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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
Job 38

 

 

Verses 1-17

Silence having fallen upon all four disputants, a fresh speaker appeared, and he too is introduced to us in a way that shows we are considering a history and not a romance. He was descended from Buz, who was a nephew of Abraham, as Genesis 22:21 shows. In those early days after the flood, when population was small, the duplication of names would not be common.

Now Elihu is a name with a meaning, which is given to us as, "God Himself." If we bear this in mind, and then read verse Job 32:6 of Job 33:1-33, we shall see that he intervened to play the part of a mediator, and so become a type — though a faint one — of the true Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God Himself. Elihu was truly a man, formed out of the clay and he stood before Job on God's behalf, according to the desire that Job expressed in Job 9:33.

In Job 32:1-22 we have, what we may call, Elihu's apology for speaking at all. As a much younger man he had been content to listen to all these controversial speeches and in result was moved to wrath against all four. Job had justified himself without justifying God, while the others had condemned Job without being able to answer his arguments. He acknowledged that normally men should increase in wisdom and understanding as they increased in years, but neither greatness of reputation nor age guaranteed this, since wisdom really comes to man through his spirit and as the fruit of the "inspiration," or "breath" of the Almighty. If the three friends had succeeded in convicting Job, they would have prided themselves on their own wisdom; only God could do it. The closing words of verse Job 32:13 have been translated, " God will make him yield, not man."

Elihu also had the advantage which he mentioned in verse Job 32:14. He had not been involved in the wordy warfare, hence he could view it all impartially, and speak in a way that would not be flattering to any of the contestants. Moreover, having listened to all that had been said, he was so full of matter that it had to find an outlet and burst forth from him.

So in the opening verses of Job 33:1-33, we find him making two claims. First, he asserts that his words will be marked by uprightness and purity, as becomes one who has his being and life from God. Second, that though he would speak on God's behalf, he himself was a man, "formed of the clay," just as Job was, and hence, though Job had said of God, "Let not His fear terrify me" (Job 9:34), what he had to say, as interpreting God's ways, would bring no terror to Job's spirit. Even as our Lord Jesus became a Man, thus bringing God to us without any sense of terror.

In verse Job 32:8, Elihu began to challenge Job in a direct way. He had heard what Job had contended, and he summed it all up as being a repudiation of any accusation brought against him as to transgression and iniquity, which of necessity involved, either directly or indirectly, an accusation against God of hard dealing, if not injustice. In thus summing up the whole position we can see, we think, that Elihu was not far wrong. The world being as it is and what it is, if perfection be claimed for man, then obviously all the wrong that exists must be blamed upon God.

In answer to Job, Elihu's first point is the supreme greatness of God. Hence striving against Him is futile. It is man who is accountable to God, not God accountable to man. Let us in our day never forget this.

But then in the second place, though God gives no account of His matters, He does speak to man, though so often man does not perceive it. And, having stated this, he proceeded to indicate ways in which God does thus speak. He may speak in a dream or a vision. He has often done so, as Scripture records, and evidently He does so still, particularly with simple saints, who know but little of the Bible, and possibly have but little of the Bible in their native tongue. Where saints are instructed in and by the Bible — a superior form of guidance - dreams, in which God speaks, are comparatively rare. And, if God does thus speak to a man in a dream: to what end is it? To alter his course and to humble his pride into the dust. A salutary word for Job; and for all of us.

God may also speak to a man by granting him some merciful deliverance when he is threatened by disaster or war. This is mentioned in verse Job 32:18, and many of us can look back to occasions when we received mercy of this sort, and we were conscious at once that God had something to say to us in it.

And yet again, God may speak through pain and sickness, which is so vividly described in verses Job 32:19-22, until the sufferer is brought face to face with death itself. We can see how Elihu's description of this exactly fitted the case of Job, and indeed not a few of us, though our cases have not been nearly as extreme as Job's. How often has a careless sinner, when smitten thus, been led to turn to God and awakened for his eternal salvation. How often too has a saint had to look back to a time of severe sickness as an occasion of much spiritual blessing.

