Not a Dumb Bird

I’m two chapters into God’s Twenty Questions session with Job (actually, I have no idea how many questions God has peppered Job with over these 70+ verses — but it’s a lot). But I think there’s only a couple of implied answers to all these rhetorical questions. Every “Who?” question gets answered with, “God.” Every “Have you? Can you? Do you know?” question comes with a simple “Nope!”

As I hover over my reading in chapter 39 this morning, I think about God’s decision to highlight observations about creation rather than address Job’s lamentation over his situation.

The question Job wants answered is, “Why?” God, talk to me about the losses. Talk to me about my kids who are gone. Explain to me why my body has erupted in rebellion against me. Help me connect the dots between a life which, by Your own admission, was lived blamelessly, uprightly, under-girded by the fear of God, and purposed to shun evil — help me connect the dots between that kind of life and this current kind of reality. Where’s the justice in that?

God doesn’t address any of that. Instead He gives Job a crash course on creation.

And, what catches my attention this morning is what I believe to be the first time God actually does speak about Himself in this discourse. In Job 38:7 He refers to the “sons of God”, and in 38:41 He speaks of the raven’s young crying to God, but in my reading today is the first time God identifies Himself as the Maker of one His many creation-based illustrations. And I’m asking myself, “Self, why?” Why does God specifically call Himself out as the designer of a dumb bird?

“The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, but are they the pinions and plumage of love [or, of a stork]? For she leaves her eggs to the earth and lets them be warmed on the ground, forgetting that a foot may crush them and that the wild beast may trample them. She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers; though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear, because God has made her forget wisdom and given her no share in understanding. When she rouses herself to flee, she laughs at the horse and his rider.”

(Job 39:13-18 ESV)

An ostrich. Weird. A bird, yet can’t get off the ground. Her wings essentially useless for flight. Her eggs not nested in some safe place but buried in the dirt. No apparent maternal instinct with her young. But, when it’s time to giddy-up and go? She’s gone, leaving horse and rider in her dust. Like I said, weird.

But so far, this is the only time God overtly identifies His fingers in His workmanship. And it’s with a dumb bird. All to highlight that her absence of fear, her lack of wisdom, and her void of understanding is by His design. So, why highlight this?

I’m thinking it has something to do with wisdom (that’s the word that popped). After all, isn’t Job part of the Scripture’s wisdom literature? Isn’t it designed to impart some understanding?

So, I’m wondering if God isn’t also saying to Job, “Consider the ostrich because she’s so unlike you.” Though you can’t run like the wind, you can consider and care for others. I wired you that way, in My own image.

Though she has no fear, or wisdom, or understanding, you can know the fear of the Lord. You have been created with the capacity to grow in wisdom. To you has been given the ability to weigh the facts, discern the situations, and share in understanding.

To you has been given the blessing to know your Creator, even when you don’t know the answers to life circumstance.

God has made her a dumb bird. But you? You, He has designed to know deep truths.

God has deprived her of wisdom. But God has made you for wisdom.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

(Proverbs 9:10 ESV)

Job thought his greatest need in his situation was to know the “Why.” God says, I don’t think so. It’s to know the “Who” and to the gain the “What.”

‘Cause you’re not a dumb bird. You are a child of God.

By His grace. For His glory.

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1 Response to Not a Dumb Bird

  1. Morning Pete,

    Thanks for sharing breakfast! Your company and insights are always appreciated.

    You got me thinking this morning about ostriches (and birds in general). For about 10 years when I was growing up, my parents had a chicken farm (raising hatching eggs). I have never seen an animal in all of God’s wondrous creation with less wisdom than a chicken! They are bloodthirsty and cannibalistic. They swarm and kill their fellow flock at the sight and smell of blood. They crack, break and eat their own eggs if they have a chance. Come to think of it as I am writing this I’m thinking that they are sounding more like mankind all the time (greed, war, abortion, but I digress…). My son Geoff volunteered at a zoo just across the street from us for a number of years when he was growing up and he would often come home with stories to regale us. The zoo had an ostrich or two, and the workers were always scared to go into their pens, because the ostriches would attack them fiercely. So when they had to go into the pen to collect the eggs they would hop into an old VW Beetle with a hole cut in the floor. Then they would drive the Beetle into the pen and park overtop of the egg and pick it up through the hole.

    Not sure of the spiritual implications of all this, but your devotion brought back some fond memories I thought I would share.

    Best Blessings, Bob

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