“I regard Job 1 and 2 as the strangest chapters theologically in the Bible. The story they tell challenges what most Christians believe about God, man, law, causation, and time. If everything that people knew about God were based on the first two chapters of Job, they would have a strange religion. On the other hand, if everything they knew about God were based on the Bible, but without the first two chapters of Job, people would have a seriously incomplete religion. Because so few Christians take seriously the Book of Job, most of them have a seriously incomplete religion.” – Gary North, Predictability and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Job
Gary North says Job is a strange book, and he’s right. Satan appears in heaven. God brags to Satan about His blameless and upright servant Job, and then grants Satan permission to attack him. Job’s wife encourages him to curse God and die. Job’s friends come to comfort him but end up accusing him of sin. When God makes a personal appearance, He asks Job a series of questions rather than answering Job’s questions.
Job is not a popular book. Aside from a couple of phrases–“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away,” and “I know that my Redeemer lives,” most American Christians are unfamiliar with it. It is not only modern preachers and Christians that avoid Job either. Job is only mentioned in the Bible two other places outside the Book of Job (In Ezekiel 14:14 and James 5:11). By way of comparison, David is mentioned 55 times in the New Testament alone.
It is a difficult book in many ways. It raises hard questions and does not offer easy answers. It does not seem right that a God fearing man like Job should experience unbearable suffering for no apparent reason under the watchful eye of a loving, all powerful God.
However, we have a powerful key to understanding Job that Old Covanent believers lacked. We know that the Old Testament Scriptures abound with types and shadows pointing to Jesus. When we see an innocent man like Job, sowing good but reaping evil, we should be reminded that Jesus, who was perfectly sinless, suffered and died in the place of sinful people like you and I.
Job’s suffering was not the end of the story. Ultimately, Satan was defeated and humiliated. Job never did curse God in his suffering, as Satan claimed he would, while Job was even more blessed than before. In a similar way, the cross appeared to be the end of Jesus’s ministry and mission, but in reality the cross was the tool He used to atone for our sins.
The goal of Job is not to explain why bad things happen to good people. The main point is not to show us how to be patient in affliction (even though it can help with that, as James 5:11 indicates). Its main purpose is to point to our Savior, who suffered in our place.