Our Heavenly Witness, Advocate, and Intercessor (Job Sermon 11)
May 09, 2021 | Andrew Davis
The Person of Christ, The Offices of Christ
Pastor Andy Davis preaches a sermon on Job 15-17, where we can see the parallels between the things Job longed for and the fulfillment those longings ultimate found in the person of Christ and His work for us.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
Well, turn in your Bibles. We're looking this morning at three chapters in the book of Job, Job 15-17. Before the foundation of the world, the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, planned our salvation. God planned that his children would be saved from their rebellion and their misery by the intervention of Jesus Christ, their Savior. This plan was in God's mind when God created the heavens and the earth. When God said, "Let there be light," this plan was also fully formed in God's mind. When Adam and Eve fell into sin and doomed their children to sorrow and suffering through the relentlessness of evil, even then, God knew that his chosen people in every generation and in every nation on earth would be saved through Jesus Christ.
However, despite the fact that plan was fully formed in the mind of God, before anything was created, fully formed in the mind of God, down to the smallest detail, yet God revealed it only a little at a time over the centuries, through his holy prophets. Their limited knowledge of the coming Savior was dim and distant, as this light grew brighter and brighter across the centuries. Numbers 24:17, the prophet said, "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel." So dim and distant to the prophetic eye at that point. As the time drew nearer, the light grew clearer. The prophets were given bigger and bigger pieces of the mystery to write down and ponder.
Now we don't know exactly when Job came in and where he fits into this unfolding story, don't know for sure. It seems to many scholars, he came in at a very early stage in all of this. His knowledge of the coming Savior and of the life and light he would bring was very limited. Paul speaks in Ephesians 3:9 of “this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God who created all things.” So this mystery is Christ, kept hidden in God for ages past. So Job went through his suffering, yearning for things that we now know much more clearly about by the open assertions of scripture that we have in the New Testament, in light of the past accomplishments and achievements of Jesus Christ, our Savior. For us they're past, and they're perfectly recorded in the pages of the New Testament, but Job didn't have any of that.
And one of those things that we now know much, much more clearly than Job did is Jesus' role as our heavenly witness, our heavenly advocate, our heavenly intercessor, and our heavenly friend. Job didn't understand that. Job yearned for that, but he really didn't know him. Jesus came to fulfill those roles for all of us, for all eternity. And in the text we're going to look at today, as he says, “I know that I have that,” but his knowledge is limited and dim. We get to look now at Jesus as a perfect fulfillment of that yearning and how beautiful it is.
Now, whenever individuals go to buy a high-quality diamond from a jeweler, often the jeweler will spread out a black velvet cloth and sprinkle out the various diamonds that are an option to buy. And the glitter, the blinding light (because the lighting is just right to make the diamond sparkle) just shines radiantly against the backdrop of that black cloth. And that's the way I think we should look at Job 15-17. There's a glittering diamond of a statement that we just heard read in Job 16:19-21, which talks about Jesus as our intercessor, advocate, and friend. But the rest of it is a lot of blackness. A lot of blackness.
Now we should not think that God the Holy Spirit only means for us to look at the glittering diamonds. He wants us to understand the black cloth as well, because we're going to go through it. I don't know what it's going to be like, but we're going to go through our black times. And it's good for us to see how Job spoke in the midst of that blackness. But it's also good, isn't it, to see the glittering diamond of Christ in the midst of all of it.
And I think that God in his infinite wisdom has chosen to let us get this education in evil that we sought at the tree through Adam. From the very beginning, we sought to know good and evil, and we're getting this education in evil, and it is the black backdrop against which the glittering diamonds of the grace of God through Christ will shine for all eternity. So we're going to walk through these three chapters, and I'm going to dive right into chapter 16, go back to 15, and then move on from there.
I. When Will Windy Words End?
And so I begin by standing alongside Job, as he said, "When will these windy words end?" Job at this point has become utterly disgusted with his friends. Look at Job 16:2-3. He says, "I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all! Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you, that you keep on arguing?" What an incredible statement. Miserable counselors or miserable comforters are you all. Their comfort, so to speak, their counsel to him is actually shredding him. It's not healing him. And he wonders when their long winded speeches will ever come to an end. Their words to him are wind. They are chaff. They're empty of truth and nourishment for his soul. And he chides them directly for their demeanor, for the simple reason that they have not suffered as he has, so they cannot possibly understand what he is going through. Look at 16:4. He said, "I could also speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you." And if the roles were reversed, he actually is saying, “I would do a much better job than you're doing. I would be a better friend and a counselor to you than you are being to me.”
