I’m a big fan of the book of Job. That’s something you don’t hear every day because at first glance, Job’s experience is terrible. In the first chapter, even though he’s living right and honoring God, the wheels start to fall off.
He loses his herds. His riches. His children. He keeps his wife and his friends, and frankly, they’re no help. His friends offer a mix of observations, advice and criticism. His wife tells him to curse God and die. Job is crushed by circumstances and then abused by people near him.
Few of us ever approach the pain that Job must have undergone, but at some point, most of us do know what it feels like to be betrayed and accused. It stings. We want to speak, to explain, to make sure that everyone understands…and sometimes we don’t get the chance.
Even when we know the Lord is a God of justice…it still hurts.
Recently I discovered this really interesting portion of scripture near the end of the book. I’ve read it over and over again but this time it leaped off the page at me.
In Job 42, Job hears God speak to one of his abusive friends.
(verse 7) After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has..
You can almost imagine Job searching for the GIF of the guy getting the popcorn and settling into his chair to watch because it appears that God is going to drop the hammer of justice on those who have hurt Job.
(verses 8 & 9) “…now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”
So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.
This is what caught my eye.
God accepted their sacrificed based on Job’s intercession for them. It appears that God had mercy but it was because Job asked for it.
We have a unique role to pray for mercy on those who have wronged us. When we have been genuinely mistreated, the prayers we pray on behalf of our oppressors have specific equity in the heart of God. God’s heart is moved when we ask for mercy on them.
He has always heard the voice of the oppressed – how much more so when the oppressed are praying for their oppressors?
Don’t confuse intercession for your oppressor with agreeing with your oppressor. It doesn’t mean that what they did was right or that it’s instantly put behind you….but this isn’t about you. This is about the hearts of fallen men and women who are more like you than you may care to admit, and because you feel you’ve suffered at their hands, God tunes His ears to your prayers.
If you’ve been mistreated, the most powerful thing you can do is pray for the one who did it. God hears that prayer and the oppressed person can move heaven. If you’ve been treated poorly, you are not helpless or hopeless. You are powerful. Take your place of authority in prayer.
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