Job is by far my favourite Biblical character, and even till today I still believe very strongly that if a person like Job never existed in the Bible (or in history), if God had chosen not to use him in the way he was used, it would be a lot harder for us to live through our suffering. Let us, just for today, forget about the long debates and the crying and the complaining that we have to sit through for majority of the book, and focus on the most important quality of this man, a man worthy enough to be chosen by God to be made the central figure in his lesson to the world on the topic of suffering, a man worthy enough to be called blameless by God himself. After all the drama, after all the debates, after the Lord’s reprimand from chapters 38-41, this was what Job said – My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Chapter 42 highlights Job’s humble response to God’s chiding, which had indeed been effective. Though the Lord did not give him a direct answer, he has demanded that Job turn back to look at what’s truly important – the omnipotency of God that is greater than the knowledge of men. God’s almighty nature
My ears have heard of you – we have all heard of the Lord. Hearing the word is the first step to salvation. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? [Rom 10:14] A huge chunk of our learning about God comes from what we hear – testimonies, sharing, sermons, bible studies. Or read, for that matter, but in Job’s era, teaching via the word of mouth was certainly far more common and far more accessible. The importance of the act of hearing is in no way being played down in this verse. It’s just that there is simply a higher form to understanding God than hearing. And that’s seeing.
my eyes have seen you – You can only place a rough idea of somebody if you were told how he looks like. But when he shows up in front of you, that picture becomes clear – your understanding, too, becomes clear. Job did not mean this literally – although some scholars have suggested that this verse could be a Messianic prophesy, referring to Jesus becoming flesh and physically visible – while God spoke to Job directly, there was no indication in the Bible that God appeared to Job in any form. As important as hearing is, as important as listening to sermons is, our understanding of God becomes personal when we see him, not physically, but when God becomes so clear to us that it’s amongst akin to us being able to see him. Job’s enlightening moment was probably when God asked, where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? [Job 38:4] and that whole series of questions and declarations that underlined his greatness. This is probably what the Psalmist meant when he said, taste and see that the Lord is good [Psalm 34:8].
Job did not simply say I have heard of you, but now I see you. He said my ears have heard of you, my eyes have seen you. That’s very unusual. I mean, people are going to look at you weird if you say, my eyes just saw a pretty bird flying pass. Or, my ears just heard an awesome musical yesterday. Job labelled it to the very organ. Or at least, the translators did. I think the essence of Job’s attempt to personalize his experience is caught in this verse. If we put it this way – I had heard of you with my own two ears, but now I see you with my own naked eyes – the difference in the degree of familiarity before and after becomes apparent. You can hear of something with your very own years, and it is still just hearsay. But when you see something with your own eyes, it is no longer unrelated to you.
When Job tore his robes and said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” [Job 1:21] – he didn’t seem like a man who had just lost all that he had. When Job was in the midst of his self-pity, and said, God assails me and tears me in his anger and gnashes his teeth at me; my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes [Job 16:9], he seemed like a man who had lost all that he had and was still in the midst of suffering. When Job was enlightened by God, and said, My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you, he became a man who had gained more than he had lost. At the point of chapter 1, or chapter 16, Job had yet to ‘see‘ God face to face. Job had yet to personalize his faith. He acted strictly on how he was taught, on what he has heard, albeit very outstandingly so. The Job of chapter 42 was a transformed Job, who not only heard of the Lord, but has also seen him. His understanding of the Lord is now crystal clear.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the message of Christ. We’ve all heard of Jesus. All of us, to varying extents, know who God is. But have we seen the Lord? Have our spiritual eyes been open to the Kingdom mentality of God? Have we ever considered his greatness in comparison to our minuteness? It is probably troubling as well if you merely see God but have not heard of him – if that is possible. I still believe that hearing is an important aspect in building our faith. When we ‘see’ God, and have a clearer insight on God’s works and kingdom, that is when we truly know God. Let’s just pray that we don’t have to go through what Job did in order to ‘see’ God.