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Questioning God in ignorance

“You ask, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I. And I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.” — Job 42:3

God believes in freedom of speech. He made us capable of thinking, gave us the tools to articulate our thoughts, and expects us to use these divinely imparted gifts. He allows us to say what we think about Him, even when uncomplimentary and erroneous. Incredibly, He even gives us the freedom to blaspheme Him and to question His justice, righteousness, and integrity. But He also holds us accountable for what we say.

Having listened to Job’s questions and complaints, and having endured the answers of Job’s friends, God pointedly asked, “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?” (Job 38:2). The question required an answer, and Job’s reply was brief and to the point: “It is I. And I was talking about things I did not understand… I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance” (42:3, 6).

God’s powerful self-revelation served to show Job the depth of his ignorance: “I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes” (42:5). It isn’t simply that God is too big to be contained in one man’s intellect, even though He is. But the way God does things is so different from the way we think He should do things that, when we begin to grasp the fringes of His workings, we ought not think we understand the wonder of it all. As Job said, “I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.”

There was no point in Job’s denying that he had been questioning God or, more importantly, that the questions were the queries of ignorance. Even though Job did not get a complete answer to the “why” of his predicament, he did get a revelation of who is in control. And his response was appropriate—humble submission to the God whom he now knew much better, but whom he knew he would never fully understand.

Like Job, we can speak with seeming authority from the depths of our ignorance, and we can utter profundities that further revelation shows to be false. That is why we should be slow to speculate and cautious about questioning God. It is right and proper for us to speak with authority when Scripture speaks with clarity, but on other subjects we should exercise a becoming modesty of opinion. Otherwise, we can all too easily drift into subjects “far too wonderful” for us.

For further study: Job 42:1-17

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.