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Don Smith :: Chapter 10: The God of Grace (Job 42:7-17)

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Chapter 10: The God of Grace (Job 42:7-17)

An epic story needs a fitting last chapter. Conflict needs resolution. Character development calls for evaluation. Life values cry out for examination. All of these elements are included in the last chapter of Job. There are those literary critics and theological skeptics, however, who question its conclusion because God is pictured as sovereign and Job repents to enjoy a long and contented life. They say it portrays too many moral absolutes and too much unrealistic hope in this world.

If there were a film version today of Job's story it would look very different. For example, Job might be played by Jim Carey, to give it humor, or Brad Pitt, to give it box office appeal. The voice of God might be Morgan Freeman, to give God a homey feel or Nicole Kidman, to give God a warm sensitive feminine touch. The final scenes of Job would reflect Hollywood's twist on culture and religion. The visual effects of the whirlwind would overpower the message. Job would either remain alone, weeping without resolution on the trash heap as the scene fades away and the subtitles wiz by or he would become disenchanted with his faith, recover at a convent, divorce his wife, take up a homosexual lifestyle with his three friends, and pour his life into becoming rich again. The audience would decide for itself which ending it prefers.

However, the Bible offers a much different conclusion. It brings resolution to knowing God, it calls for evaluation of our values, and it cries out for further examination of Christ. It is an ending unlike stories written today. God is supreme, man is subservient, and life is hopeful. It is one of the earliest biblical books to illustrate God's redemptive plan. This epic true-life story ends with a magnificent portrait of God's grace.

A Look Back to Look Forward

A quick review of Job might be helpful. This poetic saga begins with God's announced pleasure in Job as a blameless, upright, God-fearing man. He enjoyed the blessing of God on his life. He was considered the greatest of men of the East. Not only did he have unparalleled wealth, but a godly family. As the family priest he would intercede for each of his children by offering burnt sacrifices on their birthdays in case any of them had sinned or cursed God. He was an example of faith and prosperity. All this was interrupted one day when Satan came before the Lord. Satan wagered Job would curse God if only God struck him with adversity. He reasoned that Job only loved and followed God because of what he got out of the relationship-prosperity. God consented to the challenge and permitted Satan to test Job's faith. With fiendish delight, Satan struck down all of Job's possessions by the use of evil men and natural catastrophes.

Then Satan created a great windstorm to strike down the house of Job's oldest son, causing the death of all of his ten children. When Job was informed of these catastrophes, he fell to the ground and worshipped God and said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). In spite of his grief, Job did not sin or curse God.

Once again, Satan came before the Lord, unconvinced of Job's faith. He asked to strike Job's health this time, still convinced that men believe and follow God only for what they get out of the relationship and not because they really love God. God allowed Satan to work his wiles, only he could not kill Job. Satan struck Job with a hideous and painful disease that caused puffy sores and lesions over all his body.

When Job's grief-stricken wife saw his plight, she urged him to curse God and die. Job, however, responded, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10). In spite of Job's suffering and pain, he did not sin or curse God throughout this whole epic saga, which continued for an undisclosed amount of time.

Later, three friends came to comfort him, but ended up discouraging and disheartening him. Job lamented his predicament because he was reminded by his friends that, "Good things happen to good people while bad things happen to bad people." They were adherents of "retribution theology," the faddish theology of the day. They maintained to the very end that Job must have committed some terrible secret sin or else he would not be in this adversity. Their focus was on God's justice against sinners and the efficaciousness of men's good works to find favor with God. Job argued for his relative innocence even though he admitted he was a sinner. He kept crying out for God to be just by giving him the chance to prove his innocence in the courts of heaven. He pleaded for an advocate to put one hand on his shoulder and the other on God's so that their differences could be worked out. He also prayed for a kinsman redeemer who would purchase his freedom from guilt and deliver him from his adversity.

After cycles of lamentations, God came to Job in a whirlwind. He did not answer Job's questions about his predicament, but rather spoke about His supremacy as "Creator God" over all things in heaven and earth. God asked Job questions only God could answer. Job's head swirled like a tornado, overwhelmed in God's presence. All he could say to God was, "Behold I am vile; I'll shut up and You speak" (Job 40:4). The Lord continued interrogating Job by explaining His mastery over the enmity of spiritual darkness.

When God completed His comments, Job was tongue-tied and spell-bound. In utter amazement of God's glory in the whirlwind responded, "I know that You can do everything, no purpose of Yours can be withheld from you" (Job 42:2). Then Job cried out to the Lord not for justice, but for mercy, "Therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6).

What follows is the fitting conclusion to this epic story of "The God of the Whirlwind." It illustrates the theological basis for our understanding of God's grace and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

God's Grace Calls

The God of grace calls sinners to repentance (Job 42:7-9). Remembering the nature of the God of the Whirlwind in this story is important. Because God is holy, His wrath is aroused against sin and sinners. And because God is holy and just, He must judge injustice and the unjust. But because God is love, He has chosen to save many by His grace.

