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Job 42:7-17: Do You Trust God for the End? Print E-mail
Job
Sunday, 22 May 2011

Everyone loves a happy ending.  We watch a movie or read a book (which is preferable) and we want the story to end well.  We like it when everything turns out alright.  The questions get answered, the plot resolves, and the characters live happily ever after.  That’s what we want.  Everyone loves a happy ending.  Or do they?  I have to admit that there are times when the ending of the story is a little bit too tidy.  There are some stories that do not lend themselves well to everything turning out good in the end.  When they do, it seems fake or forced.  I mean we all know that such endings are just not true to real life.  In real life things don’t always end well.  People get hurt, the good guys lose, the bad guys win.  In real life we cannot expect a happy ending.  Or can we?

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There are many who read the book of Job and get frustrated by the ending.  They do not like how everything turns out good for Job in the epilogue.  They do not feel that such a conclusion fits the overall story very well.  Some even go so far as to argue that the epilogue (42:7-17) was added later and that the original book ended at 42:6 with Job repenting in dust and ashes.  So then, is the ending of the book of Job too good to be true?  Are these arguments against the epilogue valid?  D. A. Carson spends a good portion of his chapter on the book of Job dealing with these questions.  He gives seven purposes for the ending of the book to demonstrate that it is indeed appropriate. 1  As we consider the epilogue this morning, I want us to keep this issue in the back of our minds.  After we look at a brief overview of the passage, we will come back to the question of whether or not the ending is true to life.  Let’s begin by looking at what the passage actually says.

Passage Overview:

The epilogue can be divided into three sections: v. 7-9, v. 10-11, and v. 12-17.  Let’s consider these individually.

In the first section we see that God forgives.  Look at verse 7 again.  God was angry with the friends for they had not spoken of me (God) what is right, as my servant Job has.  Again, it is not that Job got everything right, for the Lord charges him with darkening counsel by words without knowledge (38:2).  Yet, when you compare Job’s honesty and integrity with the friends and their overly simplified theology, the Lord makes it clear that Job was right and they were wrong.  And for their error, the Lord tells them that He is angry with them.  Yet, that is not the end of the story for them.  Look at verse 8.  The Lord commands them to offer sacrifices for their sin and tells them that Job will intercede for them.  And the Lord will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly.  The Lord will show them grace and not deal with them as they deserve.  He will answer the prayer of Job, which is what happens in verse 9.  Look at that with me.  The friends humble themselves before the Lord and before Job and offer their sacrifices to God.  Job humbles himself and intercedes for the ones who had spoken so harshly against him.  And the Lord accepts the sacrifice and prayer of His servant.  God forgives the friends.

In the second section we see that God restores.  Look at verse 10.  Notice that the Lord restored the fortunes of Job after his prayer for the friends.  His intercession for them revealed his true understanding of God’s grace in his own life and prepared the way for God’s restoration and blessing, which the Lord freely did by giving Job twice as much as he had before.  God chose to restore Job by giving him double what he had.  We are also told of Job’s restored relationships with those he loved.  Look at verse 11.  Much could be said about this one verse, but I want to draw our attention to the fact that those who loved Job showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him.  Yes, Job was given twice as much as he had, but that did not take away the hurt from all that he lost.  He still needed comfort and sympathy for the children he lost. 

Carson notes: “The losses Job faced would always be with him.  A happy ending is better than a miserable one, but it does not transform the suffering he endured into something less than suffering.  A survivor of the Holocaust has not suffered less because he ultimately settles into a comfortable life in Los Angeles.” 2  Yes, the ending is ‘happy’, but that does not decrease, or cheapen, the suffering of Job.  It also shows again, as we mentioned a few weeks ago, of the continual need for us to comfort those as they go through suffering and the truth that everything Job faced (and we face) is under God’s sovereign control.  It is God who allows suffering and God who restores.

In the third section we see that God blesses.  Look at verses 12-17.  We are told of the specifics of God’s blessings on Job in these verses.  He had twice as many animals as he had at the beginning of his life.  He was blessed with ten more children, seven sons and three daughters.  His three daughters were beautiful and Job was so blessed that he was able to give them an inheritance just like he gave his sons.  Finally we are told that Job died, just like some of the other patriarchs, an old man, and full of days.  God blesses Job.

