The Legal Metaphor
Job states emphatically, “Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated. Can anyone bring charges against me?” (Job 13:18-19). Then Isaiah seems to quote Job when he says, “He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me?” (Isa 50:8). Even Paul seems to cite both of them in the familiar passage in his letter to the Roman church, when he wrote, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns?” (Romans 8:33-34).
Job’s confidence in his innocence and his yearning to have his name cleared take the form of an earnest plea to have his case tried in court—and not just any court, but before the judgment-seat of God Himself. Job seemed to understand that the God of the universe must ultimately be a God of justice, and that if only Job’s case could be tried before the highest courts his innocence will be affirmed.
In the Gospels, we often hear Jesus talk to the Pharisees as though He was giving formal testimony in a court of law. He often prefaced his statements with “I tell you the truth” (or in the King Jim version, “Verily, verily, I say unto you”)—almost as if He was swearing on a stack of Bibles. That seemed to irritate the Pharisees. They preferred to keep things on the level of a straightforward theological debate. Jesus, on the other hand, could see what to their eyes was invisible: the heavenly courtroom, with God the Father presiding on the bench. The Pharisees tried to discredit this by saying, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid” (John 8:13). But Christ kept at it, making it clear that whether the Pharisees liked it or not, the highest of all courts was already in session. Even now, the evidence was being heard, evidence that would lead to certain conviction for all who refused to acknowledge the truth.
Job does the same thing. Now obviously he has never actually seen the supreme court of God, like Jesus had, but he assumes its existence and calls on it to convene. He even addresses himself to it in advance, filing what today we would call a formal deposition. This is the context in which Job, with unshakable conviction, asserts, “Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated.”
In a sense, to be a Christian is to spend our life preparing our case for Judgment Day—carefully and patiently gathering evidence to parade before the Devil whenever he accuses us, and before the Lord when He comes to judge the earth. It is to our benefit to be as certain as we possibly can of the strength of our defense. The only way to do this is to make very sure that our stand is squarely on the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not on any merits of our own. Jesus is the divine defense counsel appointed to all who believe, and unlike Perry Mason and Matlock, He never loses His cases. For those He defends there is really only one question, and that is whether we are prepared to accept and to trust in the divine fiat of our righteousness in Christ. This righteousness is a carte blanche, a final and unappealable verdict of Not Guilty that places us beyond the law. It is a condition entirely uncomplicated by fine print, loopholes, liens, riders, or codicils. “If God is for us,” declares Paul, “who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). So to be against our own re-born, regenerate selves is to be against God.
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