The obnoxiously longwinded introduction
Regarding the Book of Job, I found that too many people have very confident opinions about the Book of Job. Their opinions are all different because of their theological bias. One Catholic website says that the Book of Job is all about “perseverance in suffering”. It’s not designed to be. One YouTube atheist dismissed the entire books as a lesson of “eat cake or die”. That made me laugh the hardest. It’s actually the exact opposite. Another Christian website confidently declared it’s all about God’s sovereignty. That’s partially true, but misses the biggest truth God wants to tell us and indirectly subconsciously makes us believe God’s heart is not perfect. Saying it’s about the partial truth is like saying that an iPhone is used to hammer nails. Sure you could do that, but you’ll be disappointed you spent so much money on doing so little with it, not realizing the tremendous power of how the phone was designed. And in the process, you ruin the iPhone discouraging other people from buying one because it makes a lousy hammer.
It’s not about those things at all. I write to show you a different side that I discovered when I was going through the exact same things as Job himself, and when I re-read the whole Bible with fresh eyes, asking God to reveal who He truly is. And, just like Job, after my process of suffering that lasted a decade seeking God’s heart and purpose, my health was restored confounding medical specialists.
What I find most amusing, is that most of the pundits that claim they know what the book of Job is about have never come close to experiencing any of the senseless evil Job went through. Do you realize that Job didn’t just lose everything – health, wealth, family, reputation. He was also now the most despised and loneliest person in the East because everybody then is hardwired to believe that God will only punish someone this way if he is the evilest guy around and worse, there was NOTHING Job can do to change their minds.
Has anyone ever been in a situation where they were the most pious, loving and noble in character, and yet everyone despises you? And I mean everyone. Family. Church. Work colleagues. Strangers. Neighbors. The Pizza Delivery Guy. Everyone. It’s an impossible situation. Job is not just crushed by physical affliction, he is also crushed by the collective flawed worldviews of people that had no room for Job. Either God is wrong or Job is evil, and God can’t be wrong. Job not only was in eternal pain not knowing when it will end, but he is also in dissonance because of how it seemed God changed up all the rules for him and him alone. And, everyone he tried to share this with, despised him even MORE! How can a person continue to live when he can’t interact meaningfully with anyone in this world?
This is the impossible absurdity of Job.
For me, I tasted a fraction of this. I lost my health, wealth, career and love-life due to my worsening eczema. Doctors, friends, even church folks thought that this was all my fault somehow. They couldn’t believe that I couldn’t recover from “a little eczema” despite me burning thousands of dollars for the best medicines money could buy that couldn’t provide a long term solution. Eventually, from a church leader, I was pretty much shunned by the same people that journeyed with me as they didn’t know how to include in their lives as well as their theological beliefs.
This is why I saw the book of Job differently compared to when I thought I knew Job as a younger theological student. Real calamities followed by real non-manmade Grace does a lot to change one’s perspective on God’s word.
BUT, I don’t care to disagree with others for the sake of showing how smart I am. I really don’t care for such things. I only disagree because what we can take from the Book of Job is another slice of abundant life and not just some unrealistic moral lessons. Did someone ever tell you to persevere like Job when suffering? Newsflash, you cannot. No one who went through what Job went through can do that. Did anyone ever tell you that the story of Job shows that God can curse anyone He wants, even people who are very pious so we must be extra vigilant on every little sin we may or may not have done? Newsflash, the Bible says Job was blameless and the greatest of all men. So obviously God was allowing this for another reason, and it doesn’t have to do with Job’s sin at all. Those people that try to make the book of Job out to be about Job’s sin and God’s unquestionable punishing holiness do a great disservice, and lack Jesus’ critique for the Pharisees, apply a yoke of burden on true seekers of God. But don’t take my word for it yet, do read to the end.
My deep wish for you is you will move away from unrealistic moral lessons from the book of Job, and find the real secret, the slice of abundance life inside.
This slice increased the breakthroughs in my life, and I hope it will for you too. Remember, the Word of God is not for intellectual masturbation, or to show how smart we are or how pious we are. I did all of that when I was younger and immature and regret it. But after tasting true suffering, how big and scary the world is, and how deadly powerful God’s grace is to reverse what is impossible, I will never want to relegate God’s word to empty discourse. I don’t want to discuss the Bible unless it is for changing lives in tangible ways. I’d rather work out the Grace Salvation working out in me in my business and family and then help others in real ways than argue about the Bible. I’d rather figure out how to catch the bottom of the stock market again with God’s wisdom, then give tens of thousands of dollars to missionaries than argue about small things.
The Word of God is all about LIFE and LIFE abundantly. This is why I get personally upset when I see people dismiss the Book of Job into something lesser than what it was intended to do. The reason people dismiss the Book of Job into something lesser is the same reason why people dismiss the Bible into something lesser – they have never suffered enough, or been placed on big stages in life to realize they need the Bible to be something greater or else they will be screwed. Pardon my French. Let’s try Chinese. 惹上麻烦.
HOW is the Book of Job about Abundant Life? Isn’t it just a book that makes me feel less alone while I lick my wounds? Or a book that dishes out career advice? 🤦🏻♂
Please do read on. If you get to the end, I know you will not regret it.
TL:DR OKAY fine. For those lazy folks that have the average attention span (that’s 8 seconds in 2013), the Book of Job attempts to break the 4th wall to point you to Jesus. That’s right, this is a multi-dimensional story, like Jesus’ parables except placed in the most opportune position in the Bible from the beginning. As you read the Book, God is reading you at the same time. How you read the Book of Job determines how much you get from it. It can either be as small as intellectual masturbation, or as big as miracles occurring in your life or bigger still, more fully knowing yourself and God.
PS: My healing started right around the same time I started to see it. Read to the end to discover “it”. There’s just something about discovering “it” that seems to correlate to Kairos seasons in our lives.
YES. JOB was “practically” perfect. YES. No one human in history can suffer as much as Job. And YES, that idea is absurd. Unless you realize it was to … (read till the end, please)
When I turned the pages of the book of Job, the first poetic book in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, I found Job experiencing the exact same things I was experiencing but more. The book of the Job is said to be the oldest written book in the entire Bible. It was written before Genesis. This is such a hint that the idea of suffering in an imperfect world is something very close to the hearts of man and God, and at the same time, before both the Old and New Testament, God planted the prophetical pictures of both, before both of them were even written, testifying to the plan God had all along for us and in God fashion, plant hints for us hiding in plain sight.
Job was God’s faithful servant, the greatest man to have lived. God was proud of him and blessed him. I was too (not as great as Job though). I was a Church leader that qualified to go to an Ivy League school when statistically it was almost impossible to do so. I can still remember the day that I gave God my life and pledged to live for God’s glory alone. That was about 3 years before my world started unraveling.
“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil… He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.” (Job 1:1-2)
He got cursed and had problems no man could fix. Job felt his life was futile, suffered for months, and looked like an extra on the Walking Dead. I did too.
“Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired laborer waiting to be paid, so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me. When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn. My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering.” (Job 7:2-5)
Job eventually blamed God. I did too.
“The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God’s terrors are marshalled against me.” (Job 4:5)
And then Job contemplated suicide. I did too.
“Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for, that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose his hand and cut off my life!” (Job 6:8-9)
Are you feeling this way today?
If so, know the oldest book in the Bible, the oldest hero in the Bible went through the same thing. Are you wondering what you did to deserve all of this? Is righteous indignation rising? This is natural, especially if you tried your best to keep your heart pure. The Bible emphatically says that he “was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” and God himself says “There is no one on earth like him.” In order words, he is as righteous as any man could be righteous and has the highest qualifications for God’s worldly blessings. But instead, he got the absolute opposite, he lost everything in quick succession … his family, his business, his health, his reputation and finally, his mind.
By “mind” I mean the existential struggle that burdened him. Preacher and lecturer Anthony T. Selvaggio of Place for Truth ministries articulates this well:
“You see, Job is also an adherent to Retribution theology and thus part of his personal struggle is trying to figure out why God has been so unfair to him. In other words, much of Job’s existential struggle is trying to figure out why God “broke” the rules. In Job’s mind, God is beholden to uphold the exchange inherent in Retribution theology and he is convinced, by his innocence and his suffering, that God has not upheld his end of the bargain. In Job’s mind, God has committed a breach of contract. This leaves Job bewildered, befuddled and downright angry at times. It also leaves Job seeking redress.” https://www.placefortruth.org/blog/jesus-and-the-book-of-job
No one could have been so perfect, and no one could have lost so much as Job.
When I was in Seminary, here’s where you see the most theological bias. One colleague insisted that Job was not perfect and he was still sinful so God had every right to punish him. I don’t need to go into Hebrew words to prove that wrong. The same book of the Bible provides the context. God himself told the devil that Job is literally “blameless” and singled Job out for the devil to test! So regardless of how you want to define “sin”, God himself said Job was blameless! God had no basis to punish him based on Retribution Theology. To further prove the point, God had Job was the “greatest” and the richest man in the East. Under Retribution Theology that both Job and his friends were under (God blessed good actions and curses bad actions), the fact Job was the richest proves he was also the most blameless. In terms of the Old Testament Covenant of Law, the Bible already sets up that Job was truly the best and blameless. We have to let the Bible define the Bible. Just because you have never met a human so great you cannot enforce your presupposition on how the Bible defined him.
This means that no one is better than Job around him at the time. How can the man that loved God the most, sacrificed for God the most, kept himself from sin the most, thought he knew God the most … get a divine punishment that seemed that it could be reserved for those who look like the devil would deny them entry because of competition?
Is this… “absurd” to you? Does this go against everything you’ve been taught? How can such a great man be so cursed? Is there any divine justice?
In the end, God restored everything back to him and more… and yet it seemed it happened on a whim. Job didn’t do anything obvious, nothing really changed; and yet God blessed him with more than he ever lost. The timing seems so … arbitrary? The change of events seemed so trivial compared to the eternity of dissonance Job was going through.
Is this “absurd” too?
It sounds like a rags-to-riches story. Or maybe a story to show God can flex his divine muscles anyhow He wishes. But, both miss the real point. it’s so much more than that. The extreme sufferings revealed so much about God, and human nature. I could spend hours talking about all of this, but I will focus on one very interesting point … this is a point that had intrigued me for a long time, especially when I was in the midst of my own sufferings.
If you thought the setup was absurd, it gets even more absurd.
This point is easy to miss when one reads the Book of Job because the whole book of Job seems so far removed from anything any of us would experience, and in that sense, fantastical to us. I read the book of Job at least 10 times and missed it 9 of them. On hindsight, how could we think we could easily know the essence of the story when there are no other stories out there, no fairy tale, no novel, no folklore that comes close to approximate the book of Job. There is a reason that it has been widely praised for its literary qualities, with Alfred Lord Tennyson calling it “the greatest poem of ancient and modern times”, stuck in the middle of the best selling book of all time. How could it be anything like other stories? We do a disservice to ourselves when we line up the book of Job to stories we already know and assume the themes without meditating on the rest of the Bible.
Here is one of those points:
As unrelenting suffering crushed Job, like a coffee bean under intense hot water, the hot water revealed the true essence deep inside Job’s heart. And once that true essence came out, God set in motion an eventual cosmic conclusion that would change everything, including the world around him that was unchanging and judgmental, even to people 3000 years in the future. Timeless, outside out the realm of pages… just like God. The world tried to destroy and change Job, but God used Job to change the world instead.
How? Here goes.
“The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know.” – Blaise Pascal
In the midst of judgments from his “friends”, and the unrelenting suffering, he uttered, against all reason:
I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on 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! (Job 19:25-27)
The “rules of the theological world” that everyone including Job was raised in was that God blesses the good and curses the evil or “Retribution Theology”. Your own works determine your blessings or curses. Either you go good, or if you slip, you have to repent and sacrifice an innocent animal to show your repentance, if not, punishment awaits. This was the conventional worldview of everyone around Job. How could Job know that a “Redeemer” existed, and also so confident that that “Redeemer” is FOR him? Job was already convinced that God was out to get him, why would there be a Redeemer who is “better” than God who would do otherwise? How could Job have this “faith” that even if the diseases physically destroyed him, he would still be restored “in the flesh” and see God and His glory? That is the Gospel before the Gospel was articulated in the Gospel. Job’s salvation is by faith in the Redeemer, and not by his own works, AND, the gospel brings restoration in our lives today so that we can see and be a part of God’s glory.
It’s absurd … to the mind, but perhaps not the heart.
Job’s suicidal revolt got channeled to a divine revolt, a Gospel revolt. Even when nobody thought Job had a chance to be heard by God, or deserved to have God’s attention, Job called for the ways of Grace.
Actually, Job called for the essence of the Gospel of Grace before the Gospel of Grace even had a formal name… that someone more perfect than himself that God would listen to will vindicate Job of whatever that makes him disqualified from God’s blessing, real or imaginary.
Only the Holy Spirit could have planted that in Job, for the Holy Spirit’s primary purpose is always to point to Jesus (John 15:26, John 14:26, John 16:13-15). Turns out that the Spirit was doing this since the beginning, even when there was no proper Bible, or when Jesus physically entered history.
A couple of chapters later, after calling forth and believing in this Redeemer, God changed Job’s headwinds into tailwinds, proving all of Job’s doubters totally wrong. Before, it didn’t matter how good Job was, all Job got was curses. After, it didn’t matter how pessimistic, bitter, crusted and unable to do any “good” things like sacrifice Job had become, nothing could stop good things from happening. Job didn’t go anywhere new. Job didn’t make new friends, do new things, and yet the place that once was cursed became a place of blessing. Doesn’t this strangely sound like what Jesus promised?
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:9-10)
John 10:9 reads that “they will come in and go out to find pasture”, meaning that when you enter through the gate of Jesus, even the old place that was against you can have pasture. The story of Job is a picture of this. Job was still in the same place, with the same circumstance, surrounded by the same doubtful and spiteful friends, and didn’t do anything different except to yearn for a Redeemer, and everything started to change for the better in divine fashion. And, it doesn’t say you must enter the door of Jesus in a perfect state. You can come as you are, warts and all. It is the redeemer that changes your destiny, not your own works.
We see this that despite Job sounding angry, despondent, longing to die, and even accusing God of trying to kill him. The end of the book of Job shows God telling Job’s clueless friends, “You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:8)
WHAT? Everything I listed above, the longing to die, accusing God of trying to kill him are all considered sinful, even evil attitudes elsewhere in the Bible (see Parable of the Talents – Matt 25:24-26, Moses’ vipers – Nu 21:5, and the story of God-denying doubters access to the Promise Land – Nu 14:1-2) that would bring about divine judgement under the Old Covenant (Retribution Law).
Yet God said that Job had “spoken the truth” about God and is pleased with Him despite all of Job’s negativity to God? How is this possible?
Could it be that:
1) Job’s faith in a Redeemer that would save him is the biggest truth about God that God wants us to see. This one correct utterance covers everything else, just as being covered by Jesus covers all sin. Hebrews 11 talks about all the “heroes of faith”, recognizing Bible heroes and how they moved God’s hand and destiny through faith. Yet many of them failed many times and did many faithless acts! Could it be that God prophetically only recognizes the acts of faith that further the Gospel of Grace? AND, much more interesting ly –
2) Job said and did everything God wanted him to say and do. Because God had a purpose for Job to say and do all those things in order to benefit people reading into the story of Job centuries into the future. Because Job went through hell and back to finish the cosmic drama, we get to interact with this story for centuries to come. God put Job through it all not because of Job, but because of us. God wanted to make a movie for us to see.
At first, the unjust suffering turned Job’s heart exhausted and then hard. But after the flesh had revolted and heart turned hard, something even deeper – Job’s spirit, that knew God intimately, under the Holy Spirit’s prompting knew what to pray for. The plan God had for mankind since the fall of man. GRACE.
King Solomon innately knew that God set our hearts finely tuned to desire His ultimate grace. He set this eternity in our hearts that desires and longs for all wrongs to be made beautiful that God had planned from the beginning.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecc 3:11)
Calamities tend to wash away all the hubris in our lives, exposing what we really need and exposing not just our deep desires, but our deepest desires. No long sermons or diatribes was needed. When undergoing true fire, our need for God’s grace in an insane world will easily be exposed. Grace is needed to reverse the curse due to a fallen world and to make things beautiful that which was meant for evil … to have eternal and abundance of life walking with God instead of eternal separation from God and a spiritual death.
But such a reversal from curse to being made beautiful comes with a price. It was paid by the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s why we accept Him, worship Him, and walk under the shadow of His wings and not our own ways. All of Job’s (and his friends) sacrifices were only shadows that needed the real thing to validate it. The real thing is the sacrifice of Jesus, which is where the fullness of grace comes from. But we have to want this free gift. We have to reach out and take it. We have to renounce our former lives as well as the world that enslaved us. This requires a revolt. A revolution.
Job’s revolt was to be under Grace through a Redeemer and not under the Law of the World that requires your own works to qualify for righteousness. That was his revolution.
For me, I can still remember my own coffee bean moment. During one of the days where the pains were especially intense and my mind and soul had already turned dark, and all the memories of my life before was flashing before me, of all things, I remember what I uttered out. I didn’t ask for healing, I gave up on that. I didn’t ask to be restored in the world, I thought I was too far gone. And all of sudden, every question I had ever asked turned to dark. Every idea I thought I had fallen by the wayside. And only one questioned remained that came out of this destruction. Calamities have this tendency to wash away all that is hubris in our lives. If you really believe in God, you will know it during the calamity.
“I want to know you the way you want to be known; and not how other people tell me you want to be known.”
Unwittingly, I was fulfilling the precondition of a bible promise given to Jeremiah, when Israel had fallen into dark times and no one knew when restoration would ever occur.
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore you from captivity ” (Jer 29:13)
This shows that once saved, always saved. The Holy Spirit in my heart still reaches out to Jesus even when I was bitter towards God himself for thinking He “betrayed” me. I was appalled by the idea of God, appalled by the idea of the organized church, appalled by Christians or non-Christians alike. How could I reach out to someone when I was convinced He either didn’t exist or that He wasn’t worth bothering with? Because the Holy Spirit in my heart knows things that the mind does not… and, God listens to the Holy Spirit’s prayer from the heart and not our flawed mind.
Legendary French mathematician, physicist, and theologian, Blaise Pascal puts it so simply and sharply,
“The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know. We feel it in a thousand things. It is the heart which experiences God, and not the reason. This, then, is faith: God felt by the heart, not by the reason.” – Blaise Pascal
I love people who are masters at abstractions, science and philosophy that can dish out truths profound in their brevity.
This is of great comfort. I would never had known this had I not gone through the circumstance that gave me every reason to deny God. That despite feeling betrayed, nihilistic, an unwilling participant in this sardonic satire, having every reason to embrace atheistic or agnostic systems of thought … when everything is destroyed and washed away, only one thing remained – the desire to know God’s true nature.
In due time, God let me know that His greatest identity is a Savior, a Redeemer. And the gift of Jesus’ atonement for us is the greatest expression and actualization of his redemption for us. And redemption is not just reserved for a future heaven, it starts tangibly on earth today.
And today I am writing this post as a survivor, a conqueror, a more than conqueror. Doctors cannot explain how I recovered without any new drugs (and I am taking significantly less!). Old Christian colleagues that pride themselves on being spiritual and prophetic that wrote me off do a double-take when they bump into me on the street. Old acquaintances that refused to even help me get an internship to start again in finance in Singapore are incredulous when they find out I became a senior business analyst hired directly to the USA, effectively making up for my lost career in one act of Grace.
Yes. Jesus said:
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:9-10)
When Job called for a Redeemer, Job unwittingly walked through the Door of the future promise of Jesus.
My friends, you can too. He is just a prayer away.
Great sufferings. Great redemptions. Why all the fuss? Why not just have a “normal” life? Because the fullness of human life will never be satisfied with “normal”. God gave us the capacity to feel pain and joys, the brain to rationalize, and a heart to respond to the attributes of God (perfect love, joy, peace, courage, meaning, purpose). How else can all of these senses be maximized? And how much more meaningful if all those feelings, rationalizing and experiences paint a bigger story that transcends those experiences alone?
Perhaps it’s because the greatest joy is truly understanding ourselves. But the fullness of understanding ourselves comes only with God.
Pascal summarizes what God was trying to teach his people in the whole of the Bible here.
“If [Man] exalt himself, I humble him, If he humble himself, I exalt him; And [I] always contradict him, Until he understands that he is an incomprehensible monster. – Blaise Pascal, Pensée #326
And, only when we finally recognize and admit that we indeed are incomprehensible monsters (the Bible calls us as “slaves to our sinful natures”, that is when we can be filled by God’s grace and finally understand who we truly were meant to be.
I hope this writing so far has blessed you, perhaps it gives you hope in a redeemer, or that it sheds some light upon your own suffering.
