My Redeemer Lives
Soon believers all around the world will celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Some will go to church because they are expected to do so by family. Others will go because they know the joy of gathering together on the Lord’s Day to worship Him. Still others will show up broken and tormented by trials that have torn them asunder. They may even be wondering if God “counts [them] as his adversary” (Job 19:11). The church needs to come around them and tenderly speak words of hope. Job 19 gives us a window into how the righteous suffer, and ultimately a window into our Savior’s suffering, as well as a glimpse of the sufferer’s only hope.
Job’s suffering was considerable, but perhaps it was the words of his friends that broke him and tormented him the most (Job 19:2). Instead of comforting Job they magnified themselves against him and wrongly pointed to his disgrace as evidence of some secret sin. But Job was suffering because of his godliness (1:8). Job found his friends to be “miserable comforters” (16:2). They had failed to approach him in tenderness and build him up. God’s people are to speak in ways that are only “good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29). In this way we reflect the tenderness and grace of Jesus who invites “all who labor and are heavy laden” to “come to Me” (Matt. 11:28).
When the Lord spoke with Satan, the adversary claimed that Job feared God because the Lord had “put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side” (Job 1:10). Ironically, Job says that “He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass” (19:8). He concludes that God has “kindled his wrath against me and counts me as his adversary” (19:11). But nothing could be further from the truth. His adversary is Satan, not God (1:11; 2:5).
Not one relationship was spared in the midst of Job’s suffering. His brothers were far from him, his acquaintances were estranged from him, his relatives had failed him, and his closest friends had forgotten him. Even his houseguests and servants considered him a stranger. His servant did not respond to his calls for help. Most devastating, he was repulsive to his wife and other family members. Sadly, “even young children despise” and “talk against” him (Job 19:18). His intimate friends and those he loved “have turned against” him (19:19).
Job, as a righteous sufferer, anticipated our beloved Savior whose “appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind” that “many were astonished” at Him (Isa. 52:14). Jesus, the ultimate righteous sufferer, “was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (53:5).
In the midst of darkness and loneliness, Job has hope, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (19:25-27). Before he died Job’s hope was partially realized. After the Lord had spoken to him (Job 38:1-40:2; 40:6-41:34), he declared, “now my eye sees you” (42:5). But his hope will not be ultimately fulfilled until “Christ the first fruits” returns and “the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:23, 52). In light of such hope, believers are to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (15:58).
The day the trumpet sounds will not be a day of rejoicing for everyone. In fact, Job warns his friends that it will not be a day of rejoicing for them, if they are not “afraid of the sword” (19:29). They will stand before the Judge on the Day of Judgment and “will give an account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37). This should sober us and lead us to examine our own hearts. Have we repented of our sins and believed in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation?
As we remember Jesus’ death on Good Friday and celebrate the Risen Christ on Easter Sunday, let us remember the sufferers in the midst of our churches. There will be people that need us to tenderly speak to them and build them up with words of gospel hope. They may come hopeless, even feeling as if God is against them. Let us give them words of life, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth…I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).
Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is a Reformed author, wife, homeschooling mom, Bible study teacher, and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina, and is a member of Christ Covenant Church (PCA). To learn more, please visit www.sarahivill.com.