Thursday, June 6, 2013

Job: A Good Man is Hard to Find

I read in a commentary recently that Job is considered a classic, which is defined by Mark Twain as "something that everybody wants to have read but nobody wants to read."

We laugh, but it's true. While many of us know the story of Job's great tragedy and struggle, few have ever truly picked it up and read it for ourselves. Admittedly, a few years back I think I opened it up only to become quickly overwhelmed. It seems that without a basic understanding of poetry, of ancient middle-eastern culture, and of God, we cannot begin to uncover its mysteries. So we are going to explore some of those concepts to unlock it for you as you study it for yourselves.

People are always looking to find a simple theme for this book. They suggest that people who go through tragedies read it for comfort, they use it to explain why bad things happen to good people, and they make it about the human struggle in the face of divine forces. But none of those things are what Job is really about. Over the next post or two, I'm going to delve in to a different way of looking at Job, and show you why I believe the book of Job is about a job description (no pun intended) for Someone who was to come, an allusion to Him, and a foreshadowing of His life and calling.

How ready we are to accept Romans 8:38-39 that promises

...neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

But we want that promise without reciprocating that sentiment to the Lord. In Job we find a man who loves and trusts and obeys God to the point of death. As much as God loves Him, so He loves God, and trusts Him, even if all the things of this world are lost to Him. The question to ask ourselves is this: if God called you to live as Job, would your love grow cold for Him? Are your obedience and faith contingent upon your prosperity, your favor from others, your picture-perfect family or your health? Or better yet, on your understanding of why what happens to you occurs? Job is a call to look inward and to remember another suffering servant, who Job serves as merely a shadow of, who would also give up His own status and glory to suffer for His heavenly Father. Yes, this story is literally parallel to the story of our Messiah, Jesus Christ, and we will explore that too.

But why does this matter to us? How does it apply to our lives? Well, Beloved, as a redeemed child of God, living in covenant with Him, your calling is this:

the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
1 John 2:6

So, as difficult as it is for us self-focused, individualistic human beings, the first thing to recognize about the book of Job is that it's not about you...per se. In a historical sense, it is the story of one godly man's faithful walk through a God-allowed time of extreme suffering. In a spiritual sense, it is a foreshadowing of Christ, the suffering servant, and His submission to God in suffering which made our salvation possible. And in a practical sense, it is a model for what our mindset should be and how to respond righteously when wrestling with hardship, chaos, tragedy and the like. Try to think on all three of these levels as we go through the book together and you will find much greater success.

What's in a Name?

Before we even delve into the text, I want to show you something interesting about Job's name. We don't really know where Job came from, not much is known about the land of Uz. So we're not sure if his name is actually a Hebrew name. But when it was penned by God's anointed Hebrew scholars, below is what they wrote down. They say that the legacy of a person was in the name, and often they renamed places or people to coincide with their destinies. Look at what Job's destiny was here according to his name:


The letters are (right to left) Aleph, Iyod, Vav, Bet. So really it sounded something like "eye-oh-b" possibly. Each of these letters has a picture associated with it. Here it is in paleo-Hebrew pictures:

Aleph =
picture of an ox
symbol of the leader or head, of God

Iyod =
picture of an arm with hand
symbol of work, deed, or worship

Vav =
picture of a tent peg
symbol of securing, hooking, adding

Bet =
picture of a tent or house
symbol of home, family, inside

When you look at these pictures that mean strong leader or God, work, to secure, and family and you see them associated with a hand and a nail, does that make you think of Christ at all? What I see here is that Job is telling us about the One who would come, God's strong, appointed leader who would work and worship with his life in order to secure a place inside the house of God for you and for me. And really, Job leads in showing us how to work and worship in order to secure a place for ourselves in God's family - through faith and obedience. If you think I'm reaching here, just read on. There is more in the Hebrew language that we can discover about what Job is really telling us.

The Messiah's Hidden Signature

Did you know that there are words in the Old Testament that do not translate into English words? Just like in modern day language, there are simply things that are lost in translation. In the Hebrew language, which is the language in which the Old Testament was written and also the language that was spoken by Jesus, there is one word in particular that is of great significance to us as we study.

Just two little letters, this tiny, untranslatable Hebrew word is made up of the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet; aleph and tav. This is most interesting because when Jesus revealed His second coming to John, He said, “I am the Alpha (Aleph) and the Omega (Tav) (Revelation 22:13).” Some people call this little word a direct object marker. But what is interesting is that it doesn't always appear in every sentence and chapter throughout the Bible. It is selectively placed. And when you do see it, it is always associated with some foreshadowing of the Messiah. And this happens in the first two chapters of the book of Job.

In the opening of the story of Job, the sons of God (spirit beings) were called to present themselves to God. (*Notice, by the way, that even Satan, as rebellious and evil as he is, is still subject to God and must obey and give an account to Him when He calls.) In verses 7 and 9 of chapter one, when Satan responds to God (יְהֹוָה) suddenly there is an Aleph Tav attached to His name.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to preesent themselves before the Lord (יְהֹוָה ), and Satan also came among them. The Lord (יְהֹוָה) said to Satan, From where do you come?" Then Satan answered the Lord  אֵת יְהֹוָה said "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it."

The next time you see the symbol is in Chapter 2, verse 7:

The Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote אֵת Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.

 I can't help but look at the overarching picture here. We have a man who was considered righteous and good by God (Job 1:8) who, by the will of God, was removed from his wealth and glory to suffer poverty, physical ailments and the loss of his family. Spoiler alert: Job will, at the end, be restored to his former status. Do you notice that the Aleph Tav, the symbol of the Messiah, leaves the presence of the father in order that it might be associated with an afflicted, suffering earthly servant? I could not help but think of this verse as I made this connection:

Have an attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heave and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:6-11

 You see, Beloved, when one of God's humble and faithful servants is afflicted, like Job, and maybe like you are being right now, it is a great opportunity to live out a reflection of Christ for others for God's ultimate glory. That is what Job will do here, and that is why the Aleph Tav appears before his name. Because thousands of years later, Satan would afflict the very Son of God who had humbled Himself in obedience.  Though he was abandoned by His friends, criticized, judged, tempted to depart from the truths He knew, these hardships will only strengthen His resolve that God is sovereign and that He will be restored, that he will not be moved.

Question for Thought

If, for some reason, new books of the Bible were written and your story was penned, do you think that Christ would choose to associate His symbol with your life? Would the Aleph Tav appear next to your name? A good man (or woman) is hard to find. But I certainly hope that is our goal.

I cannot wait to continue this study to uncover God's expectation of us when difficulties arise. We are all walking through some struggle, Beloved. Not one is exempt, which means there is great value and wisdom in this writing for us all. I hope you are inspired and curious to see what else this very special book holds for us. I know I am!



  1. Amanda - this is by far WAY BETTER than my bible study curriculum! I hope you don't mind if I copy this and reference it in my class! This has been not only enlightening but serious exciting! I love your heart and how God speaks through you! [Cori]

  2. Thank you Cori, His word is truly amazing. I'm so honored that I'm getting to be a vessel of His ministry to you. Keep pressing on!

  3. Great read amanda... it hit home.


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