John T. Willis

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

Through human history, people create wonderful songs based on a biblical text, then, when one actually examines that text, discovers that that text does not mean what the song means. This is a clear example, which we will discuss in this blog. The text is Job 19:25: "I know that my redeemer lives." [At the end of this blog, I will give the song, and I hope you will continue to sing this song, and believe and espouse this song--BUT the thought of this song is quite different from the meaning of the text of Job 19:25].

In our journey through the Book of Job, we now come to Job's second response to Bildad [which we recently discussed in Job 18]. Job's response to Bildad, recorded in Job 19, falls into two parts. Essentially, Job repeats his previous arguments, but some some elaboration.

I. Job lashes out loudly and strongly against his three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, defending Job's position that God has singled Job out to make Job suffer without just cause. Job 19:1-22.
a. Job accuses his friends of "tormenting" Job and "breaking Job in pieces." Job's friends have "reproached" Job TEN TIMES. "Ten times" is an idiomatic expression meaning "without number." See Genesis 31:7, 41. Verses 1-5.
b. Job proclaims that GOD has put Job in the wrong. Job cries out that God is mistreating Job, but God gives Job NO JUSTICE. Verses 6-7.
c. Job declares that there is no way that he can defend himself, because God is all powerful and all wise, so the conflict is unequal. God has walled up Job's way so Job cannot pass, God has stripped Job's glory from him, God breaks Job down on every side, God kindles his anger against Job and considers Job God's enemy, God's troops throw up siegeworks againt Job and encamp against Job's tent. Verses 8-12.
d. God is responsible for disrupting Job's family. God has put Job's family far from Job, Job's friends are estranged from Job, Job's relatives and close friends have abandoned Job, Job has become an alien to his guests and servant girls. Job's breath is repulsive to his wife and is loathsome to his family. Young children despise Job. Those whom Job love have turned against Job. Job is emaciated as a result of his disease. His bones cling to his bones and flesh. Verses 13-20.
e. Job begs his friends to "PITY" him, because "the hand of God has touched me." God has pursued me to make me suffer. WHY are you, my friends, adding insult to this deep pain? Verses 21-22.

II. Job concludes in this speech by reverting to his previous DESIRE to meet God in a fair court trial. We discussed these pleas in Job 9:30-33; 14:7-19; 16:18-22. This paragraph resumes this concept. Job 19:23-29.
a. Job wishes against wish that Job's court case were "written down," "inscribed," "engraved" in a rock with an iron pen and lead forever. Verses 23-24. The oldest preserved writings in ancient times were chiseled in rock and hard clay. Job was convinced that he would die, BUT if someone would just preserve his court trial arguments, some day God would show up and God would have to face Job's arguments. Then, Job would win his arguments against God's unjust treatment of Job.
b. Like Job 16:18-22, in Job 19:25-29, Job "fantasizes" the possibility that after Job's death, a REDEEMER will appear and take Job's position and prove that Job is right and God has treated Job unjustly. The word "redeemer" her is the Hebrew word "go'el." A "go'el" is one who acts as the next of kin when the next of kin is murdered. This is the so-called "avenger of blood" described in passages like Joshua 20. If an individual killed another person, the next of kin of the victim had the right and the responsibility of killing or executing the murderer.
Applied to Job's situation, according to Job, God has murdered Job. Now, Job is convinced that after Job's death, a "Redeemer," an "avenger of blood," will appear and confront and overthrow the murderer--God himself. The thought here is the same as the thought we discussed in Job 16:18-22. In Job's mind, there is a conflict between the God whom Job has always served through his life [here, Job's "redeemer"] and the God who is making Job suffer unjustly [here, Job's murderer=God himself]. Now, it seems that Job is contradictory: God is against God. But remember, Job is suffering, Job is trying to defend his position. He has served God all his life--AND God is making him suffer without just cause. There is a conflict, and Job is trying to express his thoughts.
Summing up: The "REDEEMER" in Job 19:25 is the "avenger of blood." Job wants this "redeemer" to prove that the God who is making Job suffer is wrong. Hence, the word "redeemer" hear is quite different from the word "redeemer" in the New Testament, in which Jesus Christ is the redeemer of lost people from sin, as for example in Romans 3:21-26; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; Titus 2:11-14.

The well-known song follows the idea of these New Testament texts, not the idea of Job 19:25. Let us sing together this song from these New Testament texts:

I know that my Redeemer lives, And ever prays for me;
I know eternal life He gives, From sin and sorrow free.

He wills that I should holy be, In word, in tho't, in deed;
Then I His hly face me see, When from this earth-life freed.

I know that unto sinful men His saving grace is nigh;
I know that He will come again To take me home on high.

I know that over yonder stands A place prepared for me;
A home, house not made with hands, Most wonderful to see.

I know, I know that my Redeemer lives, I know eternal life He gives;
I know, I know that my Redeemer lives.

There are many great songs which use biblical texts in which the biblical text under consideration is incorrect in its biblical context. This is the case with Job
19:25. Let us keep the songs, but realize that often the context in the Bible is different. People use all kinds of texts in this way. This is all right, as long as we know what is going on and how we are doing this.

What are YOUR insights on Job 19, especially on Job 19:25? Share your thoughts. Read Job 19 carefully in its context. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


  • How do you interpret that Job says he will see his Redeemer with his own eyes after his skin is destroyed within the framework of what you have just said here?

    By Blogger nlandas, at 2:13 AM  

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