“Job and His Friends” (detail), by Ilya Repin
One of the features of mortal life is that we experience suffering we don’t deserve. Why does God allow that to happen? The book of Job explores this question through an extreme example: a good man who loses nearly everything—wealth, family, and health—in a short period of time. The book consists of a dialog between Job and three friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar—who have come to comfort and advise him, followed by a harsh diatribe by a younger man named Elihu, which is answered by the voice of God Himself. Even though Job’s friends come across as self-righteous and judgmental at times, there are many gospel truths in their words as well as in the words of Job. Here are some gospel principles taught in the book of Job, with corresponding Book of Mormon references and blog posts:
The Plan of Salvation
- In God’s response to Elihu, we see the doctrine of premortality. God asks Job where he was when God “laid the foundation of the earth…when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma also testifies that we lived before we were born and that we were ordained to fulfill specific missions in life. (See Alma 13:3.)
- Job testifies that God’s creations are evidence of His reality: “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee…. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?” (Job 12:7-10). Alma similarly declared, “all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44). Here is a blog post on the topic: All Things.
- Job makes a reference to the Fall of Adam and Eve as he recognizes the need to acknowledge our mistakes: “If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom…” (Job 31:33). See the following post: What Does the Book of Mormon Teach About the Fall of Adam and Eve?
- Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, and through Him we will all be resurrected. Job declares, “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25-26). Here are two posts on this topic:
Dealing with Adversity
- It’s easy to be good when life is easy. The test of character comes when life gets tough (Job 1:11): In the Furnace of Affliction – 1 Nephi 20:10.
- Sometimes it’s good just to be with someone when they are suffering, without saying a word (Job 2:13): “For the Space of an Hour” – Alma 18:14.
- It is possible to walk in darkness even when we are surrounded by light. Elilphaz says of the wicked, “They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night” (Job 5:14): In Darkness at Noon-Day.
- We should respect the wisdom and experience of those who are older than us (Job 12:12): The Ancient of Days.
- It’s wise to remember our limitations. Job reminded his friends, “your bodies [are like] bodies of clay” (Job 13:12). He also reminded them that we can’t control the length of our lives. Our “days are determined.” God has “appointed [our] bounds that [we] cannot pass” (Job 14:5). For Book of Mormon references to this theme, see the following blog posts:
- During our mortal life, we walk by faith because we are not in God’s presence. Job lamented, “Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!” (Job 23:3) Here’s a blog post about the spiritual death we experience in mortality: Why Did God Prevent Adam and Eve from Partaking of the Tree of Life?
- We can trust God’s infinite power, even in the midst of uncertainty and sorrow. After everything Job had experienced, he proclaimed to God, “I know that thou canst do every thing” (Job 42:2). Here is a blog post on the topic: What Is the Significance of the Title “the Lord Omnipotent?”