In the midst of Job’s travails, he said many profound things. He was suffering from Satan unleashing an ungodly amount of hardship upon him, and he rightly had trouble dealing with it. He asked God why He was punishing him on one hand; then on the other he professed confidence that the Lord was just and would redeem him. His most famous line in this regard is in Job 19:25:
“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.”
In Old Testament times, God’s saints had a more direct understanding of Him. He had made Himself known in ways that are different from what we’ve experienced since Jesus walked the earth. His physical manifestations – of which there were many – were done in the pre-incarnate form of Jesus as the angel of the Lord. He wasn’t the Suffering Servant or the Lamb of God; rather He often appeared as the Commander of the Host, i.e. the armies, of Heaven. Job and others of that period didn’t know Jesus in the intimate, personal way that we relate to Him. Despite this, Job innately knew the unique characteristic of Yahweh the above verse describes. God was Job’s Redeemer. Somehow, in some fashion, God would rescue him from the grave. This Redeemer would stand upon the earth at the end of days and make things right for Job. In fact, Job declares this is Job 19:26:
“… yet in my flesh I shall see God.”
Another poignant verse that Job uttered dealt with his friends. They initially came to give him moral support for his affliction, but turned from that into his accusers. In this respect, we could say they were doing Satan’s work. It wasn’t as though everything Job suffered wasn’t enough; those who knew him well felt they had to add salt to his wounds. In verbal assaults one after another, they told Job in no uncertain terms how sinful he was. It was because of his unrighteous life that Yahweh was punishing him. Thanks, fellows, for your vote of confidence.
Desperately, Job beseeched them to shut their mouths, to literally give him a break from their verbal barrage. Listen to his plea in Job 19:21:
“Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me!”
For all that had come upon and against Job, he needed his friends to exhibit compassion for him. Yet, what did they do? They piled on with condemnation. What would we think of our friends today who were so harsh?
I can think of one instance. Consider the case where a child dies after a lingering illness. The parents are believers and have brought the affliction of their young one to the church, even for the elders to pray for healing and restoration. But the youngster dies and the parents are devastated. How often have we heard in an instance like this where their friends have told them the reason was because they didn’t have enough faith? How do the parents feel after that awful criticism? It’s all their fault. Nothing like heaping on guilt. Is it any wonder many people are hurt in the church when they should be comforted, and leave as a result of it? If Job had been a lesser person and experienced what he did in our day and age, who could blame him for walking away from God and His people (as his wife counseled)? But, he didn’t.
The third issue of note is one that ultimately foreshadows into the end of the age. However Job had learned of God, who He was, and how He operated – especially in a time when there was no written Word – is fascinating. His knowledge had to come verbally from others or through direct interaction with the Lord that had proven to him that Job could rest secure in what Yahweh did.
There was much discussion among Job and his friends about the nature of God and how the wicked wouldn’t escape His watchful eye. Job made a most interesting statement about this in Job 19:29:
“… be afraid of the sword,
for wrath brings the punishment of the sword,
that you may know there is a judgment.”
When someone is rebellious and disobedient to God, this triggers a response from Him that the defiant person should fear. The wrath of God is an awful thing to behold. Sadly, many disregard how the Lord might answer against ungodly actions. Job tells us how. The wrath of God brings the punishment of the sword. This is the consequence for iniquity, i.e. the chastising for one’s guilt. God literally brings a weapon of war against such a person that he might be destroyed in judgment.
It is exactly this which is the reason for the coming Tribulation. The ungodly have had their way for much too long, thinking they are impervious to judgment. God in His mercy has held back His hand of punishment by keeping His wrath in check. This will not continue. The unbelieving world must have its day when God acts against it in His wrath. For Him not to do so would indict Him and His character. A just God must bring justice.
This is one of several reasons true believers will not be on the earth when this occurs. If we believe in what Jesus Christ has done for us at the cross, then we know He took the wrath of God upon Himself that was destined for us. How is it possible that God would go back on His Word and make us endure His wrath that is intended for those who choose to reject Him? It makes no sense and actually blasphemes the Name of God with this kind of aberrant thinking.
Job’s argument was that He believed in Yahweh and honored Him with his life. He didn’t deserve what he experienced. The truth of it is that God agreed. He only allowed Satan his way against Job to provide the lesson for us so many years later that life can be unjust because of sin in the world, but also to show us that enduring faith is possible even through the worst that happens.
The life of Job gives us hope because we learn that God is sovereign and will make all things right in His time.