Another Sunday … and another exchange between Job and his not-so-comforting friends. Job chapter 9 poses the monumental question: how does mortal man bring himself into right standing with the Creator of the universe? Again, Blake’s drawing (below) depicts Job looking upward, entreating the heavens for God’s explanation.
In this chapter, Job speaks once more, following Bildad’s observations of the preceding chapter. However, except to acknowledge Bildad offered a tidbit of wisdom (verse 2, I know this is true), Job pivots from direct response and delivers an exceptional oratory about who God is. No matter what version of the Bible you read, this passage overflows with elegance in describing the soaring beauty of God’s might and wondrous works. Read it! Then read it again in a different version!
Job describes the impossibility of arguing with God whose wisdom and power are beyond measure. Argue with the Almighty, Job says in verse 3, and you’re unlikely to answer one question out of a thousand. Job’s intellect is simply ill-equipped to joust with the Creator’s. The One who moves mountains, shakes the earth, speaks to the sun and spreads out the seas is the same Maker of the distant constellations. His wonders are beyond comprehension and His miracles are innumerable (verse 10).
Once Job has professed God’s incalculable God-ness, he admits he’s no match. If he wished to protest God’s poor treatment of him, he’s reduced to pleading for God’s mercy. If he chose hand-to-hand combat with God, his strength would be insignificant compared to God’s might. All in all, Job recognizes mortality binds him to earthly limits while Divinity is boundless.
This doesn’t mean Job is going to enjoy his suffering. Even if he vows to forget his complaint (verse 27) and put on a happy face (transforming his expression into a smile), he will still dread his present physical distress. Indirectly, Job reminds his friends this current calamity should not be construed as evidence he’s been duly chastised by God for wrongs committed. Job asserts that God reserves His divine prerogative (verse 22) to “destroy both the blameless and the wicked.”
The final verses of this chapter (verses 33-35) express Job’s longing for a mediator – someone to remove God’s rod from Job, someone who could capably liaise between Job and his Creator. These verses beautifully foreshadow the Christ whose coming (advent) we celebrate this week.
How does a mortal man bring himself into right standing with Almighty God? Job understood he was incapable of accomplishing this for himself … but he recognized his need. (The God who creates a need within us also provides for satisfaction of that need.)
Today’s sonnet summarizes Job’s oration of both God’s power and the limits of Job’s mortality.