In a shocking conclusion, we read that God confronts Job’s three friends and declares their counseling of Job to be folly. He then requires them to offer a sacrifice, asking Job to pray for them. Job has indeed prayed, interceded really, for them so that God would not deal with them according to their folly. We then read the following in this epilogue:
An Accepted Prayer: Job prayed for his friends (did he include Elihu?), the Lord restored his fortunes (v. 10). The Lord gives him twice as much as he had before. If my calculations are correct, that means Job became the proud owner of 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 donkeys (cp. 1:3)! A “yoke” of oxen really means two oxen, so Job now has 23,000 animals in his possession!
A Re-Established Home: We then read that a great feast was held in his home with all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before attending. And they comforted and consoled him “over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him” (v. 11). Job’s wealth is restored from the gifts of silver and gold they bring to him.
Apart from his doubled livestock (v. 12), Job and his wife bring into the world seven sons and three daughters (the same number as he had at the beginning) (v. 13). Unlike the succinct account of his first set of children, here his three daughters’ names are given: Jemimah, Keziah, and Keren-Happuch. I wonder why the daughters are named? And why are the names of the seven sons not given? We are also informed that “nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters.” (v. 15). And, in what appears to be counter-cultural, we read that “their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.”
There is also no mention of Job’s wife. Is this the same wife as the one who told Job to curse God and die? Has she repented of her folly?
We then read that “after this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.” (vv. 16-17).
Tags: repentance, silence, unworthiness
Job has been taken on an extremely fascinating nature tour by the Creator. And God’s multiple questions seem to have a double goal: to humble Job and to eradicate his desire to prosecute God for His actions in Job’s life. God hasn’t given Job any explanation for the trials. But Job gets one last opportunity to respond to the Lord. And he does so in six verses.
In his response, Job acknowledges God’s omnipotence in bringing about His purposes (42:2). He confesses that he has been guilty of obscuring the plans of God (42:3) and speaking of things of which he had no understanding.
God told Job to listen — and he did. Job refers to two of his senses when he says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (42:5). This overwhelming vision of God drives Job to one and only one conclusion: “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (42:6). Repent of what? His insolence? His charging God with allowing the wicked to prosper and the righteous to suffer? Repent of condemning God’s silence in the face of his friends’ accusatory and condemning speeches? Has Job been disrespectful, irreverent, even blasphemous toward the Lord? Job has certainly charged the Lord with wrongdoing, with unfairly making Job His target, with callously refusing to give Job his day in court.
Tags: repentance, silence, unworthiness
But the Lord’s speech to Job is not finished. The Almighty continues His challenge of Job in the rest of chapter 40 and all of chapter 41. Let’s notice a few things that the Lord says.
Chapter 40: The Lord directly confronts Job with piercing questions such as “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” (v. 8).
If Job wants to play God, God says he must adorn himself with glory and splendor, cover himself with honor and majesty, unleash the fury of his wrath, bring down the wicked (vv. 10-13). If he can do those things, then the Lord will admit to Job that his own right hand can save him (v. 14).
We then receive an extended discussion of “Behemoth” (vv. 15-24). It is a beast, God says, “which I made along with you” (v. 15). Marked by incredible strength, it “ranks first among the works of God” (v. 19). It is unable to be captured by man (v. 24).
Chapter 41: In chapter 41 God describes “Leviathan.” Is Leviathan another name for Behemoth? At any rate, this beast is a further example of man’s impotence. In great sarcasm, God asks if Job can make this creature his slave or a pet for the young women in your house? (vv. 4-5) It can’t be captured with harpoons or fishing spears. “If you lay a hand on it, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!” (v. 8).
God says, if you are unable to capture Leviathan, “Who then is able to stand against me?” (v. 10). God asks, “Who has a claim against me that I must pay?” (v. 11). God is no man’s debtor.
God continues to speak of Leviathan’s strength, double coat of armor, and fearsome teeth, rows of shields on its back (vv. 12-17). Its snorting “throws out flashes of light”; “flames stream from its mouth”; “smoke pours from its nostrils”; “flames dart from its mouth” (vv. 18-21). Sure sounds like a dragon, doesn’t it?
This creature terrifies the mighty. Iron swords have no effect on it; arrows are useless; slingstones are like chaff to it (vv. 25-28). Clubs and lances are laughable to it (v. 29).
It appears to dwell in the sea (v. 31). “Nothing on earth is its equal — a creature without fear” (v. 33). “It is king over all that are proud” (v. 34).
Tags: silence, unworthiness
Job has unceremoniously been put in his place by the Lord who grilled him on his complete ignorance of the natural world. How does Job respond to this devastating and overwhelming attack from the Lord? We read in 40:3-5 the following:
3 Then Job answered the Lord:
4 “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
5 I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more.”
The Lord’s long-awaited response to Job causes him to confess his unworthiness and complete inability to say anything to the Lord. He is overwhelmed. He physically shuts his mouth. He also admits that he had spoken once, but now has no answer to the Lord. He even was bold to speak a second time, but now determines he will say no more.
