3-3-2 Job As Priest
It can be shown that James read Job in a bad light insofar as he saw
him as a type of the rich, Judaist-influenced Jews in the first century
ecclesia who proudly despised their brethren. Eliphaz says that Job's
sudden problems amid his prosperity were what would happen to all the
wicked (15:21). This seems to be alluded to in 1 Thess.5:3 concerning
the sudden destruction of rich, spiritually self confident believers.
Job's words of 30:1 certainly smack of arrogance: " Whose fathers
I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock" . This
would mean that his merciful acts to the poor were done in a 'charitable'
spirit, thinking that such public acts declared him outwardly righteous:
" I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy (by his charity). I
(thereby) put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgement was as
a robe and a diadem" (29:13,14).
This has clear reference to the clothing of the Mosaic
High Priest with his outward show of righteousness. Job was probably the
family priest, seeing that the head of the household appears to have been
the priest in patriarchal times; thus Job could offer a sacrifice for
the sins of his children (1:5). Job's likening of himself to a moth-eaten
garment due to God's changing of his circumstances (13:26-28) must connect
with the disciples of the Law as an old, decaying garment in Heb.8:13.
The priestly clothing " for glory and for beauty" (Ex.28:2)
is certainly alluded to by God when He challenges Job " Deck thyself
now (i.e. like you used to) with majesty and excellency; and array
thyself with glory and beauty...then will I also confess unto thee that
thine own right hand can save thee" (40:10,14)- as if God is saying
that Job's previous life represented the Mosaic priestly system with its
external pomp and implication that ones own righteousness can bring salvation
(" that thine own right hand can save thee" ). Job's humiliation
meant that, by implication, he no longer felt able to clothe himself with
the priestly garments of glory and beauty; he had learnt the spirit of
the Christian dispensation, to trust on the grace of God rather than a
system of salvation depending on personal righteousness. The descriptions
of Job rending his " mantle" (priestly robes) recalls that of
Caiaphas; his falling on his face perhaps indicates his recognition
that reliance on the outward show of the Law needed to be replaced by
humble faith. Job thus described his experiences as God leading "
priests away stripped" of their robes (Job 12:19 N.I.V.).
Job the priest
The priest's duty was to expound the word of God (Mal.2:7; Hos.4:6):
Job being a prophet also meant that he had a prominent role to play in
the instruction of the people. It appears that as a prophet he was faithful-
he spoke what God said. The friends were also prophets, seeing that in
15:8,9 they say that they have been given the same " secret"
(i.e. inspiration) and knowledge of God as Job had. However, they did
not accurately speak forth what they were inspired with as Job did (42:7).
But as the priests of Israel misled the people by faulty reasoning ostensibly
based on the word, so Job too was in error as a priest. Eliphaz told Job
" Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips
testify against thee" (15:6). This is picked up by Christ in his
words to the one-talent man in the parable: " Out of thine own mouth
will I judge thee" . The man was condemned for keeping his talent
(his spiritual knowledge of the word) to himself rather than sharing it
with others. Eliphaz proceeds to make the same rebuke of Job- although
he had " heard the secret of God" , which we have seen implies
the gift of prophesying the word, he " restrained wisdom unto thyself"
(v.8). This confirms that Christ's one-talent man of the parable is based
on Job, thus making him represent the rejected at judgement. No doubt
the primary application of the one-talent man was to the Jewish believers
of Christ's day who did not capitalize on the talent they already had.
The taking away of the talent and its being given to others recalls the
Kingdom (i.e. the Gospel of the Kingdom) being taken from the Jews and
being given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it (cp. trading the
In Job 9:21 and by implication in other places, Job effectively says
that there is no point in serving God or striving for obedience to God.
This is what the priests of Israel later said: " It is vain to serve
God: and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance?" (Mal.3:14).
Elihu claimed that Job " hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that
he should delight himself in God" (34:9)- i.e. keep the commands
of God, seeing that the Hebrew for " delight" often occurs
in the context of obedience to the word. The Malachi passage is more specifically
alluding to Job 21:7,15: " What is the Almighty that we should serve
Him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?" . These
are the words of Job, complaining about the prosperity of the wicked who
had such an attitude, and the carefree happiness of their lives: "
Their children dance. They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the
sound of the organ" (21:11,12). It is in this that the Malachi context
is so significant, for Mal.3:15 continues :" We (the Israelites)
call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up"
. This was also Job's view. Notice that Job is probably implying that
his prosperous three friends were among the wicked whom he is describing,
thus associating them with the corrupt Jewish priesthood.