27 June 2020 – Send for the referee!

Can you imagine a professional football game without a referee? Or a cricket match without an umpire? Or even the House of Commons without The Speaker to keep the politicians in order? Job some time into his crisis is feeling that God is so far away. He needs help from someone who understands him and can articulate his cause more effectively than he can to God. In effect, he is crying out for a mediator between himself and God. Job 9:33 states: If only there was someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together…   Job is speaking here about:

1. The necessity of a mediator (Job 9:32-33)

Job is absolutely clear that such a person is necessary. They are needed to represent God to humanity and humanity to God. After all, God is all knowing, all powerful and eternal; the Creator and Sustainer of the universe; and Job, the representative human being is sinful, fallible, limited in knowledge and power, and in his present context in a place of incredible weakness and vulnerability. Job’s friends are convinced that he must have done something seriously wrong to be in such a difficult place.

By contrast, despite his occasional emotional wobbles and self-doubt, Job is convinced that he has lived a blameless life. Job 9:21a states: Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; yet his suffering continues with no end in sight. He has no comprehension of any bigger picture. He simply feels very hard done by with no means of rectifying his situation.

In his lowest moments he accuses God of injustice because of the obvious unfairness of life in this world. I despise my own life. 22 It is all the same; that is why I say, “He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.” (Job 9:21b-22). In the Old Testament era these concerns continued without any resolution, though there were pointers to the coming of a person who would address them, for example, Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

It is, though, in the New Testament that we see God’s clear answer to this plea. There was only one person who walked this earth who could qualify for this role to represent God to us and us to God. I Timothy 2:5-6a states: For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people.       

2. The work of a mediator

What is this individual to do? Fans or players of particular sports could probably recite quite easily the main tasks a referee or umpire was required to perform. In terms of the responsibilities of this mediator, Job is not looking for someone who by brute force compels parties to accept his rulings on matters. He is looking for a genuine individual who can represent the concerns of each party to the other.

A ‘middle-man’ literally; in Job’s day there were community leaders who performed some of these roles. They would hear a case presented by two individuals, and after time for reflection would issue a binding judgement on both parties. God was so powerful and majestic that Job felt inadequate to articulate his concerns directly to Him. What was Jesus like to those who came humbly to Him to ask for His divine assistance in their time of need?

Matthew 11:27-30: 27 ‘All things have been committed to Me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.28 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’

This was Jesus’ mandate from God the Father, a work being continued in people’s lives through the work of the blessed Holy Spirit. Do you trust Him to represent your concerns to God the Father? There is no better choice.

3. The benefits of such a mediator (Job 9:33-35)

If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, 34 someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that His terror would frighten me no more. 35 Then I would speak up without fear of Him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot (Job 9:33-35).

Job wanted a mediator to take away God’s rod from me. That is, not just to remove the problem he is experiencing, but also the apparent disciplinary consequences of God’s actions. There were times when Job felt emotionally and mentally overwhelmed with what he was going through and felt afraid of God – so that His terror would frighten me no more. What difference would this mediator make if they would intervene on his behalf? Then I would speak up without fear of Him… Job wanted to come directly into God’s presence without being afraid.

The wonderful truth we can experience as Christians is something Job desired for his times of prayer. The author of the book of Hebrews in Hebrews 10:19-22 states: Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

When we come through the one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ, we can come with an assurance that God will hear our prayers and will in His time answer them. Have you put your faith in Jesus? If not then why not do that today? You will be making the best decision of your life when you entrust your life to Him as your Lord and Saviour.

Our song for reflection today is: ‘Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me’

Brian Talbot