Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. The first part of his speech consists of A BITTER SARCASM UPON THE IDLE TALK OF HIS FRIENDS. (Vers. 1-5.) Their speeches are useless. They mean to comfort (Job 15:11); but their reasonings produce an opposite effect on his mind. They should cease; there must he something ailing those who are thus afflicted with the disease of words. Words will not heal the broken bones nor soothe the wounded heart. Were it so, then Job could act the part of comforter as well as they, in the case of their affliction. Thus with scorn he repels their futile attempts to "charm ache with air, and agony with words," to "patch grief with proverbs."
"Brother, men II. Next, he relapses into a MELANCHOLY CONTEMPLATION OF HIS EXTREME MISERY. (Vers. 6-17.) 1. The alternative of silence or of speech is equally unbearable. (Ver. 6.) A healthy man can give vent to his feelings in talk; but no words suffice to check the flow of this immense grief. Would he do well to be silent? But, then, what grief would depart from him? None! There is no riddance either way. Speak or not, his suffering remains the same. 2. The instinct to pour forth his woe proves irrepressible and he proceeds with the description of his terrible sufferings. (Vers. 7-14.) His strength is exhausted. His house is desolate. His wrinkled and emaciated body is a spectacle to move his own pity. But still keener are the sufferings of his mind. The thought that God has inflicted this suffering, that he is, as he supposes, an object of the Divine wrath, fills his mind with intolerable gloom. And not only is God against him, but evil men seem to be employed as instruments of his wrath. They, envious of his former prosperity, and of his goodness, now gather around to heap every insult upon his head. Tracing again all to God, Job conceives of him under the image of a furious warrior, who has advanced against him in utmost violence, caused a shower of arrows to fall upon him, pierced him as with a sword, battered him into ruins as a strong wall is battered into breaches by the violence of the battering-ram. 3. His present condition. (Vers. 15-17.) Humbling himself beneath the rod, he has adopted all the symbolic language of penitence and grief. He has put on the sackcloth; bowed his head to the dust; given himself to weeping until his eyes are heavy and his face is red. And all this though there is no wrong in his hand, and his prayer is pure." III. THE HEAVEN-PIERCING CRY OF INNOCENCE. (Vers. 18-22.) So soon as in the course of these sad reflections Job once more recurs to the consciousness of his innocence, new courage is born to his heart; in his very exhaustion he can still cry to Heaven in the might of a confidence that will yet wring an answer from God. He calls upon the earth not to hide his blood, and may his cry have no resting-place. The allusion is to the ancient sacred custom of blood-revenge (Genesis 4:10, 11; comp. Isaiah 26:21; 2 Samuel 1:21). But the circumstances under which the desire net to die unavenged here appears are quite unusual As one persecuted, not merely by man, but far more by God, near to death, he maintains his innocence before man and God. Here is a seeming contradiction between the dark thoughts just expressed of God, and this profound faith in the invisible and just Judge. Grief is full of inconsistencies and contradictions, arising from the imperfection of the understanding. They cannot be solved by thought, only as here by faith. Thus we come to another moment of calm amidst this terrible tempest of grief - another break in the sky amidst these storms. The chapter leaves the deposit of a noble consolation at our feet. 1. The existence of the Witness in heaven. An all-intelligent Witness, a feeling Witness, an all-remembering Witness of innocent suffering, is our heavenly Father. There may be ever an appeal to him from the unfeeling conduct and the mocking observation of men. 2. The certainty of a just decision in the end. "If we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." In all the sense of life's mystery, and the temptation to doubt whether God be perfectly good and kind, let Patience, supported by faith, have her perfect work. Let us "remember Job," and "consider the end of the Lord" - J.
II. Next, he relapses into a MELANCHOLY CONTEMPLATION OF HIS EXTREME MISERY. (Vers. 6-17.)
1. The alternative of silence or of speech is equally unbearable. (Ver. 6.) A healthy man can give vent to his feelings in talk; but no words suffice to check the flow of this immense grief. Would he do well to be silent? But, then, what grief would depart from him? None! There is no riddance either way. Speak or not, his suffering remains the same.
2. The instinct to pour forth his woe proves irrepressible and he proceeds with the description of his terrible sufferings. (Vers. 7-14.) His strength is exhausted. His house is desolate. His wrinkled and emaciated body is a spectacle to move his own pity. But still keener are the sufferings of his mind. The thought that God has inflicted this suffering, that he is, as he supposes, an object of the Divine wrath, fills his mind with intolerable gloom. And not only is God against him, but evil men seem to be employed as instruments of his wrath. They, envious of his former prosperity, and of his goodness, now gather around to heap every insult upon his head. Tracing again all to God, Job conceives of him under the image of a furious warrior, who has advanced against him in utmost violence, caused a shower of arrows to fall upon him, pierced him as with a sword, battered him into ruins as a strong wall is battered into breaches by the violence of the battering-ram.
3. His present condition. (Vers. 15-17.) Humbling himself beneath the rod, he has adopted all the symbolic language of penitence and grief. He has put on the sackcloth; bowed his head to the dust; given himself to weeping until his eyes are heavy and his face is red. And all this though there is no wrong in his hand, and his prayer is pure."
III. THE HEAVEN-PIERCING CRY OF INNOCENCE. (Vers. 18-22.) So soon as in the course of these sad reflections Job once more recurs to the consciousness of his innocence, new courage is born to his heart; in his very exhaustion he can still cry to Heaven in the might of a confidence that will yet wring an answer from God. He calls upon the earth not to hide his blood, and may his cry have no resting-place. The allusion is to the ancient sacred custom of blood-revenge (Genesis 4:10, 11; comp. Isaiah 26:21; 2 Samuel 1:21). But the circumstances under which the desire net to die unavenged here appears are quite unusual As one persecuted, not merely by man, but far more by God, near to death, he maintains his innocence before man and God. Here is a seeming contradiction between the dark thoughts just expressed of God, and this profound faith in the invisible and just Judge. Grief is full of inconsistencies and contradictions, arising from the imperfection of the understanding. They cannot be solved by thought, only as here by faith. Thus we come to another moment of calm amidst this terrible tempest of grief - another break in the sky amidst these storms. The chapter leaves the deposit of a noble consolation at our feet.
1. The existence of the Witness in heaven. An all-intelligent Witness, a feeling Witness, an all-remembering Witness of innocent suffering, is our heavenly Father. There may be ever an appeal to him from the unfeeling conduct and the mocking observation of men.
2. The certainty of a just decision in the end. "If we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." In all the sense of life's mystery, and the temptation to doubt whether God be perfectly good and kind, let Patience, supported by faith, have her perfect work. Let us "remember Job," and "consider the end of the Lord" - J.
I. MISERABLE COMFORTERS FAIL FOR LACK OF SYMPATHY. This thought is continually recurring in the course of the dramatic dialogue. It is at the root of the whole controversy. All the elaborate argumentation of the three wise men is so much empty wind, because they lack the first condition of consolation. We can never be reminded too often that sympathy is the first and absolute condition of all mutual helpfulness. But how is it that well-meaning friends lack it? There can be but one answer. The enemy of sympathy is selfishness. While we think much of ourselves, our own opinions, position, conduct, we must fail in sympathy, and our attempts to help others must come to the ground without any good results. In visiting the poor, nursing the sick, raising the fallen, saving the lost, teaching children, sympathy is the primary requisite for success. Christ is the true Friend of the suffering, because Christ sympathizes profoundly with all sufferings. We make a mistake when, like Job's comforters, we try to console by offering advice. The sufferer wants not advice, but sympathy. Why should his misfortune give us a right to pose as his counsellors? He is more fitted to be our teacher, for he has been to the best of schools, the school of affliction.
II. MISERABLE COMFORTERS ADD TO THE GRIEFS WHICH THEY VAINLY TRY TO ASSUAGE. Thus Rousseau writes, "Consolation indiscreetly pressed upon us, when we are suffering under affliction, only serves to increase our pain and to render our grief more poignant." The reasons for this are not difficult to discover.
1. Disappointment. We expect something better from a friend. He should give us his sympathy, and if he fails to do so we feel ourselves to be unkindly treated, or at least we miss a comfort for which we were looking.
2. Weariness. The sufferer wants quiet. The look and tear of sympathy may console him, but many words are wearying to him. He is too full of iris own sad thoughts to find room for the ill-judged observations of untimely advisers.
3. Injustice. You cannot be just to a man without sympathy, because you cannot understand him till you enter into his deeper feelings. But nothing is more distressing than unjust treatment. Much of Job's greatest trouble came from this source.
III. WE NEED DIVINE GRACE TO HELP US TO BE TRUE COMFORTERS. Perhaps we shrink from the task, seeing its difficulties. We would avoid the house of mourning lest our bungling attempts at consolation should add to its sorrows. But this is not brotherly. The Christian duty is to "weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15). To be true sympathizers we need to have self conquered by the grace of Christ. Perhaps one reason why some of us have much trouble is that we may be able to understand the trouble of other people, and so may become true comforters. - W.F.A.
I. BY ITS EXTREME PAINFULNESS. To endure pain of body or mind is hard enough, and many succumb to it. But if there be a gleam of hope the aching spirit clings to it and is upborne. When, however, no ray of brightness is apparent, when only the darkness of an undiminished sorrow is present, then is the painfulness of the circumstances in which the sufferer is placed heightened in a great degree. To suffer without hope of a termination is the very perfection of suffering. The poor heart searches for some avenue of escape, but none is present. It is thrown back again and again upon itself. This is extremest sorrow. To see only the long, unvaried line of suffering drawn out to the utmost future, and no break appearing, robs the soul of its one consolation in extreme trial - the hope of release. If a bound be put to sorrow it may be endured; but if no limit can be traced, and all probability of limitation be cut off, the case is desperate. The worst that can be said of any evil is - It is hopeless.
II. Sorrow without hope is AN EXCESSIVE STRAIN UPON THE ENDURANCE OF THE SUFFERER. To lose hope is to lose heart. The strong can bear up under the heavy burden, but the weak must yield. It is to add to the weight of the burden by every hour that elapses. Time, which so often comes to relieve the sorrowful, but brings a heavier load. The exhausted spirit bravely fighting against its oppressive surroundings is more and more driven to the conclusion that all effort is unavailing, and the added experience of every hour but confirms the assurance that there is no hope left. It is the severest of all strains that the spirit can be subjected to. It is the inevitable precursor of despair.
III. Such sorrow reaches a climax of severity when, as in this case, THE APPEAL TO GOD, THE GREAT HELPER, IS UNAVAILING. "He hath made me weary." He hath exhausted me. It is true a real help is in reserve for Job, but he does not know it. He suffers without hope. He has turned to man and found no relief. His cry to God is unavailing. If he "speak," his "grief is not assuaged.' His cry returns upon him. If he "forbear," still he is not "eased." The world is indebted to this sufferer for the painful experiment of which he is the subject. Now the world knows that in patient endurance and unswerving fidelity there is assured hope. The hand of help may be hidden, but it is there. God may seem to be inattentive to the sorrowful cry, but he is only testing and proving his faithful servant, and the severity of the test marks the measure of the final award. Hence may we learn
(1) that the apparent hopelessness of human sorrow is not a perfect representation;
(2) the wisdom of maintaining the spirit of hope, even when we seem to have no encouragement to do so;
(3) the certainty of a final relief and reward to the faithful. - R.G.
I. GREAT GRIEF SEEMS INCURABLE TO THE SUFFERER.
1. It cannot be measured. Feeling destroys the sense of proportion. Every one who suffers much is tempted to think himself the greatest of sufferers. A passion of emotion sweeps away all standards of comparison. The stormy sea appears to be unfathomable.
2. It excludes the thought of anything but itself. The black cloud shuts out the heavens and narrows the horizon. The world of sorrow is shrunken to the range of present, personal experience, Thus in overwhelming grief there is no room or power in the soul to conceive of a means of escape. The absorbing interest of pain will not allow a rival consciousness.
3. It is found to be irresistible. If a man thought he could conquer his grief or escape from it, surely he would not tamely submit to his torments unless he were a fanatic of asceticism. But if the pain cannot be set aside at once, it is difficult to believe that it will not endure for ever, for agony destroys the sense of time.
II. GREAT GRIEF MAY NOT BE CURABLE BY MAN. There are diseases that no medicine can heal, and sorrows that no human aid can touch. Grief naturally tends to endure by its own creation of a habit of grieving.
"Sorrow, like a heavy-hanging bell,
1. The loss of those greatly beloved. No human comforter could bring back Job's seven sons and three daughters from the dead. What word or work of man could touch his sorrow of utter bereavement? We know only too well that nothing on earth can make up for our greatest losses by death.
2. The discovery of a wasted life. When the old man comes to himself and finds that he has been living in a delusion, when he sees with bitter remorse that he has been squandering his years in folly and sin, what can man do to comfort him? The past can never be recovered.
3. The despair of guilt. If this is soothed by flattery and falsehood, a fatal mischief is done. But if the conscience is fairly roused, it cannot be thus soothed. To man sin is incurable.
