Where Were You?
By Shawn Tomlin
Have you ever been put in your place? I’m talking to the point of asking for forgiveness. I have, and I’m sure most of you have too at some point in your life. To be humbled like that by the LORD is something even more incredible. I’ve been in spots in my life when I’ve asked God, “Why me?!” When I had lost 3 very close family members in a span of just a few short years, I thought, “How could You do such a thing?” I admit I was much more spiritually immature then and as I dove deeper into God’s Word, I found the answer. The last 5 chapters of Job was one of the sections of scripture that helped me understand our place before the Almighty God.
In chapter 38, God finally responds to Job, and it’s not what Job expects. Verse 3 says, “Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you will instruct Me!” At this point Job probably realized he had really screwed up. Then God continues on in verse 4, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding.” Now as a sarcastic person I can appreciate this question. Of course Job, just like the rest of us, had no understanding of that aspect of Creation. Only the Creator could know such a thing. In verse 12 God continues, “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know it’s place?” Of course Job did not have that power, no one does. I was only just deer hunting this morning and as I sat 20 feet up in my tree stand, I watched the sunrise pour light out upon the land. It was beautiful, and no person could ever do that. Through chapter 39 God continues on by asking Job about the nature of beings. Job can only remain silent. That’s all any of us could do. Job finally replies in chapter 40, and his response illustrates exactly how we should see ourselves before the LORD.
The LORD is above all else, and we are creatures of the dust. God is eternal, and to dust we shall return.
In verse 2 of chapter 40 God says to Job, “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.” Wow… The LORD really cut to the chase and brought Job to humbleness before Himself. Job replies in verse 3, “Behold, I am insignificant; What can I reply to you?” This may sound harsh, a little hard to hear, but before the LORD, the Creator of all things, we are insignificant. The reason why it’s so important to understand this, not to elevate ourselves higher than we ought, is because when we, in comparison to God, raise ourselves higher than we really are, we will always lower God to where He should never be. The LORD is above all else, and we are creatures of the dust. God is eternal, and to dust we shall return.
Job’s confession in chapter 42:1-6 was a comfort for me and a model to aid in my own repentance as I struggled earlier in my life with loss. Job confesses, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” So let me ask you, why did Job need to repent? Go ahead and think about it before you read on.
I’ve heard many reasons why Job needed to repent, but let’s focus on the correct, biblical reason. At this point Job is humbled. He has to repent for his harshness and doubting of God’s justice, not to mention he thought he could bring a charge against God. Job’s repentance was sincere and he acknowledged God’s sovereignty and confessed his transgression for questioning God’s goodness and justice.
What Job had to confess, at some point, we all need to confess. It’s important to realize and understand that the LORD is Sovereign and He is in control. The moment we forget that, we are in danger of lowering God and raising ourselves. Job was right to call himself insignificant before the LORD, and as a result of that all his faith was placed on the LORD, our Creator and Redeemer.
“The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.”