Consider the ways Job is described:
- “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” (1:1).
- God said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (1:8).
- After Satan took Job’s animals, servants – and worst of all – his children, God said the same thing to Satan and added, “And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause” (2:3).
These verses present a fantastic description. As far as earthly righteousness goes, nobody could do better than Job. But this is what God says:
- There is none who does good, no, not one (Psa 14:2-3, 53:2-3, quoted in Rom 3:10)
- There is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin (Ecc 7:20, also 1 Kin 8:46 and 2 Chr 6:36).
- In My sight no one living is righteous (Psa 143:2).
Job was arguably the greatest man in the Old Testament. In our eyes he might be one of the most righteous men in history. But he wasn’t righteous enough in God’s eyes.
“What can we learn from Job?”
Most people would answer, “We can learn about suffering!” That’s true, but just as importantly we learn there’s no righteousness man can attain that’s “good enough.” In the Gospels the religious leaders were the picture of humanly attained righteousness. But Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:20).
Job said, “How can a man be righteous before God?” (9:2).
This is the most important question anyone can ask, because it’s the question that determines where we people spend eternity. Later in the same chapter we read:
33 Nor is there any mediator between us,
Who may lay his hand on us both.
34 Let [the Mediator] take [God’s] rod away from me,
And do not let dread of Him terrify me.
35 Then I would speak and not fear [God],
But it is not so with me.
A rod is used for administering punishment, and Job wanted it removed from him. But if God took it from him, He would have to administer the punishment to Someone else. Sins can’t go unpunished or God wouldn’t be just. Job expected his Mediator to receive his punishment.
After this happened, Job would no longer “fear God.” But the words “it is not so with me” mean he knew it wasn’t within his power to do any of this. In his best effort, this isn’t something he could accomplish.
Job looked forward to his Mediator by faith
Job couldn’t see his Mediator. He didn’t know who he was, but he could look forward to Him in faith. This is Old Testament salvation, and it’s just like New Testament salvation: justification by faith:
- Job isn’t supposed to teach us that a man can be righteous before God.
- Job teaches us that a man can’t be righteous before God.
When we read about Job, we should think, “If he couldn’t attain a righteousness that’s acceptable to God, what hope is there for me?” Our hope comes from the righteousness that’s freely available by grace through faith in Christ. Romans 3:21-22 says:
The righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.
This suffering man looked for a righteousness that was outside himself. We should too.
Discuss: Have you been trusting in your own righteousness? Do you recognize the only way to be truly righteous before God is by looking to Jesus in faith?