Many of the characters in the Bible more or less reflect the character and role of the divine Messiah in the salvation of mankind, that is, the character of Jesus Christ. One of these earliest characters is Job. All the ordeal he went through was not meaningless or unreasonable for a minute, even if then and there the wisest could not find a proper explanation for his sufferings. Perhaps one of the most important aspects is that he forecasted the person whom Job himself looked up to with hope: the Saviour. If we look at the story attentively, we can find shocking details that only gain their true meaning when we consider the life of Jesus. Even more amazing is that everything God, the Almighty did during the life of Job and Jesus, He wants to accomplish in the life of all people.
Now, let’s take a look at the most important parallels and points of connection, and marvel at God’s wonderful plans as well as the depths of His wisdom.
Servant of God
- Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? (Job 1:8)
- My servant Job will pray for you. (Job 42:8)
- I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. [shoot, sprout, bud] (Zachariah 3:8)
- He warned them not to tell others about him. This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight;I will put my Spirit on him,and he will proclaim justice to the nations. (Matthew 12:15-18)
In Job’s story, there is a vital emphasis on God’s initial statement. God considered Job His own, a true man, as the counterpoint to Satanic lies. He points out that Job is not one of the Devil’s subjects. He represents those for whom God has a right, even a duty to keep an eye on the Earth and to flood it with grace. Furthermore, Jesus Christ came to live among us to become a Man who would never, under any circumstances, surrender to the temptations of evil. The prophecy was true to his last breath:
- I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.… (Psalm 40:9)
In several cases, God calls Abraham, James, later on Israel, Moses, David, Nebuchadnezzar, Zerubbabel, Job, the Messiah and several others His own servant. These are individuals whom God can count on, who are steady bases in enemy-dominated territory. They may be means of heavenly conquest, for they are in harmony with the will and plans of the Almighty.
The Hebrew word ‘ebed’ means servant or slave. However, the Greek ‘pais’ means more, for in addition to having the meaning ‘servant’, it also means child. A servant is the property of the Lord above him, fulfilling his will, executing his orders and obeying his words. A child-father relationship is based on blood bondage and love. The son does not act under pressure or fear of subordination. Instead, he is guided by meaningful love because there is complete harmony between his own will and that of his father. The greatest honour, then, is to be a servant in the divine sense, especially if the Almighty himself recognizes the person as his own servant. Such was the case of Jesus, when this commission was intertwined with being the Son. Similarly, the relationship between Christ and his disciples was saturated with intimate content:
- I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)
- Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father. (Galatians 4:6-7)
Thus Job’s ‘slavery’ is not only a foreshadow of Jesus’ being God`s child, but also a foreshadow of the friendly-heir position of present day Christians.
- In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. (Job 1:1)
- Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’ (Job 1:8)
- His wife said to him, ‘Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!’He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’In all this, Job did not sin in what he said... (Job 2:9-10)
- And Job continued his discourse: As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice,the Almighty, who has made my life bitter,as long as I have life within me,the breath of God in my nostrils,my lips will not say anything wicked,and my tongue will not utter lies. (Job 27:1-4)
- He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:9)
- You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;therefore God, your God, has set you above your companion by anointing you with the oil of joy. (Hebrews 1:9) – God says of His Only Begotten.
- God made him (Jesus Christ) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Corinthians 5:21)
Impeccability is a formidable or unattainable dream for people with an average mind. But really, how many of us want to achieve this state? Yet, God Himself casts this wonderful judgment on a corrupt and earthly Job to the face of the Accusing, fallen archangel who used to be impeccable himself, but now wants to drive everyone into the yoke of sin and fear! The divine, perfect character of Jesus Christ — in whom truth and love, and on the other side of the coin, hatred of sin are all there, may belong to all who were born of God from above. This is the essence of the gospel, this is the good news: human beings living with disabilities, destined for death may become individuals reflecting the Heavenly Man, for the reason that this is the greatest plan of God and His Son! Even though the book of Job begins with this twofold statement, one of which certainly was uttered by God Himself, the theme of all subsequent dialogues is still this subject: Can man be true before the eyes of God? This is a valid argument to this day, despite the fact that from the point of view of the Almighty it is NOT a question but a statement…
The following proverbs are about us, about the essence of our salvation. It is God’s plan for people who desire to be out of Satan’s rule to regain their innocence and integrity they have lost and to do so by the Son. Not just in a legal sense, not just “someday,” in heaven, but here and now — as is the case with Job:
- … For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Ephesians 1:4-6)
- … Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
- Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation (Colossians 1:21-22)
- To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen. (Judas 1:24-25)
We cannot accept less than this, otherwise we mock God himself. This challenge must be addressed via faith in order for it to become the basis of everyday reality. We find an answer to the question ‘how’ in Job’s words.
Consecration of the family
- … Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ This was Job’s regular custom. (Job 1:5)
- Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. (Isaiah 8:18)
- For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
- For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)
- For by one sacrifice he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:14)
All that Job did at dawn for his children, presenting burnt offerings for the sake of sons and daughters, gained its true, real value and meaning in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Until then, every animal sacrifice was only an imperfect copy of Christ’s perfect self-sacrifice, the blessings of which can be enjoyed by all members of mankind when by rebirth they become members of the consecrated human family of the heavenly Son. The Saviour fought a liberating death on Mount Golgotha, which resulted in victory. From then on, there is no need to sacrifice more pigeons, lambs, or bulls, because Job’s expectation has been fulfilled.
God gives the gift of holiness in Christ even to children today. The following excerpt applies to believers-unbelievers in relationships. But then, how much more true it is for Christian families:
- For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. (1Corinthians 7:14)
In Satan’s Hand
- The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger. (Job 1:12)
- The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life. (Job 2:6)
- Jesus answered, ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. (John 19:11)
God allowed the tempting and accusing Satan to attack Job, though within certain limits. As a result, Job suffered a series of hits in no time at all: his entire stock of animals, his servants, his house, and his children were destroyed as a result of robberies and natural disasters. The second wave of misfortune struck him with a terrible and disgusting disease that provoked fear in him, as well as his and even his wife turning against God. Suddenly and unexpectedly he found himself in a state in which death seemed more desirable to him than life. The third wave was perhaps more serious than those that had struck him before: everyone from whom he hoped for comfort and support turned against him. He was pushed into complete solitude by his best friends and even his beloved wife. Every fraction of his life came under fire: his immediate physical environment, his family, his body, his mental health, finally his faith and loyalty became the object of siege.
The inevitably question ‘why’ arises? It is a question that will fill our hearts with distressing fear. However, when we find the truth about it, our trust in God will be further strengthened. Surely, on planet Earth there have been people faithful to the Almighty besides Job. He, however, meaning God, has been in possession of knowledge that no other being has: he alone knew who could stand the test, who would escape victorious from the smelter. Even Job himself did not suspect being able to do this. The joyful fact was evidently hidden from Lucifer: there is deliverance from his grip! Even the story of Job confirms the encouraging promise recorded by the Apostle Paul:
- And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it [endure, tolerate, suffer]. (1Corinthians 10:13)
The same tribulations happened in the case of the Son of God, but without restrictions: It is in your hand, you can kill it! – God probably told Satan. Jesus’ statement before Pilate demonstrates that nothing could have happened without the Father’s permission, but whatever happened, happened for a reason. Lucifer’s objective is the same in every case: to extort adoration by using all the existing means of lying and violence. It was exactly this approach when he wanted to subdue all men and the prince of angels who turned into a human being. Just as God took Abraham’s hand over Isaac, He limited Satan in the attacks on Job because He knew that the most precious and beautiful Being in his divine heart would voluntarily offer himself to his attackers in order to gain deliverance from the wicked prince once and for all. God allowed him to do so. God provided for it. This is the assurance — other than the cross — bearing in mind time both before and after. God could try Jesus without restrictions, all the way to the rupture of his heart.
That is why Jesus must have said to Peter and all his children: albeit Satan asked to sift all of you, the Son asks for strength and gives you strength!
- Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, … that your faith may not fail.(Lucas 22:31-32)
There are millions of people in the cases of whom God has approved even death: a line of martyrs accompanies history. We know Peter himself ended his existence on earth on the cross. However, we can be sure based on God’s words: no death occurred “by chance,” Instead, it yields fruit in the kingdom of God. Death is not the same as defeat, although it seems so. As Tertullian put it, “the blood of Christians is seed” for eternity. None of the violent executions of true men was fruitless, and none of them were left alone at the last moment. One recorded instance of this is the stoning of Deacon Stephen, which resulted in the conversion the Apostle Paul, one of the most effective missionaries in the world. (Acts 7). Jesus Christ was left alone for those He loved. Nevertheless, he did not succumb to the devil’s pressure, but persevered on the narrow path for the love of God.
Adherence to the Truth
- I had not denied the words of the Holy One. (Job 6:10)
- But he knows the way that I take;when he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.I have not departed from the commands of his lips;I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
- (Job 23:10-12)
- I put on righteousness as my clothing;justice was my robe and my turban. (Job 29:14)
- Let God weigh me in honest scalesand he will know that I am blameless. (Job 31:6)
- … We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
- Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. (John 14:6)
- …we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One (1John 2:1)
In fact, the question ‘can an earthly being live a true life?’ is the central theme of the whole scroll, indeed of all the books in the Bible. Job’s friends proclaim the idea of Satan with full conviction:
- Can a mortal be more righteous than God?Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker? If God places no trust in his servants,if he charges his angels with error,how much more those who live in houses of clay,whose foundations are in the dust,who are crushed more readily than a moth! (Job 4:17-19)
- What are mortals, that they could be pure,or those born of woman, that they could be righteous? If God places no trust in his holy ones,if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes. (Job 15:14-16)
- How then can a mortal be righteous before God?How can one born of woman be pure? If even the moon is not brightand the stars are not pure in his eyes, how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot –a human being, who is only a worm!’ (Job 25:4-6)
The being that was once the first angel, blameless and wonderful, now, hardened in his wickedness, cannot imagine God’s wonderful plan for men, for the fallen mortals. That is because it was he himself who ruined them. He knows exactly where and how they sin day after day. The quotes above, even though uttered by Job’s friends, precisely reveal Satan’s mindset: if the rebellious angels are fallen in the eyes of the Almighty, how could the people below them hope for favour? When we consider Satan’s words, Job’s sentences seem like terrifying, profane blasphemy. However, let us not forget that God himself weighed His servant and found no defect. His unheard-of assertion caused fear and hatred in the heart of the Deceiver. However, at the same time it can incite members of humanity to feel gratitude and joy. For God’s purpose is nothing less than the restoration of man’s original state and truth!
- This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. (Romans 3:22)
- Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 13:14)
- We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ.(1 John 5:20)
- It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
- God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Corinthians 5:21)
Therefore, Christ’s adherence to the truth is an essential feature of true Christianity. Not only was Job not a fool, but in this respect he also proved to be a reflection of the Messiah. Jesus Christ was aware of his own holy and true life, and the same is true of his true follower:
- …every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. (1John 4:2-3)
- I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20)
We must believe, even more so know that after our rebirth, Christ lives a true life here and now in our mortal bodies, and that makes us children of God. Less is worth nothing, and there is no more than that. Therefore, we cannot consider ourselves mortal sinners, because by doing so we will reproduce the sin Job’s friends committed. It would not be modesty, but in fact a huge disbelief, disregard for the work of Christ, rebuke of the word of God. The most important task, therefore, is none other than what Job’s desperate wife articulated: to stand firm in integrity, the only place we can experience Christ.
Testimony of Deeds
Our faith limits our words, even more, it defines our actions. Job’s above mentioned claims concerning his own true existence are proven in the light of his customary actions:
- Whoever heard me spoke well of me,and those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help,and the fatherless who had none to assist them.The one who was dying blessed me;I made the widow’s heart sing. I put on righteousness as my clothing;justice was my robe and my turban. I was eyes to the blindand feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy;I took up the case of the stranger.I broke the fangs of the wickedand snatched the victims from their teeth. People listened to me expectantly,waiting in silence for my counsel.After I had spoken, they spoke no more; my words fell gently on their ears. (Job 29:11-17.21-22)
- The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,to know the word that sustains the weary. (Isaiah 50:4)
- At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, illnesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[a] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. (Lucas 7:21-22)
The true nature of Job was unquestionably manifested in his continual exercise of mercy. His wisdom, his protecting and caring for the vulnerable proves that he truly loved his brethren whose affairs he dealt with as his own. This is all the more true in the case of Jesus, who carried out the complete, both physical and spiritual, restoration of man successively: when he was not teaching, he was healing. In fact these two activities were inextricably intertwined during his earthly days, for the word that left his mouth was divine speech concealing the act of power. They proved or refuted the true nature of man through their actions. Both for Job and Jesus, these two aspects were in complete harmony: firm commitment to the truth and mercy for the fallen are both ultimately nourished from the source of God’s love, since the Almighty is love.
