Although standing alone chronologically and historically, Job is considered one of the most important books of the Old Testament because of the importance of its subject: our relationship to and with God.
Job lost his wealth, his family, and his health. If you were to look at him, he had sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (Job 2:7), the puss of which he had to scrape off his body. He sat among ashes, probably to dry up the sweating of his boils; so he was caked with white dust from head to toe. When his friends came to visit him, we are told that “they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great” (Job 2:12-13). Considering the fact that later they would not stop talking, the sight of Job must have been quite impressive to shut them up for seven days and nights!
When Job finally breaks the silence, he does so by regretting the day he was born. Most of the remaining 30-plus chapters are their conversations and speculations about God. While much of the speculation of his friends turns out to be incorrect, we nonetheless get a very clear sight of the New Testament Savior Jesus in this ancient Old Testament book.
Bible students through the centuries have observed the similarities between Job and Jesus. Job’s afflictions came because of his obedience to God, and were as painful as anyone’s in the Bible besides Jesus; he seems to be utterly forsaken by God while afflicted by men and Satan, and his life ends in blessing for himself and the glory of God. Certainly we see Christ sweetly reflected in Job’s gracious response to his trials.
Over and over we see Job’s total willingness to throw himself entirely into the wise and good hands of God: “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15). One cannot help but hear the echoes of Jesus’ perfect submission in Job’s words. Jesus—who cried out from his heart, “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42), and then followed through with this resolute commitment: “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11).
Not only did Job express insatiable desire to glorify God in his affliction, he also displayed an unshakable resolution to obey God, even in the midst of his very real pain:
But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food. (Job 23:10-12).
Likewise, Jesus proclaimed, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34); “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (John 14:31); and “I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10).
But there are also crucial differences, highlighted at the end of the book of Job. Unlike Job, Jesus knew why he suffered, and Jesus suffered voluntarily—for the glory of God and for the salvation of each of his people!
In fact, we might say that when Jehovah questions Job at the end of his trial, we observe Jesus proving to Job his need of a Savior:
God: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4).
Job’s answer: “I wasn’t there, and didn’t even exist yet.” Jesus’ answer: “I was there.”
God: “Who determined its measurements” (Job 38:5).
Jesus’ answer: “Me!” Job’s answer: “Definitely not me.”
God: “Job 38:6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone” (Job 38:6).
Job’s answer, “I’m done. I have nothing to say.” Jesus’ answer: “I laid the cornerstone, and I am the foundation on which it is laid.”
God: “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?” (Job 38:12).
Jesus’ answer: “Yes, by me all things exist!”
God: “Have the gates of death been revealed to you?” (Job 38:17).
Jesus: “They will be!”
God: “…or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?”
Jesus: “I close and open them at my will.”
God: “You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!” (Job 38:21).
Jesus: “Yes, I am from everlasting to everlasting — the same yesterday, today, forever.”
With this impressive foundation laid, then, in chapter 40 Jehovah moves from creation to salvation: Job 40:8 continues, “Will you even put me in the wrong?” (Jesus will affirm and fulfill his Father’s judgment); “Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (To which Jesus replies, “I will be condemned, to display God’s righteousness”).
God: “Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?” (Job 40:9).
Jesus: “Yes I do, but I will humble myself to my Father and willingly surrender my glory.”
God: “Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you” (Job 40:14). Job, you cannot save yourself; you need Someone who can answer these questions positively, authoritatively, satisfactorily.
Ultimately, Job is brought to realize this startling truth: although the trials were not coming on him because of his sin, he did deserve what was happening! There is absolutely no hint of an apology on God’s part, for all of Job’s terrible pain. Job’s is the only repentance recorded between him and God! In fact, Job was finally brought to this confession: “I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).
But Jesus, in effect, said to Job: “You deserve what you are suffering, and worse, forever. But I will take your losses, your festering sores—even God’s forsaking you—upon myself, so that you can go free now, and be freed forever.”
By faith, Job was able to “see Jesus’ day” just as Abraham did after him. And by faith Job could truthfully say, “I know my Redeemer.” And not only that but Job also proclaimed, “I know that my Redeemer lives” ((Job 19:25). I can’t deliver myself, as I’ve already discovered in the midst of these overwhelming losses and pains and afflictions. But my Redeemer can and will deliver me. No matter how bad my circumstances may be—and even if my sickness leads to my death—he lives now and will continue, will stand on the last day that this earth will ever see.
