I know my Vindicator lives!

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Vindicator Job

Wednesday 2/21/24

Title: I know my Vindicator lives!

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I know my Vindicator lives!

Job replies to the words of Eliphaz

Job 16:2-22,

“(1) Then Job replied: 

(2) I have heard many things like these before. 

What miserable comforters are you all!  

(3)  Will there be an end to your windy words? Or what provokes you that you answer?  

(4)  I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could pile up words against you and I could shake my head at you.  (5)  But I would strengthen you with my words; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.”

It’s easy to say what we would do in another’s shoes and perhaps Job WOULD offer encouragement in a similar situation. However, Eliphaz’s first words to Job at the very beginning would indicate otherwise. Eliphaz said that Job had often counseled others. Are we to believe all of that counsel was only in the form of encouraging words, or were there times which his counsel required correction or rebuke? That seems unlikely!

(6)  “But if I speak, my pain is not relieved, and if I refrain from speaking – how much of it goes away?  

(7)  Surely now He has worn me out, You have devastated my entire household.  (8)  You have seized me, and it has become a witness; my leanness has risen up against me and testifies against me.  

(9)  His anger has torn me and persecuted me; He has gnashed at me with His teeth; my Adversary locks His eyes on me.”

This last verse offers another opportunity to set aside a doctrine which comes from a lack of understanding.

Typically I think, when most Christians hear the words “gnashing teeth” they think of the plight of those who will die in their sins. The words of Jesus often spring to mind when He said, “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Due to its reference, it is only natural that we have traditionally read into the phrase a meaning which is not natively there. We think of the “gnashing of teeth” as an indicator of physical pain or agony. 

However, the phrase “gnashing of teeth” occurs 5 times in the Old Testament and is NEVER used as an expression of pain but of anger and grief. 

Job. 16:9 is a great place to illustrate this because as you can see in Job’s trials, he has come to blame God and see Him as his enemy. In fact those words were JUST used by Job himself in verse 9

In this passage Job describes God as the One “gnashing of teeth at him. 

Clearly this is not an expression of God being in physical pain or torment.

This agrees with the way this phrase is used in the other 4 references which are found in:

  • Psalm 35:16
  • Psalm 37:12
  • Psalm 112:10
  • Lamentations 2:16

In each of these examples, the “gnashing of teeth” is a sort of non-verbal expression of anger, intense frustration, hatred and even rage. 

Today it might actually be a close comparison with flipping a bird at someone you are really angry with in traffic. 

In the New Testament we witness those who had been verbally put in their place by Stephen the martyr. These self-righteous, Jewish religious leaders rushed at Jesus in rage in order to stone Him, all the while “gnashing their teeth” at Him.

Again it is clear that this New Testament reference is not one representing pain or agony but anger and frustration. As such it is only reasonable, not to mention consistent, to interpret the remaining 6 New Testament references with the same meaning – though in those it “may” include the notion of grief as well.

I do like to give credit where credit is due. I was first introduced to this understanding of the phrase by a brother on FaceBook who I do not know personally, nor do I agree with him on all points but I love his heart and apparent devotion to the scriptures and to our Lord Jesus. His name is Chad Bird and his brief teaching on this I heard online helped steer my understanding of this phrase in a more accurate direction.

He believes those who are cast out will maintain their innocence and will gnash their teeth at God in anger. 

I on the other hand believe it will be in grief and absolute fury at themselves for rejecting a God Who loved them in favor of selfish, prideful earthly pursuits.

Job 16…

“(10)  People have opened their mouths against me, they have struck my cheek in scorn; they unite together against me.  

(11)  God abandons me to evil men, and throws me into the hands of wicked men.  

(12)  I was in peace, and He has shattered me. He has seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me His target;  (13)  His archers surround me. Without pity He pierces my kidneys and pours out my gall on the ground.  (14)  He breaks through against me, time and time again; He rushes against me like a warrior.  

(15)  I have sewed sackcloth on my skin, and buried my horn in the dust;  (16)  my face is reddened because of weeping, and on my eyelids there is a deep darkness,  (17)  although there is no violence in my hands and my prayer is pure.  

(18)  “O earth, do not cover my blood, nor let there be a secret place for my cry.  (19)  Even now my Witness is in heaven; my Advocate is on high.  (20)  My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God;  (21)  and he contends with God on behalf of man as a man pleads for his friend.  (22)  For the years that lie ahead are few, and then I will go on the way of no return.”

Verses 18-21 introduce something I will admit is really quite perplexing. Unless Job is aware of the Triunity of God, which we have NO external indication that he does – then it is a matter of some question as to WHO this advocate could be. 

Of course as New Covenant believers our tendency is to immediately think of Jesus Who is our advocate before the Father. This would be a fitting comparison if it were not for the time period in which our protagonist was living.

I admit that I am stumped on this. I think it obvious that he MUST be referring to God, but he is also attributing God with being his Adversary

So either God disclosed Their Triune nature to Adam and Eve and that knowledge was passed down through the years, of which we have no record or proof – OR- Job is appealing to the God he had always known prior to these trials against the God he believes he has come to know in these trials. I believe that such is ever so faintly hinted at in chapter 17.

Sort of like when a person attempts to win back over a friend who has turned against them by appealing to the closeness they’d experienced in the past.

Job longs for the days of God being his friend

Job 17:1-16,

“(1) My spirit is broken, my days have faded out, the grave awaits me.  

(2)  Surely mockery is with me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility.  

(3)  Set my pledge beside You. Who else will put up security for me?” 

Job is sarcastically asking his friends if they will fill the role of a guarantor – which is like a co-signer on a loan. This is NOT too far off from what Jesus in fact did for all humanity in His life, death and resurrection.

However as we will see next, Job believes that God has set the minds of his friends against him. Not only that, but Job also believes God has ruined his reputation.

“(4)  Because You have closed their minds to understanding, therefore You will not exalt them.  

(5)  If a man denounces his friends for personal gain, the eyes of his children will fail.  

(6)  He has made me a byword to people, I am the one in whose face they spit.  

(7)  My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow.  (8)  Upright men are appalled at this; the innocent man is troubled with the godless.  

(9)  But the righteous man holds to his way, and the one with clean hands grows stronger.  

(10)  “But turn, all of you, and come now! I will not find a wise man among you.  

(11)  My days have passed, my plans are shattered, even the desires of my heart.  

(12)  These men change night into day; they say, ‘The light is near in the face of darkness.’  

(13)  If I hope for the grave to be my home, if I spread out my bed in darkness,  (14)  If I cry to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My mother,’ or ‘My sister,’  (15)  where then is my hope? And my hope, who sees it?  

(16)  Will it go down to the barred gates of death? Will we descend together into the dust?”

Notice if you will that even though Job believes, at least on some level, that it is God Who has set his friends against him, he still blames them and calls them unwise. If he really believed it was God Who has done this then they could hardly be to blame for thinking wrongly and if Job were to think it through he’d realize that in the end he is accusing God of causing these men to believe lies.

Job 18:1-21,

“(1)  Then Bildad the Shuhite answered: 

(2) How long until you make an end of words? You must consider, and then we can talk.  

(3)  Why should we be regarded as beasts, and considered stupid in your sight?  

(4)  You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger, will the earth be abandoned for your sake? Or will a rock be moved from its place?” 

Bildad now brings up the darkness Job desires to surround him in death, but from another angle to show Job that such is the plight of the wicked. 

Though he is anything but entreating with his words I still believe both Bildad and Job’s other two friends are trying to get him to recant. They believe he MUST have sinned and now that these terrible things have happened, they believe in just judgment against him, instead of repenting he hardens himself in his position. So on some level they probably believe that they needed to use harsh and abrasive language just to shock him into an awareness of the situation they believe he is in and rethink his response to it.

We need to remember that the word used for these three men in reference to Job is not only friends, but literally close friends

I confess that I am not sure what justifies that translation since the Hebrew word is VERY broad and can cover anyone from a lover to an advisory in court or on the battlefield. Uniformly however, it is translated as friend and in deeper word studies they clarify that in this instance it means close friends.  

According to Job’s own past and future testimony, EVERYONE – friends, neighbors and family alike either held aloof from him or spit in his face as they passed by. 

These three men were the only ones who stuck with him in an attempt to bring him around. 

Also, do not forget that this whole thing began with these three men coming to console him. They sat silently with him in the ashes for 7 days and did not speak until Job himself broke the silence. So they must have cared for him indeed!

So in this argument from Bildad I believe he is trying to get Job to consider his own words and rethink the wisdom of them. That death may not at all be all Job is cracking it up to be.

(5)  “Yes, the lamp of the wicked is extinguished; his flame of fire does not shine.  (6)  The light in his tent grows dark; his lamp above him is extinguished.  (7)  His vigorous steps are restricted, and his own counsel throws him down.  

“(8)  For he has been thrown into a net by his feet and he wanders into a mesh.  (9)  A trap seizes him by the heel; a snare grips him.  (10)  A rope is hidden for him on the ground and a trap for him lies on the path.  

(11)  Terrors frighten him on all sides and dog his every step.  

(12)  Calamity is hungry for him, and misfortune is ready at his side.  (13)  It eats away parts of his skin; the most terrible death devours his limbs.  

(14)  He is dragged from the security of his tent, and marched off to the king of terrors.  

(15)  Fire resides in his tent; over his residence burning sulfur is scattered.  

(16)  Below his roots dry up, and his branches wither above.  

(17)  His memory perishes from the earth, he has no name in the land.  

(18)  He is driven from light into darkness and is banished from the world.  

(19)  He has neither children nor descendants among his people, no survivor in those places he once stayed.  

(20)  People of the west are appalled at his fate; people of the east are seized with horror, saying,  

(21)  ‘Surely such is the residence of an evil man; and this is the place of one who has not known God.’”

Also here Bildad pretty clearly describes Job’s trial – the loss of his children, reputation and such. Bildad says that Job has lost all of his children with no posterity to carry on and yet in this next chapter Job seems to insinuate that he may yet have some remaining children who did not die with the older ones.

Regardless of what intentions these three men had, Job sees it as an attack as is seen now in Job’s answer to Bildad.

Contrary to the popular aphorism misery does not always like company. Sometimes it wants nothing more than to be left alone and such is the mindset of Job.

Job 19:1-29,

“(1) Then Job answered:
(2) “How long will you torment me and crush me with your words? These ten times you have been reproaching me; you are not ashamed to attack me!  (4)  But even if it were true that I have erred, my error remains solely my concern!  

(5)  If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me and plead my disgrace against me,  (6)  know then that God has wronged me and encircled me with His net.”  

Sometimes it is subtle, but if you pay attention, I think you will find that in these dialogues they employ the use of metaphor and simile a lot. Often when this is done you will find it answered in the reply.

For example Job mentioned the darkness of death and so Bildad mentioned the lamp of the wicked going out. Bildad said the wicked wander right into a net set as a trap, and Job answers now that it was God Who set the net as a trap.

(7)  “If I cry out, ‘Violence!’ I receive no answer; 

I cry for help, but there is no justice.  

(8)  He has blocked my way so I cannot pass, and has set darkness over my paths.  

(9)  He has stripped me of my honor and has taken the crown off my head.  

(10)  He tears me down on every side until I perish; He uproots my hope like an uprooted tree.  

(11)  Thus His anger burns against me, and He considers me among His enemies.  

(12)  His troops advance together; they throw up a siege ramp against me, and they camp around my tent.  

(13)  “He has put my relatives far from me; my acquaintances only turn away from me.  (14)  My kinsmen have failed me; my friends have forgotten me.  (15)  My guests and my servant girls consider me a stranger; I am a foreigner in their eyes.  

(16)  I summon my servant, but he does not respond, even though I implore him with my own mouth.  

(17)  My breath is repulsive to my wife; 

I am loathsome to my brothers.  

(18)  Even youngsters have scorned me; when I get up, they scoff at me.  

(19)  All my closest friends detest me; and those whom I love have turned against me.”  [this last one was probably a reference to these three men]

“(20)  My bones stick to my skin and my flesh; I have escaped alive with only the skin of my teeth.”

This is an odd phrase which is evidently difficult to translate. It is hard to say if the aphorism “skin of my teeth” actually dates back to a similar phrase back then, but it is the aphorism with which some have chosen to translate this phrase. 

Others have…

  • I have gnawed my bone with my teeth
  • I escape, my bones in my teeth
  • my teeth fall from my gums
  • my bones protrude in sharp points

… and more.

Which, if any of the above are 100% accurate I cannot say, but any and all of them paint a similar picture and it is grim indeed.

“(21)  Have pity on me, my friends, have pity on me, for the hand of God has struck me.  

(22)  Why do you pursue me like God does? Will you never be satiated with my flesh?”  

Here Job confirms that these men are indeed his friends, but he wishes for them to either express the pity they had originally come to show or leave him in peace.

Next we have two important statements.

The first is in verses 23-24…

(23)  “O that my words were written down, O that they were written on a scroll,  (24)  that with an iron chisel and with lead they were engraved in a rock forever!”  

Here is the statement I pointed out in our very first lesson on Job. Job here wishes this whole account were written down for posterity as an eternal testimony. No doubt, if Job himself were to have written it at that moment he would be the one who was righteous and God would be the unjust, yet powerful judge.

Regardless, he got his wish. Whether by his own hand or that of another – this account of Job was recorded for all time.

But this creates another segue for my helping you better understand the purpose and thus the claim of scripture for its contents.

It is HIGHLY unlikely that these men wrote down all their words as they were speaking them. What we have is a testimony to the overall situation and the arguments which each man launched back and forth one towards the other. 

That the original participants were involved in reconstructing the arguments seems both obvious and unavoidable. No self-imposed requirement of scripture requires such. 

I don’t think any literary scholar believes that what we have here in Job is a word for word, perfect reproduction of the conversations between these men. What we DO have is accurate and represents all the pertinent information that transpired between them.

This is also true of the accounts we have of the words and teachings of Jesus Himself. What we have in most cases are the clef notes. Summaries and rewordings of the originals and such is in good keeping with the traditional way God used the prophets of old. 

God would tell a prophet what to say, but the words used were those of the prophet. 

Jesus Himself said that He knew what His Father had commanded Him to teach and that was Life. How Jesus taught about knowing God and being known by Him was a collaboration between the inward inspiration of the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ own words. 

Interestingly this is one of the very things which adds credibility to the gospel accounts. Their recollections of Jesus’ teachings are amazingly in step with one another, yet some of the details differ slightly but never to the point of contradiction. 

Our parable, which we’ve spent some time in over the past year, offers a clear example. That of the ‘Heart Soils’.

In Jesus’ ‘Parable of the Heart Soils’, Matthew has the weeds or thorns in the thorny heart as “the cares of this world” and “the deceitfulness of riches”. Mark mentions “lustful things” while Luke has “the pleasures of this life.”  

Each writer represents the account of Jesus’ teaching with different words, but they never one time claimed theirs represented a direct quote from Jesus. The only claim was that this was what Jesus taught. 

When viewed properly, the differences add authenticity while the agreements demonstrate accuracy.

So the net result is that our Bible accurately conveys what God wanted said and what actually transpired. It does NOT necessarily mean that what we have is an exact word for word reproduction of what was said. 

A perfect proof of this is that at the beginning of this chapter, Job claims that his friends had addressed him a total of 10 times, but if we look back we find that by the time Bildad last spoke in chapter 18 they had only addressed Job 5 times in total.

So it is safe to say that either Job was mistaken OR there was more that transpired between these men than we have a record of. 

Does that mean the scriptures contain errors? No! 

Nowhere in this book does it claim that this is a precise recounting of every single word or even argument between these men. What it does claim is that what we have did in fact happen. 

Evidently, what we have is all we need in order to get a clear picture of the situation and spiritually glean from it what God intended.

There is NO need to add to scripture further burdens than it claims to address.

No one, in reading a biography or even an autobiography of a life, expects that what they are reading is word for word, blow for blow everything that transpired in that life. What we do reasonably have a right to assume is that upon reading it, we will walk away with a clear picture of what happened so as to accurately understand it.

The only exception to this general rule in scripture is almost certainly the Pentateuch which is why it is the most perfect five books in the entire word. The scriptures seem to imply that these words, when originally penned, were dictated to Moses from God while in his tent when they would meet and speak face-to-face.

Perhaps a little more accurate than that would be the first 4 books would be from dictation and the last “could be” Moses’ words of recounting the past for the next generation of Israelites who were about to go in and possess the land their parents could not.

The next important phrase is a much quoted one which I reference on week one of our trek through Job was generally misunderstood.