The call of God from the whirlwind was to awaken Job to his unrighteousness (Job 42:7). Job had not sinned and cursed God, yet he still was a sinful earthling in need of God's grace. God's discourse with Job proved God was supreme over all things. Therefore, Job appropriately repented in dust and ashes. He threw a handful of dust and ashes up into the air admitting that God had created him from the dust of the earth and he was under the curse of sin deserving the fires of hell. It was a cry for God's mercy and grace.

God's pleasure in Job was His pleasure in Job's confession of his sin, and his cry for God's grace. God's pleasure, therefore, was not in anything inherently good in Job but in God's pleasure in reconciling sinners to Himself by grace. God would provide a kinsman redeemer who would reconcile and justify him before God. This was the purpose for the adversity and suffering, to bring him to realize God's grace. Satan's enmity accomplished God's good purpose for Job, demonstrating his need of God's mercy and grace. James, the brother of our Lord, realized this and said in James 5:11, "You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord, that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful." This is a fitting conclusion, says James, to the epic story of God's grace for Job and for us.

The call of God from the whirlwind was also given to Job's friends to awaken them to their unrighteousness and their need of God's grace (Job 42:7). Job had previously called them "forgers of lies" and "worthless physicians" (Job 13:10). He warned that God would surely rebuke them for their false accusations against him. As we see in this last chapter, God rebukes these false counselors and theologians, and affirmed Job to be His servant. They were experiencing, first hand, by watching and listening to God speak from the whirlwind that they too were aware His wrath was being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness towards those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18). Their hard impenitent hearts were storing up for themselves God's wrath and God alone renders to each man according to his deeds. They had not admitted the deceitfulness of their hearts, which was thinking they had a righteousness of their own that merited favor with God (Romans 1:18; 2:5). They were sons of disobedience, and by nature, children of wrath (Ephesians 2:2-3). They were about to learn that the goodness of God leads sinners to repentance.

The well-worn path to reconciliation begins with "repentance". Christ began His earthly preaching ministry with this cry, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). Repentance is a God-given capacity to sinners by which they desire and accept God's sovereign grace and willingly turn away from the sinful desires that corrupt and enslave. Those who admit that God formed them from the dust of the earth and they deserve the fires of hell, can and will call upon the Lord for His mercy and appropriate the sufficiency of His grace. The Spirit of God accomplishes this work in sinners. This was the end to which Job and his friends endured their days on the ash heap. This is the end to which all our trials and troubles are intended by God. God's grace, however, was not complete in Job until it resulted in forgiveness of others. We also learn about the means of God's grace that forgives sinners.

God's Grace Reconciles

The God of grace reconciles sinners by faith in His redemptive provision (Job 42:8-9). Job's friends were called to believe their reconciliation came only through faith in God's perfect sacrifice (Leviticus 23:18; Numbers 23:1). Even before Moses, burnt sacrifices were offered to the Lord for forgiveness of sin. Abel offered a blood sacrifice that pleased the Lord, as did Noah, Job, Balaam, Abraham and his sons. God commanded Job's friends to take for themselves seven bulls and rams as a sacrifice. The number seven represented God's perfect sacrifice. Their sacrifice was a type and shadow anticipating Christ's blood sacrifice on the cross.

Job's friends also were called to believe reconciliation came only through faith in God's prescribed intercessor (Job 16:19-21; cf. Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 4:44; 6:14-15; Ephesians 4:32). Irony was also at play in God's plan. Not only was Job affirmed in their eyes to be God's servant, but they were learning firsthand what Job had prayed for-the blessings of a kinsman redeemer (Job 16:19-21). Job had pleaded for an advocate to be his friend and reconciler before God. What Job and his friends did not fully understand was that Christ would be their kinsman redeemer, suffering servant, and Great High Priest.

On that day, God appointed Job to be his friends' servant and priest, to intercede for their sins as a portrait of Christ's great ministry for us. He was designated to offer intercessory prayer for them before they could be accepted. Christ's perfect blood sacrifice and His prayer still make intercession for transgressors. Not only was Job called upon to intercede for his enemies even as Christ intercedes for us, but he was also learning the power of grace (Isaiah 53:12). As a recipient of God's grace, he was called upon to forgive other sinners.