III. GRIEF THAT APPEARS TO BE INCURABLE MAY YET BE ALL CURED BY GOD. No child of God should despair, for infinite love and almighty energy can know of no impossibility. The gospel of Christ offers complete cure.
1. Present peace.
(1) If the trouble is from sin, the peace is in pardon. All sin is curable by Christ, for "he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him" (Hebrews 7:25).
(2) If the trouble is from any other cause, the peace is in the love of God. This love, which also brings the peace of forgiveness, is itself an infinite consolation. It is better to be Lazarus with God than Dives with purple and fine linen.
2. Future blessedness. The dead will not return to us. But we shall go to them. Christ promises to his people a home in the great house of God. There "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes" (Revelation 7:17). The old wasted life cannot be given back in its pristine innocence. But the renewed soul may live a new life in God's eternity. - W.F.A.
I. AS A DELIVERING OVER TO THE UNGODLY. He is cast into the hands of the evil-doer.
II. As A DESTRUCTION OF EXTERNAL PROSPERITY. "I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder."
III. As AN INFLICTION OF SEVERE PAINS. "He cleaveth my reins asunder."
IV. As A SUCCESSION OF REPEATED INFLICTIONS. "He breaketh me with breach upon breach." These judgments evoke from Job:
1. The lowliest humiliation. He bows in "sackcloth," and lays his "horn in the dust."
2. He pours out his soul in penitence, and his face is even "foul with weeping."
3. Over him hangs the gloom "the shadow" - "of death."
4. In the consciousness of integrity he makes his "pure" prayer to God. The interest of these few lines is very great in the general working out of the plot of the history. Happy he who in the midst of his sorrows can bow in lowly penitence under the severities of the Divine judgments, still retaining the assurance of his sincerity, and waiting the final award. - R.G.
I. GOD GIVES TIMES OF EASE. This should be acknowledged even in the hours of suffering. Take life as a whole, and the intervals of ease are with most people much longer than the periods of trouble. Yet we are tempted to neglect them when giving the story of our life, and, like Jacob, to describe our days as "few and evil" (Genesis 47:9). Quiet times come from God quite as much as troublous times. It is an unjust view of providence to suppose that our ease comes from ourselves and the world, and only our trouble from God.
II. TIMES OF EASE WILL NOT ENDURE FOR EVER. It is needless to be anticipating future trouble. Christ bids us not be anxious for the morrow. But we should be prepared for trouble. The man who has insured his house against a fire need not be always dreaming that it is in flames. Having made a proper provision, he can set aside all thoughts of danger. We require to have just so much perception of the uncertainty of life as to lead us to make the requisite provision for a reverse of fortune. The storm may come. Where shall we be when it is upon us?
III. TIMES OF EASE ARE NOT IN THEMSELVES SECURITIES AGAINST TIMES OF TROUBLE. As they may give place to very different times, they cannot ward off the unacceptable succession. The great temptation of the rich man is to trust in his wealth for what it can never purchase. Seeing that its range is wide, he is in danger of missing its limits. So the prosperous man is tempted to trust to his good fortune, as though the mere occurrence of what is agreeable were a cause of the same in the future. But trouble comes from outside a man's circumstances, or from his own heart, which may be bankrupt while his estate is perfectly sound.
IV. TIMES OF EASE SHOULD HELP US TO PREPARE FOR TIMES OF TROUBLE. Joseph laid up stores during the seven years of plenty in preparation for the coming seven years of famine. The prudent man will always try to put something by for a rainy day. Old age must be provided for by the forethought of earlier years. Thrift is a duty a man owes to his family whom he ought to support, and to his neighbours to whom he ought not to become a burden. Higher considerations require the same method of conduct. These present calm days afford us good opportunities for spiritual preparation. It is rare indeed that a man has power and disposition to enter into the deeper religious experiences on his death-bed if he has not made himself acquainted with them during the days of health and strength. Then death may surprise us at any time, and the only safety is in being always ready. A good use of the long, quiet, prosperous summer-time of life should leave us prepared to meet whatever wintry storms it may please God to send us. If we have the peace of God in our hearts, the most shattering blows will not destroy it, and that peace even in trouble will be far more precious to us than the times of ease of the lotus-eaters, with whom it was "always afternoon," but who knew not the deeper blessedness of peace in sorrow. - W.F.A.
