Updated: Aug 8
There is nothing quite like it in the Bible. The same goes for the rest of world literature.
What am I referring to? I’m talking about the mysterious book of Job.
Let me be blunt and to the point: from beginning to end, Job is deeply disturbing.
The man from Uz “was blameless and upright; He feared God and shunned evil.” Job was also greatly blessed.
After this brief introduction, the scene quickly shifts to heaven.
One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From running through the earth and going back and forth in it.”
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has in your hands, but on the man himself, do not lay a finger.”
This scene is deeply disturbing in many ways.
What is Satan doing in heaven? And how dare he talk like that to God Almighty. Just who does he think he is?
Why does God put up with Satan? And why does he deliberately point out Job to him? Why does it appear that God put a target on his back?
It can certainly seem like Job is nothing more than a plaything in a cosmic battle of wits and wills between God and Satan.
After the first exchange between the Lord and the accuser, Job is attacked out of nowhere. He loses all his wealth—his livestock—in a series of catastrophes. The last blow is the hardest to take; all ten of his children die in one fell swoop.
After suffering such shocking losses, grief-stricken Job falls to the ground in worship and still praises the name of the Lord.
Little does Job know that his agonies are far from over; as a matter of fact, the most painful is still to come.
BETTER OFF DEAD
In Job chapter 2 the angels once again present themselves to God. Satan is right there with them. Once again, the Lord initiates a conversation with our accuser. And, once again, God seemingly puts a target on Job’s back.
After a truly unforgettable exchange, the Lord gives Satan permission to harm his servant; this time he can go so far as to harm Job within an inch of his life.
He is quickly afflicted with boils; sores cover Job from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. His torment is so great that Job sits in an ash heap, scraping the boils that now cover his entire body.
Three friends arrive: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. They sit with him, on the ground, for an entire week. “No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”
As chapter 3 begins, Job curses the death of his birth.
For the next thirty-four chapters Job cries out in agony at the injustice of his fate. Silent no more, his friends beg and argue with him to repent of whatever horrible wrongs he has committed to be punished so severely.
During their heated exchanges, Job is upset not just with his former friends, he also gets angry with God. He goes so far as to demand an audience with the Lord, whom he would put on trial for mistreating him like this.
Although Job never is told about the conversations that took place in heaven, in the end, he does get an answer to his bitter complaints.
OUT OF A STORM
At last, when we reach chapter 38, the Lord answers his miserable creature.
The Lord speaks to Job from out of a storm.
“Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”
God goes on to thunder at Job, reminding Job exactly who he is—He is the Lord Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth. God answers to no one on earth, including Job. He can do as he pleases.
The Lord goes on at some length in his thunderous reply to Job. And, when the Lord is finally finished, Job despises himself and repents in dust and ashes (42:1-6).
I can’t begin to do justice to the deeply disturbing book of Job. You really need to read it, all of it, for yourself.
Job is troubling in so many ways. This is true, first and foremost, because of how God acts and speaks in chapters one and two.
The side of the Lord that we see in Job should make us extremely uncomfortable. What exactly is God up to?
Even more troubling is the way that the Lord finally answers Job. There is not one word of explanation given to Job about why he has suffered so much. It also appears that there is not a single word of comfort offered by the Lord to his grief-stricken, boil-covered, servant. Instead, in essence, God tells him: “I am the Creator; I don’t answer to you or anyone else. I can do whatever I please.”
The God of Job is extremely upsetting if we’re willing to be honest about it. It’s no wonder then, that in the early church, Marcion got rid of the entire Old Testament. He could not reconcile its God with Jesus Christ, concluding that they were two different deities. Marcion’s solution? He jettisoned the Hebrew Scripture.
His view prevailed with some. But the vast majority of believers did not follow Marcion’s lead. For them, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job was none other than the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. What is more, through a careful reading of Scripture, the eyes of faith can see many parallels between Job and his Redeemer.
WHAT ABOUT JESUS?
It pleased the God of Job to send His only begotten Son to earth to be the man of sorrows who was familiar with suffering (Isaiah 53). Job cursed the day of his birth; the sinless Son of God was cursed for you and me (Galatians 3:13). Job declared, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. Jesus died exposed for all the world to see while soldiers gambled for his tunic. Job’s friends turned against him. One of Jesus’ did the same, the rest scattering to the wind in his time of greatest need. In utter torment, Job declared that even after his skin was destroyed, yet in his flesh he would see God. In utter torment, Jesus’ skin and flesh were bruised, torn, and bloodied as the Holy One hung naked, gasping for each and every breath on Calvary.
I could go on; instead, let me share just one final parallel. Job’s friends were sure that they understood the ways of the Lord; so were Jesus’ disciples (John 9:1-5). Both were wrong as they could be.
In the end, Job repented of his presumptuous questioning of the Almighty (42:1-6). Which leads straight to Jesus.
In the wake of recent tragedies brought to his attention, Jesus urges those following him to repent before they likewise perish (Luke 13:1-5). The man of sorrows who was familiar with suffering holds the key to all of life’s tragedies. With the shadow of the cross looming large over him, Christ won’t save himself in order to save long-suffering humanity.
Job is about exactly how do we stand before God Almighty. His plaintive, angry plea for a Redeemer holds the key: We stand before our Creator only through Jesus the Christ, our great go-between.
Mohammad Ali Dahaghin on Unsplash