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  • Chad Werkhoven

Job 12 - Animal Theology

If you want the patience of Job, you need the theology of Job!


Job 12 (NIV)

CONTEXT: Job has lost his family and his health. He here responds to his friends who blame Job's troubles on some sin he must have committed. Here Job pushes back on them.

12 Then Job replied:

2 “Doubtless you are the only people who matter,

and wisdom will die with you!

3 But I have a mind as well as you;

I am not inferior to you.

Who does not know all these things?

4 “I have become a laughingstock to my friends,

though I called on God and he answered—

a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!

5 Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune

as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.

6 The tents of marauders are undisturbed,

and those who provoke God are secure—

those God has in his hand.

7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you,

or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;

8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,

or let the fish in the sea inform you.

Which of all these does not know

that the hand of the Lord has done this?

10 In his hand is the life of every creature

and the breath of all mankind.

11 Does not the ear test words

as the tongue tastes food?

12 Is not wisdom found among the aged?

Does not long life bring understanding?

13 “To God belong wisdom and power;

counsel and understanding are his.

14 What he tears down cannot be rebuilt;

those he imprisons cannot be released.

15 If he holds back the waters, there is drought;

if he lets them loose, they devastate the land.

16 To him belong strength and insight;

both deceived and deceiver are his.

17 He leads rulers away stripped

and makes fools of judges.

18 He takes off the shackles put on by kings

and ties a loincloth around their waist.

19 He leads priests away stripped

and overthrows officials long established.

20 He silences the lips of trusted advisers

and takes away the discernment of elders.

21 He pours contempt on nobles

and disarms the mighty.

22 He reveals the deep things of darkness

and brings utter darkness into the light.

23 He makes nations great, and destroys them;

he enlarges nations, and disperses them.

24 He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason;

he makes them wander in a trackless waste.

25 They grope in darkness with no light;

he makes them stagger like drunkards.


Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 13: The Doctrine of God’s Providence

We believe that this good God,

after he created all things,

did not abandon them to chance or fortune

but leads and governs them

according to his holy will,

in such a way that nothing happens in this world

without his orderly arrangement.

Yet God is not the author of,

nor can he be charged with,

the sin that occurs.

For his power and goodness

are so great and incomprehensible

that he arranges and does his work very well and justly

even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly. JONAH

We do not wish to inquire

with undue curiosity

into what he does that surpasses human understanding

and is beyond our ability to comprehend.

But in all humility and reverence

we adore the just judgments of God,

which are hidden from us,

being content to be Christ’s disciples,

so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word,

without going beyond those limits.

This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort

since it teaches us

that nothing can happen to us by chance

but only by the arrangement of our gracious

heavenly Father.

He watches over us with fatherly care,

keeping all creatures under his control,

so that not one of the hairs on our heads

(for they are all numbered)

nor even a little bird

can fall to the ground

without the will of our Father.

In this thought we rest,

knowing that he holds in check

the devils and all our enemies,

who cannot hurt us

without his permission and will.

For that reason we reject

the damnable error of the Epicureans,

who say that God involves himself in nothing

and leaves everything to chance.



Everybody knows about the patience of Job, right? After all, Job endured so much suffering, but despite so many people who wanted him to, he would not curse God for the troubles he experienced.

Although Job's patient endurance is certainly an huge aspect of this book, one of its greatest gifts are the contributions it makes to what we call theology proper; that is, the study of God Himself. It's in the book of Job that we get get some of the biggest insights into who and what God is.

In responding to his friends, Job emphasizes the ongoing providence of God, who is capable of both creating and destroying, and who governs the affairs of both humans and animals alike. He points out that even the earth and its inhabitants are under God’s control, suggesting that his friends' simplistic explanations for suffering do not capture the complexity and depth of God’s purposes. Through this discourse, Job asserts that wisdom and power belong to God, who ultimately is beyond human comprehension and control.

Dig Deeper

It's probably not likely that you've suffered in life to the same extent Job did, but you've certainly been through dark valleys in life; perhaps you're in one even now! In difficult times, you're going to be inundated with advice from well meaning friends. Some of them might even 'encourage' you to have the patience of Job as you endure suffering.

But you can't imitate Job's patience without Job's theology! So often patience and peace is equated with accepting some sort of fatalistic attitude that we're just pawns going through the motions in a predetermined course.

Job is not happy with God at all at this point. Despite calling on God, he's been made a 'laughingstock,' while 'those who provoke God are secure.' But ultimately, Job can be patient because he knows that God is not arbitrary or unfair in how He works things out. "Ask the animals," Job says, "they will teach you... To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are His (v7, 13).

You might not be able to see the end of your dark valley, just like Job couldn't see his as he spoke these words. But if you know your theology - meaning, if you know God the way Job knew God, you'll be able to patiently endure all that comes your way.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father: in his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind (v10).

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will come to know God more and more so that you can have the patience of Job.



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: James 3


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