What Did Job Mean When He Said "I Know That My Redeemer Lives"?
- Stephanie Englehart stephaniemenglehart.com
- 2020 15 Jan
"I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth." Job 19:25
Suffering is a universal problem, which is part of what makes the book of Job, a story known for suffering and lasting faith, so relatable. In chapter 19, Job says "I know that my redeemer lives." But what exactly does he mean by this, how does it relate to the story, and what does it mean for us today?
Sitting in the hospital for the fourth time in two and half months, my head hung low. I was exhausted from ‘round the clock feedings, a consistent flow of medical staff, and caring for my newborn and 20-month-old. I had barely recovered from birth 8 weeks earlier, and to top it off I was sick myself. I never expected to be hospitalized so many times, but between my own medical issues, and my brand-new baby girl, there we were on the 4th floor of Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Suffering hits everyone differently, but nonetheless, everyone suffers. My own personal trials have often come through medical issues or the loss of relationship. Some people experience debilitating mental health, while others struggle through past abuse and neglect. If you haven’t personally suffered, you’ve watched others suffer, which is its own classification of difficulty. Either way, one thing humanity can all agree on, is that there’s suffering in the world. The question is, what do we do with it?
For me, in that hospital room, I had God and my community to provide the hope and strength to get me through. As you read through the book of Job, we see him take a similar stance to suffering in Job 19:25, where he says, “I know that my redeemer lives.” The book of Job answers the question of how we process through and respond to suffering, and Job 19:25 sums up the hope we have in the Lord as we experience trials.
What Is the Book of Job About?
The book of Job is easily relatable to all people. It addresses the universal problem of suffering, and how we, as humanity, have to rectify our understanding of the justice of a sovereign God. In the book, we meet a man named Job who is found as righteous before God. God grants Satan permission to attack Job, stripping him of his family, possessions, and health.
We see Job’s three friends come to his aid as they engage in a dialogue about why this turmoil has come about. They come to the general conclusion that Job must have sinned in order to be receiving this heavy consequence. Job wrestles with the need to know and understand his suffering, but God remains silent through most of the book. Towards the end, God, finally answers Job with two challenges, the created world and sovereign justice.
Job’s first response to God is silence, and the second is submission. We then see God rebuke Job’s friends for an incorrect understanding of who He is, and the book ends with God graciously restoring all of Job’s fortunes.
Although this is such a well-known, and well-loved book of the Bible, the author is anonymous. Scholars have come to understand certain things about the author by reading between the lines.
The author is believed to be a Hebrew, wise (due to his quotes from Proverbs), knowledgeable about the constellations, meteorology, animals, and is a man who makes great use of nature analogies to proclaim the truth.
The book of Job seeks to speak into humanity’s suffering and its relation to a sovereign God. Questions of God’s trustworthiness and justice are brought about through the dialogue of Job and his friends. Throughout all the back and forth of why this terrible turmoil has come upon Job, we ultimately see that a lack of understanding of God’s reasoning does not dismiss faithfulness amidst immense suffering.
What Does "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" Really Mean?
As we near chapter 19, we see a sad Job thoroughly beat down by his friends. The last interaction came from Bildad, where he spends 21 verses trying to convince Job that he is being punished for some unconfessed wickedness (Job 18:1-21). Job, knowing he hasn’t done any wrong, calls out the pride and hurt of his friends (Job 19:1-6). In Job 19:9-11, he then moves into calling out God as his enemy:
“He has stripped me of my honor and removed the crown from my head. He tears me down on every side till I am gone; he uproots my hope like a tree. His anger burns against me; he counts me among his enemies.”
It is in this utter despair that we find a beautiful nugget of truth. Job 19:25 signifies God as our only hope amidst immense suffering. Job moves out of begging for mercy to be delivered both from the hand of God and the hurt of his community into stating:
“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!” (Job 19:25-27).