“He shall stand!” (Job 19:25). An implicit claim to victory. And Job is confident that “In my flesh, I shall see God” (Job 19:26). Because he lives, because he will stand, I will see God in my flesh, with my own eyes! My Redeemer stands (a man), yet my eyes will see none other than God!
Here is a clear statement of life after death, of the resurrection of the personal body, of the divinely human Redeemer to come, and that he will not only deliver me from current pains but even death!
Have you, by faith, been blessed to know your Redeemer, that he lives, that he will stand again on the earth, and that he will finally deliver you even after worms have eaten your body in the grave? Nothing else, and no one else can deliver you now from the trials you are facing, from the death that comes to every human, or from the judgment that will come at that last day. But Job’s sovereign Savior and Redeemer is well able to give you the victory.
Our God is amazing: He revealed to Job much of His distant future plan of Jesus as our redeemer, mediator, and savior. There are basically three ways that you can see Jesus in Job. First, Job suffered even though he was righteous; he didn’t suffer as a result of sin. This concept leads the way for the understanding of the suffering nation of Israel and the suffering savior. Second, utterances Job made that directly relate to Jesus’ role in our lives, including our bodily resurrection. Third, though seemingly controversial, is the role of Elihu as mediator.
So, how long ago was it that God revealed these things in what is now the Book of Job? While it is not known exactly when the book itself was written down, there are a great many reasons to accept the patriarchal period as its setting (it is thought to be the oldest book of the bible): there was no priesthood yet, since Job had acted as priest for his family; wealth was measured by livestock; and, Job lived to be over 200 years old. Other little details, too, point to the period described in the first part of Genesis. So Job spoke spiritual truths relating to salvation and end-times glorification long before Jesus came to us, or the Holy Spirit instructed the apostles in such matters.
Now let’s explore each of the three ways that Jesus is foreshadowed through Job. In the beginning of Job we are shown this scene: angels presenting themselves to God, when one in particular—Satan—insults Him. Satan accuses God of, basically, bribing people to believe in Him. “Does Job fear God for nothing?” “You have put a hedge around him . . . . You have blessed the work of his hands . . . . But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” (1:9 -11). Even though God told Satan that Job was “blameless and upright” and that “there was no one on earth like him” (1:8), God allows Satan to destroy virtually all that Job has. This is Job’s first test. It is a test of faith, and Job passes. After all of his children, and most of his servants livestock are killed, Job declares: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (1:21b). Job suffered for all those righteous who came after him so that they would not need to feel guilt over suffering. It is established here that suffering is not necessarily a sign of sin in a believer’s life. Our Lord Jesus was blameless and he suffered much for our sake. Also, future believers needed to be ready to accept a suffering Messiah.
Poor Job, however, is given a second test. Some would say that he didn’t completely pass this second test, yet after God came and spoke with Job, He said that Job was right and his three friends erred (42:7). At any rate, the second test was an attack by Satan on Job’s personal being. Satan claimed that if Job felt that he was going to die, he certainly curse God (2:3-8). After his illness begins three of his friends come to comfort him, but they also end up trying to convict him of sin. They felt that he must be harboring some secret sin, or else why would he be suffering so? Job gets more and more angry with his friends because he can find no sin within himself that he needs to confess, and he finds their logic wrong: righteous people do indeed suffer at times. In Job’s responses to his friends’ accusations he speaks prophetically.
In verse 9:33, Job stated: “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both.” Job is referring to himself and God. Job’s friends aren’t helping at all (they are, in fact, making things worse), so Job wishes for someone to accompany him to God’s court—a mediator. But when we get to verses 16:19-21, we find that Job realizes that there is in fact a mediator! “Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend.” We now know that the name of our mediator—our friend in heaven—is Jesus.
A few chapters further, and Job gets downright glorious. He boldly said to his irksome friends: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (19:25-27) Doesn’t that sound familiar?
The third way that Jesus is hinted at in Job is through Elihu. Elihu is not one of Job’s friends that came to visit him, but someone who had been listening to the dialogues. In Elihu’s discourse, he makes the point that Job justified himself at the expense of God (32:2, 33:8-11, 35:1-3, 14-16), and another point that his friends could not answer Job’s predicament and anguish (32:3, 12). He seems like a young upstart, yet he takes on the role of a bridge between Job and God (34:31-33). Indeed in verses 32:18b-19 he states: ‘the spirit within me compels me; inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.” The only other place in the bible where new wine and wineskins are discussed is in Jesus’ dialogue concerning the old and new covenants (Mt 9:17, Mk 2:22, Lk 5:37-39). Jesus, our bridge and mediator, is so strongly associated with wine that I couldn’t help thinking of Him as soon as I read Elihu’s exclamation. Jesus made wine for the wedding in Cana (Jn 2:9-10); Jesus told us wine is symbolic of his shed blood which is for the forgiveness of sins (Mt 26:28, Mk 14:23-24, Lk 22:20, Jn 6:53-56); and, Melchizedek, who gave wine and bread to Abraham, is viewed as a type of Christ (Gn 14:18, Ps 110:4, Hb 7:11-25). Elihu also brings up “a ransom” being found to save a man (33:24).
