What About My Suffering?: The Pattern Of Providence -- By: C. J. Williams

Journal: Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal
Volume: RPTJ 03:1 (Fall 2016)
Article: What About My Suffering?: The Pattern Of Providence
Author: C. J. Williams


What About My Suffering?:
The Pattern Of Providence

C. J. Williams

Professor of Old Testament Studies
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Introduction

The Book of Job is often regarded as a lesson on how a faithful man should endure hardship while trusting in the good providence of God. It is that, to be sure, but Job is much more than a fine example of faithful patience in suffering. If we see Job as he is meant to be seen – not just as an example to follow in dealing with our sufferings, but as a prophetic prefigurement of the sufferings of Christ – we gain a much greater perspective on the meaning and purpose of suffering in the life of faith. This paper will do two things: first, establish that Job is a type of Christ who foreshadowed the redemptive suffering of our Savior, and second, examine how this perspective gives us great comfort in the life of faith when we suffer hardship ourselves.

Old Testament Typology

The Pattern

We begin by noting that typology in the Old Testament often consists not in isolated images frozen in time, but in recurring historical patterns that become progressively familiar, until they reach their crescendo in the New Testament. The analogy that exists between type and antitype often becomes a historical pattern with progressive manifestations. G. W. H. Lampe identified this feature of typology as “the tracing of the constant principles of God’s working in history, revealing a recurrent rhythm in past history which is taken up more fully and perfectly in Gospel events.”1 The historical pattern, or “recurrent rhythm”, which is one key to understanding the Book of Job, is what we may call “The Messianic Trajectory.” It is the prophetic experience of being cast down from an established exalted position to the depths of undeserved humiliation, and then to be exalted by the hand of God to a place of even higher honor than the beginning.

This trajectory of experience is identified by Christ as a summary of His life and a pattern of Old Testament prophecy:

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:25–27)

Thus Jesus rebuked the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and gave them what was undoubtedly the greatest lesson on the Old Testament ever taught. Though we may wish for a transcript of His lesson, His main points are still preserved for us. The fi...

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