Question:

So then, in the epilogue of the book we see that God forgives the friends, restores Job and blesses him in the end.  Does this ‘happy ending’ to the book conflict with what we have seen up to this point?  Does the ending of the book teach that in the end Job really did just trust God for the blessing?  Remember, this is the challenge that Satan originally leveled at Job.  Thus, does Job just trust God for the blessing?

I think the text makes it clear that the answer to this question is ‘no.’  Satan’s challenge was that God alone would not be enough for Job.  He thought that as soon as Job lost all of his possessions and all of his children and all of his health Job would curse God.  Yet, he was wrong.  Job never cursed God.  He never turned his back on the Lord.  And when the Lord showed up at the end and further revealed His character that was enough for Job.  We see this in Job’s response to the Lord: I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you (42:5).  Likewise, we see it in Job’s willingness to forgive his friends and pray for them.  The Lord had revealed Himself to Job and that was enough for him.

So then, what do we make of all the blessings in the end?  The Lord did not bless Job because he earned it or deserved it.  No, the Lord simply chose to bless Job for His own purposes.  He was sovereign over Job’s suffering and He is sovereign over his blessing.  Again, the book of Job does not outright deny the doctrine that God blesses the righteous and punishes the wicked.  If it did it would be in contradiction with the rest of the Bible.  No, the book corrects our misunderstanding and misapplication of this teaching.  It shows us that sometimes the righteous do suffer in this life.  But it also maintains the teaching that the righteous are ultimately blessed in this lifetime.  For Job, blessing came in this lifetime (as well as in the life to come).  It does not always work that way, but God is free to do as He pleases with His servants in this life.  He chose to allow Satan to cause terrible suffering in Job’s life.  He also chose to restore Job and bless his latter days.  Job proved by his obedience and trust that God was enough for him and God chose in His sovereign freedom to bless the latter days of Job.

Let me try and apply this question to us: do we trust God just for His blessing?  No, the book of Job teaches us and challenges us to look to the Lord alone.  The epilogue is not presenting a health-wealth gospel.  It is not telling us to trust God because we will get double in this life if we do.  That is a misunderstanding of God’s freedom and this book.  It fits well with the theology of the friends, but God has made it clear that such theology makes Him angry.  We do well to avoid it.  Rather, the New Testament teaches us to expect suffering in this life.  We are not surprised when we face various trials.  We know that following Jesus means suffering.  After all, He was our Suffering Servant, who willingly came and died for our sins.  If we are following Him and being conformed into His image, then surely we must expect to suffer in this life.

Yet, that is not the end of the story either.  The New Testament also teaches us that all things will be righted in the end.  We will face suffering in this life, but there is more to the story than our brief time on this planet.  We are not promised double blessing in this life like Job.  But we are promised ultimate blessing and it will be infinite blessing.  It will be more than the restoration of friends and family.  It will be more than mere worldly possessions.  It will be more than seventy virgins or our own private planet.  It will be the blessing that is beyond measure, for it will be God Himself.  He is what we are promised.  Yes, we are told of streets of gold and a crystal sea.  We are told of no sickness and no death.  But the greatest blessing we are promised is God Himself.  John tells us of that day in Revelation 21: Behold, the dwelling of place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God (v. 3).  The old hymn gets it right: “Just one glimpse of Him in glory will the toils of life repay.” 3  Just one glimpse.

And just how can we be certain of this future blessing?  We are sure because Christ, our Suffering Servant, has secured our forgiveness from sin, our restoration into His image, and our ultimate blessing—the very presence of God forever.  In this way, the book of Job prepares us for the coming of Christ.  It prepares for the Righteous Sufferer.  It prepares us for the One who will intercede on our behalf, whose intercession and sacrifice will be accepted by God the Father.  The book of Job prepares us for the Redeemer, who will take on flesh, die on a cross, and be raised from the dead, so that our future blessing, our happy ending if you will, the very presence of God, is certain.  We can trust and treasure Him in the end, and for the end.  Amen.

1 D. A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990), p. 174-78.
2 Ibid., p. 176.
3 From “When we all get to Heaven” (Eliza E. Hewitt).

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 June 2011 )

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