Many people have read the Book of Job in the Bible, but very few of us have thought about the animals mentioned in the story. We read it as a story of delight and despair, of joy and suffering, of friendship and bitterness and of God and Devil. It is a very complicated book with complex issues which have deep meanings beyond our limited understanding.
A couple of Sundays ago, our pastor rounded up his messages on Job which he had been sharing over the past months. As he would be transferred to another church next year, he wanted to round it up. As it was to be his last sermon on Job, I was listening with ears wide open. Then the hippopotamus came to life. The description of what a hippo is like takes on a vivid picture in one’s imagination. God spoke to Job and God told him about the way a hippo lives to teach him some lessons.
It seems strange enough when God mentioned that he created the hippo just as he created Job. Yet, a gigantic hippo eats grass like a mellow cow. Both are herbivorous, yet show great differences in temperaments. The hippo is humongous in size, strength and power. Many fear him as he roams and plays, living a carefree, idle lifestyle. Due to his features, he lives with no fear, but when he is angry or threatened, he is brutal, fighting back with might. It is the same with the crocodile. He shows mighty strength and is ferocious. He is armored with thick skin, strong sharp teeth and is invincible.
God showed Job his power and wisdom in creation and his authority in handling them. God asked Job if he had control over man just as God could handle these savage beasts. Like these beasts, we might show off our strength, ability and power and refuse to humble ourselves to admit our weaknesses. How often are we masked behind false appearances while deep inside we can turn beastly in action when we are confronted by others. The gentle outward appearance changes immediately to vile. Or we are like the crocodile, quietly hidden in a puddle of water but will show hostility instantly, ready to kill. Who can tame our beastly temperaments?
When man battles against man, we are just as brutal and savage. We won’t admit to our poor judgments and we pride ourselves in our knowledge and superiority more than anything. As God can tame the vicious beasts, so can He humble the beast in us when we listen to him.
Once we are face to face with God, we can’t challenge him at all. When we interact with God, we will see that like Job, we have no wisdom to voice our ignorance or grievances against him. Before God, we are nothing. When God speaks to man and reveals to him the endless wonders of his creation, the new insights and perception humbles man and turns him back to God. Man cannot but repent and receive renewal in spirit. He would be willing to commit to God in humility and to be used as his vessel again.
Put our beastly nature in the hands of God to let him take charge of our being. Under the full control of the Holy Spirit, we can still live a life with power and might but having no beastly essence.
Let’s follow God’s instruction to stop, look and see and listen and watch. His majestic spectacular creation, from the smallest ant to the biggest hippo, all have a place in his glory to humble mankind into reverence of him.