The power of grace is not compete until we learn to forgive others who have offended us. Ephesians 4:31-32 calls us to "be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave us." Those who claim to be repentant sinners who have called upon God's grace for forgiveness of their sins yet still bear grudges, harbor bitterness, and resist forgiveness, are disobedient Christians, forfeiting the power and sufficiency of God's grace. Christ put such a high priority upon forgiving others, He warned in Matthew 6:14-15, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

Job was justified by faith alone in God's grace, but God's work of grace was not complete until he obeyed God and prayed for his enemies. Dangling bitterness and broken relationships are inconsistent with grace receivers. Jesus taught that we are to love and pray for our enemies because this is the appropriate response to being a recipient of God's grace, forgiving others. Job's friends went and did as the Lord said, for the Lord had accepted Job.

We are accepted by God because His Servant Son, Jesus Christ, is accepted by the Father as our only means of righteousness. Faith in Christ alone and His perfect sacrifice is the only way to find acceptance with God. When we pray, we have an advocate and Great High Priest in Christ who always makes intercession for us.

But wait! This epic story about the God of the whirlwind is not quite over. Not only is there reconciliation, but there is restoration with God.

God's Grace Restores

The God of grace restores justified sinners to Himself with manifold blessings (Job 42:10-17). Only after Job repented of his sin and interceded for the sins of his friends were God's blessings restored to him. We are not told but it is implied that Job's health was restored. We have come to realize that this is not always the case for every child of God who prays for healing. But God always restores justified sinners to Himself when they call upon His name. The manifold blessings awaiting the righteous are far greater than anything Job experienced this side of the veil.

But we are told God doubly blessed the latter days of Job with prosperity (Job 42:10-15). Even though he had enjoyed many friends in prosperity, in poverty he had none. Job attributed his loss of friends and relatives to the adversity God allowed in his life. "He [God] has removed my brothers far from me, and my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. My relatives have failed [could this include his wife?] and my close friends have forgotten me. Those who dwell in my house, and my maidservants, count me as a stranger; I am an alien in their sight. I call my servant, but he gives no answer; I beg him with my mouth. My breath is offensive to my wife, and I am repulsive to the children of my own body. Even young children despise me; I arise, and they speak against me. All my close friends abhor me, and those whom I love have turned against me" (Job 19:13-19).

We are not told if Job's wife was restored to him, but it is very likely. God can restore broken relationships that can never be mended by men. Wealth can buy many fair-weather friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother; that brother for Job was God Himself (cf. Proverbs 14:20; 19:4-7; 18:24). When everyone else walked away, God came along in a whirlwind. He never forsakes or abandons His own because He cannot forsake Himself. The man or woman of faith is God's pleasure because they are identified with God's infinite pleasure, His Beloved Son.

We are also told that God restored Job's material losses two-fold. We also learn that God gave to Job ten more children. Remember poor Job's wife who tempted him to curse God was now blessed with ten children-seven sons and three beautiful daughters! Their names represent the joy and blessing of God which was restored to Job. Jemimah means the "light of day," for God had brought light out Job's darkness. Keziah means "sweet cinnamon," because God made life sweet again. Keren-happuch today would be similar to the name "Maybeline" because she put "eye shadow" on her eyes to make herself beautiful. She was a constant reminder that God had brought beauty back into Job's life.

Some have wondered why God did not give Job twenty children, fourteen sons and six daughters. I offer two answers: First, the thought of giving birth to twenty children might have been all Job's wife needed again to tempt her spouse to curse God and die! But my simplest and best answer is that God did double Job's family-ten were already alive in heaven. Our family and friends who die in Christ are separated from us for just a little while. They are with Christ and they are enjoying eternal blessings far greater than anything they have known upon this sin-sick world.

Finally, we are informed that God doubly blessed the latter days of Job with longevity of life (Job 42:16-17). He enjoyed one hundred forty years of life, doubling his age of seventy which is when he was struck by Satan. One of the many joys of his old age was seeing "his children, grandchildren for four generations." Proverbs 17:6 certainly tells it right: "Children's children are the crown of old men".

On a personal note, I concur that grandkids are the joy of our latter years. I have wondered as I read Job if he continued his priestly duties, offering sacrifices for his kids and grandkids on their birthdays in case they had sinned or cursed God? Grandparents can have such a vital part in the life of their children and grandchildren. We can hug them, spoil and pray for them and then turn them back to their parents to discipline them because our kids deserve everything they did to us!

Job's epitaph reads that he "died old and full of days" (Proverbs 17:6). Job's trials and tribulations remind us that our love for God is not to be conditioned by prosperity. We are to love and trust God even in our adversity because He first loved us and entrusted us with His grace.

Conclusion

Job's story is really the story about the God of Grace in the whirlwind. It reveals His supremacy over all things, even working the evil intent of Satan and men to accomplish His good purposes. It teaches the majestic goodness and grace of God. It prepares us to recognize Christ as our Kinsman Redeemer who reconciles us to God. It gives us an appreciation of Christ's perfect sacrifice and intercessory ministry for us. It offers us hope-not just in the next world, but in this one as well.

2 Peter 1:2-4 is a fitting conclusion to Job: "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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