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Jesus is the answer Job hoped for.
Christopher Ash offers a reason for the supposed unreasonable narrative of the Book of Job.
One of the most enigmatic books in the entire Bible is, certainly, the book of Job. Often regarded as one of the earliest written books in the canon, Job recounts the story of a man of the same name who endures, perhaps, the severest series of trials one could ever imagine. What makes the book so perplexing is its seeming failure to ever answer the why question. Even though the reader is made privy to the heavenly dialogue between the Lord and the Adversary (Job 1—2), Job never is. He’s never given a reason or an explanation as to why all this adversity came his way. Which certainly leaves any student of the book with a somewhat sour after-taste. But maybe there’s a reason for that — a reason for the supposed unreasonable narrative. Maybe it’s meant to introduce us to Jesus.
In his book Trusting God in the Darkness, Christopher Ash concludes with a postscript that seeks to answer that inquiry: What is the book of Job about? If for 40-odd chapters, the main characters have been attempting to figure out the problem of suffering to no avail, what’s its purpose? Why is it in the Old Testament in the first place? Well, no surprise here, it’s about Jesus. Ash writes:
As the blameless believer par excellence, Jesus fulfills Job. As a priestly figure who offers sacrifices for his children at the start and his friends at the end, Job foreshadows Jesus the great high priest. The monstrous ferocity of the beast Leviathan reaches its vicious depths in the life and death of Jesus, who in his passion endures deeper depths and a more solemn and awesome darkness even than Job. The drama, the pain, and the perplexity of Job reach their climax at the cross of Jesus Christ. In the darkness and God-forsakenness of those terrible hours of lonely agony, the sufferings of Job are transcended and fulfilled. And as the blameless believer accused and despised by men but finally vindicated by God in the resurrection, Jesus fulfills the drama and longings of Job for justification. (141)
These are good words. Jesus is the Man of Sorrows, the One who introduced himself with our grief and affliction by taking it on his shoulders as his own (Isa. 53:3–5). In that way, then, Jesus is the true and better Job, who suffers undeservedly for the sake of those he loves. And the hope inherent in Jesus’s suffering is that our own suffering will one day be resolved in eternal glory.
Grace and peace, friends.
Christopher Ash, Trusting God in the Darkness: A Guide to Understanding the Book of Job (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021).