Job and His Redeemer

by | Sep 25, 2021 | Bible Study | 0 comments

In chapter 19, Job gives his second response to Bildad. It’s interesting these exchanges between Job and Bildad are prophetic, even though neither of the two knew what the outcomes would be.

In Bildad’s first dialogue to Job, he prophesies a turnaround for him, saying that if Job is righteous, his latter days will be greater than the former. In Job’s second response to Bildad, he proclaims a thing even greater than Bildad’s unwitting blessing. Job prophesies the coming of his Redeemer, Christ, and his hope in the resurrection.

But first, Job makes his petition to God:

19 Then Job answered and said:

2 “How long will you torment me
and break me in pieces with words?
3 These ten times you have cast reproach upon me;
are you not ashamed to wrong me?
4 And even if it be true that I have erred,
my error remains with myself.

5 If indeed you magnify yourselves against me
and make my disgrace an argument against me,

Bildad, in more a round about way than the other friends, is saying that Job’s circumstances are evidence that they are right and he is in the wrong. In Job’s reply, he is telling them that their words are not helping, but simply making things worse. He asks, “how long will  you torment me?” They are kicking him while he is down. Even if he is in the wrong, his error is still with him, their words are not helping, pointing him in the right direction, or helping to bring him to restoration. They are trying to make themselves look better in contrast to Job; however, Job is saying that even if it were true … that doesn’t make them any better … because it would be God that is doing the chastising.

6 know then that God has put me in the wrong
and closed his net about me.

7 Behold, I cry out, ‘Violence!’ but I am not answered;
I call for help, but there is no justice.
8 He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass,
and he has set darkness upon my paths.

9 He has stripped from me my glory
and taken the crown from my head.
10 He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone,
and my hope has he pulled up like a tree.

11 He has kindled his wrath against me
and counts me as his adversary.
12 His troops come on together;
they have cast up their siege ramp against me
and encamp around my tent.

In this section, we go back into the confusion of who is the adversary and who is doing the oppressing. If we hadn’t read Job 16 previously, where Job explicitly states that God (El) has turned him over to the ungodly (verse 11) it would be very easy to take this entire passage as a statement that God has made Job his enemy and is afflicting him.

This translation renders verse 6 as “God has put me in the wrong;” however, the interlinear translates this as “Know then that God [Eloah] has wronged me and with his net has surrounded.” Would you go for justice to one who has wronged you?

Researching the names translated as “God” in the Book of Job, there is, like everything else to do with this book, a lot of debate. In Job 1:1, Job is said to be one who feared “Elohim” (H430). Job made regular atonement for his children in case they might have cursed “Elohim” in their hearts. (verse 5) In Job 1:6, we see the “Bene Elohim,” the sons of God, presenting themselves before Yahweh. Satan accused Job to Yahweh (verse 7). Satan said that Job feared “Elohim”  because there was a hedge of protection around him (verses 9-10). In the majority of the rest of the book of Job, when “God” is referred to, the word is usually “Eloah,” which is the singular form of “Elohim.”

I think that at this point, it’s good to remember how those of Job’s day saw the divine.[1] Job was not in a monotheistic culture where when a person referred to “God,” there was one particular being that everyone understood[2] you to mean.[3] I remember watching a debate between William Lane Craig and Sean Carroll as an assignment for one of my classes. The debate was on whether there was a God, not about who that God was or which religion had the right understanding of that God, but just of the existence of God period. That was the argument Dr. Craig was making, Carroll was going after what he saw as weaknesses in the Christian explanation of God. It was as if he had already conceded that the one and only God there could be is the God of Israel.

Again, that was not the way things were during the time of Job. Countries and and tribes had their own gods that they worshiped.[4] There were gods over places, over things, and over different stages of life. All of these gods are the “elohim” and referring to a particular “Eloah,” does not necessarily mean one is referring to Yahweh, who is specifically being named in the portrayal of the Divine Council in the first chapters, but could refer to any of them.

I’ve tried to find research or journal articles on the significance of the use of the different names used in Job for divine beings or how the words were used in other languages in the Ancient Near East, but honestly haven’t found very much other than a rabbinic explanation of the difference of the words “El” and “Eloah,” but even this doesn’t explain the reason for the uses.

El and Eloah are different, though Eloah comes from El. El has it’s own development; El-singular, Eili-plural and Elim-collective plural. It is also use for G-d and pagan deity (one individual) or deities (many individuals, separated or collective). El simply means strength (as in mighty one). Elohim or Eloahim is derived from Eloah, the plural of Eloah is Eloahi. However, both Eloahi and Elohim are the plurals of Eloah, but Eloahi is simple plural (Jurors) while Elohim is a collective plural noun (Jury). Most dictionaries states that a collective plural noun is a ‘singular noun denoting a group of individuals’. Apparently, Elohim (Eloahim) and Elohi (Eloahi) is used interchangeably. That is, where Elohim is said to be in DUE 6:4 it can also read Eloahi or some say it reads that. Eloahi is also often translated Elohe. Nevertheless, as stated, the plural form can be used for a singular subject, that is, one person, to denote majesty; as is the case with using Elohim for G-d[5].

What I say next, I don’t have strong support for, not that I don’t think the text supports it, just that I haven’t found scholarship on it one way or another. But this is what I think based on the dialogue in the book so far, the context of the Book of Job itself, and logic, assuming that one of Job’s responses won’t contradict another.

