Chapter 42:1-9 (ESV) - Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
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.”
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. 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.” 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.
Question to consider: Why does Job mark himself with dust and ashes?
When faced with the reality of the living God, Job began to grasp his own limited understanding. Up until this point, Job had based his understanding of God on what he had learned from others, but now he learned about God by what God revealed about Himself. The result was to admit his own ignorance and repent.
I believe the act of marking himself in dust and ashes was a way for Job to identify with the sin of Adam. From dust we came, and to dust we shall return, and our lives are tainted by the same rebellion that cursed the world in which we live. Some added to this act of contrition the wearing of sackcloth which pointed to the animal skins God used to cover Adam and Eve— the first atoning sacrifice that launched us on a path toward our redemption in Christ.
Job saw his unworthiness and threw himself on the mercy of God, knowing that his Redeemer lives. God accepted Job’s faith and credited it to him as righteousness. At that point, Job became a type for Christ and was able to intercede for the sin of his friends so that they also could be reconciled to God.
Everyone at some point in their life comes face to face with the living God. In John 16:8-10, Jesus said, “And when [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” I believe it is important that every Christian be able to understand and defend their faith, but someone doesn’t need to be a scholar to proclaim Law and Gospel.
People will say that Christians are “judgmental”, but often people are projecting their own inward sense of guilt before God on the nearest Christian without a word being said. The world preaches, “Follow your heart,” but the Holy Spirit shows people that their own heart is corrupt and worthy of God’s judgment. Jesus took our sin and was nailed with it to a cross so that we could receive His righteousness and be reconciled to God like Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. The ruler of this world is judged, but the ruler of the kingdom of heaven has paid for our citizenship. Do not despise such an amazing gift.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for revealing Your mercy to Job, his friends, and all of us who have been blessed by his faithful suffering. Help us to love our enemies enough to endure their barbs and intercede for them in prayer. Amen.