I have good reason to think that Job would be terribly jealous of all of us who stand on the other side of the Cross.
Having lost all of his earthly comforts, including his family, his health and his possessions, his friends have added insult to injury in their poor, yet understandable attempts to comfort him. By chapter 23, we have a man who is not only suffering unimaginably but who is also suffering alone, as even his closest friends are far from understanding his heart. In his heart felt plea below, we hear a man is desperate for the presence of the God whom he knows would understand.
Then Job answered and said, “Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments, I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me…Behold, I go forward, but he isn’t there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; and on the left hand when is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.” Job 23: 1-5 & 8-9.
What Job Didn’t Know
In this monologue of understandable moaning, we hear a man expressing his frustration at what he does not know. In an earnest anguish, he lets us and his friends in one all he does not know.
He does not know where to go to plead his case. He cannot find the courtroom where He instinctively knew He would be received and judged fairly and acquitted. In fact, an even deeper concern is that he cannot even catch a slight glimpse of this Judge He knows and trusts despite his circumstances. He essentially says, “I have searched the globe and my soul in every cardinal direction, North, South, East and West, but I cannot grab a hold of him; I cannot even see Him vaguely.”
Underneath this desperate and deliberate searching, there lies in the troubled and isolated Job a remaining though deeply shaken faith in the goodness and faithfulness of God.
What Job Knew Vaguely
“Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No, he would pay attention to me. There an upright man could argue with him, and I would be acquitted forever by my judge…But he knows the way I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” Job 23:6-7 & 10.
Job’s deep though vague knowledge of the character of God should shock us. After all, he lived early on in the redemptive process. He lived in a time where capricious pagan deities ruled the prevailing doctrine of the day, dancing and doing as they pleased. Even among God’s people, the revealing of God’s character was early in its development.
Yet, somehow, Job vaguely but deeply knew that God was the kind of Judge who would use His great power to protect him and plead his case. Even more than that, despite all he did not know (which was much), Job knew that God knew exactly what was happening and had a great purpose in all of it, even if it was not discernible or palatable to his limited human mind. In all he did not know about God or His ways, Job took immense comfort in the fact that God knew and saw him and his ways completely and compassionately.
What We Know Clearly
Earlier, I said that I think Job would be jealous of us today. When I imagine the earliest spokesperson of Christian suffering looking down from his peaceful place, watching God’s children today suffering, I imagine both compassion and tinge of holy jealousy. I imagine him wanting to both hold us in our experiences of suffering, but also shake us awake to the gifts that we have that he had not.
What Job saw dimly on the distant horizon of hope, we see crystal clear in the gospel accounts.
Job was looking and longing for a place to plead his case. In the life, death and resurrection of Christ, we see that the place is a person, and not just any person, but the God Man who took our punishment that He might plead our case.
Job was looking for a way to access the God He believed in. Though Christ, we have all access passes to the presence of God in the indwelling Spirit who also pleads our case before the Father when we don’t even have words.