What Will Be, Won’t Be
Preached by Jason Abbott
In the Alfred Hitchcock film—The Man Who Knew Too Much, Doris Day sings the song Que Será, Será. Its lyrics begin (don’t worry, I won’t sing them):
When I was just a little girl / I asked my mother, what will I be / Will I be pretty / Will I be rich / Here’s what she said to me / Que será, será / Whatever will be, will be / The future’s not ours to see / Que será, será / What will be, will be… 1
If you know the song, then you know it’s a light and upbeat and catchy tune. However, when you really consider the lyrics, they’re anything but light or upbeat. In fact, they’re fatalistic. They essentially tell us that whatever happens, happens; there’s no controlling the future. So, if things go bad, you just better get used to it. As Day sings, “whatever will be, will be.”
Yet, in today’s text, we’re going to find out that “the future” is “ours to see.” We’re going to see that the future isn’t fatalistic but in the hands of a personal God, who will see justice done, mercy extended, and redemption applied to the broken. We are going to see that whatever “will be” in a fallen and sinful world will not be in eternity—in the New Heaven and New Earth. This chapter preaches the gospel to those who have ears to hear.
Let’s see how.
7 After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8 Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Lord had told them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.
10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.
12 And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. 13 He had also seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. 15 And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. 16 And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. 17 And Job died, an old man, and full of days.
As we read these verses, we should see that a great reversal is taking place. Where there was injustice now (1st) there’s justice; where there was discipline now (2nd) there’s mercy; and, where there was devastation now (3rd) there’s redemption. In each case, what will be in a fallen, sinful world, won’t be (we learn) in the end. Let’s look and see how this plays out in the book of Job.
1. There is justice here.
In the last couple sermons and in the preceding chapters, God’s been dealing with Job; he has been speaking just to Job. But, now, he focuses his full attention on Job’s three miserable comforters. And, God is angry with them.
Friends, let’s not domesticate God. Let’s not pass over his holy anger lightly. To be confronted with the presence of the Lord God, leaves those whom he favors beside themselves—leaves his people looking for a place to hide (cf. Isaiah 6:1-6)! For these three men, there could be nothing more mortifying than having to stand before the anger of the Lord. (Simply imagine whatever it is that you fear the most. I don’t know what that is for you but imagine it. Now, know that this is far worse! Having the anger of God directed at you is infinitely worse than that!)
Don’t try to tame God’s anger! Feel the fear these three men undeniably felt when God turned his attention to them, when the Lord said this to Eliphaz:
My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has (v. 7).
These three men are doubtlessly undone—as you and I would be if we were in their shoes. We must feel their fear. We must feel God’s holiness. As we read, that must be our first impression.
So much ink has been spilled trying to explain why they’ve spoken wrongly about God and Job has spoken rightly about God. What precisely is the difference between what these three have said about God, and what Job has said about him? Because, if we’re being honest, they seem to say similar things. And, if that’s true, if they basically say the same thing, we must ask: How is there justice here?
Well, friends, I don’t think they’ve said the same thing about the Lord at all. At the heart level, they have spoken very differently. One pastor put it this way:
It seems to me that God’s affirmation applies somehow not only to what Job has said but to who Job is. The answer would seem to be this: the friends have a theological scheme, a tidy system, well-swept, well-defined, and entirely satisfying to them. But they have no relationship with the God behind their formulas. There is no wonder, no awe, no longing, no yearning, and no prayer to meet and speak with and hear and see the God of their formulas. They are content with the rules of The System….2
With this formulaic approach to God, they’ve badly bruised and battered Job in his darkest moment. They have portrayed the Lord as some kind of divine robot who can be manipulated and moved by our actions—Do this and God will do that. Confess this and God will give you that. They’ve put the Lord in a very small box and crushed their friend in the process.
For this, there must be justice! And, that’s precisely what we find in the text. These three men must go to the very one they have bruised and repent before God. They must ask Job to sacrifice and pray for them. They must humble themselves and ask Job to forgive them so that God will forgive them. Job is vindicated.
If you don’t buy this, just consider how the Lord often confronts his people for the heartless worship they offer him. In Isaiah, God says this:
Because this people…honors me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men…the wisdom of their wise men shall perish… (29:13-14).
Isn’t that precisely what’s happened here? Haven’t these wise friends come speaking their commandments from the Lord in a detached and heartless fashion. And, hasn’t their wisdom, therefore, been put to death? I think there’s a lesson here for us. We need to see how we can often be just like them.
