The Gospel of Jesus in the Story of Job

Imagine you wanted to turn the story of Job into a play, but not a historical play. You have no interest in telling the old story of a man who was robbed and suffered. You’re much more meta than that. No, you want a gospel play. You want to tell the good news story of Jesus using characters from the story of Job.

How would you do that? And who would play which role?

I love the gospel and I love the story of Job, so this is something I’ve thought about. In fact, every time I read the Bible I ask myself, what does this story reveal about Christ’s larger story? How does this help me understand Jesus and what he’s done? This is not a whimsical exercise; this is serious Bible study. But maybe you’ve never thought about like this. Maybe you just read the Bible stories in isolation. If so, you’re missing out.

Whenever you read the scriptures there is always more going on than meets the eye. There is always a larger Truth to be unveiled, and something about Jesus to discover.

Allow me to illustrate using the play-scenario just mentioned. If I was to preach the gospel using characters from the story of Job, this is how I would cast it:

  •  Job would play the role of fallen humanity, bound by fear and wondering “why me?” When we first meet Job he is acting like Adam, trying to cover his family’s sins through religious activity. He’s bringing sacrifices out of fear and superstition, and he dreads losing what he loves. Act 1, Scene 2, Job loses what he loves.
  • Job’s three useless friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, represent manmade religion. Or perhaps the old covenant. Their unhelpful focus on sin and what we must do about it, add drama and confusion in Act 2.
  • Elihu, like Jesus, is the good news herald revealing the true character of God. In the final act of the play, he lifts Job’s gaze heavenward and paints pictures of amazing grace. Elihu gets to deliver one of the best lines in the play: “Oh, Job, don’t you see how God’s wooing you from the jaws of danger? How he’s drawing you into wide-open places, inviting you to feast at a table laden with blessings?” (Job 36:16).
  • God, who appears in the opening and closing scenes of the story, plays several roles. In the beginning, he is Elohim and Lord above all. Then he is the Prophet calling out Job’s eternal destiny. He calls the sinner “a perfect and an upright man.” Near the end of the play, when all seems lost, God is revealed as the powerful Creator. He reminds us that nothing is too hard for him. Then finally, he is the Redeemer, making something beautiful out of the pieces of Job’s fractured life.

Job was no Jesus, and we should be thankful he wasn’t. Like many of us, Job encountered hardships that were greater than his resources. But then he encountered a grace far greater than his pain. And that’s the story of good news and how it lifts us, heals us, and blesses us.

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24 Comments on The Gospel of Jesus in the Story of Job

  1. richard elson // November 1, 2018 at 1:05 am // Reply

    I love it. But I hope there’s some fat in the budget for another character? It wouldn’t cost too much. . . he only has to read a few lines to state his problem, you can call him the accuser.

    I’ve got an idea to keep people coming back again and again.(think of the money we’ll make) The accusers’ script could have a dozen different ways of saying the same thing. This way people will get to know what the problem looks like from different angles.

    Sort of a “ground hog day” with the only variable being the initial exchange between God and Satan. What do you think?

  2. Beautiful. So good.
    Thanks Paul.

  3. Superb. Good revelation and good writing. Love it when I learn something and enjoy the process! These are the types of posts that make me happy to be a Patreon.

  4. “I love the way you teach”!! So many teachers put the emphasis on Job’s patience (which he was not) and needless suffering..we miss the bigger picture. Thank you..I’m now looking at the Book of Job with enlightened eyes🙏

  5. Thank you so much for explaining this – this is the best explanation I have ever heard !

  6. Thank you Paul I love it. Yes, agree with Richard about the character you left out…hope you can add him in.
    Job was the first whole book in the Bible that I read through. It was a struggle to keep at it, and I had no real idea of the story’s meaning. I ticked it off my reading list with a sigh of relief.
    Great post.

  7. Phillip Kang // November 1, 2018 at 11:00 am // Reply

    This is new revelation to me and I love it. Now I know what to share when the story of Job is brought up. Thanks, Paul.

  8. Hi Paul… I think your play is a great idea, but the truth may “step on a lot of toes”. For years I had heard the story of Job preached with the keynote message being pain and suffering inflicted by God and then that, taken away by God. There was no good news preached, except God gave back double what He took in the first instance. This supposedly confirmed that God was good. My spirit was constantly at odds with this preaching. Interestingly Elihu was not mentioned at all or only as a young upstart who should have kept quiet so his elders could speak more.
    Eventually, I asked the question, “Is God good or is He bad?”… surely He cannot be both. So I started digging and found Job was in (ongoing conscious) sin, which allowed the devil to work him over. Then I found Elihu, (one in a thousand), the good news for Job and I wondered how so many could miss this. Also Job was self-righteous, which was always going to be a dangerous condition. Finally Job was redeemed through God’s great love and mercy, (grace). Thankyou Jesus!

