My Redeemer Liveth – Job 19:25
The book of Job describes how Job, a just man was afflicted by tremendous suffering. The book tells us how his friends discussed his suffering with him. In the course of the conversation Job declares; “For I know that my redeemer lives and that he will be the final one remaining on earth” (Job 19:25). Many Christians believe that Job was referring to Jesus and to Jesus’ eternal nature when he spoke these words. These Christians cannot imagine anyone else being called “redeemer” aside from the Christian Jesus.
The Christian conviction in the rightness of this interpretation is so deeply entrenched in the Christian psyche that many Christians see this verse as the highlight of the book of Job. I once spoke to a Christian scholar and when I mentioned the book of Job, he quoted this verse as if this was the centerpiece of the entire book.
But what is this verse saying? What is the context of this verse? What do the verses preceding and following this verse tell us about Job’s intentions?
Chapter 19 in the book of Job is one of Job’s responses to his friends. Job’s three friends pointed to Job’s suffering as a sign of Job’s sinfulness. They told Job that only sinful people suffer and that his suffering proves that he is unrighteous.
Job vehemently disagreed with the assessment of his friends. Job argued that he was righteous before God and that his suffering is unrelated to any sin that he had committed. In the course of his argument Job expresses a desire that his words be written in a scroll and engraved, with a pen of iron and lead that they be carved in rock forever (Job 19:23,24). Job felt that his arguments should be preserved for future generations.
It is in this context that Job speaks of his redeemer. Job is telling his friends that he is convinced of the rightness of his argument. If his friends fail to see the truth in his argument he wishes that his words could be preserved forever. Job tells his friends that he knows that future generations will vindicate him and recognize the rightness of his claims. If his words will be engraved in rock, Job is certain that truth will prevail and that the future generations will “redeem” him from the mockery of his friends.
The redeemer that Job is speaking about is not some divine redeemer that will take away his sins because Job did not believe that he sinned at all. Job was talking about a human redeemer that will take his side and accept the truth of his arguments. Job was expressing confidence that the last generation of men on earth will be men of truth. Job believed that truth must ultimately prevail and that falsehood cannot last. And because truth is on his side, he is confident that his redeemer must live and that those who side with the truth will outlast those who take the cause of falsehood.
It is clear that Job was not talking about Jesus and that he was not thinking about Christianity. In fact, Job was expressing confidence that humanity will ultimately come to the truth and that the light of truth will inevitably overpower the darkness of the lie. And since Job knew nothing of Jesus it is clear that he believed that this will happen without the services of the Christian Jesus. Truth will ultimately prevail. That is the message of this verse and that is the message of the entire Bible.
If you found this article helpful please consider making a donation to Judaism Resources by clicking on the link below.
Judaism Resources is a recognized 501(c) 3 public charity and your donation is tax exempt.
Yisroel C. Blumenthal