Tuesday of Pentecost 5 – Job 38:1-11 

1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
    I will question you, and you make it known to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
    or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
    and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who shut in the sea with doors
    when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
    and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed limits for it
    and set bars and doors,
11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
    and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

In the animated Disney film “The Lion King,” the young lion Simba and his friends, the meerkat Timon and the warthog Pumbaa, lie in the grass, gazing at the sky full of stars. The conversation turns to the nature of those stars. Timon imagines them to be fireflies stuck in the fabric of the sky. Pumbaa says he thinks the stars are giant balls of flaming gas, billions of miles away. Simba hesitantly says he thinks they are much more: they are the ancient kings watching us. His friends laugh at this idea.  

Toward the end of “The Voyage of the Dawntreader” by C. S. Lewis, the children encounter a character named Ramandu, who is a star at rest. Eustace says, “In our world a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.” Ramandu replies, “Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of.”

God asks Job today whether he was there when the stars sang together at the creation of the world. This section of the book recounts God revealing himself after Job’s claim that God has not dealt fairly with him. The point is to highlight the differences between Job and his Creator, the Lord of heaven and earth. Of course, the answer is “No, Job was not there.” God is there. Job’s response is to swallow his pride and repent of his hubristic charge against God.

These words do something to us which is similar to what they did to Job. Like Simba’s friends we imagine that we have the stars figured out, yet both Pumbaa and Timon were equally wrong. Eustace thought he understood too, but he did not. Humans imagine that we understand and by understanding we control this world. This is foolishness on our part. Is there really a difference between Pumbaa’s assessment of stars and Timon’s? Both are equally inadequate in the film. The ridiculous Pumbaa is close to what science tells us is the real makeup of a star. Eustace repeats it. Ramandu provides another way to see. Does this passage of Job put all our human knowledge of space and this universe into a rather small box? Once you acknowledge God is in this room, does it have to be that way?

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