Sunday, March 8, 2009

I Know My Redeemer Lives

I've heard and read this verse quoted more times than I care to count, and I'm sure a fair number of those times attributed the quote to Job, uttered from the pit of his suffering in chapter 19. (Aside: I've been wondering if I could get through an entry on Job without using the word suffering, but it's obviously not going to be today. I'll try again tomorrow.) 

The over-emotional reactionary within all of us wants to cry out, "Yes! Job trusted in the Lord Jesus even when all hope was lost!" All the rational commentaries are quick to clarify that Job wasn't talking about his Redeemer redeemer, just someone to vindicate him, someone who would prove his innocence, or reclaim him from the ranks of the "told you so" files. But they still capitalize the word, don't they? So maybe it's a bit out of context to use that verse to talk about Jesus . . . but not so far gone that the scholars won't agree Job expected to get his long-awaited shout-out from the Lord Himself. The emotional and the rational both seem to agree that the Redeemer of verse 25 is the God of verse 26.

Another quick nonspiritual observation: it kinda cracks me up that the general attitude toward Job's rants, grumblings, and utterings is kind of "Hey, the dude was suffering. You would expect him to say a few things he didn't mean. He didn't understand, he was under duress." So when Job is talking about God treating him like an enemy, we look the other way. But when Job mentions the Redeemer and the idea of seeing him after he died, suddenly the theologians pounce on that bit of ancient poetry like it's the juiciest piece of doctrinal red meat since the word literal was first spoken into existence. I understand that this is the Word of God. And I know it's a significant couple of verses. But in the context from which Job expressed these thoughts, can we really expect systematic theology 101? Is there any need to dissect the finer points of this seemingly prophetic blurb with any more scrutiny than his observation eight verses earlier that his wife found his breath to be cause for suffering on its own?

Within the context of this book, Job's umpteenth response to his so-called friends' umpteenth critique, I'm not seeing a didactic theology dancing off Job's lips. What really puts a knot in my chest is Job's earnest statement of faith. Without a written Word in any form (that we know of) Job was longing for his own cries of pain and trust to be recorded for all time (they were). And although he had no chapter and verse to back him up, Job knew that no matter when or how he died, he believed that his Redeemer lived. He believed that he would meet him face to face, eye to eye, and that He would behold God Himself. He believed that God would . . . what? Vindicate him? Redeem him? Protect him? Does it really matter what the distinction was? The point I cling to is that Job believed God would, in the end, still be with Job as an advocate instead of an accuser.

I don't know if Job ever would have come up with that statement had he not gone through the trials recorded in this book. But I do know this: I can think of nothing better than to know I have a friend who will stick with me until the end. The fact that I can count on God Himself to be that friend . . . well, that just makes me want to break down and cry.

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