What are we to conclude from such a one-sided discussion? Is it fair to say that Job had forgotten who God was — and that he needed to be reminded of his own createdness? In his demands for an audience with the Almighty, had Job missed the point of these trials?
God’s words in 40:1-2 silenced Job. Was that the Creator’s intent? But the Lord is not done. Chapter 40 continues with God’s rebuke of Job. We will examine what else the Lord says to Job in our next post.
Tags: silence, unworthiness
Job now speaks. Perhaps he sees that his friends’ silence is coming to an end. Or perhaps he doesn’t even notice them in his pain. But he now gives voice to his agony. We want to notice what Job is feeling . . . and thinking.
VIII. Job’s Lament (ch. 3)
Job opens his mouth and curses — not the Lord — but his own birth! He can no longer focus on the birthdays of his ten children. They are dead. And he wishes he were. He despises the fact that he was ever born!
He asks that God Himself not care about his birth (v. 4). He wishes that he had been stillborn, that there had been no shout of joy at his coming into the world (v. 7).
If he had been stillborn, or died in delivery, he says he would now be asleep and at rest with the kings and rulers of the earth (v. 13). Such a fate would have brought him rest, ease, freedom. He asks, “Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave?” (vv. 20-22). At a later stage of his struggle, Job tells us that he treasured not death, but “the words of God’s mouth more than [his] daily food” (Job 23:12).
Job describes himself as one whom God has “hedged in” (v. 23). One is reminded of Satan’s words to God in chapter one when he says, “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?” (v. 10). Satan’s reference to God’s hedge is to make the point that Job serves God because God pays him well. Job’s reference to God’s hedging him in has to do with Job’s ignorance of God’s ways and his lack of relief from his awful pains.
In some ways Job may have anticipated life crashing in on him, for he says in verse 25, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.”
As he takes an inventory of his present state of existence, Job says, “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (v. 26). Little does he suspect that his three friends, sitting silently with him on his ash-heap of agony, will further his troubles and bring profound additional turmoil to his circumstances.
Tags: friendship, health, presence, silence, tragedy
And now, the friends. When one takes a bird’s-eye view of the entire book of Job, most of the chapters record the lectures of Job’s friends and his responses to their accusations. We will examine each of their challenges, but first we need to notice what they did right.
VII. What Job’s Friends Did Right (2:11-13)
We are introduced to Job’s three friends in this second chapter after Satan’s successful assault on Job’s body and after his wife’s words of death. He is not at home. He is sitting on a soft ash-heap scraping his boils. Perhaps his wife is there with him, pleading with him to curse God and die. Can one imagine a more desperate and pathetic scene?
Acts of Friendship: News travels fast when calamity invades a well-respected leader of a community. And Job’s three friends “heard about all the troubles that had come upon him” (v. 11). They decide to physically travel from their homes to Job’s ash-heap to be with him. We don’t know how far away their homes were, but the purpose of their journey was clear: they agree together “to go and sympathize with him and comfort him” (v. 11).
The first step of comforting another who is suffering involves deciding to get involved. For Job’s friends this began with physically traveling to him. But before they got to Job’s side, they saw him from a distance and we read that “they could hardly recognize him.” Being covered with boils tends to alter one’s appearance! One can only imagine his appearance: sores oozing, bits of pottery being scraped over his body, perhaps his only clothing a loin cloth for privacy. No one wants to have cloth — even expensive cloth — rubbing against open sores.
A second act of friendship is sympathy. As the friends approach Job they could be heard from far away, for they are weeping aloud for the devastated condition of their friend. To show their sharing of his grief, they tear their robes and even sprinkle dust on their heads (v. 12). They are identifying with Job and his suffering. There is a kind of closeness in calamity. But such second-hand suffering can be quite temporary, for the friends will soon give voice to their theological understanding of the ways of God.
The third act of friendship is the ministry of presence. They sit on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. That’s true friendship, the being with the one who is suffering. In our world of mass communication, in our time of instant texts and emails and facetime, we can easily think that electronic communication is sufficient. No. Physical presence occurs in space and time with real bodies and concerned souls.
The fourth act of friendship shown by these three friends is that of silence. They do not lecture Job. They do not pepper him with questions. They do not theorize as to the why of his situation. They are just there. Silent. We read, “No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” (v. 13). Our noise-addicted world misses the value of simple silence.
But the friends’ ministry of silence does not last beyond the 168 hours of sitting quietly with their sore-covered friend. And what they hear their friend Job say in his brokenness is more than they can bear.
Tags: friendship, health, Job's wife, presence, silence, tragedy