By The Rt Rev. Stephen Andrews, PhD
Today’s passage from Job keeps the theme of justice before us. Job still presses for justice, only this time he does not look to his wearisome consolers or even to God directly, but to some sort of heavenly witness who can arbitrate on his behalf. He does not realise that there is in fact a courtroom drama underway, with an adversary prosecuting him before the divine throne. As far as he can tell, his protestations of innocence are not being heard on high, and it is certain that he can find none on earth who will champion his cause before God.
Bildad’s callous response, ‘It is the wicked whose light is extinguished’ is a truth that resonates with the last part of today’s Psalm: ‘The way of the wicked is doomed.’ Job himself can affirm this, but it only amplifies our despair. For if God heeds not the innocent, what hope have the sinful?
Thankfully, we have the ‘comfortable words’ of St John: ‘If any one sin, we have an advocate (paraklêtos) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous’ (1 John 2.1). There is One who has a personal acquaintance with our moral dilemma and now represents us within the eternal Godhead (Hebrews 4.14-16). He whose loving sacrifice secured our redemption now pleads for us before the seat of a merciful and gracious God. What is more, Christ’s work is supplemented by the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus called ‘anotherParaclete’ (John 14.16), who also intercedes for us.
St Paul is not unaware of this cosmic dimension. He acknowledges that the conflict in Corinth that preoccupies him is, ultimately, not of this world. He teaches us that in meeting evil, error and the power of darkness, the Christian requires spiritual weapons. Chief among these is the truth of the gospel, which destroys human pride, confounds deception, and brings every thought captive to Christ.
How confident are you in your prayers? What is the basis of your confidence? Does the knowledge that Christ and his Spirit are our advocates change anything for you?
Father, in your mercy look on us in our weakness; and for the glory of your name turn from us all evils, even those we have deserved. Grant that in all our troubles our whole trust and confidence may be in you; and that we may always seek to serve you in holiness and purity of life to your honour and glory; through our only mediator and advocate, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Rt Rev. Stephen Andrews, PhD is the Bishop of the Diocese of Algoma in Ontario