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JOB'S REPENTANCE AND THE EPILOGUE
"Then Job answered Jehovah, and said, I know that thou canst do all things,
And that no purpose of thine can be restrained.
Who is this that hideth counsel without knowledge?
Therefore have I uttered things which I understood not,
Things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak;
I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear;
But now mine eye seeth thee.
Wherefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes."
"I know that thou canst do all things ... etc." (Job 42:2). "Job acknowledges that God can achieve all that he plans, and that He plans, knowing that he can do all things." Van Selms elaborated this somewhat, writing, "I sense, from the examples you have cited, the behemoth and the leviathan, that you are able to realize all your plans for your creation, however far these may go beyond human conception. You have reasons for what you do, of which we are totally ignorant"
"Who is this that hideth counsel without knowledge" (Job 42:3). "In this Job repeats the question which God had asked in Job 38:2, admitting that he spoke out of limited knowledge, too confidently of things too wonderful for him to understand." In our interpretation of Job 38:2, we applied the words to the speech of Elihu; but we do not believe that Job's accepting the application of the words to himself in this verse is a contradiction of that which we alleged earlier. As a matter of fact, all of the speakers in the Book of Job fall under the same blanket indictment, but Job is to be blamed far less than any of the others. Job's knowledge of God has been greatly expanded; and he has a new appreciation of the extent, complexity and marvelous wonder of God's creation.
"Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak" (Job 42:4). Earlier, Job had been unwilling to speak (Job 40:4-5); but now, in the light of his greater understanding, he is willing to respond to God's invitation. "He can now accept the fact that God and his government of man's life, and even his distribution of rewards and retributions, are ultimately beyond man's power to comprehend." Job's willingness to speak should not be interpreted as evidence that he then understand all about God. He didn't; nor, in this life, would he ever do so.
"I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee" (Job 42:5). This must not be understood as a contradiction of the great truth that "No man may see God." What Job referred to here was God's revelation to him in the form of a voice out of the whirlwind. Van Selms' comment on this was, "(My knowledge) was based on hear-say; but now I have been confronted by yourself, although you wrapped yourself in a thunder-cloud as in a garment; and in that form of concealment you did appear to me."
"But now mine eye seeth thee" (Job 42:5). This cannot mean that Job then knew more about God. Perhaps, he knew even less; but he had found an utterly new conception of God, not as some kind of an impersonal law, but God as a Person, a Person infinitely concerned with human affairs, a Person who would even speak to Job! that being the most wonderful and most incredible thing in the whole book. It revealed a love of God for man as nothing else could possibly have done.
"Now that thou hast revealed thyself unto me, my spiritual eyes are opened; and I begin to see thee in thy true might, thy true greatness, and thy true inscrutableness. I now recognize the distance that separates us." The same realization came to Job in this marvelous experience that was expressed by the Psalmist: "He (God) remembereth that we are dust" (Psalms 103:14). God, of course, holds this remembrance of men continually; and happy indeed is the man who himself finds the grace also to remember it. This grace was given to Job, as revealed in the following verse.
"Wherefore, I abhor myself" (Job 42:6a). The underlined word here is not in the text, having been supplied by the translators; and, as indicated in the margin, "I loathe my words" is also a legitimate rendition. "Godly hatred of one's own defilement is the natural accompaniment of a believer's confrontation with the Holy God."
"And repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6b). Of what did Job repent? "Certainly, he did not repent of such sins as his friends had alleged against him; and neither is it enough to say that Job repented of his pride. Repentance here is the mood of a man who realizes his creaturehood and that God is eternally God."
Here in Job 42:5,6, we have, "The supreme lesson of the book. No new theoretical knowledge of God and his ways has been given to Job; but he has come face to face with God, and that is enough"!
As we come to the end of Job, we are amazed that no answer whatever has been provided for the overriding question regarding the reason behind human suffering. "God is not so much concerned with strengthening man's faith by giving him answers to his questions, as he is with encouraging the kind of faith that does not demand answers." As the great Apostle to the Gentiles stated it, "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." (2 Corinthians 3:19). The person who waits till he knows the answers to all his questions will never even begin to serve God.
"Job is a titanic figure of sinful man, standing at midpoint between the Garden of Eden and the New Testament." God's manifesting such concern for Job, his unworthy creature, is a pledge of God's love for all men, and a symbol of that eventual revelation to all mankind in Jesus Christ. He ranks along with Moses, Abraham, Melchizedek, and Jethro the priest of Midian as one of the great monotheists of the Old Testament.
"And it was so, that, after Jehovah had spoken these words to Job, Jehovah said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath."
What a shock such a declaration from God himself, speaking out of the whirlwind, must have been to Job's three friends. That God completely ignored both Satan and Elihu is significant. That omission of any reference whatever to either Satan or Elihu, indicates the defeat and vanquishing of Satan and the strong implication that Elihu was, of all four instruments of Satan in their attack against Job, the most evil and the most offensive to God. It is extremely important that, when the friends were instructed on how they might be forgiven, Elihu was left out of it altogether.
Note here that only Eliphaz was called by name. This was probably due to the fact that he was the first to speak in each cycle of speeches; and that, from this, it is usually concluded that he was the oldest of the three.
"As my servant Job hath" (Job 42:7). This divine sanction of what Job had said about God should not be understood as an endorsement of everything that Job said. It should be applied to the principle issue in the argument, "Whether or not God always rewarded every man according to his conduct in this life, and that he did so at once, or immediately." The three friends had adopted the false theory that one could indeed measure the righteousness of a person by the degree of his prosperity, which was essentially the proposition espoused by the devil himself, with the variation that the only reason prosperous men served God was that of assuring the continuation of their prosperity. On the basis of that false view, the three friends insisted that Job was a reprobate sinner. This Job vehemently denied, pointing out that the wicked often prospered; and it is primarily of that basic truth that God spoke in this verse.