That particular final judgment seeks and recognizes the works of mercy in all who prove the truth of heavenly kingdom with their lives. These deeds come from Christ, whose nature is mercy, and lives in Christians:
- Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Lucas 6:36)
- Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:34-36)
- Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
- Anyone who withholds kindness from a friendforsakes the fear of the Almighty... (Job 6:14)
- For sighing has become my daily food;my groans pour out like water.What I feared has come upon me;what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness;I have no rest, but only turmoil. (Job 3:24-26)
- Therefore I will not keep silent;I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. (Job 7:11.16)
- People open their mouths to jeer at me;they strike my cheek in scornand unite together against me.God has turned me over to the ungodlyand thrown me into the clutches of the wicked.All was well with me, but he shattered me;he seized me by the neck and crushed me.He has made me his target;his archers surround me. Without pity, he pierces my kidneysand spills my gall on the ground.Again and again he bursts upon me;he rushes at me like a warrior.I have sewed sackcloth over my skinand buried my brow in the dust.My face is red with weeping,dark shadows ring my eyes; (Job 16:10-16)
- Terrors overwhelm me;my dignity is driven away as by the wind,my safety vanishes like a cloud... Night pierces my bones;my gnawing pains never rest. He throws me into the mud,and I am reduced to dust and ashes. (Job 30:15.17-19)
- Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers round him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said. They spat on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27:27-31)
- After he has suffered,he will see the light of life and be satisfied by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,and he will bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11)
- Do not be far from me,for trouble is near and there is no one to help.Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.Roaring lions that tear their preyopen their mouths wide against men. I am poured out like water,and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax;it has melted within me.My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;you lay me in the dust of death.Dogs surround me,a pack of villains encircles me;they pierce my hands and my feet.All my bones are on display;people stare and gloat over me.They divide my clothes among themand cast lots for my garment.But you, Lord, do not be far from me.You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword,my precious life from the power of the dogs.Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;save me from the horns of the wild oxen.(Psalm 22:11-22)
- Scorn has broken my heartand has left me helpless. I looked for sympathy, but there was none,for comforters, but I found none. (Psalm 69:21)
- In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
- Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17)
- Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)
Suffering is inherent in earthly life. As sad as it is, but that is how it is. It is an inevitable attribute to finite existence heading to death. While truth has its own peculiar attributes suffering has its cruel laws. Suffering is necessarily associated with a form of life imbued with sin. In this world true life definitely encounters hatred and resistance. Suffering involves many deficiencies, a state without love, peace and harmony, which can be the result of a wide range of environmental influences. It includes the experience of physical and mental pain, illness, rejection, isolation, various forms of abuse such as physical torture or verbal condemnation, incomprehension, mockery and lack of compassion. It is characterized by vulnerability and discouraging hopelessness; the victim is often unable to defend himself, is unable to break free, or has no opportunity to change neither their circumstances nor the events unfolding around them.
When we compare the biblical records highlighted above, the experiences of the two sufferers who functioned as target for many are remarkably similar. However, under the weight of the misery that Jesus Christ suffered, everyone else would have collapsed: that loneliness, that burden, and tribulations could only be carried throughout a lifetime by the Saviour. Both Jesus and Job experienced the pains as a consequence of their true existence. They did not reap the fruits of their own evil deeds, which made the situation especially incomprehensible to the observers immersed in their thought. We see the same setting, the same source in both cases: the satanic attack, the struggle of the representative of envy against the prince and servant of peace. Yet, we have to wait for the final answer, the final elimination of the source of suffering: neither Job nor Jesus saw the immediate punishment of Satan and his servants. God, according to His wise plans, did not employ immediate and violent retaliation. He did not kill the wicked with a single word, although He could have done so. Instead, he helped both of his children to a complete and perfect victory without lifting them out of the fires of misery, for in the long run this is the truly fruitful solution. Jesus experienced a great amount of deep suffering from the first minutes of his life, without exception unworthily, that is, he did not deserve the afflictions. But it was the path on which he became perfect as a Man, and thus he was perfected as a high priest of intercession and consolation.
- In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. (Hebrews 2:10)
As strange as it may sound, both instances prove that suffering is not a private matter: it takes place in front of the inhabitants of the universe and is not left without consequences, even if justice seems to be delayed. Moreover, procrastination has a reason on account of mercy: it can lead to separation from evil repentance, even in the case of hearts imbued with hatred. However, the sufferer has the right and opportunity to express his or her trust in God, thereby witnessing the lawsuit for the source of goodness. God is empowered to provide protection, confirmation, and reparation to all who suffer for Him. That is why the apostle James wrote:
- … overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21)
- Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (James 5:11)
- But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed… (1Peter 3:14)
The Greek original of the word ‘tolerance’ is ‘hypomone’, which means: patience, endurance, perseverance, determination. One of the basic meanings of the word is to uphold under pressure or probation. Patience revealed during the time of suffering is the weapon, the antidote, the means for defending faith. Consequently, if we suffer for Christ, if we suffer at all, let us always look up to Him who suffered for us. We will find relief, and comfort in Him.
- They detest me and keep their distance;they do not hesitate to spit in my face. (Job 30:10)
- He has alienated my family from me;my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.My relatives have gone away;my closest friends have forgotten me.My guests and my female servants count me a foreigner;they look upon me as a stranger.I summon my servant, but he does not answer,though I beg him with my own mouth.My breath is offensive to my wife;I am loathsome to my own family.Even the little boys scorn me;when I appear, they ridicule me. All my intimate friends detest me;those I love have turned against me. (Job 19:13-19)
- He grew up before him like a tender shoot,and like a root out of dry ground.He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.He was despised and rejected by mankind,a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faceshe was despised, and we held him in low esteem.Surely he took up our painand bore our suffering,yet we considered him punished by God,stricken by him, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions,he was crushed for our iniquities the punishment that brought us peace was on him,and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:2-5)
- Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. …but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:9.13)
Abhorrence expressed by the surrounding of the individual walks hand in hand with suffering. Abhorrence denotes hatred, contempt, scorn, rejection, alienation, abomination, as well as physical and emotional alienation which all lead to loneliness. Both Job and Jesus experienced this misery, which is worst when detestation is manifested by those who we love or who loved us. “Of course” the children of Christ have had this experience in the blasphemous world. Hatred has various forms, as shown below.
- My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; (Job 16:20)
- A base and nameless broodthey were driven out of the land.‘And now those young men mock me in song;I have become a byword among them. (Job 30:8-9)
- Hear my prayer, Lord;let my cry for help come to you.Do not hide your face from mewhen I am in distress. Turn your ear to me;when I call, answer me quickly.For my days vanish like smoke;my bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted and withered like grass. I forget to eat my food. In my distress I groan aloudand am reduced to skin and bones… All day long my enemies taunt me;those who rail against me use my name as a curse.For I eat ashes as my foodand mingle my drink with tears. (Psalm 102:2-9)
- When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the Jews.Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’ In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “I am the Son of God. In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him. (Matthew 27:33-44)
The typical form of verbal abuse fundamentally questions the value of the character and intentions of the mocked person as well as the meaning of life. He who dares to make fun of anyone is convinced that “he is above,” he has power, he has the truth, and as a result he can afford to humiliate others without punishment. What lies behind the mockery is obviously a distorted worldview of the person who mocks others together with his inability of love. The object of ridicule will certainly not feel better in that situation. For both the mocked Jesus and Job, the most sacred and important issue is raised: the love relationship with God. In both cases, the exterior manifestation played into the mockers hands, as the Almighty did not declare himself, shrouded in silence, thus seemingly affirming the legitimacy of the attackers. ‘You only believe that God loves you, you only believe that you are important for him… but it is quite the opposite.’
