The Blessed End of Job’s Life
May 18, 2014 / No. 3724
Dear radio friends,
Today we come to our last study in the book of Job, chapter 42:10-17. In these verses, Job is blessed by God with a double portion of what he had had formerly. God restores his marriage, blesses him again with a family, and Job lives to a good old age.
We could look at this as Godâ€™s vindication of Job, that Jobâ€™s reputation is restored, and that God marks him out as the object of His special care and love. But what we should see here is that this is actually a vindication of God Himself. Job and the friends of Job had said things about God that just were not true. Perhaps we look at Godâ€™s answer from the whirlwind and we are inclined to say, â€œThatâ€™s just too harsh.â€ The end of the book tells us that, as well as being the sovereign God of power and justice, God is also very merciful towards His people.
In the New Testament, chapter 5:11 of James, we have a summary of the book of Job. â€œBehold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.â€ That verse points out two things in the book of Job: the patience of Job as an example for us from which we should learn; and that the book is not only about Job, but also about God. â€œThe end of the Lord,â€ that is, His purpose, â€œis very pitiful, and [full] of tender mercy.â€
That is what we see in the last chapter of the book of Job. God is not harsh with His children, but His purposes have an end, and that is the restoration and blessing of His people. That is the promise here for us: God will restore and bless.
We notice, first here, the remarkable restoration that comes to Job. There are four things that are restored to Job.
First, his friendships, in verse 10: â€œAnd the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends.â€ In a sense, this is Jobâ€™s final test, to pray for his three friends who have persecuted and slandered him and were miserable comforters. Now they are forgiven of God. And Job must be humbled and pray for them and forgive them, too. His natural heart would be never to forgive these men for their merciless treatment of him. But God turned his captivity, that is, God freed him from his natural and sinful self and inclinations. And, after he has prayed for his friends, God begins to restore him in other areas. Knowing Godâ€™s grace towards him, Job extends grace and forgiveness to his friends.
How important that is for us. In order to be able to forgive and to receive others and to be merciful to others, we must understand Godâ€™s mercy towards us.
Verse 11 tells us that God restored other friendships of Job as well. â€œThen came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold.â€ Earlier in the book, we remember that all who knew and saw Job despised his presence. For the most part in his suffering, Job had suffered alone, without the sympathy of others. But now they gather, his friends and his family, in fellowship with him, to comfort and to console and to encourage him. And they showed their love by each generously bringing him a gift of money and of gold.
This is one of the best ways to experience restoration. Comfort in the troubles of life is not to have circumstances fixed or changed but to experience love and understanding and sympathy from friends and family. What a blessing this must have been to Job. And, no doubt, this came because Jobâ€™s name and reputation had been restored. God vindicated Job in the eyes of others. Now they see that Jobâ€™s suffering did not come as a result of some secret sin, or because Job was a hypocrite. Now the friends honor him as fully as they had before. And so we see, first, Jobâ€™s friendships are restored.
Then, second, we see that Jobâ€™s fortunes are restored. What is outstanding here is that God gave him double what he had before. Verse 10: â€œAlso the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.â€ And if we compare, in verse 12, the numbers of the sheep and the camels and the oxen and the donkeys to what he had in chapter 1, we see that this is exactly double what he started with. With the double portion in the Old Testament Scriptures, God marked out an individual as the special object of His grace. The Israelites gave a double portion to their oldest son to indicate that he would be the family head and representative. He was distinguished from the others. Similarly, Elisha received a double portion of the spirit of Elijah as a special mark of Godâ€™s grace and presence with him. And Jobâ€™s receiving exactly twice what he had before was an indication to him, to his friends, and to us that Godâ€™s grace and favor rested on Job. God is saying to all: â€œHave you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in all the earth?â€
Now, besides restoring friendships and fortunes, God also restored to Job his family. Remember that in one day he had lost all ten of his children and that, soon after, his wife, in her grief, turned on Job and advised him to curse God and die. We read in verse 13 that Job received 10 more children: seven sons and three daughters, the exact number that he had had before. And there is no indication in the passage that Job was remarried, that this was a new or different wife. So, Job, having a family with his wife, obviously included reconciliation to her.
We remember the godliness of Jobâ€™s first ten children and the dedication of Job and his prayers and his intercessions for them and for their spiritual well-being. Now God gives to Job and his wife the privilege and the joy of raising ten more godly children. And so, Jobâ€™s family is restored to him.
Friendships, fortunes, family, and also his future.
