Where were we now, Job? I recall. We were speaking about your bold decision to address God in the second person in 7:11. That truly was a remarkable decision. None of your friends ever addresses God directly in the entire book, but you do so again and again. They have all the knowledge about God, but they never even speak one word to God. I will ask you more about that later. But for now, I am fascinated by your address to God. You know, there is a rhetorical device we have in English called 'apostrophe' and I wonder if knowing about it might help me understand the power of your direct talk to God.
'Apostrophe' is, literally, a "turning aside" to address someone not present for particularly dramatic effect. Sometimes a preacher or speaker does it, calling on a departed person, or even God, to hear and act. It is a powerful device because it assumes that there is another level of meaning and action going on in the encounter than first meets the eyes and ears. So, when you ask God in 7:12 if you are the Sea or the Dragon, you are skillfully using 'apostrophe.' You bring in another dimension of reality to the consideration of your problem.
But it is what you actually say when you address God that boggles my mind. You address God with such open, forthright, bitter sarcasm that I am stunned. And, this is so characteristic of you, Job. You are a person who is "out there" as we say today. You don't hold back, you don't protect your "privacy," you don't speak mincingly. You let the fully scope of your heart flow. And that is what I don't really understand. You see, Job, I live in America in 2005 and the key to getting ahead is not to reveal your inner thoughts along the way. For example, we have people on the Supreme Court or people high up in the Bush Administration who got their jobs precisely because they didn't say anything to the Senate when they were confirmed. They were evasive or they claimed ignorance in response to questions. People who leave no paper trail and answer evasively cannot be skewered, I guess, but it gives the impression that what it is to "make it" in our society is so different from what you considered to be your basic task. You spoke as you felt. Maybe that is what Jesus meant by gaining the whole world and losing one's soul. But I don't know enough to be able to carry that thought any farther.
Not only did God not kill you for your honesty, but you know, as I think of it, I wonder if God himself didn't change his words based on what you say. Let me see if I can explain myself by first talking about the friends and their reaction to you. It is pretty evident to me that their words are mostly spoken in response to you. You set the agenda with your withering scorn and stabbing sarcasm and immobilizing grief and seething anger. It is as if the friends see this and they feel the need to respond to it. You have set the tone, the agenda, and they only respond. Those who define the agenda are really the ones who control the action--not necessarily the ones who have the ultimate say-so. So, by your straighforward and forceful talk, you define the agenda of the conversation with your friends.
Well, I wonder if that isn't the way it is with God, too. That is, your first words directly to God are, "Am I the Sea, or the Dragon that you set a guard over me?" (7:12). Then, when God ultimately gets around to answering you, in ch. 38, the first thing he says out of the blocks is how he commanded the sea not to exceed its bounds. The majestic translation of that verse is: "Thus far shall you come and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped" (38:11). In other words, the first words YOU said to God relate to whether God is putting a limit on you like he did on the Sea; the first things that GOD says to you is that he has put a limit on the Sea. It is almost as if God's creativity is only a shadow of your creativity, Job, a derivative creativity as it were, that he is only responding to your intellectual lead. You are "da man" as we say, Job, and even God, probably unwittingly, responds to your lead.
So maybe that is the really dramatic nature of your speech, Job. God will follow your thoughts, and not vice versa. If the Psalmist can say in wonder "How weighty to me are your thougts, O God! How vast is the sum of them" (Ps. 139:17), how much more must we say of you, Job, 'how utterly vast is the sum of your thoughts!
If it is true that the world was created by the simple words "Let there be light," you Job are creating new thought worlds by saying "Am I the Sea?" And, speaking of "Let there be light" (Gen 1:3), among your first words in ch. 3 after you let loose with your honest feelings about loss is "Let that day be darkness" (3:4). Your words are creating the world, Job. To use a metaphor from eating, it is almost as if your words are cherry tomatoes, Job. They are those little round tomatoes that you put in your mouth, crunch down on, and then they explode with all kinds of wonderful flavor in your mouth. That is what your words are, Job. They explode with a such a combination of intellect and heart and honesty that they create new worlds.
I want to learn to speak like you, Job. I want to be able to formulate my words in such a sententious way that they arrest people. I want my words to define the contours of the conversation. But, and I have to admit it, Job, I also want my words to shape God's thinking, too. I learn this only because I have been listening to you. You really would turn the world upside down if we would only listen to you, Job.