them not to be afraid.

{28} And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. {29} And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

Look how far Peter has come.  Rather than being afraid of the storm, he now actually has this notion that Jesus can handle the storm.
And did you notice that Peter asks Jesus to “bid me come”?  I think you could say that Peter is asking Jesus for His “Word”.  And Peter initially obeys the Word that Jesus speaks.
We may find fault with Peter later as he starts to sink, but at least he got out of the boat. He asked Jesus for His Word.

{30} But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

It was when Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the storm that he began to sink.

{31} And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? {32} And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. {33} Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

There’s still room to grow in faith.
I wonder if that’s going to be a continuing lesson in life, that we need to keep growing in faith.

Paul’s storm. 

Paul too went through many storms. He gives us a great example on how to survive.

(Acts 27:9-44 KJV)  Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, {10} And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. {11} Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. {12} And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. {13} And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. {14} But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. {15} And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. {16} And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: {17} Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, struck sail, and so were driven. {18} And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; {19} And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. {20} And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. {21} But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. {22} And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. {23} For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, {24} Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.


Praying in the storm

Why would the angel say that God has given to Paul all the people that are with him?  Because he’s been asking for them.  Paul has been praying. And fasting.
Paul didn’t just pray for himself, he apparently had been praying for everyone on board the ship.
By the end of the storm, the entire boat was praying (implied with fasting).  They didn’t fast because they were short of food; this was a wheat-cargo ship.  There was plenty to eat.  They fasted because they were crying to God for help. 

{25} Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

Paul received a word from the Lord and he trusted in it.

{26} Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island. {27} But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; {28} And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. {29} Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. {30} And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, {31} Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. {32} Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. {33} And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. {34} Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. {35} And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. {36} Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. {37} And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. {38} And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.

This apparently was one of the ancient ships that supplied Rome with wheat from Egypt. With the ocean floor getting increasingly shallow, they needed to further lighten the load of the ship if they were to keep from running aground.  They had been holding on to their load of wheat until the end.  They survived because they knew they needed to lighten the load on the ship.

{39} And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. {40} And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoisted up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. {41} And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves. {42} And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. {43} But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: {44} And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

From time to time someone will come in for counseling and they fire their first warning shot.  They’ll say to me, “Now don’t just tell me to pray and read my Bible.  I’ve tried that.  I need more than that.” I understand that there are things like chemical imbalances and such, but we never get past needing to read and pray.

Survival comes from hearing and obeying the Voice in the Storm. And yes, that’s going to come when you read your Bible.  Find out what God is saying.  And do what He says.

(Isa 66:2 KJV)  For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.