In receiving ten more children, Job has children who will inherit his land and possessions and who will continue his family name. This was very important in the Old Testament. Abraham lived right around the same time as Job and we remember the grief of Abraham and Sarah at being childless. Having children was an indication of oneâ€™s place with the promised people of God, as a part of the seed of the woman that lived in expectation of the birth of the Savior. And having an inheritance and passing that on to oneâ€™s children was a sign of oneâ€™s place and participation, in his generations, in the promise.
Now we see that God also restored Jobâ€™s future by giving him another one hundred and forty years of health, so that Job saw, not just his grandchildren, but his great-grandchildren and their children as well. Covenant blessings and joy were a part of what God restored to Job so that finally, when he died, he could reflect on Godâ€™s goodness to him and rejoice with his children and grandchildren and their future blessing in their generations. What a blessing to Job. Psalm 127: â€œChildren are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward…. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.â€ This was the height of Jobâ€™s earthly joy in his restoration.
So God restored to Job his friendships, his fortunes, his family, and his future. But all of this, we should see, is written not just to show us that Jobâ€™s earthly life ended happily, that Job was vindicated and blessed as a person, but rather, this is written as a wonderful promise from God to us concerning our future hope as believers, the future hope of Godâ€™s people. And it is written to give us this hope in the midst of our lives that are often filled with pain and suffering, much like Jobâ€™s was.
So, what is the promise here? What is the substance and content of the promise for us in the book of Job?
We begin answering that question by saying that the promise is not a life of health and prosperity here on this earth. There are false teachers today, the advocates of what is called the health and wealth gospel, who construe and twist the book of Job this way so that all the book of Job means is this, that if you have enough faith, God will bless you with earthly health and prosperity. This, they say, is how we are to understand the end of this bookâ€”that God, finally, blessed Job here because now Job had a strong enough faith.
There are problems with that. The first is this, that it is exactly the teaching of Jobâ€™s friends, which God, in this book, soundly condemns. The second is that this is outrageous and unrealistic. It is not real to Jobâ€™s life and it is not real to our lives. In this world, Godâ€™s people can expect trials and poverty and sickness and death. God does not promise to deliver us from these things during our earthly life. His promises are not earthly and material, but heavenly and spiritual and eternal. Our future hope as Godâ€™s people is heaven. We await an incomparable glory, which eye has not seen nor ear heard nor has ever entered into the heart of man to conceive.
Then, the third problem with this thinking is that it fails to see the place that the book of Job has in the Bible. As probably the first written book in the Bible, Job belongs to the Old Testament, which is a time when God spoke symbolically, in pictures, in types, and in shadows concerning our salvation and eternal hope. Some of that symbolism is very clear here at the end of the book of Job. And seeing it is key to understanding this passage and the content of Godâ€™s promise here for us so that we learn to lift our eyes heavenward and to look for our vindication and blessing not here on the earth, but in our heavenly future.
So, I want to note here some of the indications in this passage itself that point us to Godâ€™s eternal and future and heavenly promises.
The first indication we have already pointed to. It is this, that Job received double what he had before. Job did not receive the same as he had before or more than he had before, but he received exactly double what he had before. Now, do you not think that that gave Job reason to pause and to think, and is this not something for us to stop and think about, too? Here we mention, in the words of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 61:7, where he speaks with promise to Godâ€™s people: â€œFor your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.â€ You will note there the reference to a double portion. And, in connection with that, there are two things that we have to point to that help us to understand what Isaiah is saying. Isaiah has in mind the New Testament church. In the surrounding verses he talks of the time when the Gentiles will be gathered into the church. And Isaiah speaks here not of temporal and earthly joys when he speaks of a double portion, but he speaks of everlasting joy that shall be unto them.
And so, Jobâ€™s double portion is a sign of the everlasting joy that comes through Jesus Christ to the New Testament church gathered from all the nations of the earth.
A second indication in Job 42 that this speaks of our heavenly blessing and future is that while God doubled to Job all his material possessions, He did not do this with his children. Job received exactly the same number of children that he had beforeâ€”ten. Why is that? As anyone who has lost a child knows, you cannot replace children. If you have a camel or a cow or a pet and it dies, you can replace it. And soon you get over your loss. But with people, and now, with children, that is different. Why is that? It is because people have souls. When they die, they really do not die completely. Their souls live on. And the souls of Godâ€™s people live on with Him in heaven. That is part of the reason that Job received the same number of children he had before. Even though there were only ten, that was still twice as many as he had before because, in reality, he never lost the first ten. No, they lived on in the presence of God in heaven. And is that not the hope that Job expressed in chapter 19 when he said, â€œThough after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see Godâ€? And if Job had that hope for himself, then certainly he had that hope also for his children who had died. Job did not need a doubling of his children because the first ten were already enjoying their eternal reward.
