The second round of conversations between Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and Job in Job 15-21 reveals that Job’s friends have escalated their personal attacks on Job:
- Eliphaz tells him that his own words condemn him and that he clearly doesn’t fear God. (Job 15:1-6)
- Bildad criticizes Job for not listening to his friends (Job 18:1-4), and asserts that Job “knows not God.” (Job 18:21) This speech is saturated with irony, since Job is the one with a personal relationship with God and his friends are not.
- Zophar responds to Job’s earlier words about feeling as if God was cutting him open (Job 16:12-14) by using them against him with imagery of swords and arrows, claiming that this is God’s judgment on him. (Job 20:23-25)
But their scathing attacks are overshadowed by Job’s statement of faith in Job 19:23-27:
“Oh that my words were written!Oh that they were inscribed in a book!Oh that with an iron pen and leadthey were engraved in the rock forever!For I know that my Redeemer lives,and at the last he will stand upon the earth.And after my skin has been thus destroyed,yet in my flesh I shall see God,whom I shall see for myself,and my eyes shall behold, and not another.My heart faints within me!
In this statement, Job is alluding to what will eventually happen to these words of his – that they would be inscribed in a book and that they would last forever. And here we are, like 3,000 years later, reading these words:
For I know that my Redeemer lives,and at the last he will stand upon the earth.And after my skin has been thus destroyed,yet in my flesh I shall see God, (Job 19:25-26)
Despite Job’s doubts and questions about how God could be allowing all this to happen to him, he knows that his Redeemer lives. He may not know anything else, but he does know this. He doesn’t hope that his Redeemer lives. He doesn’t think that his Redeemer lives. He KNOWS that his Redeemer lives, and this knowledge is his only comfort at this low point in his life. When Job says “I” know, the position of the pronoun in Hebrew makes this an emphatic statement. Job has a settled conviction. There is no doubt that his Redeemer lives.
And he says, “I know that my Redeemer lives…” Job has a personal Redeemer. God is not merely a Redeemer to Job, but he is Job’s Redeemer. This is the difference between acknowledging the existence of God and being able to say that He is your God. Even Satan and his demons believe in God (James 2:19), so simply believing in the existence of God doesn’t mean much. We read conversations between Satan and God in the first two chapters of this book, so clearly each is aware of the others’ existence. Believing in God’s existence on a philosophical level and trusting in Him as your personal Redeemer are two very different things. Job has a personal Redeemer, and he is certain about his redemption.
Job has a Redeemer. In studying this passage, I think it is essential to understand the meaning of this word go’el (“redeemer”). It is a legal term in Hebrew with both civil and criminal implications. As a “blood avenger,” a go’el had a legal responsibility to avenge the blood of a slain kinsman (Numbers 35:12-28). On the civil side, the go’el was a “vindicator.” Here, he had the responsibility to “buy back” the lost inheritance of a deceased relative. This could come by purchasing from slavery or marrying the widow of a deceased relative in order to provide an heir. So, the redeemer was a defender or champion of the oppressed, as we will see when we get to the book of Ruth. God is seen as a go’el throughout the Old Testament:
- In Proverbs 23:10-11, God is the go’el of the fatherless.
- In Exodus 6:6 and Isaiah 43:1, God is the go’el of Israel
- In Psalm 103:4, God is go’el who delivers us from death
In Job 16:18, Job saw himself as a murder victim. He is depending on his go’el to testify for him, and to set the record straight. God, who had become his enemy, would become his friend, and those who joined in the kill would be punished. (Job 19:28-29)
And, finally, Job knows that his Redeemer lives. Job has a living Redeemer, who “at the last will stand upon the earth.” And just like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Job trusted that he would actually “see God.” This statement of belief set Job apart from the beliefs of his friends, who merely believed in the existence of God but clearly did not know Him or understand His character.
I am praying for those who do not know Him to know Him – and that I would be blessed to know Him more deeply.