We have come to the end of the book of Job. As we take a step back and consider what has happened in the book, we are awaiting a conclusion to the matter. In the first two chapters we saw that Job was put in a trial as Satan asserted that God was not just because he blesses his people. Satan declares that the only reason people serve God is for the blessings God gives to them. So Job becomes a test to see if Job will serve God for God or for the blessings God gives. After losing his children, his wealth, and his health, Job did not curse God. Even though he feels that he has lost his relationship with God, Job continues to maintain his own righteousness and does not turn his back on God as Satan claimed he would. Job’s friend come to comfort Job by telling him that he needs to repent and then all the blessings of God will return. Job maintains that sin is not the cause of his suffering. Job maintains that God is not being fair to him because he is righteous. Elihu speaks up and tells the three friends and Job that they are both wrong in their understandings about how God runs the world. The Lord has appeared in the whirlwind and challenged Job to explain the power and the wisdom of God, which of course he cannot do. Job’s final words are words of repentance before God. “Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). How does all of this end and what can we learn from this book?
Three Friends Need To Repent (42:7-9)
First, the Lord turns his attention to the three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. The anger of the Lord burns against them because they have not spoken what is right about God. This is important for us to note and consider. What had the friends said about God? The friends said that if you are suffering it is because God is punishing you for your sins. The Lord declares that this is not right. If you are suffering, you are not to draw the conclusion that God is punishing you. God is not using suffering to repay you for your sins. Rather, Elihu taught that God uses suffering as a corrective tool to turn our souls away from the pit. Suffering is to cause us to turn our attention beyond ourselves and toward God who rules over all things. Pain reminds us that this world is not our goal but that we are longing to go home to be with the Lord.
Not only do the friends need to repent for what they have said, but they are to go to Job who will act as an intercessor for them. Job functions as a priest here who receives the offering and then prayers on behalf of these three. Please consider that these friends had said that Job was a deep sinner who had received less than he deserved. But listen to what the Lord calls Job four times: “my servant” (42:7-8). In this there seems to be a bit of vindication for Job before these three friends. The four of them are not offering sacrifices for their sins. Rather, Job acts as a priest on behalf of these three friends who have been wrong about God and about Job. Please remember that Job was doing this for his children before the trial began, offering sacrifices on his children’s behalf in case they had sinned. In this we see a type of Christ. Christ was counted among the transgressors and treated as if the wrath of God was upon him. Yet, he remained the servant of the Lord and we must come to him so that our sins will be forgiven. Christ is our great high priest who offered himself on our behalf so that he could intercede for us. The rejected becomes exalted by God.
We must also consider the beauty of forgiveness. When Job repents of what he has said about God, God restores the relationship and calls Job his servant. When the three friends repent and offer their sacrifices, God accepted Job’s prayer (42:9). What a blessing and a joy to know that when we repent, God restores us and we are able to enjoy a relationship with God again!
The Comfort of Job (42:10-17)
When Job prays for his friends, we then see the Lord bringing comfort to Job. The Lord restored the fortunes of Job, giving him twice as much as he had before. Not only this, he is given 10 children. Even Job’s age is double that of the average age of life, 70 years (cf. Psalm 90:10). We are not to read this as if Job is fully restored after the trial. The point is not that God will give you back everything you lost when you endure a trial. Job did not get back what he had lost. Those first 10 children are still dead. Having ten more children does not mean that this would erase the pain from losing your other children.
Further, the message cannot be that if you remain faithful, God will bless you in this life. God does not have to restore Job after this trial. God is under no obligation to give anything to Job once this trial has concluded. What we are learning is that God is a God of comfort. What God is doing for Job flows from his love and grace, not out of obligation for Job’s righteousness.
This is what we need to hear in the midst of suffering and trial: God can bring you good after your trouble. God can console you after your trial and after your disaster. The point is not that God will fix your life. Rather, the suffering you have endured is not the end of your life. There can be good to come in the future. The message of the book of Job is NOT that God will make everything better after your trial. Rather, the message is that God really does care about his people and God is able to bless you in your pain and after your loss.
Message About Suffering and How God Runs The World
But here is the great message. God can bless and be generous to us and it is tied to his own character and his own prerogative, not ours! We do not control God. Our faith does not dictate suffering or prosperity. Satan said that God cannot bless his people because he causing them to serve for their own selfish purposes. God’s response is that he can bless his people because he does so from his own character and his own will. God does bless the righteous because that is the desire of God. For example, I do not have to bless my kids for doing good. But I want to bless my kids for when they do well. They are not to look at me and say that they are owed something for good grades. They are to see my love and generosity because I do good for them. We serve God for nothing and God is free to bless as he chooses. Our suffering shows that we do serve God for nothing when we remain faithful to him.
Further, please pay careful attention to verse 11. “And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him.” We saw this point made repeatedly at the beginning of this study and the book wants to emphasize this point again. Who is ultimately responsible for suffering and trials? God is. Yes, Satan does evil but it is God who allows Satan to do it. Satan is not operating outside of God’s knowledge, power, or control. Friends, we must accept this truth so that the encouragement of the scriptures can be meaningful to us.
No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NRSV)
The only way this can be true is if God rules over evil, rules over suffering, rules over Satan, and decrees the extent and the limits of temptations and trials. Therefore, we are called to trust in the wisdom, power, and knowledge of God. This is true faith. This is God’s answer to the book of Job. God is in control and we are to trust him with our lives.
7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7–11 ESV)
We are called to be patient until the Lord returns. Look at the examples of suffering and patience from the prophets. Then James says to consider the endurance and steadfastness of Job. You see in Job the purpose and outcome of the Lord. The Lord is compassionate and merciful. God blesses and God allows suffering. These things show the compassion and mercy of the Lord. This was what the writer of Hebrews was getting at when he spoke of the discipline of the Lord and compared it how parents deal with their children. Parents bless and parents discipline, both of which shows the compassion and mercy of the parents. Parents do this for their children and God does this toward us. God has a greater purpose as he allows evil and suffering in this world. Trust in his wisdom, trust in his compassion, and trust in his mercy.