REDEMPTION FOUND – Believers can trust God to be faithful to them.
MEMORY VERSE – JOB 19:25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
A person doesn’t have to be alone to be lonely. We can be surrounded by people and yet not feel connected to them. That can happen even when sitting at a table with people we would count as friends. Such was the case with Job. He was surrounded by so-called friends and yet experienced the sting of abandonment and loneliness because they had turned against him. However, Job realized that even though his friends had abandoned him, the Lord never would.
THE CONTEXT (JOB 15:1–21:34)
The main section of Job follows the dialogue between Job and his three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar), who alternate in dialogue and response. Job’s friends assumed that his circumstances indicated he was at fault for his suffering and needed to repent. Throughout the dialogue, Job insisted he was innocent and that no hidden guilt served as the foundation for his suffering. Ultimately, Job believed God allowed suffering to fall on him—had providentially ordained it—without providing him a reason. In times of suffering we often look for meaning. However, there are times when no explicit connections can be made other than we live in a broken and sinful world. In general, suffering is no respecter of persons.
The Book of Job addresses issues of suffering, the problem of evil, the justification for God’s mysterious ways, the meaning of faith, and the nature of the relationship between God and mankind. But a key question of the book is this: What is the nature of wisdom and where can it be found? In Job, we understand that the order of the universe is not fully revealed to us, and we must learn to trust in God who presides over the universe. Even still, Job’s friends maintained the belief that he was suffering punishment due to his wickedness.
In Job’s responses, he refused to accept their explanation of his predicament, and he would not take responsibility for what they claimed (19:2–6). In Chapter 19, Job responded in anger with complaints concerning Bildad’s treatment of him. In essence, Job asked how his friend Bildad could live with himself after harassing Job in this way, which added to his suffering (vs. 2–3). The focus of this chapter, however, doesn’t fall completely on Job’s friends. In fact, 19:4–22 is essentially a charge against God. Job indicated that if indeed he had made a mistake, which he hadn’t, it would be in response to the treatment he had received from God. In other words, he was not suffering this treatment from God because of a previous action. At the conclusion of this speech, Job uttered some of the most famous words of the entire book when he expressed incredible hope in a heavenly Redeemer (vs. 23–29).
FAILING FRIENDS (JOB 19:19–22)
19 All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me.
Job wondered why God was treating him this way. He questioned and lamented at the way his family and friends had despised him as well. Job was well aware that his friends assumed he was to blame for his suffering. In Verse 4, Job proposed that even if he had done something wrong, that was his own problem and he certainly did not need others to compound it by treating him without compassion. His friends had mounted their case against him, but Job deflected their accusations and aimed them at God. God was the one who had providentially brought this on, and He had not issued a reply to his cries for an explanation. The imagery Job used is striking, namely that God had hunted him like a wild animal and had treated him like an enemy, laying siege against him.
The suffering he experienced had caused discord in all of his relationships. Not only did his family find him repulsive, his best friends betrayed him. From Job’s perspective, no one was helping him. His friends were only adding to his suffering. One might expect sympathy from close friends, but in this case Job’s friends only turned against him. Unfortunate as it was, Job was alone in his misery.
20 I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth.
Job moved from the suffering caused by his so-called friends to his own personal suffering. Job felt that he was barely alive. With all the physical elements, he believed that he had narrowly escaped his own death. It is amazing during this intense trial that Job could reason at all.
21 “Have pity on me, my friends, have pity, for the hand of God has struck me.
22 Why do you pursue me as God does? Will you never get enough of my flesh?
The more fervently that his friends accused him, the more fervent he came in denying guilt. Job begged his friends for mercy. Boils, sores, nightmares, depression—Job was receiving no encouragement from anyone. Job basically asked, When will enough be enough? Not only would his friends continue to debate him, but God also would challenge him in the chapters to come. Job’s suffering seemed to have no end, and there was no relief in sight. It is difficult to imagine the pain of having close friends react this way. One cannot help but be reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 12:15 to “weep with those who weep.” True friends are to identify with the others in the “ups and downs” of life. Friends should be a healing relief in painful times. People enduring hardships need others to show compassion to them. Where there are sorrows, true friends minister sympathy. If anything, the reaction of Job’s friends in this book serve as an example of what not to do.
