Have you understood the Expanse? How the Lord might answer Job today

At the end of the epic poem Job the Lord answers the main character Job with a series of questions that help establish his perspective on his Creator.

Have you understood the expanse of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this.

Job 38:18 (NASB95)

In chapters 40 and 41 he asks Job to consider the Behemoth and the Leviathan which seem to be large creatures that we could equate with “pre-historic” dinosaurs like the Brachiosaurus and the Mosasaurus (made famous in Jurassic Park).

In the intervening millennia, we may not be able to behold the Behemoth nor the Leviathan as it seems Job was. However, we have been afforded the great privilege of living during a time of great discoveries about the universe. What we are able to behold is perhaps even more incredible than these creatures were.

Living in the Bronze Age, Job would have had a very limited understanding of the universe. For most of mankind’s existence the universe was viewed as a relatively small place with the earth at the center surrounded by the sun, moon and stars. This general understanding prevailed (under the models proposed by Aristotle and Ptolemy) until the 17th century. Did you know that it wasn’t until the early 20th century that we were able to establish that the universe was larger than the Milky Way galaxy? With incredible advances in telescopes and the ability to send probes into space we are able to see and study the universe in ways unimaginable even 100 years ago.

This got me thinking. How might the Lord respond to a person today that struggles with the problems of evil, justice and the vastness of the universe. This exploration relies on various scriptures and replaces the Behemoth and the Leviathan with some of the majestic images from the farthest reaches of the universe.

What the Lord might answer out of the whirlwind today:

Earth from the Moon (NASA.gov)

What is man that you think so highly of yourselves,
mortal beings crowning yourselves with glory?
When you consider the heavens
stretched out as a fabric,
the moon and the stars,
which I have set in place,
do you only reduce them to formulas?
Are you not mindful of Your Creator?

Get ready for a difficult task like a man;
I will question you
and you will inform me.

When you consider My powerful arm,
stronger than the sum of forces binding all the atoms of the universe,
or contemplate My wisdom and knowledge,
as unsearchable as the expanse beyond the cosmic radiation background,
or ponder My loving-kindness that endures forever
would you indeed question My justice?

Would you declare Me guilty of the wrongs you bring upon yourselves?
Have I not made you rulers over the works of My hands;
and put everything under your feet?
Are not the flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all under your dominion?

Have you not been given a rational mind
and are you not people of understanding?
Have not I in my sovereignty given you great freedom?
Do I make you walk the path you choose?
Will fate determine your destiny,
like a guide to the blind along an unlit road?
Has not it been said: choose this day whom you will serve,
and decide for yourself the foundation upon which you will build?

As an apple from a tree fell to the ground,
it became a delight to the mind and made you wise.
For through it your eyes have been opened
and you saw the expanse in a new light.
To you has been made visible
what has been hidden for generations.
Will you commit your labor to see more?
You have now only a taste of what you will learn.

Have you understood the expanse of the earth?
Ask the expanse and let it teach you.
It will reveal mysteries from the darkness
and bring the deep darkness into light.
Behold the creation, do you hear what it says?
Without words, do they not proclaim the work of My hands?

Now gird up your loins like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth,
or set the heavens in place?
What was the source of the energy that ignited the Big Bang,
expanding all energy and matter out from a single point?
During the Planck epoch tell Me what laws governed nature?
Is not Planck time like a billion years to Me?
Who enforces the speed limit on light
and upholds the conservation of energy and mass?
Come let us reason together,
Let Me hear how a quantum fluctuation caused all this to be!

The Pillars of Creation
Astronomical Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Who set the measurements, do you know,
or could such a beautiful gown be made by chance?
If the universe is an orchestra playing the most wonderful symphony
consider who finely tuned each instrument?
With just one discordant player
a harsh cacophony would assault your ears,
and with one fundamental constant out of place
the universe would fail to be.
Did the foundation upon which all is built
level itself on the most steep of hills?
Can something so well designed come from nothing,
or can complexity and order arise from chaos?
Who has seen such a thing?
Tell me, if you possess understanding.

Behold the Milky Way, which I made as I made you;
it is home to billions of stars.
Like an octopus its arms spiral out
reaching into the expanse.
Who could journey to its center
or traverse it end to end?
Who would see the race completed,
a single lap of the sun around its galactic center?

Now consider, as a single grain of sand in the desert,
so is the Milky Way in the expanse.
Dividing the oceans, the expanse is itself like a vast sea.
A ship in these deep waters could find a port among the many “island universes”.
In this “sky” float many clouds,
but no rain will fall from these.
Like urns containing the dust of lost loved ones,
they hold the remains of dead and dying stars.
Can you bring them back to life,
or reignite their flame?
Yet as a phoenix from the ashes,
so do they give birth to new stellar bodies.

An artist’s illustration of the black hole named Cygnus X-1
Credits: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

Can you escape the pull of a black hole,
or pluck an object from its mouth?
Is it not voracious feeding on stars,
even light does not escape its appetite.
Could you patch the hole torn in the fabric of the expanse?
With what would you mend it?
Can you peer past the event horizon
or tell Me what happens beyond its veil?

Have you understood the expanse of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.

The vastness of the expanse should humble you,
as you are lower than the angels.
You have a glimpse of what they saw in full,
watching it as it came into being.
Should you discover a grand unifying theory
or piece together a theory of everything,
you would rejoice as the morning stars
on the day I spoke it into existence.

Keep searching the expanse
and discover its inner most workings.
I am not afraid of your knowledge
nor does your learning cause Me fear.
At the end all you will find is the Unmoved Mover
and the Uncaused Principle.

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