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Don Smith :: Chapter 8: The Justice of God (Job 9:32-35; 16; 19)

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Chapter 8: The Justice of God (Job 9:32-35; 16; 19)

Every man was made to find his satisfaction in God. However, because of sin our thirst for pleasure seeks things that never satisfy but only intensify our cravings. The problem is not that we seek too much pleasure, but that we settle for so little. We often are content to drink stagnate water through a straw when we could be drinking living water from a fire hose. It is common for us, in physical and spiritual depression, to experience an insatiable appetite for God. Psalm 42:1-5, for example, expresses the yearnings of David's distressed heart: "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, 'Where is your God?' When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me...Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You." His thirst for God, however, was aggravated by two things: his enemies and his tears, taunting him to ask, "Where is your God?" David was not the first to feel estranged from God in the midst of trials and temptations.

Job also had an unquenchable thirst for God in the midst of his sufferings. His friends were troublesome enemies and his tears were his food day and night. He longed for God's justice in his suffering. He realized he needed more than a therapeutic God and gospel. He longed for deliverance from his pain, as well as assurance of his reconciliation with God. This is what sets the stage for Job's lamentations, a yearning for God's mercy and justice.

Sinners Need Reconciliation

Job recognized that sinners need a reconciler with a holy God (Job 9:32-35). That is why he longed for God to be a man like himself (Job 9:32; cf. Isaiah 45:9; Romans 8:31). He believed only an incarnation could help God understand his human plight. God seemed distant and indifferent to his suffering. But if God were like man, Job protested, he would take God to court. He would argue his innocence in the court of justice, man to man. In his spiritual depression, he was striving with God yet not cursing Him. He was like clay on the potter's wheel, questioning His Maker (cf. Isaiah 45:9). The pressure of the Potter's hand upon him was becoming unbearable as the wheel of his life whirled seemingly out of control. He was not convinced God was for him, nor was he sure God was against him. Justice was his cry, when mercy was what he needed.

Therefore, Job desired an impartial mediator to plead his case before God (Job 9:33). If God were incarnate, then he could argue his case with God in the court of justice. An umpire or reconciler between them could quickly and successfully settle this dispute. He was hoping this reconciler could put one hand on his shoulder and another on God's shoulder to bring the two together. However, the problem with his solution was who then would be the judge? Only God is just. Therefore, how could God become a man and still have God as judge? This was a theological dilemma only God could answer; and He did. Eli, Israel's priest during the days of Samuel, recognized this same predicament. He asked of his sons in 1 Samuel 2:25, "If one man sins against another, God will judge him; But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?" Job believed every man needed a mediator to intercede for him before a holy God. He knew God was just, but that He was far too removed from human suffering. He wanted someone who was for him, not against him. He wanted someone to stand alongside him and bring reconciliation with God. Job's cry was not unique. Those who admit their depravity sense alienation from a holy God. Those who suffer often cry out for God's justice; that is why we usually ask "Why?" Job's earnest request anticipated the theology of incarnation and reconciliation, which was later fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:5-6, answered Job's cry: "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time...."

Job wished that facing God was not so fearful (Job 9:34-35; cf. 1 John 4:18). He knew he could not meet God on fair terms as long as God was omnipotent. Who could argue with His infinite, raw power? Even though he was conscious of no guilt in himself, his fear of God would only leave him silent in His presence. If a reconciler could stand between them then, maybe he could argue his innocence, but to whom? God? But if he was asking for God to be a God/Man then who would hear his case? We may also ask, "Was Job's fear of God legitimate or illegitimate, proper or improper?" The Proverbs say, "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 1:7). Fear, awe, and reverence, however, are only the beginning of knowing God.

Because of Christ, we also know the love of God. Christ is the personification of God's love. Weak and sinful men can never stand justified in their own righteousness before the infinitely holy God. Christ has made it possible for us to stand before God, not in our righteousness, but in His. We can now have boldness as we face the judgment day without a fear of condemnation because those who are in Christ are free from condemnation. It is proper to yearn for the day we shall stand with Christ before God the Father. Fear of judgment has been replaced by love in Christ. Pay attention to how John explains this wonderful work of God's grace. "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:17-19). Job's faith rebukes his despondency, but his despair was triumphing over hope. Suffering and spiritual depression have a way of doing that.

