Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 21: Thursday
Today’s Bible reading is Job 42, the last 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 see Him as He is, and to help and encourage you in whatever circumstances you are in.
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 as He concludes His description of Leviathan.
It is king over all the sons of pride.”
“On that note of unflattering comparison the LORD‘s reply to Job concludes — perhaps to our surprise. That a discourse which began with the cosmos should end in the praise of two aquatic monsters, however fearsome, may strike us as eccentric; and that it should ignore our burning questions altogether may be a bitter disappointment.
“But there is no mistaking the thrust of it, congenial or not. It cuts us down to size, treating us not as philosophers, but as children — limited in mind, puny in body — whose first and fundamental grasp of truth must be to know the difference between our place and God’s, and to accept it. We may reflect that if, instead of this, we were offered a defence of our Creator’s ways for our approval, it would imply that he was accountable to us, not we to him. And if, not being offered this, we were to demand it, we should be guilty of the arrogance of Adam.
“Job has no such pretensions any longer.”2
E. S. P. Heavenor summarizes what Job now realizes:
“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.”3
And so Job does.
2“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
3‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too marvelous for me, which I did not know.
4‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You make me know.’
5I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
6Therefore I reject myself,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”
In Job 42:3a Job quotes God’s first question to him in Job 38: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” and acknowledges he declared what he did not understand.
Francis Andersen writes that in Job 42:4,
“Job quotes the words that the Lord had spoken twice (38:3; 40:7) and to which he had declined to respond at the end of the third speech. Now he answers, and his reply is positive. It has two sides, as inseparable as the sides of a coin. He has gained knowledge of God and of himself. God comes first, and fills his vision: now my eye sees thee [v. 5]. The hope of 19:24–27 has found its first fulfillment.”4
Kidner describes Job:
“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.”5
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, God describes Job to them four times as My servant Job. This is how God describes 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 condemning 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.”6
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.”7
The book of Job concludes:
“Some, as we have noticed, would grudge him this serenity, preferring the starkness of pure tragedy to the easing of tension which they would regard as anticlimax. Job — and arguably even the book of Job as literature — would have fared ill at their hands! Certainly the epistle of James has no such reservations. ‘You have all heard how Job stood firm, and. you have seen how the Lord treated him in the end. For the Lord is full of pity and compassion.’
“That is the last word on the matter, both in the book of Job and in the New Testament’s reflection on it. And that will be the last word in the bigger drama: not that man will demand and get his answers or his imagined rights, but that God will give, to those who endure to the end in this bitter war, ‘such good things as pass man’s understanding’.”8
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.”9
Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
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).
1,2,5,8Derek Kidner, The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job & Ecclesiastes (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1985) 56–57, 72, 72, 74 Jas. 5:11, NEB.
3E. 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.
4,6,7Francis Andersen, Job (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1976) 314, 317, 317–318.
9,10David Atkinson, The Message of Job: Suffering and grace (Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, England; Downers Grove IL: 1991) 162, 162–163 as quoted by Atkinson.
I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.
Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter