When God Speaks, We Must be Ready to Listen
Job’s friends come to comfort him. At least that’s how it appears, but in actuality they’re not much help. Their words assault Job and his character. In exasperation Job goes on a sarcastic rant against his so-called friends and then becomes poetic as he contemplates God’s power.
He ends this part of his discourse by saying, “Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” (Job 26:14).
Job uses thunder to imply God. That’s a powerful metaphor.
Today, we have a scientific explanation for thunder. And even though we comprehend thunder in an intellectual way, it still produces an all-inspiring sound that gets our attention.
Imagine how the ancient world viewed thunder: booming, terrifying, powerful, unseen. It might be as close as they can come to comprehending God. Yet even this falls short, far short.
Like thunder, God is both powerful and unseen. Who can understand that? Also, like thunder, God can have a booming loudness. And he can be terrifying, too.
Yet in contrast, God can also be a still small voice, a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12). Which is it?
God Speaks to Job
Job is in the midst of unimaginable turmoil, of unbearable pain. Everything has been taken from him, except for his breath and his faith—and both of those are tenuous.
He seeks God for answers. He desires to hear God talk and explain what has been happening. He likely wants to hear the booming voice of God to assure him who’s in control and that there’s a purpose in all he has gone through.
In addition, if God spoke in a loud booming voice, not only would Job hear, but so would his unhelpful friends. God would put them in their place, or so Job hopes.
And, later, when God does speak to Job, it’s out of the storm (Job 38:1). And what accompanies a storm? Thunder, loud, booming, terrifying—both God and the storm.
God Speaks to Elijah
When Elijah has his moment of doubt, he also waits for God to speak. First there’s a wind. Then an earthquake. And finally a fire. But God isn’t in those things. God isn’t loud, booming, or terrifying. Instead he is a gentle whisper. And when God’s whisper comes, Elijah is ready to listen (1 Kings 19:11-13).
God Speaks to Us
God can speak to us in many ways. Sometimes it’s loud and other times it’s soft. Maybe God speaks to us through nature, or friends, or circumstances. Through it all, God speaks to us.
The question is, are we listening?
Discover more about Job in Peter’s book I Hope in Him: 40 Insights about Moving from Despair to Deliverance through the Life of Job. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.