    • richard elson // November 6, 2018 at 10:38 am // Reply

      That’s So true James. . . what I’ve come to appreciate is a God best characterized as “A Father” and his default position towards all men is “you are my beloved son in whom I am week pleased”. While the accuser has fostered condemnation to cause us to believe otherwise.
      Of coarse Jesus, (being the exact image of God) demonstrates with the women caught in adultery, that in the absence of any accusers he doesn’t become an accuser.
      Satan recruits accusers to separate us from God and to promote God as unknowable, angry, retributive and violent.
      God recruits those who would reconcile men to the true nature of the Father. Men like Elihu Paul Ellis, and yourself.

    • richard elson // November 6, 2018 at 10:48 am // Reply

      God’s default position
      “This is my beloved son, in whom I am WELL pleased”
      Satan already knows it.
      Adam needed to know it, and so did Job.
      Jesus lived out his life from a position of “beloved son”.

      • Richard you know what….I can feel healing balm trickling over wounded hearts as they read your reply. It encouraged me today. So did your reply James.
        And all this from a post on Job! Wonderful, grateful.

  9. That is excellent! There are so many wrong interpretations that still think that we are stuck in Job’s time, around.

  10. Thanks Paul. All glory to God for your articles. You share such wonderful revelations that makes me put my eyes on Jesus always. God bless you brother.

  11. Jenny Beauchamp // November 2, 2018 at 8:07 am // Reply

    Awesome! Job, a picture of my life and also a bigger picture of all of mankind for all of time! Thanks.

  12. thank you for not just blindly following what the masses have to say about Job, but filtering the words of his book in view of Christ, this truth is refreshing and beautiful, thank you for sharing! Job is not someone to aspire to, but a man saved by God’s amazing grace, a man just like us 🙂 I LOVEEE the analogies.

  13. I think elihu is satan : lots of words that provide no comfort or hope in Job. God does not mention elihu. (God always backs up Jesus: “This is my beloved son. Hear Him.”). Hatred is evidence by God’s ignoring elihu. (God doesn’t even mention the nicolaitanes, who He hates, except for a few lines in the last book of the Bible.)

    • If you seriously believe this, I encourage you to read the story of Elihu again. Elihu and Satan could not have been more different. Elihu spoke against Job’s self-righteous (Job 32:2); the accuser would have spoken in support of it. Elihu is the only character in the story named after God and he is the son of a man named “God blesses.” He is the only speaker in the story who presents a true picture of God’s character and consequently he is the only one not rebuked by God. Job and his three friends were bound by dead religion, but Elihu preached the good news of unmerited favor and this is what God gave to Job. Thus the fruit of Elihu’s ministry prove the man is true.

      • John W Reed // November 10, 2018 at 9:10 pm //

        Wow, Elihu is satan? That is a huge leap. I can’t accept that. Elihu did point to nature and a bigger picture but he does speak of God putting disease and pain on people to teach them and perfect them. He also believed Job had sinned some secret sin otherwise he wouldn’t be under God’s wrath. His view is that God wouldn’t bring punishment unless it was warranted because God is just. I really see Elihu as the Old Covenant guy. Do good get good do bad get bad. But that’s the impression I get when I read it. I’ve looked at various commentaries. Some praise Elihu’s speech others not so much. The larger picture is God is always good, He is a good Father. He didn’t cause or ordain, or even allow the enemy to attack Job, or his possessions or kill his kids. Job was merely suffering an attack from satan.

  14. Thank God for teachers He anoints like you Paul… despite years of me trying to understand Jobs dire story, I never could fathom the Grace in it. Your simple teaching here Paul is so simple it has to be the ‘Christ In You’ setting us free with the wonderful way you’ve pictured Jobs account! Free! Free! Free! We are free in Grace and it feels SO GOOD! Thank you so much!

  15. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow! Wonderful telling of the gospel story through Job’s experience with God our Lord, Creator and Redeemer!

  16. Drops mike, walks off stage, curtains close.

  17. I really like the ability to write simply but with depth. Swimming is my favorite all time activity; next is bicycling. This was so good, thank you Paul.

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