Science and Scripture
Vol: 63 Issue: 29 Friday, December 29, 2006
“Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?” (Job 41:1)
The Book of Job is generally the first place Christians turn when they want to see how best to stand up to the trials and tribulations of life. I once knew a pastor who counselled his congregation about patience. He told them, “Before you pray for patience, read the Book of Job and find out how you get it, first.”
Good advice. Patience is learning to trust God to see you safely through the rapids of life. Being sinful, fallen creatures, it takes a couple of trips through the rapids to convince us, first. (In that sense, praying for patience is like praying for a slicker and a paddle.)
But the Book of Job is much more than a narrative about patience and reward. The Book of Job is rich with evidences of God’s Truth. In Job, God reveals much about science, nature, physics, astronomy and geography. Details that no single person living in the ancient times of Job could possibly know. Especially not someone living in the Middle Eastern desert.
For centuries, man believed that the earth was flat. Christopher Columbus was criticized for setting sail to the other side of the earth, they expected Columbus to sail off the edge of the earth.
But Job noted that “He walks above the circle of heaven”. (Job 22:14) The original Hebrew, using Roman characters, is, “Choq- chag `al- pney- mayim `ad-takliyt ‘owr `im- choshek.”
The word translated as circle comes from the Hebrew word “chuwg” which transliterates into English as ‘circuit’ or ‘sphere’ in addition to ‘circle’.
Early man thought Atlas, a huge turtle or elephants held up the earth. In the North sky within the millions of stars is a vast expanse of blackness.
Job 26:7 says the earth is suspended on nothing. The Bible was before the telescope so only God could describe it. Today we know it is gravity that holds the planets and stars in their orbits making them appears to be hung on nothing.
Job 28:25 says air has weight. Science confirms air is about 50 miles thick, exactly the right composition to support life. It’s perfect for our lungs. The air filters deadly rays. If the earth was 10% larger or smaller all would die. We are in a fragile balance before the sun between frying and freezing.
Job 26:10 says; “He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.” (KJV) The RSV translates it; “He has described a circle upon the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.”
In any case, it is clear Job knew the earth was round millennia before Columbus. Who told him?
Job 36:27:28 explains the hydrological cycle, the condensation and hydrology maintain life, provide evaporation, transportation, precipitation and run-off .
He describes the repeated cycle of precipitation, its evaporation, and condensation in the clouds.
In addition, Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:6; The wind blows to the south and goes round to the north; round and round goes the wind, and on its circuits with wind returns.
It took modern science to document the direction of wind currents and wind paths. Who told Job and Solomon?
About 4,000 years ago, Job says; “Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;” adding, “It is TURNED as clay to the seal.” (v14)
Job paints a word picture here using a clay pot on a potter’s wheel as an analogy.
Job 38:16 tells us there are springs in the sea (this was not known until 1913 when they found underground rivers). So who told Job?
Job 38:22 mentions the treasures of the snow. Each flake is of perfect dimensions and all are different. The snow is beneficial for nitrogen for fertilizer. How often do you think it snowed in southern Iraq where Job most likely lived?
Water is heavier than air, and is transported in clouds. Dost thou know the balancing of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge? (Job 37:16)
Job lived in the Middle East some four thousand years ago. The Book of Job, chronologically speaking, is the oldest Book of the Bible.
“Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.” (Job 38:29-30)
Who told Job about ice and snow? How did a guy living 4000 years ago in the Middle East know about the permanent polar ice caps, ‘hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen’? An Eskimo with wanderlust? What would a desert-bound nomad know about ‘the deep’ in the first place?
Job 38:31 explains the solar system. The Hebrew speaks of a pivot or hinge. In the South-Southwest is the Pleiades, 7 stars making up the center of the solar system.
Amos 5:8 says the Pleiades consists of 7 stars. The seventh star was only discovered in the last century because with the naked eye one can see only 6.
Some time back, a series of 14 human footprints with at least 134 dinosaur tracks were discovered in the bed of the Paluxy River, near Glen Rose, Texas. Bible-haters have come up with thousands of explanations, but one explanation is no more reasonable than another.
According to Job, there lived in his day, a beast he termed ‘behemoth’. It is described in Job 40:15-24 as “eating grass like an ox” that “moves his tail like a cedar” — the Hebrew literally says; he lets hang his tail like a cedar. “Its bones are like beams of bronze . . . His ribs like bars of iron. . . He is the first of the ways of God. . . He lies under the lotus trees,In a covert of reeds and marsh. . .
Some translations translate ‘behemoth’ as ‘elephant’ or ‘hippopotamus’. A key phrase is, He is the first of the ways of God. This phrase in the original Hebrew implied that behemoth was the biggest animal created.
Then there is leviathan. The Bible describes ‘leviathan’ in Job 41 this way:
“Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?” (41:1) “Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants? Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?) (v6-7)
“None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before Me?” (v10)
Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about” (v14).
Sound like an elephant? Or a hippopotamus? Job describes the physical appearance of leviathan:
“His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.” (v15-16)
“Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.” (v19-21)
“When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves.” (v25)
THIS is a pretty convincing description. The ‘mighty’ ‘purify’ themselves by reasons of ‘breakings’ at the sight of leviathan. (We have a phrase for that in English, too)
Every culture is filled with stories of fire-breathing dragons. The first dinosaur bones were discovered in 1822 by Mary Ann Mantell. (The word ‘dinosaur’ was coined in 1841)
If the ancients had never seen a dinosaur, where did the fire-breathing dragons of old come from? And if Job had never seen one, who told him about them 4000 years before the first bones were discovered? (Even if dinosaur bones were common in Job’s day, paleontologists were not.)
The Book of Job teaches a lot more than merely how to be patient and trust in the Lord. It teaches that an itinerant nomad in the middle of the Arabian desert knew more about science four thousand years ago than science knew at the dawn of the 20th century.
Although Job told us that light was in motion, (Job 38:19) it took Einstein before anybody believed it.
As noted, Job is the oldest Book in the Bible, penned before Moses wrote Genesis and set historically almost a thousand years earlier than the Exodus from Egypt.
Job didn’t have access to large collections of books about natural science, geography, climatology or physics.
Neither did he have access to the writings of the prophets or the promises of the New Testament. Job had never been taught of the Rapture, the Resurrection or of a coming Redeemer in the last days. But he knew.
Job confidently wrote, “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the LATTER DAY UPON THE EARTH: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet IN MY FLESH shall I see God: Whom I shall see FOR MYSELF, and mine eyes shall behold, and NOT ANOTHER; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:25-27)
Who told Job all these things? The same One Who told you.
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)