Job 11:7-9

I'm sure you're familiar with the quote,

"The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know."

I'm not sure who first coined that expression. It's be attributed to Albert Einstein, Aristotle, Socrates and others. It's such an obvious axiom that it's probable that it existed before even Socrates.

There is so much to learn that the more we learn, the more we realize the vastness of what we don't know. In our text Zophar utters a magnificent statement that relates it to God. He said to Job,

"Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe
the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens—
what can you do?
They are deeper than
the depths of the grave—
what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea."

The great truth Zophar states is

the incomprehensibility of God.

God is transcendent, far above us. He is so high and exalted, so great and majestic, so wonderful that we can neither understand His mysteries nor can we search out His limits. When Zophar speaks about the 'limits' of God, he is not suggesting that God is not infinite. The word 'limits' should be understood as, (HALOT, 4:1732)

"the ultimate of the Almighty"

John E. Hartley says it, (Job, NICOT; p. 197)

"refers to the furthest boundary, the extent or limit of a matter, and includes the concept of completion or perfection."

Keil and Delitzsch's commentary says, (paragraph 9640)

"The nature of God may be sought after, but cannot be found out; and the end of God is unattainable, for He is both: the Perfect One, absolutus; and the Endless One, infinitus."

God is inscrutable.

Tremper Longman III says that Zophar here, (, Job, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms; p. 187)

"launches into an exaltation of the profundity and sublimity of God."

He is so far about us, so much greater than us that He is far beyond the ability of humans to fully understand Him. Longman continues, (Job, p. 187-188)

"God is beyond the ability of humans to fully comprehend him… Zophar describes God as someone who is too high, too deep, too long, and too wide to grasp. Indeed, God is higher than the highest place imaginable (heaven), deeper than the deepest place (Sheol), longer than the longest place (the earth), and wider than the widest place (the sea). Interestingly, Sheol, which often simply refers to the grave, is here used to denote the deepest imaginable place, thus suggesting that it is used in the sense of the underworld."

Herman Bavinck adds, (God and Creation, Reformed Dogmatics 2; p. 34.)

"Neither the hidden ground, the depths… of God, nor the boundaries, the extreme limit, the very essence… of the Almighty, is attainable… God is… the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity."

Our text reminds me of what God said in Isaiah 55:8–9,

" 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,'
declares the Lord.'
'As the heavens are higher
than the earth, so are my ways
higher than your ways and
my thoughts than your thoughts.' "

Isaiah 57:15 also says,

"For this is what the high
and lofty One says—
he who lives forever,
whose name is holy:
'I live in a high and holy place…' "

God is infinite. We are finite.

We cannot even fully grasp even one of the attributes of God, let alone God in his fullness. For instance, the quote above from Tremper Longman talking about how God is,

"too high, too deep, too long, and too wide to grasp"

reminds me of Ephesians 3:17–19 where the apostle Paul told the Ephesian Christians how he prayed for them that they would be able to grasp the greatness of God's love. He wrote,

"And I pray that you,
being rooted and established in love,
may have power,
together with all the saints,
to grasp how wide and long and
high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love
that surpasses knowledge—"

That's an incredible statement. Paul prays for them to be able to grasp something that surpasses knowledge. Paul prays that these Christians will understand how great God's love is—how wide, long, high and deep it is—yet he realizes that they'll never be able to understand the full limits of its greatness because it surpasses knowledge.

Have you ever thought of how wide God's love is? When my children were small I would stretch out my arms and far as I could and tell them,

"I love you this much!"

Sometimes to tease them I'd put my finger an inch above my thumb and tell them,

"I love you this much."

The Milky Way galaxy is approximately 100,000 light years wide. Is that more than Jesus' love for us? I read one estimate that the whole universe is 156 billion light years in diameter. Is that wider than God's love for us? No. If we can't grasp the width, depth, height of God's love—what hope do we have of understanding God Himself? If one of God's attributes is like that— it shows how far we from being to understand God in His being, His essence. We cannot.

Or think about how little we understand of God's creation.

In Job 26 Job speaks about how God knows all about death and destruction, how death is naked before God, how destruction lies uncovered. He speaks about how God spread out the northern skies over empty space, how he suspends the earth over nothing. He speaks about how God wraps up water in the clouds, yet they do not burst under the weight. He speaks about the moon, the horizon on the face of the waters, the boundary between like and darkness. He speaks of God's power in making the heavens quake and how he controls things here on earth. Job then says, (verse 14)

"And these are but
the outer fringe of his works;
how faint the whisper we hear of him!
Who then can understand
the thunder of his power?"

We can barely understand the things that are the 'outer fringe' of God's works.

Human beings struggle to understand how the universe works. I love how playwright George Bernard Shaw toasted Albert Einstein at a dinner party in London (October 28, 1930?) honoring Einstein for his accomplishments. He contrasted Einstein and others to empire builders like Napoleon. He referred to people like Einstein as universe makers. He said,

"Ptolemy made a universe, which lasted 1400 years. Newton also made a universe, which lasted 300 years. Einstein has made a universe, and I can't tell you how long that will last."

The idea is that old theories are proved wrong and are replaced by new ones. Will we ever figure everything about the universe out? The universe surprises even the best scientific minds. Quantum physics is puzzling, counter intuitive. Before they started making discoveries about it, I don't think anyone in their right mind would have predicted it. Niels Bohr said of quantum mechanics,

"Those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it."

