Hast thou an arm like God?

Week Thirty Two: Job 1–3; 12–14; 19; 21–24; 38–40; 42

When I broke my arm in a bicycle accident, I realized how much I needed my arm. To make things worse, it was my right arm and I am right-handed. I had trouble dressing myself, feeding myself, and writing with a pen or typing on a computer.

Arms are useful in serving others and accomplishing what needs to be done. During Job’s day, arms were a necessity for performing any manual labor and the strength and power of one’s arm was also needed for battling enemies and protecting families. The Lord has used the symbol of His arm as bringing us the power of His salvation and has compared it to the arm of flesh, which is puny, powerless, and unable to save.

As we look forward to our reading of Isaiah and the Psalms, look for the word “arm” and see how it is used to symbolize salvation or destruction. Here are just a few examples:

The Psalmist wrote: “For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance….”[i]

Isaiah prophesied: “The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”[ii]

The story of Job also illustrates this comparison between the Lord’s arm and the arm of flesh. In Job chapter 40, the Lord asked Job questions to remind Job of His power. The Lord inquired:

  • “Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him?”[iii]
  • “Wilt thou also disannul my judgment?”[iv]
  • “Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?”[v]
  • And finally, “Hast thou an arm like God?”[vi]

Job answered the Lord in humility and with a willingness to listen to the Lord’s answers. Job replied: “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.”[vii]

This answer was similar to Nephi’s cry to the Lord when he prayed: “O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul greiveth because of min iniquities.”[viii] Nephi’s repentance and humility affected his heart. He cried: “…my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite!… O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies.”[ix] At the end of Nephi’s prayer, he put away his arm of flesh and trusted in the arm of the Lord, affirming: “O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.”[x]

As we acknowledge the Lord’s arm of salvation, we admit our lack of strength and listen to Him as the source of our salvation from the world. Repentance and humility are two important parts of hearing Him and receiving answers from Him. When we recognize our weaknesses in comparison to His strength (as in Job’s admission that “I am vile”) and trust in the Lord’s wisdom by hearkening to His voice (as in Job’s declaration that “I will lay mine hand upon my mouth”), we are showing the Lord that we will rely on His arm to save us rather than our own arm of flesh.

This combination of repentance and humility causes our hearts to become broken and contrite, allowing the Lord to mold and create a new heart with new understandings.

Elder Porter taught: “Those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit are willing to do anything and everything that God asks of them, without resistance or resentment. We cease doing things our way and learn to do them God’s way instead. In such a condition of submissiveness, the Atonement can take effect and true repentance can occur.”[xi]

After Job hearkened to the Lord and relied on the strength of the Lord’s arm, Job said to the Lord:

“I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee…I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

With Job’s newfound reliance on the Lord and his new heart, he prayed for his friends who had not been helpful during his times of trouble, demonstrating charity or Christlike love for others. The Lord healed Job physically and spiritually and gave Job twice as much as he had possessed before.

In his own gratitude, Job even broke with long-standing tradition by giving his daughters an inheritance with his sons: “And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.”[xii]

The happy ending of Job is more than a journey from poverty to worldly wealth; it is a journey of increasing understanding that through repentance and humility, blessings and knowledge come from the Lord’s arm of salvation, rather than from the arm of flesh. In the end, Job knew that all he had and was had come from the Lord, rather than from his own worldly strength.

May we find joy in the Lord this week as we acknowledge Him as the source of all blessings and strength in our lives.

[i] Psalm 44:3

[ii] Isaiah 52:10

[iii] Job 40:2

[iv] Job 40:8

[v] Job 40:8

[vi] Job 40:4

[vii] Job 40:4

[viii] 2 Nephi 4:17

[ix] 2 Nephi 4:32

[x] 2 Nephi 4:34

[xi] Bruce D. Porter, A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit, October 2007 GC.

[xii] Job 42:15

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