Job is perhaps the earliest book of the Bible. Set in the period of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph), it tells the story of a man who loses everything – his wealth, his family, his health – and even wrestles with the question, Why?
But so much of this book is still a mystery to us. Who wrote the book of Job? What can we learn about Christ from it? And what are key themes to look for as you read it?
Who Wrote Job?
The author of Job is unknown, and there are no textual hints as to his identity. Commentators, however, have been generous with suggestions: Job, Elihu, Moses, Solomon, Isaiah, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, and Ezra have all been nominated.
The non-Hebraic cultural background of this book may point to Gentile authorship. The rabbinic traditions are inconsistent, but one Talmudic tradition suggests that Moses wrote the book. The land of Uz (1:1) is adjacent to Midian, where Moses lived for forty years, and it is conceivable that Moses obtained a record of the dialogue left by Job or Elihu.
The Christ of Job
Job acknowledges a Redeemer (see 19:25-27) and cries out for a mediator (9:33, 25:4, 33:23). The book raises problems and questions which are answered perfectly in Christ who identifies with our sufferings (Heb. 4:15). Christ is the believer’s Life, Redeemer, Mediator, and Advocate.
The Time of Job
It is important to distinguish the date of the events of Job from the date of its writing. Accurate dating of the events is difficult because there are no references to contemporary historical occurrences. However, a number of facts indicate a patriarchal date for Job, perhaps between Genesis 11 and 12 or not long after the time of Abraham.
The Key Word of Job
The basic question of the book is, “Why do the righteous suffer if God is loving and all-powerful?” Suffering itself is not the central theme; rather, the focus is on what Job learns from his suffering – the sovereignty of God over all creation.
The debate in chapters 3-37 regards whether God would allow this suffering to happen to a person who is innocent. The oversimplified solutions offered by Job’s three friends are simply inadequate. Elihu’s claim that God can use suffering to purify the righteous is closer to the mark.
The conclusion at the whirlwind is that God is sovereign and worthy of worship in whatever He chooses to do. Job must learn to trust in the goodness and power of God in adversity by enlarging his concept of God.
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