said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the
life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live'
In writing classes, students are
importance of a good ending to their pieces. Particularly in fiction,
where the whole thing is made up, the author needs to bring the end to
a satisfactory close. But even in nonfiction, a good ending is
But what about reality? What about life itself, lived not in
pages of a book or in a film script but in flesh and blood? What about
our own stories? What kind of endings do they have? How do they wind
up? Are the loose ends tied together nicely, as in a good piece of
This doesn't seem to be the case, does it? How could they end
when our stories always end in death? In that sense, we never really
have happy endings, do we, because when is death happy?
The same is true with the story of Job. Though its conclusion
often depicted as a happy ending, at least in contrast to all that Job
had suffered, it's really not that happy, because this story, too, ends
This week, as we begin the book of Job, we will start at its
because it brings up questions about our ends as well, not just for now
but for eternity.
* Study this week's lesson to prepare for
Sabbath, October 1.
Happily Ever After?
Oftentimes children's stories end with the line, "And they
happily ever after." In some languages, it's almost a cliché. The whole
idea is that whatever the drama-a kidnapped princess, a nasty wolf, an
evil king-the hero and perhaps his new wife triumph in the end.
That's how the book of Job ends, at least at first glance.
the trials and calamities that befell him, Job ends on what could be
described only as a relatively positive note.
42:10-17, the final verses of the entire book. What do they
about how Job ended his days?
No question: were you to ask someone about a book of the Bible
ended well for the main character, a book that had a "happily ever
after" ending, many would name the book of Job.
After all, look at all that Job had as the story closes.
friends, who weren't around during the trials (with the exception of
Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu, and Job's wife), come, and they comfort
him. They were generous, too, giving him money. As the story ended, Job
had twice as much as he had at the beginning of the story, at least in
terms of material wealth (compare Job
42:12 with Job
1:3). He had ten
children, seven sons and three daughters, to replace the seven sons and
three daughters who died (see Job
18-19), and in all the land no
women were "found so fair as the daughters of Job" (Job
something not said about his first ones. And this man who had been so
sure that death was right before him, lived on another 140 years. "So
Job died, being old and full of days" (Job
42:17). The phrase "full of
days" in Hebrew (sometimes translated, interestingly enough, "full of
years") is used to describe the last days of Abraham
35:29), and David
Chron. 29:28). It gives the
idea of someone
in a relatively good and happy place at the time of a decidedly unhappy
We all like stories with happy
What are some stories with happy endings that you know of? What lessons
can we take from them?
The book of Job concluded with things going well for Job, who died "old
and full of days." As we all know, and know all too well, that's not
how the story ends for so many others. Even those who were faithful and
honorable and virtuous didn't always wind up in a situation such as
the story end for the following Bible
As we can see, the Bible is full of stories that don't have
endings. And that's because life itself is full of stories that don't
have happy endings. Whether martyred for a good cause, or dying from a
horrible disease, or having a life reduced to pain and misery, many
people don't come through their trials as triumphant as Job did. In
fact, to be honest, how often do things work out well, as they did for
Job? And we don't need the Bible to know this terrible fact. Who among
us doesn't know of unhappy endings?
What are some stories with unhappy
endings that you know of? What have you learned from them?
Tuesday September 27
The (Partial) Restoration
Yes, the story of Job ended on a positive note, in contrast to the
story of other Bible characters and often of other people in general.
Bible scholars sometimes talk about the "restoration" of Job. And
indeed, to some degree, many things were restored to him.
But if that were the complete end of the story, then, in all
fairness, would the story really be complete? Certainly things got
better for Job, much better, but Job still died eventually. And all his
children died. And all his children's children, and on and on, all
died. And no doubt to some degree all of them faced many of the same
traumas and trials of life that we all do, the traumas and trials that
are simply the facts of life in a fallen world.
And, as far as we know, Job never learned of the reasons
the calamities that befell him. Yes, he got more children, but what
about his sorrow and mourning for those whom he lost? What about the
scars that, no doubt, he carried for the rest of his life? Job had a
happy ending, but it's not a completely happy ending. Too many loose
ends remain, too many unanswered questions.
The Bible says that the Lord "turned the captivity of Job"
42:10), and indeed He did, especially when compared to all that came
before. But much still remained incomplete, unanswered, and
This shouldn't be surprising, should it? After all, in this
it is now, regardless of our "end," whether good or bad, some things
remain incomplete, unanswered, and unfulfilled.
That's why, in a sense, Job's ending could be seen as a
however faint, of the true end of all human woe and suffering. It
foreshadows the ultimate hope and promise that we have, through the
gospel of Jesus Christ, of a full and complete restoration in ways that
will make Job's restoration pale in comparison.
1 Corinthians 4:5. What
does this text tell us about how, for now, in this life, some things
will still remain unanswered, unfulfilled, and incomplete? To what hope
does it point us instead?
Wednesday september 28
The Final Kingdom
Among other things, the Bible is a book about history. But it is not
just a history book. It tells about events in the past, historical
events, and uses them (among other things) to give us spiritual
lessons. It uses events in the past to teach us truths about how we are
to live in the here and now. (See 1 Cor. 10:11.)
But the Bible doesn't just talk about the past. It talks about
future, as well. It tells us not just about events that have happened
but about events that will happen. It points us to the future, even to
the end of time. The theological term for last-day events, about end
times, is "eschatology," from a Greek word that means "last." Sometimes
it is used to encompass belief about death, judgment, heaven, and hell,
as well. It also deals with the promise of hope that we have of a new
existence in a new world.
And the Bible does tell us many things about the end times.
book of Job ended with Job's death, and if this were the only book one
had to read, one could believe that Job's story ended, as do all ours,
with death-and that was it, period. There was nothing else to hope for,
because, as far as we can tell and from all that we see, nothing comes
The Bible, though, teaches us something else. It teaches that
end of time God's eternal kingdom will be established, it will exist
forever, and it will be the eternal home of the redeemed. Unlike the
worldly kingdoms that have come and gone, this one is everlasting.
"The great plan of redemption results in fully bringing back
world into God's favor. All that was lost by sin is restored. Not only
man but the earth is redeemed, to be the eternal abode of the obedient.
For six thousand years Satan has struggled to maintain possession of
the earth. Now God's original purpose in its creation is accomplished.
'The saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the
kingdom forever, even forever and ever.' Daniel
7:18." - Ellen G.
White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 342.
Indeed, the book of Job ended with his death. The good news
and for Job, is that the end of the book of Job is not the end of Job's
story. And our death is not the end of ours, either.
The Resurrection and the Life
ReadJob 14:14-15. What question is Job asking, and how, in his own way,
does he answer it?
One of the themes in the book of Job deals with the question
death. How could it not? Any book that looks at human suffering would,
of course, have to look at death, the source of so much of our
suffering. Job asks if the dead will live again, and then he says that
he waits for his change to come. The Hebrew word for "wait" also
implies the idea of hope. It's not just waiting for something, it is hoping
And what he was hoping for was his "change." This word comes
Hebrew term that can give the idea of "renewal" or "replacement." Often
it is the changing of a garment. Though the word itself is broad, given
the context-that of asking what "renewal" comes after death, a
"renewal" that Job hopes for-what else could this change be but a
change from death to life, the time God shall "desire the work of Your
[God's] hands" (Job 14:15, NKJV)?
Of course, our great hope, the great promise that death will
the end, comes to us from the life, death, and ministry of Jesus. "The
[New Testament] teaches that Christ has defeated death, mankind's
bitterest foe, and that God will raise the dead to a final judgment.
