Job 42

Job 42 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson

Now we are the concluding chapter.  This is Job’s time to repent and stand in wonder.  Job realizes that he was presumptuous and the way he questioned God and His justice was wrong.  As godly of a man as Job was, Job, like his friends, had put God in a theological box.  Job was somewhat aware of God’s majesty and glory but Job still had God nicely enclosed in Job’s mind.   Life was straightforward with no nuance and no variation.   Any problem could be easily explained by referring to the theological box.  Difficulties?  Job points to the box.

But after God questions Job in chapters 38-41, Job tosses out the box.  Job, recently humbled, worships by repenting . . . and by saying ‘no more’ to God.  Job, from chapter 38-41 has been listening.  Job is overwhelmed by God merely questioning him.  Job realizes that he talked about things he did not understand or know (v. 3) as he questioned God in the previous chapter.  This new knowledge of God is all Job needs to provide him, not the answers he demanded, but more importantly: grace.

I couldn’t help but think about how most people would respond to God’s questioning.  Many would not be in awe.  Sinful man has an answer for everything.  Not THE answer, but an answer.  Larry Crabb in his book Inside Out made the comment that the ungodly have constructed their lives (in a sense, successfully) around a godless worldview.  I can’t quote him but I remember how that struck me.  Sadly, they have a response, an answer for why they should be in awe, show gratitude, be thankful, live with themselves at the center – all without God.  They “having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:120) are oblivious to the true nature of why they exist and what their destiny is.

In verse 5, Job hints that his knowledge of God was lacking something when he said, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear.”  He received something more: “but now my eyes see You.” When someone repents like Job does in v. 6, God has to do a work in them to generate such humility.  Job is going through a dramatic change.

If you had any doubt about the ‘wisdom’ of Job’s friends, read verse 7.  God says His “anger burns against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right.”  God then directs them to take 7 bulls and 7 rams and offer up a burnt offering for the three of them.  Job is directed to pray for them and then (only then?)  will they be forgiven and Job’s fortunes will be restored (vs. 8,10).  This must have been hard for these three. “Not one of them even hinted that they, not Job, might be the objects of God’s wrath . . .   Now they discover (it is a delightful irony) that unless they can secure the patronage of Job (the very one they had treated as in such need of their spiritual resources), they might not escape the divine displeasure”  (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Job.  Francis I. Andersen   p. 293).

Then we have this great reversal.  God gives Job outward, physical blessings  that exceed his former blessings.  But that comes after his forgiveness of his friends.  That is how I understand this phrase in v. 10, “And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends.”  I don’t think they ever thought they would need Job’s help in getting back in right fellowship with God.

I can’t be sure of this, but after all that Job endured, I doubt he cared all that much for all the material things God restored (except for his children).  Not that Job didn’t care for those blessings,  but it doesn’t seem that what he really wanted was things.  Yes, he needed to make a living but what Job came to understand is who God is.   This is the most significant, refreshing, life-giving, and eternal joy that anyone can receive.  Earlier, Job wanted to have his day in court against God.  Now Job “sees” God in a life changing fashion (v. 5).   Job was quite content to be submissive, obedient, and enjoy God forever (WSC 1A).

There is nothing wrong with asking God questions or trying to make sense of your life.  Yet, Job seemed to go too far in his own defense.  We do not know if Job ever found out the reason for his suffering, since the author of the book is unknown.  If Job wrote it then he knew the reason.  But if someone else wrote the book, did Job ever find out why he suffered so much?  It seems like it would be hard for Job if he never found out.  Yet, on one hand, it seems as if the reason for Job’s suffering is not relevant.  After all this time and the many painful discussions, Job finally received what he needed: more of God.  And isn’t that what we really need: more of God?  Or a more accurate picture of God.

That begs the question: is what we need answers or God Himself?  If we have God, does our life hinge on answers to our questions.  And if we have answers, do those answers satisfy?  Of course, answers to some extent do satisfy us but not at our deepest level.  At times, intellectual `problems’ are a rather poor façade of moral resistance.  In the end, are we primarily intellectual beings or moral beings?  This is a question of one’s worldview.  For many, more education is what solves problems.  And what a wonderful, life-long gift education is.  But, nothing will ever satisfy us apart from knowing God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Ps 73:25; John 6:68; Eph. 1:3ff; Phil 3:8-11).

Dear Father, how very little we know about You and Your ways.  You are so far above us and we are so small and so far below you.  You know every stone on the shores of Lake Superior, the Caspian Sea and every ocean in the world.  Not a single, solitary, small sparrow falls to the ground apart from Your will.  O Lord, how can we every grasp the significance of that?  We stand in need of Your tender mercies.  For where would we be without You.  Keep drawing us closer to Your Son and deeper in love and obedience to Your will.  We pray this for the praise of Your glorious grace.  Amen.