What is Man? (Job 40-41)

Scripture reading – Job 40-41

The LORD continued interrogating Job in today’s Scripture reading (Job 40-41), giving that man an opportunity to respond to the question:

2Shall he that contendeth [strives with; complains] with the Almighty [Shaddai] instruct [find fault; rebuke] Him? He that reproveth [rebuke; corrects] God, let him answer it (40:2).

God challenged Job, Will you dare instruct your Shaddai? Frightened by the reality of God’s majesty, power, and sovereignty, Job replied:

Behold, I am vile [cursed; despised]; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth [i.e. silent; have nothing to say]. 5  Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4-5).

Humbled, Job began to yield to the LORD. He no longer attempted to justify himself, and had nothing more to say.

The LORD questioned, “8Wilt thou also disannul [dispute; challenge] my judgment [justice]? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be [i.e. appear to be] righteous?” (40:8) Will you dare question the ways of the LORD as less than just (40:6-14)? Will you challenge God’s majesty? (40:10)

To demonstrate His power, and sovereignty over nature, God illustrated His dominion over creation with two great beasts that roamed the earth in Job’s day: The behemoth (40:15-24), and the leviathan (41:1-34).

Job 40:15-24 – The Behemoth, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature

The exact identity of the “behemoth” (40:15) is uncertain; however, the prevailing opinion among scholars is that the behemoth was either the hippopotamus, elephant, or water buffalo. I am of the opinion the behemoth might be an extinct beast, perhaps a dinosaur that might have roamed the earth or the seas following the flood.

The Scriptures reveal some physical characteristics of the behemoth (40:15-24). It was a vegetarian, for “he eateth grass as an ox” (40:15b). He was a powerful beast, with great “strength…in his loins [hips, and] …his belly” (40:16). The behemoth also moved “his tail like a cedar” (40:17a). Perhaps the movement of his tail was like the movement and swaying of a cedar tree.

The description of the behemoth continues (40:18-24), describing his bones like brass and iron (40:18), and his voracious appetite for mountain pastures (40:20), and water which is said to “drinketh up a river” (40:23). The behemoth was “the chief [greatest] of the ways [works; creatures] of God,” yet the Creator had power over him (“can make his sword to approach unto him,” 40:19).

What did this mean to Job, and why should it matter to us?

Job 41 – The Leviathan, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature

The second great beast that LORD invited Job to consider was the “leviathan” (41:1). The identity of this great creature is uncertain; however, some scholars suggest it to be a giant saltwater crocodile, perhaps one that is extinct today. Whatever its identity, the analogy was meant to draw Job to conclude that he was foolish to question his Creator when he paled in size and strength to the majestic leviathan that God had created (41:1-9).

Job was asked, if man cannot tame the “leviathan,” what right does he have to question or stand before God (41:10-33).  The leviathan “beholdeth [considers; sees] all high things [no man is his master]: He is a king over all the children of pride [he withdraws from none](41:34). Having considered the beauty and majesty of creation, and the great creatures over which God reigns supreme, “What is man?” 

Job 7:1717  What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?”

Job 15:1414  What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?”

Psalm 8:4 – “4  What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

Psalm 144:3 – “3  LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!”

Hebrews 2:6aWhat is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

What is man?

We are eternal souls, created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 2:7, 18-20). We are physically feeble, born sinners by nature (Romans 3:10, 23), and the curse of sin is upon us (Romans 6:23). In spite of our sins and failures, God loved us and demonstrated His love “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

God, our Creator, is majestic in His glory, sovereign of creation, omnipotent, holy, just, and forgiving; He is willing to save all who come to Him by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and accept His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 1 John 5:13).

Hebrews 2:9 – “9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith