Reading through the Bible together

Sunday, August 4, 2013

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God is still speaking to Job. Moses is describing God’s message to Job and in this chapter which takes the format of a Biology teacher taking the student through a list of six animals and birds, their peculiarities and wonderful aspects.  God asks Job if he understands why He made these animals the way He did. The animals are: 1. Goat and deer (vv. 1-4); 2. Donkeys (vv. 5-8); 3. Wild ox (vv. 9-12); 4. Ostrich (vv. 13-18); 5. Horse (vv. 19-25) and 6. Eagle (vv. 26-30). It is like taking us through a zoo.


In verse 1 there is a link between two parallel sentences, with “Do you know?” starting sentence 1a and “Do you observe?” ending sentence 1b (verse 1). Also God is asking Job whether he is able to count the months when each of these animals will give birth. It was Job’s business to know his sheep and goats, their age, the timing from conception to birth. Job and his servants kept record. Could Job know ahead of time the place these animals would take to bring forth their young, and the time when the little ones would grow up and leave the mother and never return (verses 3-4).


The  President of Sahmyook University, Dr. Sang-ne Kim, preached a sermon in 2013 on the difference between humans and animals, and highlighted: “that animals do not return and recognize their parents.” So how can evolution be right? God implanted this attribute in man as opposed to animals, and Job, Moses, and God knew this.


God then turns to a second animal: the donkey (verse 5a). The Rabbis were not sure whether this verse refers to a wild donkey because this lives in the wilderness and in “the barren land.” Other scholars think these verses could be talking about a wild bird of some sort (verses 5-8). The point is: God wants an answer from Job whether he knows of an animal that enjoys its freedom and lives in the wilderness and in the “salt land.” This animal pays no attention to the shouts of the driver to get out of the way. It loves the mountains, looks for anything green, and “mocks the tumult of the city” (verses 7-8).


The third animal God wants to speak to Job about is the wild ox, or as some think, the rhino, or the buffalo. God wants to know from Job whether a buffalo can be domesticated (verse 9). Can Job use a rope and make the buffalo plow for him? Can its great power become useful for Job? (verses 10-12). The answer is negative. Why? God created them wild and not to be domesticated to serve humans. The cow is calm, the buffalo is wild.


Next, God shifts to a fourth animal, an ostrich, which is proud and jubilant.  Some Rabbis think these verses are talking about a stork or vulture or some other huge bird maybe even a peacock.  The ostrich leaves her eggs on “the earth” (verse 14). God wants to know from Job whether he is aware that the ostrich abandons her eggs and forgets that an [elephant?] foot may crack it or some other ”beast of the field” may do so (verse 15). Whether Job knows that the ostrich is hardened against her young (verse 16). The point to Job from God is this: He placed in the ostrich these peculiar habits. They did not come evolution. “For God caused her to forget wisdom, and He did not give it to her . . .” (verse 17). Whether Job has seen an ostrich scorn a horse and its rider, and wondered why it has these characteristics which were not acquired from the environment (verse 18).


The fifth animal God wants Job to reflect on is the horse. God asks Job whether he has given strength to the horse, and given it a mane which is like “clothing to his neck.” God made the horse to “leap like a locust, it “rejoices in its strength,” and “goes and paws” in the valley (verses 19-21). The horse “goes forth to meet the cutting and does not turn away from the face of the sword” (verses 22-23). “It does not turn back because of the sound of the shofar” that is the trumpet (verse 24). Whether Job knows that the horse can smell the battle “from afar” and from the thunder of hoofs and the shouting of princes (verse 25). God gave the horse beauty, strength, fearlessness, energetic excitement, good audio capabilities, and patience. Where does evolution fit into all of this?


God then comes to the sixth animal, the hawk or eagle (verses 26-27). The qualities of these birds of prey are implanted by God at Creation. The hawk has great wings (verse 26) and it is migratory “spreading out its wings to the South” (verse 26). Does it fly at your command? (verse 27). The eagle flies high and builds its nest like a high inaccessible fortress. It loves to live on high rocks (verse 28). Whether Job knows that God gave eagles its good optical abilities or whether he realizes that “its chicks know where to look and go where the slain prey is” (verses 29-30).


God created animals with special features that speak of variety, ingenuity, care, taking the boredom of reduplication away, and making life in a hostile world amazingly interesting.


Dear God,

Awesome is the wonderful care that You bestow upon us and give us insights into the special characteristics of Your animals that surprise us. Thank you for teaching and guiding us.  Amen.


Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea