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Job 16:18-19 – My Witness Is in Heaven

Summary

Even though he should die without receiving justice, Job hopes that a witness in heaven will step forward to take his side and to declare him innocent. Since none of his friends will do it, he hopes for a heavenly figure to take his case.

Analysis

Job seems to have in mind the story of Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel where there were no witnesses. But God heard Abel's blood crying out from the ground, and God responded to bring justice (Genesis 4:10-12). Since there were no humans to testify on Abel's behalf, justice was only possible if God intervened. Similarly, Job has received no words of comfort and affirmation from his friends. His only chance is for some divine action to hear his cry and take his case.

Who does Job have in mind when he speaks of a "witness"? Clearly, it is not another human. So, who in heaven has the proximity and clout to argue with God on Job's behalf? Is it some angel or other heavenly being? Christians tend to see Christ in passages like this. At least, the function that Job wants from the witness is similar to the way they hope that Christ makes the case for their justification before God. Perhaps Job is appealing to one side of God's nature against the other side. He wants the good God who made him and loved and sustained him to appeal to the harsh side of a demanding God. He wants God's mercy to prevail over God's demands for obedience. He wants God, who is both merciful and just, to lean in the direction of mercy.

Job 16:18-19


18 ‘O earth, do not cover my blood;
   let my outcry find no resting-place.
19 Even now, in fact, my witness is in heaven,
   and he that vouches for me is on high.

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10 February 2011

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