Early on, Job wants to die. It was the advice of his wife to “curse God and die,” and while Job seems a little reluctant to go to this extreme, when he takes up his complaint to his three companions, he comes close to taking his wife’s advice.
Job says he wants to die. Death would be better than life. But as we following the dialogues, we find that his death wish is not pure despair. Job is not suicidal in the traditional sense at all. Job’s death wish is bound up with his desire to speak with God, to question him, to contend with him. As it has been pointed out in previous posts on Job, the trajectory of the narrative goes from the Accuser – the Satan speaking with Yahweh, to Job eventually speaking with Yahweh, and the Accuser is no where to be found. And instead of there being an Accuser in the presence of Yahweh, there is now an Advocate, Job, who intercedes for his friends.
But this intercession, this standing with Yahweh, the ability to speak in the council of Yahweh is part of Job’s desire to die. But nowhere does he assume that having died, he will have an out-of-body experience in which he will come face to face with God. In fact that would be somewhat nonsensical. After Job dies, he will not have a face to “face” God with. The only way Job will have a face to face encounter with Yahweh is through the resurrection. And that is Job’s hope:
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth: And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself and my eyes shall behold, and not another… there is a judgment.” (19:25-27, 29)
Job has concluded that there is no earthly possibility of arranging a meeting with God in the present. But he hopes that one day God will summons him out of the ground, and Job will answer the call (14:7-15). And then Job will see Yahweh face to face in his flesh and speak to God as a man speaks to his neighbor (16:21). Of course by the grace of God, Job is granted this before actually dying. He is invited into the whirlwind and given permission to speak on behalf of his friends who have sinned. Job is granted the authority and ability to intercede for his friends, but he prays for his friends firmly situated in a body.
This is yet another way of asking where the biblical support for the intersession of the dead in Christ is. That the dead in Christ are kept with Christ and are in his kindly care is one thing, but all the weight of the biblical evidence points to the resurrection. Job did not hope to speak with God in a meaningful way until the resurrection. Of course we have been given the down payment of the resurrection now in the gift of the Holy Spirit. But our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and therefore we look for the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.
And in the meantime it is our great High Priest who has been raised from the dead and who has ascended into the heavens who now intercedes for us. He is ever before the face of God, and He speaks to God as a friend, as a prophet for us.