Happily Ever After? (Job 42)
So we’ve come to end of Job, and with this post I’ll wrap up the series. In case you were wondering, yes the story has a happy ending. With God there is always a happy ending…eventually. Those who follow God will always have their reward, just not necessarily as soon as we would like it.
For Job the story ended with wealth, possessions, health, happy family and long life. I’m not sure what 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 donkeys equates to in modern terms, but let’s just say that Job would never have had to worry about money and would have been the envy of his neighbours. The numbers are significant too, not only being a doubling of what he had originally in chapter 1, but also the seven sons and three daughters represent Biblical symbols of completion and holiness. Godly numbers.
So Job ends up better off than when he started. It’s often the case that going through a hard time makes you stronger, but here we see God’s generosity in action as well. As I’ve written before, God is no man’s debtor. For staying true to Him, God rewards Job. I’m not saying that the reward will always be material or financial – monetary wealth is by no means guaranteed for God’s people – but a reward always comes. What we sacrifice to God, He often gives back in greater measure. That’s what He promises in Malachi 3:10.
Job sacrificed a lot. He sacrificed his wealth and assets, he sacrificed his health and even his marriage, seemingly. It could have been otherwise. Had he cursed God after the very first disaster Satan’s work would have been done and no more would have been asked of him. Rejecting God would have been a shortcut out of his trial, but by holding on to what he already had he would have left no opportunity for God to redouble His blessing. He would have ended up worse off, materially and spiritually.
The point is, sacrifice is always rewarded. If God is asking something of you, you can be sure it’s for a good reason. You can also be sure that He won’t leave you worse off for being faithful. We should be prepared to give up anything and everything for the sake of relationship with God, knowing that an eternity with Him far outweighs anything this world has to offer.
But note the sequence too. There’s a progression in Job 42 and the ‘restored fortunes’ do not come to Job automatically. First he confesses his fault and acknowledges both God’s sovereignty and his own shortcomings in verses 1-6. Repentance precedes the blessing. Rightness with God comes before the reward. That reward would never have come if Job had held on to his pride and self-reliance. He might have insisted upon vindicating himself, in which case he would have walked away empty-handed and filled with bitterness.
See how Job went from being the man who ‘obscures my [God’s] plans without knowledge’ in verse 3 to he who has ‘spoken the truth about me’ in verse 8. Job’s relationship with God has been restored. Not only were Job’s initial sacrifices made good, but his sacrifice of pride was rewarded with forgiveness and reconciliation. Instead of holding onto his grievances, which most of us in his place would consider wholly valid, he let them go. An encounter with the living God changed everything for him. As he says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” A.k.a. Before he had just heard the rumours, now he’d seen the real thing. Before he’d just read the Bible and sung the songs, now he’d met personally with God.
Maybe you haven’t endured Job’s great suffering, maybe you haven’t been a special target of Satan’s malice, but there’s something here a lot of us can relate to. Have we settled for a dim and lifeless version of God? Do we know about Him in our heads but have Him absent from our hearts? Maybe you’ve been going through the motions, ticking all the right boxes but drifting from the whirlwind reality of who God is. If that’s you, the answer is to meet with God. Meet with Jesus. Like it was for Job, a genuine encounter with the living God can change everything. Trade in that empty routine for life in all its fullness.
Through Jesus God offers a life of fullness, purpose this side of the grave and paradise beyond it. He doesn’t promise an easy road, it won’t always be a comfortable road, but it is so worth it. All it’s waiting upon is for you to respond to God in faith.
Chris Lane, senior pastor at St Albans Vineyard used to be fond of saying that ‘faith activates the blessing’. I believe there is profound truth in this. It’s played out vividly at the end of Job. It’s true of salvation also. What God offers in grace we must receive in faith. Salvation is unconditional, freely given, un-earnable. All true. But it must also be accepted. It can be rejected. It all boils down to a simple choice. But the most important choice any of us will ever make.
For those willing to sacrifice themselves, God offers a reward so great we can scarcely fathom it. In a divine exchange based upon the work of Jesus, we receive forgiveness, redemption and eternal life in return for humility and faith. That’s the deal on offer. Have you considered it? Will you take God up on it?
There, that’s the series complete. Thank you so much for reading. My prayer for anyone reading this is that they will go away from this blog series better off than before they started. I hope that I’ve helped you to meet with God, as Job did. Go away knowing that no trial lasts for ever; that there’s no suffering God can’t help you through; that restoration is always the way the story ends if you want it to. Go away knowing that your Redeemer lives. His name is Jesus.