Lessing, R. Reed & Andrew E. Steinmann. Prepare the Way of the Lord: An Introduction to the Old Testament. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014. Chapter 16, “Job” pp. 279-296.
The book of Job consists of a challenge on two levels. Between Job and his friends the challenge is to find the source of Job’s suffering. Between God and Satan the challenge is whether Job will serve God regardless of suffering. “These earthly and heavenly conflicts center around one question: Do people serve God because of rewards or out of loving gratitude?” (Lessing 2014, 279).
The events and composition of Job traditionally lead scholars to a date around the time of Moses (Lessing 2014, 279). Lessing observes genealogical information and the fact that Job offers sacrifices on behalf of his family. Much critical scholarship will place composition later, during the Babylonian exile (Lessing 2014, 281). Job shows a breakdown of the seemingly orderly view of the universe from Moses’ time. This could be consistent with a people in captivity.
The book contains three cycles of speeches of Job and his friends (Lessing 2014, 282). However, Lessing sees a “repeated use of fourfold groupings” as central to the actual structure. There are strong elements of history, wisdom, and songs of lament in the book (Lessing 2014, 285).
While many approach Job to ask why the righteous suffer, Lessing asks, “Why do the righteous serve God?” (Lessing 2014, 285). Even though Job suffers, he serves God. The false faith says we serve God to get something. True faith says we serve God because he justifies us by faith and gives eternal life (Lessing 2014, 287).
Job’s desire is to have a mediator between God and man (Lessing 2014, 287). He would like to have his righteousness declared in terms that all would see and understand (Lessing 2014, 288). Lessing takes this to be the work of one mediator, as opposed to Job’s friends who seem to expect an angelic group.
God’s silence through much of the book troubles Job (Lessing 2014, 290). Though Job would like to question God, in the end, it is God who questions Job. He does not explain suffering. He simply shows his wisdom and power. He is the God of all creation, including creatures which cannot be controlled (Lessing 2014, 291). This power of God moves Job to repent. God cannot be accused. He is just, not Job (Lessing 2014, 292).
Lessing notes that Job is the “exemplary man of faith” in the Old Testament. Jesus is the true fulfillment in the New Testament (Lessing 2014, 293). Jesus is the mediator Job hopes for. Job’s salvation was always by God’s mercy and grace.