The book of Job is most often associated with being a treatise on how to deal with the problem of evil as well as outlining how to deal with pain and suffering. While Job certainly does provide an excellent source of biblical truth on both of those topics, making true sense of evil and/or suffering can only be accomplished when one’s focus rests intently on the message of the cross. Christopher Ash in his book Job: The Wisdom of the Cross provides a helpful commentary on the book of Job, one that walks the reader through each verse of Job while constantly reminding the reader that rooted in the message of Job is the underlying message of the hope found in the cross of Christ.
This book is part of the ongoing commentary series called Preaching the Word edited by R. Kent Hughes. As the title implies, this series is focused on providing a more pastoral approach to the books of Scripture it engages. Thus, the exegesis Ash provides is intended to provide pastors with valuable insight so they might in turn share those insights with their congregation. Ash certainly does not shy away from engaging in scholarly exegesis along the way; however, his constant focus is driving home the message of the cross found in the book of Job.
According to Ash, Job first and foremost reveals to us the kind of world we live in, namely one suffering under the weight and impact of sin. There would be no suffering if not for sin and Job definitely would not have encountered what he did, namely the loss of family, property, and health if sin was not a reality. Perhaps this is why Job is so often referred to when biblical apologists attempt to deal with that consistently thorny problem of evil. Furthermore, Ash, in the pastoral tone that runs throughout this commentary, reminds the reader to keep in mind that the message found in Job “is to be lived in and not just studied.” It should be a constant reminder to us of the type of people we need to be within the body of Christ as well as serving as a beacon that points us to the work of Christ on our behalf on the cross where he dealt sin a mighty and deathly blow.
The structure of this commentary follows the typical commentary pattern of identifying a pericope and then discussing the specific elements found in that particular section of the book. Ash’s effort is no different although as far as commentaries are concerned, I found this effort to be highly readable and not bogged down in exegetical nuances or the discussion of how every scholar in church history felt about a certain issue within Job. While Ash addresses matters of linguistics and is no stranger to getting a bit “nerdy” when is necessary, he focuses his discussion on his overall thesis, namely woven in the drama that is Job is the One who bore our sins and suffering on the cross.
Ash rightly notes “as we read the story of Job we think first and primarily of the greater story of Jesus, who walked the way of Job for us, who plumbed the depths of Job’s suffering for us, and who was vindicated for us. Satan is still able to attack us, and he spends what short life is left to him angrily doing that, like a hungry lion on the prowl. We must be realistic about this. Still we have to endure…But we are in Christ, the Satan is no longer able to accuse us before God.” Such a statement again drives home that the overall message found in Job points to the victory found at the cross.
In each chapter of this commentary, Ash expertly and pastorally notes an aspect of Job’s life that finds its answer in the cross of Christ and in Christ himself. Job was alone in the midst of his despair. Through Christ we have hope, comfort and relationship with God. Job wept in his despair. Through the work of the cross we look forward to a day when God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Job declared that though God may kill him, he put his trust in God. We know that because of sin, death will find us all. We also know that through Christ’s own resurrection, he conquered death and the grave on our behalf thus we can place our hope that death has no sting. Finally, in Job we are provided with an important reminder that God is sovereign. Ash saliently outlines the closing chapters of Job where God reminded Job that He and He alone is in control.
Ash reminds the reader that “The book of Job ought to shape our expectation of the normal Christian life.” Job suffered for his faith and we are told the Christian walk will involve suffering for the cause of Christ. Furthermore, Ash brilliantly notes “Job is about true worship, about our bowing down in reality and in the darkness to the One who is God, leaving even our most agonized unanswered questions at his feet, for we are creatures, and he alone is the Creator.” Job points us straight to the cross and Ash does a marvelous job throughout this commentary of driving home that important truth.
I highly recommend this book for all believers. Job is an often neglected book except perhaps when one needs to try and find an answer when challenged about pain and suffering. Christopher Ash deftly weaves the message of the cross throughout this commentary, constantly focusing what Job experienced on the hope found in the cross. This is one of the best commentaries I have read on the book of Job and I encourage everyone to read, study, and understand that found in the message of Job is the life giving message of the cross, one of hope, purpose, and life in the midst of trouble.
This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Crossway Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”