Job 38:1–4; 42:1–12comment (0)
July 14, 2013
By Douglas K. Wilson Jr.
Related Scripture: Job 38:1–4; 42:1–12
WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO LEARN?
Job 38:1–4; 42:1–12
Throughout the Book of Job, we hear several voices. The narrator introduces us to natural and supernatural realms within the story. Job speaks regarding his family, his faith, his continual suffering and false indictments against him. Companions voice their concerns regarding Job’s suffering, assuming that his losses and poor health are consequences of previously secret sin. Now God speaks.
Most of God’s words are directed toward Job. His instructive questions continue from chapters 38 through 42. Following Job’s confession, God speaks to his companions. Through it all, we discover that God, not Job, is the main character in the story.
Listen to God (38:1–4)
This portion of Job weaves general and special revelation together as God testifies on His own behalf. God speaks of His creation, but He points out its boundaries of human understanding concerning it. He pummels Job with a barrage of rhetorical questions, and in so doing, instructs the audience about the limitations of human knowledge. God characterizes Job’s testimony as “ignorant words” (38:2). He invites Job to instruct Him, “if you have understanding” (38:4). Obviously, Job has no answers for God’s questions (40:3–5). True wisdom and understanding comes from God alone.
Submit to God (42:1–6)
Prior to God’s direct revelation to him, Job had known about God through ritual and religious expression. An avalanche of unanswerable questions has buried our suffering friend with new understanding. Job has experienced an epiphany. God is far greater than Job has ever conceived. His thoughts cannot begin to fathom the depths of God’s transcendence.
Job responds by confessing the magnificence of God: “Surely I spoke about things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (42:3). Like musical variations on a theme, similar words echo these thoughts down the corridors of time, through David (Ps. 139:6), Isaiah (55:8–9), Jeremiah (33:3) and Paul (Eph. 3:20–21). In light of God’s glorious revelation, our reasonable response is to submit to God (James 4:7).
Intercede Before God (42:7–9)
Here is a summary of God’s instruction to Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar: “Ask your friend to pray for you. You have borne false witness against Me, presuming to speak about things you do not know. He knows Me. He understands that you spoke in ignorance. Ask him to pray for you, and I will forgive you.” They made the request, Job prayed and God answered.
Human intercession reflects the work of God. Within the Triune essence of our sovereign God, the Father receives intercession from both the Son and the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul informs us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Rom. 8:26–27). In addition, Jesus prayed for us during His earthly ministry (John 17:20) and now within the heavenly realm (Rom. 8:24; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1). When we intercede for others, we reflect the compassion of Jesus.
Rely on God (42:10–12)
As we observe Job’s circumstances after the restoration, we might assume that Elihu was correct, that every faithful believer lives happily ever after both here on earth and in eternity. After all, Job gains twice the possessions that he owned at the beginning (1:2–3). God also adds 10 more children to his family, including three daughters and seven sons (42:13). Is the promise of a happy ending what I am supposed to learn from this?
God does not promise a life comfort, ease and dying in our sleep. With the exception of John, the apostles all died as martyrs, painfully executed for proclaiming Christ to a world that rejected their message. Throughout the centuries, Christians have faced persecution and prosecution for the gospel. Even today, fellow believers around the globe experience rejection from family, work and community. They are confronted with torture, imprisonment and even death for identifying themselves with Jesus through baptism. They rely on God, and their eternity is secure in Christ.