Job and Salvation

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  March 15, 2014

            Redemption and salvation may take on many forms. Frequently, Christians limit the concept of redemption simply to the work of Jesus on the Cross and salvation to the promise through the Cross that there is a heavenly blessing awaiting the faithful on the other side of life. Yet the Bible offers so much more!
            One very rich and wonderful account comes to us in the Old Testament book of Job. The story of Job opens up with Satan challenging God regarding the authenticity and integrity of Job’s reverence and love for God. In what turns out to be a cosmic challenge between God and Satan, Job becomes the unwitting victim of a rather intense battle of wills. Then Satan systematically strips Job of almost everything. First he loses his wealth, then his children, and lastly his health.
            Once Job is left in complete misery, his own wife begs him to curse God and die. Yet, Job, unwilling to relinquish his venom on God, chooses to simply sit in ashes and sackcloth, waiting for an answer from God.
            While he waits, four friends of Job arrive at his house to see the devastating nightmare that has overcome Job’s life. Aghast at his gruesome appearance brought on by the festering boils all over his skin and the deep sense of pain in his eyes, they proceed to tell him everything that must be wrong with him in the eyes of God. They show no compassion for Job, but spout of acceptable religious doctrine in pronouncing God’s seemingly justified and righteous judgment on Job. In their mind, this would never have happened to him if he was not guilty of some heinous sin before God.
            Reading the book of Job, the reader knows otherwise. We remember that Job is innocent and blameless. We know it is Satan and his radical wager with God that has brought such calamity upon Job. Additionally, Job knows that it is not his fault. While he does not understand the horrible fate he has endured, Job reaches out to God in a desperate attempt to learn why God would allow such a thing to befall an innocent man.
            The torment goes on. The friends pull out every religious doctrine they can think of in an attempt to prove Job wrong and vindicate their own self-righteous application of God’s punitive justice. Each time Job corrects their erroneous assumptions, they lash back with more. All the while, the friends are so concerned with being religiously right that they never take the time to really hear Job at all. What they have to offer in the name of God is condemnation, judgment, and shame.
            Once God gets involved in the argument, things change quickly. Job is reminded that God is God and Job is not. Then, dishing out the very retribution the friends dumped on Job in God’s name, God lashes out against the four friends with genuine Divine wrath.
            After that, other friends and relatives of Job come and put rings on his fingers, food on his table, and tend to his illness. Never do they pronounce judgment on Job or seek to cast him into the fires of an angry God because of what his life has become. It is then that Job’s life, fortunes, and family are restored.
            For Christians concerned with the salvation of others—not to mention ourselves, Job’s tragic story of loss and redemption remind us that ministry has more to do with compassionate care and restoration than it has to do with harsh judgment and condemnation.