These times of emergency are the opportunity for the one whom Elihu called a "messenger," an "interpreter," who can show what it is that God has to say in these things. Though such are not common, as indeed we know, they are of great value, and Elihu called them, "one among a thousand," which indicates rarity. There may be many who can commiserate and sometimes condemn the afflicted one, as did Job's three friends. To give the mind of God is another and a greater thing.

When the interpreter has arrived what has he to say? He shows to a man his uprightness; which is of course, to judge himself and hence honestly to take his place before God as a self-confessed sinner. This Job had not as yet done, but it is that to which he was led when the end of the story is reached. It is the end we must all of us reach if we have to do with God at all. Have we, all of us, reached it?

When that point is reached, what is the result? An exhibition of grace on God's part, resulting in deliverance from going into the pit, and that, because God Himself had found a ransom. The word translated "ransom" here simply means a "covering," akin to the word translated, "atonement" in the Old Testament. Before Christ came God covered before His holy eye the sin of the repentant sinner, waiting for the time when full propitiation should be made in the all-sufficient sacrifice of Christ. Hence that word about "the remission [passing over — see, margin] of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God" (Romans 3:25). These past sins were those of pre-Christian saints; Job's among them.

Verse 25 had special reference to Job's case; but verses 26 - 30 have a wide application. The ransomed sinner stands before God in righteousness and with joy and, as the next verses show, he can happily confess both his sin and his deliverance before men, as the marginal reading of verse 28 shows. Elihu's words here were instruction to Job and designed to lead him to honest confession before God. They are equally true for us, and that in a far more ample and perfect way, as we look back to the accomplished work of Christ.

In these remarkable words Elihu was certainly acting the part of the interpreter with Job, by showing what is the good design of God in His dealings, so adverse apparently, with men. He aims at delivering them from the "pit" of self-esteem and complacency in this life, and the "pit" of judgment and condemnation in the life to come. Having interpreted God's ways thus far Elihu evidently paused to see if at this point there was anything Job wished to say.

There being no response on Job's part, Elihu resumed his discourse and, as Job 34:2 indicates, had a larger audience in view. He addressed himself also to the three friends and any other bystanders, challenging them as to whether they had the wisdom and knowledge that would enable them to try words: and choose what is good and right. He knew well that the effect of sin is to pervert man's judgment and blind him to what is right.

In keeping with the larger audience he began to speak about Job rather than to Job as previously he had done. Job does not appear to have said, "I am righteous," in so many words; he had rather inferred it by singing his own praises in the way recorded in Job 29:1-25. But, turning back to Job 27:2, we note he did definitely say, "God hath taken away my judgment." Hence his attitude clearly was, "Should I lie against my right?"

His "right" was, he maintained to be free of these calamities and he did not intend to say otherwise. His wound did indeed seem to be incurable but he maintained it was not provoked by any transgression on his part. Verses Job 32:5-6 sum up Job's position, as Elihu saw it. He had not claimed to be sinless, but he did claim that he was guilty of no transgression that justified God in inflicting upon him such woes. In effect it came to this, that he was right, and God was wrong.

Elihu now shows that in all this Job had really allied himself with the wicked. The scorning of men he might drink up like water, but he could not so treat the judgment of God. The absolute perfection and rightness of all God's ways is what Elihu asserts; a matter of the greatest importance, seeing He is supreme in all the earth. He has "charge over the earth," so that He has "disposed the whole world." Verse Job 32:14 has been translated, "If He only thought of Himself, and gathered unto Him His spirit and His breath;" then the result would be that all flesh would expire together and man return to the dust. Such is the greatness as well as the rightness of God.

Hence the argument of the succeeding verses. Should government be in the hands of the unjust? And if in the hands of the ALL-Just, is what He orders to be challenged? Men would not speak thus to kings or princes. Much less then to God. What He orders must be right.

