Bridging The Gap
May 13, 2019
The Sistine Chapel contains some of the most famous paintings in human history. One of such paintings, created by Michelangelo, is called “the Creation of Adam.” This painting is an illustration of Adam reclining while reaching out to God. Likewise, God is reaching down to Adam. However, the illustration portrays a troubling issue. There is a gap between Adam and God. Though Adam is pointing his finger to try and reach God, and God pointing His finger to reach Adam, there is a space between their fingers. Adam cannot reach God. This famous illustration shows that there is a gap between mankind and God. We can’t reach Him. We can’t connect to Him. Our efforts don’t suffice to place us in the presence of God to receive the benefits God desires. The illustration also shows that God, painted as the Father, doesn’t reach out to humanity in that form. The scriptures teach that God the Father won’t even look upon sin, let alone dwell in it and become one with it. This is why Jesus as our “Mediator” is so important. Jesus is God in flesh, appointed to fill the gap between mankind and the Father. Jesus as “the Mediator,” is the means by which mankind connects to an otherwise, inaccessible God.
In 1 Timothy 2:5-7, the Bible states:
“For [there is] one God and one Mediator between God and men, [the] Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle--I am speaking the truth in Christ [and] not lying--a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”
Here, the Apostle Paul wrote that Jesus is the means by which sinners can connect to God. He stands between us on behalf of the sacrifice He gave when He surrendered His life unto crucifixion. Jesus’ death was a ransom. God the Father warned Adam that the wages, the price of sin, was death. Jesus came as God in flesh to pay a ransom on our behalf. Since Jesus is God in flesh, His death provided two benefits. First, His blood, equal to the eternally self-existing and self-sustaining Creator of all things, was sufficient to ransom all people for all sin. Second, since Jesus was God in flesh, He is eternal in nature, so that death had no permanent effect on Him. Therefore, His payment for sin didn’t destroy Him, or keep Him from fulfilling the promises He made concerning eternal life. This is proved by the resurrection.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, creating that gap between the human race and God, the Lord judged Adam, Eve, as well as Satan for tempting them. When God judged Satan, He said that “the Seed of the woman” would come to destroy his evil works. Though the devil would wound “the Seed” with a slight bruise to the heel (the crucifixion), “the Seed” would destroy the works of the devil with a bruise to his head (the atonement of sin and the resurrection)! Understanding this, consider what the Apostle Paul wrote about Jesus as our Mediator. In Galatians 3:19, the Bible says:
“What purpose then [does] the law [serve]? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; [and it was] appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.”
According to this passage, God declared His righteousness through the Law of Moses. That Law simply validated the gap that exists between mankind and God. The declaration of God’s righteousness showed that people can’t do what God says to the extent that God does. We can’t match His righteousness. We fall short of His glory. There is indeed a gap. However, the testimonies of Galatians 3:19 and Genesis 3:15 show that God always had a plan to address this issue – the Seed. Jesus is called the Mediator in 1 Timothy, but that same Mediator is called “the Seed” in Galatians Chapter 3. Thus, the first mention of “the Seed” in Genesis 3:15 shows that, it is God’s promise and His job to bridge the gap that separates us from Him. Our flesh and the condition of it cripples us severely. Thankfully, God promised in the beginning to take care of this issue on our behalf in the form of Jesus Christ.
This truth is somewhat simple, but hard to remember in a time of suffering. Often times, our suffering can cloud our remembrance of the truth. Our frail bodies and temperamental thinking can often cause us to forget the basis of God’s work and promises. His main objective is to bridge the gap that separates us from Him. This means that His main objective is spiritual and eternal in nature; not physical, not emotional, not financial, not professional, or worldly in any sort of way. Thus, the testimony of Job 33:19-33 reminds us how helpful it is to have someone in our lives that can remind us of these things when times are tough. The testimony of Job shows that Job knew a great deal about God. However, his suffering caused him to express good truths with the wrong attitude. Job’s suffering caused him to become morbid sometimes instead of hopeful. Job’s suffering caused him to lose sight of the eternal and spiritual nature of God’s work. Thankfully, God sent Elihu into Job’s life to speak candidly to him, and remind him of the true nature of God’s work.
When Elihu first started speaking, he addressed the issue of God’s transcendent greatness. Elihu explained that God is so great, He is not obligated to treat His people certain ways. He’s not obligated to explain Himself. He’s not obligated to meet or answer our demands. Part of Job’s suffering stemmed from his belief that God was ignoring him. Job wanted to know what sin was causing his suffering. Job wanted to know what he did to deserve the quality of suffering he was experiencing. Job became frustrated because he didn’t feel like God was answering him. Elihu reminded Job that God doesn’t have to answer us. Since we all fall short of God’s glory, does it matter which sin is responsible for our suffering? If it is not one sin today, it will be another tomorrow. When we repent of one thing today, another evil thought of the heart will pop up tomorrow. Paul wrote that we should die daily, suggesting that the woes of our sinful nature continually need to be dealt with. To address one struggle in life doesn’t guarantee that suffering will go away as a result. Thus, why does God need to answer that question. We should be repentant of all sin, at all times, humbly remembering that we deserve far worse than the suffering we endure.