In his dialogue and by the placement of it, Elihu foreshadows both God coming to speak with Job and wringing Job’s repentance out of him, and God’s judgment that Job’s friends did not speak what was right (42:7; in regard to suffering in general and in regard to why Job in particular suffered). Elihu was intermediate between Job and God, and it seems that he probably prepared Job somewhat for God’s confrontation with him. In the end, Elihu is different too. God’s view of Elihu is unknown. He says of the three friends: “I’m angry with you . . . because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” It seems that God’s spirit was indeed speaking through Elihu.
This brings to the end my writing about Jesus in Job, but I would like to present some additional comments on the difficult passage just presented. Why did God say that Job spoke of Him what was right when God Himself came down and sought a more humble Job? There are two things going on in Job when you think about it. One is Job’s tests and how he and his friends viewed God’s role in suffering. The other is Job’s relationship with God. Concerning the first subject, Job spoke what was right of God, and even prophesied. But concerning the second subject, Job’s spirit and relationship with God were taxed and Job ended up sinning. When God came to Job He never told him the reasons for Job’s suffering (subject one), but He did restore Job to a proper relationship with Him and saved Job from suffering more spiritually (subject two).
So, Elihu was a bridge between Job and God. Then Job, once restored, prayed for his friends so that God’s anger was turned away from them; Job thus became a mediator as well. Amazingly, you could say at least in a small way, that Job ended up being a suffering savior for his friends.
Some people struggle with the book of Job because, when they look at the life of Jesus, they can’t find anything in the ministry of Jesus that corresponds to Job’s story. They decide, therefore, that they can’t find Jesus in the book of Job. But I think they’ve stopped just short. They should have gone a bit further and looked at His cross. Because when you look at the cross, you find all kinds of similarities to Job’s experience.
If Job’s early success corresponds to Christ’s earthly ministry, his trial corresponds to Christ’s death, and his restoration corresponds to Christ’s resurrection.
I decided to start collecting similitudes between Job’s ordeal and the cross of Christ. My collection continues to grow, but here are some ways to see Jesus in the book of Job.
1. In the book of Job, the most upright man on earth (Job 1:8) suffers the most of anyone on earth. That definitely reminds me of Christ’s cross.
2. Trembling with pain, Job cried, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there” (Job 1:21). That statement describes Jesus perfectly, who died naked on a cross.
3. Job was so disfigured by his sufferings that his friends didn’t recognize him (Job 2:12). Similarly, Jesus’ “visage was marred more than any man” at His execution (Isa 52:14).
4. Eliphaz taunted Job to call out to God for help (Job 5:1). And they said of Christ at His death, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him” (Matt 27:43).
5. Psalm 22 is a messianic psalm about Christ’s sufferings. Some of the things said by the Messiah in that psalm remind us of Job’s speeches. For example, consider this comparison.
“They gape at Me with their mouths, like a raging and roaring lion” (Ps 22:13).
“They gape at me with their mouth, they strike me reproachfully on the cheek, they gather together against me (Job 16:10).
6. Job cried out, “O earth, do not cover my blood” (Job 16:18). We are grateful today that the earth didn’t cover Jesus’ blood, but that it speaks before God on our behalf.
7. Job bemoaned, “Why do You hide Your face, and regard me as Your enemy?” (13:24). This reminds us of Jesus cry on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Both Job and Jesus asked the why question.
8. In the hour when Job needed his friends most, they failed him. Same for Jesus. At His arrest, His friends forsook Him.
9. When you look at the source of Job’s trial, you realize Job was attacked by people, by Satan, and by God. And when you look at the cross, you realize that Jesus was killed by the same trilogy. He was crucified by people (the Roman soldiers and Jewish leaders), by Satan (who entered Judas Iscariot, and who filled the Jewish leaders with envy), and by God (who gave His Son for us all).
