God’s endgame: Job’s restoration.
Before Job’s restoration, a youngster named Elihu jumps up and has his say. He has waited – patiently – to hear all of his elders and now words just flow out of him like a sluice gate has been opened in his soul. He is on fire, full of zeal for God’s honor. Elihu rebukes Job for justifying himself rather than God, and rebukes Job’s friends. He tells Job that only human arrogance would dare to question God’s justice, and it is sinful to reject God’s gift of life and long for death. Job listens to the young.
Before Job’s restoration, Job gets the hearing before God that he has been craving, but it is not what he wanted or expected. The LORD speaks to Job personally, out of a whirlwind: “Dress yourself for action like man, I will question you, and you will make it known to Me.” He tells Job stop wallowing, man up and respond; it’s quiz night and the stakes are high. Question after question from the Almighty challenges Job to recognize God’s creative power and genius, to see in the world that God is the Maker of all that is, and the Maintainer of all that is. From the earth itself to the sea and the mountains, to the stars in their dance across the night sky, to the sun that rises, to the weather that comes, does Job even know any of their origins or control them? Great beasts and small, the animals that feed, the birds that fly, the horses that run, and the ox, donkey, and ostrich, does Job control their lives or provide for them? Job is humbled and promises not to speak further, but God isn’t done yet. The LORD questions Job again and proves: Job can’t do God’s job. He can’t clothe himself with majesty, dignity, glory and splendor, and then mete out justice to the wicked. “If you can do all this,” God says, “then I will also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you.” In other words, if Job is incapable of running the universe, he can’t save himself. Job realizes that he needs God to save him.
Before Job’s restoration, Job is humbled; his final response to God is this: “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Job admits that he spoke of things he didn’t understand, and asks God to teach him. His final words to God are: “I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Overwhelmed by this personal encounter with the majesty of God, Job is silenced. And God never explains. Job never finds out about the satan and the personal attack on Job, nor about God pointing Job out, nor about God defining the boundaries of the attack. God never explains, but Job is now fully content to rest in God’s sovereign care.
Before Job’s restoration, Job is given a task; he has to pray for his friends. God tells Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar that they have been wrong from the start, and only Job can pray for their forgiveness. Who’s in the catbird seat now? And wouldn’t it be tempting to just not ask God to forgive them? True to his character, Job is generous. Job prays, and his friends are forgiven.
Then God restores Job. Not only does Job get all his farm and his animals back, he gets double the livestock! And he has ten more children, 7 boys and 3 girls, just like before. Job’s daughters are mentioned by name: Jemimah, Reziah, and Keren-happuch, the most beautiful women in the land, and they get an inheritance equal to their brothers. Job was way ahead of his time. And all of a sudden, all Job’s brothers and sisters who never showed up before now come to eat his food and show sympathy and comfort him. We gotta ask: where have they been all this time?!?!?! Job welcomes them and accepts their gifts.
Suffering comes to every human soul. Loss and trouble are part of life this side of eternity. But God is all about restoration. Unlike Job, we get the whole story. So what did we learn? When in trouble, worship. Keep faith. Keep integrity. Cry out to God honestly; only God can save us. Remember Who God is: Creator and Maintainer of the whole universe, and our Savior. Trust in God’s sovereign care. Remember our enemy sticks his oar in every chance he gets, but God controls what the adversary can do. Don’t be cowed by friends who blame and shame us, but pray for them. After restoration, throw a party. Invite everyone, and celebrate God’s faithfulness. And know this: one day, some day, we who believe will enter God’s presence and be forever whole and blessed, because that’s what God’s endgame is: restoration.