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June 10, 2021

The most challenging question a person can be asked when they suffer is the question God asked Job in chapter 40, verse 8 – that is, “Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?” This question is at the heart of the book of Job, for reason that God is the main character of the book and as consequence Job is about Theodicy (i.e. justifying the existence of Benevolent God when there is suffering and evil in the world). This expositional synopsis is interested in giving an expositional summary of the book of Job. By no means is this expositional synopsis a substitute for the book of Job – neither is this expositional synopsis taking away or adding to the book of Job. Simply put, it is the intent of this writer to point out to the readers features from the book of Job to help the readers navigate through their own trials and sufferings in life, accurately represent God when they suffer, and remind the readers when they suffer to entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right (cf. 1 Peter 4:19).

To accomplish this task, the writer will offer introductory features to the book of Job – that is, elucidating its literary genre as well as where and when Job took place historically. Then, there will be an outline presented on the book of Job. Next, there will be a discussion of the contents of the book of Job with selective theological points made by the Author of Job. Finally, the continuity of the book of Job in relationship to the New Testament and the Christian’s responsibility in the church age on how to deal with personal suffering and comforting others when they suffer will be provided. 

Introduction to the Book of Job

To start, Job is found in the OT positioned canonically immediately after the book of Esther and directly before the book of Psalms. Some have called the literary genre of Job a lawsuit (for reason that it reads like scenes one would experience in cross examination in a court room). Others have categorized Job as dramatized lament. In fact, there have been many other views on the books literary form offered. On the other hand, because Job has been categorized with a collection of books in the OT called Wisdom Literature along with the book of Proverbs, the book of Ecclesiastes and the book called Song of Solomon – the literary genre of the book of Job is best to be understood as Wisdom Literature. This is the case, mainly due to the fact that Job presents the definition of wisdom in the middle of the book by the narrator – namely, “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding’” (28:28). The book of Job is extremely important because it objectively defines wisdom.

Likewise, the book of Job is such an important book of the Bible because it answers the age-old question, “why is there suffering in this world?” Suffering is the heart of the book of Job. When people suffer often the question is asked – “why me?” or “what have I done to deserve this?” If such is your experience, the book of Job is the best place to get the answers for why there is suffering. But there is even a deeper question. A deeper theological question that the book of Job provokes – namely, “Why do we exist in a universe that has been created by the all-powerful, all good (omni-benevolent) Sovereign God, and in this world, in this universe, which is forever ruled and Governed by God, the Being who is absolutely good, absolutely just, absolutely perfect – yet there is evil in this world? This world is full of imperfections and evil, and suffering and pain. Where is God in all of this suffering and pain?” Why do people suffer? Why do the righteous suffer?  The answers to these questions are the red thread – that is, the central point of the book of Job. The book of Job is deep. It is extremely complex and incredibly challenging. Yet the answer to these questions is clearly presented from the book of Job. Anyone who attempts to counsel and comfort others when they suffer should read the book of Job often – but especially before they try to counsel another who is suffering.

It is important to know when the historical events described in the book of Job took place to understand the book.It is very evident that the historical context of the book of Job took place during the Patriarchal Period of Human history – that is, during the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The historical man Job lived during the days of Abraham. The question is, did the events of Job occur pre-Abrahamic Covenant or post-Abrahamic Covenant. The following arguments have been offered for pre-Abrahamic Covenant:

  1.  Job offered sacrifices without the benefit of a priest (he was priest of his own household (1:5)). This is significant because after the Abrahamic Covenant was made between God and Abraham, the Covenant Community was narrowed down to one family in particular. So, Job is best understood as having lived before the Abrahamic Covenant.
  2. His life span is that of the people in Genesis immediately after the flood – (42:16).
  3. The Sabeans and the Chaldeans were nomadic bands and not organized in cities. On the other hand, by the time of Abraham, it appears perhaps the Chaldeans were organized in cities where Abraham lived in Genesis 11:31, Ur of the Chaldeans.

The following are the arguments that the events in Job occurred post-Abrahamic Covenant:

  1. The Land of Uz (Job 1:1) corresponds to Gen 22:21.
  2. Elihu was a Buzite (Job 32:2) and we learn from Gen 22:21 Buz was a nephew of Abraham.

However, given all these arguments, it is an undeniable conclusion that Job lived during the Patriarchal Period of human history sometime between the Noahic Covenant and around the time of the Abrahamic Covenant.

We need to understand that although the book of Job might appear as if it is laid out like a drama or a play with scenes and acts etc., that does not change the fact that Job was a real historical person. Job is not a fable. The book of Job is not a poetic metaphor for wisdom. Job truly existed and went through everything mentioned from the text. Likewise, Job is mentioned outside of the book of Job in the OT in Ezekiel 14:14, 20 (where God identified Job in the top three most righteous people in the days of the OT – namely, Noah, Daniel and Job)- as well as in the NT in the book of James 5:11 (James reminds the early Jerusalem church community of the endurance of Job when Job was suffering). What is more, it is important to know where the historical events in Job took place. Job lived in the land of Uz (1:1). Uz was somewhere in the east. The geographical location of Uz is in the area of Edom (Genesis 10:23; Lam 4:21).

Outline of the Book of Job

It is best to outline the book of Job by merely identifying the chapter to which each character speaks. For instance, the following outline is a very straight forward outline so that the reader can navigate through the book of Job:

Prologue (Narrator): 1-2

 Job: 3, 6-7, 9-10, 12-14, 16-17, 19, 21, 23-24, 26-27, 29-31, 40, 42

Eliphaz: 4-5, 15, 22

Bildad: 8, 18, 25

Zophar: 11, 20

Wisdom Defined (Narrator): 28

Elihu: 32-37

God: 38-41

Epilogue (Narrator): 42

Another outline is sometimes offered which presents the book of Job as a Chiastic Structure – that is, two or three main ideas together with counterpart variants creating a symmetrical pattern. The following has been proposed as a chiastic structural outline for the book of Job:

A.  Job’s Affliction (1-2)

     B.  Job’s 1st Response (3)

         C.  Three Cycles of Debate (4-27)

              D.  Wisdom Poem (28)

         C₁. Great Speeches (29-41)

     B₁.  Job’s 2nd Response (42:1-9)

A₁.  Job’s Prosperity (42:10-17)


Discussion about the Contents of the Book of Job

Many “teachers” have attempted to “explain” the book of Job, but in their “explanation” many “teachers” have made some serious mistakes. The major mistake they have made is to suggest that Job lacks any concrete doctrine and theological discussion. In fact, when it comes to the problem of evil many “teachers” have made distinctions between the theological academic form of suffering and the intimate personal form of suffering. The problem of many when they try to “teach” the book of Job is that they strike a dichotomy with the theological academic answers against the personal experience of suffering. They do this to try and avoid the problem either by de-personalizing the problem or desiring others to remain in ignorance (e.g. “ignorance is bliss,” “what I don’t know cannot hurt me,” and “I’m just going to get on with my life in ignorance because these theological words are too big for me, far beyond me and by choice I refuse to ask the question because it just causes too much confusion and pain” etc.).

However, what this writer is interested in is pointing out the sound doctrine from the book of Job. What is more, it is the intent of this writer to not strike a dichotomy between the academic theological form and the intimate personal form of suffering. To draw out sound doctrine from the book of Job must be the goal of the reader so that the reader does not existentially try to put themselves in Job’s shoes and think that they are Job when they suffer. The reason for this is because we learn from God that there was no one on the earth like Job (cf. 1:8; 2:3). If there was no one on earth like Job in Job’s day, then what makes us think that there is anyone like Job today – in our day. However, what the reader can do when suffering is to learn from Job’s endurance in suffering, cry to God in suffering and learn from Job’s example to hold to God’s Word. For example, Job confessed that one of his greatest comforts directly after he suffered all the tragedies described in the book was that Job held to God’s Word – “But it is still my comfort, and I rejoice in unsparing pain, that I have not denied the words of the Holy One” (Job 6:10).    

From the first chapter of Job we learn where Job was from, namely, the land of Uz (1:1). What is more, we learn about Job’s character as a man – that is, Job was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil (1:1). However, Job being without moral blemish does not mean Job was sinless. Contrariwise, Job confessed he was a sinner as well as being born with original sin (cf. 7:21; 13:26). Moreover, we learn from the first chapter that Job was “the greatest of all the men of the east” (1:3). He was the wealthiest man (cf. 1:3). In the days of Job, wealth was measured in livestock and we learn that Job had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants (cf. 1:3). But even though Job was the wealthiest man of his day and as such had many great possessions, Job’s possessions did not have him. Job’s wealth did not distract Job from pursuing godliness and being the most devout man to God in the land. To this effect, namely that Job was not owned by his material possessions, is evident when Job confessed that he did not brag about his wealth (cf. 31:25). The main issue is Job’s integrity, to such a degree that he was worried about the secret thoughts of his children – that is, that they would not curse God in their hearts. And even if they did, then Job would present sacrifices on their behalf to God. Job cared about God and His name. Consequently, Job was a righteous man.  So, the question is why do the righteous suffer? The answer to that question is found in the remaining verses from the first chapter – namely, 1:6-22 as well as the second chapter.  

In the remaining verses from the first chapter as well as the second chapter of Job, the reader is taken behind the scenes to see the invisible circumstances that occasioned Job’s suffering – namely, a contest between God versus Satan. Of this conflict – that is, contest that happened behind the scenes about him, Job is unaware. On the other hand, the reader is taken behind the scenes into the heavenly places to where God’s courts are found. And what the reader discovers from the narrator in the epilogue is that Job suffered as a test to his faithfulness to God (cf. 1:6-12). What is more, the reader is shown the relationship of God to fallen angelic activity and human evil. In Theology, there is a subset of discipline study in the area of the Providence of God called Concurrence. Concurrence is the juxtaposing actions and intents of more than one group that are presented side by side. For instance, the text reveals that God, Satan, the Sabeans, the Chaldeans, Job’s wife, and Job’s three miserable counselors were all involved in Job’s suffering (cf. 1:6-2:11; 4:12-21).  It was God who initiated the entire event, but it was the Devil who was accusing Job of maintaining his integrity because Job got something out of God – as if God were Job’s “paycheck” (cf. 1:8-10). But the Devil’s wicked plot was to get Job to suffer so that Job would curse God to His face (cf. 1:11). This is inseparably constrained to the frustration of the Devil with Job’s integrity, because Job was so concerned that his own children would not curse God in their secret thoughts of their hearts. God listened to Job, to which it can be implied that God protected Job’s children from the Devil putting thoughts in their hearts, hence the reason why the Devil brought up the issue. It is congruent with the Devil’s attack of trying to use Job’s greatest strength to sin against God (e.g. compare Gen 2:25 with Gen 3:7 and Gen 2:25 with Gen 3:1 – the Hebrew tri-literal root (arom) is found in “naked” in Gen 2:25 and is the origin of the word “crafty” in Gen 3:1 – the Devil used that which God had bestowed upon God’s creation against God). God allowed Satan and the human agency that Satan used to attack Job and cause Job to suffer. Instead of Job cursing God Job did the exact opposite, all the while ignorant of this cosmic contest in the invisible realm. These features teach us two major points – first, the Devil needs permission from God to do anything. Secondly, when it comes to human suffering and the problem of evil there is Concurrence.  Who is responsible for Job’s suffering? Is it God? Is it the Devil? Or is it Man? The answer is “all of the above.” But the real question is that of intent. The Sabeans and the Chaldeans are merely doing what was natural to them – that is evil. They could care less about Job. They just wanted Job’s material blessings. They are men who are jealous and lusting after the possessions of other men. As soon as the hedge was removed and they capitulated to the temptation from Satan, the raiders freely raided without hesitation or resistance. In judgement they would argue “the devil made me do it.” Likewise, the Devil is merely intent on making Job suffer to get Job to sin to make a slanderous argument against God and those who love God. The Devil could care less about Job’s pain and suffering. Therefore, man’s intent is wicked, and the Devil’s intent is wicked. But what about God? God’s intent is always good. This same issue was taught in the book of Genesis with the patriarch Joseph and his brothers. For instance, Joseph’s own brothers plotted to kill him, but he was sold into slavery, stealing him away from his family in an attempt to destroy his life (cf. Gen 37:18-36). Therefore, the brothers’ intent was wicked toward Joseph. But why did those terrible things happen to Joseph? God tells us why these terrible things happened to Joseph – that is, “as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen 50:20). Genesis 50:20, as well as Job, are clear examples of the doctrine of Concurrence. In the case of Joseph’s suffering, God meant it for good, whereas the brothers meant it for evil. God’s intent was only for Joseph’s good and the good of others. On the other hand, the brothers took exception to Joseph and committed evil against their own brother. God decreed the entire event before the foundation of the world. God brought the event to pass. Joseph suffered. Yet God’s intent was only for good, and God holds the human agency – that is, the brothers, responsible. Therefore, God is always justified. Moreover, God, Joseph and Job were all magnanimous toward those who caused them harm or in Job’s case those who were worthless counselors who added to Job insult to injury (cf. 42:7-10). This is the issue of Theodicy – that is, justifying the existence of the Omni-Benevolent Sovereign God when we suffer in a world in which evil is a reality of our daily experience.   

Job lost everything he once had. All the things that people chase after for happiness – namely, prosperity, wealth and health. Job had all these but lost it all. Job lost his possessions (cf. 1:13-17). Job lost his health (cf. 2:1-7). The text reveals that Job was attacked by Satan with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (cf. 2:7). There have been several opinions to what type of sickness Job received offered by commentators, such as, Smallpox, Elephantiasis, and Pemphigus Foliaceus. However, due to the immediate supernatural element to these boils it is highly likely that it was worse than the opinions diagnosed by commentators. No exact diagnosis can be given on the exact disease except that it resulted in terribly painful boils all over Job’s body which he tried to scrape off with broken pottery pieces (cf. 2:8). However, the most painfully devastating loss to Job over all was the death of Job’s ten children. No parent should have to bury their own child, let alone all ten children. The intense pain and suffering that Job had to go through was unsparing pain and tragedy (cf. 6:10). To add insult to injury, his own wife gave Job satanic advice to curse God and die (cf. 2:9). However, because Job still held fast his integrity, Job replied to his wife, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (2:10). Job still would not sin with his lips. Job was concerned about the secret thought life of the heart as well as what came out of his mouth (cf. Luke 6:45).

For the next half of the book of Job, the reader is introduced to Job’s three friends who try to counsel Job in his suffering (cf. 2:11). Job’s three friends were Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar (cf. 2:11). Job’s three friends start out well in their counseling efforts because the best thing they did for Job was to just weep and just sit with Job for seven days and seven nights, keeping their mouths shut (cf.2:12-13). However, as soon as they open their mouths, their efforts at counseling Job fall short, to say the least. In fact, their counseling turns into arguing with Job and later Job called them all worthless counselors (cf. 13:4 – NASB “physicians”) and said there is not a wise man among them (cf. 17:10).

The major problem with Job’s three friends is their attempts to indoctrinate Job with a presuppositional fallacious doctrine called Instant Retributive Justice or Retribution Doctrine (hereafter usually designated as IRJ or RD). IRJ teaches that there is always a one-to-one correlation between a person’s suffering and their individual guilt. Many people believe in RD and assert that always this side of the grave the wicked suffer in this world for the evil things they do and the righteous prosper in this world for the good things they do – hence, instant retribution. That is, you get out of life what you put into life. If you have done something wrong, you will always pay for it in this life. If you have done some good you will always be rewarded in this life for doing good. However, we learn from the book of Job that such is not always the case. What is more, we learn from the book of Job that the righteous can suffer in this world for doing what is right and the wicked can prosper in this world when they do wicked things.

