Job 18-19: The Gospel According to Job
by Joseph Franks
Job has been verbally sparing with his friends. He is not interested in spiritual debate. He is not seeking to be religiously contentious. Frankly, all he really needs is for his brothers in the faith to comfort him in his agony, but this has not been the case. Job’s friends continuously point out his transgressions. They are sure his iniquity is the cause of his calamity, and they continue to call him to repentance. They mean well, but they are horrible ministers, and Job is thoroughly frustrated. He knows the state of his heart. He is not oblivious to his sin. He knows he needs to make progress in his faith, but he also knows he is not an incorrigible, hard-hearted rebel. Job loves God. He loves his neighbor. He loves righteousness, and he would love some compassion from his spiritual brothers, but despite his pleas, Job’s friends persist in pointing out his depravity. Chapter eighteen ends with a stinging rebuke from Bildad:
Indeed, the light of the wicked is put out, and the flame of his fire does not shine. The light is dark in his tent, and his lamp above him is put out. His strong steps are shortened, and his own schemes throw him down. For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walks on its mesh. A trap seizes him by the heel; a snare lays hold of him. A rope is hidden for him in the ground, a trap for him in the path. Terrors frighten him on every side, and chase him at his heels. His strength is famished, and calamity is ready for his stumbling. It consumes the parts of his skin; the firstborn of death consumes his limbs. He is torn from the tent in which he trusted and is brought to the king of terrors. In his tent dwells that which is none of his; sulfur is scattered over his habitation. His roots dry up beneath, and his branches wither above. His memory perishes from the earth, and he has no name in the street. He is thrust from light into darkness, and driven out of the world. He has no posterity or progeny among his people, and no survivor where he used to live. They of the west are appalled at his day, and horror seizes them of the east. Surely such are the dwellings of the unrighteous, such is the place of him who knows not God.” (Job 18:5-21)
Therefore, when one reads chapter nineteen, one can feel Job’s passion. With great seriousness he begs for relief from his pain and from his counselors. He is a miserable, heartbroken man. He cannot take much more. But it is also in this chapter that Job utters forth one of his most famous cries. It is here that Job preaches the Gospel to himself and his friends:
Then Job answered and said: “How long will you torment me and break me in pieces with words? … He has put my brothers far from me, and those who knew me are wholly estranged from me. My relatives have failed me, my close friends have forgotten me … Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has touched me! Why do you, like God, pursue me? Why are you not satisfied with my flesh? “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another …. (Job 19:1-29)
Thus far, Job has stated his belief in the resurrection and the afterlife. In chapter fourteen, he spoke of life after the grave. One can read how Job was waiting for the day when he would be roused, remembered and renewed by God. Job understood there would be a time of judgment, but he was confident God would take his transgressions, seal them in a bag, and cover them. In chapter fourteen, Job does not explain how a holy and righteous God would cover his unrighteousness, but he did proclaim his expectation of God’s grace. But here, in chapter nineteen, Job shares more of his Gospel-theology. He knew his body would fail. He knew his flesh would be destroyed. He understood that from dust man was made and to dust man would return. However, he also understood that following his death, burial and bodily decomposition, in renewed flesh, with renewed eyes, he would see God. And how would this happen? Who would make this happen? Job understood that his personal Redeemer was currently existing, and would one day in the future actually stand upon the earth.
Friends, Adam walked, talked and was clothed by God. Someone taught his family how to acceptably worship by means of animal sacrifice. I believe many underestimate how much theology the first family knew. In addition, Enoch walked and talked with God, and I believe God talked back. Prophets heard the voice of God and proclaimed it to the people. Noah understood the distinction between unclean and clean animals. He also understood the importance of keeping covenant with God and worshiping him according to his prescribed sacrificial system. Now in our historical timeline, we see that Job understood how to offer acceptable sacrifices to God. He also understood that an already living Redeemer was coming into the world to purchase his salvation. Job understood that following his life, divine resurrection and renewal would take place. God would judge, but grace was available. And soon we will add to this the theology of Abraham, Melchizedek and Moses. There is no doubt that the New Testament is clearer than the Old Testament. There is no doubt that Paul understood more of God’s mystery than did Job. But the Gospel is the same. All men are sinners who deserve God’s just wrath, but those who have a Redeemer should not fear the afterlife with the accompanying judgment. This is the Gospel of Job. This is the Gospel of Jesus. It is the only Gospel that has or ever will exist.
This devotional blog will be following a chronological reading plan. I would encourage you to read through the Bible with us this year. The daily reading section can be found at the following places: