By now Job and his friends know that God is speaking by the power of the tornado and of his voice. They have nothing to say in the presence of the creator of the universe. God checks to see if they are proposing to be his teacher.
Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said, Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. Then Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further. Job 40: 1-5
Who can feel righteous in the presence of God? Job is humbled and will not step up to challenge God. The Lord knows him and he knows his limitations as well.
Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty. Job 40 6-10
So God encourages him to intestinal fortitude and prepares some challenges. So Job, can you prove yourself righteous by discrediting God? If you have godly powers, dress yourself in glory and call your army!
Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him. Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret. Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee. Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Job 40 11-15
Job if you can defeat all the evil men on earth Then I, God, will admit that you can be your own savior. But consider my huge beast behemoth too. (We don’t know exactly what beast this was, but God had a lot of big creatures to point out. Our art is the guess work of earlier artists.)
Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. Job 40: 16-20
Is this an earthly beast we know, or some celestial being? Perhaps there are life forms in the universe that we haven’t yet encountered. At least we hope not to meet one in a dark alley!
He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares. Job 40: 21-24
Our image portrays God talking to the humbled Job and friends. The beasts represent power that we can comprehend through the language. Whatever they are they represent a power beyond the control of man.
Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn? Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee? Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? Job 41: 1-5
The sea beast is not a game fish or a favorite pet. One does not expect a gentle response from the creature being described. This may not be a creature we know, but it is one we know better than to challenge. Perhaps we can let these images represent the unknown forces of the universe that God created and which he considers his playground. Let this chapter speak to us about being patient to learn and slow to anger with our God who knows a bit more about our destiny and purpose. In this case Job will learn that his destiny was for the purpose of teaching us to hold our faith and to hold our peace with God.