What image of God do you hold in your mind? My guess is that we all have some sort of picture of God. For some, it might be the image of a desirable person, but someone in a position of power who towers over his subjects — a very other-worldly and distant image. Or for some, it might be the image of someone who is scowl-faced and seemingly ready to lash-out at the first sign of something not going as they want.
Do any of these images immediately pop-up in your mind? If so, you and the scriptural character Job might have more in common than you think. Throughout the book of Job in the Bible, Job, in his best attempt to address God, calls it as he sees it. He honestly describes the image of God that he holds. One snippet of such a description appears in Job 9: 32-35.
“He [the Lord God] is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him,
that we might confront each other in court.
If only there were someone to mediate between us,
someone to bring us together,
someone to remove God’s rod from me,
so that his terror would frighten me no more.
Then I would speak up without fear of him,
but as it now stands with me, I cannot.”
In this expression from Job, he describes God as non-human; and in so being, he views God as unable to answer as a human would. Job paints an image of God that is very distant and other worldly. Further in his expression, Job describes God as scowl-faced, ready to strike Job for wrongdoing he has committed. Job paints an image of God that is very justice-driven out of anger.
Yet, Job shocks those of us that read his description. Amidst these colorful descriptive strokes of a distant, other-worldly, justice-driven, and angry, Job still holds this notion that he desires to approach God. Job longs for a meeting between himself and the Lord God. The hang-up he has, is that there does not seem to be a medium through which this encounter would take place. How could a broken and hurting human ever be able to give his case to a heavenly and harsh, justice-driven being? Job realizes if he is to ever have this close encounter with God, he will need someone to mediate it.
We understand this to a certain degree, don’t we? We do alls sorts of business through mediators each day. We use bank tellers to mediate financial transactions between us, the customer, and other businesses. We use vehicles to mediate our slow, human frames between long distances. We use laws, police officers, judges, and political authorities to mediate our civil actions with the rest of society. Job reminds us that this same reality is just as true for us humans when it comes to our interaction with the heavenly realm.
We need a mediator for us to be able to relate to God. We need a God-man. Job’s words anticipate the need for God to come to humans in a human-relatable-way. Job’s words anticipate the need for humans to be brought up to God’s heavenly reality in a God-relatable-way. One person in history fits this description: Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus, the Son of God, is born into the human world. He makes God accessible in human form. But, because he is the Son of God, he also reveals the possibility that the human experience can be raised up to God’s world (God’s reality).
In 2 Peter 1:3-4, Peter says the following: “His [Jesus’] divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, **so** that through them **you may participate in the divine nature,** having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”Did you catch that? Through Jesus, we, humans, in some way, are able to participate in the divine nature (God’s nature, God’s reality, God’s world). In a sense, through Jesus, our humanness is raised to relate to God on his “level.” Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:5, reveals the answer that Job longed for, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus…” Jesus is the mediator — the bridge — between our human reality and God’s reality.
Jesus also reveals the fullest picture (image) of who God is. The following verses from the Bible bear witness to this: Colossians 1:15, “The Son is the image of the invisible God…” and Hebrews 1:3, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being….” Jesus does more than serve as the mediator between the human life and the divine life.
Jesus also reveals the full character of God’s life in a human form of understanding. In Jesus, we see that God is not distant to the extent that Job imagined. Rather, God is very present — to the extent that he came to live in human form. And in Jesus, we see that God is not as rash in his anger as Job imagined. Rather, God is also self-controlled and compassionate, and even saddened by the reality of the waywardness of his creation, as Jesus showed during his life on earth. Jesus reveals the fullest image (picture) of God that humanity has ever seen. What Jesus does, and who he is, is the image of God that we are to hold in our mind. It is the standard.
Job’s words are an anticipation of a reality. Jesus made that reality come to life, with flesh and bone. And that reality is just as true today, through his Spirit’s work in his followers today, the body of Christ. Jesus wants to mediate the relationship between us and his heavenly Father. And, Jesus wants to show the wonder, beauty, and grace of God’s life. How wonderful it is to have the perspective we have, in our day and age — that Job never had — because of who Jesus is and what he has done.