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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 .

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).