INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF JOB |
This writing looks into the parallels between Job and Jesus Christ,
Commentary by Keith Hepworth
Currently the Book of Job is understood by most as a study into why the righteous must suffer unjustly at the hand of God, while at the same time the wicked seem to go merrily along unnoticed and prospering. Without question, this view has given us a great deal to ponder over the years but there is another, deeper, far more important message in this little book. Many scholars have studied Job for most of their lives but they have not had "the eyes to see, or the ears to hear" the real story. They have failed to see that the Book of Job is an allegory (a long parable), even perhaps the grandest ever written. They have overlooked that Job's suffering is analogous to what Jesus suffered after his arrest, during his trials and crucifixion. His mental suffering was most significant. It was primarily based upon his perception that he had been forsaken by both God and his "kinsfolk" (Cf. 19:14). Then, adding to the great mental stress, came the physical suffering, the scourging followed by the crucifixion--actually hanging from nails driven through his body (riding in the wind, Job 30:22). Job's story teaches us that Jesus' suffering (primarily his mental suffering) was part of a great and final test to prove that he was truly perfect. This final test proved that God had not "hedged about him" (protected him) so much that his purity could be questioned. Satan argued that anyone could be perfect if they received as much help from God as Jesus did (Job 1:9-11). In effect Satan was accusing God of being partial, even of being a "respecter of persons." Satan, the "opposition in all things," had to be proven wrong.
The Book of Job has been difficult to see because there are so many obscure and contradictory lines in it; however, if you study the book with Jesus in mind, these same verses become clear and meaningful. The following are a few examples. "And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? (Job 1:8, 2:3). If we read this line too casually, we see only that Job is a very good man, but THE LORD plainly said there is NO OTHER MAN LIKE JOB, not in the whole earth, that HE IS PERFECT. Think about that. The Lord declared him to be perfect in the first line while the rest of the poem seems to show that his problems are because of his sins. This perfect and upright man that had no equal in the earth was "stitched" up or "plastered" (stuck) up to a cross (Job 14:17, MJJ(1)), nailed up by the "arrows . . . in array" (Job 6:4). Job's friends seem to say that his troubles have come upon him because of transgression or iniquity, and they really have (7:21; 8:4; 13:23; 14:17). But for whose transgression or iniquity have they come? Certainly not for his own; God himself declared him to be a "perfect and upright man" (Job 1:8; 2:3). Even though he was "perfect," his enemies "stitched" him up like a "mark" (Job 16:12, HB), which means he was nailed up like a target and made the object of their "arrows" of steel and ridicule. Then he said of them: "You would even cast lots over an orphan, or barter away a friend" (Job 6:27, HB). This refers to the time when the guards cast lots for his garments. Jesus could be considered an orphan since he was abandoned by all, and also since he had no earthly father (a Hebrew view). Judas, of course, was the one who "bartered away" "a friend"--for thirty pieces of silver. As he hung, stitched up to the cross, he thought: "Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to ride upon it" (Job 30:22), which means he was riding the wind like a shirt on a clothes line (pinned up by the cuffs); or, maybe like a cherub with its "wings" spread wide, much like the cherubs decorated the Holy of Holies in Solomon's temple. He also thought, "thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet" (Job 13:27), which refers to the holes in his heels or the soles of his feet from the nails that were driven through them. He was forsaken by his "close friends" (Job 19:13,14,19), which primarily means the disciples who abandoned him, but also includes God, his closest "friend" (Job 23:3, 8-10; 29:2; 30:20). His words reveal how he was forsaken: "I cry unto thee but thou did not hear me (19:7; 30:20), which is to say, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And then, while still suffering, he "cried out" in behalf of his enemies: "Yet God layeth not folly to them" (Job 24:12). This refers to his pleading, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." And finally, "He is brought to the grave, while a watch [guard] is kept at his tomb" (Job 21:32, HB). Guards were placed at Jesus' tomb by Pilate.
The above lines are all from the Book of Job, not the New Testament, and they are only the very beginning of the verses that refer to Jesus in this "dark book" (dark meaning wise and obscure--cf. Num. 12:8; Psa. 49:4; Psa. 78:2; Prov. 1:6) . The Book of Job contains most of the details of Jesus' life even though it predates him by at least 600 years. It is true, as "strange" as it might seem. These details of Jesus' life are in figurative and metaphorical language "dark" enough to have remained hidden for all these years. Although Chapters one and two (the Prologue) set the stage for the story of Job and is used to misdirect our thinking, they still contain important parallels to Jesus. The following are the easiest to see.
These eye-opening parallels between Job and Jesus suggest that Job might be at least a "type for Christ," but scholars have not considered even that, not like they have for the others in the Old Testament. Herbert Lockyer, in his book All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible, wrote about a few things he thought were Messianic in the Book of Job, but he hardly scratched the surface. He saw where the sacrifices made by Job in behalf of his children foreshadowed Christ' sacrifice, but little more. Other books that are solely devoted to typology and Hebrew symbolism, that thoroughly examine some of the well-known types of Christ, strangely, are completely silent about Job. In fact, research indicates that Job has been virtually overlooked as a type for Christ. For example, look at one of the most comprehensive studies there is on the death of the Messiah--Raymond E. Brown's book The Death of the Messiah. It is one of the most detailed studies on the subject ever made. In addition to his own insights, Brown reviews the works of all previous expositors on the subject--at least it seems like all, because his bibliographies go on forever. Even so, there are no comparisons made with the story of Job. Furthermore, Jesus is not found in Dummelow's One Volume Bible Commentary in his discussion of Job. These writers were very thorough in their reviews of earlier expositors and would have found any earlier commentary.
The Ensign(3) published a brief article by S. Brent Farley entitled, Job: Parallels with the Savior. It was only two pages but is the first evidence, so far as I know, where anyone has ever taken any real notice of these parallels. He mentions several comparisons between Job and Jesus, indicating that he was on the right tract, but didn't pursue it, or perhaps his article was only the briefest sketch of what he actually found. Later, Lenet Hadley Read also wrote about some of these parallels in her book Unveiling Biblical Prophecy. She referred to Farley's article and then went on to explain some additional insights but again fell short of the whole truth. Her introductory paragraph, which follows, is especially interesting because it indicates that she was close to discovering the complete allegory, that the entire Book of Job is really about Jesus. She recognized that many lines in the Book of Job make sense only when applied to Jesus, that they even contradict the story of Job. She said:
"Of all the Old Testament's books, few surpass the power of Job. Many still seek its pages for answers to why the righteous suffer. But perhaps we have missed another deep message of the book. For, while Job was apparently a very real person who experienced genuine suffering, (as shown by other scriptural references to him), when his story is read as a similitude of Christ with Job's suffering read as Christ's sufferings, the meaning and power of the story are remarkably increased. The grief Job expresses is a grief highly consistent with Christ's. In fact, some of Job's statements only make sense when read as relating to Christ. ". . .now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be." (Job 7:21); ". . .thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet." (Job 13:27); "They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; . . .God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked" (Job 16:10-11); "He hath made me also a byword of the people" (Job 17:6). (pg. 76). (Emphasis added).
The words of Job should be read in the same way most of the Psalms are read, that is, as if they were the words of Jesus. We know the Psalms are about Jesus; Jesus told us so himself (Luke 24:44). Martin Buber,(4) a German scholar, knew this very well; he said: "We read Psalms that seems to be nothing but the cry for help lifted upwards by a man in torment: yet we need only listen carefully to see that the speaker is not just any man but a man standing in the presence of revelation, and witnessing revelation even in his cries and shouts." He is suggesting that David witnessed the crucifixion through revelation and his words reflect what he saw, especially during Jesus' final trials (e.g., Psa. 17; 22; 35). Reading Job is no different, which really should be expected since there are hundreds of lines in the Book of Psalms almost identical to lines in the Book of Job. If you approach the Book of Job with Jesus in mind, little by little, verse by verse, the pieces fall into place. And like any puzzle, it is only after one piece is in place that you can see where the next one fits--precept upon precept, if you will. One friend of mine confessed that she studied through this commentary six times before coming to a good, in-depth understanding. It takes real effort to see all of this allegory (similitude), at least I have found that to be the case for most people, those who have seriously looked at it.
An excellent beginning in your search of the truth about the Book of Job is to simply read an English translation of the Hebrew Bible--yes, of all places the Hebrew Bible. Many verses in it really stand out, clearly suggesting events in the life of Jesus Christ. And after comparing these verses to the KJV, you will probably surmise, as I did, that errors have been made in the KJV, possibly by copyists and translators. It is paradoxical, indeed, to use the Hebrew Bible to clear up points about Jesus, but why not? Their translation should be more accurate than one that has been "fooled with" for thousands of years. The following verses are a few of the more significant ones in the Hebrew version. It is surprising how some of these verses sound like the New Testament. The KJV is included for comparison.
The Roman guards customarily "cast lots" for the garments of those they crucified (John 19:23-24), and Judas had bartered away his friend, Jesus, for 30 pieces of silver (Matt. 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6). What could these verses mean to Job? To the Hebrews, a fatherless child is considered an orphan. Job 24 explains who this fatherless one is, and does so three times using synonymous parallelisms (Job 24:9-10): (1) "They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor (Jesus is the pledge of the poor--a pledge for the sins of the poor in spirit; (2) "They cause him to go naked without clothing," i.e., on the cross. (3) "and they take the sheaf from the hungry" (the "bread" from those who are hungry for God's truth, the "good news.". (Cf. 22:9 and 24:3).
"Full of vigor" means in a healthy condition, not broken. This
describes the condition of Jesus' bones after the crucifixion, because Jesus
went to his grave without any broken bones (John 19:33-36). Job didn't die for
many years (Job 42: 16). How do these lines apply to him? The condition
of Job's bones wouldn't be significant anyway, not like it was to Jesus. Jesus
was the sacrificial "Lamb" that could not, according to the prophecy,
have any broken bones. The Passover lamb, which could not have any bones broken
in its preparation, was a type or shadow for Jesus' sacrifice. There are many
prophecies about his bones not being broken: Ex 12:46; Num. 9:12; Psa. 34:20:
"He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken."
This is a contradiction, in terms of Job, because Job didn't go to the grave at that time. He had everything restored to him, even twice as much as before, and he lived many more years (42:12). And even if he had died of suffering, there would have been no reason for a watch (guard) at his tomb, and most likely not even a tomb, as he was destitute. We know there were guards at Jesus' tomb, and even the reason why they were there (Matt. 27:62-65).
Here, Jesus said that everything he did was just as his Father commanded. If these are the words of Job, is he claiming to be a perfect man, even as Jesus was perfect?
Whether it reads "butter" or we change it to "cream," no literal meaning of any sense can be seen for this line. If we look for a figurative meaning, though, the Hebrew version makes sense; i.e., he is saying his feet were bathed in something rich and luxurious like cream--maybe costly spikenard and/or tears. Quite a comparison don't you think--tears of love as rich as cream? The verse is referring to the times that Jesus had his feet bathed with tears (Luke 7:36), and his feet and head anointed with oil (Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9). Mary, a follower of Jesus, is referred to as a "rock" because of her faithfulness--the same as Jehovah is in the Old Testament (cf. Psa 18:2, 78:35; 92:15; 1Sam. 2:2; 2Sam. 22:32, 23:3), Jesus in the New Testament (1 Cor. 10:4), and Abraham in the Book of Isaiah (Isa. 51:1-2). (Also cf. Matt. 16:18.)
Scholars believe these verses refer to the heathenistic worship of the moon, which involves throwing it a kiss in a sign of dedication (Keil & Delitzsch, pg. 188). But Job or Jesus would certainly not be guilty of that since both were perfect. However, it was under a full moon (during the Passover) that Jesus finally surrendered to his enemies (before that night he escaped from them at will). It was in the light of a full moon that he was betrayed by a kiss from Judas (his helping hand) (Luke 22:47-48). Judas had entered into a secret conspiracy with the chief priests and Pharisees (John 18:3).
In other words, he asks, "Am I that dragon (meaning Satan, cf. Rev. 20:2) of the deep (chaos), of darkness, that you need to guard me?" Jesus knew that Satan ( the dragon or serpent) needs to be guarded, but surely not himself. Roman soldiers stood watch (guard) at the cross during the crucifixion (Matt. 27:36) to insure that Jesus was not taken down from the cross before he died. Why would a destitute Job, who had been abandoned by everyone (6:15-17, 19:13-19), need to be guarded? Other translations read, "Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep," which is a little better than "whale." I think the first phrase should read, Am I of the sea? This would make more sense because "sea" would then mean the earth, which means Satan's realm in the Old Testament, and that would make this line a synonymous parallelism meaning, "Am I of the world?"
Isn't it interesting how the Hebrew Bible makes sense in terms of Jesus in the above lines when the KJV does not? Clearly, the Hebrew Bible helps to clear up our understanding for these few lines, in fact reveals things about Jesus we didn't expect to find there, but the KJV is the real masterpiece. It is not only more beautifully translated, but nearly every line can be applied to Jesus in some meaningful way. The following are a few examples.
In Jesus time, "darkness in the daytime" covered the land for three hours during the crucifixion, beginning at "noonday" (Cf. Matt. 27:45). To Job, darkness at "noonday" would have to be symbolic of ignorance; and if that were the case, it would mean "the crafty and wise" (from 5:13) wander in ignorance, and the time of day would have no significance. A literal darkness at noon, like this one, happened the day of the crucifixion.
No doubt, anyone who was as righteous as Job might cry out to God to forgive his oppressor, but in light of all the other evidence, these have to be the words of Jesus. Besides, Job maintains all along that God is his oppressor. Would he ask God to forgive Himself? Add a comma after God, and it is more clear: "Yet God, charge them with no sin." In other words, "he crieth out, God, forgive them."
Job 24:21 He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not: (KJV)
To "evilly entreat" means to issue a curse; so this line means he is cursing something barren. Jesus cursed a leafy but barren (fruitless) fig tree (Matt. 21:18-19; Mark 11:13-14). What could this line mean to Job? Did Job, "the perfect and upright man," "evilly entreat" barren women, or maybe animals? The verse just before suggests that the writer still had a tree on his mind. So why did Jesus curse a fruitless tree? Was it out of anger because he found no fruit? No! The fig tree symbolized Israel's spiritual condition. It had all the signs of being fruitful but was not. His action was prophetic of the curse that would soon be Israel's, for the same reason. (See Isaiah 54:1.)
THE CRUCIFIXION--according to Job (Introduction to Job)
There are more than fifty verses like these in the KJV that tell of Jesus so plainly that it is hard to understand how they could have ever been missed. In fact, the following verses (almost all KJV) contain most of the details about Christ's crucifixion from his viewpoint. These verses will tear at your heart as you read about his terrible physical pain, the flood of blinding tears, and the mental anguish caused by the unexplained absence of God. But first, listen to what Smith's Bible Dictionary says about a crucifixion in general to prepare yourself for these scriptures. (Cp. Jesus the Christ, pgs.667 and 668.)
"Arrived at the place of execution, the sufferer was stripped naked, the dress being the prerequisite of the soldiers (Matt. 27:35). The cross was then driven into the ground, so that the feet of the condemned were a foot or two above the earth, and he was lifted upon it; or else stretched upon it on the ground and then lifted with it.. . . Death . . . was at last the result of gradual benumbing and starvation. . . . death resulted, not from the infliction of mortal wounds, but from internal congestion, inflammation, organic disturbances, and consequent exhaustion of vital energy."
Remember that Jesus suffered terribly in the garden. Some even believe that he sweat blood there, suffering for our sins. In addition, he lost blood and body fluids from the scourging, which usually was so vicious that some victims died before they ever got to the cross. We can be sure Jesus was in terrible physical condition even before the crucifixion. Now, forget about Job and visualize Jesus while he was on the cross. They are arranged in chronological order in an effort to be more clear.
With so many verses having a clear and significant relevance to Jesus, isn't it obvious that the Book of Job is much more than the story of an ordinary man, of his suffering and patience? If the Book of Job were only that--a straightforward test of a man by God, then why would there be so many simple contradictions in it such as Job being brought to his grave when he was not? Or, when the entire symposium is between him and his three friends, why does he say that he has been abandoned by all of his friends, and not just once but four times (6:15, 16:20, 19:13 & 19)? These obvious contradictions must have other meanings and are not to be taken literally. That is certainly the case with the following verses. Job's children were all killed in the prologue (1:18,19), but these speak of them as though they were still alive, long after their deaths. Again the King James translation follows the Hebrew translation, but notice how it has been changed to avoid the problem.
There is no way to explain these lines when Job's children were all killed in the very beginning. But if the Book of Job is an allegory for Jesus Christ, then the above verses about his children can make sense. In the allegory, Job's children are really Jesus' disciples. They were not killed literally but became dead to Jesus figuratively, when they abandoned him--at the time of his arrest and trial.
Without the knowledge that the Book of Job is allegorical, problems with this "literary masterpiece," like the one above, defy close examination and perplex the great scholars. Many of them have harshly criticized the Book of Job. One for example, Morris Jastrow Jr., PH.D., LL.D., at the University of Pennsylvania, said in his book:
". . . it is no exaggeration to say that barring the two introductory chapters, . . . in prose . . . and the prose epilogue at the end of the book, there are not ten consecutive verses in the Symposium . . . the text of which can be regarded as correct." He also said, "It is only because we have been so frequently told that the Book of Job is a literary masterpiece that we can read passage after passage which upon analysis can be shown to give no sense." (The Book of Job, pg. 9, 12).
Now, that is a very strong and negative view, but typical of most expositors. He said there is an error in every ten verses and passage after passage make no sense. Others, down through the years, have gone to great lengths to explain these problems away, most of the time insisting the original Hebrew is wrong. Their excuses and far-out explanations are much too numerous to mention here. Perhaps even you, like most of the scholars, have questioned the justice of killing Job's ten children, and then by giving him ten new ones everything is made right. Maybe you have even wondered how God could let Job, a man "perfect and removed from evil," to be singled out of all mankind and made to endure such extreme suffering for no apparent reason. That kind of justice would have been unfair for anyone except Jesus. But this problem and all the others evaporate away when you know the book is about Jesus. In terms of Jesus, lines that "give no sense," as Professor Jastrow claims, suddenly become very meaningful just as they stand. The longer you study the Book of Job the more plain it becomes, until finally you will not "see" the story on the surface about Job. Reading the Book of Job is like looking at the well-known illusion that portrays a young girl and an old woman. Once you see the girl, the old woman disappears. In that sense, we might call the Book of Job a literary illusion, an allegory for sure.
THE FIRST ORACLES (PRINCIPLES) OF THE GOSPEL (cf. Heb. 5:12)
The following two verses disguise the first principles of the Gospel. Eliphaz (Job's friend), in chapter 22, seems to accuse Job of having committed evil deeds to explain Job's suffering. He says to Job:
Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities
Consider Rev. Dummelow's commentary which is based on and includes the conclusions of many expositors.
"...the sins with which Eliphaz now definitely charges Job were the usual faults of eastern rulers, such as opposition and injustice. There is no reason to suppose that there was any justification for these accusations, which indeed Job repudiates in chapters 29, 31."
Rev. Dummelow, like many others, thinks that Eliphaz is unjustly accusing Job of some terrible faults. He completely fails to see the real "charges," that he is guilty of keeping the first principles of the Gospel. Why would Job be ashamed of living the Gospel? Let's look at Job 22:6a:
For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought,
A "pledge" is a promise, or in this case a better word would be "covenant." "For nought" means without substantiation, or to do it on faith. In other words, this line could read, "You exact covenants from your fellows based upon faith." Now 22:6b:
And stripped the naked of their clothing.
This is a metaphor that means they are humbled, exposed, stripped of their pride and haughtiness. This is the very first step of confession and repentance, which would be followed by figuratively putting on the covering of the Lord, through baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Anyway you look at it, taken literally it would be contradictory. Now 7a:
Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink,
How did Jesus say it? "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst." Jesus' primary interest is their spiritual thirst, not a drink of water for the weary. He gives them water from heaven (knowledge unto everlasting life). And finally 7b:
And thou hast withholden bread from the hungry.
Anyone seeking the Spirit of the Holy Ghost is instructed to hunger and fast. Jesus would deny worldly bread to the hungry, especially if their hunger came from fasting while seeking the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. You can be sure he did not withhold "bread" from the spiritually hungry.
So, these verses are not what they first appear to be; i.e., accusations of wrongdoing. The first principles of the Gospel are hidden in these two verses: (1) faith, (2) repentance, (3) baptism, and (4) the gift of the Holy Ghost. Just as these verses do not make any adverse charges against Job, as Dummelow claims, neither do any of the other "accusing" speeches of his friends. Their "accusations" carry completely different meanings when applied to Jesus, a perfect man.
Now, let's look closely at chapter three where the dialogue begins about his birth. Imagine that Jesus is "stitched" to the cross, and in this series of hyperbolic statements he makes it perfectly clear that he is miserable. Because of his extreme misery, which is primarily caused by lack of "light" (expressed in v20-v24), he wishes that he had not been born at all. Jesus is expressing himself in the same way so many of us have when we have been in big trouble (in straits). Have you ever said, "I wish I had never been born," or, "I wish I were dead," without really meaning it? Jesus is doing the same thing here, while he is indirectly telling us what happened the night of his birth.
