Job 16:1-6 (NIV) 1 Then Job replied: 2 “I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all! 3 Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing? 4 I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you. 5 But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief. 6 “Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved; and if I refrain, it does not go away.
On verses 1-6: Job is in such physical and emotional torment that neither him speaking out nor him trying to stay silent helps (v6). Job has learned first hand that when a person is experiencing such great pain and loss, what that person needs is to be comforted and encouraged by others, not lectured, judged, accused or argued with him as Job’s friends did with him. Even if that person’s own poor decisions brought about their suffering, even if their character leaves much to be desired, in the moment of their agony, don’t take that moment to tear them down even more, but hold them up with God’s love. In so doing, your gentle actions will teach them something about God’s love and grace that your lectures never could. Save your sermon for later when the pain is less piercing and the grief less agonizing.
Job 16:7-14 (NIV) 7 Surely, O God, you have worn me out; you have devastated my entire household. 8 You have bound me–and it has become a witness; my gauntness rises up and testifies against me. 9 God assails me and tears me in his anger and gnashes his teeth at me; my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes. 10 Men open their mouths to jeer at me; they strike my cheek in scorn and unite together against me. 11 God has turned me over to evil men and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked. 12 All was well with me, but he shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target; 13 his archers surround me. Without pity, he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground. 14 Again and again he bursts upon me; he rushes at me like a warrior.
On verses 7-14: Job thinks God is actively attacking him. Just look at the violent images Job paints of God as his attacker: “he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He made me his target” (v12); “Without pity, he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground” (v13). Is that what God does? Is it within God’s character to actively try to destroy His people? No. What Job does not see is that it is not God who is initiating these attacks on Job. When I read Job 1 and 2, it seems to me that Satan is the one who is actively planning and unleashing these attacks on Job, not God Himself. Job only feels the brunt of Satan’s attacks now because, for a set time, God has decided to remove His hedge of protection around Job (Job 1:10) to allow these attacks. Is there a difference? Yes. It shows that God’s heart is not actively trying to attack or destroy your life on earth; that’s Satan’s agenda. As Jesus says in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” So if you or your loved ones are experiencing sickness or devastation, know that it is not God, but Satan, who orchestrates the attack. God is not a terrorist. He is a protector and also the greatest story writer. So if God allows an attack, it is not because He is out to destroy you; rather, as He did with Job, God allows the attack because it is part of a greater story He is writing through your life.
Job 16:15-18 (NIV) 15 “I have sewed sackcloth over my skin and buried my brow in the dust. 16 My face is red with weeping, deep shadows ring my eyes; 17 yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure. 18 “O earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest!
On verses 15-18: Job describes how much pain he is in despite being blameless. When I read these verses I can’t help but think about another Blameless One. Jesus was infinitely purer than Job was. Jesus endured far more suffering and injustice than Job did. Yet when Jesus was oppressed and afflicted on the cross, what did Jesus do? Jesus did not cry out for justice. Rather, “like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7) Like Job, when we suffer great injustice, everything within us wants to cry out “Foul!” Yet Jesus remained silent when he suffered the greatest injustice and died for our sins. Not just through His authoritative words, but also through His silent submission, Jesus showed that He is on another level compared to you and me.
Job 16:19-21 (NIV) 19 Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. 20 My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; 21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend.
On verses 19-21: It was somehow revealed to Job that in the midst of his pain, Job had an intercessor in heaven who pleads with God on his behalf. Who is this witness, this advocate (v19), this friend (v20)? His name is Jesus. Hebrews 7:25 says that Jesus “always lives to intercede for” those who trust in Him. In 1 John 2:1 (NLT) it says “but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ…” Though it would be many centuries before Jesus Himself would arrive on the scene, Job supernaturally received a sneak peak revelation of Jesus, our intercessor in heaven, our friend and advocate who stands in the gap and speaks on our behalf. Whatever season you may be in today, know that Jesus our advocate, friend and high priest, is interceding for you.
Job 16:22 (NIV) 22 “Only a few years will pass before I go on the journey of no return.
On verse 22: This verse may be more appropriately grouped together with the first verses of the next chapter. We’ll take a look at this verse tomorrow as part of our study of Job 17.
Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us that it is Satan, not You, who plans attacks and devastation on us, and that whenever You allow them to happen, it is always with a greater purpose in mind and a greater story You have to tell. Thank You that at all times we have Jesus, the greatest advocate, intercessor and friend to plead on our behalf. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!