“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:” ~ Job 19:25
To understand this verse, it is helpful to understand the use of the term “redeemer” in the time of Job:
“The Hebrew term designates a male relative who delivers or rescues (Gen 48:16 ; Exodus 6:6); redeems property (Lev 27:9-25 ) or person (Lev 25:47-55); avenges the murder of a relative as a guiltless executioner (Num 35:9-34); and receives restitution for wrong done to a relative who has since died (Num 5:8). The unique emphasis of the redemption/salvation/vindication associated with the kinsman-redeemer is the fact that this action is carried out by a kinsman on behalf of a near relative in need.”
In addition, the context of our text shows that Job was feeling unfairly treated by his friends, who had accused him (incorrectly, Job 42:7-9) of wrongdoing, and by God, who had allowed calamity to descend upon him. It is in that situation that Job said the words in our text.
In other words, Job was looking for a redeemer who would give him ‘justice’: a redeemer who would right the wrongs that had befallen him: a redeemer who would examine the case and show that Job was right and that God and Job’s friends were all wrong. Indeed, that is exactly what Job had been arguing from chapter 3.
The point is that, despite the prophetic accuracy of Job’s declaration in our text, Job’s perspective on the role of the Redeemer was wrong. Indeed, God would correct Job’s erroneous perception in chapters 38 to 42.
The application of this truth comes when we recognize similar tendencies in ourselves. Like Job, when tribulations come into our lives it is easy to feel that God is being unfair. This is especially true for Believers: those who have tried to “do the right thing”: those who have made the difficult choices: those who tried to put God first in their lives.
Consider the family who attends church faithfully, who tithes, who gives to missions, who adopted a disabled child, who never chased after money or material, who had a stay-at-home mom looking after the children’s needs, who had family altar daily. Then the father loses his job and is out of work for more than a year and the family is struggling to get by.
It is easy in that situation to think that God is not fair. And that, though you are powerless now, one day, one day, you hope to be vindicated: one day, you (or your descendants) hope to receive payback.
It is in that sense that Job hoped for a redeemer and it is in that sense that we often see God. We want him to “pay us back” for the wrongs that have been done to us, for the unfairness we have experienced in our lives, that’s the least we deserve. Right??
That struggle has driven many a believer off course.
“What’s the use in trying to do right, when life ‘kicks us in the teeth’ anyway? Why bother to pray??? It’s not going to change anything!”
That was what was so admirable in Job: he never gave up. Though he thought God was unfair, he never gave up. He was looking forward to a meeting with God to plead his case.
Moreover, he recognized that he didn’t have the capacity to argue with God, so he would rely on The Redeemer to plead his case for him. And, in that sense, Job was correct. As Scripture tells us, Jesus spends his time constantly interceding for us.
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” ~ Romans 8:34
However, when The Redeemer looked at the case of man versus God, He did not find Job or anyone else guiltless. Rather, mankind was guilty and so far away from God we could never achieve righteousness on our own
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” ~ Isaiah 64:6
Job, despite all his works and his exemplary life (God even boasted about him! Job 1-2) Job was sinful, just like the rest of us.
Contrary to his expectation, The Redeemer Job hoped for declared him guilty and, as such, deserving death. BUT, here is the Good News, instead of letting Job pay the price, The Redeemer, Jesus Christ our Lord, paid the price for him. The Redeemer died on the cross in Job’s place and, indeed, in our place.
Like Job, we often get caught up in our own righteousness: when things start going against us, we feel that we deserve better, that God is unfair to let bad things happen to us. And we hope that somehow, God would be made to see things our way.
But, therein lies our problem. Like Job, the challenge is not for God to see things our way; rather we need to see things God’s way. And when, because of our human frailties, we can’t see things as God sees them… then we need to trust Him.
Therefore, rather than seeking a redeemer to bring us justice because we think we are right (and God is wrong), we need to seek The Redeemer who brings us mercy because we know God is right (even when we don’t understand).