Digression 12: An Exposition of Job

Job must be one of the most enigmatic books for Bible students; what we seem to lack is a framework around which to develop our interpretation of it. Such a framework should be provided by following up the connections between Job and other Scriptures. It is the purpose of this study to trace some of these connections: by doing so we will come to see that Job and his friends represent the Jewish system and the mentality behind it, although in the same way as the Lord Jesus was associated with Israel (for example in the suffering servant prophecies of Isaiah, which apply to both Christ and Israel), so Job is also a type of Christ. We are going to suggest that Job represents both apostate Jewry and our Lord Jesus, which is typical of the way all God's people exhibit the reasoning and weakness of the flesh whilst simultaneously striving for the imitation of Christ (cp. Rom.7:13-24). Compare too how Saul, Jonah and Adam represent Christ although they also sinned.

Although Job did not speak wrongly about God (42:7;2:10) and kept patiently speaking the word of God despite the mockery it brought from the friends (James 5:10,11), this does not mean that Job or all that he said was blameless. The friends are not reprimanded for speaking wrongly about Job, but about God. Thus there was probably a fair degree of truth in their accusations concerning Job. Elihu also severely rebukes him, and unlike the three friends he is not rebuked for anything in the final analysis by God in Job 42 (1); not to mention the accusation of 'darkening counsel without knowledge' (38:2) by the Lord Himself, backed up by four chapters of heavy reprimand of Job's reliance on human strength and wisdom. This led to Job retracting much of what he had said: "I am vile; what shall I answer Thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth...I will not answer...I will proceed no further...I uttered that I understood not...wherefore I abhor myself and repent" (40:4,5; 42:3-6). This clearly establishes that much of Job's reasoning was faulty, although what he spoke before God was correct (2). Job was a prophet (Job 29:4 cp. 15:8;23:12; Prov.3:32; Amos 3:7; the secret of God being with him made Job a prophet) and it is in his role as such that he is commended in James 5:10,11- i.e. for the words concerning God which he spoke. The words for which God and Elihu rebuked him were therefore about other things. Elihu accused him of speaking "without knowledge" (34:35), which Job admitted he had (42:3).

Job and the Judaizers

It can be shown that James read Job in a bad light insofar as he saw him as a type of the rich, Judaist-influenced Jews in the first century ecclesia who proudly despised their brethren. Eliphaz says that Job's sudden problems amid his prosperity were what would happen to all the wicked (15:21). This seems to be alluded to in 1 Thess.5:3 concerning the sudden destruction of rich, spiritually self confident believers. Job's words of 30:1 certainly smack of arrogance: "Whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock". This would mean that his merciful acts to the poor were done in a 'charitable' spirit, thinking that such public acts declared him outwardly righteous: "I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy (by his charity). I (thereby) put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgement was as a robe and a diadem" (29:13,14).

This has clear reference to the clothing of the Mosaic High Priest with his outward show of righteousness. Job was probably the family priest, seeing that the head of the household appears to have been the priest in patriarchal times; thus Job could offer a sacrifice for the sins of his children (1:5). Job's likening of himself to a moth-eaten garment due to God's changing of his circumstances (13:26-28) must connect with the disciples of the Law as an old, decaying garment in Heb.8:13. The priestly clothing "for glory and for beauty" (Ex.28:2) is certainly alluded to by God when He challenges Job "Deck thyself now (i.e. like you used to) with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty...then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee" (40:10,14)- as if God is saying that Job's previous life represented the Mosaic priestly system with its external pomp and implication that ones own righteousness can bring salvation ("that thine own right hand can save thee"). Job's humiliation meant that, by implication, he no longer felt able to clothe himself with the priestly garments of glory and beauty; he had learnt the spirit of the Christian dispensation, to trust on the grace of God rather than a system of salvation depending on personal righteousness. The descriptions of Job rending his "mantle" (priestly robes) recalls that of Caiaphas; his falling on his face perhaps indicates his recognition that reliance on the outward show of the Law needed to be replaced by humble faith. Job thus described his experiences as God leading "priests away stripped" of their robes (Job 12:19 N.I.V.).