"My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends" (Job 42:8). God's anger was due to the consent of the three in becoming instruments of Satan in their efforts to force Job to renounce his integrity. If we may judge from the exceedingly large sacrifices that God required of each of them, God must have considered their sin to have been of the very greatest dimensions.
SACRIFICIAL OFFERINGS REQUIRED OF THE THREE
"Now therefore, take unto you seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt-offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you; for him will I accept, that I deal not with you after your folly; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath."
It is significant here that, "Ezekiel required as burnt-offerings for the entire nation of Israel (Ezekiel 45:22-25) seven bullocks and seven rams, whereas the expiatory sacrifices required by the Law for individuals were much smaller (Leviticus 4)." The fact that the speeches of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar were subjected here to blanket condemnation was the basis upon which we greatly reduced the comments that could have been made on each of their speeches. The fact of their being evil greatly reduced their importance.
"My servant Job shall pray for you" (Job 42:8). This was an order that God gave to Job and not merely an optional privilege. This intercession for them by Job was an additional condition of their being forgiven.
"So Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as Jehovah commanded them: and Jehovah accepted Job."
From this, it is evident that it was actually Job's intercessory prayer that constituted the principal element in the procurement of their forgiveness. The value of a truly righteous man's prayers upon behalf of others appears here as a glorious achievement. "The prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). "Job is thus a type of Christ, not merely in his undeserved sufferings, but also in his mediatorial intercession for his friends." Kelly also noted that, "Job here stands as a prefiguration of the Christian man in his acceptance of divine grace, and earlier, he had illustrated the deep need of all mankind for justification."
THE TURNING OF JOB'S CAPTIVITY
"And Jehovah turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends: and Jehovah gave Job twice as much as he had before."
The "turning of Job's captivity," is an idiomatic expression having nothing whatever to do with one's having been in prison or in captivity. The RSV should be followed here. It reads: "And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends." Some have criticized the epilogue as "spoiling the whole book," seeing in it nothing but a reaffirmation of the evil doctrine that everyone gets exactly what he deserves in this life. Does not Job wind up getting twice as much as he ever had before? Such a viewpoint misses the whole point of the Book of Job.
"And Jehovah turned the captivity of Job ... and gave Job twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10). Why did God do this? Let it be remembered that Satan had challenged Job's integrity; and Job successfully withstood every test, proving that he served God for his own sake, not merely for the prosperity that resulted; and, after Job had turned back Satan's evil charge, it would not have been right for God to have left Job in perpetual suffering and poverty. God increased Job's wealth, not because Job was His loyal servant, but because he was wealthy when the test started. Furthermore the vast increase of Job's riches is here said to have taken place, "When he prayed for his friends."
As we have meditated upon the Book of Job, striving to unlock the mysteries that are undoubtedly in it, a thought has come to us again and again, although we have sought a similar view in vain among the authors and scholars we have consulted. That thought is simply this: Job's life, although not perfect in the infinite sense, nevertheless established the principle that the mortal flesh of man was not in itself incompatible with the truth that a sinless life could indeed be lived in it. And that, in some unknown way, might have been a contribution to the Eternal Truth that The Man, even the Christ, did indeed live a sinless life in mortal flesh.
"Then there came 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 concerning all the evil that Jehovah had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one a ring of gold."
"Concerning all the evil that Jehovah had brought upon him" (Job 42:11). One thing that is absolutely clear in the Book of Job is the fact that it was Satan, not Jehovah, who slaughtered Job's children, impoverished him, and reduced him to the utmost suffering and disease; yet here, it is stated that, "Jehovah had brought" all these things upon him. Here we have enunciated the Biblical premise that God indeed "does" that which he allows to happen. Thus Job was by no means in error when he spoke of the terrible things that God had done to him. There is another principle somewhat akin to this, namely, that whatever a man commands another to do, it is also true that he himself does it.
"Every man gave him a piece of money ... gold ring ...etc." (Job 42:11). These things were not what increased Job's wealth, "For these gifts were tokens of love and esteem, rather than gifts to alleviate his poverty."
"So Jehovah blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: and he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses."
A check with the prologue will indicate that all of these endowments are exactly twice what Job at first possessed.
"He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah; and the name of the second, Keziah; and the name of the third Karen-happuch. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren."
The stress of Job's daughters here is significant; and we find in it a type of the marvelous endowment that came to women through the gospel of Christ. That these three daughters should have been mentioned by name, distinguishing them from the seven sons who were not named, and that their inheritance should have been absolutely upon a parity with their brethren (both of these facts being absolutely contrary to all of the customs and sentiments of the age in which Job lived) - these things are doubtless typical of the loving equality and glory that the Jesus Christ has brought to women.
"Jemimah, ... Keziah, ... Keren-happuch" (Job 42:14). James Moffatt's Translation of the Bible (1929) translated these names as "Ringdove, Cassia, and Apple-scent." Van Selms read them as, "Turtledove, Cinnamon, and Jar of Eye-shadow." "The literal meaning of Karen-happuch is "Born of Stibium, the same being a kind of dye with which Oriental women, from the remotest antiquity, have anointed the upper and lower eyelids in order to enhance the beauty of the eyes and to give them additional luster."
"And after this Job lived a hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations. So Job died, being old and full of days."
The importance of Job is again apparent in this narrative, because his age corresponded to that of the patriarchs, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This fact alone lifts him out of the category of ordinary persons, and endows this narrative of his life with special significance.
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 42". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany