The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ
by Paul R. Van Gorder
Job is classified as one of the poetical books of the Old Testament. It may be the most ancient of the Bible writings. That such a man really lived is sufficiently proved by the testimony of the Holy Spirit in Ezekiel 14:14,20 and James 5:11 where his name is mentioned. Job lived in the time of the patriarchs, probably long before the days of Moses. He offered sacrifices on behalf of his family, and no reference is made in Job to the book of the Law given from Sinai. Another indication of the early writing of the book is the fact that Job lived to be approximately 210 years of age.

No other Bible book contains as much scientific truth as Job. Consider, for example the passage that says God ''hangeth the earth upon nothing'' (26:7). Job's contemporaries all believed that the earth was flat, and that it rested on the shoulders of one of the gods, or the back of an elephant or giant sea turtle. Think of it! Startlingly accurate scientific statements written more than 3,000 years before the discovery of America!

We may well write over the entire book the word ''tested.'' Job's name means ''persecuted.'' The theme of the book sounds forth loud and clear: ''He knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tested me, I shall come forth as gold.'' (Job 23:10).

  1. Prologue (Job 1:1 - 2:8): A look behind the scenes.
  2. Job and His Wife (2:9,10)
  3. Job and His Three Friends (2:11 - 31:40)
  4. Job and Elihu (32-37)
  5. Jehovah and Job (38-41)
  6. Job's Final Answer (42:1-6)
  7. Epilogue (42:7-17)
The overriding question in the book of Job is this: ''Why do the godly suffer?''
The above question is answered in the book of Job from four principal and divergent viewpoints. We will consider these representative opinions about why people suffer.
  1. Satan's view.
    Satan hurled the challenge into the face of God that His people love and serve Him only to gain temporal advantage. Hear the adversary say, ''Doth Job fear God for nothing?'' (Job 1:9). God named that evil insinuation the devil's lie. In effect, God said to Satan, ''There are men on earth who will follow me in poverty.'' The record tells us that Job fell down upon the ground and worshiped God, saying, ''Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord'' (1:21). But God went beyond this to prove to Satan that there are men on earth who will trust Him even while their bodies are wracked with pain and disease (see Job's remarks in 2:7-10).
         We must note this: it often takes more faith to suffer than it does to be healed. God places that faith just as high on the scroll as any other. Look again at Hebrews 11:1-34, then read carefully verses 35-39. Yes, God does honor suffering faith.
  2. The view of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.
    These three friends of Job came to the conclusion that the suffering of the righteous is punishment for known, but perhaps secret, sins. This viewpoint is refuted by God's Word and the experience of Job. Eliphaz expressed his opinion that suffering is punishment for sin in these words: ''Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? Or where were the righteous cut off?'' (Job 4:7). Be assured of this: not all of ''Job's comforters'' are dead. A pernicious doctrine that is extant today says that sickness is always the result of sin or that people don't get well because they lack faith. People who believe this do not understand the book of Job.
  3. The view of Elihu.
    This wise man pictured God as a great God. He gave us a noble and true accounting of man and suffering. But Elihu was conceited, and he was guilty of the very thing of which he accused Job.
  4. God's view.
    God finally confronted Job and, in a unique revelation of Himself, gave him a discourse on His attributes. In his response, Job expressed God's solution to the problem of human suffering in his own words (42:1-6). They could be summed up this way: The godly are afflicted so that they may be brought to self-knowledge and self-judgment. Afflictions are purifying. Job was a good man, but he was self-righteous. The book of Job is a picture of the situation that is stated in 1Corinthians 11:31,32; Luke 22:31,32; and 1Corinthians 5:5.
Job longed for a mediator (Job 9:32,33). The word translated ''daysman'' in verse 33 means ''mediator.'' He realized that he was a fallen man, the offspring of Adam. He knew that in heaven was a holy God, and that between him and God was a vast gulf. His cry was for a kinsman-redeemer, and by faith he saw the God-man. ''For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus'' (1Timothy 2:5).

Job's vision of a future life had been obscure, as witnessed by his question, ''If a man die, shall he live again?'' (Job 14:14). But a light broke upon his soul, for later we hear him exclaim, ''For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God'' (19:25,26). Job understood the process of bodily disintegration, but with the eye of faith he also saw the resurrection and his Redeemer standing upon this earth. He saw himself in a future body of flesh, for he said of Christ, ''Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another'' (19:27).

Yes, this is just one more proof of the validity of our Lord's words, ''They... testify of Me'' (John 5:39).

A right view of God, a right view of self, and then a right view of others is the correct order. The blessings described in Job 42:10 were the result of a vision of God that followed with an abhorrence of self, tears of repentance, the sweet odor of burnt offering, and the embrace of love (42:11).

Return to table of contents for ''The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ,''
written by Paul R. Van Gorder, Copyright 1982 by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI.
Used by permission [within The Book from].
Further distribution is not allowed without permission from RBC.

For another brief look at this book of the Bible,
see the related chapter in Christ in All the Scriptures, by A.M. Hodgkin.

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