But this doctrine becomes central to biblical faith . . . after the
resurrection of Christ, for it gains its validation in Christ's triumph
over death."-John E. Hartley, The Book of Job,
NICOT, Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), p.
said to her, 'I am
the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may
die, he shall live' " (John 11:25, NKJV). What is Jesus telling us here
that gives us a hope and confidence about "the end"? That is, what do
we know that Job didn't know?
horrific calamities that befell Job, not only did he stay faithful to
God, but he was given back so much of what he had lost. Yet even here,
as with much of the book of Job, questions remain unanswered. Sure, Job is
just one book of the Bible, and to build an entire theology on one book
would be wrong. We have the rest of the Scriptures, which add so much
more understanding regarding many of the difficult questions addressed
in the book of Job. The New Testament especially brings to light so
many things that couldn't have been fully understood in Old Testament
times. Perhaps the greatest example of this would be the meaning of the
sanctuary service. However much a faithful Israelite might have
understood about the death of the animals and the entire sacrificial
service, only through the revelation of Jesus and His death on the
cross does the system come more fully to light. The book of Hebrews
helps illuminate so much of the true meaning of the entire service. And
though today we have the privilege of knowing "present truth" (2 Pet.
1:12) and certainly have been given more light on issues than Job had,
we still have to learn to live with unanswered questions, too. The
unfolding of truth is progressive, and despite the great light we have
been given now, there's still so much more to learn. In fact, we've
been told that "the redeemed throng will range from world to world, and
much of their time will be employed in searching out the mysteries of
redemption. And throughout the whole stretch of eternity, this subject
will be continually opening to their minds."-Ellen G. White, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald,
March 9, 1886.
What does the idea of progressive revelation mean? What
examples of how the idea works? For example, one begins arithmetic by
learning the numbers, how to count. We then learn how to add, subtract,
multiply, and divide those numbers. We then can move on to deeper
things such as algebra, geometry, and calculus, all still working with
those basic numbers. How does this analogy help us understand the idea
of progressive revelation in theology, as well?
Read Job 42:11. Commentators through the ages have asked
question about where Job's relatives and friends were during the times
of his greatest need. That is, they came after his
fortunes had turned around and things were going better for him. What's
wrong with this picture?
How many bad endings do you know of now, and what hope
Cross give you that these bad endings do not truly end the story?
Inside Story~ Inter-European Division
The Conversion of a Convict, Part 1
Alexandru Marin was known among law enforcement officers in
Romania. His name and picture appeared in police stations throughout
the country. He spent more than a third of his life in prison.
Marin didn't fit the typical image of a hardened criminal.
Well-educated, multilingual, a promising artist and designer,
Alexandru's future was full of promise. His older brother was a
national champion athlete before he committed suicide at age 18. Marin
was only 15 at the time. His grieving parents showered all their love
and hopes for the future on their younger son. But he made friends with
the wrong young people.
His friends delighted in breaking the law. "We knew what would
happen if we were caught," he said. Eventually Alexandru was captured
and imprisoned. Prison was an excellent school for crime, and soon he
was released, wiser in the ways of criminals. He indulged in more
illegal activities, and eventually made connections with the Mafia.
Alexandru married a former schoolmate. She knew his past, but
to reform him. But Alexandru didn't want reform. He decided to escape
to Yugoslavia and later send for his wife, who was expecting their
child. He made it safely across the border, but had no money. "We had
to steal to eat," he said. Again he was arrested and imprisoned.
The day before he was to be released, a woman who worked in
prison told him of plans to deport him to Romania. To be returned to
Romania could well mean the death sentence. She gave him a metal file,
and he and his cellmates began filing through the metal bars of the
high security prison. They sang and made noise to conceal the sounds as
they cut the steel bars on the window. The window was very small, and
Alexandru had to remove his coat and shirt and put shaving cream on his
body to help him slide through the tiny opening. He tells what happened
"Four of us tried to escape, and three made it out of the
into the neighboring cornfield. It was late autumn, and I had no shirt
or coat. I shivered in the cold. We could hear the guards and police
dogs searching for us. The dogs found my cellmate. I could tell by the
cries. That's when I prayed my first prayer. 'Help me, God,' I prayed.
'If You will let me escape, I will change my life.' I meant that
prayer, but after I escaped, I forgot my promise to God."
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