"Who Provides Food for the Raven...?" (Job 38:39-40:5) April 13-14
God next turns to the animal kingdom to illustrate His sovereignty and wisdom as Creator as well as His great care and concern for His creation.
God hunting prey for the lion and providing food for the raven (38:39-41) could signal that God specifically intervenes in the natural realm to make sure animals are nourished. Or it could simply mean that God has set up the world's ecosystem in such a way to ensure that its creatures are regularly fed—that he has established an important balance in nature between predators and prey. Perhaps it means both—that God has established a self-perpetuating natural order but sometimes directly intervenes to make necessary adjustments due to the impact of other natural or unnatural circumstances. The portrayal of the young ravens crying out to God does not mean that they are consciously calling to Him—simply that they are crying out for relief and He is the One who hears them and can answer them.
Surely we can see that God is not only talking about ravens here. God's care for His creatures implies something else: that He must also have great care for His highest physical creatures—human beings. Job might as well have been hearing the words of Jesus Christ uttered more than 1,500 years later: "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than birds?" (Luke 12:24).
Job 39:1-4 shows that God has concern not just for predators but for prey—mountain goats and deer—having ensured that they are cared for at birth when they are most vulnerable.
The illustration of the wild donkey in verses 5-8 is rather interesting because Job used it as a symbol of the oppressed poor in 24:5. Job complained about the poor, like the wild donkey, having to eek out an existence in the wilderness. Yet God here says that the wild donkey is actually happier in the wilderness than in the tumult of the city serving a hard master. Beyond the literal meaning, perhaps God is implying by analogy that human beings will experience freedom if we find contentment in whatever circumstance He has placed us (see Philippians 4:10-12). He could also be saying that it may actually be better to be among the poor than to be rich and powerful and enslaved to the vices of that life. After all, as Jesus will later explain, it is very hard for a rich man to enter God's Kingdom (Matthew 19:23-24).
God next presents the powerful wild ox (verses 9-12). It has great strength and is capable of much but generally will not submit to serving people's needs. Is God drawing another analogy with people here? Perhaps. Why, Job might have wondered, would God create an animal like the wild ox, which cannot be domesticated? The answer is: only God really knows. He has not revealed his motivations. Of course, He requires no express reasons. If it pleases Him to do so, that is enough.
The next animal, the ostrich (verses 13-18), would surely evoke even more questions. It is simply bizarre to our understanding. Part of the lesson here "is that God can and does make creatures that appear odd and crazy to us if that pleases him. Imagine a bird that can't fly. Though it has wings it can run faster than a horse (v. 18). Job could not understand what God was doing in his life, and God was telling him the created world is just as difficult to rationalize" (Expositor's, note on verses 13-18). Indeed, there is more here. God says that this bird exposes the eggs of its offspring to danger by leaving them on the ground and is even harsh with its young, probably referring to the fact that yearlings are driven off at mating season. Recall that Job had basically accused God of indifference to human beings. Now God draws Job's attention to a parent in the animal world that really is practically indifferent to the plight of its young—"without concern," God says. Why? Because God did not give her wisdom and understanding (verse 17). This means that parental care and concern is part of what God Himself considers to be wisdom and right understanding—so surely He must have this care for His own human children, including Job.
God's discourse then moves on to the horse (verses 19-25). Here is a great and powerful animal, brave and fearless. In verse 20, the words "Can you frighten him like a locust...?" (NKJV) do not seem to fit in context. The NIV translation asks, "Do you make him leap like a locust...?"—hurdling obstacles on his way into battle. This animal, we should observe, is not wild. It devotes it strength, boldness and courage to serving its rider—and it is a wonder to behold.
Finally God mentions the hawk and the eagle. In contrast to the ostrich, these birds fly, they have incredible eyesight ("eagle eyes"), they have the wisdom to build their nests in a high stronghold and they provide for their young (verses 26-30).
In the skies above and in the untamed wilds, to the ends of the earth and beyond, all creation bears witness to the glory and majesty of God—far above the ways of man. It is a humbling lesson for Job.
Then, after God's first long volley of evidence proving His vast wisdom and care for His creation, He calls on Job to respond (40:1-2). "God reverses Job's accusation that God has brought a lawsuit against him (see 10:2 for the same Hebrew word). It really has been Job accusing God, not the other way around" (Nelson Study Bible, note on 40:1-2). God gives an implicit reprimand to Job. Yet notice that it is not harsh, stern or even direct. God does not say, "Shame on you, wicked man. You are cursed for daring to rebuke Me." All He says is, "Okay, after all you've heard, are you still going to press your case against Me and try to correct Me? You who would presume to rebuke God, let's hear what you have to say now."
Job is stunned and overwhelmed—probably at both the experience and at what God has said to him ending with this calling to account. What can he possibly say in response? All he can answer in verses 3-5 is that He is vile—worthless—and He covers his mouth, probably as a symbol of his unworthiness to say anymore. Job is humbled but, as we will see next, God still has more to say.