Then in these verses we suddenly see another ray of light of Job’s faith. Instead of being engraved in a stone rock on earth, Job now seeks it higher up by the Living Rock. He speaks of a Redeemer, whom he very personally calls “my Redeemer” (verse 2525“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.
). His rock (verse 2424“That with an iron stylus and lead
They were engraved in the rock forever!
) is his Redeemer. In Hebrew the word “I” is emphasized at the beginning of the verse. It shows Job’s firm conviction: ‘I, yes I, know.’
The word “lives” is more than “being alive”. It implies that the Redeemer will continue His work to establish Jobs’ sincerity and to justify the accusations against him. This is also contained in the words of Job in the last verses of this chapter.
In two previous chapters (Job 9; 16) where Job expresses his deep bitterness towards God, he also spoke of the Person whom he calls here “Redeemer”. In Job 9 he notices the absence of that Person: “There is no umpire between us” (Job 9:3333“There is no umpire between us,
Who may lay his hand upon us both.
), including the question: “If only there was one”. In Job 16 he pronounces that this Person is Someone Who knows and looks after His cause: “My witness is in heaven, and my advocate is on high” (Job 16:1919“Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven,
And my advocate is on high.
). Here in Job 19 this grows to the conviction that He is a living Redeemer, Someone Who gives Him all that belongs to Him: “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
Job has more in mind here than just Someone Who will testify to his sincerity. In Job 16 he sees himself as a victim of murder when he shouts, “O earth, do not cover my blood” (Job 16:1818“O earth, do not cover my blood,
And let there be no [resting] place for my cry.
). He is counting on his Savior, his Goel, to testify for him, but also to do him justice. He knows that God will do this after his death. He does not yet know that God will do him justice on earth. That makes his statements a statement of faith.
The Hebrew word for ‘redeemer’ is goel. Depending on the context, this word is also translated as ‘blood avenger’. The word is important in the Old Testament jurisprudence. It has an aspect relating to crime and an aspect relating to civil relations. As the ‘blood avenger’, the goel had the responsibility to avenge the blood of a killed family member (Num 35:12-2812The cities shall be to you as a refuge from the avenger, so that the manslayer will not die until he stands before the congregation for trial.13The cities which you are to give shall be your six cities of refuge.14You shall give three cities across the Jordan and three cities in the land of Canaan; they are to be cities of refuge.15These six cities shall be for refuge for the sons of Israel, and for the alien and for the sojourner among them; that anyone who kills a person unintentionally may flee there.16‘But if he struck him down with an iron object, so that he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death.17If he struck him down with a stone in the hand, by which he will die, and [as a result] he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death.18Or if he struck him with a wooden object in the hand, by which he might die, and [as a result] he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death.19The blood avenger himself shall put the murderer to death; he shall put him to death when he meets him.20If he pushed him of hatred, or threw something at him lying in wait and [as a result] he died,21or if he struck him down with his hand in enmity, and [as a result] he died, the one who struck him shall surely be put to death, he is a murderer; the blood avenger shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.22‘But if he pushed him suddenly without enmity, or threw something at him without lying in wait,23or with any deadly object of stone, and without seeing it dropped on him so that he died, while he was not his enemy nor seeking his injury,24then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the blood avenger according to these ordinances.25The congregation shall deliver the manslayer from the hand of the blood avenger, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge to which he fled; and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil.26But if the manslayer at any time goes beyond the border of his city of refuge to which he may flee,27and the blood avenger finds him outside the border of his city of refuge, and the blood avenger kills the manslayer, he will not be guilty of blood28because he should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest the manslayer shall return to the land of his possession.). He was not seeking vengeance, but justice. The redeemer or goel, also restores lost rights or loss of property. He upholds justice (Lev 25:25-3425‘If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman is to come and buy back what his relative has sold.26Or in case a man has no kinsman, but so recovers his means as to find sufficient for its redemption,27then he shall calculate the years since its sale and refund the balance to the man to whom he sold it, and so return to his property.28But if he has not found sufficient means to get it back for himself, then what he has sold shall remain in the hands of its purchaser until the year of jubilee; but at the jubilee it shall revert, that he may return to his property.29‘Likewise, if a man sells a dwelling house in a walled city, then his redemption right remains valid until a full year from its sale; his right of redemption lasts a full year.30But if it is not bought back for him within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city passes permanently to its purchaser throughout his generations; it does not revert in the jubilee.31The houses of the villages, however, which have no surrounding wall shall be considered as open fields; they have redemption rights and revert in the jubilee.32As for cities of the Levites, the Levites have a permanent right of redemption for the houses of the cities which are their possession.33What, therefore, belongs to the Levites may be redeemed and a house sale in the city of this possession reverts in the jubilee, for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the sons of Israel.34But pasture fields of their cities shall not be sold, for that is their perpetual possession.).