Job the priest

The priest's duty was to expound the word of God (Mal.2:7; Hos.4:6): Job being a prophet also meant that he had a prominent role to play in the instruction of the people. It appears that as a prophet he was faithful- he spoke what God said. The friends were also prophets, seeing that in 15:8,9 they say that they have been given the same "secret" (i.e. inspiration) and knowledge of God as Job had. However, they did not accurately speak forth what they were inspired with as Job did (42:7). But as the priests of Israel misled the people by faulty reasoning ostensibly based on the word, so Job too was in error as a priest. Eliphaz told Job "Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee" (15:6). This is picked up by Christ in his words to the one-talent man in the parable: "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee". The man was condemned for keeping his talent (his spiritual knowledge of the word) to himself rather than sharing it with others. Eliphaz proceeds to make the same rebuke of Job- although he had "heard the secret of God", which we have seen implies the gift of prophesying the word, he "restrained wisdom unto thyself" (v.8). This confirms that Christ's one-talent man of the parable is based on Job, thus making him represent the rejected at judgement. No doubt the primary application of the one-talent man was to the Jewish believers of Christ's day who did not capitalize on the talent they already had. The taking away of the talent and its being given to others recalls the Kingdom (i.e. the Gospel of the Kingdom) being taken from the Jews and being given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it (cp. trading the talent).

In Job 9:21 and by implication in other places, Job effectively says that there is no point in serving God or striving for obedience to God. This is what the priests of Israel later said: "It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance?" (Mal.3:14). Elihu claimed that Job "hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself in God" (34:9)- i.e. keep the commands of God, seeing that the Hebrew for "delight" often occurs in the context of obedience to the word. The Malachi passage is more specifically alluding to Job 21:7,15: "What is the Almighty that we should serve Him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?". These are the words of Job, complaining about the prosperity of the wicked who had such an attitude, and the carefree happiness of their lives: "Their children dance. They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ" (21:11,12). It is in this that the Malachi context is so significant, for Mal.3:15 continues :"We (the Israelites) call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up". This was also Job's view. Notice that Job is probably implying that his prosperous three friends were among the wicked whom he is describing, thus associating them with the corrupt Jewish priesthood.

Job and Israel

There are a number of passages which associate Job with Israel in general terms. We will first consider these and then proceed to analyse how the reasoning of Job showed the same characteristics as the Jewish system in the first century.

It has been suggested by J.W.Thirtle in "Old Testament Problems" (worth a read by every serious student) that the book of Job was re-written and compiled by Hezekiah's men who at the same time produced the Psalter (all under inspiration, of course). The copious connections between the suffering servant prophecies of Isaiah and the book of Job (take a glance down the A.V. margins of Job) are therefore more easily understandable- the account of Job's sufferings and vindication amidst opposition was framed in language that pointed forward to the similar suffering (through the same disease?) and vindication of Hezekiah. The suffering servant of Isaiah refers to both Israel and the Lord Jesus, exactly as the parable of Job also does. The connections between Isaiah 40 and the book of Job are especially marked. The more obvious are tabulated here:

Isaiah 40


















The link between Is.40:27 and Job 3:23 is most significant: "Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgement is passed over from my God?". These are the words of Job in 3:23: "Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?". Thus Job represents Israel; and because "Israel" in Isaiah also refers to our Lord, we can make the equationJob=Israel=Jesus. The distancing between himself and God which Christ felt on the cross (Mt.27:46) is thus foreshadowed by Job feeling the same- and like Christ, it was a trial from God, not a specific punishment for sin.

Another telling point of contact with Isaiah is found in 4:3-5. Job had "strengthened the weak hands..and..the feeble knees. But now it (the weakness and feeble knees) is come upon thee, and thou faintest". This is picked up in Is.35:3,4: "Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful (Heb.'hasty'- both are relevant to Job) heart, Be strong...behold, your God will come". Thus Job is a type of the weak-hearted Jews, and his final deliverance thus points forward to the coming of the Lord. The return of the prodigal son foreshadowed the final repentance of the Jews (note how that parable is based on Gen.43:16;45:14,15). But Job's decision to say "I have sinned...and it profited me not" (33:27) also connects with the prodigal son (Lk.15:21), thus again associating him with the Jews in their suffering and repentance.

Isaiah's earlier description of Israel as "from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness...but wounds, and bruises and putrifying sores" (1:6) is couched in the picture of Job "with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown" (Job 2:7). Note too that the description of Miriam in Num.12:12 LXX is quoting from Job 3:16 LXX; as if both Job and Miriam represented apostate Israel.