Job 16:17 (last clause, "My prayer is pure")
I. REALITY. The prayer that is not felt and meant in the heart is an impure offering of hypocrisy. Though it be uttered in the becoming phrases of devotion, it is to God as the howling of blasphemous demons. If there be no other sin in our prayer, insincerity is fatal. But it is not easy to be always true and real, especially in public acts of devotion, when a multitude of people are expected to be joining in the same prayer at the same moment. If, however, the heart is set on truly seeking God, he will not count the wandering thought of casual distractions as a mark of insincerity. The spirit may be willing while the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41), and God looks to the heart. What is essential is a true purpose and effort to worship God, who is a Spirit, in spirit and i, truth (John 4:24).
II. PENITENCE. We are all sinners, and therefore can only come to God as suppliants confessing our sin. Any other method of approach is false to our character and deeds. In the parable of the publican and the Pharisee it is just the contrition of the publican that meets with God's approval. If we hold to our sin we cannot be received m our prayer. Though we may forget the ugly thing, or suppose that we have left it behind us, it is with us in the very house of God; it is even standing between us and God, a black and impenetrable barrier.
III. FAITH. We cannot pray purely till we trust God. The prayer of unbelief is a wild cry in the darkness wrung from a soul by its utter distress. Surely God will pity such a cry, and in his infinite compassion he will do what is possible to save his benighted child. But the strength of communion with God that comes in prayer is only possible when we can trust God as our Father and completely confide in him. It is by believing, by trusting God, that we win great blessings in prayer.
IV. SUBMISSION. If Our prayer is a self-willed mandate claiming certain things from God which must be just according to our mind, it is defiled by impurity. We have not to dictate to God what he is to do for us. Our duty is to lay our case before God and then to leave it with him. He must do what he thinks best, not what we demand. The pure prayer will be submissive, saying, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt."
V. UNSELFLSHNESS. Even in our submission we may still be selfish, for we may be convinced that it is best for ourselves that God should do with us what he thinks best, and may think of nothing else. Such prayers as "Bless me; save me; comfort me; fill me with good things," are narrow, and when they stand alone they are selfish. Christ's model prayer is in the plural number," Our Father give us," etc. We need to enlarge our petitions with intercession for our brethren, and to include the wants of the world in our prayers. The purest prayer is one that chiefly seeks the glory of God - Christ's prayer, "Father, glorify thy Name." - W.F.A.
I. A THOROUGH CONVICTION OF THE INSUFFICIENCY OF HUMAN JUDGMENTS. Job had thoroughly proved this. Howsoever wise the sayings of his friends, or however just their reflections, Job knew that their accusations of him were unfounded, and that therefore their conclusions were unjust. Hence he turned from them to that "record" of his life which was "on high."
II. But this must be supported by A CONSCIOUS INTEGRITY. None can truly commit his cause to God who knows within himself that he is guilty. At the final bar he knows most assuredly that his sin will find him out. But he whose spirit bears him witness of his uprightness, as Job's did, and as the Divine judgments afterwards affirmed, may with calmness commit his way unto God. He knows that his true "Witness is in heaven." He shall bear testimony to Job's integrity, uprightness, and purity.
III. Further, AN UNHESITATING FAITH IN GOD'S RIGHTEOUS DEALINGS is needed in order to a calm committal of all to his arbitrament. Job, the "servant" of God, knew in whom he could confide. He feared God. On that fear faith builds with safety and assurance. A conception of God which is so low that it inspires no faith must preclude all loving, helpful hope in him.
IV. On such foundations may rest A CALM PATIENCE TO AWAIT THE FINAL DIVINE AWARD. The upright, sincere, but misunderstood sufferer leaves all to the final judgment. The "witness" and the "record" are "on high." To that tribunal which is also on high he appeals, and with the "scorn" of his "friends' breaking his already afflicted spirit he turns his tearful eyes "unto God." Self-assured integrity may always thus make its appeal to God, "the righteous Judge" to whose judgment-seat it is the highest wisdom of assailed innocence to appeal. - R.G.
I. THERE IS A WITNESS IN HEAVEN.
1. He is far above us. "In heaven." God is not to be confined to the narrow range of earthly experiences. He sits above the dust and din of the battle, above all the clouds and storms of earth. He is free from the passion, the limited vision, the personal prejudice of the immediate actors in the earthly scene. Though intimately associated with all we are and do, he is yet so great as to enjoy that detachment of mind which allows of fair and impartial judgment. He looks with other eyes than ours; from his high station he sees all things in their right proportion, and he takes in the whole panorama of existence.
