Having looked at some keys to interpreting the Book of Job in it’s context, it would be irresponsible to leave our studies without addressing its foundational impact on the New Testament, but more specifically how this book anticipates the coming of Christ and informs our understanding of His person and work. Often, Luke 24:25-27;44-47 has been cited as a principal for how we should allow the Old Testament to inform our understanding of Christ. In applying this, we must also allow the New Testament to guide our understanding of the Old Testament. A simple way to view this relationship is the familiar phrase of Augustine, “The New is in the Old concealed. The Old is in the New revealed.” Another way to consider this is that while the Old is foundational to the New, the New is the fulfillment of the Old. Divorcing this relationship has historically led to a myriad of interpretive difficulties.
There are a few general ways in which this relationship between Old and New Testaments have traditionally been understood, which we’ll mention below, but most importantly we must understand that all of Scripture, its 66 books, is divinely inspired, meaning that above all it has one central Author, the Almighty God, and that His revelation of Himself is perfectly consistent from book to book, human author to human author (1 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21).
A few of the ways in which the Old and New relate to each other are by way of
- Direct quotations of the Old in the New
- Echoes, how one may see one book or passage resonating with another
- Allusions, a passing references of one passage seen in another that may or may not be fleshed out in its original context
- Types, a relationship of lesser to greater between people, places, events or institutions (type–>antitype)
Examples of each abound in Job, as in the rest of the Old Testament, while we could certainly spend time examining each of these ways in which Scripture uses, relates, and interprets itself, our focus here will be on how Job himself is a major typological contributor to understanding the person and work of Jesus Christ. A clear, implicit example of a type/antitype relationship is found in Romans 5:14 as it describes Adam/Christ,
“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”
Here we see that Adam is called a type of Christ, who appears as the second , albeit greater, Adam. Returning to Job, in a sense, he lays for us the foundation of how to understand the justice, goodness, and certainly the freedom of God in afflicting the righteous, which culminates in the sin-bearing, wrath-absorbing death of His Son Jesus Christ, by means of a typological relationship with Christ, Job as the type, Christ as the antitype. He does so in numerous ways, but chief among them is the pattern of a suffering servant, which Christ supersedes as the Suffering Servant. The type/antitype relationship may be seen in the following summary observations from Job:
- The Righteousness of Job
- The Priestly character of Job
- The Pleasure of God
- The Temptation from Satan
- The Loss of Possessions
- The Physical Suffering of Job
- The Derision of Job
- The Abandonment of Job Psalm 22:1-2; Matthew 27:46
- The Words of Job 1 Peter 2:22; Isaiah 53:9
- The Submission of Job
- The Vindication Job
- The Exaltation of Job
Working through the Book of Job chronologically, the first point of contact between Job and Christ we come to is the righteous character of Job in Job 1:1. As we’ve discussed before, this righteousness must be taken seriously in order to rightly interpret the book of Job, however, it does not mean that Job was sinless, as per his own admission as well as his final repentant statement in chapter 42. Nevertheless, the suffering of this righteous man points us to the greater righteousness of another suffering man, the God-man Christ Jesus. Our Lord was not merely righteous by external standards, but was and is completely holy and sinless (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
Next, we are informed of the priestly character of Job in offering frequent sacrifices to God on behalf of his children (Job 1:5). It would be enough to consider this aspect of Job’s priesthood alone, though as the book concludes we know that Job again performs a role of mediation between God and man, though this time of his “enemies” (Job 42:8-9). Again working from the lesser to the greater, or from type to antitype, the priestly character of our Lord is far superior than that witnessed in Job, first because as mentioned Christ was sinless and needed no sacrifice for Himself (Hebrews 7:26-27). Second, his sacrifice was not merely anticipatory as those under the Old Covenant, but His was efficacious, truly satisfying the wrath of God. Third, our Lord’s priesthood was not merely the sacrifice of an animal, but of Himself (Hebrews 9:11-14; 2:17; John 1:29; 1 John 2:2).