Regarding the civil aspect, the goel had the responsibility to “repurchase” and thereby redeem the lost inheritance of a deceased family member. This could be done by buying free from slavery or by marrying the widow to provide for an heir. As such, he was the defender of the oppressed, as we see in the book of Ruth (Rth 4:1-101Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, “Turn aside, friend, sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down.2He took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So, they sat down.3Then he said to the closest relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the land of Moab, has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech.4So I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy [it] before those who are sitting [here], and before the elders of my people. If you will redeem [it], redeem [it]; but if not, tell me that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem [it], and I am after you.’” And he said, “I will redeem [it].”5Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance.”6The closest relative said, “I cannot redeem [it] for myself, because I would jeopardize my own inheritance. Redeem [it] for yourself; you [may have] my right of redemption, for I cannot redeem [it].”7Now this was [the custom] in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange [of land] to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another; and this was the [manner of] attestation in Israel.8So the closest relative said to Boaz, “Buy [it] for yourself.” And he removed his sandal.9Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon.10Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his [birth] place; you are witnesses today.”; Pro 23:10-1110Do not move the ancient boundary
Or go into the fields of the fatherless,
11For their Redeemer is strong;
He will plead their case against you.). In the exodus and in the exile, God is the Goel of His oppressed people (Exo 6:66Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.; Isa 43:11But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
). As the Goel the LORD frees persons from death (Psa 103:44Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Because His Redeemer lives, Job also knows that this Redeemer “at the last … will take His stand on the earth [literally: dust]”. This means that He will exercise His dominion over all matter, including man, who is dust. “Take His stand” means to move in order to take action. The Redeemer will rise up and come to earth to restore everything and do justice everywhere.
Job expects to die and that of his body in the grave nothing will remain (verse 2626“Even after my skin is destroyed,
Yet from my flesh I shall see God;
). When he dies he is stripped of his skin. However, even though his skin is gone, he will see God from his flesh. Here it appears that Job has faith in the resurrection. Here he speaks as his conviction the truth of a literal, bodily resurrection. With his statement about the resurrection Job ‘plants the flag of victory on his own grave’. David also spoke about the resurrection (Acts 2:3131he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY.). The believers in the Old Testament know that there is a resurrection (Psa 17:1515As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;
I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.; Isa 38:11-1911I said, “I will not see the LORD,
The LORD in the land of the living;
I will look on man no more among the inhabitants of the world.
12“Like a shepherd’s tent my dwelling is pulled up and removed from me;
As a weaver I rolled up my life.
He cuts me off from the loom;
From day until night You make an end of me.
13“I composed [my soul] until morning.
Like a lion—so He breaks all my bones,
From day until night You make an end of me.
14“Like a swallow, [like] a crane, so I twitter;
I moan like a dove;
My eyes look wistfully to the heights;
O Lord, I am oppressed, be my security.
15“What shall I say?
For He has spoken to me, and He Himself has done it;
I will wander about all my years because of the bitterness of my soul.
16“O Lord, by [these] things [men] live,
And in all these is the life of my spirit;
O restore me to health and let me live!
17“Lo, for [my own] welfare I had great bitterness;
It is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness,
For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
18“For Sheol cannot thank You,
Death cannot praise You;
Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your faithfulness.
19“It is the living who give thanks to You, as I do today;
A father tells his sons about Your faithfulness.
In addition to his faith in the resurrection, he also believes that he will then see God. He will not hear God speak His decision in favor of him from a distance, but he will stand face to face with God in a glorified body. He will see God in the face of Jesus Christ Who is the image of God. Sickness and the grave will consume his body, but that is not the end of his existence. He says, as it were, what David later says: “As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.” (Psa 17:1515As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;
I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.).
He Himself shall see God with His own eyes (verse 2727Whom I myself shall behold,
And whom my eyes will see and not another.
My heart faints within me!
). It is that God Whom he now experiences as Someone Who is against him. At the same time he knows of that God that He is His God. There is no other God. God is the God on Whom he has always trusted, even though he is in despair about His dealings with him. He knows God and God knows him. Job will be no other person, no stranger, someone kept at a distance because he has no relationship with God. God is also no other God than the God he has served on earth.
His longing is not for the recovery of his health, the liberation from all his troubles and the return to his former prosperity and well-being, to all that God has ever given him. He knows that this is unattainable, he does not believe in it. What he longs for is what is greater than all earthly prosperity, and that is God Himself. That desire is so great that it causes his heart to faint within him. It indicates the intense and total longing of all that is within him. At the end of the book this longing is fulfilled already in a sense, while he receives in addition what he didn’t ask for.