Verse five, 16:5, he says, "But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief." Now this is just one of the basic principles. Sometimes God brings us through specific patterns of misery so that we can bring comfort to others who go through that same misery later. This is openly taught in 2 Corinthians 1, that we can give to others the same comfort we ourselves have received from God. So Job is already in that place, saying, “if I were to go, I would be much more compassionate than you're being with me.”
All right, well what brought all that on? Well, Eliphaz's second speech brought all that on, chapter 15. Remember this section of Job, this long middle section is made up of three cycles of dialogue between Job and his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. All three have spoken once. Job has answered each of them. Now Eliphaz speaks for a second time, as recorded in chapter 15, Job 15. Remember the first time that Eliphaz spoke, his basic proposition was you reap what you sow. Job's grievous afflictions have come upon him from a just and energetic and active God, who is intervening and dealing with Job in his sin.
Now Eliphaz has a second crack at Job. And what did Eliphaz say? Well, look back at chapter 15. Eliphaz said that Job's words are nothing but wind. Look at 15:2-3, "Would a wise man answer with empty notions or fill his belly with hot east wind? Would he argue with useless words, with speeches that have no value?" So this is in chapter 15 and 16, this is the dueling bickering between these two. “Your words are wind.” “No, no, your words are wind. They're empty.” Eliphaz basically rebukes Job, saying his sinfulness is prompting his speech. He says in verses 2-6, “It's ungodly to attack God. He's seeking to humble Job and lay him low.”
Look at verse 7-10, chapter 15. "Are you the first man ever born? Were you brought forth before the hills? Do you listen in on God's council? Do you limit wisdom to yourself? What do you know that we don't know? What insights do you have that we do not have? The gray-haired and the aged are on our side, men even older than your father." So basically, “Job, who do you think you are to talk like this?” Go to 15:14-16. Eliphaz says, "What is man, that he could be pure, or one born of woman that he could be righteous? If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes, how much less a man who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water!" So this is a recurring theme, and we will address it more fully, God willing, in a later sermon. But the idea of “How can a corrupt human being ever be righteous in the sight of God?” Eliphaz is saying that.
And then Eliphaz traces out in great detail the doom that the godless can expect, the godless evildoer in verses 20-35. He traces all that out and implicitly applies it to Job. Job, the wicked man, who's getting what he truly deserves. Look at 20-25. He says, "All his days the wicked man suffers torment, the ruthless through all the years stored up for him. Terrifying sounds fill his ears; when all seems well, marauders attack him. He despairs of escaping the darkness; he's marked for the sword. He wanders about—food for vultures; he knows the day of darkness is at hand. Distress and anguish fill him with terror; they overwhelm him like a king poised to attack, because he shakes his fist at God and vaunts himself against the Almighty." He's saying this to Job, when many of these things have happened to Job, and says, “The reason why is you shake your fist at God. That's who you are.”
Look down at 30-32, "He will not escape the darkness; a flame will wither his shoots, and the breath of God's mouth will carry him away. Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return. Before his time he will be paid in full, and his branches will not flourish." This is the law of sowing and reaping. “You, Job, are clearly reaping what you have sown. You've sown evil, and now you're reaping judgment.”
So Eliphaz, as you can see, is getting more aggressive, much more aggressive than he was in his first speech. He's calling Job a massive sinner, a wicked evildoer. And just as Eliphaz called Job's words wind, Job returns the favor and calls Eliphaz's words wind as well, empty of truth.
II. Job’s Complaint Against God
But then Job, in chapter 16, after having addressed his friends, again turns up to God. And that's the real issue—it's his complaint toward God in chapter 16:7-17. God has devastated Job's household. Look at verse seven, "Surely, oh God, you have worn me out; you have devastated my entire household." All 10 children are dead. His wife has been, in some ways, just destroyed by this. His family life has been destroyed.
God has assaulted Job's body through disease. Look at verse eight, "You have bound me—it has become my witness; my gauntness rises up and testifies against me." His friends couldn't recognize him when they came to see him. He didn't look like the same man. It’s what disease can do to somebody. And he says, "God has attacked him violently like an enemy." Verse nine, "God assails me and tears me in his anger. He gnashes his teeth at me; my opponent, my enemy fastens on me his piercing eyes." This is speaking of God here. Looks on God as an opponent. And it's not just vertical—it's horizontal. “People are being mean to me as well.” Verse 10, "Men open their mouths to jeer at me; they strike my cheek and scorn and unite together against me.”
“God has assaulted me in wave upon wave." Remember how it was? Messenger would come. And while that one was still speaking, the next messenger would come. You remember, wave upon wave. That was all part one. And then part two came and the next wave, that was his disease. So he lost all of his material possessions, he lost all of his children. And then part two, he lost his health. Wave upon wave. Look at verses 12-14. "All was well with me, but he shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target; his archers surround me. Without pity, he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground. Again and again, he bursts upon me; he rushes at me like a warrior." This is Job speaking of God. Job says, "My body is repulsive." Verse 15 and 16, "I've sewed sackcloth over my skin and buried my brow in the dust. My face is red with weeping, deep shadows ring my eyes."
And all of this, all of this has happened to an innocent man. Look at verse 17 and 18, "Yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure." Then he cries for vindication, verse 18, "O earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest!" So this is the basic accusation he has toward God is injustice. It's the very first thing God's going to bring back to him when he speaks out of the whirlwind. So it comes again and again. “This is unjust. What is happening to me is unjust.”
III. Job’s Bitter Lament: “Death Is My Only Hope”
So in chapter 17, Job continues his bitter lament. So friends, I'm just tracing out the black velvet cloth against which this beautiful diamond is going to glitter, and it's very tough. It's difficult with his friends, horizontally. It's difficult vertically toward God. And he continues in chapter 17 with a bitter lament. “Death is my only hope.” None of these words are bringing Job any comfort at all. So he goes into a deep and bitter lament. Look at 17:1. He says, "My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me." Think about those words. “My spirit is broken. I'm completely shattered by what's happened to me.” And then again, in verse 11, "My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart."
So Job has reached the point where he sees nothing good left in his future. Everything he has ever set his heart on in this world has been taken from him, violently ripped from him. Well, what else is there left to hope for? More camels and donkeys and sheep and oxen come back? They could just be taken away again. More children? We've already been through that. They could just be taken away again. “There's actually just nothing I want left in this world.” He has lost all taste for life.
Now, his friends may try to give him hope by minimizing his trial. Look at verse 12, 17:12. He says, "These men turn night into day; in the face of darkness, they say ‘Light is near.’" Happy days are coming. But he says, “Honestly, the only hope I have left is the grave.” Look at 17:13-16. He says, "If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in darkness, if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’ where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me? Will it go down to the gates of death?" Meaning hope, “will hope go down with me? Will we go down hand in hand to the gates of death, hope and I?” “Will we descend together into the dust?” Can any of you give me any hope that will last from now until the day I die?
We looked at this passage last time when we talked about Job's view of the grave. Remember? In 14:14, "If a man dies, will he live again?" And what did Job think about that? So this was some evidence that shows he has this very dark view of the grave. Doesn't think much beyond it. Whatever there is beyond it isn't bringing him much joy. He does not have, it seems here in this text, a developed hope in resurrection. For him, the grave is a place of darkness, of cessation of all sensory input, all pleasure and all pain become obsolete. And for Job, that's an improvement because he's in pain.
At least it would mean an end to his suffering. But he says, “That's what I'm down to now. The only thing I have to hope for is to die and have the worms eat my corpse.” That's not much of a hope. “Can such a hope sustain me from now until the day I actually do die? Will such a hope hold my hand through all of my miseries, until I finally go down to the dark river and cross over into darkness? What kind of existence is really left for me here on earth? And I'm not really thinking about much beyond the grave.”
All right, friends, that is the black velvet cloth. Very dark. It's very sad. It's very depressing. It's good to have these words. The Holy Spirit wants us to have these words because someday, you're going to go through sorrow and afflictions, and this is what it sounds like to go through it.
IV. My Witness, Advocate, and Intercessor Is In Heaven
But in the midst of all of that comes a beautiful, glittering, pure diamond. Look at verses 19-21 of chapter 16, "Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God on behalf of a man." He pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend. Again and again, Job, in this book, speaks words with prophetic insight that I believe he doesn't even fully understand himself, because he then lapses back immediately into black depression, discouragement, yearning for death.
"Again and again, Job, in this book, speaks words with prophetic insight that I believe he doesn't even fully understand himself, because he then lapses back immediately into black depression, discouragement, yearning for death."
So God the Spirit moved in Job to say some things that didn't bring him much comfort at the time, it seems, but bring us a lot of understanding concerning Christ, who Christ is for us now. And this is a very important principle of the inspiration authority of the Bible. It has to do with how we have our scriptures, how God the Holy Spirit moved in prophets to speak and then write words that they did not understand, get them down, so that future generations could read and understand who Christ is.
This is openly taught in 1 Peter 1:10-12. Peter writes there in 1 Peter 1:10-12, "Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things."
Powerful words from Peter. What's he talking about? In simple words, the Old Testament prophets who lived before Jesus were moved by the Holy Spirit. Peter teaches that in 2 Peter 1:21, “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by Holy Spirit.” So the Old Testament prophets said things about Christ, his sufferings, and his glory that they didn't understand. And it was revealed to them at that time that they were not supposed to understand it. Clearest example of this is Daniel 12, where Daniel writes a whole bunch of visionary thing down and says to God, "I don't get it." And he's told to seal up the scroll because it's for a later generation. Plain in Daniel 12.
And so it is here, I think. Job says some amazing things about Jesus he doesn't fully understand. But we, with the fuller teaching of the New Testament, we're able to look and say, “What a diamond of glory this is, that we have this kind of an intercessor and advocate and friend on high in Jesus.” That's what these beautiful words are all about.
So this happens, I think, often in the book of Job. Job says things that will later be fulfilled in Christ, and he doesn't fully understand his own words. For example, earlier in chapter nine, you can turn there and look there if you'd like, or just listen, Job 9:33-34. There Job had said, and we went through it at the time, "If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand on us both, someone to remove God's rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more." As a Christian, you read those words. Aren't those beautiful words about Jesus? Job is yearning for a mediator to stand between God and man, who will represent him, and that's what we have in Jesus. Isn't that beautiful?
I Timothy 2:5-6 says, "There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time." That's amazing. Notice that Paul says that Jesus' mediating role is a testimony that would be spoken at the proper time, in the fullness of time. At the right time, we will understand Jesus as our mediator. He is the God-Man, conceived in the virgin's womb by the power of the Holy Spirit, fully God, fully man. And he's able to be a mediator between God and man. He's able to speak on behalf of God to man. And he's able to speak perfectly on behalf of man to God. And so he's able to represent sinners like you and me and like Job. And he does it perfectly well.
So in Romans 5:1, it says, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." And also Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." So that is God's rod removed and his terror is frightening us no more. Fulfilled. Did Job understand that? No, he did not. But he receives the benefit of it because he's absent from the body, present with the Lord now. He's forever in heaven, based on the mediating work of Jesus. He was saved by Jesus, just like all the Old Testament saints were, but he didn't understand, not fully. And now here in our chapter today, we have this other example. So look at it again. Job 16:19-21.
I'm thinking a recently engaged woman doesn't look at her diamond ring just once. Just thinking, what do you think? She looks at it a lot, and she shows it off to her friends, and she looks at it some more. So tell you what, let's look at this diamond a lot. You get to look at this when you go home today. You get to keep looking at it and looking at it and realize what you have in Jesus. Look at these words, "Even now, my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man, he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend."
So let's extend this now beyond any comprehension Job could have had about this ministry of Jesus Christ. Now Job says, "Even now, I have this." So that might be just the sweet foretasting ministry of the spirit to give him enough comfort to get him through. He says, "I have this now. I've got someone." But he didn't fully understand Christ's activity on our behalf as we do now.
Now what did Job want? He wanted a witness for him in heaven. He wanted someone to testify in heaven that the things that his friends were saying about him were just not true. That at the heavenly courtroom, at the heavenly trial, he'll be a witness on Job's behalf that he was actually, truly innocent of all these charges. Someone to present the truth, the evidence on his behalf, so he could be vindicated. He wanted an advocate on high, someone to speak on his behalf. He wanted an intercessor. He says someone who would plead for him with great passion, as he himself is weeping tears. Someone who would weep with him and care that much about his case. Who would actually care for him and his vindication as much as he did. Someone who could plead for him as a man pleads for his friend.