Albert Einstein, who gave us the theories of special relativity and general relativity was not a fan of quantum physics. One of his most famous quotes is,

"God does not play dice with the universe."

The reason for the quote is to express how bizarre and strange quantum mechanics is as a theory. Einstein worked with the theory of the big where things were deterministic and measureable, predictable. Quantum mechanics says that in the world of tiny particles everything is governed by total randomness.

One of the problems is that the theory of the big (general relativity) and the theory of the small (quantum physics), (Wikipedia)

"as currently formulated, are mutually incompatible – they cannot both be right."

So physicists are looking for a theory that will encompass both—a theory of everything.

Will they find it and come to a point where we know exactly how the universe works? Are we getting closer to knowing it all, all the mysteries of physics? We're getting closer, there's no doubt about that. But will we ever know it all? Or will each new discovery lead to an even bigger mystery that needs to be solved.

My point is this: if what God has created has such great and mysterious puzzles for us, things that scientists have been searching for and having one puzzle replaced by an even deeper one—how much deeper are the mysteries in God Himself?

"Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe
the limits of the Almighty?"

No. Impossible. What Zophar says in our text is similar to what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 11:33–36,

"Oh, the depth of the riches
of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?'
For from him and through him
and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen."

There are some important lessons for us here.

First of all, if God is so far above us, if He is so great and glorious that we can only barely begin to know about Him and His wonders,

we should be exceedingly humble.

How far below God we are. How little we understand of our majestic and glorious God. If this truth doesn't put us in our place nothing will.

Zophar misuses this great truth. He uses God's incomprehensibility to put Job down. What Zophar says in verses 7-9 is true but he applies it incorrectly.

We know from the end of the book of Job that God was angry with all of Job's friends. God said to Eliphaz, (Job 42:7)

"I am angry with you and your two friends,
because you have not spoken
of me what is right,
as my servant Job has."

Calvin said of the book of Job that Job had a good case and argued it badly. His three friends had a bad case and argued it well. Indeed, what Zophar says here in verses 7-9 is magnificent and true. If we take these words of Zophar and divorce them from the context, they are indeed worthy.

But Zophar misapplies the truth. He exalts God but he's not humble himself. Incredibly, in spite of what he says in verses 7-9, he somehow thinks that He has God's mysteries figured out. Christopher Ash says that in verses 2 and 3 Zophar says, in four ways,

"You ought to shut up and listen to me!"

Zophar believes that Job's statements of innocence are outrageous. In verse 5 Zophar says he wishes that God would speak against Job. Zophar wanted God to join him in accusing Job, to show Job that he is not wise. What arrogance. He somehow thought he had God all figured out.

This shows us that it's not enough to know a truth, we must apply it correctly. To use God's incomprehensibility to lord it over others is unbelievable.


if you're not a Christian you need Jesus.

The world today mocks Jesus. It mocks His teaching, His Word and His followers. All three are likened to the height of foolishness.

The reality is quite the opposite. 1 Corinthians 1:24 calls Him,

"the wisdom of God."

Colossians 2:3 says of Christ,

"in whom are hidden all the treasures
of wisdom and knowledge."

Jesus came to show you true knowledge, true wisdom. You're dead in trespasses and sin. You need Jesus. Only He can save you and lift you up to God.

Thirdly, for Christians,

how thankful you ought to be for God revealing Himself to you in Christ.

God has revealed Himself to you in His Word, in His law, in His Son. Jesus was called Immanuel because He was 'God with us'. In John 1:18 we read,

"No one has ever seen God,
but God the One and Only,
who is at the Father's side,
has made him known."

In 2 Corinthians 4:6 the apostle Paul wrote,

"For God, who said,
'Let light shine out of darkness,'
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God
in the face of Christ."

What grace God has given us in Jesus. Jesus is so wonderful. In Luke 10:22 He said,

"All things have been
committed to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is
except the Father,
and no one knows who the Father is
except the Son and those to whom
the Son chooses to reveal him."

God reveals the Father to us. As we read in 1 Peter 3:18,

"For Christ died for sins once for all,
the righteous for the unrighteous,
to bring you to God."

1 John 1:3 says,

"We proclaim to you
what we have seen and heard,
so that you also may have
fellowship with us.
And our fellowship is with
the Father and with his Son,
Jesus Christ."

God is far about us. Yet in Christ God has raised us up to God, to have fellowship with Him, to be blessed by Him, to live with Him. Revelation 21:3 says,

"And I heard a loud voice
from the throne saying,
'Now the dwelling of God is with men,
and he will live with them.
They will be his people,
and God himself will be with them
and be their God.' "

Fourthly, for Christians, God being high and lifted up, being far about us, means that

we ought to trust God and have confidence in His rule.

Can you believe what's happening in our society? Can you believe the present political situation? Can you believe how free speech is being threatened? Can you believe that those who are most loudly advocating tolerance are the most intolerant of all? Are you not amazed at how Christian virtues are being put forth as being exceedingly wicked? Have you read some of the commentary and criticism of the fact that Vice President Mike Pence won't have dinner alone with a woman who is not his wife? Putting politics aside, if you're a Christian, you should be astounded at how Pence is being portrayed as evil because of that one fact. Good is being called evil.

How are we to react to this?

We should know that our God rules.

We should not lose confidence. We should not lose hope. We should not lose boldness is presenting the gospel. Psalm 46:1–3

"God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into
the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake
with their surging."