The book of Job reveals a man in pain, in anguish. Anything that could go wrong – does. Having already lost his children and possessions, Job is afflicted with a disease. Initially this is described as “sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” Later, he describes his situation as “my flesh is clothed with worms and a crust of dirt; my skin hardens and runs.” And later, “I am decaying like a rotten thing, like a garment that is moth-eaten.” Even later, “my skin turns black on me, and my bones burn with fever.” The book of Job leaves us with questions about Job’s situation.
The questions about Job’s situation may deal with suffering or fairness or sovereignty. Questions may be about faith or innocence or guilt. But readers know that Job is more about questions than answers.
If there is something that a reading of Job leaves us certain about, it is that there will always be things we are not certain about. Creation can not be explained. Creation is like a psalm or rhapsody of wonder. In Job, even the maker of all things is astonished at the things He has Himself made.
This is evidenced as the Lord lists some of his activities in response to Job. Creating the world, dealing with the sea, providing places for light and darkness. Concerns about sky, weather, and animals. The Lord has much to be concerned about.
The sea may symbolize chaos, yet it does not battle with the Lord. Instead it is like a babe that exits the womb and is wrapped in swaddling clothes. Space may be a show of mystery, yet the Lord leads Orion, Pleiades, and the Bear around.
The Lord finds meals for lions and ravens. He knows the intricacies of animal breeding. What does Job know about these things? The Lord’s speech seems to portray the ostrich as a stupid animal, lacking in wisdom, and yet it laughs at people who would try to catch it.
Behemoth is the Hebrew plural for beast. This may be to emphasize the size and power of this monster. Roland Murphy suggests that it may be better to emphasize the role, rather than the description. Behemoth is a symbol of chaos. Can Job capture him? Can he control this beast?
Leviathan wears impenetrable armor, his teeth inspire terror, flames shoot from his eyes, nostrils, and mouth. Weapons aimed at him are useless. Can Job catch him with a fish hook? The speech ends suddenly, but the point is clear; Job (and anybody else) is helpless before the monsters of chaos. It is only the Lord that can control them.
Roland Murphy proposes that we should approach Job with imagination more than intellect. Job is in misery and pain. He is full of questions and demands. And then God responds. He woos him. He dazzles him. Mark Buchanan says it like this, “you have been sitting on this dung pile for so long, with this pain in your heart and in your flesh for so long, with these boring windbags haranguing you for so long, that you’ve grown blind to beauty. Everyone’s trying to fix you, Job, fix your problem. Not me. I’m going to wow you.”