December 10, 2013

"The storehouses of the snow"

The book of Job is, on many different levels, a fascinating read. It gives us keen insights into the sovereignty of God, the suffering of mankind, and the work (and limitations) of the devil … as well as providing some very helpful do’s and don’ts of true Christian friendship. Furthermore, the final chapters are an incredible series of reminders as to just how small we human beings are; just how little we know in comparison to our omniscient, omnipotent, omni-competent God. God asks Job such questions as:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”
“Have you ever in your life commanded the morning?”
“Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth?”
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow?”
The purpose of such questions, of course, is to humble Job; to remind him that he is not God, and that his questioning of the Almighty has been out of place, and has been done in far more ignorance than Job has, thus far, been willing to credit to his own account. Job is not God! And if we read the final five chapters of the book, we will be reminded that neither are we!

God sees – and controls – things that happen on the tops of craggy cliffs, and at the bottom of ocean deeps, that human eyes rarely see. He keeps all the stars fixed in their constellations, and the planets in their orbits. And yes, He is the one who sends the snow … how, we don’t really understand. We haven’t entered into its storehouses!

Well, Job certainly hadn’t, anyway. But we might read the book of Job, all these centuries later, and think: ‘Well, today, there are people who actually do “know the time the mountain goats give birth.” And there are meteorologists who, by means of their equipment and scientific acumen, actually have, in a manner of speaking, “entered the storehouses of the snow.” So maybe we have caught up with God. Maybe mankind is not so small as the book of Job makes him out to be.’

Well, there certainly are people today who understand God’s world to a much greater extent than Job could have done. Such are the advances that science, plus technology, plus time have afforded us. And we’re thankful for these things, in many ways. But, because meteorologists can now explain the origin of all the winter white we have seen in the last few days, does that mean we are catching up with God? That maybe the final chapters of Job ought no longer make us feel as small as they might once have done? I think not.

So a select few individuals, with lots of study and expensive technology, can explain and even predict the coming of the snow. That’s impressive, I’ll admit … and really quite fascinating (and, indeed, very helpful when your family is travelling on a winter storm weekend!). But, for all our understanding of the snow, humankind can still do absolutely nothing to control it, or curtail it, or confine it. We’re still not God, even if we understand His working a lot better than we once did!

Furthermore, the meteorological insights that have been gained into “the storehouses of the snow” reveal that the process of snow making is even a lot more complicated than God lets on in Job 38.22. “The storehouses of the snow” are not just simple barns, set up in the heavens, with remote control doors ready to open at God’s command. No! They are actually gigantic meteorological engines, engaged in a process that (best I can tell) seems to involve such various cogwheels as the jet stream, and air pressure, and surface temperature, and temperature aloft, and moisture, and perhaps a handful of other factors that normal people like me don’t really understand! So, by figuring out where the snow comes from; by entering into its storehouses, mankind hasn’t actually demystified the power of God, but simply realized that His working is actually far more intricate and complex than we might have before recognized!

That is the wonder of all true science, in fact. Scientific enquiry and discovery do not render God obsolete, because now we supposedly have the real explanation for things that the men and women of Job’s day did not understand (and thus blindly ascribed to the idea of ‘God’). No! The more we discover about how the world works, the more we realize just how big God must be … because the processes He uses to create the snow, or to bring the baby mountain goats to birth, are far more complex than we might have otherwise dreamed! And complexity – even complexity that human beings have finally (in measure) figured out – speaks to an even greater God than we might have otherwise dreamed. So praise God for science! And praise God for the snow of recent days! Both of them, if we see aright, tell us that God is great … and that we, even with all our discovery, are still small.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

and. . . Merry Christmas!!