Job’s “friends” escalate their help in dialing up the intensity of their accusations. Their strategy and “wisdom” seems to be that if a little argumentation doesn’t work that more and more intense argument will. Throughout these exchanges Job’s “friends” seem to have absolute confidence that they and their position are absolutely correct — so much so that they really don’t seem to be listening to what Job is saying.
Now, it is true that sometimes “the accused” will stiffen their resistance by shouting louder and longer that they really are innocent — witness a number of politicians that have made the news over the past several years who got caught with their pants down (literally and figuratively), who denied for some time that they were actually guilty, that they were the victims of a witch-hunt or a hacking attack or a terrible misunderstanding. And sometimes the only way to get to the truth is to continue to be relentless. But those who accuse also need to be very careful that they don’t convict innocence, and that can be done by merely listening. Sometimes we get so caught up in defending our “position” that we don’t listen to the other participant in the conversation. Job’s “friends” comment a lot in a generic way on his responses, but they really don’t answer them apart from further accusations that he must think that he’s smarter than the ancient observers (elders or philosophers) of their culture. And listening can be good for more than simply learning something that we didn’t knew before (as in Job’s “friends” case); sometimes its the best to truly and forcefully answer the questions and errors of others.
I know that my Redeemer lives — This wonderful verse expresses Job’s ultimate hope that God will exonerate him and vindicate his innocence. And hope is priceless, especially in circumstances like Job’s. Job is not only a wonderful philosophic, theological tour de force on the question of the problem of evil, but it is also a wonderful example of godly faith in the fires of suffering. It hopes, it looks to God for vindication, and never despairs. Like Job, we often don’t know why we suffer, why we’re being tested or tempted. So much seems so pointless and random and without rhyme or reason. Job’s “friends” were trying to find the rhyme and reason to suffering, concluding that it was because of sin. The truth is that life and and God’s will are more complicated than that. Job’s “friends” would doubtlessly have had a faith crisis, had Job’s catastrophes befallen them. But Job held on to his integrity, his faith, and his hope.
Yet, from my flesh I shall see God — Although there are those who would argue that the concept of the resurrection is one that comes at a considerably later time than Job’s era, here we see a clear reference to a verse that seems to be interpretable only by the resurrection. It’s a passage of hope that God would indeed vindicate Job, even if it were after Job’s death. And indeed that is the great and unassailable hope of every Christian. Life will not be fair; bad things will happen to us in spite of the good we may be and do; people will falsely accuse us; perhaps even society will revile us; but those who are faithfully following the Lord will in the final result be vindicated. Hold on to that: do what’s right in love, and let the pieces fall where they will; God will vindicate in the end.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.