There are also links between Job and Deuteronomy 28, again connecting Job with a faithless Israel:

Deut. 28


:29 "Thou shalt grope at noonday,

gropeth in darkness"

"They (the wicked; although the friends as the blind are getting at Job when they speak of them) meet with darkness in the daytime and grope in the noonday as in the night" (5:14).

:29 "The blind"

Job had fits of blindness (22:10,11)

:35 "The Lord shall smite thee in the knees and in the legs with a sore botch from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head"

"Boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown" (2:7) were inflicted by satan. "The Lord" in Dt.28 was the wilderness Angel; which is one of several indications that Job's satan was an Angel...

:37 "An astonishment...

"Mark me (Job) and be astonished" (21:5;17:8).

and a byword, among all nations"

"A byword of the people" (17:6;30:9). "Now am I their song" (30:9).

:67 "In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning"

"When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro until the dawning" (7:4).

All the Jews' blessings from God were to be taken away and their children cursed:"Thou shalt beget sons and daughters but thou shalt not enjoy them"(v.41). "Cattle.. flocks of thy sheep" (v.51).

Ditto for Job

"The Lord shall bring a nation against thee" (v.49)

The Sabeans/ Chaldeans- forerunners of the Babylonians and Assyrians who punished Israel.

Again, these are only the more evident connections. In similar vein God (in the Angel of the presence) "was turned to be (Israel's) enemy" because of their sin. Job complains that his satan-Angel has "turned to be cruel to me" (30:21 AVmg.). Job comments that if the children of the wicked "be multiplied, it is for the sword" (27:14). Seeing his own children had been destroyed, Job presumably was accepting that he was among the "wicked", as he does elsewhere (e.g. 9:2). Hos.9:13,16 repeats such language regarding the punishment of sinful Israel: "Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer". Dt.28:41 has the same idea. Eliphaz reminds Job that the wicked of Noah's time were destroyed by a flood, implying that the sudden calamities of Job's life were like the flood, thus equating him with the world at Noah's time. Jude, Daniel, Peter and the Lord Jesus all interpret that world as representing apostate Jewry in the first century, destroyed by the "flood" of AD70. It is also interesting that 1 Pet.5:8,9, concerning the Jewish devil walking around seeking to draw away Christians, is quoting the Septuagint of Job 1:7, suggesting Job's satan is also to be linked with the Jewish satan.

There are several allusions to Job in Romans, all of which confirm what we have so far suggested. A simple example is Elihu's description of Job as a hypocrite heaping up wrath, which connects with Paul's description of the Jews as treasuring up unto themselves "wrath against the day of wrath" (Rom.2:5).

There are several illuminating links between Romans 9 and Job:

Romans 9


:19 "Thou (the Jews) wilt say then unto me, Why doth He yet find fault (with Pharaoh and the Jews)? For who hath resisted His will?". The Jews were saying that it was God's pre-ordained purpose that they should be His people, therefore their behaviour was excusable.

"He is..mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself (NIV "resisted") against Him, and hath prospered?". Job's reasoning is similar to that of the Jews- effectively he too is asking why God is finding fault with him (9:4).

:20 "O man, who art thou that disputest (AVmg.) with God?"

This is what Job desired to do: "I would order my cause before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments...there the righteous might dispute with Him" (23:4-7 cp. 9:3).

:14 "Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid". The context is that the Jews were saying that their Calvinistic view of predestination allowed them to sin yet still remain God's people.

By Job saying "It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself in God" because he is either predestined to salvation or not, Job provoked the comment from Elihu "Far be it from God, that He should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that He should commit iniquity" (34:10). The link between this and Rom.9:14 shows that Job had the same mentality as the Judaizers, and was thus also shown the blasphemous conclusion to which his reasoning led.

Paul extends his association of Job and Israel in Romans 11:

Romans 11


:35 "Who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto Him again?". This is countering the Jewish reasoning that they were self-righteous and were giving their righteousness as a gift to God, for which they were blessed.

Elihu similarly rebukes the self-righteous Job: "If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? Or what receiveth He of thine hand?"(35:7). Without this key from Job it would be hard to understand what 'gift' Rom.11:35 was speaking about.

:16,17 use the figure of roots and branches to describe the Jews.

Bildad speaks of the wicked (i.e. Job- 18:4,7 cp.14:18 clearly refer to him)

Broken branches refer to the apostate Jews.

