- Read the Bible in 2011–2021* ◊ Week 21: Thursday
Today’s Bible reading is Job 42, the final chapter of the book. Before you begin reading pray and ask God to teach you and use this part of His Word in your life to know Him better, and to help and encourage you.
As we end this book, I want to give you Derek Kidner’s outline of Job1 to help you keep an overall picture of the book in your mind.
1. Prose Prologue (chs. 1 and 2): the cynic’s taunt.
2. Poetic Dialogue (3:1–42:6): the sufferer’s outrage, the moralists’ bias, and the LORD‘s high wisdom.
3. Prose Epilogue (42:7–end): Job is vindicated and restored.
In chapter 41 God finished his questions to Job. E. S. P. Heavenor summarizes what Job has realized:
“By this turn in the argument the Lord closes the last possible escape route by which Job might have tried to make sense of his predicament. The adversities of life can be brought within a framework of logical explanation if one is able to say that God is not wise enough always to make our circumstances match what we may deserve, or if, though wise, He is thought to be nevertheless unjust in His nature, or finally, if, though He is both wise and just, yet He lacks the power to put His wisdom and justice into effect. In His speeches to Job, the Lord opened on the theme of loving, detailed provident wisdom (38:1–39:30); the second theme (40:1–14) is God’s power in the moral order, His ability to abase the proud and to tread down the wicked (40:11, 12). Thus His moral justice is asserted. The marvels of physical strength, Behemoth and Leviathan, are intended to point to the awesome power of God [40:15–41:24]…Along the line of this threefold argument, God brings Job to his final position of repentance and faith. He cannot argue his way out of his difficulty by denying the wisdom, justice or power of God, but he can, after he has seen just how wise, just and powerful God is, rest humbly and trustfully upon Him.”2
And so Job does. He quotes God’s first question to him in Job 38: ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ and acknowledges he declared what he did not understand.
“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”
Kidner describes Job’s words:
“Job has no such pretensions any longer. Seeing God with newly opened eyes he has no questions, only a confession and a self-abasement that is as deep as his indignation had been high.
“…this man whom nobody could muzzle is as forthright in his surrender as he had ever been in argument. Every line of it is unreserved.“3
It’s vital to realize that when Job speaks these words to God, he has yet to be restored. His wealth is still lost, he is still childless, and he is still diseased. Here we have the answer to Satan’s cynical question at the beginning of the book in chapter 1: Does Job fear God for nothing? The answer is a resounding, yes! When all is still lost to him, Job still fears God.
Now God turns to Job’s three friends who added pain to his affliction and brought him such misery:
They didn’t speak what was right of God, Job did. Notice also that when God is speaking to them, four times God describes Job to them as My servant Job. This is how God spoke of Job to Satan in at the beginning of the book: My servant Job. Now after all this time, after all Job has been through, and after all the accusations Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar made to Job and all the harsh and judgmental things they said to Job’s face, God says he is My servant Job. God sets the record straight. He vindicates Job.
And then God restores Job.
The very first thing mentioned is those who come to console Job. This is truly the beginning of his restoration, and I think the first thing Job needs, before anything else. Francis Andersen points out:
“His relations and all his acquaintances came to him with their consolations (11). It is worth dwelling on the fact that even when everything is set right, Job still feels the hurt of his losses, and needs human comfort for them.”4
Andersen goes on to say:
“Some scholars have complained that the story is ruined by the happy ending, as if the author has slipped back into the crude theology of punishments and rewards…God does what he pleases. It would be absurd to say that he must keep Job in miserable poverty in order to safeguard the theology. These gifts at the end are gestures of grace, not rewards for virtue. It is…indeed a theological fitness, if not necessity, that Job’s vindication be not just a personal and hidden reconciliation with God in the secret of his soul, but also visible, material, historical, in terms of his life as a man.”5
The book of Job concludes:
David Atkinson has these final words of encouragement:
“We are not promised freedom from suffering in this world. ‘In the world you will have tribulation.’ Nor are we let into all of God’s secrets. But we are promised grace. For some, there may be healing and restoration in this life. For others, that gifts awaits them in the ‘new heavens and the new earth’ where there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more death. But for all of us, here and now, there is grace, and there can be hope.”6
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications. (Site has been deleted since posting).
The Book of Job: Deborah Mesibov. (CC0 1.0). Cropped.
Job restored to prosperity: Laurent de La Hire. Public domain.
Scroll of Book of Job, in Hebrew: Pete unseth. GFDL-1.2-or-later. (CC BY-SA 3.0).
1,3Derek Kidner, The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job & Ecclesiastes (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1985) 56–57, 72, 74 Jas. 5:11, NEB.
2E. S. P. Heavenor, “Job,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, third ed., D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds. (Inter-Varsity Press, London 1970) 443.
4,5Francis Andersen, Job (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1976) 317, 317–318.
6,7David Atkinson, The Message of Job: Suffering and grace (Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, England; Downers Grove IL: 1991) 162, 162–163 quoted by Atkinson.
*In 2011 I started a year-long series of posts, “Read the Bible in 2011.” You can find the other posts in the navigation menu in the header. If a day doesn’t have a link to a post, the post was simply a brief reminder about the reading. I’m filling in some of those gaps with new posts with “Read the Bible in 2011 Redux” as a category.
Copyright ©2011–2021 Iwana Carpenter