Job is pious and he recognizes that wrongs must be atoned for and the divine appeased (the elohim): however, he doesn’t have a particular revelation or relationship with this God of goodness and righteousness is that he knows he must appeal. His culture worships many God. In the first two chapters, this great Good God, Yahweh, points out to Satan how awesome Job is. Satan challenges Yahweh to put Job to the test and so, unknowingly, Job becomes Yahweh’s champion. Yahweh is wagering that, in spite of his suffering, Job will hold true. Again, in this way, Job is a foreshadowing of Christ.

Disaster strikes. Job doesn’t understand why it is happening. He doesn’t know him or have a personal revelation at this point, but he believes in a just God who is good who will vindicate him. Job challenges this God he has trust in to show him his wrong if he has erred, and if not, he wants justice.  In the pantheon of gods, Job confidently states in chapter 16 that there is one interceding for him like a friend.

Then we come to chapter 19, and in verses 6 through 12, Job states that this “Eloah” has wronged him, not the one who he believes will vindicate him, but the one that the mighty one, “El,” has turned him over to … and, as we will see, Job will petition the good God he has put his trust in for recompense.

13 “He has put my brothers far from me,
and those who knew me are wholly estranged from me.
14 My relatives have failed me,
my close friends have forgotten me.
15 The guests in my house and my maidservants count me as a stranger;
I have become a foreigner in their eyes.
16 I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer;
I must plead with him with my mouth for mercy.
17 My breath is strange to my wife,
and I am a stench to the children of my own mother.
18 Even young children despise me;
when I rise they talk against me.
19 All my intimate friends abhor me,
and those whom I loved have turned against me.
20 My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh,
and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.

Not only has this oppressor caused the death of his children and the loss of everything Job owned, but he has also caused the opinions of others to turn against Job and for everyone to be estranged from him. This disunity and isolation is also the work of the evil one.

21 Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me!
22 Why do you, like God, pursue me?
Why are you not satisfied with my flesh?

When Job says that “the hand of God” has touched him, he is saying that he realizes that his circumstances are more than just coincidence. That there has been a supernatural intervention to bring this about.

The ESV translated verse 22 as “why do you, like God, purse me?” which would read as God doing the pursuing and the afflicting. Young’s Literal Translation renders this slightly differently, “Why do you pursue me as God? And with my flesh are not satisfied?” In this, Job is asking his friends why they are putting themselves in the place of God, making judgment on him as if they were God, which fits better with the rest of the text.

Now we come to the most significant words in the book of Job, the one that states not only his hope, but the hope of the world.

23 “Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
24 Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

Job is calling out to God for help, and not only is he calling out in that moment, but he asking for his words to be written down, inscribed, “engraved in the rock forever” so that not only will he be calling out that day but that he will be calling out forever. For what is he calling? For his Redeemer, for the one who will save him, and not only the God who he is calling out to, but one who will “stand upon the earth.” Job knows he has been turned over to the evil one, he is asking to be bought back.

Charles Spurgeon gave a sermon on Job and his Redeemer in 1863. Spurgeon begins by saying that like Job, the “hand of God has been upon us heavily this week” as they had lost two members that week.[1] Throughout the sermon are references to a thing that is devastating them like a band of mauraders. There were any number of infectious diseases that afflicted England during Spurgeon’s lifetime: influenza, smallpox, typhus, “Scarlatina,” diptheria, measles, croup, bronchitis, and cholera.[2] This was addition to conditions caused by poor nutrition such as scurvy, diarrhea, dysentery, and outright dying of famine.[3]

Reading about the disease that were ravaging England that year, there’s no way to know which took the life of Spurgeon’s congregants. But it does give you an idea just how very fragile life was before the advent of modern medicine. Death was constantly around the corner. There is a sense of futility to the sermon that they cannot prevent the destruction of the body that is going on … yet there is still hope. On Job’s words, Spurgeon writes

Perhaps, hardly aware of the full meaning of the words he was uttering, yet his holy soul was impressed with a sense of some weighty revelation concealed within his words; he therefore desired that it might be recorded in a book; he has had his desire: the Book of books embalms the words of Job.[4]

Job didn’t have the answers, he didn’t know what was going on, but he believed that his Redeemer would come.

26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
27 whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

Job has confidence, not only in his Redeemer, but his own resurrection. He believes that his Redeemer will stand upon the earth, and that he himself will see God face to face, in his own flesh after his flesh has been destroyed. He believes in the resurrection. Spurgeon writes on this passage.

Brethren, Job could say this of Christ long before he had descended upon earth, “I know that he liveth;” and now that he has ascended up on high, and led captivity captive, surely we may with double emphasis say, “I know that my Goel, my Kinsman liveth, and that he hath paid the price, that I should have back my patrimony, so that in my flesh I shall see God.” Yes, my hands, ye are redeemed with blood; bought not with corruptible things, as with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. Yes, heaving lungs and palpitating heart, ye have been redeemed! He that redeemed the soul to be his altar has also redeemed the body, that it may be a temple for the Holy Ghost. Not even the bones of Joseph can remain in the house of bondage. No smell of the fire of death may pass upon the garments which his holy children have worn in the furnace.[5]

Job ends his response in chapter 19 with a warning.

28 If you say, ‘How we will pursue him!’
and, ‘The root of the matter is found in him,’
29 be afraid of the sword,
for wrath brings the punishment of the sword,
that you may know there is a judgment.”

Not only does Job’s Redeemer live, not only will Job stand with God in the flesh after his death, but Job is confident that he will be vindicated … that there will be judgment.


This Bible study is part of A Study of Job (2021)


Endnotes