"his roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off"(18:16)

Most fascinating are the clear connections between Rev.9 and Job:



:5 "To them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented"

Satan could not kill Job, but was given power to torment him.

:6 "Men (shall) seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them".

Job said he was one of them "which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures"(3:21,22)

The marauding Saracen bands

The Sabean bands

:11 "A king over them, which is the Angel.."

The satan/Angel of Job?

:11 "A king...Abaddon..Apollyon" ('Destroyer').

"The king of terrors" attacking Job's tents (18:14)

:11 "The bottomless pit"

"Hell is naked before Him, and destruction (cp.'Abaddon') hath no covering" (26:6).

Thus Job is being shown to represent "those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads" (Rev.9:4). The idea of sealing is associated with being justified by faith rather than by the Law in Rom.4:11. If "the earth" in Rev.9 is read as "the land" and the chapter given a Jewish interpretation, the allusions to Job as representative of unsealed Jewry still depending on the Law become even more relevant. There are many allusions to Job in the early chapters of Genesis- understandably, bearing in mind the early date of the book of Job. Cain is used by Jesus as a prototype of the apostate Jewish system- he was the first murderer and the first human liar, and thus symbolized the Jewish devil in Christ's time (Jn.8:44). Adam being a sinner is also a type of the Jews, inadequately covered by the fig leaves which represented the Jewish way of covering sin. Their glossy appearance which soon faded well represented the inadequacy of this method. Hos.6:7 confirms the equation of Adam with Israel: "They (Israel) like Adam have transgressed the covenant" (AVmg.). Note how like Job, Adam represents both the Jewish system and Christ (1 Cor.15:45). Bearing these things in mind, it is significant that Adam and Cain are both connected with Job.

Job as Adam

Job 13:20-22 subtly alludes to the fall:

"Then will I not hide myself from Thee"

Adam hiding in Eden from God.

"Withdraw Thine hand far from me: and let not Thy dread make me afraid"

Adam's fear and dread as he heard the Lord's voice walking in the garden.

"Then call Thou, and I will answer"

God calling Adam and his answering God with his confession of sin.

It would appear that Job was recognizing that he had sinned, that he knew that the sense of spiritual limbo he was in parallelled Adam's hiding from God in Eden, but that he would only respond to God's call and come out of hiding to confess his sin as he knew God wanted him to, if God withdrew His hand- i.e. relieved him of the immediate trials he was then experiencing. Thus Job was trying to barter with God- wanting Him to withdraw the trials in return for Job making the confession which he knew God wanted.

Another connection with Adam is in Job's words of 10:9: "Remember, I beseech Thee, that Thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt Thou bring me into dust again?". This is Gen.3:19- the curse upon sinful Adam that he would return to the dust. Job seems to be admitting that he is like Adam in that it appeared God was going to end his life as a result of his sin- return him to the dust. But he reasons that this is unfair, seeing he has not sinned (10:7,14,15). Thus he oscillates between saying he has sinned and is like Adam, and then claiming that although he is being treated like Adam this is unfair. Similarly Job complains "He breaketh me...without cause" (9:17); "breaketh" is the same word translated "bruise" in Gen.3:15, thus implying that he is receiving the result of the covenant in Eden for no reason. Jesus must have been sorely tempted to adopt the same false reasoning of his great type. The references earlier in Job 9 to God spreading out the Heavens and creating the stars show Job's mind at this time was set early in Genesis (v.8-10). Job 27:2-4 again associates Job's likening of himself to Adam with his false blaming of God for wrongly dealing with him: "God...who hath taken away my judgement; and the Almighty, who hath made my soul bitter (AVmg.); all the while my breath is in me, and the Spirit of God is in my nostrils". This is obviously referring to the record of God's creation of Adam in Gen.2:7. In 31:33 Job denies that he is like Adam in that unlike him, he has no sin to hide: "If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity...". And yet like Adam he was humiliated by God's questioning at the end of the book.