Elihu also reminded Job that, while it seems cold of God to ignore us in our time of need (though He doesn’t ignore anyone), God’s intentions are always good. Elihu reminded Job that, while it seemed that God was being harsh and distant, He was working to preserve Job’s soul from hell! In Job 33:19-33, Elihu reminded Job that God will often chasten and reform people through sickness, pain, suffering, and other issues that cause us pain and humiliation. Remember that God resists the proud, but gives more grace to the humble. This isn’t to say that Job was proud, but that all people tend to be self-righteous. In fact, there were many things that Job said in his humiliating circumstances that were indeed self-righteous. Understanding the magnitude of our depravity, God does what is necessary to work those things out of us. Elihu reminded Job that God’s intentions are good though the body goes through much pain in God’s good works. Since God’s aim is spiritual and eternal, He is willing to destroy the body in order to preserve the soul.
Elihu reminded Job that every human soul is destined for “the Pit,” referring to hell. Thus, God will remind people of this truth through various circumstances that cause suffering. Elihu specifically spoke of sickness since that was what Job had to deal with. The greatness of God’s sovereign control allows Him to afflict the body with terrible pain. Elihu said that God is able to cause people to be so sick that they despise food – the basic fuel for life, and even the exceptionally good-tasting food. Sometimes our pain is so great that we don’t care for the basics or the luxuries of this life. God does this to remind us that this world does not satisfy and poses no benefits for the people of God. God is able to make it so that our flesh wastes away, leaving only skin and bones to make us a terrifying sight. When we age, this is what happens. The plumpness and chiseled form we might have had in our youth wastes away. The body decays because of its corrupt nature. Yet God is able to bring that sort of sight and experience to anyone at any time, not just in old age. God wants to remind us that our hope is not in these bodies. God wants us to remember that our strength is not in these vessels. God wants to remind us that the beauty and power of this world is fake and vain. Sure, these lessons cause tremendous pain to the body, mind, and soul, but God knows that they are sufficient to rescue the soul from hellfire, the place where all people are naturally destined to go.
Elihu explained that, since God will often chasten His people this way, it is helpful to have a mediator. Elihu stated that it is helpful to have friends that can remind us of God’s good purposes when they feel too difficult to bear. It is profitable to have people in our corner that can remind us of God’s fundamental focus and the effects of His work that provide spiritual profit. Job’s friends weren’t like that. They accused Job of being a hypocrite. Therefore, Elihu took it upon himself to try and be that “mediator.”
Elihu explained the characteristics of a good “mediator” that could remind people enduring suffering, about the goodness of God behind the suffering. A good mediator should be a messenger of God’s truth. A good mediator should remind those who are suffering of the truth of God’s eternal and spiritual perspective to rescue a condemned soul from the Pit. A good mediator should leverage their health, strength, and clarity in wisdom to remind the suffering of God’s uprightness, goodness, and mercy. Though God inflicts pain on the body, it is only to preserve the soul from eternal suffering that is deserved. When a person speaks this way to someone suffering with a meek and humble temperament, then the grace of God is given.
Elihu explained God is merciful and gracious to deliver one suffering from the Pit if the one suffering will receive the counsel of the mediator. If the one suffering will trust in the goodness of God despite the suffering, then the words of the mediator are sufficient to provide hope and salvation. God will say that He has found a ransom. The willingness of a mediator to be used as a communicator of God’s righteousness will be like payment to God for the sins of that person. Therefore, God will be provoked to restore the one suffering. Rather than inflict pain, God will renew the spirit of the one suffering. God will renew the body of the one suffering. As a result, the one suffering will be provoked to pray and praise God. The one who suffered will worship and glorify God, speaking of His goodness on account of the message given by the mediator. This doesn’t just mean that God will bring physical healing. Remember, that is not God’s chief aim. Instead, Elihu reminded Job that God will deliver the one suffering from the Pit. Even though all people deserve hell, the one that suffers, yet receives the testimony of “the mediator” as a witness to the righteousness of God, will be forgiven of sins and preserved from condemnation.
When we put this encouragement that Elihu gave to Job, in the context of Genesis 3:15, Galatians 3:19, and 1 Timothy 2:5-7, we can see that the REAL mediator is Jesus Christ. Thus, those who receive the Word of Jesus as the revelation of God’s righteousness and goodness, though we suffer, will be forgiven for sins and by extension, preserved from hell. When we receive the testimony of Jesus by faith in the midst of our suffering, we receive the benefits of His ransom, and are freed from the stronghold of sin and the consequences of eternal separation from God. When we hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and accept that God’s aim is to provide spiritual and eternal benefits to us, in spite of us, exclusively through the One Mediator He appointed, though we suffer, we will be spiritually restored unto eternal life. Long before Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us in this world, Elihu sought to encourage Job by conducting himself like “the Mediator.” Elihu tried to encourage Job, not by telling him everything was going to be good, but by reminding him of God’s goodness. Like Jesus, Elihu had a spiritual and eternal focus. He was a good friend to Job to remind him of God’s goodness. He didn’t dismiss Job’s suffering as if it was nothing. He didn’t sulk with Job to embellish Job’s suffering. Elihu told Job the truth about God’s focus and did so in ways that were intended to bring Job’s focus to the Mediator we all require in our time of need – Jesus Christ, the One that bridges the gap between our issues and God’s glory!