|Series Theme: The Anguish of Job|
1-10 roughly cover Ch.1-4
11-20 roughly cover Ch.4-7
21-30 roughly cover Ch.8-11
31-40 roughly cover Ch.12-15
41-50 roughly cover Ch.16-21
51-60 cover Ch.22-33
61-68 cover Ch.34-42
Meditation No. 43
Meditation Title: I have an Advocate
Job 16:19-21 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 a man pleads for his friend.
I have commented before in this series, of a couple I knew who lived good, faithful, Christian lives and then went into a time of complete darkness. It did seem that their lives were in utter darkness, but it was only when they were in that utter darkness that they realised that they were not alone and there was One with them there in it. They were not alone. Suddenly they had a revelation that they had not had before. It is a truth that sometimes it is only when we go into the depths of suffering that we seem to be able to receive the most wonderful of all revelation.
Now before I carry on it is necessary to combat the snide remarks of atheists who, at this point, seek to leap in and twist what is being said. “Oh,” they say, “so you are saying it is a good thing to be pushed by God into suffering?” I've heard it said. First of all it is probably not God who has got them into the place of suffering (there is only one Job in the Bible) and, second, God weeps with us in such situations (see Jesus at Lazarus's tomb – Jn 11). Third, we are talking about what can come out of a bad situation because we have quoted a number of times that wonderful truth from Rom 8:28: “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” God will be working in whatever bad situation we find ourselves in, to bring good out of it for us. So, remember what we have been saying, that in the dark places, we often find revelation. Now let's go back to Job.
What is his situation? “I have sewed sackcloth over my skin and buried my brow in the dust.” (v.15) This is a man in the depths of mourning. For them, as we've noted before, to put on sackcloth and putting aside fine clothes, and then putting ashes on your head to disfigure you, was the way that they outwardly expressed their mourning. But this wasn't only how he was dressed: “My face is red with weeping, deep shadows ring my eyes.” (v.16) When you are in deep mourning, you weep and your face gets red and your eyes red and dark shadows appear below your eyes. However, as he thinks on his state, he is still confused: “yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure.” (v.17) In other words, why is this happening? I can't understand it; I haven't done anything to warrant this. He continues, “O earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest!” (v.18) i.e. don't let me be buried, don't let my corpse be covered, don't let my present cry be suppressed!
That is where he has come to. It's a cry of confusion and frustration in the pain and anguish of his suffering. It's a time of an all-time low in his life, and then suddenly he comes out with something that is quite remarkable, this man who, so far, has felt totally alone, condemned by God: “Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high.” (v.19) What? He's not alone? He senses someone in heaven who is on his side? What is this? If this is, as some suppose, one of the oldest books of the Bible, then this must be one of the earliest glimpses of one who would come on our behalf, one who would speak up for us from heaven. Why does he speak up? Because he speaks out the love of the godhead for the people of the earth. The truth is that God is not against the people of the earth; He is for them. He wants them to know His love, but so often they are too taken up in their own sin to receive it. So far all Job is saying is that there is One in heaven who looks down and sees the truth and speaks up on his behalf. Now see what he goes on to say: “My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God.” (v.20). This one who speaks out for him is a friend, not an enemy and he is moved by Job's tears to God. Isn't that exactly how Jesus responded at Lazarus's tomb when Mary came out to him: “ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” (Jn 11:33) He did not stand aloof but was moved to tears and to action. That is what compassion is all about. Jesus was described as a friend of sinners (e.g. Mt 11:19)
Job further describes this ‘friend': “ on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend.” (v.21). Moses pleaded with God on behalf of Israel (Ex 32:11-13). Similarly Jesus calls us friends (Jn 15:14 ,15) and he speaks up on our behalf when we sin (1 Jn 2:1). That is the incredible wonder that Job stumbles across in his darkness. He has a friend in heaven, one who is for him, (Rom 8:31) not against him, but then the reality of his situation seems to close in on him again: “Only a few years will pass before I go on the journey of no return.” (v.22) Everything about his situation seems to suggest that his time is strictly limited on the earth. Perhaps he is reflecting that he will soon see his ‘friend'; we'll need to see it in the context of the verses of the next chapter.
If you are in a place of great darkness, know that you are not alone; there is One who is there with you, one who is your friend, who is there for you, who will call out in heaven on your behalf. Reach out in the darkness and sense His presence, sense His love. It IS there despite everything else.