Elihu proceeds to speak of the searching judgment of God, which is quite impartial, the rich being amenable to it equally with the poor Moreover there is "no darkness, nor shadow of death," where those who work evil may hide themselves. He went on to assert that God's judgments are always right and that He acts as seems good in His sight, breaking in pieces and overthrowing mighty men, yet on the other hand hearing the cry of the afflicted. He may give quietness to the afflicted and who then can disturb it? He may hide His face from the wicked and who then can behold Him? And this is true whether a nation be in question or only an individual.

The rest of this chapter is more directly a word to Job. It would have been more becoming if he had humbly accepted the chastisement, admitting that there was iniquity with him, of which he was ignorant, and as to which he needed God should teach him, so that he should put right what was wrong. Instead of that he had challenged God's judgment in favour of his own mind, and in so doing he had added to his sin rebellion against God.

Job 35:1-16. It would seem that at this point Elihu paused again, and no answer being forthcoming, he proceeded further to expose the drift of Job's arguments. In claiming that he had committed no sin that called for the enduring of such extreme sufferings as had come upon him, he had elevated his own righteousness above God's, and inferred that there was no profit in a life of piety. The answer to this would be of profit to Job's companions as well as himself.

The answer Elihu gave was based upon the supreme greatness of God as the Creator. Further than this he could not go, but that knowledge he had in common with all men after the flood. From that primeval knowledge the mass of mankind soon departed, as Romans 1:20, Romans 1:21, declares. Yet the men we listen to in this book were exceptions to this sad rule, and they retained this knowledge, and argued from it.

God was far above His heavens, and so great that nothing wrong, perpetrated by puny man could hurt Him, and nothing that was right could be any addition to Him. Our wrongs may be of damage to our fellow-men, and our right actions be of profit to them. And if we wrong our fellows, they cry out in complaint, yet God is forgotten. No one thought of God who is Creator, and who can lift up the spirit and give songs even in the night of sorrow.

The God, who gives the songs in the night, teaches man whom He made; beings of a far higher order than the beasts and birds, able to have intercourse with Him, whether in songs of joy or cries of need. Verse Job 32:10 mentions the songs and verse Job 32:12 the cries. And why do men cry and yet receive no answer? The answer is, because of pride: and in verse Job 32:13, Elihu diagnoses the root cause of it all as vanity, which is abhorrent to God, a thing which He completely disregards. Is not this instruction for us? Do we not see here an explanation of many an unanswered cry and prayer?

These things Elihu said in order to drive the point home to the heart of Job, as he did in the last verse of the chapter. Job had opened his mouth "in vain," or "in vanity," and hence though his words had been abundant they had been without knowledge. The excellence of Job's outward life had betrayed him into an inward spirit of vanity, which lay at the root of his lack of a true knowledge of himself. This we shall find Job himself confessed, when we reach Job 42:3.

Again it looks as if Elihu paused for a moment to see if Job had any reply to make, but none being forthcoming, he resumed his discourse the finish of which occupies Job 36:1-33 and Job 37:1-24. He commenced by saying that he had yet words to say on God's behalf; and as we read these two chapters we shall notice that he had little more to say to Job about his utterances, but he rather dwelt on the greatness and power of God, and on His righteous dealings with the sons of men. He would "ascribe righteousness" to his Creator.

He proceeded to extol the way in which God, who is perfect in knowledge, deals both with the wicked and the righteous. From the latter He does not withdraw His eyes; that is, He keeps them ever under observation, and ultimately He exalts them as kings. Yet, before that happy end is reached, He may permit them to be "bound in fetters" and "holden in cords of affliction," just as poor Job was at that moment. And, if He does permit this, it is for a purpose, as is shown in verses Job 32:9-11. Notice, it is the righteous who are thus dealt with, for even an Abraham and a Job, though righteous, were not sinless, and God's disciplinary dealings are exerted towards such, rather than those who shut God out of their lives.

The arguments of the three friends had led to the conclusion that Job was not a righteous man. Elihu seems rather to admit that he was righteous, and that, because he was, God had permitted this severe discipline to come upon him; and in verse Job 32:16 he does apply what he is saying to Job, for after all the deep-seated pride and vanity of the human heart is the greatest offence of all.

