Job…such an amazing man. Can it be said of me that I am “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil”? Not exactly always, I’m afraid. Of course, his very amazingness led to some pretty horrible things. Losing all your children and all your wealth in one day is really beyond comprehension, and yet Job never blamed God for his troubles. And that is even more beyond comprehension… How did he not just get MAD at God? God could stop it—we all know that—and yet, for His own reasons, He didn’t. Am I ever “mad at God” in situations far less intense than that? Help me to remember that “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Reading this first chapter, and then reading the last chapter of Job show some interesting things. Eventually, Job is cleared of any guilt, but notice that only after Job prays for his misguided, sinful friends, God restores his wealth. (42:10) That’s curious, isn’t it? Kind of reminds me how we are supposed to pray for our enemies… After doing their best to pile guilt onto Job—those men needed more than just their own prayers. It turned out that God would only accept the prayer of *Job* for those men. (42:8) And only when that is accomplished does God bring restoration of what was taken away.
Another thing that interests me in that last chapter is that when God did restore Job’s fortune, he doubled the number of all his livestock, but not the children. Job was given, at the last, the exact same number of each gender—seven sons and three daughters.
Ironically, I first became aware of this during a discussion of family planning. One person who was staunchly defending the use of birth control used this as an argument, saying that if children were an unmitigated blessing, never to be limited in any way, then surely God would have also doubled the number of children that Job was given. I remember the clinching sentence in this argument was, “Rain is a blessing, but too much rain is not a blessing!”
Looking back, I have to wonder if this person would agree that too many cattle, too much worldly riches, could ever be a problem rather than a blessing. I really think they would, because we all know what Jesus said about how difficult it is for a rich man to enter heaven! I have to assume that they didn’t consider that argument very carefully.
If you think about it, the fact that Job was given the exact same number of children actually means that Job DID have twenty children. Because unlike our cattle or other possessions, when we lose a child to death, that child is still ours. A child who dies doesn’t cease to exist—he or she is still very much a part of our hearts and God’s heart. So I believe that God did indeed double Job’s children, just as He did the cattle.
Another little tidbit that fascinates me in the last chapter is the description of Job’s children. The bare facts: He had seven sons and three daughters. But then it continues with the names of the daughters—Jemimah, Keziah, and Keren-happuch—and the fact that they were the most beautiful women in the land, and that they received an inheritance along with their brothers. We hear nothing further about the sons, but all this about the daughters! In most early genealogies, only the sons are listed. It is rare to see a woman’s name at all, yet somehow Lot’s daughters are important enough to rate naming and description even when their brothers don’t.
I have no idea why this is, although I have read several theories. Some of them seem fairly far-fetched to me, but the fact that both this passage and the one about Zelophehad’s daughters in Numbers 27 tell of daughters receiving an inheritance is a nice reminder that God cares about women, too. Even though men are the ones commissioned to lead, God provides perfectly for His daughters as well as His sons. He never leaves us or forsakes us.
And there is a nice footnote embedded in the meanings of the names of those daughters, too—they all have to do with peace and beauty. Perhaps there is a sweet lesson in that. After remaining faithful to God through the storm, He then adds to our lives peace and beauty.