- Bildad’s words: Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man;such is the place of one who does not know God. (Job 18:21)
- Zophar’s words: Such is the fate God allots the wicked,the heritage appointed for them by God (Job 20:29)
- Elipha’s words: ‘Is it for your piety that he rebukes youand brings charges against you?Is not your wickedness great?Are not your sins endless?You demanded security from your relatives for no reason; you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked.You gave no water to the weary and you withheld food from the hungry, though you were a powerful man, owning land an honoured man, living on it.And you sent widows away empty-handedand broke the strength of the fatherless. That is why snares are all around you,why sudden peril terrifies you. (Job 22:4-11)
- Elihu’s words: ‘Job says, „I am innocent, but God denies me justice.Although I am right, I am considered a liar;although I am guiltless,his arrow inflicts an incurable wound. Is there anyone like Job,who drinks scorn like water? He keeps company with evildoers; he associates with the wicked.For he says, “There is no profitin trying to please God.”(Job 34:5-9)
- Elihu’s words: Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmostfor answering like a wicked man!To his sin he adds rebellion;scornfully he claps his hands among usand multiplies his words against God.’ (Job 34:36-37)
- My God, whom I praise,do not remain silent, for people who are wicked and deceitfulhave opened their mouths against me;they have spoken against me with lying tongues.With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause.In return for my friendship they accuse me,but I am a man of prayer. They repay me evil for good,and hatred for my friendship. (Psalm 109:1-5)
- Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. Are you the king of the Jews?’ asked Pilate.‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied.The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’ (Mark 15:1-3)
- Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. (Mark 3:2)
- And they began to accuse him, saying, ‘We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king. (Lucas 23:2)
- We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’ (John 10:33)
- Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ (Matthew 26:65-66)
- …you will be handed over to the local councils … you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. (Matthew 10:17-18)
- ‘King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defence against all the accusations of the Jews. (Acts 26:2)
Accusation which is typically a satanic activity causes even more suffering than mockery. It masks the evident fact that the source of all sin is the original accuser himself. In both cases, unfounded accusations were made: neither Job nor Jesus was guilty of what they were accused of. However, no one there other than they themselves commented on this. They had no one to defend them; no one raised their word in their interest. This however, did not detract from their truth. The circumstances, the loudness of the attackers are never proof to the accusations Yet, the accused may completely collapse under the weight of the accusations brought against him, questioning his own innocence and his own truth.
It is especially sad when best friends, guided by good intentions, of course, join the zealous representatives of the prosecution. They do so with the conviction that the only cause of suffering is one’s sin. As a prisoner of a rigid interpretation of faith and of a just God, the human mind finds no meaningful explanation for the reason of torment for someone being tormented, except that the sufferer owes his miserable condition to himself. However, this is not always the case, and a sensitive distinction requires the guidance of a truly just God. Otherwise, one can easily find oneself in the role of an incompetent inquisitor, not even realizing that they are on the wrong side, becoming an advocate of unloving judgment.
However, both Job and Jesus insisted on their innocence, and they could only break through the darkness that separated them from the light of God by dint of faith. For the most part, the same treatment is given to all people who want to spread the light of truth in the world. The chief accuser uses human means to accuse the people who seek to dispel the darkness he maintains. However, Paul did not cease to be happy even when he blame was laid on him because he had the opportunity to speak about the truth to one of the leaders of the world at the time. Even the most painful situations offer the opportunity to manifest the power of God if we are not discouraged but trust Him.
