Rather than ignorantly credit observable, geophysical phenomena to “mother nature,” the book of Job makes it very clear that the processes to which the earth is subject have been sovereignly assigned by the universe’s Great Engineer.
“God understandeth the way thereof, and knoweth the place thereof. For He looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; To make the weight for the winds; and He weigheth the waters by measure. When He made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: Then did He see it, and declare it; He prepared it, yea and searched it out. And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding (28:23-28).”
Dr. Henry Morris offers the following in this regard in his book, The Remarkable Record of Job.
“Throughout Job we…find a strong emphasis on the dependability of the laws and constants now controlling God’s completed creation. Unlike other ancient books, Job has no hints of magical acts or any other occult practices. There are not any divine miracles recorded (except for Job’s eventual healing, if that is considered miraculous), although both Job and Elihu mentioned their faith in the future resurrection of the body (Job 19:26; 33:28). This is especially surprising in view of the many miracles recorded in the Mosaic writings of the Pentateuch. Job records one demonic visitation, as well as God’s personal revelation (Job 4:12-21; 38:1-42:8), but throughout the book there is repeated emphasis on the reliability of God’s providential – rather than miraculous – control of his creation.”
While many rationalize their spiritual disillusionment and dullness with the absence of the “spectacular” in their lives, the book of Job underlines God’s presence in the “mundane.”
Why are we so dependent upon the sensational to satisfy our craving for the presence of God?
The early chapters of the book of Job make it clear that the spectacular events that changed Job’s life were discharged by Satan. Was Job privy to the heavenly dialogue and grand experiment that opened the floodgates to his suffering? Of course not.
Despite the ferocity of the extraordinary and the hush from heaven, Job remained convinced of God’s presence and providence. “But He knoweth the way that I take…and performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with Him (23:10,14).”
How could Job say this? From where did he draw his certainty? Though “He (God) holdeth back the face of His throne (26:9),” Job found evidences of God’s engagement all around him. He saw God in the deep, dark magnificence of the night sky (26:7), in the brilliant hydrologic maintenance of the post-Flood world (26:8), in the uncompromised bounds of the post-Flood oceans (reflecting his knowledge of God’s promise to Noah – Gen. 9:11), and in the purposeful placement of and tidings in the stars (26:13 – particularly the “crooked serpent” known today as Draco the Dragon who’s head is interestingly about to be crushed by the club of Hercules).
Job was saying, “Despite heaven’s silence (v.9), nature’s evidences satisfy my search for God’s presence. Lo, these are parts of His ways: but how little a portion is heard of Him (26:14)? Yet, it is a portion! I may not understand everything that results under His governance, but these evidences testify of His presence and sustain my faith.”
Of the 6,000 years represented in Scripture, the moments of miraculous intervention can be encapsulated into a mere 3% of earth history (Creation, Moses, Joshua, Elijah/Elisha, Jesus, the Apostles). Because of the immediate and historical impact of such events that defied natural law, much of our attention is committed to them. The overwhelming majority of the sacred timeline, however, defaults to a grossly unspectacular history. Sovereignty is not amplified in the supernatural, but rather in the mundane. Yes, God is in the miraculous and we should be in awe of His creative power. But God is also in the maintenance processes decreed to preserve this planet through its useful tenure.
The relative absence of divine spectacle throughout history necessitates a faith that is sustained in God’s unimpressive disclosure of Himself in both special (Scripture) and general (nature) revelation. Unfortunately, some scholars have spoiled faith by presenting “inconsistencies” between God’s Word and God’s world. Any proposed disparity between the Word of God and the work of God is because of a philosophical misplacement of eminence.
Many Christian academics agree with the English politician and philosopher Francis Bacon (a contemporary of Galileo), who promoted nature as the requisite context to unlocking the truth of Scripture. In his 1605 book entitled Advancement of Learning, Francis Bacon made this statement.
“For our Saviour saith, ‘You err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God;’ laying before us two books or volumes of study, if we will be secured from error; first the Scriptures, revealing the will of God, and then the creatures expressing his power; whereof the latter is key to the former: not only opening our understanding to conceive the true sense of the Scriptures, by the general notions of reason and rules of speech; but chiefly opening our belief, in drawing us into a due meditation of the omnipotency of God, which is chiefly signed and engraven upon his works.”
The problem with this position is it presupposes that humanity’s fallen nature will be able to rightly interpret fallen nature.
A superior axiom is the one presented by Andrew Kulikovski in a 2005 Technical Journal article entitled “Scripture and General Revelation.”
“The scriptures, unlike general revelation, are presented in the words of ordinary human language…they have a perspicuity (clear expression, easy understanding) that is not found in the book of nature. In a way, therefore, the Scriptures are like a verbal commentary on the dimly perceived sign language of creation. For this reason, the special revelation of Scripture should always take priority over both general revelation in the natural world and the conclusions of modern science. The revelation of Scripture is the filter through which all else should be interpreted.”
Scripture provides interpretive clarity for our observations of the natural world and nature is a signpost pointing to the truth of Scripture. King David understood this relationship when he penned the 19th Psalm (vv.1-11). As the observed regularities of nature imply a universe maintained within structural confines, so is the reliability of the Lord’s written Testimony.
Another Psalmist made a similar connection in Chapter 119 (vv.89-91). The constant governance of natural law amplifies the consistency of Divine Charter.
Regularity in nature is not only a fundamental premise of modern science it also offers illustrative validity to every ordinance “settled in heaven.”
- The Law of Faith – Romans 3:23-28 (Faith activates justification)
- The Law of Sowing and Reaping – Galatians 6:7 (You procure what you plant)
- The Law of Liberty – James 1:25 (The choice to administer God’s principles liberates the believer in appreciable blessings)
- The Law of Sin and Death – Romans 5:12 (Death is the result of original sin and is the inevitable appointment of all mankind)
Because God did create, curse, and destroy “In the beginning” as recounted in the book of Genesis, the details of redemption and resurrection and restoration in the pages that follow are thereby esteemed authentic and authoritative!
When God finally breaks His silence, the answer to Job’s physical loss and suffering was not an explanation, but a revelation of Himself; first in a brief detail of earth’s spectacular creative and catastrophic past and then in a thorough exposition of His subtle superintendence over His creation.
While God has the power and genius to absolutely “wow” us into submission, the impression given by His response to Job is that He prefers attentive recognition in the mundane. The intimation is that God wants to be pursued, discovered, and appreciated. If we recognize God’s hand in sovereign maintenance, then we can see Him every day and react to His presence in humility and praise. If we are only looking for Him in the sensational, we may miss Him and His pleasure altogether.
May we reach the fresh awareness of Job when he prayed, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee (42:5).”