Tuesday, December 12: Job Longs For His Redeemer

Job 19:23-27

“Oh, that my words were recorded,
that they were written on a scroll,
that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
or engraved in rock forever!
I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

“On a garbage heap, in pain, in desperate mourning for the loss of his children, in poverty, under accusation of friends and provocation of his wife, in an intensity of human emotions that scandalized his pious friends, a man spoke boldly to God and asked ‘Why?’” (David R. Jackson). That in essence is the book of Job. It is not a likely place to look for an advent devotional, but might Jesus have used these words of Job to explain to the travelers how the Old Testament pointed to him?

Most of the book of Job is a cycle of speeches, in which Job’s three friends in turn assert that Job must have sinned because he is suffering so much, and Job tries to defend himself. Although Job does affirm God’s goodness and sovereignty (see Job 1:21-22, 42:2,7), in most of his speeches he is defending himself, pleading his righteousness. And then in chapter 19 we read this startlingly strong confession: his redeemer lives, and he will see God. The word that he uses is the common Hebrew word for a kinsman-redeemer, the same word used in Ruth. A form of the word is also used for God as the redeemer of his people (Exodus 6:6, Isaiah 43:1), the protector of the fatherless (Proverbs 23:10-11), and the one who rescues from death (Psalm 103:4).

How could Job have such confidence that even after death he would see God? How could he be confident that he would be vindicated? Because he believed in a redeemer, an intercessor, a mediator. He longed for a redeemer who would come to earth and intercede for him, and he expressed the hope of resurrection. The early church saw in Job’s suffering a type of the passion of Jesus; in fact, in the second century, they read the book of Job during passion week. Jesus, not Job, was the true innocent sufferer. He suffered on Job’s and all his children’s behalf so that he might crush the head of the serpent and deliver his people from death.

Amid suffering beyond anything any of us are likely to encounter, Job clung tenaciously to the hope of a redeemer. Actually, it was the Redeemer who clung tenaciously to him. Do you know this Redeemer? Can you say with Job that your redeemer lives, and that even after death you will see God? Does your heart yearn for him? Trust in Jesus alone for salvation. Worship and serve him.

I know that my Redeemer lives,
And ever prays for me;
A token of His love He gives,
A pledge of liberty.
Jesus, I hang upon your word;
I steadfastly believe
You will return and claim me, Lord,
And to yourself receive.

(Charles Wesley)

© 2023 Stephen A. Hoogerhyde.