Numbering My Duck (Job 38:4)

The hallway that led to the commodious dining room was a passage through world history. Chairman Mao Tse Tung. President Richard Nixon. President Fidel Castro. Emperor Hirohito. I was entering the oldest Peking duck restaurant in the capital city of China and excited to be added to the growing list of august guests who have dined and sampled their speciality. 

The server rolled out a cart covered with an immaculate white cloth and the performance began. The glistening bronzed duck was deftly carved and placed on a silver platter. Succulent and savory, it remains the finest example I have ever tasted. At the end of the meal, we received a card that stated in both Chinese and English. 

“Thank you for dining with us. You ate duck number 5,793,875 since the restaurant first opened.”

How impressive! I was a part of history and here was proof! But how would I ever verify such a number? In the early years of the restaurant, I am certain no one counted and numbered every duck that was served. Perhaps after a few years after the restaurant garnered fame and a following amongst the Chinese leaders did someone come up with the idea to number their ducks as a clever marketing ploy. How did they know with what number to begin? Undoubtedly, someone must have reviewed their purchase records, if they still existed, from the beginning of the restaurant, estimated the number of ducks that were served and arrived at a starting number. At best, it was an estimate because the original founders could not verify this. 

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.

Job 38:4 (NKJV)

God questioned Job after his long defense of his life before four of his friends. Job debated the reasons for his plight of losing his family, wealth, and health in a very short period of time. Was it because of unconfessed sin? Was Job living a duplicitous life and now being punished by God? The answer that God gave was even more profound than Job or his friends could begin to reason or imagine. Job was asking the wrong question. Job assumed that he could understand why everything was happening to him. Instead Job learned that his understanding of God was too small. As God directly questioned him, in spite of his earlier deliberations, he could not even begin to explain how God was able to create and rule His creation and cause all things to work together for good to those who placed their faith in Him.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1-2 (NKJV)

The Bible begins with God creating the heavens and the earth. The Bible also records that God completed His Creation in six days and on the seventh day, He rested. 

Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

Genesis 2:1-2 (NKJV)

These stirring words are as important for what it states as for what it does not. While God certainly could have created everything in six days, we are never told how long a time span existed before God acted. Further, once the history of mankind began with Adam and Eve, we are never told how long they lived in the Garden of Eden before they sinned. It may have been a few months or it may have been millions or billions of years. Only God knows. 

Scientists estimate the age of the universe to be nearly fourteen billion years. While this may be true, there is no way to absolutely verify this since no one was there at the beginning. No one, except God. He laid the foundations of the universe and the earth. 

It was amusing to be presented with a numbered duck but upon further reflection, there are more questions raised by what it states as to what it does not. Like Job, are we willing to accept that our finite minds may not be able to completely understand an omnipotent and almighty God?

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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