Job has learned his lesson, and we might well leave him sitting in the ashes, still afflicted but happy in his newly found joy — the full knowledge of God. He might have "halted upon his thigh" for the balance of his days, and he would not have needed our pity.
But it is not like God needlessly to chasten even in this life of sorrow. "He doth not willingly afflict." We must therefore see "the end of the Lord," the outward recovery and restoration of the sufferer. It is this which is set before us in this brief concluding division of the book.
Brief as it is, it is most important. Job having already taken his place, Jehovah makes the three friends take theirs, not merely before Him, but before the one whom they had so unjustly suspected and so grievously maligned.
Then the restoration of health, wealth, family and honor are described in a few words, and we get our last glimpse of the patriarch in a happy old age, reaching the close of his life. The divisions are simple
(1) The friends restored (vers. 7-9).
(2) Job's captivity turned (vers. 10, 11).
(3) Restoration to prosperity (vers. 12-15).
(4) The end (vers. 16, 17).
(1) God must first maintain His own honor. This is the basis of all blessing for the creature. Were it possible to conceive of His honor being overthrown, all would lapse into hopeless chaos. This is ever prominent in Scripture: "In the beginning, GOD." The first part of the law is devoted to His glory; the opening petitions of the "Lord's prayer" are concerned with that. The gospel is founded upon it, and in eternity heaven and earth will display it to an adoring universe.
We need not therefore be surprised that God turns to Eliphaz and his friends with stern rebuke for their part in the controversy which has, for Job, so happily closed. Addressing Eliphaz, as the leader of the three, Jehovah declares His wrath against them all. because they had not spoken of Him the thing that is right, as His servant Job had. And yet their entire contention had apparently been for God's righteousness! Had they not maintained this from the very outset, with many a noble description and many a scathing denunciation of evil? Had they not fastened the charge of iniquity upon Job in spite of absolute lack of proof, and in the face of well known facts to the contrary? Zealous for God's honor! — it had been their one theme.
At least apparently so. But God does not accept honor at the expense of truth. It is His glory that all His attributes blend in one harmonious light. Can He then accept a vindication of His character and ways that is based upon a false charge? That puts the stigma of wickedness and hypocrisy upon a man of whom He Himself had declared, "There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil." Can He allow so monstrous a theory of suffering to pass as that formulated by these men — that suffering is always the unerring finger pointing to wickedness? That it is all in wrath? What then becomes of His testing His own, of the sanctifying effect of chastening?
Truly these men in speaking against Job as they had, were really defaming the character of God. He cannot' accept it, nor allow them to go unrebuked. He will have nothing to do with them until they make it right, by confession and sacrifice.
"As my servant Job hath." When had Job thus spoken "the thing that is right?" Surely not when pouring out bitter charges against God. Nor indeed do we chiefly think of the flashes of faith expressed in the intervals — "I will trust in Him," "I know that my Redeemer liveth;" nor in the noble words as to wisdom. All most true, excellent and beautiful; all falling in their proper place after the confession and repentance we have just dwelt upon.
This is the speaking of Jehovah "the thing that is right;" it is the taking and keeping of the sinful creature's place who cannot understand the least of those perfect ways — ways which are right when they seem most wrong. It is the declaration that God is God — Jehovah, the self-existent, perfect One; most wise and just and good as well as most powerful; righteous and holy in all His ways, whatever they may be. "Clouds and darkness" may be round about Him, but, blessed be His name, "righteousness and judgment are the habitation," the foundation, "of His throne."
Here then is the lesson Job has learned — learned for himself and for others as well. Let these wise men show their wisdom by coming humbly before God on this ground. He has not banished them, but would have them draw near in the only way man can come, through the sacrifice. Let them take the seven bullocks perfect submission and service unto death; and seven rams — complete devotion of all energy, and offer these as a burnt offering. Nor is the poor misunderstood Job lost sight of; he will intercede for these, lest they reap the fruit of their folly, "for him will I accept."
How complete the rebuke; how gracious the restoration; how tender the association of Job with it all!
And we who have the full light of God's grace, how perfect a picture we have of it here. Man's honor is laid low, his excellent things are seen to be folly, and he is turned from it all — from its good as well as its bad — to the Burnt Offering; to that One who is our perfect, all-sufficient Substitute. As the bullock, we see Him in all the strength of lowly service, "obedient unto death, the death of the cross." As the ram, we see a devotion of energy leading Him to the "supreme sacrifice." Oh, where is human righteousness, human obedience, in the light of that "wondrous cross!"
Notice, it is not a sin-offering the friends are to bring, though it includes the putting away of sin; nor the peace-offering, though it calls into the highest communion. It is the first great offering, provided in God's ways in patriarchal times, in which all is for Him. Thus He who came, displacing all "sacrifice and offering," could say, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all" (Heb. 10 10).
And with that all-availing sacrifice is linked the intercession of the man who had learned his lesson, and in figure, gloried only in the Cross. Let us think of him, standing hand in hand with these friends and confessing their sin as he intercedes for them. No longer does the sharp accusation, "Miserable comforters are ye all" smite them; nor the bitter sarcasm, "Doubtless ye are the men, and wisdom will die with you." Accused and accusers look away from one another to that Burnt Offering, and see their common acceptance in it.
"Thus would I hide my blushing face,
When His blest form appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness
And melt mine eyes to tears."
It is most significant that the book closes, as it had begun, with the Burnt Offering (Job 1). Christ is the End as He is the Beginning. CHRIST IS ALL.
(2) Now Jehovah can lift His hand from the sufferer, and turn all the grievous captivity into full and prosperous recovery. Job can say, I "have received of the Lord's hands double." The kindred and acquaintances who had fled from him and despised him, return with gifts and condolences.
We need not think of it as heartless or formal. God put it into their hearts to recognize His approval and acceptance of His servant. All his wealth is doubled — cattle, sheep and all the rest. What are such details to Him who is the Possessor of heaven and earth!
Does some suffering child of God whisper, "Oh, that it were so with me, that I could see health and prosperity and dear ones restored." Ah, what have we even now? The knowledge of God in Christ, the indwelling of the Spirit, the full and complete Word of God. And just beyond the sufferings of this "little while," the "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Can we repine? Let us rather wait with patience till "the redemption of the purchased possession." As surely as the captivity of Job was turned, so surely shall every suffering child of God enter into the inheritance "incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away."
(3) We now see the full manifestation of this restoration. Not only are all his possessions doubled, but seven sons and three daughters are given him. Is this an exception to the double endowment, or is it a hint that those other children, seven sons and three daughters, are not lost, that he will one day have them restored, and in the resurrection find that everything has been doubled.
The names of the daughters are given, no doubt with divine significance. Jemima, "a dove;" Keziah, "cassia;" Keren-happuch, "a horn of paint," or adornment. These are the fruit of Job's trials. The dove, suggesting the gentleness and love of the bird of sorrow. Cassia, telling of the fragrance that has come from his bruising; and the horn of cosmetic, of the "beauty for ashes" that is now his. Love, fragrance, beauty — these come of our sorrows. Truly there are no daughters so fair as these. Their children cluster about Job's knees to give him the joy of youth even in his old age.
(4) And so the dear man passes from view "old and full of days." He would once have said, "full of nights," but the light has shone upon him, and he walks in it until the "perfect day." We need not be surprised at the apocryphal ending of some interpreter, "It is written however that he will rise again with those whom the Lord raises up."
"Hast thou considered my servant Job?"
"Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."