JOB 14–19: NO HOPE FOR ME…OR IS THERE?
Bible Background: Chapter 14 ends the ‘first cycle of speeches’ between Job and his three friends. Job is as down and out as ever! In chapter 19, Job lashes out at his friends for ‘siding’ with an unjust God. But then there is one of the more memorable sayings in Job: “For I know that my Redeemer lives…” (19:25)
Digging Deeper: 1. In 14:7 Job notes that there is hope for a tree that has been cut down. Chances are, the roots can sprout some new growth! Not so, for humans, Job insists. Job is more than ready for death to come. But there seems a part of him which longs for God to come and save. He at least wants God to remember him. How do we remember those who have died? What does that do for those of us who are living?
- This book is not primarily about Jewish belief or practices at the time. One thing that develops only later in Jewish belief is the possibility of resurrection. Here, it would seem that some hope of life after death would help make up for unjust suffering. But Job is not able to count on that idea.
- Chapter 19 is in the ‘second cycle of speeches’, where things get testier. Job complains that God has afflicted him in every way possible, and that these 3 friends have ‘piled on’. (There are references to his servants and children not knowing him or not responding to him-even though they all ‘died’ in chapter 1. But this is poetry, where the deepest hurts are being expressed.)
- In 19:23 Job is asking for a permanent record of his grievances against God. He wants them written in stone! He is still insisting on his innocence, and pleading for justice. He doesn’t want the facts or his life to be forgotten!
- 19:25 is the verse that Christian readers will celebrate: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth…then in my flesh, I shall see God.” The Hebrew text is less precise than that (much of the Book of Job is hard to translate.) “Go el” is the Hebrew word sometimes translated as ‘redeemer’. It suggests one who ‘fixes’, who sees something wrong, and how makes it right. What’s something that your faith tells you needs to be ‘righted’? What events of the past week need to be ‘righted’ for the sake of others? Or for the sake of all God’s people? Is that role of redeemer restricted to God/Jesus? Or are we called upon to fulfill that role too?
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