The dust if finally settling in Job's life. The Sun is beginning to break through the clouds again. After 41 chapters of emotional, physical and spiritual suffering, Job is finally set free. The test is over. Job has passed. Will you?
Almost Happily Ever After
We have all grown up with fairy tales where, for the most part, the good guys win and the bad guys lose.
Against all odds, the prince wins the princess and they ride off into the sunset to live – how? – happily ever after.
The wicked witch gets it between the eyes and the greedy king is left holding an empty bag.
That’s the way we like our fairy tales.
But we all know life isn’t a fairy tale . . . happily ever after needs to leave room for the realities and challenges and hardships of life.
On author wrote, “Do you remember your first home – perhaps you built it and called it your dream home. Shortly after moving in, some of the electric plugs didn’t work, the roof sprung a leak and one of the commodes kept stopping up.
How about that new job? You believed it would make getting up in the morning easy. You expected it to fulfill you and confirm your love of that particular career. But many of the people there reminded you a lot like those you left behind; and the boss wasn’t as perfect as you thought and the health benefits weren’t all that great either.
And how about that new car? It smelled wonderful and ran beautifully . . . until that Monday morning it wouldn’t start. Or that afternoon when a guy parked next to you at the mall and when he opened his door he gave you mother of all dings on the side of your polished chariot.
One more comes to mind. How about that new baby. Remember thinking how great it would be to start a family and have that adorable little chunk of love cooing at you from her crib in the newly decorated nursery? Everything was organized and clean and ready. Then the baby arrived – after 36 hours of labor. She refused to nurse and then had colic so badly she wouldn’t stop crying for 6 months . . . . and finally fell asleep and woke up 13 years later as a teenager.
Farwell to fantasy land. It’s not an easy world.”
Adapted from Charles Swindoll, Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance (W Publishing, 2004), p. 308
But then you think – Job had it tough, but wait – it ended up happily ever after for him? At first glance it did.
But that conclusion is for cynics and shallow thinkers.
Ask someone who lost a child if having another child erased the hollow place in their heart.
Ask someone who suffered with a painful disease or accident if they ever completely forgot the effects.
As someone who was abandoned by friends and family; ask the victim of crime or abuse if they look at life exactly the same way they used to.
Let’s not trivialize Job now that we’ve come to the last chapter and say, “Hey, he had more children, his diseases cleared up and he got rich again.”
He will never look at life the same again.
Even regarding “good things” . . . he will have a deeper appreciation for his health like he never had before; he will look at money and business and wealth with an entirely different perspective; he will hold his children and grandchildren a little differently than he did in the past because he knew what it was like to lose it all in 39 seconds. Which is about how long it took for the messengers to deliver the news of everything he had lost.
It’s not quite happily ever after.
But many wonderful events are now taking place in chapter 42..
First, God speaks on Job’s behalf.
Notice verse 7. It came about after the Lord spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.”
You can’t help but catch the repeated phrase used four times through this paragraph. My servant Job (v. 7). Notice verse 8. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you.
Can you imagine this scene? Nobody really knows where Elihu went; he seems to have disappeared as quickly as he had appeared.
But here are these three friends . . . former friends! These three have spent hours – one condescending, unfeeling, uncaring, super-spiritual speech after another castigating Job as a rebellious man and a man worthy of judgment.
Talk about kicking a man when he’s down! They had added grief to his misery.
Eliphaz even made up what he believed must be the horrible secret sins Job had to have committed to have received from God such a terrible judgment. Eliphaz and the others had implied that Job’s sins were the reason his children had died and his fortunes lost.
“Not so,” – God thunders at him – “Not so.” Job is my servant and you Eliphaz and your two know-it-all, pietistic windbags – okay, I’ve added that part – you need to come to Job, who happens to be my servant, will pray for you!
Is this the ultimate vindication or what?
What do you think Job is doing? What would you be doing if you were Job? Dancing around saying, “I told you so . . . na na na na na.” No. He’s already repented of saying things he shouldn’t have said . . . and he’s suffered so . . . for those who suffer, you know there are more important things than being right. You’re actually satisfied completely with having the pleasure and smile and commendation of God.
He called you His servant!
No, I see tears trickling down Job’s cheeks as he hears God call him, “my servant.” That was enough.
God has spoken on his servant Job’s behalf.
Next, Job prays on his friends behalf
Proof that Job wasn’t gloating over them is the fact that he is now praying for them.
Notice verse 10. The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends.
By the way, don’t miss this in our hurry. Job prayed, not for himself and not for him own restoration of fortune. He prayed for these men who had wronged him. He had forgiven them.
Swindoll, p. 305
He was praying for God to show them forgiveness and mercy too.
How does a person do that?
He recognized that he had maligned God and had been forgiven and he is now turning to forgive those who had maligned him.
Roy Zuck, Job (Moody, 1978), p. 187
Our problem in forgiving others is that we have forgotten how much we’ve been forgiven.
A truly repentant sinner is most willing to forgive other sinners.
