Figuring Out God’s Plan

[From the archives.]

***

Job 42:10 – “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes”

That verse jumped out at me last night. Job had gone through immense hardship at Satan’s hand, worse than most of us will ever experience, and on top of all that he had three friends who were nothing but “miserable comforters” in his time of need. (Job 16:2.) As Job wrestled with understanding why God was allowing him to suffer so, these friends were heaping misery upon misery with their empty counsel and false accusations against Job. Job cried out time and again for them to stop, and he cried out time and again for the opportunity to interrogate God on what he did to be treated this way.

God finally answered Job by becoming the great Interrogator. Through this divine rhetoric, Job realized that God is to be worshipped at all times as the One who acts rightly at all times:

Then Job replied to the Lord:

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6.)

God then spoke to Job’s companions and told them that he was angry with them because they did not speak “the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7.)

There. Job finally had what he’d been waiting for. Vindication. But God wasn’t done with him. God told Job that he needed to accept his friends’ sacrifices and pray to God for them in order to keep them from suffering God’s righteous judgment against them. So Job did. And then it happened:

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes.

These friends, the miserable comforters who only added to Job’s afflictions, were the subject of his prayers to God on their behalf. Did you notice that Job did not come up with this idea on his own? God told him to do it. God told him to pray for these people who had made his life even more miserable than Satan had, and God made no promises of what Job would experience afterward.

Job obeyed, but I wonder how he felt about it.

You see, for me the idea of blessing those who have hurt me sounds great in concept but grates on me in practice. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse,” says Paul in Romans 12:14. I’m not too good at it.

Here’s what gets me. Why are we even told that God blessed Job a bunch after he prayed for his friends. Is it some kind of promise that if we do the same, God will provide us with a ton of blessings? Because here’s what God did in restoring Job’s fortunes:

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years. (Job 42:12-17.)

I don’t think the lesson here is that if we obey, we will get money and possessions and a wonderful family and long life. The Bible is full of  examples of people who obeyed God and still suffered mightily. Read about Jeremiah. Or Jesus.

Here’s one lesson I did get, though: Obey God even when you don’t know what will happen.

What happens after the Obey? God knows. That’s enough for me.

***

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6 Responses to Figuring Out God’s Plan

  1. “Job realized that God is to be worshipped at all times as the One who acts rightly at all times.”

    “God wasn’t done with him. God told Job that he needed to accept his friends’ sacrifices and pray to God for them in order to keep them from suffering God’s righteous judgment against them. So Job did.”

    “God even when you don’t know what will happen. What happens after the Obey? God knows. That’s enough for me.”

    Some great thoughts there Tim! Notice there was no if you serve God, love me, you will obey me. However there was a I will worship God there and I will serve others and sometimes the greatest way we serve others is to pray for them, which God shows us here. Within every passage of scripture just as you point out here there is always 100% law and 100% grace.

    Through faith in remembering who God was and with the grace that God gave Job not only did Job’s friends but Job himself sees grace in action. The prayer that Job prays will once again be prayed in an even bigger act of grace.

    Then sometimes the greatest thing that happens through obedience, as we see with Job, here is God is glorified, his purpose is accomplished and in that he is always most pleased. When that happens that always bring us to Christlikeness which is always to our prosperity and the one prosperity upon which we can always count on God to give us.

  2. Jeannie says:

    Tim, I remember reading this before, but I really needed it today, especially that last paragraph. Thanks.

  3. Mary Anne says:

    Sorry, but the book of Job is a source of serious conflict for me–you know already, from other comments I’ve left here, how I feel about pointless suffering and that’s how a lot of this story strikes me. Especially the “restoring the fortunes” part. Yeah, Job had more kids, but ask anyone who’s lost a child whether having more children makes up for the loss.

    And what was all this for? Job probably never knew–and if I’d been him, I think I would have been outraged to discover the whole story.

    *sigh* Bit of a grumpybear this morning.

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