By Mike Dawson
Pastor Emeritus, First Baptist Church, Columbia
Focal Passage: Job 42:1-11
You may have heard about the little boy who stood with his dad outside the window of a pet store. His dad had promised a new puppy, and the son was now selecting one. Several pups vied for attention; one of them was not the cutest, but was excitedly wagging his tail. “That’s the one I want,” the boy said, “The one with the happy ending!”
Everyone likes a ‘happy ending,’ especially when the villains get their comeuppance and the admired hero gets to live happily ever after. That kind of ending is found in today’s study from the book of Job, chapter 42.
This is not fiction or fairy tale. It’s the true-life story of Job, who went from riches to rags — to riches again. The story of a man who endured pain, suffering, loss and grief, and whose so-called friends turned against him and slandered him.
A man who was beloved by God yet felt abandoned by Him. A man who was not always patient (regardless of the popular phrase “the patience of Job”) but who was clearly steadfast and persevered in trusting God.
As Job’s suffering continued over a long period of time, and his accusing ‘friends’ made matters worse, he had lashed out, desiring to haul God into court so Job could defend himself. Now the final chapter in Job’s story, the happy ending, comes in three powerful statements.
(1) Job: “I reject my words.” (42:1-6) Hearing the very voice of God and realizing how flimsy his own words were in light of God’s knowledge, majesty and power, Job affirms, “I know that You can do anything” (verse 1). He admits “I spoke about things I did not understand” (verse 3) and “I had heard reports about You, but now my eyes have seen You” (verse 5). And, “I reject my words” (verse 6) — (or “I’m sorry for my thoughtless statements.”) Job is preaching the Gospel here: as sinners we hear God’s Word; admitting our shortcomings, we repent of our sins. Yet it’s not enough to hear — and even to repent. We must also see our Lord — crucified, resurrected, ascending into Heaven, and coming again. Truly seeing Him means we personally receive Him into our hearts as Savior and Lord.
(2) The friends: “We repent of our ‘wisdom’.” (42:7-9) Job’s friends had spoken as if they were the three wise men. Yet such wisdom, as James 3:15 says “does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.” That was the so-called wisdom of Job’s friends. Therefore God speaks to them by first addressing Eliphaz, who was Job’s first accuser. God says they were all lying about Job AND about Himself (verse 7), and tells them to show clear signs of true repentance, which they do, in complete obedience (verses 8-9).
(3) God Himself: “I restore your wealth.” (42:10-11) Job had been a wealthy man in more than his fortunes — wealthy in family, friendships, and fun celebrations. Now God restored all that wealth, after Job had prayed for his friends; doesn’t that say something about our own desired restoration? And, God restored Job by giving him twice the ‘wealth’ he had before his suffering. A blessed, happy ending. B&R — Dawson is pastor emeritus at First Baptist Church, Columbia, and also serves as transitional interim around the state.