Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands...  1 Timothy 2:8

Prayer Challenges

Current Challenge from Doug Knox.

September 2023

The Mystery of Suffering and Blessing, Part 20

Job 42:10-17



Job’s Turning Point
The book of Job closes as mysteriously as it opens. The two-paragraph epilogue ends on a note that, if not exactly happy, at least communicates a sense of blessing.

And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.

--Job 42:10-11

This and the next paragraph are as notable for what they leave unsaid as for what they tell us. For example, the paragraph opens with the words, “And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends.” What exactly does the clause at the end mean? Was Job’s prayer for his friends the cause for God’s act of restoration? Did God wait for that act to say, “There you go, Job. You’ve arrived”? I do not think so. The text from Job 42:7 is clear that God’s acceptance of Job came from his repentance. Job’s act of praying for his friends appears to be more of a signpost to mark Job’s change of status. For Job to be an intercessor for his friends, he must possess a standing before God already. The restoration of his fortunes becomes a mark of vindication for him.

Family Restoration
Most of the paragraph deals with Job’s family relationships. “Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house.” This is a more important statement than we realize. In the psalms of lament, one of the key causes for lament is the sense of shame that arises from the loss of public respect. For example, David writes,

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads.

--Psalm 22:6-7

Similarly, the sons of Korah write this concerning abandonment:

You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them…

--Psalm 88:8a-b

Job reflects the level of anguish that he experiences at his loss of respect:

I am a laughingstock to my friends;
I who called to God and he answered me,
a just and blameless man, am a laughingstock.

--Job 12:4

No wonder, then, that the writer would devote so much space to that single point.

Blessing During Job’s Timeline
What does Job’s timeline look like? From our perspective, he begins and ends in wealth and comfort, while he suffers through the middle part of the book. Further, his suffering, along with God’s silence, endures for months if not years.

Was the blessing that he sought from God limited to those two periods of his life?

We might be tempted to think so. After all, the book uses the term in both of those contexts:

Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.”

--Job 1:9-10, emphasis added

And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters.

--Job 42:12-13, emphasis added

In this context, blessing clearly refers to tangible wealth and comfort. This is often the case in Scripture. But is it the only case?

A Deeper Sense of Blessing
Of course not. If it were, the bulk of Job would have involved an arguable abandonment by God during his suffering. But human suffering alone does not imply abandonment. For example, Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). The Apostle Peter also wrote to his fellow countrymen who suffered under Roman persecution, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14). In cases like these, blessing means being recognized by God. This is the primary meaning of blessing rather than the secondary. Look at the way that the LORD takes notice of Job at the beginning and end of the book. To Satan, he said, “Have you considered my servant Job…?” (Job 1:8). And at the end, he tells Eliphaz, “You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:7). God never forgot his servant. When we follow the course of the book from this perspective, we can come to only one conclusion. From the moment that the LORD gave Satan permission to attack Job—thus putting his divine reputation on the line—he had his servant under his care. What, then, does the text mean by blessing the latter days of Job more than his beginning? Physical blessings are under God’s authority as much as his right to put us to the test is. The greater blessing at the end of the book stands as a testament to God’s pride in Job’s perseverance and confession.

The Mystery of Blessing
This brings us to my final observation, one that I pull from another Scripture. In Revelation 12:10, John refers to “the accuser of our brothers…who accuses them day and night before our God.” The book of Revelation speaks to a history-long obsession on Satan’s part. What if Satan’s single play in his playbook involves the challenge that he used against Job. Earlier, we discussed the fact that Satan knows nothing of loyalty. Instead, he believes his own lie. Might the case be that he continues to hold onto his losing strategy because of what he sees as good odds? Satan needs to cause only one failure to win against God. When Satan fails with Job, he moves on to the next man or woman, and the next, around the world. “If you let X happen to Daniel/Martha/Yuri/Alina/Carlos/Lucia…he or she will curse you to your face.” Satan is certain that he will win at some point, but he is blind to the fact that God’s salvation is perfect. In Jesus’ words, “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15).
To borrow a couple theological terms, our calling and regeneration (the process by which the Holy Spirit brings us from spiritual death to being made alive to God—Ephesians 2:1-5) is monergistic, that is, and act of God alone. From the moment we respond in faith, however, our salvation and sanctification becomes synergistic, meaning a shared process. The LORD’s true saints are not only passively preserved by God. They also actively persevere in their faith (Philippians 2:12-13). Satan cannot comprehend God’s faithfulness in salvation. The Lord will lose none of his sheep because they are all continually blessed through his saving grace.


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