BUT, I’ve got good news.
What you read so far is the minor bit.
THERE IS MORE TO JOB. The Book of Job is not just a story. When you read the Book of Job, YOU become the main character in the story that transcends those pages, if you can see it. What is it?
Did you think that Job’s calling for a Redeemer when there was no such concept or practice at the time was intriguing?
Wait. There is more.
As I was going through my suffering but sincerely asked to know God the way He wanted to be known. Something popped out from the book of Job that benefitted me more than just being able to identify with a fellow extreme sufferer who used to be (and still is) God’s servant.
God declared Job was “blameless” and “there was no one on Earth like him”
Job took the maximum punishment for sins he didn’t commit. He lost health, business, family, reputation and was mentally tormented when he didn’t deserve any of it.
Job’s suffering drove him to isolation so much so that he thought God had forsaken him.
Once Job called for a Redeemer and was silent before God, Job’s season of suffering was over.
God rewarded him gloriously after proving himself going through this ordeal, and made Job the intermediary for salvation for his friends that despised Job.
After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7-8)
God accepts only Job’s petition on his friends’ behalf and not because of anything his friends could do.
So God qualified and used Job himself, now that he had survived the gauntlet of suffering, condemnation by the world, grace and redemption, as a mediator between his friends and God. The person the people despised became God’s representation to bring grace to others. God refused to deal with Job’s friends because they thought they knew God but actually didn’t and so their “salvation” to God is set through Job. God used the most perfect man, allowed the devil to inflict maximum curses so that when Job’s “work” was done, God qualified Job to atone for the sinful thoughts of the friends that condemned him.
Does this sound familiar?
Jesus was blameless and there is no one on Earth like him.
Jesus took the sins of the whole world of his shoulders, to be punished for crimes He didn’t commit.
Jesus lost his health (beaten to death), business and family (could not physically lead his disciples), reputation (executed as a criminal) and was mentally tormented till He sweat drops of blood.
Jesus’ oneness with God was impossibly temporarily fractured and He felt God had forsaken Him as He cried “My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus was himself the Redeemer and after Jesus’ work on the cross was over, God lifted Jesus up to glory sitting at the right hand of God, because Jesus had finished the work of salvation.
God accepts Jesus’ petition on our behalf, and our salvation is because of Jesus’ work and not our own.
The story of Job was prophetically pointing to God’s plan all along, the work and person of Jesus. God already was hiding Jesus in plain sight for all to see since the beginning.
Understand that the book of Job was written at the time of Moses and is the very first written poetic book in the Old Testament. This means that right at the same time God’s people were fixated and also put under the covenant of Law that supposes blessings and righteousness based on our own works.
Remember that this book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible and the very first of poetic works… written before the Jews were placed under the Law, written before we knew of Abraham and his own covenant of grace and written before the account of Adam and Eve’s sinful fall. This story is 1) to show the Jews who were under the retribution theology of the Old Testament Law that there is a better covenant out there and 2) a story of divine atonement for us by the suffering of a righteous man is where this whole journey started, and also where it ended today.
The Book of Job would have made NO SENSE under the covenant of Law, but absolutely makes sense if Job is a prophetic book that is a picture that men need a Redeemer, and simultaneously is a picture itself of the Jesus that was to come, and how “He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.” The book of Job pointed to Jesus for the longest time, but I couldn’t see it for years.
The point of Job is not to comfort the person suffering. It’s not about suffering. It’s not about human perseverance in the midst of impossible obstacles. It’s not to glorify suffering or double gain by God’s favor. It’s about the “absurdity” that someone so perfect in God’s eyes as Job got punished with the worst punishment under God’s Law that God gave to his people so that he can atone for the “absurdity” of our sins. It contradicts so that you won’t box the story into other fairy tales or fables, because it’s set part to describe God and not anything man can do. And, just like Blaise Pascal’s idea that the heart sees things that our minds cannot, God is breaching our limited expectations for the contradictions is to make you realize that this story is not how to better yourself, how you should behave, or how you should console yourself. It’s a living self-referencing parable of sorts that challenges you to find Jesus.
