Is not God in the heights of heaven? And see how lofty are the highest stars! Yet you say, ‘What does God know? Does he judge through such darkness? Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.’ Will you keep to the old path that the wicked have trod? They were carried off before their time, their foundations washed away by a flood. They said to God, ‘Leave us alone! What can the Almighty do to us?’ Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things, so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked. The righteous see their ruin and rejoice; the innocent mock them, saying, ‘Surely our foes are destroyed, and fire devours their wealth.’ – Job 22:12-20
This verse is the logical bookend to a post I did a while back entitled “What can we know“….here we consider “what does God know”. This is very deep philosophical waters…let’s dive in and see what we can discover.
When I first read the statement “what does God know” my first reaction was “everything”. He is omniscient right? As I have prayed and reflected about this I am less sure of my initial response. This is of course a permutation, or transmogrification as Calvin would put it, of the age old debate about predestination versus free will. Does God know what we will choose before we choose it or can we be “free of God” if we choose?
This passage says that “thick clouds veil God’s sight” of the goings on here on earth. His position in the heavens makes it hard for him to see things here in the spiritual darkness of earth. If God is the God who sees us should He not be able to see through vaporous clouds?
I am reminded of the effect of fog on the headlights of a car. When one is driving on a foggy morning or evening in the dark it does not help to turn on your bright lights because all the light reflects off the fog and you can see even less than when you use the low beams. Perhaps there is so much spiritual haze between God and us that God shining His light sometimes makes it harder for us to see each other.
The only solution to seeing things more clearly on a very foggy morning is to: 1) wait for the fog to clear; or 2) get closer to the object you are trying to see. I think that that both of these approaches are valid in our journey toward knowing and seeking God.
Sometimes we simply need to wait out times when we feel “veiled” from God. That is what Job is doing at the moment. It is a long and painful process but in the end the fog will lift and he will speak to God face to face — just as one day we will be able to do the same.
The other approach is equally important and that is to “lean in” to God even closer when we feel “veiled” from His sight. Job is struggling to do this in the midst of the storm he is facing while his “friends” mock him. This can be hard when we feel like God is responsible for the trouble we are experiencing. I think if we can get closer and faithfully follow God during these times we will see that God is there and has been there the entire time.
Prayer: God when we are separated by a veil of fog and confusion help us to lean in closer to You.