Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up your loins like a man,
I will question you, and you shall declare to me.
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone
when the morning stars sang together
and all the heavenly beings[a] shouted for joy?Job 38:2-7
These verses in Job, raise a sizeable and challenging question from God. ‘Who is this that darkens counsel?’ After a week of attempting to gain some insight into God’s purpose in creation, the divergence between the reality we see every day and the way God means us to live is quite staggering.
What strikes one immediately by God’s question is that it is precisely where we think our strength lies that God sees our greatest weakness and the cause of the failure of mankind to live according to His will. Is the belief in our own intelligence. ‘Tell me then, as you are so well informed…’ if you read the rest of this magnificent text (chapters 38 and 39) you will note that over and over again God challenges our belief and conviction in our extensive knowledge and understanding of the mystery and marvels of creation. It becomes painfully obvious that our knowledge, no matter how immense we believe it to be, is in fact quite limited and trivial — because it fails to comprehend the magnificence and miracle of creation.
Unfortunately we seem to be obsessed with minimising everything to its smallest explainable components, to a mechanical and unemotional view of the universe and therefore we miss seeing the bigger picture, the wholeness and holiness of it all and finding our correct place within it.
Today God’s words might have an almost identical deafening challenge. How is it, as you claim to be so intelligent and can now reach the surface of the moon, that you have been unable to eradicate hunger, that you have still not been able to overcome the difficulties that have prevented you from feeding the hungry who are on your own streets and so near that you walk past them every day? How is it, since you claim to understand the workings of nature that you have been unable to harness the wind, the waves and the sun for your energy needs but have instead resorted to using methods which are polluting and poising the earth? How is it since you claim to be so knowledgeable that you cannot understand that by polluting and poisoning your own planet that you are making it impossible for future generations of mankind, creatures and vegetation to survive? How is it, since you claim to understand the workings of human nature, that you have still not been able to devise ways to live ion peace except by means of possessing the threat of mutual extinction? How is it, since you claim to understand so much about humanities economic life, that you have still not been able to live in a manner so that you can work towards glorifying the Creator and begin to enjoy the fruits and blessings which the earth can provide? How is it, since you claim to know so much about the workings of nature, that you are still placing an excessive burden upon the inbuilt system for decontamination and regeneration so that many forms of life are threatened and the natural mechanisms have begun to break down? How is it that since you have replaced the law of God with your own wisdom, you have turned the world into a place where people are driven by fear and greed, where the air that they breathe is increasingly more toxic and fatal, where the first invitation of God to humanity — Be fruitful and multiply — has become a curse on which the evils of the world are blamed?
These are indeed challenging questions to each and every one of us who asserts to emulate the way of Christ. Are we able to fortify ourselves like a warrior and answer, or should we answer the above in the same manner as Job:
What can I answer, who hath spoken inconsiderately?
I will lay my hand upon my mouth.
One thing I have spoken, which I wish I had not said:
and another, to which I will add no more.Job 39:34-35
In such humble silence we can begin to listen to what God is actually telling us through His prophets, through the signs in His creation, and finally begin to understand the nature of the sin that is obscuring God’s design.
Prayer: I know that you can do all things
and that no plan you conceive can be thwarted.
Because of my ignorance
I have spoken of things that I have not understood,
of things too wondrous for me to know.
I had heard of you only by hearsay,
but now that I have seen you with my own eyes,
I retract what I have said,
repenting in dust and ashes.Job 42:2-3, 5-6.