It challenges you to find Jesus because the story of Job is activated by the Holy Spirit operating in your heart because the Holy Spirit always points to Jesus. When you can see Jesus in all the Bible and in your real-life circumstances, it’s a sure sign that the Holy Spirit is actively working in your life, and where the Spirit is, there is freedom (2 Cor 3:17), divine fruits (Gal 5:22) and Life itself (John 6:33).
When the Spirit hits, see your seasons start to change, see God provide the meaning and purpose for your suffering, see God change what was planned for evil into your good.
Job’s story is not for Job, but was written so that readers 3000 years later can see pictures of Jesus hidden in plain sight.
The reason for Job’s seemingly divine arbitrary season of impossible suffering and impossible redemption was not for Job himself – to make his character better (how can you? He was the “greatest man in the east”) or teach him a lesson (He was “blameless”), and that’s why God never answered any of Job’s questions on why it had to happen. This flies against God’s other promise in the Bible – “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'” (Jer 33:3). The reason why it happened was for us because God wanted to use Job as a main character to show us a moving picture of Jesus and the Gospel ahead of time as a prophetic parable. God lets people who seek Him with all their hearts to see the secret, and that’s why God couldn’t reveal to Job. Job suffered for our benefit. I can imagine Job in heaven, as he is watching us read his story, watching with bated breath cheering the reader on … “He’s about the see it! He’s about to see it! Oh man, he didn’t see it. Don’t you know I went through this mind-bending journey for just for you?”
Then I see Jesus text Job on his heavenly phone, “ikr. me 2.”
When we see Jesus hidden prophetically in the written word, far before the Gospels were written, we see the greatest expression of God’s heart. When we see God’s heart, breakthroughs in your life occurs. Just like the two Jewish men walking on the road to Emmaus. When they finally saw the Messiah hidden in the Old Testament, and in the traditions of old, their hearts burned. Something special was happening.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
It was during my Abyss years, between 2009 and 2010, when I asked to see God the way He wants to be seen. Shortly after, I started to realize the Book of Job is supernaturally pointing to Jesus with the traditional custodians of the Book of Job (the Rabbinic Jews) still unclear on the fullness of the books’ meaning (in the same way that they find the Book of Daniel problematic). When that happened, I knew something had shifted in the spiritual realm regarding my life and I made the ballsy decision to go to Seminary to continue my pursuit of truth. That started a new 9-year journey that would see grace build back everything I had lost.
As I was reading Job, it was mundane.
But once Jesus popped out of the Book of Job, I suddenly became the main character of a larger story of redemption.
I guess you can say that when I was reading the Book of Job, God was reading me to see if I could see it.
So what is it?
That Jesus is the Redeemer that God purposed since the beginning of time hidden in plain view in the Scripture; and that when you see God in His goodness (God’s heart), God sees that as faith to unlock the new season. When we see Jesus in that light, we are honoring God’s son. To the degree we honor His son is the degree breakthroughs are unlocked. We can be physically right next to Jesus and not receive anything because we did not know His heart. But when we can also see Jesus’s heart even when He is crowded out by a world that is so loud, or hidden behind pages of religious text we can receive miracles. (Matthew 13:53-58)
Seeing God’s heart changes things in heavenly places, and those changes will change your seasons on earth in due time. It make take longer than you think, but the timing will be perfect.
So Job was a man than needed the redemption Jesus provided in the future but by faith experienced it then, right from the start when everyone else was fixated on Law so confound the Jews that presupposed on Law even from the start to let us know that Grace was planned all the way from the start. But in addition, Job himself also a picture of Jesus himself, a human drama movie to show you the essence of the Gospel message before you hear the actual Gospel message.
The FINAL CONCLUSION: Yes. It’s absurd. And, I’m thankful it is.
When you look at two mirrors opposite each other not only do you see an infinite series of images reflecting off each other, those images are also influenced by you. Job’s story is more like that, rather than words on a page.
So Job was a picture of Jesus. But Job called for a future Redeemer who was Jesus. But Job was a reflection of Jesus, so Job is called for his own picture for atonement. Even stranger, because Job was actually blameless and a vehicle for atonement so it actually works out. And get this: Job was a picture of Jesus, so the suffering God allowed on him was suffered by Jesus, who is one with God and so suffered by God himself. So God took on the absurdity of unjust suffering on himself to atone for our sins. So when Job asked for a Redeemer, he was effectively asking to be put under Jesus’ righteousness. But Job is picturing Jesus, so he is putting himself under a picture of his own righteousness. AND yet, in theory, it works out because the Bible says that Job was blameless, so a blameless person can atone for someone who had blame. So Job can atone for himself … my head hurts.