Moving on to our third observation, we read of God’s pleasure with Job by boasting of his righteousness and offering him up to Satan (Job 2:3). In a similar fashion, we read of God’s commendation of His only begotten Son in Matthew 3:17, “and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” An additional, more comprehensive passage may be found in Isaiah 42:1-9. Fourth, is that of the Satan’s temptation of Job, through loss of property, family, and health. Christ too was tempted by Satan, but in a far more direct manner, though Christ Himself had voluntarily experienced far greater losses and was depleted of food, water, shelter, family, and friends in the wilderness, yet He was victorious in every way (Matthew 4:1-11). Likewise, our Lord was faced with the day to day temptations that this life brings, as well as the added pressures upon Him for being the Son of God ( John 6:15), yet he was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Fifth, and related, was the loss of possessions that Job had experienced, including his children and health. Again, we point that Christ’s losses were far greater, yet He willingly laid them all aside (Philippians 2:7-8).
Next, and most prominently, is the suffering of Job. Here we want to broadly consider Job’s sufferings, which could include the majority of the list we’re examining. Though Job’s suffering is well chronicled throughout the book, including the marring of his physical appearance to the point of being unrecognized (Job 2:12), Christ’s sufferings were far greater (Isaiah 52:14). The principle passage for our consideration is a familiar one, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, detailing the Suffering Servant. Here we read of the prophecy of Christ’s coming as Sufferer
- Marred physical appearance beyond recognition
- No form, majesty, or beauty; undesirable
- Despised and rejected by men
- A man of sorrows
- Acquainted with grief
- Despised and unesteemed
- Bore our griefs, carried our sorrows
- Afflicted by God
- Pierced for our transgressions; crushed for our iniquities;
- Chastised to bring about peace
- Wounded to bring healing
- Bore the sins of man
- Oppressed and afflicted
- Led like a lamb to slaughter
- Buried among the wicked
- Crushed by the Father
- Anguished in soul
- Poured out His soul to death
- Numbered with the transgressors
- Bore the sins of many
- Made intercession for the transgressors
Seventh and eighth from our list of observations above on the type/antitype from Job, we consider the derision and abandonment that he faced from his friends, family, and even the young men in the town square (Job 12:4;17:6; 29:7-10, 21-25; 30:9-15) . So too did our Lord face a similar, though greater derision,
“27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him.28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.” Matthew 27:27-31
As previously discussed, Job is comprised of monologues and dialogues and speech or words having to do with speech comprise nearly a quarter of the words in Job. As the conclusion of Job indicates, particularly the speeches of Elihu and Yahweh, Job’s words were bounded with pride and often bordered on blasphemy. In a very real way, Job was far too free with his words and allowed the circumstances of affliction to stir up indwelling sin and overflow into the words of his mouth. Conversely when our Lord faced derision and abandonment, suffering and anguish, though He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, He never uttered a word in return. Note 1 Peter 2:22-23, citing Isaiah 53:9
22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
As the Book of Job concludes, we are drawn once again to the words of Job, though much briefer and penitnent this time around, as he repents of his words towards God (Job 42:1-6). By way of this contrition and recognition of God’s majesty, Job submits to the divine affliction that he has endured. Keep in mind, to this point he has no indication that the affliction will subside. As to the greater, Christ submitted to the will of the Father from beginning to end,
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Finally, the vindication and exaltation of Job draw our minds to the greater vindication that Christ received from the Father, namely resurrection from the dead, and His own exaltation to right hand of the throne of God.
“19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:19-23
The sufferings of Job serve as a two-way lens through which on one side we may see the sufferings of Christ magnified while through the other our own sufferings minimized. The sufferings of Job, great as they were, pale in comparison to the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only did He bear the marks of suffering in His physical body, which is important, but He bore the weight of sin and the wrath of God. May Job be an encouragement to us in our sufferings and afflictions, but ultimately may he point us to Christ, who suffered for us willingly, bearing the wrath of God for sin for all who believe. He also is our far greater example for persevering in our suffering.
1 Peter 2:21 “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”