Now I know verse 20 has different translations. Verse 20 either speaks more of the same that he says plainly in verse 21. “I want a friend, if only I could have a friend.” Or verse 20 may be speaking about his present earthly friends who are terrible. With friends like that, who needs enemies? Doesn't matter. The point ends up the same and even strengthened, no matter what you do with verse 20. And so the fact of the matter is he doesn't want friends like this. He wants someone who will be a real friend to him in heaven. That's what he's yearning for. So now we turn, with our hearts full, to understand the ministry of Jesus as our great high priest.
V. Jesus Our Great High Priest
And this we get again from the book of Hebrews. It's hard for me to even state how indispensable Hebrews is in the canon. The things that Hebrews tells us about Jesus are not so clearly told us anywhere else in the Bible. And we have taught us in the book of Hebrews that Jesus is our great high priest. It's clearly asserted, Hebrews 2:17. It says, "For this reason [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God." Think about those words, merciful and faithful high priest. "And that he might make atonement for the sins of the people." So Jesus is our great high priest. Again, Hebrews 4:14. It says, "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess." And then again, Hebrews 5:5-6, “God said to him…‘You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.’”
So according to the book of Hebrews, what are Jesus' credentials as our great high priest? Well, first of all, he is perfect in holiness. He's perfect in holiness. He does not need to offer sacrifices for his own sins and then for the people. He never committed any sin. He's pure and holy. He also has an eternal, unchanging priesthood because those priests died, and when they died, the next priest would come along. But Jesus, having died, can never die again. And so he has an eternal, permanent priesthood. He will be our priest forever, a priest forever. And he has perfect access to God. He sits at the right hand of Almighty God over all the universe and can speak to the Father at any time. I'm going to develop all these a little more fully in a moment. And he offers a perfect sacrifice, his own blood. These aspects of his perfect ministry, as I said, we're going to walk through a little bit more in a moment, but I want to start and zero in with Jesus' perfect compassion. Perfect compassion.
"But Jesus, having died, can never die again. And so he has an eternal, permanent priesthood. He will be our priest forever, a priest forever. And he has perfect access to God."
Job wanted someone to plead for him as a man pleads for his friend. We could imagine an advocate who is detached, aloof, uncaring, professional, in it for the money, like a public defender with an overwhelming caseload, and you're one of his cases. Right? He barely knows your name. He barely knows your case. The only reason he cares about you is his track record of success in court, so he can get a better job. We could imagine a person like that. He has no vested interest in your vindication.
Friends, Jesus is nothing like that. He is nothing like that. He has staked his life blood that every one of his sheep will be saved. Now in the Old Testament, the Aaronic priest would wear a breastplate over their heart. And on that were 12 stones with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel inscribed, one on each stone and set in a matrix at three by four. And it was over his heart as he ministered, the names of the people he was ministering for.
We see an even more beautiful sense of that commitment. Your name's engraved in stone. Well, how much better than the image that we have in Isaiah 49:15-16? By the way, this is a beautiful Mother's Day verse, Isaiah 49:15-16. It says there, "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." Now that's a step up, isn't it? The Aaronic priest had engraved this on this breastplate, the names of Israel on stones. Jesus says in a beautiful metaphor, "I've engraved your name in my hands."
I think about John 20, his resurrection, he showed them his hands and his feet. But you think about that. “These wounds, I've engraved your name in my hands.” And I love that Mother's Day verse, so to speak, Isaiah 49:15-16, because Christ, God chooses mothers with their nursing infants as the pinnacle of compassionate, committed love on earth. Say, “is it even possible for her to forget her babies? But it is possible. There are some bad mothers who would. But even if she would forget, I am at a higher level.” The Lord is saying that. “I'm at a higher level even than a mother with her nursing infant.” That's his committed love for us. And so we have his compassion and his commitment to us.
And Jesus is our friend. He is our compassionate, committed friend. He says in John 15:13-14, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. So I no longer call you slaves. I call you friends." Hebrews tells us of his perfect compassion to our weakness. Hebrews 4:15, "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin." We see this in the gospel accounts, don't we? Jesus is again and again moved with compassion for people. It's the number one emotion that he displays in the gospel accounts.