However, in his humbler moments Job recognized that he was a sinner and deserved Adam's punishment: "Thou changest his (man's) countenance, and sendeth him away" (14:20)- referring to Adam being sent out of Eden, or also to Cain's countenance falling and then being sent away from God. Job recognized that there would come a time when "My change come (when) Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee: (I know) Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands" (when I respond to Your call to confess my sin)- 14:14,15. It would appear from this that Job feels that there will be a call to resurrection corresponding to God's call of Adam out of hiding (v.13 "Oh that Thou wouldest hide me in the grave"), after which he would confess his sins- i.e. at the judgement. God's calling to Job out of the whirlwind and Job's subsequent confession at the end of the book again encourages us to see "the end of the Lord" with Job as pointing forward to our justification at the day of judgement and the Kingdom. James 5:8 cp. v.11 seems to connect "the coming of the Lord" and "the end of the Lord" with Job in Job 42. The fact that the Lord was "very pitiful, and of tender mercy" with Job thus reminds us of how He will be in our day of judgement. The friends ridiculed Job's evident comparison of himself with Adam: "Art thou (the emphasis is on that phrase) the first man (Adam; 1 Cor.15:45 alludes here) that was born?" (15:7).

Job as Cain

As with the similarities with Adam, Job complains that although he is associated with Cain, this is not really fair. "Thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet" because of observing his ways with unnecessary detail, Job complained. The mark on him that was a witness wherever he went echoes that which God put on Cain. God's preservation of Cain from death also finds a parallel in Job's feeling that God is preserving him unnaturally (3:21-23; 10:9-15). Zophar possibly recognized that Job was like Cain in that his countenance had fallen and he was so angry, although also fearful of God (Gen.4:5); he said that if Job repented he would "lift up thy face (countenance) without spot; yea, thou shalt...not fear" (11:15). Job 31:39 is another example of Job saying that he was being unfairly treated like Cain: "If I have eaten the strength (of my land) without money...let thistles grow instead of wheat" (31:39,40 AVmg.). This is referring back to the curse on Cain, that "when thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength" (Gen.4:12). Job is saying that his land has yielded its strength to him, and that only if he sinned should the Adamic curse of thistles come upon him. We too can resent the limitations of our own nature, not least in the proneness to sin which it gives us, and become bitter against God because of it as Job did.

Thus in 16:17,18 Job instead associates himself with unfairly persecuted Abel: "Not for any injustice in my hands...O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry (of my blood) have no place" (16:17,18 cp. the crying of Abel's blood from the ground in Gen.4:10). Job complains in 31:3 that "the punishment of his (the wicked man's) iniquity" is deferred to his children; he uses the same Hebrew phrase used regarding the punishment of Cain's iniquity in Gen.4:13, thus saying that it was the wicked of the world, not him, who were the real counterparts of Cain.

The Jewish system

We now consider how the characteristics of the Jewish system of reliance on human wisdom, self righteousness and works are all seen in Job. 1 Cor.1 and 2 are in the context of Paul warning the believers against the temptation to let the human philosophy of the Roman and Greek worlds infiltrate the ecclesia, especially through the inroads of the Judaizers. In his argument, Paul makes one of the few direct quotes from Job in the New Testament: "For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent" (1 Cor.1:19). This is quoting Job 5:12,13, where Eliphaz is explaining why he thinks Job and his view of life have been brought to nothing. Thus Paul read Job as a type of those who were influenced by the pseudo-wisdom of the Judaizers. Paul continues: "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world?" (1 Cor.1:20). Job's constant desire to dispute with God and the friends, and the claims both he and they made to possessing wisdom, show Job was clearly in Paul's mind. "Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" he concludes, maybe thinking of the humbled Job.

Job was the greatest of the men of the east (1:3), people who were renowned in the ancient world for their wisdom (cp. Matt.2:1; 1 Kings 4:30). Thus Job would have been full of worldly wisdom, and this is maybe behind Paul's words of 1 Cor.3:18,19: "If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written (quoting Job 5:13, which is Eliphaz speaking about Job), He taketh the wise in their own craftiness". Thus again Job is equated with the false wisdom of the Judaizers, who were using "excellency of speech..wisdom...enticing words of man's wisdom "( 1 Cor.2:1,4), to corrupt the believers from the "simplicity that is in Christ", "as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty" (2 Cor.11:3).

Paul's rebuke of the Jews in Rom.2 for their reliance on a mixture of worldly wisdom and that of the Mosaic law has many similarities with Job:



"Thou art called a Jew...and makest thy boast of God, and knowest His will, and triest the things that differ (AVmg.), being instructed out of the law; and art confident that thou thyself

A fair description of Job before his trials. Cp. Job's constant reasoning with God about things which differed from his previous concept of God; "Doth not the ear try words?" (12:11)

art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an

"I was eyes to the blind" (29:15)

instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?

