After reflecting on months of pain, Job in his desperate state looks to a mediator between him and God.
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Job will have none of Eliphaz’s response. It is not he, but Eliphaz who is full of hot air (Job 16:3)! At this point, he knows that the friends at this point are more concerned with defending their theology of divine retribution than actually consoling him. This is why he says, “Sorry comforters are you all” (Job 16:2)!
After this, Job asserts they do not understand what he is going through the way he does (Job 16:4). He knows this very well, because he once spoke like them (Job 4:3-4). Job then insinuates using sarcasm that though they may have tried comforting him all they have done is increased his suffering (Job 16:5).
In the midst of making accusations against his friends, Job is really leveling his complaints against God. He laments that complaining does not make him feel better but he’s going to do it anyway (Job 16:6). God has exhausted him (Job 16:7) and his body bears witness to the extremity of his suffering (Job 16:8, 15, 16). God appears to him as an angry enemy seeking vengeance (Job 16:9) and He merely sent his “friends” to rub salt into his wounds (Job 16:10-11).
The god Job presents is a sadist. He uses Job for target practice (Job 16:13) and hunts him with a set mind (Job 16:14). But why? Job asserts that “there is no violence in my hands and my prayer is pure” (Job 16:17). One may suspect to have one’s prayers hindered when being disobedient to God (1 Pet 3:7), but why should Job when he is living blamelessly? Job does not think he has been abandoned by God. In fact, he feels as if he is being pursued.
So, Job justifies himself rather than God. Like Abel whose blood is witness against the injustice perpetrated against him from Cain (Gen 4:10), Job likewise wants the ground to bear witness against the One who has slayed him.
However, even now as Job comes perilously close to cursing God and treating Him like an enemy, he maintains his faith.
Even now, behold, my Witness is in heaven and my Advocate is on high. My friends are my scoffers, my eye weeps to God. O that a man might plead with God as a man with his neighbor (Job 16:19-21)!
It has been argued by interpreters such as Michael D. Oblath that Satan is the advocate. Perish the thought! The Greek for “Advocate” in the Septuagint is not the same as John 14:6, so a compelling argument cannot be made from language. However, traditionally, Job’s Witness, Advocate, and Redeemer are all the same Person: Jesus Christ.
Joseph Caryl points out what we believe is the correct interpretation: “[Job] calls who is in Heaven to witness, that is God” (An Exposition on the Book of Job Chaps. 15-17, p. 361).
Why God Himself? Why not an angel or someone less divine than God?
‘My witness is in heaven, my record is on high.’ Who is Heaven, who is on high? You may know whom he means when he saith, ‘He that is in heaven, he that is on high,’ though His name may not be expressed. There are Angels in heaven, but they are nothing compared to God…there is no name in heaven but God, God is all in all in heaven….Again that which Job calls heaven in one part of the verse, he calls high in the other…And Christ after he finished the work of man’s redemption is said, ‘To sit down on the right hand of Majesty on high (Heb 1.3) ’ (Caryl, An Exposition on the Book of Job Chaps. 15-17, p. 369, 371).
Or, in plain 21st century english, because the witness is in heaven and on high, there is no higher authority in which can be appealed to. So, Job is appealing to the highest possible authority, which can only be God and no other.
Caryl in this section expertly proves why in the Hebrew and from the Scripture why this is the case, but he does not explore the ramifications of what Job is clearly doing. Because God slays him, Job is calling upon a heavenly mediator, that is God Himself to stand as judge between him and God.
Many commentators such as Henry and Aquinas have avoided making this connection because it sounds so confusing. However, it does not have to be if we have faith that God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Because Christ is at the right hand of God the Father continually making intercession for us as our High Priest (Heb 7:25), then the only conclusion we can draw is that God intercedes for us on behalf of God. There is no other possible interpretation aside from laying aside trinitarian theology and adopting a historically heretical view.
Being that Job says himself that he is weeping (i.e. pleading) to God, because of the suffering that he holds God responsible for, the reading in which Job asks for God’s intercession between him and God makes sense. Further, it is consistent with all of the other pleas for a mediator and our interpretation of those pleas being Christ-centered. So, though God (the Father) slay Job now, he will trust in Him (Christ). Further, he knows his Redeemer (Christ) lives. Who else, other than Christ, can be Job’s Witness and Advocate, and be weeped to as his God? Whom else can be pleaded to for mercy and deliverance (Job 6:21)?
After showing a glimmer of hope, Job is thrusted back into despair. He has been suffering for months and now speculates it may be years before he passes (Job 16:22). He will be suffering from his pain and loss all the while. Death cannot come quickly, because he will not curse God and die.
Despite the chapters of Job complaining, taken as a whole, Job was quite patient in his suffering. He waited for months to complain, he bore through the pain, and anticipated years of more suffering. Yet, though God slay him for all that time, he was willing to still place his faith in Him, even when his wife couldn’t and his friends refused to believe in the true God who can and sometimes does such things. This is the “endurance/patience of Job” referred to in James 5:11:
We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.