Job's Repentance.

We grieve most when there are no answers to our questioning "why?". Job 42:1-6 is Job's response to God's second speech. He is left sitting in the dust, contemplating the nature of God and the condition of his own heart. As an author said, "Any stranger to that dust has not yet seen God for who He is, however much he may know about Him." Knowledge of God does not always produce a walk with God, but submission to His personal, sovereign oversight does. Job is willing to submit to the sovereign unknown and intentionally resigns himself to God and His purposes.

Elisabeth Elliot describes some of her first lessons in the school of faith in her book These Strange Ashes. Grappling with a devastating loss, she described:

"One turns in disbelief again from the circumstances and looks into the abyss; but in the abyss, there is only blackness, a glimmer of light, no answering echo. It was a long time before I came to the realization that in our acceptance of what is given, whatever it may be, God gives himself. This grief, this sorrow, this total loss that empties my hands and breaks my heart, I may, if I will, accept; and by accepting it, I find in my hands something to offer. And so I give it back to him who in mysterious exchange gives himself to me."

Admission (verse 2)

Job admits the omnipotence of God and his own ignorance in one sentence. There are powerful acts of God that humans are never aware of. God's omnipotence also attends to matters of the moral world just as in the natural world. He intends to develop our whole person in times of calamity.

God can do anything and anything He wants. God is free. God purposes what He pleases and performs what He purposes (Job 40:9-14, 40:19, 41:10). "Anyone who cannot undertake God's works has no right to undermine God's ways."

Declaration (verse 5)

Job was a student of God, with solid theology and much spiritual wisdom, yet suffering brought him to the end of his knowledge. Various degrees of difficulty cause you to utilize every bit of truth you have learned. There are things about Him we will never know. When we reach the end of our knowledge, we have a choice to make: to submit to the God who knows the unknown or to demand that He share something too wonderful for us to know.

Job realizes that God is enough for him, and in doing so, he's bringing the greatest glory to God. He finds peace and solace as he willingly submits to God's sovereign justice which he had come to doubt. He recognizes his sin as he sees God. The purpose of this book is not to show us how to handle suffering, but to highlight Job's relationship with God and ours, desiring to know Him regardless of the circumstances.

Confession (verse 6)

Job cannot help himself but sees that help is only found in God. His sin didn't cause his calamity, and his ignorance wasn't sin either; his pride in accusing and criticizing God's sovereign justice was what he needed to repent of (Job 33:14, 40:2, 34:17, 40:8). He's dropping his case against God. He recognizes his sin before God and turns from it.

Genuine repentance also compels us to be right with others. Next week we will study how God restored Job's fortunes when he prayed with his friends.

Theological and Practical Conclusions

God never answered Job's questions directly or explained his suffering. If he had, the book wouldn't be relevant to others who don't receive answers. What Job receives is the same as any other believer: a revelation of God's power in Creation and providence. Any of us can trust God's wisdom even when not seen. The indwelling Spirit and union with Christ even add to that ability (Romans 8:38-39).

Faith, though often held in esteem as a value in itself, is only as valuable as its object. Our infinite Creator must remain the object of our faith for us to remain healthy and endure calamity. We have the power to offer God something He desires: human loyalty and the confidence of unconditional faith. Our endurance even in affliction proves Satan false in his belief that we only serve Christ because of our possessions, family, and position.

A growing knowledge of God and his attributes sparked the love and submission of Job. Knowing the answer to the question "Who?", Job no longer needs to ask the question "Why?"

Job remains in the valley of the shadow of death but no longer fears evil (Psalm 23:4). God's grace is doing a great work in his heart, compelling him to pursue faithfulness and perseverance (Galatians 4:19). We can rest in Him even though our circumstances don't change.

As we endure suffering together, it's essential to come alongside each other, assume faith and growth, and build relationships together. Though Job is confident he's in the Lord and knows his theology, he still struggles and at times in an ugly way. When we obey God even when we are hurt and mistreated, we humiliate Satan. We can never bring more glory to God than when we struggle through those moments.

Application Points

  • Has suffering pushed you to the end of your knowledge? How have you responded in that moment? Do you question "why" with integrity, or do you demand explanations of God?
  • Grace is always revealing our broken humanity as it presses us to Christ-likeness. What brokenness has suffering revealed in your life? Have you repented of it before God and others?
  • Gentleness and patience are essential when we walk through difficult times together. Assume faith and growth, and keep loving in relationship when someone is struggling and even when things get ugly. God's grace is doing a great work in their heart.