10. Job’s best friend, Eliphaz, became so frustrated at Job that he leveled concocted charges at his friend (Job 22:6-9). Similarly, Jesus was falsely accused by false witnesses at His trial before the high priest.
11. Job was raised up from his sufferings when He interceded for his friends. (Job 42:7-10). And Jesus was raised up as our great Intercessor, Heb. 7:25.
12. When God accepted Job (42:9) He raised him up; when God accepted Christ’s sacrifice (Rom 4:25) He raised Him up.
13. In the bitterness of his soul, Job cried, “He destroys the blameless and the wicked” (Job 9:22). And when you look at the three crosses on Golgotha’s hill, you’re looking at the death of both the blameless and the wicked.
14. Job and Jesus are both cornerstones. As the first book of the Bible put on paper, the book of Job is the cornerstone of the edifice we call Holy Scripture. And Jesus was called the cornerstone of the church (Ps 118:22; Isa 28:16).
15. In placing the book on Job’s story as the cornerstone of Scripture, the Holy Spirit put in place a foundation stone that was pointing ahead to the cross of Christ. Job was the first signpost of Scripture to the cross.
16. Job had to endure horrific suffering in order to qualify as the cornerstone of Scripture; and Jesus had to endure an agonizing death in order to qualify as the High Priest of our confession and as the cornerstone of the church. Suffering qualified both of them for a greater rank.
17. God said this to Satan about Job: “You incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:30). Job did nothing wrong to deserve his suffering. Nor did Christ. He was a blameless sacrifice.
18. Job spoke of his sufferings as labor, Job 9:29. And Christ was said to labor for our salvation on the cross, Isa. 53:11.
19. In order for men of all ages to gain consolation from Job’s example, Job had to suffer in every major area of life (family, relationships, finances, livelihood, and physical health). And in order to save sufferers of every generation, Christ had to suffer in every area of life.
20. Both Job and Jesus suffered in the will of God (1 Pet 4:19).
21. Job said, “He did not hide deep darkness from my face” (Job 23:17). And Scripture said of the Father that He “did not spare His own Son” (Rom 8:32).
22. Furthermore, I see Jesus in the book of Job when Job said, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5). Referring to the Father, John said that “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18; 1 Jo 4:12). Therefore, it seems evident that when Job saw God, he saw Christ. It was Jesus Christ Himself who interrogated and exonerated Job in Job 38-42. With the words of Jesus Himself quoted in the last five chapters of Job’s book, His presence in the book seems clear and undeniable.
Some have supposed that the cross rendered the book of Job obsolete and no longer relevant for our lives. To the contrary, the cross confirmed the glory of Job’s story and emphasized its relevance for New Covenant believers. Every time you read the book of Job, I hope you are now able to see more and more of Jesus in that marvelous book.
To go deeper in the book of Job, see Bob’s book on Job here, click here.
September 27, 2012 By Alyssa Jones
Connecting Job to Jesus
“Jesus is the true and better Job. He’s the truly innocent sufferer who then intercedes for and saves His stupid friends.”
Though it appears as the eighteenth book in the Old Testament—preceding Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes—the Book of Job is set in the period of the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Groups using The Gospel Project for Kids will encounter Job’s story as the fifth session of the chronological study.
The story of Job will likely be unfamiliar to kids. The Book of Job is long—42 chapters—and is a book of dramatic poetry. But like the rest of God’s Word, it is significant. From Job we learn how God uses suffering in our lives, and we are led to join Job in wrestling with the question, Why?
One resource I have found extremely helpful in my study of the Bible is Talk Thru the Bible by Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa. Their commentary surmises that “the basic question of the book is, Why do the righteous suffer if God is loving and all-powerful?”
Remember, Job’s three friends all had theories about why Job suffered. Eliphaz argued, “If you sin, you suffer. Only the wicked suffer.” Bildad suggested, “You must be sinning.” Zophar concluded, “You are sinning.” It was Elihu who called on Job to humble himself and submit to God, for God often uses suffering to test and teach us.
Job refers to a Redeemer (19:25-27) and requests a Mediator (9:33; 25:4; 33:23). Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Mediator. He was truly innocent, yet He suffered greatly for your sake and mine. God’s sovereign purpose makes sense of seemingly senseless acts like Job’s suffering and Jesus’ cross. Through the righteous suffering of one man—Jesus—there is life-giving justification for all. (Romans 5:18)
As you teach kids the story of Job, help them walk away knowing that God is all-powerful, sovereign, and good—even when life is hard. Everything God does is for His glory and our good, suffering included.
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