Sinners Need a Mediator

Job picked up his plea again knowing that sinners need an arbitrator before a Holy God (Job 16:18-22). He hoped his innocent blood, when spilled on the dust of the earth, would cry out for his vindication (cf. Genesis 4:10-11; Isaiah 26:21; Hebrews 11:4; 12:24). He wanted no rest upon the earth until God answered his plea for justice.

The idea of blood crying out for vengeance finds its origin in Genesis 4:10-11. There, God cursed Cain for killing his brother Abel. God asked Cain, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand."

The death of righteous Abel cried out for God's justice (Hebrews 11:4). The unrighteous shall be judged for the death of God's righteous ones (Isaiah 26:21). Hebrews 12:23-24 tells us God is the Judge of all. Jesus is the Mediator of the new covenant. His blood speaks better things than that of Abel's blood. In other words, Christ's shed blood is like that of Abel but infinitely better. Abel's blood cried out for justice. Christ's blood answered that cry. His blood fully satisfied God's righteous judgment of sin and sinners. Job believed that his blood spilled on the trash heap of his life would cry out for God to answer. And God did answer-He sent Christ.

Additionally, Job believed that God was his heavenly eyewitness to attest to his innocence (Job 16:19). If given his day in the courts of heaven, he believed God would testify on his behalf. He would appeal to God to clear his tarnished record before his accusers. There was evidence on high that could justify him. At times, Job cried out in protest, while at other times he had an abiding confidence in God's goodness and justice.

As he poured out his tears, he prayed that God would send a man to plead his case (Job 16:20-22; cf. John 15:13-15; Romans 8:26-27; Hebrews 4:14-15; 7:25). His so-called friends scorned his declaration of innocence. They insisted he was no more than a stubborn, self-deceived, unrepentant, rebellious sinner. With tears running down his pock-marked cheeks, he sought the Lord to send forth a man-literally "the son of man" or "offspring of man"-to arbitrate his case. He longed to have a sympathetic friend, one who knew him on high, who would take up his cause and justify him before God and man. His time was growing short before he would go the way of all flesh. The need for his witness to come forward was urgent. Jesus Christ is the friend Job prayed for. In John 15:13-16, Jesus described his friendship with sinners: "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you."

Job also needed the reassurance of Romans 8:26-27. "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God." Christ is the great high priest who passed through the heavens to Golgotha. He is the one Job longed for, but he did not know it. Christ is able to sympathize with our weaknesses because he is the God/man. He was tempted in all points as we are, yet He was without sin (Hebrews 4:14-16). He faced the sting of mockers. He felt the pain of open sores over his entire body as a result of scourging. He knew agony as he suffered alone, nailed to the cross and crying out, "My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).

Christ is the friend Job wanted so badly. He is the friend of sufferers and repentant sinners. Hebrews 7:25 offers us hope in Christ, who "is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." An arbiter and intercessor, a mediator and reconciler is found in none other than Jesus Christ, and the yearning of Job's desire is now revealed to us. Praise God!

John R. Stott wrote with reassurance to those who suffer like Job, "The cure for depression is neither to look in at our grief, nor back to our past, nor around at our problems, but away and up to the living God. He is our help and our God, and if we trust Him now, we shall soon have cause to praise Him again. Faith rebukes despondency and hope triumphs over despair" (Stott, 57).

Job's Plea for a Redeemer

After days of further pain and still no answer from God, Job once again restated his prayer that sinners, like him, need a redeemer to save them from a Holy God (Job 19:23-27). Resigned to death, Job wanted his words preserved for future vindication. He wanted a court stenographer to record every word spoken in his self-defense. With stone and chisel, he wanted these words to be kept for posterity to read. His words were persevered for us by the power of the Holy Spirit through divine inspiration, and were written for our benefit. Job hoped his words would be heard and answered later in history by his Redeemer. Job's words that follow are today seen through prophetic eyes.

