3-1-5 Job And Christ
Job's changed attitude to the day of judgment is particularly marked
in the above analysis. As his desire for the Lord's revelation in judgment
increased, so his talk of suicide declined; Job became less wrapped up
in himself, his mind opened out beyond the pettiness of here and now to
the ultimate spiritual truth of Christ's coming. The more Job thought
on this, the less bitter he became with his 'friends'; the more he realized
that ultimately, every disobedience would receive its just recompense
of reward; and because he knew that he too was a sinner by nature, Job
became less concerned with the spiritual failures of others. His initial
doubts as to whether there really would be a resurrection subside as he
is driven to not only firmly believe that there will be a resurrection
and judgment, but also to desperately want that day, to long
for it. Paul likewise came to see the day of judgment as an " assurance"
, a comfort, rather than an inevitable and dreaded event on the horizon
of our existence (2 Thess. 1:6-10; Acts 17:31).
As Job's emphasis on the coming of Christ and judgment increased,
so his concentration on his present sufferings decreased. His heart
was consumed within him with desire for that day (19:27 AVmg.).
2 Tim. 4 can be regarded as Paul's most mature spiritual statement,
written as it was just prior to his death. In 2 Tim. 4:1,8, Paul's
mind was clearly on the second coming and the certainty of judgment.
He realized, in that time of undoubted maturity, that the common
characteristic of all the faithful would be that they all loved
the appearing of Christ. This isn't, of course, to say that anyone
who loves the idea of Christ's coming will thereby be saved. A true
love of His appearing is only possible with a correct doctrinal
understanding, and also a certain level of moral readiness for His
appearing (1). But do we love
the appearing of Christ as Job did? Is it really all we
have in life? Is our conscience, our faith in the grace of God,
our real belief in the blood of the cross, so deep that we love
the idea of the coming of judgment, that we would fain hasten
the day of His coming? The graph constructed above shows how Job's
love of the Lord's coming grew very rapidly. Before, he
was too caught up with bitterness about his unspiritual fellow 'believers',
effectively justifying himself in the eyes of his ecclesia and his
world, full of passive complaints about his own sufferings... and
so he didn't love that day as he later came to.
The Jagged Graph
There are some very evident ways in which Job spiritually grew.
For example, he originally said that his life previous to his afflictions
had not been a life of ease (Job 3:26); but as a result of his suffering,
he realized that actually it had been " at ease" (Job
16:12). But analysis of our graph above, if nothing else, reveals
that spiritual growth is not a smooth upward curve; neither
is there growth in every aspect of our spirituality; and there can
even be retrogression in some areas, whilst there is growth in others.
Job really is the classic model of all this. Job's realization of
his sinfulness doesn't seem to have grown as it might have; his
constant appreciation of the greatness of God seems to have centred
around His physical greatness rather than the power of
His grace. He increasingly uses the title " Almighty"
for God, perhaps reflecting this (2).
His sense of human frailty doesn't seem to have grown as it might
have; it seems Job didn't quite reach the level of contrition
which God intended. I say this for two reasons. Firstly, if Elihu
is taken as genuinely speaking on God's behalf- and much of what
he says is repeated by God- Job had not reached the appropriate
level of humility which he should have done. And secondly, the appearance
of Yahweh in the awesome thunderstorm and His subsequent demands
of Job seem to have called forth a genuine confession of frailty
in Job. Above all, his sufferings led Job to Christ. This is certainly
how the record reads. It seems that prior to this, Job had looked
away from the weakness of his own nature, and concentrated instead
on the coming of judgment day to bring about his own justification
and the condemnation of those he perceived to be against him. And
yet at the end of it all, at the end of the jagged graph of his
spiritual growth, there was a wondrous, wondrous sense of softness
in Job, in his final triumph at the end; no bitterness with his
God, no bitterness with his brethren, just a deep seated recognition
of his weakness and the saving greatness of the Almighty. And in
the end, at the very end of it all, this is where we'll be brought
to, both in the effect the experience of life has on us (if we respond
properly), and also through the effect of the judgment seat. God's
hand was in Job's life; He brought him to that final, glorious end.
God twice told Job that He was going to demand of him, and receive
an answer (38:3; 40:7). I would suggest that God puts the words
of repentance to Job, and Job then meekly repeats them: " I
will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me [the following words]:
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye
seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes"
(42:4-6). This is the ultimate spiritual end for us all.
Self-abhorrence, repentance, not just a passing niggle of conscience,
but real repentance, in dust and ashes.
(1) See Loving His Appearing.
(2) Note that Job's use of the
title " Yahweh" doesn't increase over time. This either
means that his appreciation of God's Name didn't grow as it should
have done; or it suggests that physical use of the name " Yahweh"
isn't of itself an indicator of spiritual growth.