JEHOVAH’S grandeur is evident in the animal kingdom. God takes good care of the animals, even as he makes provision for mankind. (Psalm 145:16) What a mistake it would be to find fault with their Creator and ours! Although the man Job was upright, he did declare “his own soul righteous rather than God.” So Job had lessons to learn!—Job 32:2; 33:8-12; 34:5.
Examples drawn from animal creation showed Job that humans are in no position to question God’s ways. How clear that becomes when we consider Jehovah’s words to his servant Job!
They Need No Human Help
Job could not answer God’s questions about animal life. (Job 38:39-41) Clearly, it is without human help that Jehovah provides for the lion and the raven. Although ravens fly about in search of food, they really get their food from God.—Luke 12:24.
Job was stumped when God asked him about wild animals. (Job 39:1-8) No human can protect the mountain goats and the hinds, or female deer. Why, it is hard even to get near mountain goats! (Psalm 104:18) It is by God-given instinct that a hind secludes herself in the forest when about to give birth. She gives her young proper care, but when they “become robust,” they “go forth and do not return.” Then they are on their own.
The zebra runs free, and the desert plain is home to the wild ass. Job could not use the wild ass to bear burdens. It seeks “every sort of green plant,” exploring the hills for pasturage. This animal will not exchange its freedom for more easily obtained food in towns. “The noises of a stalker it does not hear,” for the wild ass darts away if a man invades its domain.
God next mentioned the wild bull. (Job 39:9-12) Concerning it, English archaeologist Austen Layard wrote: “The wild bull, from its frequent representation in the bas-reliefs, appears to have been considered scarcely less formidable and noble game than the lion. The king is frequently seen contending with it, and warriors pursue it both on horseback and on foot.” (Nineveh and Its Remains, 1849, Volume 2, page 326) Yet, no wise man tries to harness the uncontrollable wild bull.—Psalm 22:21.
Winged Creatures Magnify Jehovah
God next asked Job about winged creatures. (Job 39:13-18) The stork flies high on its powerful wings. (Jeremiah 8:7) Even though the ostrich flaps its wings, it cannot fly. Unlike the stork, the ostrich does not place her eggs in a nest built in a tree. (Psalm 104:17) She scoops out a hollow in the sand and lays her eggs there. But this bird does not abandon the eggs. Covered with sand, the eggs are kept at a suitable temperature while both male and female tend them.
The ostrich walks away from her eggs, but she does not abandon them
It may seem that the ostrich ‘forgets wisdom’ when she detects danger from a predator and appears to run away. However, An Encyclopedia of Bible Animals says: “This is a distraction technique: [ostriches] will make themselves conspicuous and flap their wings to attract the attention of any animal or person who threatens, and thus lead them away from the eggs.”
How is it that the ostrich “laughs at the horse and at its rider”? Says The World Book Encyclopedia: “The ostrich cannot fly, but it is known for its speed on the ground. Its long legs can take 15-foot (4.6-meter) steps at speeds up to 40 miles (64 kilometers) per hour.”
God Gives the Horse Mightiness
God next asked Job about the horse. (Job 39:19-25) In ancient times, warriors fought on horseback, and horses pulled chariots carrying a driver and perhaps two soldiers. Impatient for battle, a warhorse neighs and beats the ground with its hooves. It is not terrified and does not turn back on account of a sword. At the sound of the horn, the warhorse reacts as though saying, “Aha!” It surges ahead, ‘swallowing up the ground.’ Yet, the warhorse obeys its rider.
In a comparable description, archaeologist Layard wrote: “Although docile as a lamb, and requiring no other guide than the halter, when the Arab mare hears the war-cry of the tribe, and sees the quivering spear of her rider, her eyes glitter with fire, her blood-red nostrils open wide, her neck is nobly arched, and her tail and mane are raised and spread out to the wind.”—Discoveries Among the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, 1853, page 330.