- …then know that God has wronged meand drawn his net around me. ‘Though I cry, “Violence!” I get no response;though I call for help, there is no justice. (Job 19:6-7)
- I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly;with the might of your hand you attack me. (Job 30:20-21)
- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?Why are you so far from saving me,so far from my cries of anguish?My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;you are the one Israel praises. In you our ancestors put their trust;they trusted and you delivered them.To you they cried out and were saved;in you they trusted and were not put to shame.But I am a worm and not a man,scorned by everyone, despised by the people.All who see me mock me;they hurl insults, shaking their heads.He trusts in the Lord ,’ they say, let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him,since he delights in him.’Yet you brought me out of the womb;you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. (Psalm 22:1-9)
- Do not hide your face from your servant;answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. Come near and rescue me;deliver me because of my foes. (Psalm 69:17-18)
- … yet we considered him punished by God,stricken by him, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4)
- About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’) (Matthew 27:46)
The heaviest burden in suffering is when we experience distance from the source of love. The heaviest burden is the silence of God. Silence surrounding misery is a state of divine indifference, lack of compassion, even outright anger or hatred. The deepest pant of misery is silent condemnation, indiscriminate isolation. Although God was there, although God suffered in both cases, He still had to withdraw his embracing arms and His words of love to prove that goodness and faithfulness could exist in a so-called ‘state without interest’, at least in some hearts. The unattainable God wrapped in silence, is the most formidable and most debilitating experience that a human being ever could experience.
When the skies seem to close and there is no answer to the cries and lamentations, all that remains is our memories of past experiences of intimacy as well as hope for the near-fulfilment of divine promises. The unbearable state of the present can be alleviated by the warmth of the inalienable past and the image of a hopeful future. However, this is a gap that can only be bridged by faith. Faith is deep trust: knowledge that my Father will not deceive, He is faithful, His words will come true, even if all current circumstances contradict this, such as a storm of emotions.
- My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.’ So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. (Job 42:8-10)
- …he poured out his life unto death,and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many,and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)
- ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Lucas 23:34)
- … Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:15)
- For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. (1Timothy 2:5)
- While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:59-60)
- And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18)
- The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
Job had to beg God for the sake of his friends while there was no trace of healing or justice guaranteed for him. He had to cry out to God naked, full of bruises, tormented for those who had been tormenting him with the harshest accusations under the guise of friendship for many days. Why did not the Almighty ask Job to be in those tough and challenging situations when Job was restored and dignified? In hindsight it becomes clear that the crucified, naked, bleeding Saviour had already begun his intercession when he had nothing except for the bare goodness that made up the fibres of his heart, when had no adorned ornate high priest attire. He was not mourning himself but his tormentors. The abused prayed for his abusers because they were lost indeed, but they had no doubt in believing their truth. They were so convinced about their truth they did not even suspect that they were wrong. Intercession is like being a bridge or a ladder: a link between heaven and earth, which can only be exercised with the fullness of benevolence, the Greek word for it is ‘kharis’, and of charity. The man who was praying nailed on the cross became the representative and mediator of mankind in heaven, because of whom God listened to Job’s prayer, too. Throughout the story, the faith and hope of the Almighty manifest themselves: His Son travels the path to become the perfect Messiah for all those who got lost.
However, what was to happen was full of hope, even fascinating: all those who received Jesus into their hearts and lives show the same mediating spirit as the Son of God who died for them. Like Deacon Stephen, they are able to beg forgiveness for their murderers. With this, they are proof of the power and invincibility of love without interest.
- After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’slife more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch.Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years. (Job 42:10-17)
- Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days,and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,and he will bear their iniquities.Therefore I will give him a portion among the great and he will divide the spoils with the strong because he poured out his life unto death,and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many,and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:10-12)
- Jesus Christ… made himself nothingby taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himselfby becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!Therefore God exalted him to the highest placeand gave him the name that is above every name,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:7-11)
- But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9)
- But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:4-6)
- But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him... (1 Peter 2:9)
- And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scrolland to open its seals, because you were slain,and with your blood you purchased for Godpersons from every tribe and language and people and nation.You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,and they will reign[b] on the earth.’ (Revelations 5:9-10)
Although we were not witnesses to the final scene in heaven, when Satan was supposed to admit that he had lost his bet, and perhaps he had been left behind. Moses describes God’s restorative activity, His redemption and rich reward in detail. Through his sacrifice and self-denial, Job gained a new family, and a wealth he had never dreamed of. The same was accomplished after Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice: he became the head of a new human family that could stand before God’s throne in holiness and innocence. Simultaneously, he regained his original right on the right hand side of the Almighty as the “first” born, as lord of heaven and earth with unlimited power, who, however, became Man forever. As a result, all those who have suffered in the footsteps of Christ in order to have as many as possible partakers in the kingdom of God will be a rewarded.