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.
[In case you’ve seen this before, I had it posted at our withchristianeyes.com site]