Daily Devotions

Man’s soul keeps on being drawn near to the grave

Job 33:22-23

‘Yes, his soul draws near to the grave — and his life to the destroyers. If there be a Messenger with him, an Interpreter, One among a thousand — to show to man His uprightness…. He is gracious to him!’ Job 33:22-24.

Job’s affliction is here presented very graphically. It was said that he was chastened with pain upon his sickbed, and that his soul drew near to the grave. ‘The destroyers’ may even refer to the created angels that bring death to dying humans.

The sick man’s soul — the bearer of the life of his body — at last succumbs to decay. It comes near to the pit of the grave. His life comes to the destroyers — the destroying angels commissioned by God to slay the man (Second Samuel 24:16 and Psalm 78:49f).

Deliverance, says Elihu, requires a Mediator. So, the Messenger appears! The Messenger comes not merely as a declarer of the conditions of the deliverance, but as the Mediator of this deliverance itself. The Messenger Who comes forward here for Job who was upon the very brink of the abyss, cannot just be a man or an angel. He is the Messenger, the Angel of the Covenant, the Angel of the Lord, the uncreated Angel Who later appeared in the flesh as the Son of God Who is instrumental in effecting the progress of redemption.

As Calvin declares in his Sermons on Job, He is called God, and even calls Himself God. He is Christ the Beginning, Middle and End — through Whom God has atoned for us with Himself!

He is the One Whom Jacob meant when blessing Joseph (Genesis 48:15f) — God, before Whom Abraham and Isaac walked; the Angel, Who redeemed him from all evil! It is the Angel Who, according to Psalm 34:7, encamps round about those that fear God, and delivers them; and “‘the Angel of the presence’ Whom Isaiah (63:7-10 & 63:16) places beside Jehovah and His Holy Spirit.

So, in the very nick of time, along comes the Messenger! That particular Messenger is also the Interpreter. For He is the One Who not only brings an important message from God, but Who also infallibly interprets the whole life of the one who dies. That Messenger and Interpreter is truly ‘One among a thousand!’ Indeed, the Lord Himself is among the thousands of created angels (Psalm 68:17). For He, the Church’s Beloved, is Himself the Lily of the valley and the Fairest of ten thousand (Song 6:2f & 8:11f and Luke 14:31).

Elihu demands, for the deliverance of man from death, a superhuman angelic Mediator. The ‘Angel of Jehovah’ of primeval history is the oldest prefigurement in redemption of the future incarnation — without Whom the Old Testament would be only a confused collection of radiuses without a centre or a conclusion. The angelic form is accordingly the oldest which gives the hope of a Deliverer. It recurs, according to the law of the connection between beginning and end, also in Malachi 3:1-2 & 4:4-6. He shows man His uprightness. Not man’s uprightness, for fallen man has none. But His uprightness (Job 33:23) — that of the unfallen and infallible Messenger Himself!