November 08, 2019

Where Were You . . . ?

Job 38:1-7

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.”

—  Job 38:4

After Job’s friends have had their say and Job himself has asked many questions, God breaks his silence with a booming command: “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”

This reminds me of some experiences at the Naval Academy, especially when first-year ­cadets begin learning. “Brace up!” And we did! “Attention!”

God is not threatening Job. Rather, God is addressing Job like the man of God he created and called him to be. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” God’s opening question is really a statement. He is telling Job who and whose he is: an imagebearer of his Maker (Genesis 1:26-27). God’s question both humbles and honors Job.

God’s monologue in chapters 38-41 gives no defense of why God allowed Job’s ­trials by Satan, and it gives no comment about Job’s strong faith. God simply takes Job on a grand verbal tour of his creation, sharing its glory with Job and implying how much he thinks of his imagebearer.

Job came to see what we know today: God in Christ Jesus has dignified us by walking with us through his creation, empowering us to treat every other imagebearer we encounter with God-honoring dignity.

“Brace yourself!” Enjoy God’s company today! He asks, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” And now we can understand!

Lord, thank you for honoring us with your image. Guide us to live like Jesus each day, we pray. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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