Verse Job 32:18 was addressed to Job. We must remember that in that far distant day, nearly two millenniums before Christ appeared, life and incorruptibility had not been brought to light, as 2 Timothy 1:10 shows; and hence an eternal salvation was not known as we now know it. If we today were to quote this verse we should do so to an unbeliever.

Elihu's warning to Job, however, was timely, particularly verse Job 32:21. In shrinking from the "affliction," he had turned to the "iniquity" of maintaining his own righteousness. But affliction is to be preferred to iniquity, as we are reminded in Peter's first Epistle — "He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin" (Job 4:1). The early Christians might escape suffering by sinning and so may we, if it is only a question of what may come upon us from the world or the flesh or the devil.

Having thus warned Job, Elihu turned afresh to dwell upon the greatness of God as evidenced in creation, and upon this theme the rest of his discourse dwells. Particularly did he consider the control exercised by the Creator on that which lies wholly out of man's control — the clouds, the winds, the thunder, the lightning, the rain, the snow, the frost. As these things came before his mind, he had to confess that his heart trembled and was deeply moved.

In our day men have made many discoveries and gained control of a sort over a few of the subtle powers that lie in God's wonderful creation, but the things Elihu mentioned they cannot master. When, as he put it in verse Job 32:9, "Out of the south cometh the whirlwind; and cold out of the north," the cleverest of men can only accept the situation and seek shelter or warmth, as the case may be.

Elihu recognized that God ordered the weather with wise purpose, and what He sends may be, "for correction," i.e, discipline for wrongdoing; or, "for His land," i.e., to maintain the ordinary productivity of the earth; or, "for mercy," i.e., to effect some merciful deliverance. This too had a bearing on Job's case.

Job did not know, and none of us know, how God exerts His supreme power. The Lord Jesus displayed His Godhead power when He stilled the wind and waves on the Lake of Galilee. He did so in mercy. Elihu ended his words with the assertion that with God, the Almighty, is "terrible majesty," and yet all His doings are in justice. Hence, however wise of heart any of us — Job included — may consider ourselves to be, our attitude before Him should not be that of criticism and questionings but of fear.

Taking the place of the "interpreter" of God's ways, that Job might recognize what "uprightness" demanded, Elihu closed his discourse on the lofty theme of the majesty and the justice of God, so the moment had come for Divine intervention. He is God, and Almighty, as the closing verses of Job 37:1-24 declared: He is also Jehovah, and He spoke out of the whirlwind, to which Elihu had also alluded.

It is remarkable too that Elihu had spoken of the "noise," or "roar" of "His voice." Wind is not visible; yet in violent motion, men feel its pressure and hear its roar. As the whirlwind approached and its pressure was felt, its roar was the voice of Jehovah Himself. His words were addressed specially and only to Job. Whether what He said was intelligible to others, we are not told. Brought face to face with Jehovah, Job had to recognize that all his many words had darkened and not shed light upon the matter in dispute.

If we refer back to the beginning of Job 23:1-17, we may remind ourselves that Job in a self-confident way had expressed his wish to get into contact with God, feeling sure that he could order his cause before Him, and fill his mouth with arguments, and know the words in which God would answer him. The moment had come now for his wish to be fulfilled, and Jehovah bids him gird up his loins like a man, and be prepared to answer the voice of God. The questionings now should come from God. They begin with verse Job 38:4.

The words of Jehovah fill four chapters, with a brief interlude at the opening of Job 40:1-24. Question after question is propounded for Job to consider and answer, if he could; and all are concerned with the mighty power that had acted in creation. Once more we see that only the primeval revelation of God is assumed. If, as some think, Moses wrote this book, he wrote of things that happened before the law was given, or, at least, of circles where the law was not known. We are reminded of what we read in Romans 2:12-15, as we notice that "the work of the law" was written in the heart of Job. Jehovah judged him in the light of what he knew, and as He did so, we shall discover how Job's conscience bore witness and his thoughts which had been excusing him began to accuse him. The law did not make men responsible, it only heightened their responsibility.