In these verses he is most likely expressing no more than the same desire that he had in the garden, that the cup might pass from him; but he does so by wishing for the opposite of what actually happened. In this way, he reveals to us the unusual events of his birth, such as the "announcement" that night by angels (3:3), the "joy" of that night with a host of angels singing (3:7), the angels that "blessed that night" with peace on earth, goodwill to men (3:8), the twilight "stars" that illuminated that night, especially one (3:9). Think about it; Job's birth has all the elements of Luke's account of the birth of Jesus. Is it just a coincidence?
The following two verses reveal the reason for his unjust suffering, but they make sense only in terms of Jesus. In these verses, Elihu explains why Jesus had to suffer more than any other man even though he "was perfect." In Job 36:15, Elihu explains that God often uses affliction to turn His children back from wrongdoing and then explains why: "And he [God] openeth their ears in their oppression." In other words, the kind of adversity Jesus was experiencing could be happening in order to turn him away from wrongdoing. For anyone else this kind of suffering would be appropriate, but not for Jesus--he is "perfect and upright." And so, Elihu goes on to say (in essence), that ("even so") instead of oppression God would have removed him from his suffering to a broad, unrestrictive place and rewarded him for his goodness by giving him a metaphorical table filled with richness. A table filled with richness means a table filled with "bread," which means filled with truth and knowledge. His table should be full with fatness (truth) because of his goodness. (Cp. Isa..55:2; Jer. 31:14; 2 Nephi 9:51.)
A place of straitness is a place of difficulty, even a place of stress, as it is used in the following scripture: "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7:14). The dictionary defines "strait" as strict, rigid, and righteous. A "strait" gate, then, is well defined and exacting--a gate people will not find on any path; indeed, "few there be that find it." The broad place is the opposite. It is a place of freedom or ease. With that in mind, then, these verses mean God "would" have removed Jesus away from his troubles and afflictions into a place of ease where he would be given to "eat" (on his table) an abundance of fatness (answers)--at least answers to his two immediate concerns. (1) Why has God forsaken him? and (2) Why does he continue to suffer when he is without sin? Elihu continues by explaining why God could not remove him to a broad place.
And there is the reason why he had to stay and suffer unjustly instead of receiving a well-earned reward. He fulfilled (satisfied) the debt that was owed by "the wicked" for their sins. This can only mean that he paid for the sins of others because "Job" was "perfect and upright." "Judgement and justice" have come to him for the payment required for the sins of the wicked. Justice demands that a penalty be paid for transgressing God's laws. If there were no penalty, the law would be meaningless and there would be no need for an atonement. The Prophet Alma (in the Book of Mormon) explained this clearly to his people in the New World. Alma said, "Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God: (Alma 42:13). "For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved. What do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God: (Alma 42:24-25).
From these scriptures we see that where a commandment has been broken there is always a penalty, and it must be paid, justice demands it. Then, the above verses from Job tell us that Job is laden down with the penalties of the wicked, even the penalties that justice demands. How could any of this apply to Job? We can see that these verses have a significance far beyond the cover story of Job; and in fact, can only be referring to the "payment" made by Jesus Christ for all mankind. It means that mankind might not have to receive any punishment for their sins from "judgement and justice." "Judgement and justice" can be satisfied in full through the payment made by Jesus. It means that God can extend mercy to mankind without robbing justice; that the penalties for our sins will be paid by Jesus. And that is what the Atonement is all about. Of course, mercy can only be extended upon the conditions of repentance (requiring us to change our wicked ways); to do otherwise would still rob justice. How could any of this apply to Job?
A similar thing was said by Zopher but is more difficult to understand: It reads, "In the fullness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits: every hand of the wicked shall come upon him" (20:22). It means that at the zenith of Jesus' achievements, which will be difficult, the sins of the wicked will come upon him. Is it possible that Job has simply paid for his own sins, satisfying justice? If that were so, Job would have no need for the Atonement. Besides, if that were the case this poem would be inconsistent with itself because Job is perfect. After all is said and done, Job is innocent, and he is suffering unjustly for the sins of the wicked, even for the rest of us. How would you explain these verses except in terms of Jesus Christ? There is no other Savior.
A CLEARER UNDERSTANDING OF THE CRUCIFIXION
The Book of Job gives us details about Jesus' crucifixion that clear up many questions. For example: Did he suffer for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane, or on the cross, or both? If the Father did forsake Jesus as Jesus thought, why didn't Jesus understand? Why would he have any questions? How did he die when his life was completely in his own hands? Who or what could take his life? If he died of a broken heart as many believe, what depressed or disappointed him enough to break his heart? It could not have been just the crucifixion because, apparently, he expected to die on the cross. It was common for the victim of a crucifixion to live as long as five days, some even as long as seven. Jesus died after only six hours, which was surprisingly soon (Mark 15:44, John 19:32-33). Why? What happened in those six hours? The Book of Job answers these questions, and many more.
Why would Jesus question the Father, "My God, My God, why [for what reason] hast thou forsaken me" (Matt. 27:46)? Would the Father forsake Jesus for any reason? If He did, why would He do it in Jesus' greatest hour of need? But God did forsake him, or why would Jesus ask the question? God must have left him alone, and the following verses from Job support this view.
In chapter 29, Jesus makes it clear that his relationship with the Almighty had changed, that God is not his constant companion anymore. (Job 29:2)
Oh that I were as in months past,
From the Book of Job it seems clear that he had been left alone by God; but the scriptures do not leave us with only Job to decide this question. Again, the Book of Psalms agrees completely.
Even though it is clear that the Father did leave him, why did He do it? Why would a loving Father forsake one of His children when he was as "perfect and upright" as Jesus? Everywhere the scriptures promise that His Spirit will be with the faithful, but it is different for Jesus. In his case, there were overriding reasons for God's withdrawal, even because of Jesus' faithfulness. First, and most important, was a need to prevent any claims of hedging--claims of Satan that Jesus was only perfect because he had so much help from God. Jesus had to prove his perfection on his own without help of any kind; otherwise his claim of being perfect could be challenged. This is the very challenge that Satan makes in the prologue: "Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side: thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land" (Job 1:10). In other words, Satan claims God has sheltered and protected Jesus so much, his purity is in question. Such a challenge must be met, until there is no possibility that Jesus is not totally innocent. Justice requires it.
In the prologue (Job 1 and 2), God asked Satan if he had considered His perfect, upright, God-fearing servant. Indeed, Satan had, for he had challenged God's claim that he was perfect. He said, "Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life, put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face" (2:4-5). In other words, Satan meant: 'You have been much too easy on him; dig deeper, really deep. Really try him and he will fail, just like anyone else. Make him suffer to the very extreme, thinking he has been wronged. I'll bet that will do it. After all, no one is perfect, and perfection can't simply be claimed for him. Give him to me and I will prove he is not perfect.' So he was turned over to Satan (1:12 & 2:6), subject to whatever tests Satan could devise to cause him to fail--with one limitation. Satan couldn't take his life, or nothing would have been proven (2:6).
Satan tried to convince Jesus to take matters into his own hands, to end his suffering early without God's approval. To do so would have been disobedient to the Father, and the same as "curse[ing] God" (2:9). Satan didn't expect Jesus to fail easily; pain and suffering were only part of his assault (2:7). He also used God's absence to support his argument that Jesus' suffering was a mistake; and, as if that were not enough, Satan flattered Jesus, suggesting that he was so smart and wonderful that he could see God's error (4:17; cf. 25:2). Satan's suggestions seemed to make sense because Jesus was sure he was innocent of any wrongdoing (10:2; 10:6; 13:18; 13:23; 16:17; 19:14); and also, why would God forsake him? God had never left Jesus in the dark before (19:8). In the beginning, he was sure a mistake was being made (10:3), and if God would only listen, all would be straightened out (6:8; 13:3; 30:20; 31:35).
In this time of unexpected darkness Eliphaz reports how Satan's suggestions were in the air (4:12-16). It came to him like a revelation, secretly as though it were sacred, quietly and indistinctly like an inkling, a whisper, or just a hint (4:12), just as it had to Abraham in a "deep sleep" (Gen. 15:12), or to Jacob "in a dream" (4:13; cf. Gen. 28:12), or to Moses from "a spirit passed by his face" (4:15, cf. Exodus 34:6), or to Elijah as that "still small voice" (4:16; cf. 1 Kings 19:12). But unlike any of these examples of the Spirit, this message brings fear, makes his "bones to shake," and "the hair of his flesh to stand up" (4:14, 15). This suggests that Eliphaz feared that Jesus might succumb to Satan's suggestions.
These suggestions are the real meat of Satan's attack, and consequently, the real meat of the Book of Job. They are the lies that Satan tried to make Jesus believe: (1) that God was at fault for his unjust suffering; (2) that God has little or no regard for any man; (3) that Jesus is so magnificent and pure, he can see God's mistake. Listen to the questions that were in the air.
In other words, Satan's poison meant: 'Indeed, you are righteous! Are you more righteous than God (4:17)? Surely you are, to be able to see His error. And He doesn't trust you either. He doesn't even trust His angels. After all, He cast one-third of them out of heaven, His own children (4:18; cf. Rev. 12:9). Now, He has tried you again and again, far beyond reason. Look at what He has done to you, you abused piece of clay (4:19) destined to feed the maggots; and even full of holes from those nails and scourging, like a moth-eaten garment (4:19). Why doesn't He hear your claims of innocence and end your suffering? Where is He in your time of need? If you are innocent, why does He punish you so, allowing your enemies to have their pleasure for hours and hours? Don't you see? You must be more righteous than God to see the injustice of this.'
Consider the turmoil Jesus must have been in. He was surprised by the duration of his suffering, as well as his apparent rejection by God. But Jesus was sure of his purity: "Show me wherefore thou contendest with me" (10:2), "Thou searchest me for sin against thee, when ye knowest that I am not wicked:" (10:6-7). This also indicates how sure He was that God knew of his purity, and he expected Him to come forward and declare it: "Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven: He who can testify is on high" (16:19). He wished for the Almighty, whom he trusted completely (13:15), to come forward and declare his innocence.
Later he asked: "How many are mine iniquities and sins? Make me to know my transgressions" (13:23; 14:21)(Also see 6:28; 10:2; 19:7; 23:3-7). But after no answer he said, "I cry unto thee and thou dost not hear me" (23:3; 30:20). God was nowhere to be found, which caused Jesus to cry out: "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" God's absence finally convinced Jesus that he had made a mistake. But still, he said, "And be it indeed that I have erred before thee, mine error remaineth in the darkness with myself" (19:4). And, finally, when God still did not answer, he went on to say, "Oh, that someone would hear me! Behold, my desire is that the Almighty would answer me " (31:35). Jesus ends by searching for anything to explain God's absence (31:1-34).
The New Testament is full of evidence that Jesus knew the future perfectly; therefore, it might be difficult to believe that he did not know all about these final hours as well. However, by just asking God, "Why hast thou forsaken me? Jesus reveals some ignorance about the end. The Book of Job confirms this conclusion. Here are five verses indicating that he was in the dark about the end.
But just how much did Jesus "not foresee" (24:1)? Certainly he knew the end was coming, and virtually to the hour (Matt. 26:2,18,21,31,46,47). All of his life he had lived under Roman rule and must have seen others crucified. Several times he even referred to the cross before his crucifixion (Matt. 10:38; 16:24); and so, we can conclude that he knew how the end would come. Then what didn't he know? Above all, he did not know God would withdraw from him, leaving him in the dark. He also was surprised by the duration, that the cross was not a quick end, but would be a long, drawn-out test.
Jesus was positive he had not sinned, yet God had withdrawn from him, which had never happened before. Why did his Father forsake him unless he had failed? Jesus could find no other explanation; and so, most likely the resulting remorse was great enough to break his heart. This gives us a definitive, logical reason that a broken heart was the cause of his death, which many already believe. No wonder Jesus wished, even if it was in hyperbole, that he had never been born, as he does repeatedly, in chapters three, six, seven, and ten.
Now several other scriptures take on a new significance. Consider these "heart" verses from Psalms: "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels" (Psa. 22:14); ". . .therefore my heart faileth me" (Psa. 40:12); "Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforter, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink" (Psa. 69:20-21); "My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin" (Psa. 102:4-5); "For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me" (Psa. 109:22).
And the Book of Job agrees with the Book of Psalms: "He [God] taketh away the heart of the chief [Jesus] of the people of the earth"(12:24); "My days are done, my tendons severed, the strings of my heart" (17:11, HB); "At this also my heart trembleth and is moved from out of its place" (37:1); "For God maketh my heart soft" (23:16).
Now consider Jesus' teachings about how he was the "Light," meaning an example or guide. He said, "I am the light of the world" (John 9:5). Bruce R McConkie said, "Jesus is the light; his example is perfect; all who do as he did shall be as he is."(5) Now, because of Job, we should have a better understanding of Jesus' broken heart and contrite spirit, even seeing that he was, again, the perfect example. The scriptures tell us that a broken heart and a contrite spirit are what the Lord expects from us, and through Jesus' example we can get some idea of what this really means. Psa. 34:18 tells us: "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."
Additionally, Jesus most likely didn't expect to be on the cross for very long, especially since he suffered so greatly in the garden earlier. After the garden, he might have even lowered his guard some, thinking the worst was finished. What possible purpose was there for him to suffer on the cross for any length of time anyway? Most likely, he could not see any, especially since at first he was sure he was without sin. It was a perfect time, during this confusion and lack of understanding, for Satan to make his suggestions. They seemed to explain everything; but if Jesus had acted upon them, he would have been disobedient to his Father by taking things into his own hands. Jesus soon resigned himself to accept that he had made a mistake. But, failed or not, unjust or not, forsaken or not, he would not "curse God and die," by removing himself from the suffering (23:11).
Jesus proved his perfection by enduring all of this torment without letting anger or resentment push him into disobedience. If anger over a seeming injustice wasn't enough to bring him down in the beginning, you might think the later discouragement from thinking he had failed would. Who but Jesus could go on? Who but Jesus would die of a broken heart instead of "curs[ing] God," when he thought he had failed? Can you imagine a more thorough test--one that would validate his righteousness beyond question and satisfy justice as this one did? It could be argued that just being forsaken by the Father alone would be enough to cause Jesus' broken heart. Maybe so, but the Book of Job gives us a more easily understood reason. One early writer speculated that the Father withdrew from Jesus so that Jesus could have all the glory from his great accomplishment, but Job clearly refutes such an idea. In fact, as we shall see shortly, God stripped him of everything related to glory, before it was "finished."
His life was not taken by the Romans or the Jews; for "No man taketh it [life] from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father" (John 10:18). Their infliction of physical pain contributed to the overall test, set the stage so to speak, until he finally gave up his own life with a self-inflicted broken heart. When remorse and grief did cause his death, he not only proved he was without sin, but also proved how great his love for all mankind really is.
It was finished (31:40). God had obtained a ransom (33:24). In just six hours, Jesus died of a broken heart, thinking he had failed. It proved he was perfect because he remained true without breaking down. He was obedient to God in the worst of circumstances. Then, and only then, could he be declared worthy to atone for our sins, freeing us from death. It made no difference that the payment for the sins of the world was made in the Garden of Gethsemane earlier; now the payment was validated and could be accepted, when he had proved that he had no debt of his own.
The idea that Jesus experienced this final trial on the cross is probably new to you, but by now it should be making good sense. The Book of Job leaves no doubt that the crucifixion was a trial for Jesus. In chapter seven, Jesus questions with words from Psalms, "What is man, . . . that thou TRY him every moment?" And Elihu, in his usual misleading way said, "I desire Job be TRIED to the end for wicked men." Indeed, he was TRIED, right to the bitter end--"for wicked men" (Job 34). Later Elihu, still speaking obscurely, admonishes Job, ". . . regard not iniquity: for this hast thou been TRIED by affliction" (Job 36, emphasis added). Jesus, then, was tried on the cross for iniquity, but because we know of his purity, a purity declared by God (Job 1:8; 2:3), it had to be "for wicked men."
