“Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!” -Job 19:23-24
Why do the righteous suffer? The Book of Job wrestles with this question, and yet, Job is never given the precise answer. He’s not told. Instead, God makes it seriously clear that He knows what is going on even if Job does not. The ultimate lesson for Job is not really why the righteous suffer. The message is that God is God.
The marvelous treasure we have in Job, however, is not just the cry of the human heart and God’s response; the treasure is that the God of Job is the very same God we find out throughout the rest of the Bible. Major Christian doctrines can be found in Job even though the evidence points to its being the oldest book of the Bible, written during the time when Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob walked the earth.
The Dating of Job:
The poetry and writing skill found in the Book of Job is some of the very greatest in all ancient literature. What’s more, Job not only predates the Exile, but the story clearly predates the Exodus as well. The descriptions of the life and times of Job are consistent with the time of the Patriarchs, generations before Moses had his meeting at the Burning Bush. For instance:
– God is only referred to as Yahweh in the prologue and the epilogue, but not in the main body (except for one exception in verse 12:9). Talmudic Tradition gives Moses the authorship of Job, and it may be he produced much of the final form of the book. However, the body of the book, and the very story of Job, fit the world before the Exodus. The book itself does not describe its author, but Job or Elihu are likely.
Instead of calling God by the name given to Moses in the body of the story, Job’s God is constantly referred to as the “Almighty.” The term “Almighty” is used 31 times in Job, more than in the rest of the Bible put together. Genesis and Revelation use “the Almighty” with the next greatest frequency, with six and eight uses each, respectively.
When the LORD is later speaking to Moses in Exodus, he says, “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty [“El Shaddai”], but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them,” (Exodus 6:3).
– In Job, there is no mention of the tabernacle, the Levitical priesthood and sacrificial system. Instead, Job acts as the family’s priest, sacrificing to God on behalf of his children (Job 1:5).
– After his ordeal, Job lived another 140 years, which matches the longevity of men about the time of the patriarchs (Job 42:16; Gen 11).
-The existence of moving bands of Sabaeans and Chaldeans (1:15, 17) is consistent with the early second millennium B.C.
– A qesitah is mentioned in Job 42:11. A qesitah was a piece of money mentioned elsewhere as late as Joshua 24:32, but as early as Genesis 33:19.
– Eliphaz The Temanite may have been the very Eliphaz, son of Esau, mentioned in Genesis 36:10-11. Eliphaz’s son was named Teman, and the name Teman became synonymous with Edom.
The Ideas In Job:
While the Book of Job is very old, we find planted in it the basic seeds of important Hebrew and New Testament doctrines:
-God is not portrayed as a local god, or a god with limited powers. The God of Job is the Almighty. He is the God that hangs the earth upon nothing (26:7). He is the God in the height of heaven (22:12), and He walks its circuit (22:13). He is in charge of the stars (Job 38:31-33). He is the God over the weather (38:22-30) and over the sea (38:8-11) and over the foundations of the earth (38:4-6):
“Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?” (Job 38:3-5).
God declares that He has power over the largest and fiercest of creatures, behemoth (40:15-24) and leviathan (41:1-34).
-Job apparently had knowledge of the Creation, for he says he was formed out of clay (33:6) and the breath of the Almighty gave him life (33:4).
-He recognizes that dead men live no more, and yet, Job has hope for a future resurrection of the body. He first hints at it in chapter 14:
“O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come,” (14:13-14).
Later, he makes it much more clear:
“And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God,” (19:26).
-Job even hints that there will be a Redeemer!
“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth,” (19:25).
We too can declare this, with even better (perhaps) understanding, for our Redeemer was dead but is now alive, and we wait expectantly for his return to earth (Zec 14:3,4).
Job also mentions a ransom that, along with repentance, keeps men from the pit (33:24-28):
“Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living,” (33:29-30).
The concepts were there, before the Exodus. By the time we get to King David, his Psalm 22 describes Jesus’ hanging on the cross from a first person perspective, and well over 700 years in advance, Isaiah 53 proclaims the Messiah’s sacrifice for sins.
Perhaps the greatest, most important line in Job is found in chapter 40. This line underscores one of the most vital concepts in the whole Bible. It is the reason that Jesus had to come. It is the reason there had to be a Redeemer, a Sacrifice, a Ransom:
The LORD continually questions Job regarding his knowledge and his power…
“…Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty. Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him,” (40:10-11).
And God says that if Job can do these things, “Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee,” (Job 40:14).
Obviously, Job cannot. He hasn’t entered into the springs of the sea (38:16). He doesn’t know where light dwells (38:19). And he can’t save himself. Neither can we.
Of all the concepts throughout all religions across the world, this one makes the Bible unique. The Bible is the only book that teaches that man cannot save himself. While the world’s religions are filled with people trying to earn their salvation, the Bible is the one that teaches that mankind needs a Savior – from the time God covers Adam and Eve with skins in Genesis 3:21 to the very end, when the people from all languages and nations are redeemed and washed in the blood of the Lamb (Rev 5:9, 7:14).
Did Job suffer? Yes, he did. But, he looked forward to the day that he would see God his Redeemer in the flesh. And in that day, Job will get to participate when God Himself wipes away all the tears from our eyes forever (Rev 7:17).