The Gospel According to Job
Vol: 94 Issue: 27 Monday, July 27, 2009
The Book of Job opens with the “sons of God” (angels) presenting themselves before God. The fallen angel Satan (literally, “the accuser”) was apparently also compelled to attend this gathering of angels, since he also was there.
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.”
There is much to be learned from this verse, and also from the one following:
“And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:6-7)
The general outline of the story is well-known. God gives Satan permission to test Job and Job is afflicted. He loses everything: his sons, his crops, his livestock, all his wealth and finally his health.
In all this, Job never curses God and is restored in the end. Three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar accuse Job of sin and point to his many afflictions as proof.
Job defends himself by claiming something close to perfection and demanding an explanation from God for his suffering.
The fourth, Elihu, jumps Job for mistaking righteousness with perfection and reminds Job that righteousness comes from God.
“I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.” (Job 36:3)
Nobody knows for sure who Job was, or even if Job was the author of the book that bears his name.
Nothing is known of Job apart from Scripture, including when the book was written, but from its literary style and use of language, it is believed to be the oldest book in the Bible, chronologically speaking.
The majority of Orthodox Jewish scholars believe Job was an actual historical figure. The construction of the Book of Job suggests the book was penned by an Israelite who was telling the story of a non-Israelite, which also suggests a very early date, probably before Moses.
There is a tradition among some Torah scholars that suggest Job was one of three advisors to Pharaoh during the 400 years in Egypt. That same tradition names Moses as the author of Job.
That seems unlikely. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. He had a distinctive style not evident in Job. And Job’s lifespan puts him much closer to the time of the Flood.
Job lived some 240 years, longer than Terah, (205) longer than Abraham, (175) longer than Jacob (147) and longer than Esau (147).
By the time Moses came along almost a thousand years after Abraham, 120 years was the outside limit of a human lifespan.
Moses lived to be 120, Joshua 110. After that, the Bible indicates that the maximum lifespan dropped to roughly where it is now, at; “threescore and ten, and if by reason of strength, fourscore.” (Psalms 90:10)
Why is the chronology of Job important? Because he in all probability predates Abraham. Certainly, Job was not a Jew, but there is no reference to him in the Hebrew Bible as being a Gentile.
Before Abraham, there were only Gentiles. The Masoretic text places Abram’s birth only 292 years after the Flood.
Abraham was the eponymous father of both the Arabs and the Jews. Before Abraham, there would be no such distinction of ‘Gentile’. Before Abraham, everybody was a Gentile, making such a distinction unnecessary.
Job was from the ‘land of Uz’. Uz was named for the son of Shem, grandson of Noah. (Genesis 10:23)
The Book of Job asks and answers three questions that have puzzled mankind since the the days before the Flood.
The answer to the first question; “Where can we find God?” automatically invokes the second, “How can one be righteous before Him?” but neither has much meaning without the answer to the third: “If a man die, shall he live again?”
We have come all this way with Job, his friends, the chronology of his life and times, and his relationship to organized religion, just to address Job’s reply to that very question.
Again, let’s keep in mind that Job lived just after the Flood, and before Abraham. There was no Bible. Moses wouldn’t write Genesis for at least a thousand years.
Matthew 1:17 tells us there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David. There were fourteen generations from David to the Babylonian Captivity. And there were fourteen generations from the Captivity to Christ.
“If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. “
The appointed time. Until my change come.
Forty-two generations before Christ, Job spoke of his ‘change’ at the ‘appointed time.’
Forty-two generations later, the Apostle Paul explains: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,.
Forty-two generations AFTER Christ, we eagerly await the trumpet’s call — for this IS the ‘appointed time’.
Paul called it a ‘mystery’ because it was a doctrine not previously revealed — except to Job. Paul said; “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1st Corinthians 15:51-52)
Job not only knew about the change, he knew about the trumpet:
“Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee: Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands.” (Job 14:14-15)
There are those who argue that the Rapture is a recent doctrine, invented by J. N. Darby or by a Scottish epileptic named Margaret MacDonald. The Rapture isn’t a recent invention, it predates both Christianity and Judaism.
Genesis and Jude confirm that Enoch, seventh from Adam, was also raptured. Job expects to hear God call him at the appointed time. The Apostle Paul addressed the same doctrine two thousand years later.
“For the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds . . ” (1st Thessalonians 4:16)
And now we’re talking about it two thousand years after that — as if it were some unproven doctrinal supposition subject to interpretation.
It wasn’t merely supposition to Job — to whom the Flood was still a recent memory. “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” (Job 19:25)
That is a pretty amazing statement of faith, dated as it is to a thousand years before Moses and two thousand years before Christ.
“And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:26 )
The Sadducees were still debating the resurrection of the dead with Jesus two thousand years after Job stated it as fact. That Job was referring to the resurrection of his own physical body, and not referring to some spiritual equivalent is made plain.
“Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:27)
So will mine. I’ll be there, too. And I’m sorta looking forward to meeting Job.
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2nd Peter 1:19)