"The Lord turned the captivity of Job when He prayed for His friends" (Job 42:10).
"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
Both Job and the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for those responsible for much of their misery. In Job's case, his friends, "miserable comforters" that they were, required intercession in order to escape the wrath of God for their foolish condemnation of a godly man (Job 16:2). The Lord Jesus interceded both in prayer and in death for those who made no pretense to friendship. "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Romans 5:7-10).
Job foreshadowed such Divinely unselfish grace and mercy, as revealed in humanity. The Lord Jesus fulfilled and perfectly exemplified it. Now, His Spirit lives in us to "aftershadow", as it were, the same quality of character whereby God displays His loving heart in our particular sphere of influence. "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32). "He delighteth in mercy" declared the prophet Micah (Micah 7:18). God loves to forgive - "joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth" (Luke 15:7). Moreover, He loves to motivate and enable mercy in us, revealing the love of Christ not only to and for us, but within and through us. "The love of God is shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).
Mercy, of course, does not comprise our natural reaction to offense. We rather mope and perhaps even strike back at others who wrong us. The sad chronicle of human history, both corporately and personally, confirms unto this hour the foreign nature of mercy to the flow of our humanity. Only the Spirit of God can motivate and enable the forgiveness that perhaps most glorifies and reveals the Lord Jesus in us. Indeed, the same body of Christ that proclaims the forgiveness of God most confirms its reality by our practice thereof, as enabled by the indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus. His delight becomes our delight when we recognize that the character of our Savior inhabits us for the love of mercy. "Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us" (Ephesians 5:2).
A final thought. We cannot escape the fact that Job's trial ended "when he prayed for his friends." Somehow the welfare of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had much to do with Job's sufferings, and with their end. Obviously, these men knew little of God and His ways before the trial, and before they so savagely and unjustly attacked their friend. Scripture does not record the aftermath of Job's intercession for his accusers, but we can only suppose that the episode must have been life changing to Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, even as it was to Job. Certainly, the same effects of mercy will ensue in those for whom we pray rather than enact vengeance. Indeed, ongoing difficulties in dealing with the wrongs of others call us to the same altar Job visited for his offenders. Such trials will end for us as they did for Job, at least within our hearts from which the issues of life proceed, when we realize our blessed opportunity to serve as the aftershadowing of our merciful Savior.
"I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."
Weekly Memory Verse
And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
(II Thessalonians 3:5)