Advocate

O earth, cover not my blood,
and let my cry find no resting place.
Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven,
and he who testifies for me is on high.
My friends scorn me;
my eye pours out tears to God,
that he would argue the case of a man with God,
as a son of man does with his neighbour.
For when a few years have come
I shall go the way from which I shall not return.

Job 16:18-22

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Romans 8:34

Job is possibly the living embodiment of the phrase “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”. In seemingly the blink of an eye, his whole world had collapsed beneath him, losing his family, his money, and his health. All for no readily apparent reason (it does not seem he is told the reasons for his various afflictions even though we were privy to them in chapters 1 and 2). His friends come to comfort him, but do precisely the opposite, beating a drum that he was guilty of some undisclosed sin (which they never name, because Job was a righteous man), and so God was punishing him. Their thesis is “can mortal man be right before God?” (4:17) and their answer is a definite “no”, based largely on a very narrow understanding of how life is. Not all suffering is because of sin (see John 9).

Job knew he was in the right, and although he does lean a bit far towards embittered self-justification towards the end in chapters 29-31 (though this is mostly directed at his friends rather than towards God), God confirms this when he appears later.

In the chapter above, Job is fully aware that God is behind his affliction (or at least has consented it to happen). It would appear, then, that he has no hope.

However, Job remains convinced that there is an arbiter who can prove to God that he is in the right, and defend him against the judgement that is (supposedly) being heaped upon him at this point (from God and his friends): and that arbiter is in very nature God. In chapter 17, he argues that his friends’ urges for him to repent of his non-existent sin would be to give up on the fact that God knows the truth (that he his righteous) and will ultimately redeem him (because God is just): indeed, he does not hope to die, for to do so would be to admit that there is no hope, and that God is not just.

Job’s trust in God’s righteousness and the divine arbiter is astonishing, especially in his circumstances. Indeed, he makes prescient comments later on:

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. (19:25)

Job knew that there was a redeemer to come, and that he would be the one who could defend the innocent before God. Therefore, there was hope, in the midst of his extreme circumstances, and this hope enabled Job to trust God.

Job’s circumstances are a particular example of the (apparently) meaningless suffering of the righteous. Jesus warns the disciples time and again that trusting him does not preclude suffering in this life. Yet, we still have the same assurances Job has- even more so that we have been declared righteous by faith (Romans 5:1), and we have the comfort that Job’s arbiter has come (Romans 8:34).

Job was eventually vindicated by God and his fortunes restored. We should not assume the same will happen to us in this life but it is worth reminding ourselves that God is just and despite any suffering in this life we have the assurance that we will be vindicated (Romans 8 :18-39). And that’s worth thanking him for.

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