Written by Paul J. Bucknell on July, 05, 2019
The Chief Purpose of the Book of Job: Job & Christ
The Book of Job has many purposes. There is no doubt that for us to see the crafty maneuvers of the evil one serves as a great help to know how to better handle temptation. And who hasn’t been challenged to be slower in making assumptions because of the colossal mistakes of Job’s friends? But we need to ask, “What is the chief purpose of Job?” We believe it is to prepare the way for the work of Jesus on the cross.
Our God wanted to deeply seed into the heart of the Hebrew people the fact that a person’s welfare did not always coincide with their spiritual state. He wanted people to understand that if things were going well in the life of a person, then he was not necessarily in God’s favor. The opposite would be true too. If things were going terrible, and this is what we see in this account of Job, this should not necessarily be interpreted as God’s rejection of that person. If the Jewish people did not have access to the truth that comes from the book of Job, then they would not be able to believe in Christ’s work. They had a difficult time as it was.
Someone recently expressed to me how they wish that when someone did something wrong, it would become immediately self-evident to all! They want instant judgment so that others will not imitate the same wrong. Otherwise, if the judgment is delayed, people might think a little evil doesn’t matter.
If evil is immediately judged, then sin would be held back. The earth would have long ago been destroyed. But in that case, neither would there be any redemption! Fortunately for us, God worked out another plan. In fact, we see God holding back judgment from the very beginning. Death was issued forth but held back. We need to go behind the scenes to understand why the world is not so simple to understand.
God does not immediately judge us for then we would all be wiped out, and there would be no redemption.
The opposite is true too.
God does not immediately bless the righteous because He has greater plans that can best be implemented through pain and suffering.
The fact is that God will always judge sin and bless righteousness as Job’s friends so persistently indicated. What they didn’t know was that God delays this judgment and reward. From their perspective, suffering always indicated judgment for sin. So they concluded that Job’s pain was because of hidden sin. His restoration depended upon repenting and doing right (cf. Job 8:5-6). They were wrong.
The Book of Job so powerfully rips through these overly simplistic perspectives of the world. Life is not what it often seems. The truth of this book was implanted early on in history through the Book of Job so that it would stand as a commentary on the Bible’s main story of redemption. The Book of Job today serves as a special means by which God sprinkles a special cloud of dust over the readers of the scriptures so that they will not be so quick to judge those who are suffering wrongly. In the end, man must conclude that we are poor judges on earth and must pass this honor on to God. Let’s elaborate on this idea a bit.
God planned to send His Son Jesus Christ into the world to suffer and die for sinful man. He did not want anyone to think that the one who died a cursed death was necessarily cursed because of his own sin. The Lord conditioned the Israelite people to allow for exceptions. Yes, the wicked would be judged as wicked, and the righteous would be rewarded as righteous. But in the meantime, we sometimes see incidences where what happens is a bit fuzzy. Job was such a case. Christ would serve as an exception too. And evidently, it seems to happen much more than we would care to acknowledge. Notice Jesus’ response to His disciples. We need to develop a fuller theology as Jesus encouraged His disciples below.
And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:2-3).
Job’s sufferings prepared the way for the Messiah for Job in a general way prefigured Christ. He is the one who was the greatest in the land and yet became accursed. He lost everything. For Job, it was not his choice. In a sense, nor was it the choice of the Messiah. Yes, He did choose to do His Father’s will, but He did not desire the pain and rejection associated with the cross. The scene at Gethsemane should leave a scar on our minds so that we never forget this.
The rich became poor and suffered. Everything seemed to be convoluted at the cross, but the story did not end there. Because Jesus was a righteous man, death could not hold Him from rising from the dead. Reward and blessing had to come. The last chapters of Job parallel the last chapters of the Gospels where light overcomes darkness. No one can reverse or hold back the mighty tides of justice embedded into this world by its Maker.
The righteous might suffer and need to go through persecution, but there will always be a good ending. We need not tremble to see the righteous suffer nor the wicked triumph, for they are but temporary images for time. Eternal judgments and blessings are what counts.
Job’s story does end in time, but it seems to continue into a future life. Indeed it wasn’t a resurrection, but Job’s renewed life and double blessing point to his ‘second’ life. After the time of intense pain, God has rewarded Job with what was right.
The Book of Job first teaches us that justice is not always immediately carried out neither does reward always accompany the righteous. We need to be gracious and understanding for we have difficulty accurately assessing a person’s circumstances. But on the other hand, we also see the glory of justice. Righteousness always does win out. Wickedness is always severely judged (though this is not pictured in Job).
Christ the holy one came to earth and suffered an undeserved judgment. He took on the sin of His people. He grieved, suffered, and died a cursed death. But He was the righteous One. He was the holy one. The resurrection shows this. We see the end of the story and get to celebrate in the righteous end of the Messiah. The suffering of the righteous One compels us to look at the greater good which results from His death where Christ became a sacrificial death for the sinners. This brings glory to Christ, the creation, and blessing to the people of God.
God’s principles of justice are not revoked but simply held back so that greater works can be accomplished. This was true in Jesus’ life and in ours. We are not to focus on the reward in this life but in the one to come.