Further on in verse 10, we read that the Lord increased all that Job had two-fold.
What exactly does this two-fold increase look like?
First, God restores Job’s family circle and adds to it.
Notice verse 11. Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the Lord had brought on him.
This is a surprise. I didn’t know Job had brothers and sisters.
Where were they when the chips were down? We really don’t know. It may be that they hung in there and kept his wife from starving.
However, the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint, a manuscript old enough for our Lord to actually quote from, includes a passage that indicates Job’s wife had to go through the humiliation of cutting off her hair and selling it in order to buy food.
David J. A. Clines, Word Biblical Commentary: Job 1-20 (Word, 1989), p. 53
We have every indication, all though we can’t be sure, that Job’s family had left them hung out to dry.
Frankly, I believe they along with Job’s 3 friends afraid of God’s judgment too. In other words, if Job is being judged by God than any attempt to help him might incur similar judgment from God.
And so they all kept their distance; which means in order for this family gathering and all of their former friends to take place in verse 11, with the level of fellowship that is indicated, there must have been apologies from and forgiveness demonstrated for every family member and every estranged friend.
“Job, we’re sorry . . . we didn’t know what to do. Dinah, according to Jewish tradition, this was Job’s wife’s name; Dinah – we’re sorry for not helping you . . . we were wrong. We didn’t believe you were innocent and we, like everybody else, thought you were under the judgment of God. We should have known better – we knew you walked with God. Please forgive us.
“No . . . and we never want to see you again!”
And we would have said, “They had it coming.”
“Yes . . . c’mon over . . . I’ve finally got an appetite back . . . let’s eat together and talk of all we’ve learned . . . and you are all forgiven.”
It isn’t long afterward that Dinah comes up behind Job and whispers, “You won’t believe it . . . but we’re expecting a child again.” Notice verse 13. He had seven sons and three daughters. The exact number of children they had raised before.
But wait; God had promised that He would double Job’s fortune and God indeed did double his sheep and camels and oxen and donkeys.
But Job still had only 10 children . . . ah, but that does mean that Job does indeed have twice the children . . . because he did not entirely lose his first 10. Unlike camels and sheep and oxen, his first 10 children are still counted because they are still alive and he will see them in Paradise.
God restores Job’s family circle and added to it.
Secondly, God restores Job’s financial security and adds to it as well.
Notice the latter part of verse 11. And each one gave him one piece of money.
The Hebrew text doesn’t indicate a value that we can understand. All we know is that everyone gave them a gift of money and a ring of gold.
One classic painting of this event shows Job cleaned and dressed in fine clothing, seated under a tree on a chair with a long line of well wishers standing in line to make amends.
By the way, this is God’s way of restoring Job’s fortune. This is how Job was able to purchase new livestock and get back on his feet.
But don’t overlook the fact that this was a slow and tedious process. God didn’t restore to Job in one afternoon what he had taken away in 39 seconds.
But how wise of God; Job’s healing and restoration included people . . . a restoration of relationships which Job now knew was far more important than wealth alone.
Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job (Crossway, 1994), p. 437
And did you notice how Job seems especially proud of his daughters? Their names are recorded in verse 14. He named the first Jemimah which means dove. Keziah means perfume and the third Kerenhappuch means “horn of eyepaint”.
Horn of eye paint . . . was she being punished for something? 8 months of colic?
This phrase referred to a bottle of dye used to paint the eyelashes, eyelids, and eyebrows to make the eyes more attractive.
Zuck, p. 188
For those Dads who were looking for a verse against makeup and mascara, the godliest man in the east actually named one of his daughters “eye shadow”. Don’t you hate it when that happens? Sorry Dads!
Verse 15 tells us that in the land no women were found so fair as Job’s daughters, and their father (sweetened the pot) by giving them an inheritance among their brothers. 16. After this, Job lived 140 more years and saw his sons and his grandsons, and his great grandsons [and his great-great grandsons] four generations [of sons]. And Job died, an old man and full of years.
That’s the Hebrew way of saying, “satisfied with a full life.”
If anybody qualified to live happily ever after, it would be Job.
But even Job would eventually grow ill again . . . he probably stood by more fresh graves along the way and Job eventually died.
Then he learned the real story. That his affliction, as great as it had been, was light and momentary – producing a greater weight of glory far beyond comparison. (2 Corinthians 4:17)
Before we say farewell to Job, let’s hear his life echo once more across the span of some 4,000 years.
They are still fresh principles . . . and desperately needed truths.
I have 25 sermons preached by Charles Spurgeon on the life of Job. I wanted to see what this renowned preacher of the 1800’s had to say on his last sermon on Job. The book I have is entitled, “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.”
In this sermon, Spurgeon preached these words. “This may seem to be a very trite observation, commonplace, and such as everybody knows, but, beloved, the very things that everybody knows are those which we need to hear . . . those old things which we did not care about in our prosperity are most valued when we are cast down by the terrible blows of tribulation.”
Charles Spurgeon, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Fox River Press, 2001), p. 370.