The other extreme is to suggest that there is no relationship between suffering and sin. The Word of God teaches that because of sin there is suffering in the world, and when there is no more sin there will be no more suffering for the righteous (cf. Rev 21:4). Pain, suffering and death are all part of the consequences of living in a fallen world – a fallen world, by the way, that God is in complete control over and sovereign over. But you error when you always assume that there is a one-to-one correlation between a person’s suffering and their individual sin guilt. There are a lot of reasons why people can suffer.

Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar tried to counsel Job by using IRJ as their template. However, they got frustrated with Job because Job did not bow to their system. Job’s three friends argued throughout their speeches that the only reason why Job was suffering was an absolute correspondence to some sin in Job’s life for which Job was guilty. To add insult to injury, instead of comforting Job, Job’s three friends insisted that Job confess his sin. It got to the point where Job’s three friends were protecting their system of IRJ and arguing with Job so intensely because they had to be right about their world view of instant retributive justice. Everything was at stake for Job’s three friends to protect their wrong presuppositions, because if they were wrong their whole perception of reality would come crumbling down. Oftentimes people try to counsel others the way Job’s three friends tried to, and as a result end up doing more harm than good. There are many worthless counselors in the world today just as there were in Job’s day. It is part of the human condition to be a worthless counselor. Examples of IRJ from the speeches of Job’s three friends include the following:

Eliphaz – “Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright destroyed? According to what I have seen, those who plow wrongdoing and those who sow trouble harvest it” (4:7-8 also see 22:5-7, 9-10).

Bildad – “If you are pure and upright, Surely now He will stir Himself for you And restore your righteous estate” (8:6).

Zophar – “If you would direct your heart rightly And spread out your hands to Him, If wrongdoing is in your hand, put it far away, And do not let malice dwell in your tents” (11:13-14).

Moreover, the problem with the wisdom of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar and their IRJ was bad enough because they were ignorantly assuming Job had sinned to cause his calamity. And as such, it was bad enough that they held to IRJ as an absolute principle of retribution. But what made their advice even more valueless was that they added more pragmatism to their overarching IRJ scheme. For example, the first of Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, who was the oldest, and therefore the first to address Job, based his arguments on experience (in what he had seen in his lifetime) as the absolute standard because he was the oldest [i.e. “According to what I have seen” (4:8), “I have seen” (5:3), “What do you know that we do not know? What do you understand that we do not? Both the gray-haired and the aged are among us, Older than you father” (15:9-10)]. Then the second of Job’s three friends, Bildad, based his arguments on tradition and the wisdom of the scientific method in the progress of observation and research over many generations [e.g., “Please inquire of past generations, And consider the things searched out by their fathers. For we are only of yesterday and know nothing, Because our days on earth are as a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you, And bring forth words from their minds?” (8:8-10)]. Finally, the third friend, Zophar, based his arguments on his rationalistic intelligence – namely, that there had to be some rationalistic explanation like Job sinned to account for his suffering and if Job would only think intelligently then he might discover which sin it was that Job committed [e.g., “An idiot will become intelligent When the foal of a wild donkey is born a man. If you would direct your heart right And spread out your hand to Him, If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, And do not let wickedness dwell in your tents; Then, indeed, you could lift up your face without moral defect, And you would be steadfast and not fear” (11:12-15; see 12:3 for Job’s response to Zophar)].

The major disingenuous aspect to the arguments of Job’s three friends is that they were presenting their arguments as if they were rightly representing God to Job. However, at the end of the book we learn from God that such was not the case (cf. 42:7).