Although a beautiful testament to the hope we have in God as our redeemer, the verse is still highly debated. The difficulty for scholars comes in the interpreting of the Hebrew, with the debate being around the translation of verse 26. Scholars cannot say for certain that Job had a definite understanding of the future resurrection found in Christ. However, one thing scholars are firm on, is that the “redeemer” is God himself. The ESV Study Bible takes this approach:
“The Hebrew noun (go’el) translated ‘Redeemer’ is the same word used frequently in the OT to refer to a ‘kinsman-redeemer,’ who had both rights and responsibilities for vindicating a family member (see Ruth 4:1–6). In the OT, God says that he will ‘redeem’ his people from slavery (Ex. 6:6) and is thus later referred to as ‘the Redeemer of Israel’ (Isa. 43:14; 44:6). For God as an individual’s ‘Redeemer,’ see Gen. 48:16; Ps. 19:14. Job’s description of his ‘Redeemer’ as one who ‘lives’ (Job 19:25) and his following reference to ‘God’ (v. 26) indicate he believes that God is the one who ultimately will vindicate him… Because of the content of Job’s earlier laments and the difficulty of the Hebrew in v. 26, interpreters have questioned the likelihood that Job is expressing in these verses a belief that God will redeem him after death. However, while the focus of Job’s dialogue and lament is the desire that what he believes to be true ‘in heaven’ (i.e., before God) would also be shown to be true on earth, such a desire makes sense only if it is grounded in a belief that God is his Redeemer and that he will vindicate Job even in death.”
Regardless of the uncertainty of some of the interpretation, we can stand on the fact that from the beginning of God’s word, to the end, God is seen as the redeemer of His people. Even in Job’s lowest moment as he calls God an “enemy,” he stakes his faith on the fact that God is also his ultimate redeemer.
Photo credit: Crosscards.com
How Should Christians Apply Job 19:25 Verse Today?
1. Amidst seasons that have been riddled with suffering that is beyond our control, we must look to and trust in our redeemer who lives.
Although Job did not have factual knowledge of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection – we do. We know our Savior has risen from the dead and provides hope and comfort for those who trust Him (John 14:26-27). We can look at Job and empathize with his suffering, but during our most difficult days, we must remember that Jesus endured worse. Job had three friends who surrounded him amidst his suffering, but Jesus was fully abandoned by those He loved, and by God the Father on our account (Matthew 27:32-56). We practically do this by clinging to God’s word, singing in remembrance of Him, and allowing community to serve us and point us back to the redeemer who lives.
2. Unlike Job’s friends, we need to develop a practice of pointing people to the redeeming work of Christ.
Job and his friends had the understanding that all suffering comes in direct correlation to sin. However, we see at the end of the book that that’s a merit-based theology as God rebukes them and accepts Jobs prayer. We, as believers, need to point people to Jesus as their only hope and saving grace both on the good days and the bad. Whether the trial is self-induced via sin, or complete coincidence, the only hope we have on earth is in Christ Jesus the Lord. We must call people back to repentance (James 5:15-16, Ephesians 4:1-6), and to lean into Him as he works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
3. We must come to terms with the sovereignty of God.
Both His loving sovereign grace, and His sovereign reign of sin and suffering. As we look at the end of Job, we see two responses from Job after God speaks. Silence is the first, but submission is the second. We should consider taking Job’s lead as we respond to the sovereign King Jesus. We are not all-knowing beings, and often our pride gets in the way of our understanding (as God so graciously pointed out to Job in Chapters 38-42). However, we must consider coming to God’s word in silence and submission to the sovereignty of God. We must see his sovereign hand as a wing to hide ourselves in (Psalm 91:4), and we must trust His word as the only hope we have (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). When we do this, we can walk the earth with great courage that our God is for us, and not against us.
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:29-37).
Although Satan reigns on earth now, as he did in the book of Job, we can look to the promises of Scripture that one day there will be no more sin and suffering. Job, whether he had some understanding of the future resurrection or not, knew that the Living God (YAHWEH) would vindicate him.
If we believe that Jesus is the one true God, then there will be a day coming, where there will be no more tears, no more suffering, no more pain, and no more death. Jesus will and is sovereignly working to right every wrong and bring justice to our oppressed world. When we know that our Redeemer lives, we know that God is good, just, gracious, sovereign, and that His mercy endures forever.
Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 869-899). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Andersen, F. I. (1976). Job: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 14, pp. 15–23). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Andersen, F. I. (1976). Job: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 14, pp. 208–210). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Joshua Earle
Stephanie Englehart is a Seattle native, church planter’s wife, mama, and lover of all things coffee, the great outdoors, and fine (easy to make) food. Stephanie is passionate about allowing God to use her honest thoughts and confessions to bring gospel application to life. You can read more of what she writes on the Ever Sing blog at stephaniemenglehart.com or follow her on Instagram: @stephaniemenglehart.