When I read that statement it made me wonder where you were when we started this journey through Job.
Perhaps for you these truths didn’t matter so much, because suffering was far from your door. But not now.
Perhaps now, Job has more to say to you than ever.
You may remember that this book began with Job sacrificing for his children in case they had misspoken or acted improperly.
They were already on their own. They had their own families and their own homes.
But Job was a shepherd. He cared about his children – not just physically, but spiritually.
The book began by introducing us to the best representative of God’s purpose for man on earth. What God intended a man to be – from his heart to his hands.
There was no question, Job was a godly man.
Which leads us to the rather unsettling observation that God’s children are not immune to trials.
Christians are not given some sort of flu shot against hardship.
There’s no such guarantee.
And maybe you’ve said under your breath, “Yea, I believe that God’s children can suffer great trials, but not godly children.”
Godly people are given a free hall pass against harassment.
We had no idea that godly people actually invite harassment, even from fallen angles who hate God and God’s people.
But the Accuser was after Job. If he could get Job to walk away from God he would win the pleasure of seeing God robbed of worship, which is Satan’s highest aim.
Satan comes to God and accuses Job before God. Then Satan will come and accuse God before Job.
He does the same toward us as well, for in the Book of Revelation Satan is called the accuser of the brethren. It is his mission to tell God you are not worth keeping and then to tell you that God is not worth following.
He reminds God that you are sinful and repeats to you that God is absent.
He whispers in the ear of God that you are unfaithful to Him; and he whispers in your ear that God is uninterested in you.
But Job will sing of God’s faithfulness in those early days and say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” (Job 19:25)
No wonder Martin Luther, the great reformer would write hymn texts of Christ’s victory over Satan and say to his congregation, “Let us spite the devil by singing praise to God.”
Spurgeon, p. 7
Imagine Luther composing these words in days of great difficulty and persecution and even the threat of losing your life.
A mighty fortress is our God a bulwark never failing.
Our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing;
For still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe-
His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
This great hymn is not just about the strength of Christ, but the accuser and enemy of the believer who hasn’t let up any since the days of Job.
And tho this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear for God hath willed His truth to triumph thru us;
The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him,
His rage we can endure, for lo! His doom is sure;
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth.
The Spirit and the gifts are ours, thru Him who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also,
The body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
Martin Luther, Translated by Frederick H. Hedge, Composed ~1527-1529
No matter what the accuser says; no matter what life delivers; no matter what trials may come; no matter if you find yourself with David saying, “I am in the lowest pit and darkness is my closest friend.” (Psalm 88)
Four truths that may mean more to you now than ever before:
- Listen, whenever you conclude that God isn’t present, He is!
I will never leave you nor forsake you! (Hebrews 13:5)
Job was convinced God was absent. He, God is present tense. He not only was and shall be, He is!
- Whenever you feel life is hopeless, it isn’t!
I’ve got plans for you! God says, not because you deserve it, but because I’ve promised it. And I keep my promises. I have promised to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
- Whenever you conclude that God isn’t present, He is!
- Whenever you feel life is hopeless, it isn’t!
- Whenever the enemy of your soul whispers into your ear that God doesn’t care – He does.
Casting all your care upon Him, because He cares for you. Literally God continually, constantly, without every stopping cares about you and your life. (1 Peter 5:7)
- Whenever you believe God hasn’t heard your crying – He has.
I was crying to the Lord with my voice and he heard me out of His holy hill. Psalm 3:4
In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me. (Psalm 120:1)
You say, but what about wayward believers . . . Jonah said, “I called out of my distress to the Lord and He answered me; I cried for help . . . and you heard my voice. (Jonah 2:2)
- Listen, Christian, whenever the accuser whispers in your heart, God has ceased loving you – it’s a lie. God never has and never will.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38)
Paul was convinced. Not by the whippings and beatings he endured; not by the stoning he received; not by the storms and shipwrecks God could have kept from happening; not from the abandonment of the churches he planted and the believers he discipled . . . not by any of that, for what assurances can life provide for mankind. Paul was convinced because of the truth of God’s revelation to him.
For our trials will one day seem light – and momentary – yielding eternally a weight of glory far beyond comparison.
Peter wrote, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. (1 Peter 5:10-11)
Listen, living happily ever after won’t take place on earth . . . it won’t, until the earth is remade and we, along with all the redeemed, with our robes dazzling and clean, face eternity beside our Sovereign Lord who has chosen to retain his wounds while healing all of ours.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Job chapter 42 was not the end of Job’s story and yours has not been written any time soon.
There is for all of us who follow Christ an ending like we can’t imagine. It will be beyond a fairytale ending . . . and it’s for real . . . it will be for real.
The Prince of Peace will one day come . . . He will come and there will be a palace and there will be a throne and there will be a kingdom – even the streets will be made of gold.
Then we will live happily ever after and our Prince will one day set everything right.
He will make everything right. And His reward will be in His hand.
So, by all means – not only then, but now; To Him be the glory forever, and ever, Amen.