In the NT, Jesus’ disciples made a similar mistake as Job’s three friends in their IRJ. In the Gospel of John, there is recorded an encounter with Jesus, Jesus’ disciples, and a man born blind (cf. 9:1-41). At this encounter Jesus found a man suffering, being born with physical blindness from birth. Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus about the blind man, but their question reflected the IRJ presupposition – that is, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” (John 9:2). According to the disciples there had to be someone’s sin, someone’s fault to why this man was blind. According to the disciples, it was either him or his parent’s fault. However, Jesus did not respond the way they thought. Jesus did not answer them with the either-or condition they gave Jesus in their question. Instead, Jesus answered them like this, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). Clearly the reader can see the similarities between IRJ of Job’s three friends and the IRJ of the disciples’ question – thinking that suffering and pain always is caused by the sufferer’s sin.

There are a lot of reasons why people can suffer. Sometimes people suffer for righteousness – that is, suffering for doing the right thing, not because of their sin but because of being faithful to God (cf. Matt 5:10; 2 Thess 1:4-5). Sometimes people suffer because God is sanctifying them. This is so that they would be conformed to the image of Christ. God also disciplines His children to reprove, correct and rescue them from themselves if they are going the wrong way in life. But it cannot be assumed that the suffering a person encounters is directly a consequence of that person’s sin. But it also cannot be assumed that the suffering a person encounters is not a consequence of that person’s sin. However, the problem is when IRJ is applied to each and every situation when there is suffering and it is argued “if you suffer, then you have sinned.” It can be true “if you sin, then you will suffer.” But it is not always true that “if you suffer, then you have sinned.” Job’s valuation of his three friends is that they were sorry comforters (cf. 16:1) and that there was not a wise man among them (cf. 17:10).      

From chapters 32-37, the reader is introduced to a man younger than Job’s three friends named Elihu (cf. 32:4). Elihu has a problem with Job’s three friends because they did not know why Job was suffering yet they condemned Job (cf. 32:3). However, Elihu was not a fan of Job’s rhetoric either and thought that Job was justifying himself before God (cf. 32:2).  Elihu does have a mild case of IRJ and insists as well that Job has sinned (e.g., 34:7-8, 11, 25-27). Elihu was right in much of what he said in his speeches, but the problem was that Elihu had some old world theological IRJ motifs. Many have been obsessed with Elihu and tried to portray Elihu as either a protagonist or an antagonist to Job. To this effect, some have argued that Elihu has no positive or negative contribution (e.g., Commentator Alden). The main view throughout church history was that Elihu was the spokesman for God. Some have suggested that Elihu was merely a further human counselor (e.g., Andersen). Others have argued that Elihu laid the foundation for the LORD’s words, a way to prepare Job for God to speak to him (e.g., Commentators Hartly; Atkinson). But instead of Elihu blasting Job as an attempt to heal the suffering man, Job needed to hear from God. Job wanted to hear from the LORD personally and would not be satisfied until he received some clarity to why and what occasioned his unsparing suffering. In fact, Job wanted to talk to God and not his three friends or Elihu. Job is an example of a man who is interested in what God says, not what man says.

God’s Response to Job

God never answered Job’s question why this happened to Job. Instead, God responded with the manifestation of Himself through the Theophany out of the whirlwind (cf. 38:1). And that was all that Job really needed – that is, to hear from God. That is all we need when we suffer – that is, to hear from God. Today we do not receive Theophanies like Job did and the ancients. But we have God’s Word and can read about Job and listen to what God has revealed for us from the book of Job to help us navigate through our suffering and respond correctly. God began His speech to answer Job’s questions by asking Job some questions – that is:

Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding (Job 38:2-4)

No one can honestly answer that question, because no one knows where we were when God laid the foundation of the earth except that we had yet to come into physical existence. The LORD is the Creator, and we are His creatures. God does what He pleases with His created order but always for His glory and for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose (cf. Rom 8:28). Throughout His speech the LORD introduced many features to His Sovereign Providential care over the celestial bodies, geo-physical properties of the earth, flora and fauna etc. that overwhelmed Job to the point to respond this way: “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I say in response to You? I put my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not reply; Or twice, and I will add nothing more” (40:4-5). These features that the LORD presents to Job that the LORD performs could only be said of the LORD. No man nor angelic being has the wisdom or the ability to do the things that the LORD presents concerning Himself. Therefore, the wisdom that Job and the reader is encouraged in is to wait on the LORD in times of difficulty and suffering, persevere and have patient endurance, always fear the LORD, and always depart from evil (cf. 28:28).