"Thou hast instructed many...thy words have upholden him that was falling...but now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest" (4:3-5).

Thou that preachest a man should not steal...commit adultery... (worship) idols...dost thou?

These were the 3 main things of which the friends accused Job.

Thou that makest thy boast of the Law, through breaking the Law dishonourest thou God?"

Elihu, on God's behalf, says that Job's boasting of his righteousness implied God was doing wickedly in punishing Job (34:10)

Their belief that they possessed such great wisdom led the Jews to be self-righteous, in that they reasoned that if they were wicked, then their wisdom would reveal this to them. Job was exactly the same- "Is there iniquity in my tongue? Cannot my taste ('palate'- i.e. spiritual sensitivity, Song 5:6; Ps.119:103) discern perverse (evil) things?"(6:30).

Galatians 6 warns those who think themselves to be something spiritually that they are nothing, deceiving themselves (v.13), and that by having such an attitude they are sowing to the flesh, and will reap corruption (v.8). Eliphaz interprets Job's downfall as an example of "they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same" (4:8). The conscious connection between these passages again shows that Job was seen as a type of the self-righteous, often Judaist-influenced, members of the ecclesia (Gal.6:13).

Elihu rebukes Job for his self-righteousness: "Let us choose to us judgement: let us know among ourselves what is good. For Job hath said, I am righteous" (34:4,5). This seems to be behind Paul's words in 1 Thess. 5:21 "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good", which is in the context of using "prophesyings" (v.20)- i.e. the true word of God- to analyse and reject false Judaist teaching that was claimed to be inspired. Thus again Elihu is interpreted as the true prophet of God and Job as a false reasoner, doing so under the guise of speaking the Truth, seeing he was a prophet. Job's reliance on works to bring justification with God is clearly seen in 9:29: "If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain?"- i.e. 'If I've been condemned, all these good works I've done are vain- they won't give me the salvation I thought'.

The friends

The three friends also have similarities with the Jewish system. When Job speaks of "the wicked" he is digging at the friends, as they do at him when they speak of the wicked. Thus he implies in 21:22 that they were trying to "teach God knowledge"- alluded to in Rom.11:34 and 1 Cor.2:16, where the Jews are mocked for thinking they can instruct God and be "His counsellor", thus linking the friends with the Jews. We have seen that Gal.6:7,8 concerning sowing to the flesh is alluding to Eliphaz's description of Job in 4:8. However, the same passage also has connections with Job 13:9, where Job accuses the friends of mocking God. Gal.6 is saying that those who show themselves to be outwardly wise (v.3), "making a fair show in the flesh (constraining) you to be circumcised" (v.12), are mocking God. Thus the sweet-talking Judaizers infiltrating the believers in Galatia correspond to both Job and the friends. Paul refers at least twice in Galatians to the effect this "thorn in the flesh" had had on his eyesight (4:14,15; 6:11). It may be that Paul's association of the friends with the Judaizers subtly drew the parallel between their smearing of Paul's name because of his physical disabilities which they implied were sent by God to punish him, and the Judaizers despising Paul spiritually because of his disability, which was perhaps a result of the Jewish satan in his life. The descriptions of the elders of Zion sitting on the ground in mourning for Jerusalem in Lam.2:10 recalls the friends mourning for Job- thus associating both them and Job with a condemned Israel (Job 2:12).

Job and Jesus

We have suggested that the sufferings of Job are framed in language which connects with the sufferings of Hezekiah and also Israel, whom he epitomized, at the time of the Assyrian invasion. Hezekiah and Israel are both types of Christ (note how so many of the curses on Israel for their disobedience came upon Christ on the cross). The suffering servant of Isaiah often concerns all three of them. Thus Job's sufferings point forward, via Hezekiah and Israel, to Christ. His final vindication when he prays for his friends, lives many years, and sees his sons (42:8,16) thus connects with the prophecy of Christ making "intercession for the transgressors" who persecuted him- i.e. the Jews- and seeing his seed, prolonging his days, after his crucifixion and resurrection (Is.53:10,12- note how Is.53 is a chronological account of the events of Christ's death, resurrection and ascension). The description of Job as the son of man and a worm uses identical language as that used about Christ on the cross in Ps.22:6. Thus the friends for whom Job prayed are equated with the Jews who persecuted Christ, for whom Christ made intercession both on the cross and after his ascension. Job being fatherless (6:27) and being able to echo our Lord's "Which of you convinceth me of sin?" with "Is there iniquity in my tongue?" (6:30) are just some of many shadows of Christ to be found throughout the record of Job. Most comfortingly, these shadows suggest that our Lord suffered the almost manic levels of depression experienced by Job, especially in His final passion.

