Who was the Prophet Job? Why is he important today?

Surah Al-Bayyinah (Surah 98 – The Clear Proof) describes the requirements to be a good man.  It says

And they have been commanded no more than this: To worship God, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer; and to practise regular charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight.

Surah Al-Bayyinah 98: 5

Similarly, Surah Al-Asr’ (Surah 103 – The Declining Day) describes what qualities we need to avoid loss before Allah.

Verily Man is in loss,

Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.

Surah Al-Asr 103:2-3

The Prophet Job PBUH was such a man as described in Surah Al-Bayyinah and Surah Al-Asr.  The Prophet Job is not very well known but is mentioned in the Qur’an four times.

We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms.

An-Nisa 4:163

We gave him Isaac and Jacob: all (three) guided: and before him, We guided Noah, and among his progeny, David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron: thus do We reward those who do good:

Al-Anam 6:84

And (remember) Job, when He cried to his Lord, “Truly distress has seized me, but Thou art the Most Merciful of those that are merciful.”

Al-Anbya 21:83

Commemorate Our Servant Job. Behold he cried to his Lord: “The Evil One has afflicted me with distress and suffering!”

Sad 38:41

Job appears in the list of prophets including Ibrahim, Isa al Masih, Dawud because he wrote a book in the Bible – al-Kitab.  His book describes his life.  He lived in the time between the Prophet Noah (Nouh) and Ibrahim PBUT.  The Bible describes him like this:

In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.

Job 1:1-5

Job had all the good qualities that Surah Al-Bayyinah and Surah Al-Asr declare is needed.  But then Shaytan came before the LORD.  The book of Job records their conversation

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job 1: 6-12

So Shaytan then brought disaster upon Job in this manner

13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.[c]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”

22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job 1:13-22

Shaytan still sought to provoke Job to curse The LORD.  So there was a second test.

On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[e] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

Job 2:1-10

This is why Surah Al-Anbya describes Job crying in distress and Surah Sad explains that the Evil one (Shaytan) had afflicted him.

In his misery, Job had 3 friends that visited him to bring comfort. 

11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Job 2:11-13

The Book of Job records their discussions on why such misfortune happened to Job.  Their conversation spans many chapters.  In summary, his friends tell Job that such great misfortune only comes on evil people, so Job must have secretly sinned.  If he would confess these sins then perhaps he would be granted forgiveness.  But Job continually replies that he is blameless of wrong-doing.  He cannot understand why misfortunes have come upon him. 

We cannot follow every part of their long conversation, but in the midst of his questions Job states what he does know for sure:

I know that my redeemer lives,
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
    with my own eyes—I, and not another.
    How my heart yearns within me!

Job 19:25-27

Though he did not understand why his tragedies had come upon him, he knew that there was a ‘Redeemer’ coming to the earth.  The redeemer is someone who can make a sufficient payment for his sins. Job calls the Redeemer ‘my Redeemer’ so he knew the redeemer was coming for him.  After Job’s ‘skin has been destroyed’ (he has died) he would see God in his flesh. 

Job is looking forward to the Resurrection Day.  But he will face God in the resurrection with confidence because his redeemer lives and has redeemed him. 

Surah Al-Ma’arij (Surah 70 – The Ascending Stairways) also speaks of a redeemer on Resurrection Day.  But Surah Al-Ma’arij describes a foolish man, who is looking frantically on that Day for any redeemer. 

Though they will be put in sight of each other,- the sinner’s desire will be:

Would that he could redeem himself from the Penalty of that Day by (sacrificing) his children,

His wife and his brother,

His kindred who sheltered him,

And all, all that is on earth,- so it could deliver him:

Surah Al-Ma’arij 70:11-14

The foolish man in Surah Al-Ma’arij looks without success for anyone to redeem him.  He is looking for a redeemer who can redeem him from the ‘Penalty of that Day’ – Judgment Day.  His children, wife, brother and all on the earth cannot redeem him.  They cannot redeem him because they have their own Penalty to pay.

Job was an upright man, yet he still knew he needed a redeemer for that Day.  He was confident, in spite of all his troubles, that he had this redeemer.  Since the Taurat had declared that the payment for any sin is death, the redeemer would have to pay with his life.  Job knew that his redeemer ‘in the end he will stand upon the earth’.  Who was Job’s ‘redeemer’?  The only person who has ever died, but then resurrected to stand on the earth again is the Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH.  He is the only one who could possibly meet the payment of the Penalty (Death) but ‘in the end stand upon the earth’. 

If a righteous man like Job needed a redeemer for himself, how much more do you and I need a redeemer to pay our penalty?  If a man of the good qualities listed in Al-Bayyinah and Al-Asr’ needed a redeemer what about us?  Let us not be like the foolish man of Surah Al-Ma’arij, who waits until the Last Day to try to find anyone to redeem his penalty.  Understand now how the Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH can redeem you, as the Prophet Job foresaw.

At the end of the book, Job has an encounter with the LORD (here) and his good fortune is restored (here). 

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