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Part of the problem in interpreting the Bible is that while it has the marks of ordinary writing, it is much more than literature. Jesus sat down with His disciples after His resurrection and poured over the OT to showed them how all of the books—designated as “Scripture” or “the Scriptures”—applied to Him (Luke 24). We have to assume that the book of Job was included in the survey. In what way is the book of Job a sign post that points to Jesus Christ? I believe it’s found in the use of “sons of God” (Job 1:6; 2:1). Many commentaries have posited that “sons of God” is a reference to angels rather than human beings. In the instance of the phrase’s use in Genesis 6:2, they are said to be fallen angels who cohabitated with humans and created a super race of giants called the Nephilim. While this is a popular interpretation, I believe it’s mistaken. “Sons of God” never refers to fallen angels. The only place where “sons of God” could refer to angels (not fallen angels) is in the highly poetic passage in Job 38:7: “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” But this also may be a reference to earthly rulers (Judges 5:19–20). Elsewhere in the Bible, “sons of God” always refers to humans.
Job is described as “the greatest of all the sons [bene] of the east” (Job 1:3). Most translations have “men of the east.” We read in Job 1:6 that “there was a day when the sons [bene] of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.” Many assume that this is a description of a heavenly court of angelic beings. To present oneself before the Lord is a common biblical phrase designating judgment (ethical evaluation): Do I meet God’s standards? We know this divine evaluation was always on Job’s mind because he offered “burnt offerings” according to the number of his children. “Perhaps,” Job reasoned, “my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts” (Job 1:5). To flee from the presence of God—as Cain (Gen. 4:16) and Jonah did (Jonah 1:3, 6)—is an attempt to avoid God’s evaluation of our deeds. Of course, there is no place where we can flee from God’s presence (Ps. 139:7).
Satan was present when Adam (“the son of God”: Luke 3:38) and Eve broke their fellowship with God and came under God’s negative sanctions. He was there when Jesus, as the Second Adam and “the Son of God” (Matt. 4:6; Luke 4:3), was in the presence of His Father in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1–13; Luke 4:3). Jesus, as the Second Adam, was enduring a time of testing and moral judgment. Satan’s goal was to separate Jesus from the will of His Father. We can assume that he was there when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane.
What about Satan’s role? He is described in the Bible as “the accuser of our brethren . . . who accuses them before our God day and night” (Rev. 12:10). In the case of Job, Satan interjects himself among the godly rulers—“sons of God”—and accuses Job before God by using God’s own standards. He’s always trying to tweak God’s Word just enough to spoil its meaning. According to Martin Luther, “the Devil is ever God’s ape.”
The Greeks and heathens in after times imitated this, and build temples for their idols in certain places, as at Ephesus for Diana, at Delphos for Apollo, etc. For, where God builds a church there the devil would also build a chapel. They imitated the Jews also in this, namely, that as the Most Holiest was dark, and had no light, even so and after the same manner, did they make their shrines dark where the devil made answer. Thus is the devil ever God's ape.
The Devil comes in and mimic’s God’s Word so as to turn it on its head. He did it with Adam and Eve (“Has God said?”: Gen 3:1). When he tempted Jesus, he used clipped verses of Scripture. Satan knows that he must derail God’s redemptive plan by using elements of that plan. Jesus was his ultimate target. It started in Bethlehem and ended at Golgotha, “the Place of the Skull” (Matt. 27:33; Mark 15:22; Luke 23:33; John 19:17) with Jesus as the victor.
Job is a type of Christ whose trials are similar to those of Jesus. He suffers great loss not based on his deeds and is later restored. Job’s disputants—“miserable comforters” as one of my seminary professors described them—could not fathom that such a calamity could come upon an innocent person, so they insisted that Job must have done something terribly wrong to merit an “obvious” judgment. Many Jews in Jesus’ day could not believe that God would become a man and undergo a judgment curse (“cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree”: Gal. 3:13) since God is righteous. Is it any wonder that “Christ crucified” is a “stumbling block” (1 Cor. 1:23) to the Jews just as Job’s tragedies were a stumbling block to his three friends? Like Job, Jesus was “forsaken” for a time (Matt. 27:46).
Muslims have a similar problem. They believe that a substitute died on the cross. Jesus was raised to Heaven without being put on the cross, and God transformed another person to appear exactly like Jesus who was crucified instead of Jesus. One interpretation is that God used the substitution to punish one of Jesus’ enemies, most likely Judas Iscariot. Of course, there is biblical evidence that Judas killed himself (Matt. 27:3–10; Acts 1:18). Other Muslim scholars claim that a volunteer offered to be Jesus’ substitute. Simon of Cyrene is the most commonly accepted person to have done this. There is nothing to indicate that Simon volunteered for anything, especially to be crucified. He was “pressed into service to bear His cross” (Matt. 27:32). They reason, “How could the righteous prophet Jesus die on a cross?” The cross is the Muslim’s stumbling block.
Like Job, whose fortune and family were restored in multiple ways, (Job 42:10–17), after the crucifixion Jesus inherits “heaven and earth,” having been given authority over them (Matt. 28:18). Like Job and his possession (Job 1:3), Jesus possessed “all things” before His incarnation. All things had been created by Him (Col. 1:16). Jesus “emptied Himself” and became “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:5–8). The final result is similar to that of Job: “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 heaven 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” (Phil. 2:9–11).
Job is never told why God allowed Satan to torment him. Certainly God is sovereign and can do what He pleases. But is it possible that the book of Job looks forward to the ultimate act of injustice, the death of Jesus Christ, God who became a man. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).