Not to minimize his pain, suffering, and confusion, but there’s a lot that Job wasn’t getting right as he entered deeper and deeper into debate with his friends. Although, by God’s own repeated testimony he was a man who “was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (1:1, 1:8, 2:3), Job held too high a view of himself and not a high enough view of his God.
While he acknowledged that a man could not “be in the right before God” (9:2), he thought that the problem was with God and not with the man–especially if that man were him. Job believed that he was in the right (9:15) but that God wasn’t getting it. That He who was “wise in heart and mighty in strength” (9:4) was also, apparently, unable, or unwilling, to recognize and respond to righteousness in an appropriate manner.
But Job also knew that to argue with the Almighty was a no win situation because, after all, He was all mighty. How could a man stand before God?
For He is not a man, as I am, that I might answer Him, that we should come to trial together. There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both. Let Him take His rod away from me, and let not dread of Him terrify me. Then I would speak without fear of Him, for I am not so in myself.
(Job 9:32-35 ESV)
Job thought he had a rock-solid case to present before the courts of heaven–his righteous acts more than sufficient evidence, he thought, to challenge the hand he had been dealt. But he was a man and God is not. He knew that they weren’t equals, that they could not enter into a courtroom as peers (MSG).
What Job thought he needed was someone who could even out the odds. Someone big enough to take way the rod that had smitten Job and remove the dread that crushed him. All he needed, he thought, was someone on his team that could create enough of a level playing field so that he could defend himself, present his case, and walk away justified. Job wanted an arbiter.
But, as another reading this morning reminds me, what Job really needed was an Advocate.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
(1John 2:1-2 ESV)
Though he didn’t yet know it, Job didn’t need someone to argue the merits of his case and represent his righteousness. As would become exceedingly clear when Job encountered the Almighty one-on-one, he had no case. His good works weren’t good enough. His well-crafted arguments dissolved before God’s holy presence. Instead, Job would later confess, “I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (42:6).
He didn’t need an arbiter, he needed an Advocate.
Someone who would plead Job’s case on different grounds. Not on the basis of Job’s own justification, but founded on the willingness and ability to fully take on the judgment for Job’s guilt. Paying the full price of Job’s debt so he could be forgiven and thus justly declared justified.
Not relying on the evidence of Job’s righteousness, but presenting instead His own righteousness. A righteousness proven both in heaven and on earth. A righteousness that could be credited to Job’s account.
Job needed such an advocate. And so do I.
And we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
What amazing grace. To Him be all the glory. Amen?