“But I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust.” (Job 19:25)
Today, we Christians utter phrases like this, speaking of redemption, talking about a living redeemer. Sometimes we use these phrases or the aforementioned verse without understanding our Bible history or the origin of such sayings. The Book of Job is a story that offers numerous worthwhile lessons about wisdom, friendship, prayer, and most notably, the suffering of innocents. Within this story too, however, comes another important lesson, one about redemption.
As Job states, his redeemer lives. But how does he know his redeemer is alive and what is his redeemer’s identity? If we too speak of redemption, then these are questions we should also be able to answer for ourselves. By taking a closer look at the passage, we will soon answer the question, “What does Job mean by ‘I know my Redeemer lives’?”
The Context of 'I Know My Redeemer Lives' in Job 19:25
Chapter 19 of the Book of Job follows both of Job’s tests by Satan. He had already been afflicted with illness and lost both possessions and loved ones. He was distraught and cursed the day he was born (Job 3:1). Adding to the pain, his wife has already told him to curse God, and his friends also have not done their part to lift his spirit. They take turns confronting Job about his suffering, putting the onus on him. In chapter 18, Bildad took his turn to address Job.
First, he rebuked Job for rebuking his friends. “How long until you stop talking? Show some sense, and then we can talk. Why are we regarded as cattle, as stupid in your sight?” (Job 18:2-3)
Then he compared Job to the wicked, people who don’t know God. “Indeed, such is the dwelling of the unjust man, and this is the place of the one who does not know God.” (Job 18:21)
When we get to chapter 19, Job takes his turn to respond to Bildad, the last of the three friends who have spoken. The passage begins with Job expressing his anger toward the men (Job 19:3). He feels humiliated, mistreated, even crushed by their words. With the emotional turmoil he was experiencing, plus what they put him through, Job goes on to say that he feels God is against him too.
With his own words, he says, “God who has wronged me and caught me in his net” (Job 19:6). In his mind, God has ruined him, his life, his possessions, broken him down out of anger. Job feels uprooted like a tree and abandoned (Job 19:13). His emotional wellbeing is very much in ruin, and he sounds rather hopeless. His words of defeat continue for more lines, but then the passage takes an important and abrupt change.
“But I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh.” (Job 19:25-26)
Job proclaimed faith in the face of difficult circumstances, but also people who were bringing him down, men who didn’t act well as friends. Job knew his Redeemer lived and with that, there was hope to look forward to even if he died in such a bleak state.
The Meaning of 'I Know My Redeemer Lives'
According to Biblestudytools.com, the original word for redeemer is goel which means “in Hebrew the participle of the verb gaal , 'to redeem.' It is rendered in the Authorized Version 'kinsman,' Numbers 5:8 ; Ruth 3:12 ; Ruth 4:1 Ruth 4:6 Ruth 4:8 ; 'redeemer,' Job 19:25 ; 'avenger,' Numbers 35:12 ; Deuteronomy 19:6 , etc.” Job recognized God as his goel. While he seemingly wanted to be vindicated in front of these three friends, if he died, Job also wanted to see God. In fact, he was confident that he would, evidenced by the following verse (Job 19:26).
His entire ordeal began when Satan wanted to test Job and God allowed the test. Satan’s aim was to have Job curse God, but similar to Job’s friends, Satan was made the fool. He remained strong when faced with this situation and the Devil’s initial plan failed. Job’s faith reigned supreme.
There is significance to Job’s words for ourselves too. Similar to him, we find difficulties in our own lives. Famine, war, natural disasters, terrorism, the list goes on. Though sometimes circumstances don’t end until we pass away, with an attitude like Job we recognize something important - God lasts forever. Our mortal bodies occupy the earth temporarily, but God’s presence continues.
When we leave the world, Heaven awaits. This may sound counterintuitive, but acknowledging the power of God is important even when we are in trouble. Job didn’t know if he would be rescued from his problems, but he still believed. He knew salvation was for him if he died because he maintained his faith.
Other Bible figures exhibited a similar attitude in God when facing obstacles. Paul maintained his faith in prison, and Jesus followed through with God’s plan despite knowing He would lose His life.
In the grand scheme of things, our lives are not as important as God’s will. Things may be happening to us that are undesired, but so long as the redeemer lives, good things can come out of what feels like despair (Romans 8:28). Paul’s suffering served as a great lesson for believers. Jesus spawned one of the world’s most recognized religions. And Job’s life too taught us that despite being free of guilt, bad things happen to all of us. Innocent or not, but with a redeemer who lives, all things will be made right in the end.
For Job, he was restored with more than he had before the ordeal began (Job 42:10). not to mention having a renewed and stronger faith.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those inChrist Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
Today, we know that our redeemer lives, as God, as the Holy Spirit, and as Jesus. Many people read the Book of Job as a lesson about how innocent people sometimes suffer. While this interpretation is true, the book also showcases a very important lesson about redemption. Our redeemer lives. Job knew that about God. We must make sure that we remember that truth today.
Whether the circumstances we face are a pandemic, war with Russia, or a serious and intense political divide, situations will always happen that we don’t desire. Sometimes these poor circumstances will be less of a society ordeal and affect us more personally. Adding to the suffering, those we expect to help us may do just the opposite.
Again, there is plenty in life we do not control. This will always be true. However, if our redeemer lives, then there is one crucial aspect we can control, our faith. No matter what we’re going through, our faith can be the guiding light that leads us through the darkness. If going through the darkness means we lose our life along the way, then we can relish finally being able to see God.
For that reason, there is always hope.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Kevron2001
Aaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
These verses serve as a source of renewal for the mind and restoration for the heart by reinforcing the notion that, while human weakness is inevitable, God's strength is always available to uplift, guide, and empower us.
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