Friday, March 7, 2008

Job's Epiphany

Among the many scriptural creation passages other than Genesis 1-2, the Old Testament book of Job contains a majestic epiphany expressing profound perception, sensitivity, and appreciation for the manifestation of the Creator’s power in the natural world. This is some of the finest literature anywhere, sacred or secular. The book is filled with creation references along with a narrative containing counsel from three “friends” following the tragedy which befell Job. Chapters 36-41 contain instruction from Elihu, and finally, from God Himself on the awesome beauty of nature and its creatures. As we read, we alternately marvel, laugh, and even fear as meteorological, astronomical, and biological events are reviewed.

If The Weather Channel’s “Storm Stories” fascinates you, you would also enjoy Elihu’s descriptions of mighty downpours, flashing lightning, God’s voice expressed in thunder, falling snow, ice production, frost, broad frozen waters, driving winds, heat waves, and swirling clouds, not to mention evaporation and abundant showers resulting in the production of plentiful food. Animals take cover, presaging storms. After the storm comes the bright sun, revealed after the wind sweeps away the clouds. Poetic astronomical references to the binding of the beautiful star group Pleiades and the loosing of the cords of Orion signal an understanding of gravitational attraction among heavenly bodies.

Animal Planet fans would be in their element with the prophet’s descriptions of a lioness hunting prey, mountain goats and deer birthing their young, escaped wild donkeys ignoring men’s instructions, and an untrustworthy, untamed wild ox throwing off a harness. We could laugh at the joyful wing-flapping of the ostrich who stupidly leaves her eggs to warm in the sand, treats her young harshly, but then laughs at the horse and rider because she runs so swiftly. Space prevents us from describing the antics and adventures of hawks, eagles, storks, and ravens.

Even the late risk-taking naturalist Steve Irwin would have found he was overmatched by the behemoth and leviathan. In Job 40-41, the Lord Himself challenges Job with fearsome descriptions of the beasts He created (probably the hippopotamus and crocodile). We need not tackle wild beasts in the manner of wildlife naturalists on The Discovery Channel to conclude that “inference to the best explanation” is expressed in Job's concluding statement to the Lord: "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you (Job 42:5).