The book of Job is one of those books that both frightens and inspires us. From a textual level, it is one of the most difficult books to interpret, mostly due to the fact that it is full of words that are only used once in all of Scripture. Its message is mystifying and frequently leaves us with more questions than answers. While many people assume the book of Job seeks to tell us ‘why bad things happen to good people,’ in the end that is not what the book appears to communicate. In fact, the book’s primary message answers a much more important question, and that is, “Where can wisdom be found?”
The events of the book of Job took place sometime after Noach and before Moses, yet the story itself was most likely passed down orally until it was finally placed in a written form sometime near the time of Moses or thereafter when Israel began to write down and collect other writings and words of the Prophets and Psalms. Actual dating varies among scholars and the author is simply unknown. The book, in the form we have it today, was written and composed in the ancient method of ring composition, or what is called today a chiastic structure. While various ideas have been proposed as to how the exact breakdown might be made within that chiastic structure, most scholars agree that chapter 28 frames the central point of the book and is where the author placed his primary message. Like all ring compositions, the book closes in the same way it began, bringing the reader full circle. The introduction and conclusion are also intimately linked to the message divulged at its center. Most moderns are used to looking at the end of a story or work to find the meaning and summary point of the author, but when it comes to ring composition, one can easily miss the meaning simply because he or she fails to recognize that the literary structure is different than what they are used to. There will be hints at the beginning and end as to what the meaning is about, but the climax of the message is found in the center, and it is there where one must look to discover the heart of the message.
The following is a suggested basic outline of the book of Job:
A - Job as prosperous (1-3) life, family, wealth
B - Job as priest (1:4-6)
C - hasatan interviewed twice (1:6-12, 2:1-6)
D - Job and 3 Friends ( 3-27)
E - Answer = Wisdom (28)
D' - Job & Elihu (29-37)
C' - Job interviewed twice (38-42:6)
B' - Job as priest (42:7-9)
A' - Job as prosperous (42:10-17) life, family, wealth
So what does the book of Job say? Where can wisdom be found? Job 28:28 states, “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.’” Since we know God declared in Job 1:1, 1:8, & 2:3, that Job was blameless in the eyes of the Lord, fearing God and turning away from evil, what are we to really understand about the true message of this book?
Namely, wisdom does not ultimately consist of acquiring specific reasons why both the wicked and the righteous prosper at times and suffer various trials and hardships at other times. Godly wisdom and understanding come through continually trusting in the character of the One who is in control of all things, particularly when circumstances in the present age can appear to be inconsistent with God’s justice and righteousness.
So the next time you are tempted to ask why? Know that God’s reasons are often invisible to us in this present age. And although we may never get a satisfactory answer to the question, ‘Why?’ even when God does show up as a whirlwind in the midst of our suffering (Job 38:1), the one thing we can hold onto that will get us through many and various trials is our hope. Like Job we too can say, “I know my Redeemer lives,” (Job 19:25). While Job did not likely understand the incarnate Yeshua as the specific referent of Redeemer in this verse, since the only revelation he likely possessed at that time was the hope of a promised ‘seed of the woman’ that would come and crush the head of hasatan, Job is still ultimately referencing the same person. In the end, Job’s hope is in the invisible God Who would one day become visible and judge the earth with righteous judgment.
Interestingly enough, Job also explicitly recognized the need for and lamented over the lack of a “mociach” (9:33) or a person who could mediate his case between himself and God. One Jewish commentary explains the role of a mociach this way. “The duty of the arbiter would be to lay his hand or authority upon both parties to the dispute and make them submit to his decision. But that is impossible when one of them is God.” This fact further reinforces the necessity of a God-man; someone who could both represent man and also have the authority of God Himself in order to legally mediate the dispute between God and man. Note the phonetic similarity of mociach (one who arbitrates in a legal proceeding) and moshiach (anointed one). The difference in spelling is only one letter. Such close sounding words and word plays are important elements that play a part in the overall process of progressive revelation.
Because we now have the benefit of time and greater revelation, we can see how our Moshiach functions for us as a Mociach before God. And yes, our Redeemer and Mociach does literally live, and He will continue to live and intercede on our behalf before God forever! He alone is our hope. He alone is the answer. He alone can redeem us from any trial, even beyond the grave.
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