Missio Dei in the Book of Job -- By: Larry J. Waters

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 166:661 (Jan 2009)
Article: Missio Dei in the Book of Job
Author: Larry J. Waters


Missio Dei in the Book of Job

Larry J. Waters

Larry J. Waters is Associate Professor of Bible Exposition, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.

Besides displaying one man’s faith in God in times of suffering, the Book of Job also has a “missionary” purpose. That is, a believer’s suffering should be viewed, as seen in Job’s experience, as a witness not only to God’s sovereignty but also as a witness to His goodness, justice, grace, and love to the nonbelieving world. Yet in studies of Job God’s redemptive purpose and action in relation to missions is rarely addressed.1

Often the purpose of the Book of Job is seen simply as concerned with the sovereignty of God and man’s response to His will. But the book is also part of the progressive revelation of God’s purpose and mission, so that the book is, in a sense, missional and evangelistic. That is, as believers undergo undeserved suffering, they are witnesses to nonbelievers of God’s goodness, justice, grace, and love. The purpose of this article is to focus on God’s mission, missio Dei, in relation to the ancient story of Job and his experience of undeserved suffering and the false application of the theological doctrine of retribution.

A Definition of Missio Dei

Missio Dei is Latin for “the sending of God,” usually in the sense of “being sent.” This term was used by Augustine in discussing God the Father sending His Son. But in the 1950s the term came to

mean more broadly “the mission of God.”2 Young points out that “this phrase, which comes into English as the ‘mission of God,’ focuses our attention on God’s redemptive purpose and action in human history.”3

“Mission is a predicate of God. God is a missionary God . . . Missio Dei is active in the whole of history; it means that God turns to the whole world both inside and outside the Church. Through the events of history, God guides the world.”4 As Stott wrote, “The living God of the Bible is a missionary God . . . . a global God.”5 Bosch writes that missio Dei is “God’s self-revelation as the One who loves the world, God’s involvement in and with the world, the nature and activity of God, which embraces both the church and the world, and in which the church is privileged to participate. Missio Dei enunciates the good new...

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