In verses Job 38:4-38 of Job 38:1-41, the Lord asserts His own greatness and Job's insignificance in the light of His mighty creatorial acts. He started with His founding of the earth, which occasioned jubilation among angelic beings, who witnessed it; and then He proceeded to speak of the seas breaking forth, though in darkness, and then light appearing so that there was a dayspring as well as darkness. After that came mention of the wonders of snow and hail and rain, as well as the wonders displayed in the stars, the constellations and the ordinances of heaven. We cannot but be reminded of the early part of Genesis 1:1-31, down to the point where we read, "He made the stars also." What did Job know of these things? Had he entered into the springs of the sea? Or had the gates of death opened to him?

From verse Job 38:38 and through Job 39:1-30 the questions refer to animals and birds, the creation of which is related in the latter part of Genesis 1:1-31. Here again, if carefully considered, wonders innumerable confront us, and questions were raised that Job could not answer.

So, in the opening verses of Job 40:1-24, Jehovah challenged Job about it and Job at once capitulated. He acknowledged that he had spoken too much and that now silence became him. Before his Creator, he realized he was vile.

But the conviction that now had seized Job had to be driven into him yet more deeply. Hence again he was challenged. He had been guilty of disannulling the judgment of God, and condemning Him in order to maintain his own righteousness. This was really a very great sin, and in verses Job 38:9-14 he is condemned in a most searching way. Ironic language is used. Let him not contend with God but rather turn his attention to the proud and powerful among men, and abase such; then it might be admitted that he could save himself.

From verse Job 38:15 to the end of Job 41:1-34, the Lord makes further reference to the wonders of His creation. He called Job's attention to behemoth and to leviathan — probably the hippopotamus and the crocodile. They had brute strength but no human intelligence. It would be more easy to subdue them than to bring down proud man. In Job's day human inventions had hardly begun, so this was probably not so apparent as it is in our day, when these mighty creatures are easily subdued — but not so, proud man!

Job however could not tackle leviathan or behemoth, nor could he subdue proud man. How then could he contend with God? This was powerfully driven home into his heart.

Job 42:1-17. Jehovah's voice out of the whirlwind ceased, and Job humbled himself in full measure. He confessed the wrongness of his former utterances. He had to abhor himself and repent in the place of death — dust and ashes. These moments in the presence of God had produced a result which all the talk of the three friends, and even of Elihu, had not achieved. The man, who was so excellent among men, and had a testimonial from even God Himself, had discovered his own utter sinfulness in the deepest springs of his being. A discovery we all in our turn have to make!

The whole of this story has a great lesson for us, as we realize, if we read James 5:11. We are now going to see "the end of the Lord" in all this, which reveals that He is indeed "very pitiful and of tender mercy." What then was the end that the Lord had in view, when He permitted all these testing disasters to come upon Job?

First, he obtained what we may call a first-hand knowledge of God. Previously he had known of Him by "the hearing of the ear;" that is, by tradition. But now, said he, "mine eye seeth Thee;" that is, God was apprehended in a new and vital way. He did not "see" in a literal sense, as we are assured by 1 Timothy 6:16, yet the eye is but the organ of sight and it is the mind that sees. Again and again we say, "I see," when something that made no appeal to our eyes has sunk into our minds. Job now knew God in His power, holiness, righteousness, as far as He could be known in those days.

It is our privilege to know God as He has been revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ, and through that knowledge we receive "all things that pertain unto life and godliness," and, "exceeding great and precious promises," as well as gaining day by day, "grace and peace." So we are told in the opening verses of Peter's second Epistle. Indeed we may say that with us, as well as with Job, a first-hand and experimental knowledge of God lies at the base of everything.

But second, as the fruit of this knowledge of God, Job saw himself in a totally new light. Formerly he had sung his own praises. Now the correctness of his outward behaviour faded out of his mind, and he saw the self-conceited depths of his fallen nature. Hence in true repentance he abhorred himself.