The Book of Job is the mirror that produced those multi-dimensional images.
But in addition, when we were unsaved by grace, presupposing righteousness based on our own works, we are like Job’s friends in that we are under God’s anger and needed Jesus (that Job was a picture of) to atone and reconnect a working relationship between God and us which is a picture of the Gospel.
But simultaneous, if we are already under grace in the midst of condemnation and unjust suffering, like Job, we can call upon the Redeemer by his functions (that He saves, and we will see God’s glory in the flesh even when storms try to destroy us) and God can change our seasons even when the world and even yourself had written yourself and God off.
Ever see those infinite images when you look at two mirrors facing each other? This is just like that, an infinite regress of Job, Jesus and the Gospel of Grace smack in the start of the poetic Old Testament passages, before the Psalms of King David or the Wisdom of Solomon, fittingly showing how the Book of Job needs to precede them both – that Grace is more important than the strength of man or the wisdom of man.
My mind is crossed.
It’s all about Jesus every way you look at it. And, the Book of Job is also looking at you, looking into your heart and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus, that might unlock your own season of redemption. You are both a picture of Job and Job’s friends at the same time. God can redeem both of them.
Ask God to see it. Ask God to see Him in everything.
The title of this section was the “Reason” hidden in the “Absurdity” of the Book of Job.
It was a pun. The 1st chapter of God talks about Jesus being the “Word” that was there in the beginning.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
the Word (λόγος) Logos, (Greek: “word,” “reason,” or “plan”) in Greek philosophy and theology means the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning.
Jesus is the divine Reason giving form and meaning to God’s plan for the world since the beginning.
Jesus is the hidden Reason in the oldest book in the Bible, since the beginning.
Jesus and His message of redemption through grace is the master message of the Book of Job, every other message of Job sits in subordination to this other message is waiting to jump off the page into your life.
FINALLY. THE END.
Extra bits: One more confirmation.
In closing, I just read another well-meaninged Christian writer who correctly determined that Job was a “failure” when it came to perseverance. And so he admonished his readers that the message of James 5:11 is that the message of James is not to ” “admire Job’s perseverance,” but fix your eyes on the Lord who helped Job persevere.”(*) Again, this is a much better interpretation than most of what I read so far but take a look at James 5:11 again.
As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (James 5:11)
The verse says “you have heard …” this refers to a story about Job that already happened a long time ago. The next part says “and have seen what the Lord FINALLY brought about.” This refers to the finished work of Jesus Christ that the people finally saw. James 5:11 is about connecting the passage of Job to the final expression of grace in Jesus. In other words, James is saying that the Book of Job is directly connected to the Gospel. There is something about what Job had to go through that is related to Jesus’ work. So it’s not about keeping your eye on the Lord although that is a good thing to do… it’s about the very next verse! The work that Jesus finally brought out is the abundance of “compassion” and “mercy”!
People think these two words mean the same thing, but forget that these are greek and English words trying to describe Hebrew Biblical concepts. When there are 2 adjectives of God’s goodness/mercy/compassion/kindness together connected by an “and”, it is very highly likely to be describing goodness (Hebrew: towb) and mercy/grace (Hebrew: checed). These are the two descriptors found in seminal passages like Psalm 23:7.
Surely goodness (towb) and mercy (checed) will follow me all the days of my life, – Psalm 23:7
These two entities help us in our lives today! It causes “our cups to overflow” and to have “a table in the presence of my enemies”
So James is really saying that the prophetic picture that was hidden in Job has fully expressed itself in Jesus’ atonement for our sins, and because of this, the Gospel empowers us in this life. This is the reason why when you read on in the same chapter of James, James tells them the power they have that the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick”, “has great power to prevail”, and causes rain so “the earth yielded its crop”. James is not talking about waiting passively and helplessly while adversity prevails, he is talking about how we are empowered and how God can change things because of what Jesus has done.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. – 2 Cor 1:20
Jesus unlocks the promises of God, just as Job’s cry for the Redeemer started the change in his season. Jesus was the ultimate Redeemer. Job knew the heart of Jesus, but he didn’t know his name.