Job knew that his "Kinsman Redeemer" lives (Job 19:25-27; cf. Ruth 3:9; 4:1-8). How did he know this? By faith! He believed that because God is both just and loving, He would provide someone to buy back his dignity and possessions. It would take a Redeemer to save him from God's wrath for his sin. His Redeemer would have to be a "kinsman redeemer" or one from his race and family who would pay the ultimate ransom price for his deliverance. The Hebrew word used by Job for redeemer is Goel. It meant a "family redeemer" or "rescuer." In the ancient world, when a man was bankrupt he would sell his property or even his own services to another man as a servant in order to pay for his indebtedness. Then he would hope that a kinsman or close relative would come and pay off the debt.

Perhaps the best Old Testament example of a kinsman redeemer was Boaz. Ruth was a Moabite woman who married a son of Naomi from the seed of Abraham. But when he died, Ruth was left without a husband (Ruth 3:9; 4:1-8). She was sent to the fields of a close relative from her husband's lineage. There she met Boaz, whose name means "strength." He recognized her faith and loving ways and offered to purchase Ruth's freedom in the city gates. When he paid the price of her freedom, he married her and made her his bride. From their union came a son named Obed, who was the father of David. Jesus Christ was of David's seed. He is the strength of our salvation for men and women like Job, Ruth, and us-the Bride of Christ.

Job not only knew that his "Goel," or "Kinsman Redeemer" lives, but also knew that his Redeemer would stand at the last on the dust of the earth. In Job, the word used for "stand" is the same word used in Isaiah 26:19 for "arise." There it says, "Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead." The same is true in Jeremiah 23:5-6,"Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

The context in both Isaiah and Jeremiah gives the word "stand" the idea of resurrection. Was Job's belief a prophetic hope that Christ would be his Kinsman Redeemer to come and pay off his debt? Was this another type and shadow of Christ's triumph over the Serpent? Job was certainly centuries away from the incarnation, but his faith was strong in God's justice and mercy.

Job also believed he would see his kinsman redeemer, but when? Grammatically, it could mean that Job believed he would see God, his Kinsman Redeemer, before he died with all his flesh eaten away by leprosy. This would have been a faith in God's response to his cry for vindication. This text can also support the idea that Job knew he would see God in his resurrected state after the destruction of his skin brought forth his death. The first view seems to have the most support, but historically we know both are true. We who live on this side of Christ's empty tomb believe in the resurrection. If Christ did not arise from the dead then our faith is in vain and we still are in our sin. Christ took upon Himself human flesh and blood in the incarnation. He was crucified and killed. By the power of God, He was raised in newness of life. He destroyed the power of death (that is the devil) so that we need not fear death any longer (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:13-19). "If in this life only, we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable." Job believed he would see God, either before his death or after it, but he was not afraid because his debt of sin had been fully paid by his Kinsman Redeemer.

That is why Job's heart began to yearn to see his Redeemer (see Job 19:27; cf. Psalms 84:2; 119:81). The anxious soul yearns for that which will ultimately satisfy it. In Psalm 84:2 and 119:81, David expressed this same hope: "My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. My soul faints for Your salvation, But I hope in Your word." Job could have joined that chorus. Like every child of God who suffers with pain and grief, Job longs to see Christ.

Every man was created to find his satisfaction in glorifying God; however, because of sin our thirst for pleasure seeks things that never satisfy, but only intensify our cravings. The problem is not that we seek too much pleasure, but we settle for so little. We often are content to drink stagnate water through a straw when we could be drinking living water from a fire hose. Only Christ can satisfy the longings of our heart. Christ is our Reconciler, Arbiter, and Kinsman Redeemer. God's justice has been fully satisfied for sin in the death of His Son. "The cure for depression is neither to look in at our grief, nor back to our past, nor around at our problems, but away and up to the living God. He is our help and our God, and if we trust Him now, we shall soon have cause to praise Him again. Faith rebukes despondency and hope triumphs over despair" (Stott, 57).

Chapter 7: The Wisdom and Power of God (Job 9:1-31) ← Prior Section
Chapter 9: The Voice of God (Job 38-39; Job 42:1-6) Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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