This spirit of self-judgment is wrought in all who really have to do with God. Examples of it abound in Scripture. For instance: when Abraham found himself in the presence of God, he said, I "am but dust and ashes" (Genesis 18:27). Similarly, Isaiah said, "I am undone" (Isaiah 6:5); and Daniel, "my comeliness was turned in me into corruption" (Daniel 10:8). So, Peter, "I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8), and Paul, "sinners, of whom I am chief" (1 Timothy 1:15). And all these were saints eminent in their day. They would not have been eminent, if they had not had such an experience. Have we had it?

And now there comes into view another feature comprised in the end which the Lord had in view. The three friends of Job were condemned, for they had not spoken rightly, nor humbled themselves as Job had, vindicating God and condemning themselves. They were instructed to go to Job, offer up sacrifices, and seek his intercession on their behalf: without a doubt a most humiliating process for them. Though they had visited Job in order to commiserate and console they had been led in the progress of the arguments into hurling accusations and reproaches at him, and as they did so developing a self-righteous spirit themselves. Thus, not having humbled themselves as Job had done, they were publicly humbled by God.

But what about Job? The Lord knew right well what a complete revolution had been wrought in his spirit, while as yet his poor body was unaltered. He said, "My servant Job shall pray for you; for him will I accept." Not long before with heat and sarcasm he had argued against them. Now, with kindness and grace in his heart he prays for them! The man who had gained a true knowledge of God, and consequently had learned to abhor himself, is quite transformed in his relations with his former opponents. Resentment has given place to reconciliation. The spiritual gain of this was immense.

It must have been an extraordinary scene. Verse Job 38:10 shows that the turn in Job's bodily condition and in his fortunes came when he had prayed for his friends, and not before. Here were the three friends, well-favoured gentlemen of the east with their sacrifices; Job, an emaciated figure, covered with boils Yet this poor physical wreck is in touch with God, and able to hold up his hands in gracious and priestly intercession. When had anything like this been seen in the east? No wonder the story had to be written to find a place amongst the oracles of God.

Let us not miss the application of all this to ourselves. Matters of dispute arise among those who are brethren in Christ, and if out of the presence of God, debate may be fierce and division ensue. Let the presence of God be realized, let self be judged and abhorred, and a totally different spirit prevails and a right solution is reached.

Job's prayer was effectual since he was now right with God, and not only right with his friends. We have the definite statement, "The Lord also accepted Job." The man who condemned and repudiated himself stands in acceptance before God. This has ever been God's way. We find testimonies to it in other Old Testament scriptures; for instance, Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 66:2. But we have to pass on to the New Testament to find the basis on which the acceptance rests. The character of the acceptance which is ours today is found in the words, "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6). In Job's day this had not come to light.

Thus far we have been noting what God wrought in Job, as the result of all he had passed through; now we see God acting for him. Up to this point he has been held in the grip of the awful disease produced by Satan. Now, "the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends." Deliverance for his body took place, evidently with dramatic suddenness, once the end of the Lord as to his spiritual state was reached for with God the spiritual takes precedence over what is physical or material. Satan himself was eliminated from the story by the end of chapter 2. Now his cruel infliction was removed, having been overruled to achieve God's purpose.

In this again we see illustrated a great principle of God's ways. He makes the malevolence of the devil, as well as the wrath of man, to work cut to His own praise as well as our good. The great example of this, unapproached by all else, is of course the Cross. To accomplish that, Satan entered into Judas Iscariot. Of such extreme importance was it in his eyes that he allowed no lesser demon to deputize for him. Yet he was helping on his own overthrow for referring to His Cross, the Lord Jesus said, Now shall the prince of this world be cast out" (John 12:31). A further example we see in 2 Corinthians 12:1-21, where the "messenger of Satan" sent to buffet Paul, was overruled for Paul's spiritual preservation. When afflictions come upon us, let us remember these things, and profit by them.

