3-1-3 Allusions To Job In The New Testament
There are many allusions to Job in the New Testament; far more
than may be apparent on the surface. Mt. 10:27 is one of them: "
What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye
hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops" . The idea
of God telling us things in the ear which we must then openly declare
is surely looking back to Job's words. " Darkness" is
also a Job idea; the word occurs at least 30 times in the book.
The final appearance of Yahweh in the darkness of the thundercloud
was His reproof of Job's repeated suggestion that the darkness of
sin somehow separated God from involvement with man. What Job was
told out of darkness, he had to speak forth in the light. It seems
that Job's spiritual growth is being picked up by the Lord and presented
as our pattern. He does the same in Lk. 18:30, another of the allusions
to Job in the New Testament, when He speaks of how each of us must
give up house, wife, brethren and children for the Kingdom’s sake,
and then afterwards receive “manifold more in this time, and in
the world to come…”. This is exactly the position of Job (Job 42:10),
and yet the Lord applies it to each of us. Praying for our enemies
and abusers, not wishing a curse upon them but rather a blessing,
also sounds like Job (Mt. 5:44 = Job 31:30). Further, Isaiah’s prophecies
of the restoration and the Kingdom are shot full of allusions back
to Job. The cry that Zion’s warfare or “appointed time” is now ended
(Is. 40:2) is taken straight out of Job 7:1; indeed, Job 7:3-7 describes
Job’s haggard life in the same terms as Israel in dispersion are
described in Isaiah 40. The point being, that Job’s eventual re-conversion
and salvation is a pattern for that of all God’s people. For more
allusions to Job in the New Testament see http://www.carelinks.net/books/dh/james/james_d12.html
The pattern of Job's re-conversion is telling indeed. Initially,
Job thought little of the judgment. Indeed, his faith in the resurrection
collapsed at times (as it did with David in Ps. 88:10?). He struggled
through the day to day trauma of his life, and that was enough.
The implications of the promises to Abraham and in Eden were lost
on him; he went away from the hope of Messiah and resurrection which
sustained the likes of Moses and David, solely, it seems, as a result
of their meditation on the implications of those early promises.
The way Eliphaz speaks of how Job’s seed or offspring could be many
or “great…as the grass of the earth” (Job 5:25) suggests the people
of Job’s time were familiar with the promises made to Abraham, and
the concept of their being applicable to them too. Job realized
his sinfulness, and yet at the same time he was in a quandary over
whether he really had sinned. In Job 27:6 he even feels that his
heart does not reproach him over any of the days he has ever lived
(RV). This is such an accurate caricature of so many Christian consciences,
of so much of our self-examination, both individually and collectively.
We of course have to admit that we are sinners, riddled with weakness
in so many ways; and of course we do admit this. And yet
there is a quandary over whether we really are big time sinners.
We feel ourselves to be little sinners, whatever we may theoretically
admit. And as such, we fail to appreciate the grace of God's salvation,
and therefore we fail to dynamically respond to this as we should
do, and thereby our community and our own lives are characterized
by the all too evident apathy with which they are; there is so little
of the real flame, the fire of true spirituality, which there might
be (1). And dear dear Job, like us,
for all his good works, for all his being such a truly and really
nice guy and brother, through and through... he had to be brought
down to his knees: " I am vile... I know (now, by
implication) that thou canst do everything, and that no thought
can be withholden from thee... therefore have I uttered that I understood
thee; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not" . As is
evident from the above chart, all through Job realized
his own sinfulness, the weakness of his nature, and the surpassing
greatness of the power and knowledge of the Lord God. These are
aspects of Job's spirituality which never changed too much; he was
constantly aware of these things. And yet only right at the end
did he realize that he knew nothing as he ought to know. "
If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet
as he ought to know" (1 Cor. 8:2) sounds like another of the
allusions to Job in the New Testament- particularly once it is realized
that 1 Corinthians has several other Job allusions (2).
For all his correct understanding of basic doctrine (remember that
Job was in covenant with the true God), he came to the conclusion
that he had been speaking about things and issues which were totally
beyond his comprehension; and not only this, but he seems to have
realized that they were " too wonderful for me" in the
sense that the things of God are almost inappropriate on the lips
and in the mind of a sinful mortal.
The Wonder Of It All
This is not to say that we cannot be sure that what we believe is in
essence " the Truth" . I am not suggesting that at all. But
what I am saying is that as we grow spiritually, there will be a more
timorous grasp of the wonderful doctrines of the true Gospel, a greater
sense of their wonder, a deeper appreciation of our moral and intellectual
frailty, and therefore a deeper knowledge that the glorious truth we hold
is in a sense " things too wonderful for me" .
Some personal reminiscences may -or will perhaps in the future- touch
a chord with you: Soon after my baptism, I recall hearing a brother 'going
on', as it seemed to me then, about the fact that we should call Christ
our " Lord" , not our elder brother, because although He
calls us His brethren, it is not for us to call him our brother,
but rather our Lord. I remember thinking how utterly pedantic this was.
But now I see that the brother had a point- a crucial one. And I recall
discussing the atonement with phrases like " so God really had no
option but to...." , and referring to " Christ" as if He
was some chap I'd knocked around with at school. I've not changed my doctrinal
convictions one bit- I trust they are deeper now than ever before. But
the things of the Truth are wonderful, too wonderful for us in many ways,
although this doesn't in any way mean that the Truth itself is unattainable
by us. We must handle the Truth with an ever-growing sense of awe, wonder
and deep deep gratitude.
(1) See The Gospel Of Grace
and The Humility Of The Gospel.
(2) Commented upon in my James
And Other Studies (London: Pioneer, 1992).