Scripture to meditate on:
Then Job replied:
“I have heard many things like these;
you are miserable comforters, all of you!
Will your long-winded speeches never end?
What ails you that you keep on arguing?
I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you.
But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief.
“Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved;
and if I refrain, it does not go away.
Surely, God, you have worn me out;
you have devastated my entire household.
You have shriveled me up—and it has become a witness;
my gauntness rises up and testifies against me.
God assails me and tears me in his anger
and gnashes his teeth at me;
my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes.
People open their mouths to jeer at me;
they strike my cheek in scorn
and unite together against me.
God has turned me over to the ungodly
and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked.
All was well with me, but he shattered me;
he seized me by the neck and crushed me.
He has made me his target;
his archers surround me.
Without pity, he pierces my kidneys
and spills my gall on the ground.
Again and again he bursts upon me;
he rushes at me like a warrior.
“I have sewed sackcloth over my skin
and buried my brow in the dust.
My face is red with weeping,
dark shadows ring my eyes;
yet my hands have been free of violence
and my prayer is pure.
“Earth, do not cover my blood;
may my cry never be laid to rest!
Even now my witness is in heaven;
my advocate is on high.
My intercessor is my friend
as my eyes pour out tears to God;
on behalf of a man he pleads with God
as one pleads for a friend.
“Only a few years will pass
before I take the path of no return. – Job 16
Once again it is Job’s turn to respond to his well meaning, but by now annoying friends. And once again Job gives way to venting his pain, anger and depression.
This is not light fare. Job’s pain is real and justified. It may be helpful at this juncture to once again step back from the story of Job and consider the larger purpose the Book of Job plays in the narrative of how God is interacting with his people. What is God doing here? How is he at work in human history?
The book of Job is a stark reminder of the perilous human condition. Job’s friends represent the prevailing cultural perspective on sin and suffering (“If your suffering, it’s a direct consequence of your sin.”) But Job chaffs against that conclusion and is demanding a more satisfactory response from God. He has wished for an opportunity to stand before God and plead his case (9:11-14) but then recognizes immediately that he could never prevail before such a just God.
Now look again at verse 19 in today’s reading. “Even now, see my witness is in heaven, and the one who testifies for me is on high.” It’s as if Job has had a glimpse of what is promised; an advocate who will plead his case before the throne of God.
Of course, those of us living on this side of the gospel know that advocate is the Messiah, Jesus Christ who satisfies the just demands of God, and provides mercy for all of us trapped in this human condition.
“Even now, see, my witness is in heaven, and the one who testifies for me is on high.” – Job 16:19
Questions to ponder:
- How does the good news of Jesus begin to answer some of Job’s questions?
- What would it mean for Job to know that he had an advocate arguing his case before God? What would it mean for you?