As we observe "the end of the Lord," we can indeed say with the Apostle James that, "the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." We have noted at least five things: (1) that Job gained a first-hand knowledge of God, such as he had never had before: (2) he knew and abhorred himself, as he had never done before; (3) that in spirit and character he was transformed, from anger and harshness to grace: (4) that he was given the knowledge of his acceptance before God: and (5) that he was delivered in his body from the grip that Satan had been permitted to have upon him.

But now a sixth thing appears for, "the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before." Previously he had been a man of very large wealth, as wealth was counted m those days, but now his possessions grew to such proportions as would have befitted a king. God gave a mighty increase to the animals he had, but there was also that which came to him by the gifts of his brethren and acquaintance. He was restored to the confidence and esteem of all who previously had known him: a great point this, when we remember his sad complaint as to the treatment he had received, recorded in Job 30:1-31.

In keeping with the day in which he lived, the blessings recorded are of a material sort, which ensured earthly prosperity to the end of his days. These were the positive blessings granted, just as the fifth item, noted above, was blessing of a negative order — the removal of bodily trouble. The first four items we noted were blessings of a spiritual order, and of the very first importance, since once received they abide for ever. Let us remember that as Christians all our blessings are of a spiritual and heavenly order, as stated in Ephesians 1:3.

Having passed through this unprecedented storm, Job lived to old age under the smile of God, enriched spiritually and materially. He saw his possessions, sheep, camels, oxen, asses, multiply until their number was doubled. His seven sons and three very beautiful daughters grew up around him, and so God gave him twice as much as he had before.

But what about the sons and daughters? They were not doubled. Should they not have numbered fourteen and six? As the new family grew up around him and then stopped at the number recorded, we wonder if it raised an enquiry in his mind, as it certainly does in ours. Yes, after all God did give Job twice as much as he had before, without exception. The animals were visibly doubled for the earlier lot were irrevocably lost, and he would never see them again. The earlier sons and three daughters were not lost FOR EVER.

About these earlier sons and daughters Job had been continually concerned as the first chapter of the book bears witness. Acting as priest of his family he had continually offered sacrifices on their behalf. They were outwardly God-fearing for Job did not fear that they cursed God with their lips, but he thought they might have done so in their hearts. Yet in spite of this all of them, and all together, they had been swept out of life in a moment. So in this striking way it was intimated that another world does exist into which their spirits had entered, that the resurrection, as to which Job had reasoned and debated in Job 14:1-22, would be reached in due season, and that Job would meet them again.

We are not told in so many words that all this was plain to Job, but we assume that God, who so kindly gave this intimation, gave him the ability to perceive it. It must have confirmed his faith in resurrection on the one hand and comforted his heart on the other. It has, we trust brought comfort to many a heart beside Job's. When full of days Job ended his long life, he must have looked back upon this time of unparalleled testing, through which he had to pass, as being but a dark tunnel leading into bright sunshine a time of outward disaster but of inward enrichment. That it was so, such a scripture as Ezekiel 14:14 bears witness. He is held up as a shining example, together with Noah and Daniel.

As we close our Bibles on the Book of Job, we may well do so with a song of praise and thanksgiving in our hearts, and also having, we trust, learned some needed lessons. We may not suffer in anything like the degree that Job did, but none of us escapes the chastening hand of our God and Father. When chastened ourselves let us be exercised thereby; and when we observe chastening coming on others, let us be careful how we interpret it.

In the light of the New Testament, chastening may be sent for retribution, as we see in 1 Corinthians 11:30. But on the other hand it may not be, as we see in Paul's case — 2 Corinthians 12:7, - where the thorn in the flesh was preventive; lest he should be puffed up and fall. Yet again, it may be neither retributive nor preventive but educational, as Hebrews 12:1-29 shows. The Father trains and disciplines His children, and even scourges them; but all is in pursuance of His objective - "that we might be partakers of His holiness."

In that direction Job was led, as we have seen. In that direction we too are being led in all the Father's dealings with us. Let us ever remember this, and praise God that it is so.

 


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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Job 38:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbh/job-38.html. 1947.

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