LIVING REDEEMER (JOB 19:23–27)
The words of Job in Verses 23–27 stand apart as the most notable in the entire book. These words are interpreted by many theologians as anticipating Jesus the Messiah. Job’s trust in the compassion of his God gave him the hope that sustained Him through this horrible ordeal of suffering.
23 “Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll,
24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever!
Perhaps Job thought his life was coming to an end and wanted his hopeful words to serve as his legacy for future generations. He wanted his knowledge of God desperately to be remembered as factual. The central issue of the book is the nature of wisdom and where it can be found.
25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
Job states with confidence that he knows his “Redeemer lives.” The concept of a redeemer is first laid out in Leviticus 24. A close relative may come to the aid of a suffering family member. In Exodus, God redeemed His people from slavery in Egypt. All of these images together paint a picture that points to Christ the Messiah and Redeemer of His people. Through it all, Job trusted God to redeem Him. Job expected he would be vindicated in a “face-to-face” meeting with his God. This is a powerful statement of faith from a man whose plea throughout the text had been to gain an audience with God. He was convinced that God would redeem Him! As New Testament believers, we understand that intimately Jesus Christ is the mediator who will not only allow us to stand before God, but who also died for our sins so that He could plead our case before God the Father.
Job affirmed not only that God heard his cries—even though He had been silent—but also that God would answer him in a personal meeting. As believers, we affirm the existence of life after death and can live with confidence in God’s redemption. We have a sure hope in a physical resurrection. Paul echoes Job’s words of faith: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55). In light of this, we can give great thanks to God in the midst of suffering. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57).
On his day of redemption, Job believed that He and God would not meet as strangers but as two intimately familiar with one another. The very thought of such a meeting caused his heart to long within him. Job declared his confidence in God who would validate his claim of innocence.
WARNING ISSUED (JOB 19:28–29)
28 “If you say, ‘How we will hound him, since the root of the trouble lies in him,’
29 you should fear the sword yourselves; for wrath will bring punishment by the sword, and then you will know that there is judgment.”
Job now directed the next words to his friends and issued them a strong warning. The punishment they declared he was undergoing would be the punishment they may experience themselves. Job’s friends saw his suffering as the common lot that falls upon the wicked. Because Job was suffering, they condemned him as wicked and wrongly asserted he was only getting what he deserved. Their harsh judgment continued despite Job’s declaration that he was innocent of the very things with which they charged him. When Jobs friends first saw him at the beginning of his suffering, they were so shocked that they did not begin to speak for seven days. But when they did speak, it was not sympathy and encouragement; it was blaming and accusing statements. Job’s statement here is, “If God allows suffering among the most pious and innocent, what should they expect to receive from God’s hand”? Job argued that they should fear the sword themselves because judgment awaits all people. Job’s friends needed to be afraid, especially in light of how they had treated him in his terrible suffering.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned against pronouncing judgment on another person (Matt. 7:1–2). Unfounded harshness in judgment toward others will result in being treated in the same way by God. According to Deuteronomy 19:16–19, false testimony demands the same penalty that would have been issued to the accused. Giving false testimony brakes the Ninth Commandment (Ex. 20:16) and has implications on others (Ps. 27:12; Pro. 6:19; 12:17,19; 14:5; 19:5,9; 25:18). The seriousness of false testimony is weighty, and Job’s friends should have weighted their own assumptions and words carefully.
Every warning before the final judgment is an act of mercy. At the end of the book, Job’s friends escaped the deadly consequence they deserved only by virtue of Job’s prayers for them (42:7–9).
This passage provides a sobering warning to all of us concerning how we treat and speak of others. We should be slow to judge others based on our perceptions. Many times our perceptions are wrong.
Job looked forward to being restored after his death and to seeing the Lord face to face. One day, Job would see God as He is. This should remain the hope of all Christians as well. As for believers, the sight of God will be welcomed and will incite worship. As for the wicked, the sight of God will bring about judgment and horror. Before our last breath, we need to come to personal terms with God. If we truly believe that our Redeemer lives and we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, then we have nothing to fear.