For example, in Mark 1:40-42, “A man with leprosy came and begged him on his knees. ‘If you were willing,’ he said, ‘you can make me clean.’ Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. “Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.” Moved with compassion. Or again, in Mark 8:1-3, it says, "During those days another large crowd gathered. And since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 'I have compassion for these people; they've already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they'll collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.'" That's compassion. “I know their situation. I know what's going on in their stomachs. I want to feed them.” Or again, in Luke 7:12-13, "As he approached the town gate, [a place called Nain,] a dead person was being carried out. He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her. [And he went over to her] and said, 'Don't cry.'" That's Jesus. That's who he is. He poured out tears and blood for us. Job poured out tears for his own sorrows. Jesus pours out tears and blood for ours. That's who he is. That's his compassion.
So Jesus is our witness in heaven. Now, how is Jesus our witness in heaven? Well, he's not going to do what Job wants done. He's not going to do that. He will not stand up in heaven at your heavenly court trial, if you could imagine that, and testify, “You are all innocent of all charges. You didn't do it.” He's not going to do that. He knows very well that you couldn't answer once in a thousand times what God would accuse you of. He knows very well.
Well then, how is he our witness in heaven? He's going to witness that he knows you as his own sheep. He's going to claim you as his own by name. As it says in John 10:3, "He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." John 10:14, "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me." Or again, Isaiah 43:1, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." That's how he will witness. He will witness that he knows you. And he will witness that you are righteous through the imputed righteousness that was given you as a gift the moment you were born again, through faith. That's what he's going to witness to in heaven. So he will say of you, "He's one of mine, or she's one of my sheep." And he will know you by name.
And he will advocate for you. He is your intercessor. It is very good for you to get Christian brothers and sisters to pray for you, whatever you're going through. That is a good thing, but just know this—you're already completely covered in prayer. We're told in the New Testament that both the second and the third persons of the Trinity are constantly interceding for you. You are covered in prayer.
And so it says in Hebrews 7:24-25, “because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." So he's constantly alive and praying for each of us. He never stops. His energy in prayer is limitless. Have you ever gotten tired in prayer? “Pastor, when do I not get tired in prayer?” Jesus' energy is limitless in intercession. Says in Romans 8:34, "Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."
Now, where does he intercede? Well, I just said it a moment ago. Job said he wanted an advocate on high, somebody up there for him. This makes me think of this amazing verse, Isaiah 57:15, "But this is what the high and lofty One says—he who lives forever, and whose name is holy." This is God describing his living place. I live in a high and holy place. But also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit.
So Jesus does his intercession in the highest place. Says in Hebrews 1:3, "After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the majesty in heaven." Ephesians 1:20-21 says, "[God] raised [Christ] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms," listen to this, "far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given." Infinite gap between Jesus and every other power and principality that there is.
Again, Ephesians 4:10, "He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe." So Jesus just passes through the heavenly realms up above them all. He's above all created realms. He's above the heavens. That's how high it is. And so it says in Hebrew 7:26, "Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners," listen to these words, "exalted above the heavens." That's where he does his advocacy work, his intercession work. So he's in a perfect place to do his intercession.
He also is at the right hand of God. He's at the right hand of God. So I had a conversation this very morning with someone dear to me, that I won't mention. All right, and she asked me, she said, "Wait a minute, James and John wanted to sit at Jesus' right or left. Isn't Jesus at the right hand of God, so he doesn't have…. Like one of those places is taken, maybe the left." So whatever. I said, "Look, don't do that calculation. We're talking about infinite dimensions up in heaven. So don't worry about the right hand, left hand thing, OK?" Some of you like, what are you even talking about, others know exactly what I'm talking about.
But Jesus is at the right hand of God. He has access to the Father, intimate access. And to what basis does Jesus intercede for us sinners? On the merits of his own shed blood, shed once for all, for their sins. Hebrews 7:27, "He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself." He offered himself. Hebrews 10:19, "We have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus."
I love the hymn, “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy.” One of the stands as says this: "Lo, the incarnate God ascended, pleads the merits of his blood." Pleads the merits of his blood. "Venture on him, venture holy, let no other trust intrude." There's a lot of theology in that. So Jesus, the incarnate God, is ascended and pleading on your behalf the merits of his once for all blood sacrifice for you.
Now, what does he pray for? What is Jesus praying for as he's constantly interceding for you? Well, limitless things, tiny details and big things—all of it pertaining to your final salvation. He's very active in this. You're underestimating all kinds of stuff. Jesus doesn't underestimate anything. Little things matter, big things matter. Everything is worthy of his intercessory prayer for you. He's filtering your temptation so that nothing will come on you more than you can bear. He is praying for protection. He's putting walls around you, hedges around you. He's doing all kinds of things.