The whole of James 5:10-16 appears to be based on the example of Job: v.12= Job 3:1; v.13,14 cp. Job's afflictions; v.11= Job 42:10; God's mercy to Job is used by James as an encouragement to the sinners in the ecclesia to repent; v.16= Job 42:8. Job is held up in v.11-13 as an example of a prophet being afflicted, but then James goes on to speak of praying for the sick who had sinned- i.e. those who had been struck with physical illness as a result of their wickedness. The sick were to "pray for one another, that ye may be healed", knowing that "the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much". This may be alluding to Job's prayer for the friends in 42:8 while still sick himself . The word for "fervent" is the same translated "earnest" in the record of Christ's fervent prayer in the garden in Lk.22:44-46. Job's prayer for the spiritual welfare of the friends points forward to Christ's prayer in the garden. His prayer was for his salvation from death- which was tantamount to praying for our salvation, and that was certainly the motive behind it rather than of selfish self-preservation. Only through His resurrection could we be saved. Thus the motivation for Christ's earnest prayers for salvation was His desire to gain us salvation. This is all confirmed by Job's prayer of 42:8 being connected with Christ's prayers in Is.53. Another connection with Is.53 is in 2:12,13. The friends "knew him not" as the Jews also did not recognize Christ because of the great physical torment (Is.52:14; 53:3). Like those who crucified Christ "they sat down" watching him; cp. "and sitting down they watched him there". The astonishment of the Jews at the ghastly physical appearance of Christ on the cross (Is.52:14) is matched by Job 17:7,8: "All my members are as a shadow..men shall be astonied at this" (i.e. the state of his body). Job 5:11 is quoted in Prov.3:11, which is a prophecy of Christ . Prov.3:13-15 describes our Lord's successful finding of wisdom in the language of Job's unsuccessful search for it in Job 28:16-19, implying He found what Job did not (cp. Rom.9:31,32).

Job, Jesus, Israel

We have noticed that Job represents both Christ and Israel. This is nicely shown in 19:12-14: "His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp around about my tabernacle". This is reminiscent of the descriptions of the Roman armies (Christ's armies- Matt.22:7) surrounding Jerusalem in AD70. There then follows a description of Job's sufferings which has clear links with that of Christ's crucifixion in Ps.69. "He hath put my brethren far from me (cp. Ps.69:8), and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me. My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me". Note how the last phrase links with Christ's description of Judas as "my own familiar friend", implying there may be a connection between the one-time friends of Job, and Judas. Both epitomized the Jewish system, and both were at one stage trusted by Job/Jesus. Other descriptions of Job's sufferings in the language of Ps.69 include Job 30:9 "Now am I their song, yea, I am their byword" (cp. Ps.69:12); 22:11 "abundance of waters cover thee" (cp. Ps.69:1,2); 2:11 the friends came "to mourn with him and to comfort him", although Job said he turned to them for comfort in vain (16:2). The Hebrew in 2:11 is identical to that in Ps.69:20, describing Christ looking in vain for comforters.

There are at least two instances in the Gospels where the Lord Jesus is quarrying his language from the book of Job, and shows a certain identification of himself with Job. In Matt.19:23-26 the Lord explains the irrelevance of riches to the spiritual good of entering the Kingdom, saying that "with God all things are possible"- without money. This is almost quoting Job 42:2, where Job comes to the conclusion that all human strength is meaningless: "I know that Thou canst do everything". It may be that Jesus is even implying that through the tribulation of his life he had come to the same conclusion as Job.

Matt.5:27-30 is another example. The Lord says that looking on a woman lustfully was the same as actually performing the sin, albeit within the man's heart. This is the language of Job 31:1: "I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?". Job recognized that if he did so, this would be the same as actually committing the deed. He says he will not look lustfully on a maid because "Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?" (31:3). Thus Job's understanding that a lustful look in the heart was working iniquity was at the basis of Christ's teaching.