There are two mysterious creatures mentioned in the LORD’s speech that the LORD created, named Behemoth (cf. 40:15-24) and Leviathan (cf. 41:1-34). There are many opinions to which animals in the animal kingdom God referred to concerning them. Some have suggested that Behemoth could be a reference to the hippopotamus or the elephant. However, the LORD said that Behemoth had a tail like a cedar. The hippopotamus does not have that impressive of a tail, neither does the elephant. What is described concerning Behemoth must be some sort of land sauropod dinosaur or maybe even a plesiosaurus. Moreover, the same mistake has been made when Leviathan is said to represent the crocodile. What is described in chapter 41 concerning the survey of all of Leviathan’s features is much more descriptive of some sort of marine-like reptile that has fire breathing capabilities (cf. 41:18-21). Many a-millennialists allegorize Leviathan and argue that the LORD is merely exaggerating and presenting a mystical creature that symbolizes evil, to which some have gone as far as arguing that this is support that God created evil. However, there is nothing in the text from the Author’s intended meaning to suggest that Leviathan is an allegorical beast symbolizing chaos. Instead, Leviathan was an ancient marine-like reptile that had fire breathing capabilities and in size dwarfing any know crocodilian species.

Other Theological Themes in the Book of Job

There are some other important theological themes in the book of Job that need to be identified by the reader and cannot be disregarded. In trying to make sense of his suffering, Job alluded to the doctrine of original sin when he said, “Have I covered my transgressions like Adam, By hiding my iniquity in my bosom, Because I feared the great multitude, And the contempt of families terrified me, And kept silent and did not go out of doors?” (31:33). Moreover, Job had a concrete grasp of final eternal punishment for the unrepentant when he said, “For the wicked is reserved for the day of calamity; They will be led forth at the day of fury” (21:30). The need for justification by faith and not human merit is presented by Job’s questions and statements (9:2, 15). The tripartite constitution of man is taught in the book of Job (cf. 7:11; 10:12; 21:25; 32:8; see 1 Thess 5:23) The clear examples of the tripartite constitution of man in the book of Job are not poetical exaggerations of dichotomy. It would be wise for proponents of Jay Adams’ a-millennialistic “nouthetic counseling” (which is neither nouthetic nor biblical) to abandon their humanistic dichotomist view of the human constitution (which finds its origin in the Greek pagan religion creation account called Orphism, as well as the pagan Greek allegorical philosophy of Plato’s Cave). Unless the Adams’ family counseling tradition abandons dichotomy they will never be able to truly counsel anyone biblically. Finally, Job clearly understood the Protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15. He trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ to atone for Job’s original sin and actual sins and to be Job’s advocate and representative through redemption and resurrection (cf. 16:19; 19:23-29).


Job’s final response to the LORD after the LORD’s speech is one of humility. For example, like book ends, just as Job responded to God correctly in the beginning of the book and did not sin with his lips after the most intense testing and temptation, likewise Job responded correctly to God at the end of the book in his final response:

Then Job answered the Lord and said, “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” (42:1-6)

