Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. (Job 38:4)
How sad it is that the book of Job is so maligned or ignored. I’ve heard it said that reading it is like punishment, or that it’s so depressing or futile – the general feeling being that it’s a book one avoids unless life is so bad that it’s lessons are the only ones that might apply. We tend to regard Job as being a tragic figure rather than a ‘hero,’ and dislike having to identify with him in any way – except, of course, the bit where he gets everything restored and multiplied. Yet in this book we catch a glimpse of some of the most moving and transforming principles, and we see it all in proper perspective. We see the great I AM of God, the creator and sustainer of our world.
In the last chapters of Job, God paints a self-portrait in bold and sweeping strokes, one which challenges us to consider our attitudes and expectations in the knowledge of who and what He really is. In one respect, they are utterly humbling. The truth of our real nature and ineffectiveness is stark against the reality of God. It is enough to bring us to our knees like Job, to repent in dust and ashes for our arrogance and presumption.
Yet it is also the source of the most amazing encouragement and sustaining power. As God reveals Himself by reminding us of the perfection of creation and the countless details involved in not only bringing things to being, but also sustaining them in their rightfuly role and cycle, we can only worship Him in awe and reverence.
But within the I AM lies a deeper truth that is the very source of faith. That same God is the one who is in control of our lives. That same power is at work within each of us and our circumstances, to shape, to change, and to transform us into what He has intended for us from the beginning of time – the image of Himself. There is immense joy in the knowledge of who God really is, because it reminds us that this God is ‘on our side’ and, with Him, all things are possible. The God we believe in is the God of creation. When we remind ourselves of this and of the sheer magnitude of universe and everything in it, the tiny details of our lives shrink to proper perspective.
But there is also encouragement in being reminded that no detail, however small, escapes God’s attention. Our details may seem insignificant in the bigger scheme of things, but we worship a God of details. He doesn’t simply make a tiny flower. He does it in such a way that it is able to achieve its purpose. It contains the full potential within itself, but He takes it one step further and provides the conditions, the sustenance and the cycles that enable the potential.
Our God deals with the details of the details. He is a God of perfection. There is no detail of our lives that He overlooks. He may take longer than we would like and deal with things differently to what we hope or expect, but we can be assured that our details will always find perfect resolution or provision. We need only remain in the place of humility and surrender, for the joy of the Lord is our strength. When we see Him as He really is, joy is the natural, sustaining response.
All of this is wonderful truth that puts the book of Job in a new light, but today’s verse highlights another source of absolute awe at the workings of God. The challenge is obvious. God is reminding Job – and us – right off of our proper place. He’s taking our eyes off ‘me’ and putting them firmly on Him. It’s an entirely humbling ‘wake up call,’ one we would do well to remember at all times. Yet it’s a provoking question which just recently stirred up a rich and meaningful time of spiritual meditation on His Word and His presence, and on the beauty that is eternity.
Where was I when He laid the foundations of the world? I realised a truth that will never leave me. We are all part of this sweeping, magnificent, vast thing called creation. The universe was forged in eternity and exists within eternity. God has initiated a temporal and spacial limitation – the physical, material world – but that does not alter the reality that our world exists first and foremost in eternity. Time and space is the bubble that enables us to live physically in the world.
We need to understand that God Himself neither exists nor functions in spacial or temporal terms. Those are human units of measurement and restrictions of our physical being. They only govern the material existence. It’s worth doing a study on ‘eternal life’ with a comparison of the original texts and our Engish translations. The phrase is essentially ‘me’ focused and limiting against the real concept of eternity.
The real truth is that God exists in eternity and can, in fact, be viewed as being eternity – everything exists within the knowledge of God, whether they be physical or spiritual. The physical creation existed first as the knowledge of God. He materialised what He saw by speaking it into being. Eternity is so much more than forever or everlasting or without end. It defines the vast, immeasurable, limitless and beyond comprehension I AM. What we see as the beginning or the end, God sees as I AM. In Him they exist simultaneously. Past, present and future exist in the I AM. Eternity and I AM cannot be separated. They are intrinsically the same thing.
So where were we when He laid the foundations of the world? The answer is simple: In Him. We existed even then within the knowledge of God, within the eternity that is I AM. This truth provides no cause for self-importance. If anything, it is more humbling than anything else. Our existence is that of created, nothing more. We have no claim to any importance or special place. The import of the challenge is not lost but reinforced. While we were there at creation, it is God alone who is the sovereign, awesome, powerful creator of all according to His will.
Yet it does raise a significant truth that can only encourage us. Even at the foundation of the world, when we existed only within the knowledge of God, that knowledge of us was perfect. Nothing that happens in our lives is by chance. He knows every single details of our personalities, our struggles, our joys, our potential, and our lives in their entirety. Such is the nature and power of the I AM. We are all part of His plan, however small our details may be. We are an intrinsic part of His creation, each of us with a specific plan and purpose. Though we may be only a tiny piece, He has spoken each of us into being to fit in a very specific place and fulfill a very specific role. Even a single tiny piece renders a puzzle incomplete.
Let us draw strength and encouragement from the knowledge that we are each a piece of God’s perfect plan. But let us do so in humility and surrender. The purpose of creation is always to fulfill the will of the creator and to glorify Him. Psalm 8:3-4 says it beautifully: When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?
The relationship we have with God through the death and resurrection of His Son is a gift of grace. That God has raised man up to govern His creation is His choice, not our right. Our ‘importance’ in life does not lie in our abilities but in the truth that we exist in Him. In Jesus, God has given us the taste of eternity. Not the ‘without end’ limited eternity we understand but the very existence of God Himself. He has restored us to that original place, existing within Himself with a spiritual unity that enables us to rise above the fleshly restraints. Grace truly is being given what we could never deserve.
Creator God, we can only worship in awe when we consider Your creation, the physical manifestation of the I AM which encompasses everything we could ever imagine and more. Help us to always see ourselves in You rather than from our own perspective. Bring us to the place of surrender, for it is Your Will, Your plan and Your purpose that governs our lives and our place in eternity.