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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Messiah in the Old Testament –the book of Job

            Throughout this year I am examining a book called The Messiah in the Old Testament by Walter Kaiser, of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  He attempts to illustrate how OT texts show that the Messiah, God’s anointed savior, has been a part of God’s plan from the start.  In this installment, I share Kaiser’s observations from the book of Job. 
In my own opinion, Job should be treated as a post-exilic work.  I believe Job is a parable and possibly the compilation of different works.  The events of the book may be rooted in a historic person named Job, but the greater message of the work speaks to how readers engage with God during times of immense suffering.  It is a mistake to too quickly say, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Yes, Job says that (1:21), but then he spends many chapters expressing extreme bitterness. One who claims Job suffered with dignity and never indicted God is one who stopped reading after chapter 2.
Are there hints of Messianic faith in Job?  Here is Kaiser’s evidence: first, he mentions 9:33.  Job complains “there is no umpire between us” (between himself and God).  The word umpire is one who would arbitrate between Job and God.  He suffers unjustly and God lets it happen, but how can he, a mere mortal, bring his case against Almighty God?  An umpire or arbitrator would speak on Job’s behalf.
Second, Kaiser mentions 16:19-21, where Job sounds more hopeful.  “My witness is in heaven and he … vouches for me … on high.  He would maintain the right of a mortal with God as one does for a neighbor.”  In referring to terms witness and neighbor, Kaiser says the text indicates ideas like an intercessor and even a friend (Kaiser, p. 63). 
Kaiser’s third identification of passages in Job that hint at Messianic theology is 19:25-27.  “I know that my redeemer lives and at the last he will stand upon on the earth.”  Kaiser unabashedly asserts that Job anticipates an end-times living person on earth who can and will vindicate him and redeem him from his myriad troubles.  Resurrection theology developed gradually over the course of Israel’s history and is not uniformly presented in the OT.  This is one reason I am hesitant to locate Job (in its final form) in the era of Abraham.  Kaiser does not insist Job lived at that time either, by the way.  However, regardless of when he lived, this passage, Job 19:25-27, clearly asserts hope, a hope rooted in the belief that a savior will speak on Job’s behalf.
The fourth example from Job comes not from Job’s speech but that of Elihu in Job 33:23-28.  Kaiser notes that in these verses “is a call for a messenger who will act as an interpreter” (Kaiser, p.64).  The end result of this interpreter’s work is that the sufferer (in this case Job) will be redeemed from “the Pit” and shall again “see the light.”  Like the redeemer passage (19:25-27), here is a reference to a last-day salvation. 
From these hopeful passages, scattered throughout the dark world of suffering presented in the book of Job, Kaiser sees seeds of Messianic hope.  “The Messiah will be an arbitrator, a mediator, a heavenly advocate and witness, a redeemer, and an interpreter of the enigmas of life” (Kaiser, p.64).  The New Testament, especially the book of Hebrews, presents Christ in all these roles.


  1. Good day Mr. Tennant, I hope you are doing well today.

    I agree with you in stating those who say Job did not get mad at God stop reading after Ch2. Job did curse the day he was born and said may God not care for it. My question is, as I am still growing in faith myself, I've always believe and been taught that Job was a real person. As it says in Job 1:1, there was a man who lived in the land of Uz who was righteous, feared God and turned away from sin. Reading verses like this, at least for me, gives me hope that people can be more like Jesus than we thought. Of course during those times, in my opinion, were simpler. We have so many temptation now and easy access to them. But not to head off course here, when we talk about people from the bible there are always other scriptures to reinforce what God
    said. I've talked to quite a few people, both believers and non and it surprises me that so many non-believers know so much about Christ. They question well if Job was not real and just a parable, did Jonah really get swallowed by the whale maybe this was a metaphor for being consumed by his rebellion against God. Did Moses really part the Red Sea for the Israelites to escape or did he just make a way for them to get to freedom. And of course the most crucial one of all, did Jesus really do all the things the bible says He did; heal the sick, water to wine and cure a man’s blindness. Me personally I believe that Jonah did get swallowed by the whale, Moses did part the Red Sea and that Job was a righteous person who lived. I know the bible does not give an exact time as to when but according to Job 22:16 he makes reference to the flood, so I would assume he lived sometime after that. Something else my non-believers are in awe of, in a bad way, that a man could build such a boat, but that is a story for another time. Just sharing my thoughts as you have shared yours. Thank you for listening(reading).

    1. Thanks for reading my blog, Clifton and for offering your feedback. I really appreciate it.

      One of the questions (one of many) I have for the book of Job - why are the first two chapters and chapter 42 in prose, while chapters 3-41 are in poetic verse? This doesn't necessarily mean those sections come from different authors to be compiled together by a later editor. But for someone doing form criticism, it does beg the question.

      The historicity of Job (or of Jonah & the whale or of the flood) does not, for me, strengthen or weaken those works are Word of God.

      I believe the Exodus (including the Red Sea crossing) is a historical event and I believe this because the entirety of Old Testament theology is based upon it. Furthermore, it provides theological foundation for how the 12 tribes came into the land of Israel.

      I believe the cross and resurrection are historical events. Not even skeptics question the historicity of Jesus' crucifixion. The only ones who question that are people who have not studied history. There were secular historians in antiquity who reported the crucifixion. Both Philo and Josephus refer to Jesus.

      I equally believe that the crucified Christ rose from death, that this is an event of history. Oxford scholar N.T. Wright provides the best explanation for why the most logical conclusion the evidence yields is that Jesus was raised in bodily resurrection and actually met the first disciples. Mike Licona, Gary Habermas, and William Lane Craig are also scholars who make the case for the resurrection as an actual event in real history.

      And that's where my faith start- crucifixion-resurrection. Those events are the foundation. Whether the flood, the 6-day creation, or the whale & Jonah are literal or parable/explanatory myth does nothing to detract from the God we meet in those stories, and does nothing to discredit the historicity of the cross and the resurrection.