When Job said, “I repent in dust and ashes” (42:6) Job did not mean repentance from a previous hidden sin, nor did he mean from any sin he committed in his suffering. The word used here translated “repent” in the NASB is the Hebrew word nacham and has the sense to mean to console oneself in one’s sorrow. It is the same word used for God in Genesis 6:6 “and it repented the LORD” (KJV) when the LORD was sorry He had made man. The word can have the sense to comfort oneself in the midst of disaster. Job did not sin in his suffering, but instead the context of his ‘repenting in dust and ashes’ was in the context of receiving God’s challenge and consolation. Case in point, God’s anger was not kindled against Job for anything Job had said about the LORD in Job’s speeches. Instead, God claimed that Job said what was right of Him (cf. 42:8). On the other hand, God’s wrath was kindled at Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar because they did not say what was right about God even though they tried to be comforters and spokesmen on behalf of God (cf. 42:7-8). The LORD instructed Eliphaz to lead the other two friends and make a burnt offering to the LORD and instructed Eliphaz to ask Job to pray on his behalf (cf. 42:7-8). It is most likely that God went to Eliphaz to organize this because Eliphaz thought he was wiser than all due to his age.

All the things that the charismatic movement and Pentecostalism wrongly chase after Job lost – that is, health, wealth and prosperity. In fact, the majority of people chase after health, wealth and prosperity for their happiness. Pentecostals wrongly teach that if you have faith like Job you will be rich, or if you have faith like Abraham you will be rich. They argue that God will reward you with health, wealth and prosperity if you merely have enough faith. However, God did not restore Job’s fortune until after Job prayed for his friends. Job had no idea that God would restore Job’s fortunes. He selflessly prayed for his friends first. Then God restored Job’s fortunes and gave Job more than Job had before his trial of suffering. This means that Job was not chasing after health, wealth and prosperity after God spoke to him. On the other hand, Job was trusting in God alone and God spoke to Job – that was all Job needed in his suffering – that is, to hear from God and to be comforted by God’s presence. Likewise, King Solomon prayed to God for wisdom to lead God’s people. King Solomon did not pray for health, wealth and prosperity. Because Solomon prayed for wisdom and not health, wealth and prosperity – God gave him all those things because Solomon did not ask for them (cf. 2 Chr 1:11-12). The point is this, the reader needs to seek after God and glory in the LORD, not health, wealth and prosperity. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church of the Thessalonians that the Christian will be relieved from all adversity in eternity – that is, the afterlife, not in this life.

The book of Job elevates the problem of suffering and pain and answers the problem of evil. Everyone has questions to why and how God is involved in some way with human suffering. Many want God to justify His actions when they suffer, but He eternally responds to all who question Him – “Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified? (40:8).

Job is a type of the ultimate righteous sufferer. This is what the book is about, and the meaning Job has for the Christian. The only One who truly suffered injustice – the only One who was treated as He did not deserve in the ultimate sense was the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is the true innocent sufferer, the only One completely without sin and it was God who sent Jesus to the cross:

This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. (Acts 2:23-24)

One can see the doctrine of Concurrence unmistakably in the passion and murder of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, the book of Job calls to the Christian to look to the suffering Messiah. The reader must look to the Lord Jesus Christ. God entered the world of human suffering in order to redeem everyone who would ever trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved from the wrath of God. Unless you have faith in Him and His perfect life, vicarious satisfactory penal-substitutionary cross work and resurrection from the dead to be saved from the wrath of God – to be joined in substitution and imputation with Him – then you will not join in His exaltation.

Those who are Christians evidence their profession is true when they take up their own cross and follow Christ and are willing to suffer for Him. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, the apostle Paul likens the suffering of Christians to Christ and as a result the comfort of Christ. A true Christian church is a fellowship of suffering and comfort. The members of a true Christian church fellowship together to comfort each other with the comfort they have received from God in Christ Jesus our Lord. The reason we suffer is for God’s glory. God is glorified through the suffering of His faithful servants like Job. That is the continuity between Job and the Christian – to the glory of God. This is why Job is relevant to the Christian. The experience of suffering is universal to the Christian in this life. But if we suffer for righteousness, we are promised the kingdom of Heaven (cf. Matt 5:10). We are saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone not our works, because just like Job the Christian can confidently proclaim, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God” (19:25-26). Amen.

E. V. Powers


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