Job 33:19-26 (NIV) 19 Or a man may be chastened on a bed of pain with constant distress in his bones, 20 so that his very being finds food repulsive and his soul loathes the choicest meal. 21 His flesh wastes away to nothing, and his bones, once hidden, now stick out. 22 His soul draws near to the pit, and his life to the messengers of death. 23 “Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him, 24 to be gracious to him and say, ‘Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him’– 25 then his flesh is renewed like a child’s; it is restored as in the days of his youth. 26 He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state.
On verses 19-26: Just before these verses Elihu describes one way that God can speak to us: through supernatural means like a vision or a dream (v15-16). Earlier in chapter 32 we learned that another way that God speaks to us: through godly people. But visions, dreams and godly people are not the only channels by which God tries to get our attention. As Elihu says, “For God does speak – now one way, now another – though man may not perceive it.” (v14). Herein these verses Elihu describesanother very important way that God speaks: through our pain and difficult circumstances.
To illustrate this truth, Elihu paints the picture of a man who is sick, in great pain and nearing death (verses 19-22), just as Job is. But then Elihu says these crucial words:
23 “Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him, 24 to be gracious to him and say, ‘Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him’– 25 then his flesh is renewed like a child’s; it is restored as in the days of his youth. 26 He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state.
I believe this angel, this mediator, is one of the clearest and most beautiful pictures of Jesus we will find in the book of Job. Just like the angel that Elihu describes:
Jesus is on your side as a mediator (v23; 1 Timothy 2:5).
Jesus is unlike any other, one out of a thousand (v23), who stands by your side even when everyone else falls away.
Jesus is there to counsel you, “to tell a man what is right for him” (v23).
Jesus is here to be gracious to you (v24).
It is Jesus who says about you, “Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him” (v24). For to spare us from going to the pit of hell, Jesus became our ransom.
It is through Jesus’ priestly prayers and intercession, and through Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross, that we can see God’s face and shout for joy, for we have been restored to our righteous state by God Himself (v26).
Praise God! We do have such an “angel” in our lives like the one Elihu speaks of. His name is Jesus. It’s not an “if”, but a fact. Aren’t you glad you have Jesus as the “angel at your side”? (Of course Jesus is far greater than any angel. He is the Son of God. But here the role of the angel that Elihu describes is clearly fulfilled by our Saviour Jesus. In fact, many commentators believe that when the Old Testament speaks about “the angel of the Lord”, it is a reference to Jesus.)
Notice this as well: Elihu says that if there is such an angel (v23) who can stand by his side, counsel him, and with his words defend him, then that man’s body and life are renewed. What can we learn from this? Somehow it is the presence, the grace and the words of our “angel” Jesus, that renews us and restores us. One of the greatest reasons why God allows us to go through great pain is so that He can show us His power working in our weakness.
Job 33:27-33 (NIV) 27 Then he comes to men and says, ‘I sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved. 28 He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.’ 29 “God does all these things to a man– twice, even three times– 30 to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him. 31 “Pay attention, Job, and listen to me; be silent, and I will speak. 32 If you have anything to say, answer me; speak up, for I want you to be cleared. 33 But if not, then listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”
On verses 27-33: In Elihu’s illustration, this man who was in great pain is restored by God’s power and now he has a story to tell others (“he comes to men and says” – v27). Here we learn another reason God allows us to go through pain. It’s not just so that we can experience God’s power restoring us (v25-26). Even more, God allows pain in your life so that you will have a testimony to tell others, a story about in our failing God’s love rescued us and restored us. He does it so that others can know and experience this powerful, restoring God as well. In other words, God allows your pain because He has other people’s progress in mind.
Finally, notice that in verse 29 Elihu says “God does all these things to a man– twice, even three times”. In other words, God will use pain and difficult circumstance not just once in your life, but repeatedly – “twice, even three times” – so that ultimately you would be rescued from the pit of relying on yourself all the time and would repeatedly reflect God’s light (v30).
Jesus, thank You for being the “angel” by my side, my mediator, the one who became my ransom so that I could be spared, the one who touched me with God’s power so that I am restored. Thank You that every difficult circumstance You have allowed in my life is for a greater purpose: that I would experience Your power and that I would have a story to tell others about You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!