A theology of glory V. a theology of the cross; the lines can’t be drawn much more brightly than what we find in the book of Job. It is interesting to watch the drama unfold in the book of Job. Job characterized as a stand out figure as we are introduced to him and his family in the opening pages, is someone who for all apparent purposes looks to be the most righteous figure of his day; he is blessed, and this blessing looks and sounds a lot like what being blessed by the Mosaic Covenant entails. It is on this kind of primitive basis—primitive in the sense that relation to God is painted on a canvas of external-material realities—that Job stands out; he seems to be the par excellence example in his day of what it meant to be a patron saint of God’s good graces.
But things change, once the story kicks off. Job becomes distinguished from his compatriots; distinguished by suffering, and what begins to look like being cursed, at least by the standards his “friends” (and even he himself initially) would have been using. Once Job gets dropped kicked (it would appear) to the curb of despair, his friends, based on the grid they are using to interpret a God-man relation (a prosperity grid), begin to interpret his situation based on what they “see.” They start comparing his situation to their relative position and status, and think that Job must not really be all that outstanding, that Job must have some sort of malady or sin plaguing his soul; the kind that God must be seeking to scour away by the bristle pad of torment, dread, and the unrelenting pursuit of God’s angel of death.
We continue to progress through this cycle of and escalation of conflict and torment, interchange and discourse between Job, his friends, and lament to God (on Job’s part). We get to Job 19:25, Job declares:
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;…”
Almost as a refrain, then we jump right back with Zophar waxing eloquent based upon this grid of glory that believes that material blessing and external accumulation is the sign of God’s good grace; what a theologian of glory! Zophar totally misses the depth dimension of Job’s insight just declared. Job, in the fire, sees God’s Self-revelation, he realizes even in the midst (and in spite of them), and because of his turmoil that his only hope is the Redeemer-God who will at last stand upon the earth; and that Job will stand with Him, renewed through the glory of death.
What Job’s friends considered foolish based on externals interpreted through grids of glory, Job realized was the true glory of God, wherein God revealed Himself in the midst of the curse, and through it brought depth of relationship and genuine lasting blessing. Job went from just being a stand out among the theologians of glory, to a stand out among the theologians of the cross; wherein the sign of real glory are the marks of the cross that Job carried in his body the rest of his days. Job’s friends, the theologians of glory, didn’t grown in any kind of knowledge of God through Job’s ordeal. They continued to use their grid based on things that are seen to speak for God. When what God requires is that we look at Him through the prism of faith, through the prism that Job could see in the rubble of his own tumultuous situation; that God is the Redeemer, that God is personal, and that God is the Covenant relation between God and man, and that God bases this relation upon a penetrating union between God and man as Redeemer (the kind that will stand on the earth).