Paul and Job

Paul in Philippians appears to have read Job in a very positive light (under inspiration), holding up his constant recognition that God would be glorified through his sufferings as an example to himself during a similar time of great physical trial. Whilst he wrote the letter he was so ill that he had a choice of being able to "depart, and to be with Christ" (Phil.1:23) or remain. One way of understanding this is to read it as meaning that Paul was so ill that he could give up his will to live if he chose, but struggled for their sake to keep alive. No wonder his mind went to the afflicted Job, under inspiration. The following are the connections apparent to me- doubtless there are many more:

1) Phil.1:19 is made a mess of in the A.V. Moffat does better with "The outcome of all this, I know, will be my release". The Greek here is almost identical to Job 13:16 LXX: "Though he slay me...even that is to me an omen of salvation". The context is of Job speaking of the good conscience he had maintained with God; similarly Paul's good conscience made him fearless of approaching death, as he also made clear when on trial for his life (Acts 23:1; 24:16).

2) "Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death" (Phil.1:20) seems to echo Job 13:13-15 (especially in RVmg.), where Job says he is willing to face every trial, but knows that death will be his lot; yet he is certain that God will still be glorified through this. All of this is very apposite to Paul's situation.

3) "To die is gain" (Phil.1:21) was Job's attitude too, particularly in Job 10:20-22, where whilst recognizing the unpleasantness of death he is speaking, in the context, as if he were willing to suffer it to maintain his integrity with God. Paul is reasoning along similar lines.

4) The previous three allusions to Job in Phil.1 make a fourth one not unlikely. "In nothing terrified by your adversaries" (Phil.1:28) employs a word classically used (although unique in the N.T.) to describe the startled shying of horses, perhaps suggesting Job 39:22, where the horse is said to mock at fear, "and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword". This would be as if Paul is saying 'Don't be terrified horses but like that one spoken of in Job, which represented what, in the Lord's opinion, Job was potentially capable of'.

By now it should be possible to read Job in a similar light to Adam- striving for acceptance with God, and yet clearly a sinner. Like so many of us, Job found it hard to accept the enormity of the guilt we each personally have in the sight of God due to our sinfulness. It needed severe mental and physical trials to make Job come to terms with his true relationship to God, and yet those trials in themselves made him a clear type of Christ. The Lord Jesus learnt the lesson from Job, to accept the consequences of being a member of a fallen race regardless of one's personal spiritual status. By contrast Israel, whom Job also represented, trusted in their own righteousness and through their mental stubbornness to have their concept of God changed, suffered and still suffer the prolonged mental and physical torture of God's displeasure with them, as Job did in his suffering. May we in these last days avoid the fatal mixture of legalism, human philosophy and spiritual pride which Job and his friends gave way to, so that we may develop our comprehension of God's ways to the point where we too can say "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear (cp. our theoretical grasp of 'first principles'): but now mine eye seeth Thee" (42:5).


(1) Notice how God confirms what Elihu says: 34:35 cp. 38:2;42:3; 33:13 cp.40:2; 33:2 cp. 40:8; 33:9 cp. 35:2. Elihu's description of God's inspiration of him, resulting in it being painful not to speak forth the words given, recalls Jeremiah's experience as the result of his inspiration: "I am full of the fury of the Lord; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out..His word was...shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing" (Jer. 6:11; 20:9). Elihu's words are so similar that there must be a connection: "I am full of words (Hebrew), the Spirit (of inspiration) within me constraineth me. Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles" (Job 32:18,19). This similarity between these two young prophets (n.b. Job 32:6) may be because Jeremiah was reprimanding Israel, whilst Elihu was doing so to Job and the friends who represented Israel.

(2) The problem of reconciling the rebuke of Job's words with the statement that he has spoken what is right about God as opposed to the friends (42:7) is the same as the frequent pronouncement that some kings of Judah walked blamelessly before God exactly as David did, when there is clear evidence in the record that this was not so. This may be because God imputes righteousness to a believer's whole life if his final acts are acceptable (cp. Ez.18:27,28). "Ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath" may refer to the response of the friends and Job to the rebukes of Elihu and the manifestation of God's power in the thunderstorm which must have been witnessed by the friends as well as by Job. Maybe they made some unrecorded response about God which was not right, whereas Job's supreme recognition of God's righteousness and humbling of himself was speaking that which was right about God. It has to be admitted that it is hard to understand all that Job says in the book about God as being "right", and he is specifically rebuked by God for his words.

Other comments on Job have been made at the relevant points during the exposition of James, when there appears to be allusion back to the book.

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