But I think the focus, most especially, has to do with what he said to Simon Peter when he predicted that Simon Peter would deny him. The night before Jesus was crucified, he said in Luke 22:31-32, "Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you," plural, "like wheat," all of you, "but I've prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail." It's one of the most important statements you can ever find concerning the intercessory ministry of Jesus. He's praying for you, that your faith in Jesus will not fail.
And if you're going to say, "But it won't, pastor. I'm reformed in my theology. I believe once saved, always saved." Are you going to keep saying that I don't need Jesus intercessory ministry for me at the right hand of God? You know you do. Your faith would fail in an instant if he stopped praying for you and the Father stopped sustaining your faith. If Satan could just have at you, you would deny him within minutes. He's that powerful. But it won't happen. And he's praying that your faith will not fail.
And he's praying that you will not be lost, that none of us will be lost. John 17:11-12, "I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world and I'm coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be won as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost." So that none of us would be lost. He also prays for the unconverted elect, who haven't come to faith yet, that they will believe in the gospel. John 17:20-21, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you."
Now, how successful would you say Jesus' intercessory ministry is? What do you think his batting average is? Well, I'm telling you he bats a 1,000. Or in other terminology, he's 100% effective in his prayer. Everything he prays for, he gets. Everything. Why? Because the Father is delighted in him.
"How successful would you say Jesus' intercessory ministry is? ... He's 100% effective in his prayer. Everything he prays for, he gets. Everything. Why? Because the Father is delighted in him."
In Matthew 3:17, the Father said, "This is my Son whom I love, with him I am well pleased." The Father reveals to the Son every aspect of the Father's plan. The Son knows everything the Father knows about his plan. John 5:20, "The Father loves the Son and shows him all he does." The Son always does what pleases the Father. John 8:29, "He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him."
Now we know from 1 John 5, whenever we pray according to God's will, we get what we ask for, right? 1 John 5, "If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we ask of him." So Jesus only prays according to the will of the Father and is perfectly pleasing the Father and gets everything he asks for, all the time, on your behalf.
So all of the sheep that have been converted will continue to believe in Jesus, despite the constant assault of the world, the flesh, and the devil on their faith. They're going to make it through. You're going to make it through. You're going to survive. You're still going to believe in Jesus on your deathbed. He's going to pray for you to that end. And all of the unconverted elect will come to faith. Missionaries are going to get there. Evangelists are going to get there. They're going to hear in time, and they're going to repent and believe. This is the nature of his prayer ministry. We are not going to be tempted beyond what we can bear. Do you see how beautiful this is?
And so Job said in Job 16:19-21, "Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man, he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend."
Applications. Just thank God you have Jesus as your intercessor. Thank God that you have him as your advocate. Thank God that he is witnessing on your behalf and he is your friend. Thank God for Christ's compassion for you. Praise God that you're where you're at in redemptive history, and you have all of these wonderful texts that support your faith and give you confidence concerning Jesus. And rely on Jesus as your great high priest. Rely on him.
"Praise God that you're where you're at in redemptive history, and you have all of these wonderful texts that support your faith and give you confidence concerning Jesus. And rely on Jesus as your great high priest."
You may be going through afflictions now. You may be fearful about what afflictions will come in the future. Don't be fearful. No matter what you're going through right now or what God in his wisdom may cause to bring into your lives, no matter what happens, your witness and advocate and intercessor and great high priest will pray you through that and get you through to the other side.
And my only final question to you who are listening to me today is do you know him? Is Jesus Christ your Savior? Is he your Lord? Have you trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins? And if not, I would just plead with you, cross over today. Cross over today from death to life. All you have to do is repent of your sins. Just acknowledge that you're a sinner. Don't think that Jesus is going to get up there and say, "Oh, he, she is perfect. They never did anything wrong." It's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Jesus came to call sinners to repentance. So repent and find in Jesus this intercessory ministry. Close with me in prayer.
Lord, thank you for the time we've had to study these three chapters, how rich they are. Lord, it's hard to read. Some of it's hard. Some of it's dark and depressing. But Lord, we thank you, that you have given us light in the midst of darkness. You've given us radiant truth that we can look at and admire the glistening, sparkling beauty of Jesus as our advocate and our intercessor and our friend on high. And we thank you for the things we learned and pray that you would press them to our hearts. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.