Consider the Falcon and the Eagle
Jehovah turned his attention to certain other birds. (Job 39:26-30) Falcons ‘soar up and spread their wings to the wind.’ Citing the peregrine falcon as the fastest-flying bird, The Guinness Book of Records says that it “reaches record speed levels when swooping from great heights during territorial displays, or when catching prey in midair.” This bird has reached a speed of 217 miles per hour [349 km/hr] at a 45-degree angle of descent!
Eagles have flown at speeds of over 80 miles per hour [130 km/hr]. Job compared the swift passing of life to the speed of an eagle searching for prey. (Job 9:25, 26) God gives us strength to go on, as if we were on the seemingly tireless wings of the soaring eagle. (Isaiah 40:31) In flight, the eagle takes advantage of columns of rising warm air called thermals. The bird circles within a thermal, which carries it higher and higher. When the eagle attains a certain height, it glides to the next thermal and can stay aloft for hours with a minimal expenditure of energy.
An eagle “builds its nest high up” on inaccessible heights, placing its young out of danger. Jehovah has made the eagle do this instinctively. And with God-given vision, “far into the distance [the eagle’s] eyes keep looking.” The ability rapidly to change the focus of its eyes enables an eagle to keep its prey or a carcass in sight during a long dive. An eagle may eat the carcasses of dead animals, so that “where the slain are, there it is.” This bird catches small animals and carries them to its young.
Jehovah Disciplines Job
Before posing further questions about animals, God disciplined Job. How did Job react? He humbled himself and willingly received further counsel.—Job 40:1-14.
At this point in the inspired record of Job’s experiences, we learn a very important lesson. It is this: No human is justified in finding fault with the Almighty. We should speak and act in ways that please our heavenly Father. Moreover, our chief concern should be the sanctification of Jehovah’s holy name and the vindication of his sovereignty.
Behemoth Glorifies God
Behemoth is generally identified as the hippopotamus
Again turning his attention to animal creation, God asked Job about Behemoth, generally identified as the hippopotamus. (Job 40:15-24) A full-grown hippo may be from 12 to 15 feet [4 to 5 m] long and may weigh up to 8,000 pounds [3,600 kg]. Behemoth’s “power is in its hips”—the muscles in its back. The thick hide of its belly is a real advantage as short-legged Behemoth drags its body over stones in riverbeds. Surely a man is no match for Behemoth, with its massive body, huge mouth, and powerful jaws.
Behemoth climbs out of the river to feast on “green grass.” Why, the greenery of an entire mountain seems necessary to sustain it! Some 200 to 400 pounds [90-180 kg] of vegetation go into its stomach every day. Its appetite satisfied, Behemoth lies under lotus trees or in the shade of poplars. If the river it lives in overflows, the hippo can keep its head above water and swim against a deluge. Confronted with Behemoth’s mammoth mouth and formidable tusks, Job would not have the audacity to pierce its nose with a hook.
Leviathan Brings God Praise
Leviathan is thought to be the powerful crocodile
Job next heard about Leviathan. (Job 41:1-34) The Hebrew word denotes “a wreathed animal”—apparently the crocodile. Could Job make Leviathan a plaything for children? Definitely not! Encounters with this creature have repeatedly proved that it is dangerous. Indeed, if a man were to lay a hand on Leviathan, the struggle would likely be so great that he would never do that again!
As Leviathan lifts its head above water at sunrise, its eyes flash “like the beams of dawn.” Leviathan’s scales are tightly closed, and embedded in its hide are bony plates hard to pierce with bullets, much less with swords and spears. Sharp scales on a crocodile’s belly leave the impression of “a threshing instrument” on mud banks. Its fury in water stirs up a froth like foaming ointment. And because of its size, armor, and weapons—a threatening mouth and powerful tail—Leviathan knows no fear.
Job Makes a Retraction
Job acknowledged that he ‘talked but did not understand things too wonderful for him.’ (Job 42:1-3) He accepted God’s correction, made a retraction, and repented. His companions were rebuked, but he was greatly blessed.—Job 42:4-17.
How wise it is to bear Job’s experience in mind! We cannot possibly answer all the questions God asked him. However, we can and should show appreciation for the many and varied creative marvels that magnify Jehovah.