And then, there is a third interesting and unusual thing recorded here that should get our attention. It is this, that Jobâ€™s three daughters are named here, whereas his seven sons are not. Their names are Jemima, Kezia, and Kerenhappuch. And all these point to their distinct beauty. And then, too, mention is made here of the fact that these girls received an inheritance along with their brothers. That should grab our attention because it is very unusual, in the Old Testament, that the women should be mentioned and not the men, and that the women should receive an inheritance along with the men. Here, again, God is pointing us ahead to the New Testament church, to the final and everlasting kingdom of heaven in which there will be no marrying with the woman taking her husbandâ€™s name and inheritance, and in which, as the New Testament tells us in Galatians 3, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, but we are all one in Christ Jesus; and all of us are heirs together according to the promise. So you see that in Jobâ€™s daughters. This is looking forward to the New Testament and to heaven.
And then, in this passage, you also have this, that Job lived another one hundred forty years. That is the number 70 doubled. And 70 is a multiple of 7 and 10. In the Bible, those two numbers are used to express a fullness and completeness. And now, they are doubled, probably indicating that at the time of his troubles, Job was seventy or so years old. And then God restored double that to him in his remaining days. The fullness of Jobâ€™s age here points to the fullness of life that we will have with God in eternity. A rich reward and an eternity of days.
Now these things, this symbolism, is all right here in this chapter. And it is not by accident. Maybe Job did not understand it all, but looking at the rest of Scripture, we can safely conclude that the symbolism here means something. It calls us to look beyond Jobâ€™s earthly blessings and to see that God is promising something far better to us. What is He promising? Here we need to take into account the whole flow of the book of Job and see the parallels of that flow of the book of Job to the flow of the entire Bible. In Job we have, as it were, a microcosm of the entire Scriptures. Satan is there at the beginning to tempt Godâ€™s people. God gives Satan a measure of authority to do so. That reminds us of what happened in the first chapters of Genesis in the creation and the fall of man. But God, you see, is sovereign, and Satan serves His purposes. So even though Job must suffer, much as there is suffering throughout history for Godâ€™s people, through it all God brings a great good by sending His Son as Redeemer, something that Job did understand would happen, and through that redemption, God brings many sons to glory.
So, what we have here at the end of this book is the promise of Christâ€™s return that will be the day of vindication for God and His people and the day when, in the new heavens and new earth, we will receive our eternal reward. There is eschatology here in symbols. The Holy Spirit is telling us here that there is something higher and much more glorious for Godâ€™s people than what they know in this life. The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us hereafter. Someday, in heaven, we will look back on our lives here on earth and we will be able to see how our trials served to bring us to glory. And we will count them as nothing compared with the glory and the eternal inheritance that we will have in the presence of God.
In that day, too, Satan will no longer taunt the people of God. That really is a part of the message of the book of Job. In the beginning, Satan has a presence, and Satan has power. But at the end he is not just silenced, but he is gone from the scene. And that is a part of what we hope for in heaven. Satan will be banished. His power will be broken, and we will be delivered forever from sin and its destruction and consequences.
And so we see that these Old Testament experiences and realities in the life of Job are written to point beyond themselves to something far better that awaits us as Godâ€™s children.
That brings us to the end of this marvelous book of the Bible. I want to conclude with just one thought, one lesson, that I hope we all have learned. This: That in the midst of the troubles of life, we ought to fix our eyes on God and His Son Jesus Christ, believing His promises, trusting His power, hoping for the day when He will come again, when we will see Him face to face, and when we will be made like Him and enjoy the riches and glories of heaven forever. The book of Job teaches us that, though we cannot always understand the reason for our suffering, we do have a God who can be trusted, who is Lord over all, and who works all things for our good to bring us to that future day of glory and vindication. And so we pray: â€œCome, Lord Jesus.â€
Let us pray.
Father, help us in the troubles of life not only to remember Job and his example for us for patience, but also to remember the greater truth of this book: Thy sovereign rule over all things, even over Satan, and Thy purposes that are to bring us to our eternal inheritance. We look forward to that day. Help us, Lord, to live in the light of that day, even here and now. We ask it for Jesusâ€™ sake, Amen.