The final section of Job contains a storybook ending in which many of Job’s fortunes are restored. Many, but not all. He receives twice the wealth he had before (Job 42:10), plus a new brood of seven sons and three daughters (Job 42:13). But his first children are gone forever, a bad trade by any reckoning. Thus, even though we read that Job’s latter life is blessed “more than his beginning” (Job 42:12), we know there must still be a bittersweet taste in his mouth. We know, following the resurrection of the Son of God, what Job could not have known, that God’s final redemption comes only when Christ returns to bring his kingdom to fulfillment.
Job Leaves an Inheritance for His Daughters (Job 42:13-15)
Job does something stunning in the aftermath of his ordeal. He leaves his daughters an inheritance, along with his sons (Job 42:15). Leaving an inheritance to female children was unheard of in the Ancient Near East, much as it was illegal in much of Europe right up to modern times. What could have caused Job to take this unprecedented step? Did his sorrow that he could do nothing for his deceased daughters give him the resolve to do everything he could for his living daughters? Was his grief the engine that drove him through the social barriers against women’s equality in this regard? Did his suffering open his heart to others’ suffering? Or were his obstreperous demands to know God’s justice answered by a higher understanding of God’s love for women and men? We cannot know the cause, but we can see the results. If nothing else in this life, the result of our suffering may be others’ liberation.
The Book Comes to an End (Job 42:7-17)
And so we leave the book of Job with observations and questions, rather than neat conclusions. Job proves faithful to God in prosperity and in adversity. This surely is a model for us. But the odious judgments made by his friends caution us against making too-certain application of any model to our own lives.
God proves faithful to Job. This is our ultimate hope and comfort. But we cannot predict how his faithfulness will be manifest in our lives until his promises are fulfilled in the new heaven and new earth. It would be folly to judge others, or even ourselves, based on the fractional evidence available to us, the paltry wisdom we are able to grasp and the minuscule perspectives we hold. To the hardest questions about the circumstances of our lives, the wisest answer may often be, “I don’t know.”
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