“Evil is Make-Believe” – Book of Job p4

Cosmic Design of the Creator

Another reason Yahweh does not directly answer Job is because Yahweh wants to challenge him to change his perspective to the total cosmic design of the Creator.  Job questions Yahweh and asks why he has to suffer, why there is evil, but Yahweh shows Job He does not eliminate chaos, death, or wickedness but they operate within the eternal constraints of His design

To survive, humans have to live in a world of paradoxes, but Yahweh can keep them in perfect order.  Some of these paradoxes are “life and death, chaos and order, freedom and control, wisdom and folly, triviality and evil and blessings.”[1]  All of these traits are a part of His style for the cosmos.  All of these paradoxes have to be in place for the world to operate properly.  If Yahweh was to completely eliminate evil or suffering that would destroy the cosmic order of things.  Yahweh challenges Job’s conception that Yahweh directly intervenes in earthly affairs.  

Yahweh wants Job to know that He does not rule like a tyrant by pummeling the wicked and forcing obedience from His earthly subjects.  Yahweh instead sustains life, letting both good and bad things happen.[2]  Yahweh uses the animals in His first speech to make that point.  He presents the animals as playful creatures (40:20) who are free to live their life without intervention.  Yahweh allows the creatures to exercise their qualities both good and bad.  By pointing this out, Yahweh has countered Job’s curse of creation (3:8) with balance and blessing.[3] 

Job asks if Yahweh could end evil and suffering why does he not do it.  However, if He took away those things, then human freedom and divine grace would also be lost.  Yahweh permits the existence of evil to give Him an opportunity for grace.[4]  Yahweh rejects a perfect world but gains a loving relationship with His creation in its place.[5]

At different times in Job’s speeches, Job calls Yahweh to the courtroom to question Yahweh about his suffering and the problem of evil.  It seems, however, that Yahweh decides not to answer Job in court but chooses the arena of creation for His response to Job.  Yet when one studies Yahweh’s creation speeches, it can be seen that there is not a discontinuity of setting in the drama.  Instead, Yahweh faces Job in the courtroom and uses His speeches of creation as testimony for His case.[6] 

Yahweh uses creation as a tool to cross-examine Job in this “courtroom of Justice” that Job has called him to.  Yahweh first questions Job’s right to even question Him and His sovereign ways.  Yahweh asks, “Where were you when I laid earth’s foundations?”  (38:4ff).  If Job cannot establish his part in the work of creation, then he has no grounds to charge Yahweh with unlawfully seizing any of his property because it was Yahweh’s to begin with (38::6-7).  If Job has any claim to property in this world then he would have had to take part in its construction.  Yahweh asks Job for details of the construction process (38:19-20).[7] 

“Creation poetry makes it clear that the Lord has never transferred title to any part of the universe He formed.”[8]  This is further stated throughout the Old Testament when Yahweh makes it clear to the Israelites that Yahweh is letting them live on the land He has given them but it is still His (Leviticus 25:23, Psalm 50:9-12).  After Yahweh’s speech Job realizes that God is not the arbitrary judge that he had thought and he repents.[9]

[1] Norman C. Habel, “The Design of Yahweh’s Speeches,” In Sitting with Job:  Selected Studies on the Book of Job, Ed. Roy B. Zuck, (Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1992), 418, 419.  Lacocque says that Yahweh’s divine discourse in 38-41 not only tells of the wisdom and power of the creator but also reveals the flaws of the created universe, (83).

[2] Brown, 100.

[3] Brown, 103.

[4] McKenna, 403.

[5] McKenna, 401.

[6] Sylvia Huberman Scholnick, “Poetry in the Courtroom:  Job 38-41,” In Sitting with Job:  Selected Studies on the Book of Job, Ed. Roy B. Zuck, (Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1992), 422-423.  One knows they were in a courtroom all along because at the end Job uses legal language saying he retracts his case (42:6) (Scholnick, 438).

[7] Scholnick, 427.

[8] Scholnick, 429.

[9] Brown, 102.

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