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You Can Remain Confident During Uncertain Times

Job 38: At This Point Job has Won His Case But He Doesn’t Know It.

Job files charges against God and God shows up to answer. He doesn’t exactly say, ‘This trial is a witch hunt!’ but he’s not intimidated by it. He skips entirely the opening arguments and launches straight into cross-examination. Just how qualified is his prosecutor to be leveling the charges he has? Turns out that the prosecutor admits he’s not very qualified at all. ‘Um . . . sorry,’ he murmurs. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.

At this point Job has won his case but he doesn’t know it. When the verdict is read later, delivered by one accused, no less—you can do such things when you are God—he gets off with but a mild reproof, whereas his three accusers come in for sharp censure. When reparations are made, Job makes off like a bandit. He went from everything to nothing and he goes back to everything.

Not exactly everything. Replacement children are not quite the same as original children. You grow to love those new ones, but they are not the same. Not to mention that the originals take objection to having been bumped off. What of Job’s original 10 offspring—maybe not even meaning a literal ten but just an indication that, when it came to family, Job had it all—and lost it. What about them?

Cut to Job’s hope in a resurrection, which sometimes seems to be intact and sometimes doesn’t. Does he come to nurture that hope again? The comfort of the resurrection is that loved one who have departed have not really departed for good; it is more like they’ve begun a long journey from which they will return. Takes the sting out of death, that does. Here is a Revelation passage from John, penned long after Job’s time, that when God’s kingdom ‘comes’ and his ‘will be done on earth as it is in heaven,’ death will be no more:

“I also saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: ‘Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them.’” It’s not mankind ascending to heaven to become angels; it’s ’the tent of God’ descending upon ‘mankind’ where they remain his ‘peoples.’ Jettison some inherited church doctrine that the earth is but a launching pad for an eternity in heaven (for those who are ‘good’) and a lot of mysteries clear up. Just where was that doctrine inherited from?

“I have hope toward God,’ Paul declared to Roman authorities, ‘which hope these men [his religious persecutors] also look forward to, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.’ How much of this hope did Job also entertain, many centuries prior? Unclear—but possibly he did, particularly as he would get used to his formerly ravaged life being restored. God never does address the suppositions of Job’s persecuting trio, and seemingly Job himself, that he caused the children’s death. Did he, was it ‘wrong place at the wrong time,’ or was it something even more? Turns out with Job that it was something even more, but the man never got a clue as to the heavenly challenge in which he played a starring role.

Job’s fortune and reputation is restored following this appearance of God, so, Duh—he must have passed some sort of test, but to his dieing day he never knows just what that test was. Do you think maybe God, as he ends his cross-questions—which satisfies Job though it doesn’t address his withdrawn challenge, allowing G. K. Chesterton to say much later, ‘The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man’—do you think that Jehovah could have then revealed the contest between He and Satan and how Job’s course had proved Satan a liar? How come it’s not tacked on at the end of his long speech, tying together all the loose ends?

Hmm. Wouldn’t such an ending be a little cheesy, as though a celestial Game Show Host exclaiming, ‘You’re on Candid Camera!’ Wouldn’t such an ending, such as you might expect in a movie, encourage everyone going through hard times forever after to if they, too, are subjects of a wager in heaven?

Nah—better to leave it as it is, with an ending that isn’t at all conventional, doesn’t check the boxes that one might expect checked, and leaves each participant full range to reconcile their own trials with Elihu’s words at 37:23: ‘Understanding the Almighty is beyond our reach; He is great in power, And he never violates his justice and abundant righteousness.’ Even should they get it wrong under duress, they generally have opportunity to get back on track after the dust settles. Knowing Job’s course and outcome, however, may help them to not get it wrong should their time come. ‘You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome Jehovah gave, that Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful,’ says the apostle James. (James 5:11)


******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'


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