Chapter 9:25-35 (ESV) - My days are swifter than a runner;
they flee away; they see no good.
They go by like skiffs of reed,
like an eagle swooping on the prey.
If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint,
I will put off my sad face, and be of good cheer,’
I become afraid of all my suffering,
for I know you will not hold me innocent.
I shall be condemned;
why then do I labor in vain?
If I wash myself with snow
and cleanse my hands with lye,
yet you will plunge me into a pit,
and my own clothes will abhor me.
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.
Question to consider: Who is the arbiter given to us by God?
When Job described his days as swifter than a runner, he was referring to the time he had left to rebuild his life. As long as he remained stripped of everything and suffering with his sores, he saw his opportunity for experiencing anything good fleeing away from him. He thought about pretending that his problems had gone away and putting on a happy face, but he feared that if it was God who afflicted him for some kind of sin, he would fare no better after death but be condemned. So why should he make an effort to pretend if it was all in vain?
Even if he cleaned up the outside of his body and got everyone else to believe that things had gotten better, it would be meaningless if Job ultimately ended up in the pit of God’s judgment.
Interestingly enough, Job recognized that because God is not a man and was infinitely more powerful than he, he could not argue against whatever judgment was due him. He instead needed a mediator. He needed an advocate with the Father who could lay his hand on them both and remove the rod of judgment that was laid against him.
This is precisely how John described the work of Christ. “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.” (1 John 2:1-2) Job knew that if only he could lean on Christ, he would be able to speak to God without fear.
People argue about the nature of hell: whether it is indeed a lake of fire, whether the punishment is eternal, etc. I don’t hear a lot of people considering the words of Job in that discussion. Job understood the dread and terror of facing the judgment of God without an arbiter to stand for him. God has given His own Son to be that arbiter so consider these words from Hebrews, “Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:28-31)
Christ Jesus, thank You for becoming the arbiter we needed in order to reconcile with God. Please work through us to open the eyes of those around us to realize our great need for the gift You have given us by way of the cross. Amen.