What Job Knew (And It’s Good News–No, Really!)

Phyllis Nissila

FIRST, THE REALLY BAD AWFUL NEWS

At first glance the Old Testament book of Job is not well received and for good reasons.

Here is a man, a righteous man (even God thinks so–see chapter 1 verse 8), minding his prosperous business and his flourishing household in a godly manner. One day as he is dining a servant runs to him with the bad news that the Sabeans have stolen his oxen and donkeys and killed all the servants tending them except for him (14-15).

“While he was yet speaking,” the narrative continues, another servant runs in and reports, “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants” (16).

While THAT one is still speaking, another messenger pushes his way through with the additional news that “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels, […] carried them off […] and put the servants to sword” (17).

And then ANOTHER servant rushes to join the others with even WORSE news: Job’s sons and daughters were killed while feasting elsewhere when a fierce wind struck the house they were in and it collapsed on them (18).

And we are still in chapter 1 of a 42 chapter book. We haven’t even read, yet, what happens to Job, himself.

Job and his friendsA big chunk of the rest of the book consists of Job’s “friends” telling him how he deserved these great tragedies.

But here’s another reason, perhaps worse, we tend to avoid this little tale: the cause of the entire tragedy was that Satan had asked permission of God, Himself, to attack one of His righteous to prove (according to Satan) that the only reason one follows God is for the benefits.

God disagreed, of course, and to prove it He gave the devil permission to pummel Job with misfortune of biblical proportion.

Of course, God ultimately wins, but by the close of chapter 41 (close to the good ending) poor Job is a stinking, miserable mess with nothing left but sores from head to toe and outrageous angst, while his wife (of “curse God and die” fame) and “friends” stand by and criticize him (out of their own fear, no doubt, as is the nature of humans who desperately search for reasons for the grossly unreasonable).

And then, finally, in chapter 42, Job—now utterly humbled before God Who has retained His sovereign right to do as He deems fit—finds respite. God gives those friends a good talking-to and proceeds to restore all of Job’s blessings–and then some.

A Greek tragedy on steroids up to the very last scene when God repays Job for his trouble and Satan, thoroughly whomped, presumably slithers back to where he came from. For the time being, anyway.

And the sermons we usually hear based on the book of Job?

  1. All of our own “tragedies” have to pass by God’s throne, first.
  2. We suffer because we don’t have enough faith.
  3. God causes suffering on purpose.
  4. Suffering makes us more spiritual.
  5. Pride goes before a fall (and the fall may be the loss of a child or a business or some horrid disease).
  6. Job’s friends had their legitimate points.
  7. All of the above.

Sigh.

And so, taking the story at first-glance value, we wonder if at any moment God might zap US, TOO, with a lot of nasty just because of some heavenly reality show of which we are unaware but of which we are the focal point—in a bad way—because we know, if we are honest, Job’s “friends” are right about us…we actually commit some of the very sins whereof they accused Job, we DESERVE God’s reign of terror…

And then when we DO succeed at something we hold our breath wondering if at some
point, due to some sin of thought, word, or deed, omission or commission—or whatever–or simply due to Divine caprice, it will all vanish.

(I think I’ll study another book, thanks.)

WHILE ALL ALONG, TUCKED RIGHT THERE IN CHAPTER 9, JOB POSITS THE REVELATION THAT HINTS AT GOD’S ULTIMATE PLAN OF REDEMPTION, THE ULTIMATE PLAN OF SATISFACTION FOR EVIL—THIS PLAN, AN UNMERITED GIFT OF GOD’S LOVE…

NOW FOR THE REALLY GOOD NEWS IN THE BOOK OF JOB

Here is what Job, at length, came to understand:

“If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot” (9: 33-35, NIV).

Though in Job’s pre-Mosaic era he did not understand this completely, he was referencing none other than Jesus. Consider the following two commentaries on these verses:

“We may view (Job’s) cry for a daysman (umpire), for God with his majesty laid aside, as an instinctive prophecy of the Incarnation, although Job had no such thing in his mind. This passage is strongly looking forward to Bethlehem. There was really no answer to Job’s problem short of the Incarnation. In this cry for an umpire between God and man, we see a prophetic reaching out for that One Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).” [1]

And:

“Our Lord Jesus is now the blessed days-man, who has mediated between heaven and earth, has laid his hand upon us both: to him the father hath committed all judgment. but this was not made so clear then, as it is now by the gospel […].” [2]

In the narrative of Job’s story, then, in the midst of all the horror and betrayal, we glean
a prophecy of our “Umpire”-to-Come, Jesus, Who, by His sacrifice on the cross made it
possible for believers, in His Name, to enter God’s realm and plead our case before God.

(Were I at the pulpit this is what I would preach, teach–sing!)

Even as the story takes care of Job’s errant friends who blamed him for his misfortune, it hints at our Friend, that same Umpire, Jesus, Who, at His Incarnation, promised to never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) whether our bad fortune is a result of “the world, the flesh, the devil,” or something beyond our control.

What Job knew, even back then, was that we need a mediator.

What we know now is that we have One.

And to those sorrowing today, I encourage you to turn to Him Who will plead your case [3]. For the glory of God is revealed not in failure but in redemption, not in suffering but in salvation. And here’s another encouragement:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWxb6VvPrkE

***

[2] http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=wes&b=18&c=9

[3] Mark 6:19

Image from the public domain

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2 Responses to What Job Knew (And It’s Good News–No, Really!)

  1. Pingback: What do you have? « Minkyweasel World

  2. pnissila says:

    Thanks for visiting my post on Job. Here’s a little back story.

    I was surprised, at the
    sudden inspiration to write it. It was prompted by a physicist’s
    comment about the cruelty of a God Who would do such a thing as allow
    Satan access to a good man like Job. The physicist seemed to be quite
    set back emotionally and intellectually by God’s action (and, indeed,
    at a quick-glance or a first-read of the book anyone can understand why).

    And so I realized that I, myself, needed to overcome my fear and
    ignorance of the “bigger picture,” the “greater message” of the book of
    Job. I needed to re-read it and perhaps to write about it if I found
    something “good.” So I did, and I did–because I became very excited
    and edified by what I found there and I was anxious to share the really
    good news with others.

    Imagine…such a gem of a book. Who knew? 😉
    Phyllis

    Like

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