At last, Job was humbled before the Lord with nowhere to look but up. Here is a life-changing truth: Either we humble ourselves, or God will humble us. This had been a painful lesson for Job to learn. With a new awareness beyond his previous understanding, he realized God was greater than all of his trials.
God’s revelation of Himself to Job required a response from Job.
Having been shown the divine power and majesty in creation, Job replied to the Lord. He confessed the Lord can do anything and no plan of God can be thwarted. Job realized all of God’s sovereign plans will be accomplished. Even Satan cannot go one inch beyond the leash on which the Lord keeps him.
God’s revelation did not answer all of Job’s questions, and neither will it answer all of ours. It does not give us a philosophically filled-in and tidied-up schema that can explain the problem of evil and suffering. But it does something deeper: It opens our eyes to Who God is. He is the only God, and He has no rival. Even the mystery of evil is His mystery. When we suffer, we can bow down to the sovereign God, knowing the evil that comes may be terrible, but it will not and cannot ever go beyond what God allows.
Job admitted he had spoken out of ignorance of things beyond his ability to understand. Surely this is a charge that would indict us all.
In verse 4, Job quoted a statement God had made when He first responded to him (38:3). By citing these words previously spoken by God, Job admitted these divine words had been heard and heeded. He came to understand the Lord had the right to demand answers from him. Job now had a greater understanding of God’s character than before his suffering began. Job was deeply grieved over his blatant sin. Having seen God in His holiness, Job saw himself in his unholiness.
The Lord turned His attention to Job’s three friends who also needed correction. The Lord was angry at the three men because they had spoken inaccurately about God. They taught that all suffering was the direct result of sin. They believed that if good things happened to people, they must be right with God, and if bad things happened to people, then they were not right with God. This is not biblical theology. These men had misrepresented God. Only Job had spoken the truth about God by insisting his suffering was not a punishment.
God made a provision so the three friends could have their “folly” forgiven. They were to take seven bulls and seven rams, go to Job and there offer burnt offerings to the Lord. Job was to be their mediator and pray for them, and the Lord would forgive them. Job’s friends obeyed, and God reconciled these men to Himself and to Job.
In this act of obedience, we see the elements of conversion: repentance and faith. These men turned from their sin, illustrated by the death of the animals, and trusted God, illustrated by Job’s mediatory prayer.
After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored Job’s fortune and family, but this does not always happen in life. Job 42 points us to the Lord’s return at the end of the age. The normal Christian life in a Genesis 3 world is one of spiritual warfare, waiting, humbling and remembering blessings will come in the end. In Christ, we too will know real prosperity, joy, celebration, fruitfulness and beauty.
By Jay T. Robertson, Ph.D.
Robertson is Associate Professor of Christian Studies at the University of Mobile