The accuser vs the intercessor in the eternal courtroom
The book of Job is a mystery to most people. It is often ignored, or worse, it is often butchered by people who are trying to make sense of it, but doing so from the wrong perspective. In reality, Job is a complex book, but not an impossible one. In fact, you can make sense of it in one sitting if you know what to look for.
Most students estimate that the events recorded in Job took place sometime between the Tower of Babel and the life of Abraham. The Bible does not discuss Job at length outside of the book of Job, and virtually nothing is known about his friends recorded in the book. For these reasons, the book is frequently overlooked and misunderstood.
Additionally, the book itself is confusing. Job and his friends spend the majority of the book in dialogue, and all of them appear to make true statements and offer wise advice and perspectives at different points.
When God himself begins to speak toward the end of the book, he does not answer the fundamental questions raised by the characters in the book, but instead describes his great wisdom and power in creating the world. God’s words to Job are some of the most striking and powerful words of God’s power in the Bible. If you enjoy praising God for his creation, a good place to start is Job 38-42.
What is going on in this book? How can we make sense of it and apply it in our own lives?
The answer is much simpler than many students try to make it. It is found in one character introduced in chapters 1 and 2.
First, the main characters:
Job, a wealthy and righteous man
God, who calls all his angels together
Satan, whose name means “The Accuser.”
Job’s wife, who has a single line
Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, Job’s friends who come to console him
Elihu, who appears suddenly in Chapter 34 and offers his own perspective, but does not appear to be among Job’s friends.
Job’s children and servants – Introduced only to announce that they have died.
What is the theme? The theme is Satan’s name.
In the time it was written, the word “Satan” simply meant “The accuser.” (It may also have connotations such as “the adversary” or “The prosecutor,” as an attorney. In any case, it always means someone who passes blame) It did not have connotations with Hell and demons and temptation and torment and evil power. The writer and the readers would simply read that among the angels who reported to God in chapters 1 and 2, one of them was named “the accuser.” Angels, it is widely believed, have specific roles. Some are heralds, who go ahead of God announcing his coming. Others are warriors who go to battle; others are messengers, who bring specific messages from God.
One, apparently, is an accuser. In Job, God asks him what he has been up to, and he says “from wandering around the earth and going up and down in it.” This means he has been busy going through the world looking for accusations to make, which is why God asks him if he has anything against Job.
The accuser says no. Then the accuser does a remarkable thing. He accuses God. He tells God that he has been spoiling Job, and of course he has no accusation against Job because Job has been blessed and spoiled by God. Instead of accusing Job, he accuses God. Again, that is his name. It is what he does. It is virtually all he does. He can’t help himself. As soon as he infects Adam and Eve with his evil in the garden, they start making accusations against each other too.
God tells him to go wreck Job’s life and report back on his findings. After Job loses his possessions and his children, he makes this astonishing statement: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD. Through all of this Job did not sin nor did he blame [accuse] God.”
Once again the accuser has to report to God, and still has nothing bad on Job. Once again God asks him what he has against Job, and once again, the accuser accuses God, this time the accuser is angrier about it, and demands the freedom to physically harm Job.
God grants permission and the accuser destroys Job’s body with extreme pain. Job’s wife comes and tells him to curse God and die. That is, accuse God of wrongdoing. It is bad advice, and it echos what the accuser has been doing. There are three voices in the book of Job. There is the voice of the accuser, the voice of Job, who refuses to accuse, and the voice of God, who vindicates. All the characters fall into these categories.
Accuser – Satan and everyone else in the book except:
Job (who does not accuse, but also cannot vindicate)
God (Who vindicates)
Once again Job’s response is remarkable: “Shall we indeed accept goodness from God and not accept adversity?” In all of this Job did not sin with his lips. In other words, Job does not accuse God of wrongdoing, as his wife has, and as the accuser has.
Now the accuser disappears. He is never mentioned again in the book. He has failed at his attempts to cause Job to accuse God of wrongfully harming him. He has destroyed his family, possessions, and health. Even Job’s wife has become a mouthpiece for the accuser, urging Job to accuse God, which is exactly what the accuser has been doing. Job has passed the test, and the accuser goes away.
Next come Job’s friends. What do they do? They accuse. The Bible says they came “to console Job.” They came with good motives, but their good motives wind up hurting Job even more. In fact, throughout the book, he frequently tells them he was better off before they arrived. They are hurting him even worse than the accuser had. Have your friends ever hurt you? Have you ever hurt your friends?
Chances are, you’ve been hurt by people close to you. Chances are, you’ve hurt them as well. What did they say or do? Who were you speaking for? Did you accuse them? Blame them for something? Is your voice a voice of blessing and help, or blame and bitterness? Have you ever been hurt by someone who claims to speak for God, and then accuses you of something? It doesn’t matter if its a false accusation or a true accusation. Both hurt, and both come from the spirit of the accuser.
You can choose to speak for the accuser, or for the intercessor.
None. Not in Job anyway. In Job everyone who opens his/her mouth is speaking for the accuser. Job craves an intercessor to step in and defend him. It never comes. Throughout the book of Job, he frequently calls out for an arbitrator, a redeemer, or a messenger from God. Anyone who will stand in to defend him. He speaks confidently that there is such a redeemer, but does not ever see him. In chapter 19, Job says “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even if my body is destroyed, yet in my body I shall see God.” He is confident that an intercessor will come and save him, he just hasn’t seen it yet. His friends butcher him to shreds over it, but he keeps his hope.
Eliphaz always speaks first, throughout the whole book. After Job responds to him, Bildad speaks. Then Zophar speaks. They always speak in this order, and Job always responds to them. All three of them say the same things. They each accuse Job of wrongdoing. After he denies each of their accusations, they go around again, this time accusing him of lying. Their accusations get increasingly angrier throughout the dialogue.
Satan the accuser is gone from the book, but he now has three mouthpieces, (four if you start with Job’s wife) each tearing into Job, trying to get Job to trip up, to lose his temper, or to confess some secret sin which he had kept hidden. The theme of their message is “you have done something bad, and you deserve what is happening to you.” It is all accusations.
Have you ever said this, or thought it, about someone going through a tough time? “Your marriage is in trouble because you slept around when you were a teenager” “Your kids are getting into trouble because you didn’t discipline them well.” Your health is falling apart because you eat junk food.” The theme is “you are worthless, and you deserve all the problems you have.”
These are all accusations that people make every day. Are they true? Maybe, maybe not. The point is they are accusations. Accusations come from the accuser, and accusations do not have any grace in them.
Immediately after sinning, Adam and Eve began accusing each other. Adam accused Eve, and then accused God himself “The woman YOU GAVE TO ME ate it, and she gave it to me and I ate.” Eve passed the blame to the serpent. Accusations are the primary characteristic of a person who has been corrupted by the accuser. If you are blaming others, accusing others, trying to elevate yourself by tearing someone down, then you are a child of the accuser. It is that simple. Good motives, bad motives, true accusations, false accusations… Doesn’t matter. The accuser’s currency is accusations. He has no forgiveness, no mercy, and no limits. He has no forgiveness because all he knows is accusations. It is all he knows how to do. He will tear you down, then tear you down some more. He will get you to do his work for him, tearing down those near you.
In the book of Job there are plenty of hints about an intercessor, but the intercessor never appears. We know that Jesus is our intercessor, who ever lives and pleads for us on the right hand of God. Job himself knew that his hope was with God, but could not explain it beyond simply expressing hope. We know Jesus. We value him above all else. The book of Job shows us the power of the accuser. The New Testament tells us the power of Jesus the great intercessor. Jesus wins.
On judgment day the accuser will stand to the left of God and will offer a VERY long list of accusations against you and me. The prophet Zechariah has a vision of this very scene in Zechariah 3. It is terrifying. (The right hand/left hand are reversed in Zechariah because it depends on whose left you refer to; the accuser will be on God’s left hand, but on our right when we face God.) He will know what we have done and he will stand before God and accuse us. He will tell God that we are guilty, and we deserve wrath, punishment and torment. At that moment all hope will be lost. The chasm and stench of Hell will overpower, and a greater despair than we have ever experienced will present itself on the left of God. Modern day courtrooms are modeled after this, with the prosecutor on the left and the defendant on the right.
On the right will be the great intercessor, the Lord Jesus Christ himself. He will intercede for us. He will stand between us and the accuser and he will declare that he has bought us at the price of his own blood. On that side will be eternal joy and perfection. We will be filled with an unimaginable hope and peace.
God will look upon us and say one of two things. Either he will say “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire,” and we will be cast off to the left into Hell for eternity, or he will say “Well done good and faithful servant” and we will be ushered into heaven for eternity.
At that moment we will see what Job never saw (on earth). We will see the intercessor face to face. He will stand for us and lift us from the jaws of death.
How can you be sure? Simple. You can be sure that Jesus Christ is your intercessor by asking him to be. Not then; now. At that moment it will be too late. The time to choose your defense attorney is now. The prosecutor already has his case lined up. The only question is whether you will choose Jesus as your defense, or whether you will try to do it yourself, apart from him.
You can simply ask him to be your great intercessor. Say “Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner, I have fallen short, and I do not deserve your compassion, but I ask for it anyway. I believe you died to take my punishment, and came back to life to save mine.”
It doesn’t have to be those words, exactly, but the spirit behind them. When God hears a person ask for mercy, he ALWAYS gives it. Mercy is God’s name (That is for another blog). It is his literal name. He loves giving it, and if you ask for it, he will gladly give it.
How It Ends
Whats next? Now it is your turn to be a miniature intercessor for others. After God speaks in Job 42-10, he tells Job to pray on behalf of his friends, who have spoken falsely. Job prays for them, and then, only after Job prays, God accepts the sacrifices of his friends.
In other words, Job was told to intercede on behalf of his friends. Once you have been saved by God’s mercy through the intercession of Jesus, you should no longer keep acting like a miniature accuser, tearing others down. Now you can act like a miniature Jesus, building them up and interceding on their behalf before God. He hears it.