Job’s Repentance and Restoration

I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (vv. 5-6).

- Job 42

Today we are finishing our brief study of the book of Job as we consider Job’s response to the Lord’s revelation of Himself and God’s evaluation of His servant. Though Job has not been perfect, at times impatiently demanding that the Creator explain the reasons for his suffering (Job 13), he has also persevered in faith. Even though he knew he was innocent of specific sin that deserved punitive discipline, he did not waver in his confidence that God was righteous. He knew that God would show Himself just and vindicate His servant, thus maintaining an overall correct view of the Lord’s character (19:25-27; 31).

Despite holding to a proper understanding of God in general, Job nevertheless erred in believing that the Lord owed him a full answer as to the reasons for his suffering. Thus, after God spoke to Job and revealed that his knowledge as a creature was inadequate to give him standing to question the Almighty’s wisdom (chap. 38-41), Job repented of his sin, so overwhelmed was he by the majesty of the Lord (42:1-6). In so doing, he sat in ashes, the typical ancient Near Eastern way of showing that God was right and that all he really deserved was destruction (42:6; see Jonah 3:6). Overwhelmed by his creaturely finitude and the majestic glory of God, Job realized that he had no place to demand anything of the Lord.

After receiving Job’s repentance, our Creator expressed great anger toward Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for not speaking of the Lord what is right. Job, on the other hand, did speak right of God (Job 42:7-9). What does God mean by this, especially in light of the fact that Job’s friends often said things about the Lord that were in themselves true (for example, see 5:17)? The answer lies in the belief of Job’s friends that they had God figured out. They presumed to apply to every situation the general principle that God punishes evil and rewards righteousness, thereby wrongly imputing to divine justice the notion that such a principle is always evident on this side of glory. In other words, Job’s friends had no room for any complexity in God’s dealings with human beings, no place for the Lord’s sovereign right to allow suffering even for the righteous. By robbing God of His sovereignty, they spoke ill of Him. Job never did anything like this even at the moments in which he suffered his most profound despair.

Thus, Job was restored after his suffering (42:10-17). We can likewise expect restoration as long as we persist in faith and do not speak ill of the Lord.

Coram Deo

Sometimes restoration comes to us in this lifetime, but sometimes it awaits the age to come. In truth, all of God’s faithful servants will be finally vindicated and restored, and that is what we all long for with great hope. Even if we experience it in part now, we will receive it in its fullness only in the age to come. Let us thank God for the surety of this restoration and continue believing that He will be faithful to keep all of His promises to His people.

Passages for Further Study

Jeremiah 29:10–14
1 Peter 5:10

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