2. He takes note of earthly things. A "Witness." God is not uninterested in earth, like an Epicurean divinity. He looks lute all human affairs, and they are all open to him Every human deed is done under the eye of God; even the darkest and most secret crimes are perfectly open to his all-penetrating scrutiny. He too sees things truly, as they are; and the greatest wrong and injustice is quite clear to him. God never misunderstands any of his children.
3. He can be appealed to. Job even calls God "my Witness." He feels that God is on his side, and he believes that he may call upon God to testify against the enormous wrong that is being done to him. God does not reserve his knowledge uselessly, like a student who is always learning, but never employing what he acquires. We may appeal to God to come and speak and act for our deliverance, pouring out tears unto him.
II. THE WITNESS IN HEAVEN IS TRUE AND GOOD. It is useless to appeal to a false witness, or to one who will give an unfavourable version of what he sees. Satan was a witness of Job's life; but Satan's testimony was one-sided, suspicious, and as damaging as the facts could allow. Job appeals without fear to the supreme Witness, knowing that his testimony can be relied upon. Goodness and truth are supreme. The lower earthly experiences of God are contradictory and confusing. What we see in this world of nature and providence perplexes us with hard thoughts of apparent indifference, injustice, cruelty. Some have even supposed that the Creator of a world with so much evil could not be good. Browning's Caliban imagined, in his poor, dim, low-minded speculation, that his god Setebos made the world "out of spite." This was a common belief with the Gnostic sects. But Caliban, like the Gnostics, saw that there was a Supreme who did justly. The notion appears in modern times. Dr. Jessopp relates a conversation in which an old countryman said that Providence was always against him. This year it was the potato-disease, and last year the oats were blighted. But looking up, he added, "I reckon there's One above that will call him to account." The delusion is in separating the two divinities. We have to see that the one God appears in lower scenes of darkness and mystery, and also in the heights above as perfect love. Clouds and darkness are round his footstool But his countenance is gracious. - W.F.A.
I. OUR GREATEST NEED IS TO BE RIGHT WITH GOD. What is the use of the flattery of man if God, the one supreme Judge with whom we have to do, condemns us? But, then, where is the mischief of man's censure when our Judge acquits us? Far too much is made of the opinion of the world, and far too little of the verdict of Heaven. We need to rise above the little hopes and tears of human favour to the great thought of God's approval. When we think first of that, all else becomes insignificant. The reasons for doing so should be overwhelming.
1. God knows all.
2. He is Almighty - able to bless us or to east us off.
3. He is our Father. And it is better for the child to stand well with his parent than with all the world.
II. WE HAVE TO OWN THAT WE ARE NOT RIGHT WITH GOD.
1. This is apparent in the experience of life. Job felt there was something wrong between him and God, though the foolish error of his friends had confused his mind, so that he could not see where the wrong lay. The dark shadows that creep between us and God, and hide from us the joy of heaven, are felt in experience. They certainly bear witness to some condition of error or evil.
2. This is also confirmed by the testimony of conscience. A voice within interprets the dark scene without. We learn from Job's distresses that calamities are not necessarily indicative of sin. But we must all own that nothing puts us so wrong with God as our own misconduct.
III. WE NEED AN ADVOCATE TO SET US RIGHT WITH GOD. We cannot represent our own case aright, for we do not understand ourselves, and our "hearts are deceitful above all things." We certainly do not know the mind and will of God. How, then, can we find our way back to him? A trackless desert lies between, and the night is dark and stormy. Even if we were before him we could not answer him "one of a thousand." Thus there is a general feeling among men that some mediator, intercessor, advocate, priest, is required.
IV. GOD IN CHRIST IS THE ADVOCATE WITH GOD THE FATHER. Job could not see as far as this; but he saw the essential truth, i.e. that God must provide the way of reconciliation. Only God can plead with God for man. Therefore we flee" from God to God." We escape from the lower experiences of the Divine in life which strike us as harsh, and even as unjust, to the higher vision of God which reveals him as all truth and goodness. We call upon God in his love to reconcile us with himself. This, the New Testament teaches, he does in Christ, who is the Revelation of God's love. "We have an Advocate with the Father," etc. (1 John 2:1). We want no human priest to plead our cause, for we have a great High Priest who "ever liveth to make intercession for us." When we truly pray in Christ's Name we have a right to trust that he will plead for us. By all the merits of his cross and Passion his pleading is mighty to prevail for the sinner's salvation. - W.F.A.