"So, do you remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz, Job, when the rag-tag crew of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and little Toto first entered the Emerald City and saw the Wizard? Dorothy told him their heart-rending story of loss and separation, and then all the characters chimed in about how worthy they were for Oz's help. He thundered at them, making the Cowardly Lion faint. Dorothy took umbrage at this treatment of her friend, and she began to bawl out the great Oz. Then, the Wizard seemed to relent. He said, 'The great and powerful Oz has every intention of granting your request....' When he heard those words, the Cowardly Lion sat bolt upright and said, "What's that? What's that?"...before Oz then thundered, "Bring me the broomstick of the Witch of the West."
I couldn't get the Cowardly Lion out of my mind at this point because of his reaction when he heard the unexpected 'good news' from the Wizard. "What's that??" he wanted to know. It must have been something like that for you, Job, don't you think, when you heard God in 42:7? That is, when you heard God saying, "as my servant Job has," it must have been that you sat bolt upright and said to yourself, "WHAT???!!!" But then a conflicting cascading flow of emotions must have come over you. On the one hand, you must have felt that FINALLY, after long last, you were vindicated, and unexpectedly so. God had given no indication in 38-41 that he would even give you the time of day, so intent was God on showing you the ways of the universe and the creatures he had subdued. It was almost that you were of such small account in 38-41, Job, that you didn't even have a name. Elihu calls you by your name a few times in 32-37 but God never does. You are too small. Isn't that what you were thinking, Job?
But then, in 42:7, God does more than call you by your name. God, as it were, puts his cap in his hands and apologizes to you. You were right, Job. You were right. You only had dim knowledge of things, but nevertheless you had correct knowledge of them. You knew something was awry in heaven, which led to something else going wrong on earth, and you were not going to back down from that knowledge. So, the fact that God finally recognized your insight, your "rightness," must have been so unexpected as to be revelatory. You could have taken that statement to the bank and become a billionaire overnight, couldn't you, Job?
And, two things flowed from that statement, if I am not mistaken. One thing was that you probably felt, maybe for the first time in a long time, that you were heard, that you were understood, that you were appreciated, that you were affirmed. When you returned to the ash heap in 42:6 to think (brood) on what it all meant, you were ready to receive almost anything to help you begin the thinking process again. But coming from left field were these words of God, words that told you you were right. It is the experience of an artist who has long labored in obscurity but who knows that s/he has something incomparable to share with the world, and s/he is finally discovered. It is the person who has long championed a cause, an unpopular one, weathering scorn and obliquy for holding fast to something and then finding, when all her resources were spent, vindication in an unexpected way. It is news that utterly takes your breath away, that shakes you to your very core. It is not just good news; it is life-changing news. It is the nearest complement to the life-changing bad news that you received in ch.1, isn't it Job? There, in a moment of time, your whole world collapsed. Here, in a moment of time, when you had returned to the ash heap, your whole world was potentially restored. How amazingly fulfilling it is to be understood and appreciated by someone, to be recognized for what you are, to be acknowledged in the kind of way that you had always known was the way you wanted to be acknowledged.
This must have been your first reaction, Job. You, like the Cowardly Lion, sat up straight, as it were, and felt, for the first time, how amazing it felt to be recognized. You probably felt that you now "fit" for the first time in a long time. In the language of the 23rd Psalm, your soul was restored. If you had died at that very moment, I think you would have been restored, Job. Isn't that right? You would have died knowing that God was big enough to admit his "mistake," that God had recognized your virtue, that life did add up after all was said and done.
But there must have been one other realization that came over you at that moment, which I will discuss in the next talk.