He says,

“(25)  As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that as the last He will stand upon the earth.  (26)  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God,  (27)  Whom I will see for myself, and whom my own eyes will behold, and not another.” 

Of course the first part of the quote is the one which has been often used by believers for ages. It is a powerful quote which inspires faith and offers deep encouragement and hope. But what did Job mean when he said it?

Job had no notion of a Messiah, so far as we know. If he did he almost certainly did not see him as a redeemer, but a conqueror.

So what does this phrase mean?

Well traditionally we use this as speaking of Jesus – the true redeemer of the world and such is a fitting use – though not a literal one.

The word redeemer here actually means vindicator. Someone who will set the record straight and prove Job’s innocence. 

No doubt this vindicator is being represented as God Himself. It would however be quite a stretch to assume that Job was himself “thinking” of the person the Jews would later refer to as Messiah.

Job’s statement indicates that God will appear on the earth and that even after Job has died, he will still see God “with eyes of flesh”.

There is much difficulty with these verses, for we know from Job’s own stated expectations – he does not believe he will survive this trial. So what does he mean by seeing his Vindicator in the flesh” and “with eyes of flesh”?

Well let me begin by saying no one really knows for 100% certain.

Also let me say that in the end – these are NOT God’s claims, but Job’s words. So even if in the end they can make no real sense, that is not a theological or doctrinal problem whatsoever. Job and his friends have said many things which cannot be reconciled with truth – and being human that is to be expected.

Nonetheless, the one interpretation I favor BECAUSE it answers all of the questions with the fewest assumptions is that this Hebrew phrase can accurately be translated as “without my flesh”. Well that changes everything!

In addition to this, the verb that is used in the next verse for seeing is OFTEN used regarding prophetic visions and I believe that is a key to the understanding.

If such is the case then Job is saying that he believes he will personally witness his own vindication through none other than God Himself. However, he believes this vindication will come after his death – so by extension he must mean that he believes that he will be able or permitted to witness it even after death.

All of this touches so incredibly close to the future of the church in the resurrection that one could be excused for thinking it prophetic and substitutionary for the church at the end of the age. And perhaps without Job knowing it, by inspiration of God it was!

This all points back to the phrase which appears just after Job’s triumphant exclamation that he knows his Vindicator lives! That phrase is “at the last He will stand upon the earth.”

Now this phrase is VERY interesting because it is RIFE with Messianic and resurrection imagery!

The verb translated as “stand” can also be translated as “to arise from”. The idea being that God will arise and mete out justice and such that will vindicate Job in the end. This sounds so “Messiah risen from the dead” like that translators have avoided it by choosing the word “stand” on the earth in place or “arise from the earth”.

Now translators have not done this to sidestep the miracle or reality of the resurrection of Christ, but to keep people from artificially reading this into the text, something which was not literally intended. 

As I have said, the time of history which Job almost certainly occupied would have made it most unlikely for him to have any notion of the Messiah as the Jews would understand him and certainly not as the church understands Him. It cannot however be set aside that God had foretold of a deliverer coming from the seed of the woman when speaking to Eve. It is impossible to know what theologies may have arisen over the years regarding this promise nor if it has any bearing on the words used here by Job.

So in the end I believe the actual meaning of Job was that God would one day stand on the earth – probably at the end of time – and at that time He would right all wrongs of which Job’s trials would be one. Also that Job and those who thought him wicked and in sin would in some sense be there to witness it.

Knowing however that God, in His wisdom and craftiness, may very well have inspired the recording of these words of Job in such a way as to clearly reveal Messianic truths – a testimony of Jesus as it were embedded into the straightforward narrative of the account.

God has done this countless times in countless ways throughout scripture and even the natural world so such is not only no stretch for the imagination – it would almost be quite unexpected for Him NOT to do this!

So while the modern church does not use this quote in the literal, historical way in which Job meant it – it could be argued that they are using it the way God intended it to be understood from the lesson it taught and the truth it foreshadowed in Christ!

Finally Job ends his response to Bildad with these words…

“My heart grows faint within me.  (28)  If you say, ‘How we will pursue him, since the root of the trouble is found in him!’  (29)  Fear the sword yourselves, for wrath brings the punishment by the sword, so that you may know that there is judgment.”

Next we will hear from Zophar again.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!