God planned this test from the beginning, not only to prove Jesus' perfection but also to take away any thoughts of achievement while he was still in the flesh; that he would leave this life with only a contrite spirit. Therefore, we learn from chapter 15:29-33 of thoughts that would never be. In these verses Jesus' thoughts of achievement are made analogous to plants that will never grow and bear fruit.
He shall not be rich, neither shall his substance
The image that comes to mind from these verses is that of earthly riches (pride, arising out of his position) being cast off before they could even take root. Personal satisfaction in his accomplishments could have easily caused Jesus to succumb to Satan's arguments. We know this problem never surfaced because Jesus, speaking as Elihu, explains what God was teaching:
Then he (God) opens men's understanding,
Jesus confirms this idea in Job 16:15. There he confesses, "I buried my glory in the dust." He went on to say later:
He (God) hath stripped me of my glory,
Not only did Jesus bury his glory in the dust of humility, but he had to give it back in proportion to what he had gained, as explained in Job 20:18:
That which he laboured for shall he restore,
And we know the restitution had to be complete, for he prophesied: "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither" (Job 2). He came into this world in the humblest of circumstances, naked and without anything, and he would go out the same way. Christ fulfilled this prophecy both physically and mentally--naked, and thinking all was lost. To better understand the idea that he had to give back all earthly glory (riches), read Eccl. 5:13-20 carefully.
There is a sore evil which I have seen under the
It may have been quite a surprise to Jesus to have to endure the suffering and rejection at the end, instead of being blessed with a relatively quick and easy death. It had to be a surprise to him or this final test would not have been valid. Why? Consider Abraham's great test of faith. How valid would his test have been if he had known previously that in the end his son, Isaac, wouldn't be sacrificed? Like Abraham,(6) Jesus couldn't have been allowed to foresee his test either, or it would have been a sham. Job 35:15, of the Hebrew Bible, supports the opinion that Jesus didn't know about a lengthy period of suffering, and in fact, expected a quick and easy death even though he couldn't have known just how it was going to happen. He confesses there, "He did not realize that it may be long drawn out." Also in the Hebrew Bible, Job 29:18 tells us he expected an easy death like the mythical Phoenix bird, which, instead of dying, burns in its nest, only to renew itself from the ashes for another five hundred years.
In the commentary following this introduction, I present the KJV of the Book of Job in a poetry like form even though it does not have rhyme or meter. The lines end at the end of phrases and sentences, very much like the Hebrew Bible, i.e., in free verse instead of being cut off to fit within columns like most versions. When the KJV is rewritten in this way the lines fall into patterns, changing in length in steps. What possible reason could there be for these amazing patterns? I think I know, at least partially. Just recently I learned of a work(7) that re-translates the first five books of the Bible ending each line where it was thought the phrase was complete or a pause was needed, trying to duplicate patterns of speech. The author, Everett Fox, did this because he thinks the Bible should be read aloud to convey its fullest meanings; that speaking it carries an impact that isn't contained in the words themselves; that the rhythm and repetition of words are important; and that the lines should fall upon the ears conveying additional meanings and emotions as if the author were speaking.
These new ideas suddenly explained the pattern phenomenon that I had discovered in the KJV but had failed to see a reason for. Now I see how the KJV arranged in lines like this accomplishes most of the things Fox was trying to do (even though I did not like his translation--not in comparison to the KJV). These patterns really aid in understanding the message, conveying additional information and emotions not contained in the words themselves.
Although the books of the Old Testament were originally written down, God knew that for thousands of years most people would only be hearing them. And so, God overcame most of the dullness of reading them aloud by using literary techniques such as Fox points out: e.g., repetition, alliteration, word play, echoes, allusions, and powerful inner structures of sound. These literary techniques and patterns make the words seem to flow smoothly with greater feeling and understanding. Sometimes God uses short, terse words in short, staccato like phrases when He expresses sharpness. Many times the lines do what the words say, like Isaiah 8:8 below--stretching out to fill the breadth of the land (page).
Several other good examples of these things are found in Isaiah 8:5-9. These verses prophesy of the great Assyrian army that came in and destroyed Israel, whose power was likened to a great flood. Israel had rejected Jehovah, represented by the softly flowing waters of Shiloah, so instead, they received the destroying waters of Assyria. Likewise, in parallel, they rejected the protection of Jehovah's wings, so instead they got Assyria's wings. This use of "wings" refers to the image of being protected by the wings of a mother hen or winged cherub--an image of divinity in the Old Testament.
This image of God as a bird was well known to Israel; e.g.., "How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children have put their trust under the shadow of thy wings " (Psalms 36:7). See also Ruth 2:12; Psalms 17:8, 57:1, 61:4, 63:7. Winged seraphim and\or cherubim were placed on the Ark of the Covenant, on the temple walls, and even on the veil to remind them of this image of God. According to Ezekiel, even the new temple will have these symbols in the Holy of Holies again (Exek 41). This image appears in the Bible for the first time in Gen 1:2, where the Hebrew word "râchaph" appears. Its root is "brood" or "flutter." The KJV translates this as "moved," while others translate it as "brooding" or "hovering." Jesus used this image when he said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!" (Luke 13:34). We should also consider the symbolism of Isaiah 40:31, "But they that wait upon the LORD [i.e., who trust in the Lord] shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Someone suggested, and I cannot remember where, that this verse referred to our rising to an exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom. This image of God as an eagle seems to confirm such an idea. Now Isaiah 8:5-9.