Job 42:7-17: Rewarded and Vindicated 

Recently a relative and I were talking about world religions when he insightfully contrasted Christians with Mormons and Muslims. They want a heaven, he said, with earthly pleasures. Although the new creation will have some earthly pleasures, God didn’t make us for them. God made us to walk with Him in the “cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8). We long for God Himself.

To grasp the message of Job 42:7–17, keeping that truth in mind is vital. In this section, the Lord “restores the fortunes of Job” (42:10, ESV). Job receives twice as many possessions, and he has 10 more children. Job saw many generations and lived 140 years, “an old man, full of days” (Job 42:17). The temptation is to think that these good fortunes are Job’s reward. God gave Job, we may think, even more than Job had lost.

This interpretation of Job has major problems. First, when he was suffering, Job didn’t ask for health, wealth, or children. What he wanted was to encounter God (Job 19:26–27, 23:2–9). This fact doesn’t mean that he didn’t want health, wealth, or more children, but it does mean that his relationship with God mattered more than the other requests he could have made. A restoration of Job’s “fortunes” didn’t meet the desire.

Second, the primary challenge of the book is whether Job would, as Satan predicted, curse God once the Lord took Job’s possessions away (Job 1:11, 2:5). Job demonstrates that he doesn’t love God for the possessions; that Job receives even more possessions doesn’t relate to this struggle. Third, no one who has lost a child thinks that all is well if he or she has another child. No child can “replace” another child. Job’s second group of children aren’t a reward for still having faith after losing his first 10. Fourth, many Christians endure immense suffering without receiving this type of “reward” (Heb. 11:35b–40).

The restored possessions are not Job’s reward. The presence of God is his reward. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,” he says, “but now my eye sees you” (Job 42:5). To see God is what Job had wanted so badly, and that moment is what every Christian longs for, whether the longing is conscious or unconscious (1 Cor. 13:12). Job had demonstrated that he loved God — though pain and love intermingled — for who God is and not what God can give, and Job’s love silenced Satan’s accusations. God didn’t replace Job’s children, but He gave him something better: Himself. Christians who, like Job, face adversity or torture are longing for God’s city (Heb. 11:16).

What then is the purpose of Job 42:7–17? To be right is one issue. To be shown right is another issue. The Lord Jesus finished His work on the cross (John 19:30), but the empty tomb was a clear and abiding sign that He was who He said He was. In Job 42:7–17, the Lord vindicates Job as He vindicated Jesus through the resurrection.

We long for a reward. Through faith in Christ, God will reward us with Himself. But we also long to be vindicated. Job’s life assures us God will do that as well (Rev. 20:4).

— Russell Freeman is dean of Curriculum and Instruction and Bible teacher at Greenville Classical Academy, a Christian school in Simpsonville.

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