– When we say things about the Lord, even true biblical things about him, with a cold heart, then we have not spoken rightly about the holy Creator of all things. God’s anger burns against such things.
– When we develop rigid theological systems from our study of Scripture and impose those structures on people without the care and compassion of Christ, then we’ve misrepresented the Lord God—even if our system is 100% true. God’s anger burns against such things.
Friends, good theology is never impersonal. It’s always intimately connected to the infinitely compassionate heart of the God it’s about. Amen!
So, Job finally receives justice here. Yet, even as the Lord gives Job justice, he gives the three miserable comforters mercy; doesn’t he? Yes!
2. There is mercy here.
Look at how God combines the provision of his justice with the application of his mercy. So, the Lord tells Eliphaz, and his two friends, what to do:
…take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Lord had told them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer (vv. 8-9).
The very person who was so bruised by these three miserable comforters is, in the end, the very one thru whom the Lord will work to grant their forgiveness. Job is vindicated and approved by God before these three men, and they get mercy through his sacrifices and prayers on their behalf. The justice of God is combined with the mercy of God. Friends, this is a shadow of greater things to come!
Look, if you hear nothing else today, then hear this. If you’re a non-believer visiting with us today, and you’re wondering what Christianity is really all about, then don’t miss what I’m about to say.
Job’s sacrifices and prayers (for the very people who’ve so mistreated him) are a foreshadow of the essence of Christianity. This act, combining God’s justice and God’s mercy, points us to the cross of Jesus Christ. The crucifixion of Jesus was the ultimate merging of the Lord’s justice and mercy. It’s where God’s anger, which burns against us because of our sins, is justly poured out on Christ for us. Justice is done. Sin is punished. But, it’s also where the Lord’s mercy is on offer. When sinners, like you and me, trust that Christ paid the just penalty for our sins, the Lord is pleased to lavish mercy on us because of the merits of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. Mercy is extended. Our sins are forgiven. That’s called good news or gospel. And, it’s the heart of Christianity. It’s what all who follow Jesus Christ must be constantly about.
So, friends, there are buckets full of mercy in this passage. And, in the end, there is magnificent restoration too.
3. There is redemption here.
Where Job had lost property, here we find he now receives back double—14K sheep and 6K camels and 1K yoke of oxen and 1K female donkeys (v. 12). Where Job hadn’t received honor and comfort from his closest family and friends, here he receives it in abundance—both brothers and sisters showed him sympathy and comforted him, and each honored him with money and rings of gold (v. 11). And, where Job’s health was once lost, and his life was meaningless and worthless, we now find him restored and full of purpose in life (vv. 16-17).
But, if you’re like me, there’s still the difficult question of Job’s children. Sure, Job now has seven sons and three famously beautiful daughters once again. Yet, they can never simply replace his lost children. So, what gives?!
Well, I don’t have a definite answer for you, but I do have a possible answer. Let me begin with a question: Why aren’t the number of Job’s children doubled with everything else? Why not fourteen sons and six famously beautiful daughters? It’s a strange question, isn’t it. But, what if I suggested that the reason is that Job has them already?
Friends, I have five children. And, it’s my hope and prayer that they’ll each outlive me and Natalie. If, however, the Lord would choose to take one or even all of them home before me, I will still have five children—Josiah, Esther, Miriam, Ezra, and Silas will forever be my kids.
So, allow me to ask, as we close—Does Job perhaps have a double blessing of children? Is the redemption in this passage possibly even greater than we think? I don’t believe this is too farfetched for Job. After all, he himself says:
For I know that my Redeemer lives, / and at the last he will stand upon the earth. / And after my skin has been thus destroyed, / yet in my flesh I shall see God, / whom I shall see for myself / and my eyes shall behold, and not another… (19:25-27).
Will it only be Job that day? Will it not be fourteen sons and six daughters and Job? Will it not be all those with them who’ve placed their trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and their victory over death?
Friends—this is real restoration; it’s real redemption; it’s real resurrection. God’s not replacing Job’s children—as if one human life could replace another. No! God is doubling Job’s blessing of children. After all, he isn’t God of the dead but God of the living (Mark 22:32).
Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it… (Ezekiel 37:12-14).
Praise the Lord God for his restoration, his redemption, and his resurrection through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen!