The Biblical Illustrator
Then Job answered and said.
Complaints and confidences
I. Job bitterly complaining.
1. He complains of the conduct of his friends, and especially their want of sympathy.
Nothing tends more to aggravate a man’s suffering than the heartless and wordy talk of those who controvert his opinions in the hour of his distress.
2. He complains of the conduct of his God. God had “overthrown and confounded him”: had “refused him a hearing and hedged up his way.” He complains that he was utterly “deprived of his honours and his hope.” God had even treated him as “an enemy, and sent troops of calamities to overwhelm him.” God had put “all society against him.” These complainings reveal--
II. Job firmly confiding. He still held on to his faith in God as the vindicator of his character.
1. His confidence arose from faith in a Divine vindicator.
2. A vindicator who would one day appear on the earth.
3. Whom he would personally see for himself,
4. Who would so thoroughly clear him that his accusers would be filled with self-accusation. “But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?” (Homilist.)
Then Job answered and said.
Complaints and confidences
I. Job bitterly complaining.
1. He complains of the conduct of his friends, and especially their want of sympathy.
Nothing tends more to aggravate a man’s suffering than the heartless and wordy talk of those who controvert his opinions in the hour of his distress.
2. He complains of the conduct of his God. God had “overthrown and confounded him”: had “refused him a hearing and hedged up his way.” He complains that he was utterly “deprived of his honours and his hope.” God had even treated him as “an enemy, and sent troops of calamities to overwhelm him.” God had put “all society against him.” These complainings reveal--
II. Job firmly confiding. He still held on to his faith in God as the vindicator of his character.
1. His confidence arose from faith in a Divine vindicator.
2. A vindicator who would one day appear on the earth.
3. Whom he would personally see for himself,
4. Who would so thoroughly clear him that his accusers would be filled with self-accusation. “But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?” (Homilist.)
Know new that God has overthrown me.
The difficulties of unbelief
One thing is to be noticed, with both Job and his friends the existence of God is a part of the problem, not to be discharged from it even hypothetically. The misfortunes of the good, the prosperity of the wicked, the inequalities and the caprices of fate--these are just what have to be reconciled with the existence of a just and all-powerful God. The discussion starts from the supposition of a temporal Providence. All the debate is on what the debaters take to be religious ground. In a certain sense, the idea of God introduces a difficulty into the discussion. If we could look out upon the world as if it had no moral order dependent upon the will of One infinitely good and wise, then the particular difficulty of reconciling things as they are with any worthy conception of Divine power and goodness would suddenly disappear. It is suggested that, when a belief in God is dropped, the difficulty and confusion will disappear. The world, it is true, will be no brighter for the abandonment of faith; but at least no delusive marshfires will lead us astray from the true objects of life. We shall know neither whence we came, nor whither we are going; but we shall live our little day, neither vexed by vain questionings, nor relying upon baseless hopes. No doubt this is true to a certain extent, but only to that limited extent which involves essential and absolute untruth. Theism brings its own difficulties with it into the physical and moral problem of the universe. But what right have we to suppose that any hypothesis, as alone we can conceive it, will explain everything? And have we not the right to turn round upon rival theories, and ask if they can explain more than ours, or whether to them the mystery of the world is not mysterious still? Theism, with all that it is commonly held to involve, is an explanation of the mysteries of nature and of life; but not a complete explanation. Taking its pretensions at the lowest, and the least, it gathers up the facts of life into a unity, and supplies us with a theory in the light of which they may be correlated and understood. More than this, it furnishes a practical rule of living. It is precisely this which the opposite theory cannot do. The very necessity of its nature is to explain nothing. It leaves the obscurities of life just as it finds them. Pain and sin and loss are with it ultimate facts; nor has it the faintest glimmer of light to throw upon their absolute blackness The case might be different had human nature no side of relation to the infinite, or even were that relation apprehended only by one here and there. The mystery of the universe would be nothing to us if we had no faculty of knowing and feeling it. But, with a few and partial exceptions, this attempt to pass beyond the finite into the infinite belongs ineradicably to us all. A shrewd thinker once said, that if there were not a God, it would be necessary to invent one. Men will never permanently consent to the narrowing of power and life. Eternity and infinity may still hold their secrets in inexorable grasp, but we shall never cease to go in search of them, and to hold ourselves higher and better for the quest. Granting for a moment that these aspirations and longings are mistakes, remnants of a lower state, things out of which we shall grow, is the aspect of the case materially altered? I am still face to face with the facts of existence: I have still to meet, and bear, and make the best of my fate. We cannot permanently silence curiosity as to the universe simply by rejecting a single familiar explanation of it. In ceasing to believe in a God, you bare made absolutely no progress in explaining the mystery of the universe. You have only returned to the standpoint of absolute uncertainty and blank perplexity. Take the mystery of pain, and its correlative mystery of wrong--evil, that is, on its physical and on its moral side. Theism will not explain it. It points out palliations of it. It suggests that it is related to the power of choice in man, and so necessary to the moral government of the world. Still, these answers do not cover the whole question. But is Atheism better off or worse? Are pain and wrong any more endurable, any less weight upon the sympathetic conscience, because they are looked upon as bare, blank, absolutely unexplained facts? Atheism escapes from the characteristic difficulties of Theism only at the price of encumbering itself with a difficulty of its own. According to any theory, there is at least a set of humanity in an upward direction. Theism has hard work to account for the evil in the world; Can Atheism explain the good? How should the whole creation move, to one “far-off event,” and rise upon the circling wheels of time higher and ever higher, unless at the call and under the inspiration of God? One more illustration. We all know too well the meaning of human waste and loss. You tell me this is simply a matter of physical law. But, in so saying, have you explained what needs explanation? I cannot answer those questions, I know; but dream not that they do not weigh upon you too. You have to face them as well as I, and to bear the heartache, and the desolation, and the thought of severance, without the hope of immortality, and the stay of a Divine presence. (C. Beard, B. A.)
My kinsfolk have failed.
Fickleness of friends
What is sweeter than a well-tuned lute, and what is more delightful than a faithful friend, who can cheer us in sorrow with wise and affectionate discourse? Nothing, however, is sooner untuned than a lute, and nothing is more fickle than a friend. The tone of the one changes with the weather, that of the other with fortune. With a clear sky, and a bright sun, and a gentle breeze, you will have friends in plenty; but let fortune frown, and the firmament be overcast, and then your friends will prove like the strings of the lute, of which you will tighten ten before you will find one that will bear the tension, or keep the pitch. (Gotthold.)
And I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.
A narrow escape
Job had it hard. What with boils, and bereavements, and bankruptcy, and a foolish wife, he wished he was dead. His flesh was gone, and his bones were dry. His teeth wasted away until nothing but the enamel seemed left. He cries out, “I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.” There has been some difference of opinion about this passage. St. Jerome, and Schultens, and Doctors Good and Peele and Barnes, have all tried their forceps on Job’s teeth. You deny my interpretation, and say, “What did Job know about the enamel of the teeth?” He knew everything about it. Dental surgery is almost as old as the earth. The mummies of Egypt, thousands of years old, are found today with gold filling in their teeth. Ovid, and Horace, and Solomon, and Moses wrote about these important factors of the body. To other provoking complaints, Job, I think, had added an exasperating toothache; and putting his hand against the inflamed face, he says, “I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.” A very narrow escape, you say, for Job’s body and soul; but there are thousands of men who make just as narrow escape for their soul. There was a time when the partition between them and ruin was no thicker than a tooth’s enamel; but as Job finally escaped, so have they. (T. De Witt Talmage.)
Have pity upon me, for the hand of God hath touched me.
Apt illustration of a more perfect sufferer--one more holy than Job, and one involved in deeper sorrow.
I. In many respects there is an analogy between the sufferers.
1. Christ was an innocent and benevolent sufferer.
2. But when was He not a sufferer?
3. How His sufferings increased as He approached His end.
4. It was the hand of God that had touched Him.
5. Job suffered for himself, and for his own benefit; Christ, not for Himself, but for us, and in our stead.
II. How our pity should be evinced.
1. By the ordinary movement of our feelings.
2. We should awaken these feelings by the use of all means.
3. Our pity should be evinced by hatred of sin.
4. If our compassion is sincere, we shall feel a deep interest in the result of his sufferings. (F. Close, A. M.)
Compassion a human duty
Afflictions like Job’s were sufficient, one would have imagined, to have extorted a tear of pity from his most implacable foe. It would surely require none of the warm attachments and tender sensibilities of friendship to awaken compassion in the heart on such an occasion as this. With the common feelings of humanity, one would imagine it impossible to behold the afflictions of Job, and not to weep over them. These so-called friends, however, turned a deaf ear to his entreaties, and under the cloak of friendship continued to wound him by the most ungenerous and inhuman treatment. The world in which we live is full of misery. Distress appears before us in a thousand different forms; and in every shape she supplicates our notice, with an importunity which the humane and generous heart is unable to resist. Of all others, the most affecting scene of calamity which we can behold is, when a fellow creature is at once oppressed with the difficulties of want, and tormented with the pains of bodily affliction. Every man should consider himself as immediately addressed in supplications like this; for every man is, or ought to be, a friend to the wretched. Compassion is a debt which one human creature owes to another; a debt which no distinction of sect or party, no imperfection of character, no degree of ingratitude, unkindness, or cruelty will cancel, Compassion is a plant which flourishes in the human heart, as in its native soil. So great is the satisfaction which results from the sentiments of humanity, that there is scarcely any consideration which more fully vindicates the wisdom and goodness of the Supreme Being, in permitting the numerous ills of human life, than this, that they afford us an opportunity of exercising the most amiable affections, and partaking of the noblest pleasures. The exercise of this disposition is, likewise, necessary to gain the esteem and love of our brethren. And to show compassion to such as are in distress is the way to qualify ourselves for the Divine acceptance at the great day. Let us remember that to be compassionate is not merely to feel and cherish the emotions of pity in our hearts, but to embrace every opportunity of expressing them by our actions. (W. Enfield.)
Hindrances to sympathy
Sympathy is peculiarly liable to inhibition from other instincts which its stimulus may call forth. The traveller whom the Good Samaritan rescued may well have prompted such instinctive fear or disgust in the priest and Levite who passed in front of him, that their sympathy could not come to the front. Then, of course, habits, reasoned reflections, and calculations may either check or reinforce one’s sympathy, as may also the instincts of love or hate, if these exist, for the suffering individual. The hunting and pugnacious instincts, when aroused, also inhibit our sympathy absolutely. This accounts for the cruelty of collections of men hounding each other on to bait or torture a victim. The blood mounts to the eyes, and sympathy’s chance is gone. (James, Psychology.)
Oh that my words were now written!
Job longing for a permanent memorial
Job’s wish has been gratified; his memorial has found inscription on a tablet compared with which the granite rock is rubbish, and lead a withered leaf.
It has found entry in the “Word of God, which liveth and endureth forever.” No temple of fame like this. This dying desire of Job to find memorial is much too natural to be at all strange. Nothing is more common in death scenes than to find the departing one rally his failing strength, and eagerly utilise his last few breaths to give final charges that shall be religiously honoured, and with painfully wistful looks try to speak after vocal power is gone. Many and impressive are the lessons that here crowd into the mind.
1. Let us say what we have to say, and do what we have to do, in time, that during life we may so live that in the hour of death we may have only to die.
2. Let us be careful to say and do nothing in life which we shall long in death--alas! unavailingly--to unsay or undo.
3. Let us, above all, speak for God and the Gospel; for that, be assured, if we are conscious and in our right mind, will be what at death we shall be most eager to do, that every word might photograph itself on the everlasting rock, and speak in its living influence long years after we are dead. (J. Guthrie, D. D.)
Job’s wish for a permanent record
As one accustomed to the use of wealth Job speaks. He thinks first of a parchment in which his story and his claim may be carefully written and preserved. But he sees at once how perishable that would be, and asses to a form of memorial such as great men employed. He imagines a cliff in the desert with a monumental inscription bearing that once he the Emeer of Uz, lived and suffered, was thrown from prosperity, was accursed by men, was worn by disease, but died maintaining that all this befell him unjustly, that he had done no wrong to God or man. It would stand there in the way of the caravans of Lema for succeeding generations to read. Kings represent on rocks their wars and triumphs. As one of royal dignity Job would use the same means of continuing his protest and his name. (R. A. Watson, D. D.)
The secular view is that Job is here expressing a confident hope of recovery from his leprosy, and of justification in the sight of men. The spiritual view is that Job is looking beyond death, and is expressing his belief either in the future life of the soul, or in the resurrection of the body. It is necessary to say a few words, first on the external evidence for the meaning of the passage, and then on the internal. Both seem to me to point decisively to its spiritual interpretation.
I. The external evidence is in its favour.
1. Job did not expect recovery at all, much less was he confident of it as a certain thing which could not fail to happen. What his expectation of life was we see from such words as these (Job 17:1): “My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me”; or these (Job 17:11; Job 17:15): “My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart,. . .Where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it?” Even if he wavered between hope and fear, he could not use such language as implies the utmost certainty.
2. The Septuagint translation (made by Jews who must, be supposed capable of understanding the Hebrew words, and made by them long before Jesus Christ brought immortality to light, and taught the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead) gives the spiritual sense of the passage: “He shall raise up my body, after these present things have been destroyed.”
3. The Jewish Targum on the passage (which must be free from all Christian bias) is also wholly in favour of the spiritual sense. I give its rendering by a great Hebrew scholar (Delitzsch, to which one of our most competent British Hebraists tells me he has nothing to add): “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and hereafter His redemption will arise (become a reality) over the dust (into which I shall be dissolved); and after my skin is again made whole, this will happen, and from my flesh I shall again behold God.”
II. The internal evidence is even more strongly in favour of the spiritual sense.
1. Observe the great solemnity with which the declaration is introduced (verse 23), and how inconsistent this is with the idea that Job refers to recovery from his leprosy, and desires to inscribe that fact on the rock for the teaching of posterity.
2. Mark next the perfect assurance of the writer, which is fully in accord with the strong conviction of spiritual faith, but is quite out of place with regard to a secular expectation.
3. The sublime and spiritual keynote of the whole passage seems thoroughly out of keeping with any feeling which ends in mere temporal blessing.
4. To “see God,” which is the burden of his confidence, is surely something more and deeper than the recovery of health. Not to dwell longer then on questions of interpretation, and avoiding minute verbal criticism, I give in substance the probable meaning of the passage, and pass on to consider the spiritual teaching which it implies in anticipation of the Gospel. It is to be regarded as a rock inscription. I know that my Goal liveth ever, and that He, as survivor, shall stand over my dust, and after this skin of mine is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I shall see again; mine eyes shall see Him, and not another for me; for this also my reins do long.
I. Who and what is the Redeemer?
1. He is the Goel. The word has two meanings, and it has been disputed which is the correct one here. It means the avenger of blood, and it means the kinsman. Those who have adopted the secular view of the passage have contended that it must bear the former meaning only. But they have surely forgotten that the office of the avenger of blood could not be executed till after the death of the person to be avenged; and that this is one of the indications that not recovery, but something after death is looked forward to by Job. But if we ask what is the root-meaning, the original idea in the Goel, it surely is not difficult to determine. Did a man become kinsman to the murdered one because he was the avenger of his blood? Or did he not become the avenger because he was already the kinsman, and was therefore called on to avenge him? The latter is the truth; and hence kindred is the first idea of the Goel: “bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.” Avenger is the next thought involved in the word: one seeking reparation for our death, and therefore protecting our life by the thought that his sword is behind it. And a third idea is that of deliverance and redemption, as of family property, by one “whose right is to redeem.” Job then is looking forward to such a kinsman--a kinsman in the largest sense, who, being the ideal, shall fulfil all the meanings of the institution; who shall be of the same blood; who shall protect and avenge that blood, after death, of which Job is to taste; and who shall also redeem for him the lost inheritance. Here, too, the dim finger of want and of hope points onward to Him who said of every doer of the will of God: “The same is My brother and sister”; our “kinsman, according to the flesh.”
2. The Redeemer or Goal is an everliving person. So the Septuagint aptly, renders the words, “My Redeemer liveth.” Job is thinking of and expecting his own death; but he has full confidence that after that there shall arise his kinsman and Redeemer. Yet is it certain that He too may not pass away through death? The reply of Job’s soul is, No; He cannot pass, for He lives forever. After my flesh is dust; after, perhaps, all flesh is dust, yet He, the survivor, shall stand over the earth. This is a kinsman “whose years are throughout (and beyond) all generations”!
3. Still further and more remarkably Job’s kinsman is Divine. It is impossible to resist the conclusion that He who is the redeeming kinsman of the 25th verse is also the God of the 26th. And the whole interest of the passage centres in this, that Job’s kinsman-Redeemer is a Divine person, who shall interpose on Job’s behalf hereafter, by revealing Himself after death!
II. What is the expected Redeemer to do? (J. E. Coming, D. D.)
Job finding comfort for himself
The words and efforts of Job’s comforters were not in vain. Sometimes in bodily inflammations a lenitive is the best treatment, and sometimes a counter-irritant. It is not very different in inflammations of the soul. In Job’s case, perhaps, mere condolence would have completed his despair. But when they accuse him of hypocrisy of the basest kind,--when they arraign him as being rejected of God, and lying under the special curse of the Almighty,--then his manhood gathers strength in endeavour to crush the great lie.
1. Job’s first step towards recovery was when he found his voice,--though only to curse the day of his birth. The friends who sat silently beside him did this for him. They revived him from the stupor of his grief. Sometimes a sense of pain, and an exhibition of impatience, is a sign of a favourable turn in serious disease; so is it in diseases of the soul. “She must weep, or she will die,” sings the poet of the widow, when “home they brought her warrior dead.” And so the stupor of despair is always one of the gravest signs. It is true that a terrific lamentation breaks forth from him (chap. 3.), unexampled in literature,--a model on which again and again our great dramatist has formed his representations of blank despair. Solomon’s despair in the Book of Ecclesiastes is the result of the cynical surfeit of luxury, which finds nothing in life sufficiently important for its regard. But this is the despair of agony and grief, natural and seemingly incurable. Still it marks a slight advance. It is a feeble symptom of returning vigour. Hearts break with silent, not with uttered, grief. Speech is a sort of safety valve.
2. Job’s second step towards comfort was praying for death (chaps. 6 and 7; specially Job 6:8-13). Some, ignorant of human nature, fancy comfort would be reached by a great leap; and had they from imagination drawn a picture of a Job finding consolation, their story would have consisted of a record of his despair, and of the visit of some gracious prophet declaring God’s fatherhood. Such is not the usual experience of men. “First the blade; then the ear; then the full corn in the ear”; so grace always grows. Accordingly, the next step towards comfort is, though a strange, a great one. To lament a sorrow in the ears of men was some relief, but it marks an advance of the grandest kind when the soul lifts it to the ears of God. Job will not admit the accusation of Eliphaz, but he will act on the suggestion to “seek unto God and commit his cause to Him.” He is strengthened by the general testimony of Eliphaz to the justice and mercy of God, while repelling his insinuation that God is punishing his crimes. And so poor Job raises his eye again to his God. It is not a proper prayer, it is much too despairing; it has but little faith, and it involves an accusation against the mercy of God’s providence. Blessed be His name, God lets us approach Him thus. He casts out none that come unto Him, even though they come with the presumptuous murmurings of an “elder brother,” or with the despairing agony of Job. Whatever you have to say, say it to Him. It is not the proper, but the sincere prayer God wants. And when a Job comes to Him, in his desolation asking only to die, the great Father looks through all the faults of woe and weariness, to pity only the great anguish of the soul. It is not to be overlooked that before the prayer ends, he can address God by one of His noblest names: “O Thou Preserver of men” (Job 7:20). Is it the first Bible name of God?
3. As a further step, Job longs for clearing of his character. At first he doubtless cared but little for this. If his character was crushed beneath the judgment of God, it was just one more victim; and in a world of such disorder--where only disappointment reigned--it would have been something beneath his care whether all his fellow men frowned or smiled upon him. But with returning help and grace he wants something more,--that the approval of God might rest on him (Job 9:32-35; Job 8:2). This longing for a settlement with God, to know why and wherefore he is afflicted, does it not mark some growing force within him? Only from Him, with whom they wrestled, did either Job or Jacob gather the strength by which they overcame. When Zophar assails him, with still more bitter consolation than the rest, he seems to stimulate Job’s faith still more. His faith grows strong enough to declare “though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” “I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified.” “He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not stand before Him” (Job 13:15; Job 13:18; Job 13:16). What a hope was even then reached that God would yet justify him--vindicating his character, owning the integrity of his purpose and the sincerity of his religion. The next stage we notice is--
4. We see, again, that Job prays for some blessedness in the other world. There is a wonderful distance between the prayer of Job 6:9 --“O that it would please God to destroy me”; and the prayer in Job 14:13 --“O that Thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that Thou wouldest keep me secret, until Thy wrath be past, that Thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!” The other world emereges into light. Death is not an end of this life merely; it is a gateway to another state of being--a place where God can remember a man, where He can “call” and be “answered,” where He can show the “desire,” the favour He has to the work of His hands. It is not yet the exultant hope he reaches, but still a hope exceeding precious. The soul feels itself strangely superior to disease and decay, and begins to speculate on what it will do when it “shuffles off this mortal coil.” A prophet-poet of the nineteenth century has sung--
“Thou wilt not leave us in the dust,
Thou madest man he knows not why;
He thinks he was not made to die:
And Thou hast made him--Thou art just,”
Three thousand years ago, through the same sort of baptism of grief, the patriarch was led to the same conclusions. The Sheol, the place of the dead which had seemed so void of life and being, became to his mind a sphere of Divine activities--“O that Thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that Thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me.” “Thou shalt call and I will answer Thee.” It is not evangelical divines alone that construe this as a dream of finding fellowship with God in the calm of an untroubled afterlife. Even M. Renan, in his translation, takes the same view. Someone says: “The hope of eternal life is a flower growing on the edge of the abyss.” Job found it there, and it was worth all his anguish to reach it. It is not yet a conviction. Doubt breaks in with the question--“If a man die, can he live again?” And the doubt is left there, faithfully registered. But felt and faced as the doubt is, the great dream reasserts itself and fastens on his imagination. So, through cloud and sunshine, over hilltops of vision, and through low valleys whose views are narrow, the soul goes on. At the outset death seemed desirable only because it seemed an absolute end. Now the great may-be that is the beginning of a better life, where God’s desire towards the work of His hands will be manifested, dawns on him. It will be lost--it will come back to him--it will seem too good news to be true. He has caught now a glimpse of it. In the next valley he will lose it, but it will never fade away again. Some people forget that each has to find his own creed. The creed cannot be manufactured. Others may give you truth; you must find the power of believing it. So the faiths of men are propagated by living seeds of truth falling on living hearts. But if there is something deeply suggestive in the beginning of his great dream, the hope does not stop there, but grows into assured confidence, for Job reaches an assured hope of immortality. You notice a strange increase of calmness in the mind of Job after Eliphaz and Bildad have spoken. Just in the degree in which his friends become angry he becomes calm. The anger even dies out of his replies, and instead of resenting their upbraiding he tenderly pleads for their sympathy. This calmness grew from his praying; his hoping that he still might reason out his cause with God, and that God would even take his part against Himself. He found a wonderful increase of it in the new thought that he might in the land of the dead walk with God. And thus subsiding into a simple faith, at last the great comfort reaches him of a sure and certain hope--of a blessed immortality. Few eyes that have not been washed with tears can look steadfastly into the world to come. Not as the world giveth does God give peace, but in a different way altogether,--by storm and grief and loss and calamity of direst kind. So He bringeth them to their desired haven. The prophets have been all men of sorrows. Sometimes a little unwisdom has been shown in pressing a dubious translation, and gathering from Job’s words a testimony to the resurrection of the body. Whether you should translate his words, “In my flesh I shall see God”; or, “apart from my flesh I shall see God,” is, indeed, quite immaterial. We shall probably be safest in taking Job’s words in their most general meaning, as details of future conditions were hardly to be expected. But taking his words in the lower sense which all interpreters admit they must carry; taking, say, the interpretation of M. Renan himself, what a wonderful hope they express.
1. That God will be his Deliverer, Protector of person and of character, Guardian and Deliverer in the world unseen.
2. That after death and divested of his body, he yet will find himself the subject of richest mercies.
3. His personal identity will be indestructibly maintained. He will not subside into the general life, but forever be a separate soul; he will see God for himself; his eyes shall behold his very self, unchanged, unite another.
4. And in this relieved and rescued, but unchanged personality, he will have the highest of all bliss--he will see God. And so Job found his dunghill become a land of Beulah--delectable mountains from which the city of God was seen. Faults of murmuring and impeachment of God’s dignity are still to be corrected, and his comfort is to be perfected by a restoration of earthly comforts.
Leaving them, we only note--
1. God’s Spirit is never idle where His providence is at work.
2. We are not following cunningly devised fables. In every age the best have been the surest of an immortality of bliss, and such faith is evidence. See we reach that heaven. (R. Glover.)
For I know that my Redeemer liveth.
Of the resurrection (on Easter Day)
This text is a prophecy and prediction of our Saviour Christ’s glorious resurrection. A sacred truth, requiring not only the assent, but the devotion and adoration of our faith. Here Job foresees and foretells the resurrection of Christ. He tells us that Christ, who by His death redeemed him, hath again obtained an endless life. That after His fall by death, He is recovered and got up again; stands, and shall stand, at last upon the earth. And Job prophesies of his own resurrection, that, though he were now in a dying condition, death had already seized upon him; yet he knew there was hope in his death, that he should be raised from the grave of corruption to an ever-living and blessed state and condition.
I. Job’s belief concerning Christ. Here is--
1. The saving object of his faith; that is, Christ, his Redeemer; his Redeemer dead and alive again; and to appear again at the last day to judge the quick and the dead. Here is a personal interest he claims in Christ. “My Redeemer.”
2. Job’s assurance. “I know.” It fully expresses the nature of faith; it is strongly persuaded of what it believes; it puts it beyond “ifs,” and “ands,” and hopeful supposals. Faith is an evidence, not a conjecture; not a supposition, but a subsistence. This knowledge of Job will appear the greater and more admirable, as his belief was beset with three great impediments.
3. Job’s close and personal application. The word “mine” makes Christ his own.
II. Job’s belief concerning his own resurrection. Although death had already seized upon him, yet he was assured he should rise again, and be made partaker of a joyful resurrection.
1. The several truths included in this faith of Job concerning his own resurrection. He apprehends the truth of the resurrection. It is easier to conceive of Christ’s resurrection than of ours. He lays the ground and foundation of his faith. Why is he sure he shall rise again? Because he is sure that Christ is risen. We may strongly argue, from Christ’s resurrection to the possibility of ours. Job expects a true, real, substantial, bodily resurrection. Nay, here is not only a reality, but an identity; he shall have a body, and the very same body.
2. The motions and evidences of piety his faith expresses. Here appears the great strength of his faith; the alacrity and cheerfulness of his faith, against present discouragements. It is a point of his piety, that he longs for the seeing of his Saviour, the beholding of God.
3. Notice the benefit Job makes to himself of this meditation. It supports his spirits under present afflictions. It settles and composes him. It is his defence and apology against the accusations of the friends. (Bishop Brownrig.)
“I know that my Redeemer liveth”
When was Job’s greatest conquest won? At what part in the malign struggle does he march forth in the greatness of his strength? The crown of the crisis is passed and the real victory won when there bursts forth, with all-enlightening ray from the dark-rolling clouds of Job’s sorrows, the sublimely strong convictions, chronicled in the familiar, immortal, and exhaustless words of the text. That is “the hour and power” of Job. There in his Gethsemane he triumphs.
I. Job’s supporting convictions.
1. At the outset we must take care lest we misjudge our facts, and fail to get at the precise power of Job’s convictions, through crediting him with more light than he beheld, and reading into his great sayings the ideas of a new and largely different world. Men have read into these verses such doctrines as eternal redemption; the humanity of the Redeemer; the resurrection of the flesh; and the so-called Second Advent. It is not perhaps surprising that a saying of such superlative wealth in itself, so impressive in its setting, stirring in its influence on the hearts of the sons and daughters of suffering, should have been enlarged by the gifts of loving hearts, and invested with the ideas of eager and admiring readers. It is, in fact, a bold challenge made by a suffering mart to the ages, an appeal from the accusations of clever but mistaken and unsympathetic friends, to the tribunal of the God of eternity. You cannot miss the ring of conviction in the man’s speech. He says what he knows. He believes, and therefore speaks. It is not desire or caprice, wish or will, faith or hope, but unwavering, absolute knowledge, whose voice arrests our listening ear, and directs our expectant thought. Three distinct assertions follow the quickening preface.
I. He declares that God is the vindicator of right-seeking and right-doing men. The language is indicative of a state of thought and of social life wholly alien to our own, in which the administration of justice proceeds on lines with which we are no longer familiar. The sacred duty of kinsmen to avenge the damage done to their kin, is the one social form in which faith in the power that makes for righteousness finds expression, and kinship is the principal instrument for the execution of the decrees of justice, embracing and discharging the functions of police and witnesses, judge and jury, gaoler and executioner. God is Job’s Goel. He will act for him. Redemption from loss, and pain, and wrong, and calumny is in Him! Of the fact he is sure; of the how, and when, and where he says nothing, but an invincible faith that, before “the last” moment in his history comes, God will be his Redeemer from all the ills of which he is then the unfortunate victim, animates and sustains his suffering spirit. Nor is that all. Job is sure that he himself, in his own conscious person, will be the rejoicing witness of that Divine vindication. He sees beforehand the glorious reassertion of his integrity. He does not expect that clearing here. He is beyond that hope. It is personal and conscious witnessing of his vindicated character that neutralises the poison of the bitter cup he is drinking, and leaves him in full-toned spiritual health. But even that is not the most precious treasure in this chaplet of pearls. The chief, conquering, and most meritorious quality in Job’s mood of mind, is his clear and steadfast recognition of the real but dimly revealed law that the suspension of the accepted and outward manifestations of the Divine care and regard is not the suspension of the Divine sympathy, nor the withdrawal of the Divine love and help. Our difficulty, and Job’s, is to believe in the living God, in His unbroken love. The suspension of the ordinary signs of the Divine favour is no proof whatever of changed purpose, or exhausted love to God! Is not that the trial of our faith? Because happiness is not our portion, and power not to our hand, do we not conclude that God does not “delight” in us? We have no misgivings as to His existence, but if He is, why does He hide Himself? Resist the diabolical sophistry which identifies a cloudless sky with an existing sun, affirms the unseen to be the non-existent, and the unhappy to be the unholy. God is love. That is His nature, the essence of His being; not an accident, an occasional emotion, or a passing mood; and therefore He is, as Job saw and felt, the Redeemer and Vindicator of all souls that sincerely seek Him, and diligently serve Him; the guarantee that defeated, and humiliated, and oppressed man will be set free, and exalted to behold the triumph of eternal righteousness; and the witness that man is at present, and here in this world, scarred and defaced with evil though it be, the object of God’s pitiful sympathy, redeeming care, and constant protection.
II. The fruitful origin of these strength-giving convictions in the mind of Job. For it is often more important to know why a man says what he has to say, than it is to know what it is that he does say. It goes without saying that Job’s most far-reaching and comprehensive declaration falls unspeakably short of that abolition of death, and bringing of life and immortality to light, accomplished by the Gospel of Christ; but what it lacks in fulness and breadth, it gains in the burning intensity and glow out of which it springs, and the sublime motives which urge and impel him, not only to speak, but also to covet a monumental and immortal pulpit for his words. His sayings form a window through which we look into his soul; a lit lamp by whose clear ray we see the workings of his mind, and enter into partnership, not only with his ideas, but with himself, as those ideas are born in his soul, and take their place in his life. The impulse, the goad to Job’s heavenward ascent is suffering itself; the very sharpness of his tribulation causes the rebound, pushes his thought far afield to the things unseen and eternal, carries him over the dark river, and supplies the background for his vision of final triumph. But though the impulse to speak comes from the very sufferings which his friends cite as witnesses to his hypocrisy and insincerity, the power of wing, the motive force is obviously inward, and of the mind and spirit.
1. First in the genealogy of Job’s convictions comes his passion to set the great controlling and cleansed faith of his life in the spotless excellence and living sympathy of God with men, directly over against all the seeming contradictions, chaotic perplexities, and bewildering entanglements of his experience; and so to prove that the view of the three friends would receive its doom as essentially a lie and a libel, later, if not sooner.
2. We may fairly credit Job with the desire to guide the friends to the perception of the one true principle in the criticism of life. They are the victims of sense. They judge by appearances. And still men fasten on the trivial and accidental, and neglect the weightier matters of principle and aim and spirit.
3. The deepest reason and strongest motive of all with Job must have been an insatiable yearning that the truth he had lived and felt and suffered might secure an immortal career of enlightenment and benediction. God is better to us than our best desires, and gives a larger blessing than our fullest prayers. (J. Clifford, M. A.)
The Christian’s assurance of a glorious resurrection
I. The illustrious person spoken of. The “Redeemer.” The words “redeem” and “Redeemer” frequently occur in the sacred Book. To redeem is to buy or purchase, and the person thus buying is justly styled the “Redeemer.” As our Redeemer He was--
1. Divinely appointed. “God sent forth His Son--made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” Here the benevolent act of sending the Redeemer is attributed to God.
2. He is our Redeemer by price; He “gave Himself for us.”
3. He is our Redeemer by power; that is, He delivered us from the captivity and misery of sin, and, consequently, from the wrath of God and the punishment of hell.
4. He is the living Redeemer. The knowledge of a living Redeemer afforded unspeakable consolation to the mind of Job. “My Redeemer liveth.” Yes, He was alive in Job’s day, and, in some way, was engaged in promoting his temporal and eternal welfare; consequently, such a consideration dispelled his fears, enabled him to wipe away his tears in transports of joy, and furnished him with a bright prospect of a happy immortality. Since then, the Redeemer has made a visit to our world, to effect the work of redemption. After which, He ascended to the celestial mansion whence He came. He lives, and because He lives, we shall live also.
II. An important event anticipated. “He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth,” etc. The latter day is sometimes called “the last day,” and “the great day.” It is the day to which all other days are pointing; the day in which all other days will end.
1. He will stand to redeem us from death; He will ransom us from the power of the grave. No matter where that grave may be. But Job anticipated not a resurrection only, but a glorious one, “In my flesh shall I see God.”
2. He shall stand at the latter day; stand to direct, or rather to invite His people to their everlasting habitation. “Where I am,” says He, “there ye may be also.” See the Redeemer standing at the last day, at the head of His people,--a number which no man can number--arrayed in spotless white, with imperishable crowns upon their heads. “In my flesh shall I see God.” “In my flesh.” Flesh no more liable to toil, sorrow, sickness, suffering, and death; the former things shall have passed away.
III. The Christian’s assurance. We do not profess to have any extraordinary revelation, or personal inspiration; yet we know that we have a living Redeemer, and that He will raise us up at the last day.
1. We know from the testimony of Sacred Writ. The prophets in the Old Testament, and the apostles in the New, have clearly and fearlessly furnished us with a treasury of sterling information on this subject. And, above all, our Lord Jesus, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, brought life and immortality to light.
2. But we have additional evidence of our resurrection in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
We shall conclude by remarking--
1. This knowledge of the Redeemer is interesting and capable of supporting the mind.
2. This knowledge is of the utmost worth, as it cheers the mind amidst the sorrows, tolls, sufferings, and trials of this unfriendly region, and whispers to the fainting spirit.
3. This knowledge calms the troubled breast in the hour of bereavement.
4. This knowledge supports the Christian, smooths his pillow, and brightens his prospect in the extremity of life.
5. This knowledge furnishes the good man with an assurance of mingling with the pious of his family and with Christian friends in the better land forever.
6. Is not this, therefore, the most interesting knowledge? (A. Worsnop.)
Faith triumphing over circumstance
I. The circumstances of Job when he delivered this prophecy. We have all heard of the patience of Job, and know well the series of trials which called it forth. We have sympathised with him in his adversity, and rejoiced with him in his first and latter state of prosperity. The injudicious conduct on the part of his friends greatly embittered the sufferings. It is such injudicious conduct as this which causes much mischief as well as misery in the world at large. If our misery is attributable to ourselves, we know whence is the disorder, and, in general, by the same knowledge, we know how to provide a remedy, if the case is not altogether hopeless. If God is afflicting us, when He speaks, He speaks to be understood. If He is pleased to put our faith and obedience to a severe but wholesome test, by a single blow, or a long series of trials, the matter is entirely between God and a man’s own soul.
II. Observe the faith of Job. “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” etc. The hardest lesson that man has to learn in this school of his probation is submission to the will of God. The permission of evil in the world, as it is one of the hidden mysteries of God’s righteous government, so is it, as might naturally have been expected, a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, with which unbelief is wont to impede the progress even of a Christian. Faith supported the holy Job, not only under his unparalleled privations, but under a far more galling load, the accusations and suspicions of friends. In this painful dilemma, unable to vindicate his innocence to them, who, notwithstanding, suspected him guilty, he is borne on the wings of faith, over the head as it were of many intervening ages, to that glorious time when he should stand before God in the imputed righteousness of his Saviour. “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” Would you then realise the glories and know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,--imitate the faith and patience of Job in his various states and complicated trials. (John Stedman, D. D.)
Job’s faith in the Redeemer
I. The character of Job’s Redeemer. There is only one Redeemer of guilty men.
1. His person. A Divine Person, possessing the true and proper nature, titles, and perfections of the Godhead. Possessed of perfect humanity. In all things made like unto us, except being sinless. Thus He became the “kinsman” of every child of man. He was therefore both human and Divine.
2. His work. How did He redeem us? From natural depravity, by the purity of His nature. From the demands of the law, by His perfect obedience to all its commands. From the infliction of the curse, by His death upon the Cross. “Being made a curse for us.” From the power of Satan and death, by His resurrection from the dead. He redeems from the power of sin, and into the image of God, by the influence of the Spirit which He sends down into the hearts of His people. He redeems into heaven by entering it for us with His precious blood, and by receiving the souls of His people to His right hand in glory. He will redeem by His almighty power, all the bodies of His saints, from corruption and the grave, at the last day.
II. Job’s profession of him. “My Redeemer.”
1. Appropriation. Angels, devils, and those in unbelief cannot say this. The humble, devout believer both realises it and says it.
2. Assurance. “I know.” In religion there is consciousness and certainty. He is ours because we are sinners, and He was given to save sinners. He is ours because we believe in Him. We know because we love Him.
3. Confidence. In Christ’s unchanging existence. He liveth now. Therefore His promises shall be fulfilled, His cause maintained, His Church glorified; and His saints shall live with Him forever and ever. Application--
I know that my Redeemer liveth
I. First of all, then, with the patriarch of Uz, let us descend into the sepulchre. The body has just been divorced from the soul. The body is borne upon the bier and consigned to the silent earth; it is surrounded by the earthworks of death. Death has a host of troops. If the locusts and the caterpillars be God’s army, the worms are the army of death. These hungry warriors begin to attack the city of man. The skin, the city wall of manhood, is utterly broken down, and the towers of its glory covered with confusion. How speedily the cruel invaders deface all beauty. The face gathers blackness; the countenance is defiled with corruption. Where is beauty now? The most lovely cannot be known from the most deformed. The vessel so daintily wrought upon the potter’s wheel is cast away upon the dunghill with the vilest potsherds. The skin is gone. The troops have entered into the town of Mansoul. And now they pursue their work of devastation; the pitiless marauders fall upon the body itself. There are those noble aqueducts, the veins through which the streams of life were wont to flow, these, instead of being rivers of life, have become blocked up with the soil and wastes of death, and now they must be pulled to pieces; not a single relic of them shall be spared. Mark the muscles and sinews, like great highways that, penetrating the metropolis, carry the strength and wealth of manhood along--their curious pavement must be pulled up, and they that do traffic thereon must be consumed; each tunnelled bone, and curious arch, and knotted bond must be snapped and broken. But these invaders stop not here. Job says that next they consume his reins. We are wont to speak of the heart as the great citadel of life, the inner keep and donjon, where the captain of the guard holdeth out to the last. The Hebrews do not regard the heart, but the lower viscera, the reins, as the seat of the passions and of mental power. The worms spare not; they enter the secret places of the tabernacle of life, and the standard is plucked from the tower. Having died, the heart cannot preserve itself, and falls like the rest of the frame--a prey to worms. It is gone, it is all gone! Mother Earth has devoured her own offspring. Why should we wish to have it otherwise? Why should we desire to preserve the body when the soul has gone? The embalming of the Egyptians, those master robbers of the worm, what has it done? It has served to keep some poor shrivelled lumps of mortality above ground to be sold for curiosities, to be dragged away to foreign climes, and stared upon by thoughtless eyes. No, let the dust go; the sooner it dissolves the better. And what matters it how it goes! What if plants with their roots suck up the particles! What if the winds blow it along the highway! What if the rivers carry it to the waves of ocean!
II. Now, having thus descended into the grave, and seen nothing there but what is loathsome, let us look up with the patriarch and behold a sun shining with present comport. “I know,” said he, “that my Redeemer liveth.” The word “Redeemer” here used is in the original Goel--kinsman. The duty of the kinsman, or Goel, was this: suppose an Israelite had alienated his estate, as in the case of Naomi and Ruth; suppose a patrimony which had belonged to a family had passed away through poverty, it was the Goal’s business, the redeemer’s business, to pay the price as the next-of-kin, and to buy back the heritage. Boaz stood in that relation to Ruth. Now, the body may be looked upon as the heritage of the soul--the soul’s small farm, that little plot of earth in which the soul has been wont to walk and delight, as a man walketh in his garden or dwelleth in his house. Now, that becomes alienated. Death, like Ahab, takes away the vineyard from us who are as Naboth; we lose our patrimonial estate. But we turn round to Death and say, “I know that my Goal liveth, and He will redeem this heritage; I have lost it; thou takest it from me lawfully, O Death, because my sin hath forfeited my right; I have lost my heritage through my own offence, and through that of my first parent Adam; but there lives One who will buy this back.” Remember, too, that it was always considered to be the duty of the Goel, not merely to redeem by price, but where that failed, to redeem by power. Hence, when Lot was carried away captive by the four kings, Abraham summoned his own hired servants, and the servants of all his friends, and went out against the kings of the East, and brought back Lot and the captives of Sodom. Now, our Lord Jesus Christ, who once has played the kinsman’s part by paying the price for us, liveth, and He will redeem us by power. O Death, thou tremblest at this name! Thou knowest the might of our Kinsman! Against His arm thou canst not stand! Oh, how glorious the victory! No battle shall there be. He comes, He sees, He conquers. The sound of the trumpet shall be enough; Death shall fly affrighted; and at once from beds of dust and silent clay to realms of everlasting day the righteous shall arise. There was yet a third duty of the Goel, which was to avenge the death of his friend. If a person had been slain, the Goel was the avenger of blood; snatching up his sword, he at once pursued the person who had been guilty of bloodshed. So now, let us picture ourselves as being smitten by Death. His arrow has just pierced us to the heart, but in the act of expiring, our lips are able to boast of vengeance, and in the face of the monster we cry, “I know that my Goal liveth.” Thou mayst fly, O Death, as rapidly as thou wilt, but no city of refuge can hide thee from Him; He will overtake thee; He will lay hold upon thee, O thou skeleton monarch, and He will avenge my blood on thee. Christ shall certainly avenge Himself on Death for all the injury which Death hath done to His beloved kinsmen. Passing on in our text to notice the next word, it seems that Job found consolation not only in the fact that he had a Goel, a Redeemer, but that this Redeemer liveth. He does not say, “I know that my Goel shall live,” but that “He lives,”--having a clear view of the self-existence of the Lord Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the Lord and giver of life originally, and He shall be specially declared to be the resurrection and the life, when the legions of His redeemed shall be glorified with Him. Let us look up to our Goel, then, who liveth at this very time. Still the marrow of Job’s comfort, it seems to me, lay in that little word “my.” “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” Oh, to get hold of Christ! I know that in His offices He is precious. But, dear friends, we must get a property in Him before we can really enjoy Him. What is honey in the wood to me, if, like the fainting Israelites, I dare not eat? What is gold in the mine to me? Men are beggars in Peru, and beg their bread in California. It is gold in my purse which will satisfy my necessities, purchasing the bread I need. So what is a kinsman if he be not a kinsman to me? A redeemer that does not redeem me, an avenger who will never stand up for my blood, of what avail were such? But Job’s faith was strong and firm in the conviction that the Redeemer was his. There is another word in this consoling sentence which no doubt served to give a zest to the comfort of Job. It was that he could say, “I know.” To say, “I hope so, I trust so,” is comfortable; and there are thousands in the fold of Jesus who hardly ever get much farther. But to reach the marrow of consolation you must say, “I know.” “Ifs,” “buts,” and “perhapses” are sure murderers of peace and comfort. Doubts are dreary things in times of sorrow. I would not like to die with a mere hope mingled with suspicion. Assurance is a jewel for worth but not for rarity. It is the common privilege of all the saints if they have but the grace to attain unto it, and this grace the Holy Spirit gives freely. Surely if Job in Arabia, in those dark, misty ages when there was only the morning star and not the sun, when they saw but tittle, when life and immortality had not been brought to light,--if Job before the Coming and Advent still could say, “I know,” you and I should not speak less positively. God forbid that our positiveness should be presumption.
III. And now, in the third place, as thy anticipation of future delight, let me call to your remembrance the other part of the text. Job not only knew that the Redeemer lived, but he anticipated the time when He should “stand in the latter day upon the earth.” No doubt Job referred here to our Saviour’s first advent, to the time when Jesus Christ, “the Goel,” the Kinsman, should stand upon the earth to pay in the blood of His veins the ransom price, which had, indeed, in bond and stipulation been paid before the foundation of the world in promise. But I cannot think that Job’s vision stayed there; he was looking forward to the second advent of Christ as being the period of the resurrection. We cannot endorse the theory that Job arose from the dead when our Lord died although certain Jewish believers held this idea very firmly at one time. We are persuaded that “the latter day” refers to the advent of glory rather than to that of shame. Our hope is that the Lord shall come to reign in glory where He once died in agony. Mark, that Job describes Christ as standing. Some interpreters have read the passage, “He shall stand in the latter days against the earth”; that as the earth has covered up the slain, as the earth has become the charnel house of the dead, Jesus shall arise to the contest and say, “Earth, I am against thee; give up thy dead!” Well, whether that be so or no, the posture of Christ, in standing upon the earth, is significant. It shows His triumph. He has triumphed over sin, which once like a serpent in its coils had bound the earth. He has defeated Satan. On the very spot where Satan gained his power Christ has gained the victory. Then, at that auspicious hour, says Job, “Sin my flesh I shall see God.” Oh, blessed anticipation--“I shall see God.” He does not say, “I shall see the saints”--doubtless we shall see them all in heaven--but, shall see God.” Note, he does not say, “I shall see the pearly gates, I shall see the walls of jasper, I shall see the crowns of gold and the harps of harmony,” but “I shall see God”; as if that were the sum and substance of heaven. “In my flesh shall I see God.” The pure in heart shall see God. It was their delight to see Him in the ordinances by faith. There in heaven they shall have a vision of another sort. Please to notice, and then I shall conclude, how the patriarch puts it as being a real personal enjoyment. “Whom mine eye shall behold, and not another.” They shall not bring me a report as they did the Queen of Sheba, but I shall see Solomon the King for myself. I shall be able to say, as they did who spake to the woman of Samaria, “Now I believe, not because of thy word who did bring me a report, but I have seen Him for myself.” There shall be personal intercourse with God; not through the Book, which is but as a glass; not through the ordinances; but directly, in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be able to commune with the Deity as a man talketh with his friend. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The living Redeemer
Job seems to have entertained no expectation of deliverance from his troubles in the present world. Therefore he looks forward to the world beyond death and the grave for perfect felicity and undisturbed repose. Make some general observations for opening up the passage.
1. God, in His abundant mercy, has provided a Redeemer for fallen man. The word “redeemer” here means “next-of-kin.”
2. The living Redeemer has been the hope of the saints under every dispensation of grace, and in every period Of the world.
3. No distress or suffering can pluck asunder those bonds that unite the believer to his Saviour.
4. When the believer has attained to the knowledge of his interest in the Redeemer, this will administer great comfort and encouragement to him in suffering and distress.
Consider now the support and consolation which believers should derive from the assurance that their Redeemer liveth.
1. It should afford Christians consolation and support when struggling with a body of sin and death, to know that their Redeemer liveth; who shall at last be “glorified in His saints.”
2. It may afford the Christian support and consolation in the season of poverty and want.
3. It may afford the believer support and consolation in the prospect of death and the eternal world.
4. And under all the distresses and afflictions to which the Church is exposed in this evil world.
5. And also with respect to the public calamities and judgments which threaten the place or country where the believer’s lot is cast.
Job’s confident expectation
In this confession Job declares the promised Messiah to be his Saviour; and professes his faith in His coming to judgment; the resurrection of the dead; and the beatifical vision.
I. The matter of the comfort.
1. That there is a Redeemer. It implies that He is our kinsman after the flesh, or by incarnation. That He paid a price to God for us in His Passion. That He pursueth the law against Satan, and rescues us by His power; all which are notable grounds of comfort.
2. That He is their Redeemer. Job, by a fiducial application, makes out his own title and interest. Faith appropriates God to our own use and comfort.
3. The next ground of comfort is that our Redeemer liveth. This is true of Christ, whether you consider Him as God or as man. Christ’s living again in His resurrection is a visible demonstration of the truth of the Gospel in general, and in particular of the article of eternal life. His living after death was the solemn acquittance of our Surety from the sins imputed to Him, and a token of the acceptation of His purpose. His living implies His capacity to intercede for us, and to relieve us in all our necessities. His living is the root and cause of our life; for He having purchased eternal life, not only for Himself, but for all His members, ever liveth to convey it to them, and maintain it in them.
4. Another ground of comfort is the certainty of persuasion. “I know.” This implies a clear understanding of this mystery; and a certainty of persuasion, which includes a certainty of faith, or of spiritual sense.
II. The applicability of this comfort in our afflictions. Such as public troubles and difficulties; spiritual distresses; outward calamities; calumnies and slanders; and death. Exhortation--Believe and be persuaded of this truth. Endeavour to arrive at the highest degree of assent. (T. Manton.)
The believer’s triumph
1. Afflictions do not dissolve the endeared relation between the Redeemer and the redeemed.
2. Jesus Christ, as He is the only Redeemer of fallen man, has been all along so, even from the beginning.
3. A believer may attain a comfortable evidence of a special relation to Christ and interest in Him.
4. A believer knowing his Redeemer liveth, hath therein a spring of abundant consolation, whatever affliction he here labours under, or is liable to.
I. How the title Redeemer belongs to Christ. He is fitly called a Redeemer upon a threefold account. In regard to the bondage state He finds us in. His relation to us. And what, in that relation, He does for us. As our kinsman, He redeems us by paying the price of our redemption; and by rescuing us from the tyranny of Satan.
II. Believers will and ought to betake themselves to Christ, the living Redeemer, for relief and comfort under all their troubles.
1. As fallen creatures, there is no coming unto the Father but through a Mediator.
2. Christ is the only Mediator between God and man.
3. He is provided and exalted of God to this very end, that the weary and heavy-laden, under whatever burden, might apply to Him for ease and rest.
4. To them that believe He is precious, from the experience they have had of His power and grace.
III. It is of powerful use to the consolation of believers, in looking to their provided Redeemer, to know that He liveth, and that He is theirs. That He liveth may be said of Him as God, and as Immanuel, God-man. As Divine, and as risen. The resurrection speaks the value and efficacy of His death and sacrifice. His living again confirms the truth of His doctrine and promises.
3. It is no small addition to a Christian’s comfort that Christ lives in heaven. And Christ also is theirs; in gracious, helpful, personal relations with them.
IV. How believers may fetch suitable support from hence, under the trials wherewith they may be most sorely pressed.
1. What they feel upon a public account; their tender sense of the Church’s troubles, and concern for their brethren in the same household of faith, by reason of the hard things they suffer, and the deep distress they are sometimes brought into. He liveth, and has the turning of all the great wheels of providence.
2. As to public calamities that may happen in our day, or reach the place where our lot is cast. Christ’s voice to all is, “Be not terrified.”
3. In poverty and want,,pinching necessities and straits, we may look up with comfort while able to say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”
4. As to losses in substance, or near and dear relations, bodily pains, the injuries and reproaches of enemies, and hard censures of friends, with whatever the Christian may undergo from heaven, he hath enough to feed his comfort in being able to say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”
5. As deprived of the sense of God’s favour.
6. As to the temptations of Satan, the wiles and assaults of the power of darkness.
7. Under the afflictive sense of sin, as to guilt and corruption.
8. As in solitude about finding the way to heaven by reason of error and delusion.
9. Under persecution of suffering for the sake of Christ, and devotedness to Him.
10. The Redeemer’s living is the believer’s security against the dread and danger of apostasy.
11. As afflicted with the death of the righteous, private Christians or ministers.
12. That the Redeemer liveth may keep up the believer’s joy when he comes to die. Application--
Glory of the resurrection
Faith is most sorely tried when the hand of God touches ourselves. Yet even then the patriarch Job believed in the coming of Christ, whom on earth he was not to see; he believed that the Redeemer who was to come “akin to us,” had then, too, life in Himself, and should come to redeem him also. “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” He should at the end “stand the Last,” as well as the First, with power “over the dust”; and though the worms should prey upon and bore through this poor body, he himself, for himself, should, out of that very flesh, behold and gaze on God. “I know,” said the patriarch. True faith is solid, sure as knowledge. God writes it on the heart, and the heart knows what it believes, more surely than the senses know what they perceive. See how Job contrasts, not only life with death, but life as the produce of death. And so it must be. After our bodies had through sin become subject to corruption, it had been endless misery for them to have lived on forever. And so God the Son took our nature upon Him in its purity, to make it to us a new origin of being. For us He was born as man. For us, to pay the ransom for us, He died. For us, not for Himself, He rose again. Jesus rose to give us all which He is. After His resurrection, the very being of His body was spiritual. The glory of Christ began with the grave. As to Him, so to us, if we are His, the grave is the vestibule to glory. Claudius says, “The tokens of decay are the cock crowing to the resurrection.” Yet the change and transformation must begin here. It consists in first giving our whole souls to God, yielding ourselves to His transforming grace, that He would change us as He wills; and then, with steady, unwavering step to obey each impulse of His grace, This will seem hard until thou knowest the sweetness of pleasing God. (E. B. Pusey, D. D.)
Job’s sure knowledge
I. Job had a true friend amid cruel friends. He calls Him his Redeemer, and looks to Him in his trouble. The Hebrew word will bear three renderings, as follows--
1. His Kinsman. Nearest akin of all. No kinsman is so near as Jesus. None so kinned, and none so kind. Voluntarily so. Not forced to be a brother, but so in heart, and by His own choice of our nature: therefore more than brother. Not ashamed to own it. “He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11). Even when they had forsaken Him, He called them “My brethren” (Matthew 28:10). Eternally so. Who shall separate us? (Romans 8:35).
2. His Vindicator. From every false charge by pleading the causes of our soul. From every jibe and jest: for he that believeth in Him shall not be ashamed or confounded. From true charges, too; by bearing our sin Himself and becoming our righteousness, thus justifying us. From accusations of Satan. “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan!” (Zechariah 3:2.) “The accuser of our brethren is cast down” (Revelation 12:10).
3. His Redeemer. Of his person from bondage. Of his lost estates, privileges, and joys, from the hand of the enemy. Redeeming both by price and by power.
II. Job had real property amid absolute poverty. He speaks of “my Redeemer,” as much as to say, “Everything else is gone, but my Redeemer is still my own, and lives for me.” He means--
1. I accept Him as such, leaving myself in His hands.
2. I have felt somewhat of His power already, and I am confident that all is well with me even now, since He is my Protector.
3. I will cling to Him forever. He shall be my only hope in life and death. I may lose all else, but never the redemption of my God, the kinship of my Saviour.
III. Job had a living kinship amid a dying family. “My Redeemer liveth.” He owned the great Lord as ever living--As “the everlasting Father,” to sustain and solace him. As head of his house, to represent him. As intercessor, to plead in heaven for him. As defender, to preserve his rights on earth. As his righteousness, to clear him at last. Our Divine Vindicator abides in the power of an endless life.
IV. Job had absolute certainty amid uncertain affairs. “I know.” He had no sort of doubt upon that matter. Everything else was questionable, but this was certain. His faith made him certain. Faith brings sure evidence; it substantiates what it receives, and makes us know. His trials could not make him doubt. Why should they? They touched not the relationship of his God, or the heart of his Redeemer, or the life of his Vindicator. His difficulties could not make him fear failure on this point, for the life of his Redeemer was a source of deliverance which lay out of himself, and was never doubtful. His cavilling friends could not move him from the assured conviction that the Lord would vindicate his righteous cause. While Jesus lives our characters are safe. Happy he who can say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” Have you this great knowledge? Do you act in accordance with such an assurance? Will you not at this hour devoutly adore your loving Kinsman? (C. H. Spurgeon.)
There is no need to push these words too far. We lose a great deal by attempting to find in a passage like this what in reality is not in it. Suppose that Job is referring to Goel, the elder brother of the family, whose business it was to redeem, and protect, and lead onward to liberty--suppose that this is an Oriental image, that is no reason for saying that it is nothing more. There have been unconscious prophecies; men have uttered words, not knowing what they were uttering; thus Caiaphas said to the council, “Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not,” not knowing himself what he said. We must allow for the unconscious region of life, the mysterious belt that is round about so-called facts and letters; we must allow for that purple horizon, so visible, so inaccessible. He would be an unwise teacher who said, Job knew all that we understand by Christ, resurrection, and immortality; but he would be unwiser still who said that when his soul had been wrought up to this high pitch of enthusiasm in the ardour of his piety he knew nothing of the coming glory. Let Job speak literally, and even then he leaves a margin. Here we find a man at the utmost point of human progress; figure him to the eye; say the progress of the world, or the education of the world, is a long mysterious process; and here, behold, is a man who has come to the uttermost point: one step further and he will fall over: there, however, he stands until vacuity is filled up, until vaticination becomes experience, until experience has become history, until history, again, by marvellous spiritual action, shapes itself into prophecy, and predicts a brighter time and a fairer land. There have been men who have stood on the headlines of history: they dare not take one more step, or they would be lost in the boundless sea. Thus the world has been educated and stimulated by seer, and dreamer, and prophet, and teacher, and apostle. There have never been men wanting who have been at the very forefront of things, living the weird, often woeful, sometimes rapturous, life of the prophet. What was a dream to Job is a reality to us. We can fill up all Job would have said had he lived in our day; now we can say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” When these words are sung, do not think they are the words of Job that are being sung; they are Job’s words with Christ’s meaning. Yes, we feel that there must be a “Redeemer.” Things are so black and wrong, so corrupt, so crooked, so wholly unimaginable, with such a seam of injustice running through all, that there must be a Goel, a firstborn, an elder brother, a Redeemer. It is the glory of the Christian faith to proclaim the personality and reality of this Redeemer. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the almightiness of God, the very omnipotence of the Trinity, to everyone that believeth. “God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Nor can we consent to change His name: what word sweeter than “Redeemer”? what word mightier? A poem in itself; an apocalypse in its possibilities; Divine love incarnated. Oh, come Thou whose right it is! “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” That same Son of Mary, Son of Man, Son of God. Accept Him as thy Redeemer! (Joseph Parker, D. D.)
Job’s great hope
Let us clearly understand the point and value of the argument. It is not that a man who has served God here and suffered here must have a joyful immortality. What man is faithful enough to make such a claim? But the principle is that God must vindicate His righteousness in dealing with the man He has made, the man he has called to trust Him. It matters not who the man is, how obscure his life has been, he has this claim on God, that to him the eternal righteousness ought to be made clear. Job cries for his own justification; but the doubt about God involved in the slur cast upon his own integrity is what rankles in his heart; from that he rises in triumphant protest and daring hope. He must live till God clears up the matter. If he dies he must revive to have it all made clear. And observe, if it were only that ignorant men cast doubt on Providence, the resurrection and personal redemption of the believer would not be necessary. God is not responsible for the foolish things men say, and we could not look for resurrection because our fellow creatures misrepresent God. But Job feels that God Himself has caused the perplexity. God sent the flash of lightning, the storm, the dreadful disease; it is God who, by many strange things in human experience, seems to give cause for doubt. From God in nature, God in disease, God in the earthquake and the thunderstorm, God whose way is in the sea, and His path in the mighty waters,--from this God, Job cries in hope, in moral conviction, to God the Vindicator, the eternally righteous One, Author of nature and friend of man. This life may terminate before the full revelation of right is made; it may leave the good in darkness, and the evil flaunting in pride; the believer may go down in shame, and the atheist have the last word. Therefore a future life with judgment in full must vindicate our Creator, and every personality involved in the problems of time must go forward to the opening of the seals, and the fulfilment of the things that are written in the volumes of God. This evolution being for the earlier stage and discipline of life, it works out nothing, completes nothing. What it does is to furnish the awaking spirit with material of thought, opportunity of endeavour, the elements of life; with trial, temptation, stimulus and restraint. No one who lives to any purpose or thinks with any sincerity can miss in the course of his life one hour at least in which he shares the tragical contest, and adds the cry of his own soul to that of Job, his own hope to that of ages that are gone, straining to see the Goal who undertakes for every servant of God. By slow cycles of change the vast scheme of Divine providence draws towards a glorious consummation. The believer waits for it, seeing One who has gone before him, the Alpha and Omega of all life. The fulness of time will at length arrive, the time foreordained by God, foretold by Christ, when the throne shall be set, the judgment shall be given, and the aeons of manifestation shall begin. (Robert A. Watson, D. D.)
Then there pass from Job’s lips words into which Christian translators have breathed a distinctness, a hope and certainty, which doubtless far transcends the sublime, but dim, faith of the original. “I know,” he cries, “that my Redeemer, my Rescuer, my Vindicator, liveth.” Liveth, for He is none other than the living God--no more mute inscription, no human Goel, or avenger--on whom Job rests his faith. “And He, at the last,” when all this bitter conflict is over, “will stand upon the earth,” or rather, “on the dust,” the dust of death into which I am sinking. “And” even “after my skin,” this poor skin with all that it encases, “is destroyed”--even when “the first-born of death,” and the “King of Terrors” himself, of whom you speak, have done their worst--“yet,” even then, not “in,” but rather “from” (in the sense most probably of “removed from,” or “without”) “my flesh,” though my body moulder in the dust, “I shall see my God”--the God now hidden, the God to whom he had appealed before to hide him for awhile from the world of the dead, and then to call him forth. He will manifest himself at last to his forgotten friend, who will have survived for this the shock of the meat Destroyer; “whom I shall behold,” he goes on, yea, I the prey of death, “shall see Him, shall see Him for myself.” (Or see Him “on my side,” the phrase is ambiguous.) “Yea, mine eyes shall behold Him, I, and not another. My reins,” my very inmost heart, “consume,” and melt “within me” at the vision . . . The sick heart faints with joy. Despair gives way to gladness. The poor tortured sufferer, who again and again has looked on the inevitable death which is waiting for him, as the limit of his days, as the final severer between himself and his God, rises to the region of a sublime, a rapturous hope. We dare not write into his words all the “sure and certain hope of a joyful resurrection,” which the Christian utters; still less that anticipation of a bodily rising from the grave, of a reclothing of his spirit in flesh, which the passage breathes in the great Latin translation, dear for ages to Western Christendom. We recognise even in the familiar words of our own older version, phrases and thoughts which outrun the patriarch’s aspirations, the patriarch’s faith. But for all that, when we have stripped the passage of all that is adventitious--all that even unconsciously imports into its framework the ideas and faith of another and later age--we still hear the cry of the saint of the old world, as he stands face to face with the King of Terrors; “Though my outward man decay and perish, yet God shall reveal Himself to me, to my true self.” He plants, as it has been well said, the flag of triumph on his own grave. And his words, in one form or another, have lived longer than he looked for. They will outlive the scroll for which he sighed, the very rock on which just now he wished to see them engraved. (Dean Bradley.)
The hope of restoration
Trans. thus, “For I know that my Goel lives, and (my) Vindicator will arise upon the earth.” The Fathers, both Oriental, and Occidental, regarded this passage as a proof text, not only of the imortality of the soul, but also of the resurrection of the body. Some even saw in it a conclusive proof of the divinity of Christ. This view prevailed through the Middle Ages. But this interpretation is now generally rejected by critics and commentators, though it was at one time almost universal. Two views need to be considered.
I. Job hoped for restoration in this life. This view has never been popular. Some scholars support it on the following grounds:--
1. The language requires such an interpretation.
2. Whatever there is in the passage which can be applied to a resurrection body, can also be referred with equal force to a restored body in this life.
3. If this passage refers to a future life, it is strange that this glorious doctrine is not more fully presented: Elihu passes it over in silence. Not a word is to be found regarding it in the sublime discourses of the Almighty.
4. The question of restoration to the favour of God in another existence is not even incidentally raised.
5. There is no force in the assertion often made that we cannot limit Job’s expectation for deliverance to this life without lowering the evidence and power of his faith. This is mere rhetoric. Instead of his faith being lowered, it is enhanced.
6. It would have been more satisfactory to Job to have been delivered from the unjust charges laid against him, and to have been justified by the Almighty, who could not err, in the presence of his friends and acquaintances, on the very scene of the conflict here on earth.
7. Certainly this would have been of more advantage to Job’s contemporaries, for whom the new revelation was intended.
8. The denouement, or final issue, favours this view.
II. Job did not expect deliverance in this life, bit in a disembodied state, after death. The following arguments for this view have been adduced.
1. This is evident from the plain meaning of the text. The two clauses in verse 26 are not antithetic, for the second has the same thought as the first, and must read, “And after my skin is thus destroyed, and without my flesh (body) I shall see God.” After my skin, without my flesh, and dust, are parallelistic equivalents.
2. That Job did not expect deliverance in this life is also shown by his desire to have his protestations of innocency engraved on the rock forever.
3. That Job expected no restoration here on earth is clear from his own words in other portions of the book . . . After carefully weighing the arguments pro and con, we are forced to the conclusion that Job expected restoration in this life. This is the most natural interpretation. It also accords with the development of doctrine in the Old Testament, for it is an intermediate step between Mosaism and Christianity in regard to suffering and retribution in this life. And in accepting this view, no one is forced to the conclusion that Job had no hope or knowledge of immortality, but only that the future life is not referred to in this passage. (W. W. Davis, Ph. D.)
I. The highest form of knowledge is the consciousness that we have a Redeemer.
1. This is the knowledge which diminishes the distance between us and God. Whatever else sin may be, it is the estrangement of the soul from the source of all its joys. Sin has made us to be “far off” from God. He is denied His place in thought. He is excluded from the counsels of the will. His own monitor--conscience--is indifferent to His presence. The heart has sought the fellowship of other lovers, but they all have left “an aching void,” which cries, “Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.” This has been attempted by many. Prophets, priests, and kings stretched their hands upwards towards God, and downwards towards man, but their arms were too short. Philosophers, moralists, and philanthropists have endeavoured to fill the gulf, and pave the way for the contending parties to approach each other, they also have all disappeared in that awful chasm. But there is “One Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Have we felt the reconciling touch of His hand? “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” is the only answer.
2. This is the knowledge which removes all differences. We cannot meet God, we cannot enjoy God, with the burden of guilt on our soul. The voice of justice in heaven cries against us; the voice of conscience within is not less in its denunciation.
3. This is the knowledge which restores the full harmony between us and the Father. There is no other platform from which we may survey the whole situation.
II. That the highest form of consciousness is faith in a living saviour. “My Redeemer liveth.” If we possibly can, let us bring the text to a nearer touch of our life. One of the functions of faith is to convert historical Christianity into a living power in the soul, by enacting the life of Jesus in our own.
1. The living Redeemer is the life of faith. Faith leans on a living bosom, and draws its comfort from a living heart.
2. The living Redeemer is the stay of faith. The Hebrew Goel was the next-of-kin who avenged his brother’s wrongs, and redeemed his life and property. Our Saviour is that next-of-kin who watches over our affairs, and will see that justice is done. Remember, brethren, He is the custodian of your character and reputation. The man who deals a blow at your circumstances, must meet Jesus, and settle the matter with Him. “Avenge not yourselves,” but “cast all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.”
3. The living Redeemer is the satisfaction of faith. He who can say “My Redeemer!” has enough. Things of life are transmissible. The man goes to his solicitor to have the property he has bought conveyed to him. When it is done, he says, “I want you to make my will.” Then runs the instrument, “I give and bequeath,” etc. But “my Redeemer” is not a transitory possession; it abides the inheritance of the soul forever. Thomas made a noble confession, “My Lord, and my God.”
III. The final triumph of faith will be the meeting of the saint and the Saviour. “Whom I shall see,” etc. Faith will launch her bark into the sea of His presence.
1. Your rights will be vindicated, and all your trials explained. A light will be thrown on all the difficult passages in your life. Faith said all the time that His judgments are righteous and true; you will understand that then. That day will be a commentary on all the chapters of life, for “the day will reveal it.”
2. Immediate communion with Jesus. In that day they will all turn aside, and our eyes will feast on the beatific vision, for “we shall see Him as He is.” These eyes, which have wept many times, shall see Him in the clear light of heaven. Thank you, a thousand times, ye noble prophets and apostles, for your beautiful photos of Him, now we see Jesus Himself.
3. Faith will realise all anticipations and hopes. What is your ruling passion; is it Poetry? Then the muse will be on the heights of Parnassus, Music? The melody of the cross will have attracted all the harmonies of the universe to itself. Beauty? The rose of Sharon will be there. Life? Live on. Regarding the wonderful utterance in the text in the light of the circumstances in which the patriarch was placed, we have here a marvellous picture of faith. In the presence of such a faith, shall we allow ours to fret and fear in the face of small difficulties? Put all the difficulties and sufferings of your life by the side of those endured by the patriarch, and they will pale and die. However, we may not be the strong men in faith that his stature would suggest. Look to your Goel. (T. Davies, M. A.)
The living Redeemer
Schultens suggests that the patriarch, in the previous verses, refers to an inscription upon a sepulchral stone. Job relies upon God for his ultimate and full vindication. Expecting to go down to the grave under the reproach of guilt, he would have it engraven upon the stone at the door of his sepulchre, that his trust was in his Redeemer.
I. The meaning of the term Redeemer, as applied to our Lord Jesus Christ. The word Goal has two significations. One, to be stained or polluted with blood; the other, to ransom, redeem, or purchase back. The duties of a Redeemer among the Jews included--delivering a kinsman out of captivity by force or ransom; and to buy him out when his liberty had been forfeited by debt, buying back an inheritance that had passed out of the hands of a poorer kinsman; advocating the right of those who were too weak to sustain their own cause. All these offices of the Redeemer, the Lord Jesus was fitted to sustain, and has executed, or will execute for us. To become our Redeemer He became our kinsman. Three principal things are intended by Christ’s title of Redeemer.
1. Atonement or satisfaction made to the Divine law in behalf of His people.
2. Deliverance and salvation of His people from all their enemies and difficulties.
3. The securing for them an eternal inheritance of life and blessedness.
II. The excellence of the Lord Jesus as a living Redeemer. He whom Job knew to be his Redeemer is the only-begotten Son of God in whom we trust. The excellency of Christ as our living Redeemer is seen in His resurrection, in His power, and in His glory. (Geo. W. Bethune, D. D.)
Job’s knowledge and triumph
I. A Redeemer is provided for sinners of mankind. This important truth Job plainly avows, in the solemn profession of his faith which he makes in the text. The character of Redeemer is, with peculiar propriety, ascribed to God our Saviour. That He might obtain complete eternal redemption for us, in the fulness of time, God sent forth His own Son, made of a woman, made under the law. Never was there such a glorious Redeemer as God manifest in the flesh. Never was such a price paid for redemption as the precious blood of Christ. He redeems us from all evil.
II. He is an ever-living Redeemer, who has accomplished our redemption. It is not said, the Redeemer hath lived, or shall live, but that “He liveth.” He is without beginning of days or end of life; the “same yesterday, today, and forever.” As God, He liveth forever and ever. As Redeemer, He is called a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, in the purpose and promise of God.
III. The living Redeemer shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. Lit., “He shall stand the last upon the earth.” He will again stand upon the earth, or over the earth, as the words may signify. He will come in glory, to raise the dead bodies of His people, and to judge the world in righteousness.
IV. The redeemed among men claim relation to their Redeemer. “My Redeemer.” Job expresses the confidence of a living faith in his intimate relation to the ever-living Redeemer, in whom he believed and trusted, with the other patriarchs of early ages.
V. The mortal bodies of the redeemed shall be consumed, but they shall see God. Though death doth no more to the soul of man than separate it from the body with which it is united, yet it entirely demolishes the curious structure of the body. The mighty Redeemer shall raise all His redeemed ones from the power of the grave. Their souls, when in the separate state, behold Him with the eyes of the mind; but after the resurrection they shall behold Him in their flesh with their bodily eyes.
VI. The knowledge of all this supports the servants of God under present trials, and the prospect of death. Job himself was a remarkable instance of the truth of this observation. (W. M’Culloch.)
I. The title under which Christ is here spoken of. “Redeemer.” Our Redeemer has exceeded in His work the redeemers among the Jews. All they could do for their murdered relative was, put to death the murderer.
II. Job speaks of the Redeemer as living at the time when he spoke. And so He was. “Before Abraham was, I am,” He said of Himself. There never was a period when He was not. He was virtually the Redeemer of men, though He had not actually wrought out their redemption.
III. The personal interest which Job claims in the Redeemer. Here is no uncertainty or doubt, but the fullest assurance. A personal interest in Christ is absolutely necessary if you would be saved.
IV. An important truth respecting the future manifestation of the Redeemer. The time of the advent is sometimes called the “last time,” the latter, or last, days. It is, however, more probable that the words of Job refer to the second coming of Christ, which will be literally the latter or last day.
V. The blessed hope which the patriarch indulges. He refers to the inevitable lot of man at death. But we shall yet live again. Job could say, “In my flesh I shall see God.” When he should see God, he would learn the purpose of his affliction. Then his character would be cleared of the aspersions which had been cast upon it. Job’s confidence that he should see God would be a source of joy, inasmuch as to see God is heaven itself. (W. Cardall, B. A.)
I. The promised saviour. It speaks of Him--
1. As a Redeemer. A title peculiarly applicable to the Lord Jesus.
2. As a living Redeemer. Which applies to that grand and consolatory truth, the resurrection of our Lord from the dead. The words may, however, refer to His divinity rather than His resurrection.
3. As a Redeemer in whom he had a peculiar interest. His Redeemer in particular. “My Redeemer liveth.”
4. As a Redeemer who would stand at the latter day upon the earth. This may refer to the incarnation, but it must also refer to the great resurrection.
II. Job’s own joyful resurrection from the dead.
1. How he dwells on the effects which would be produced by death on his bodily frame.
2. How, in defiance of every difficulty which might obstruct or hinder it, he yet expressed his assured hope of a joyful resurrection.
We have here the views of this ancient believer respecting--
1. The resurrection of the body. The body, after the resurrection, would be true flesh, not a spirit, thin and subtle as the air, as some have vainly imagined. At the resurrection he would receive the very same body which he had on earth. The nature of that happiness to which the servant of God, after his resurrection, would be admitted, is indicated. It was the beatific vision of that God and Saviour in whose presence is fulness of joy. But those only will thus see Him who have received Him here as their Redeemer, by a faith which purifies the heart, overcometh the world, worketh by love, and maintaineth good works. (John Natt, B. D.)
Realising the second advent
The hardest, severest, last lesson which man has to learn upon the earth, is submission to the will of God. All that saintly experience ever had to teach resolves itself into this, the lesson how to say, affectionately, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” Slowly and stubbornly our hearts acquiesce in that. The earliest record that we have of this struggle in the human bosom is found in this Book of Job. In the rough rude ages when Job lived, when men did not dwell on their feelings as in later centuries, the heart-work of religion was manifestly the same earnest passionate thing that it is now. What is the Book of Job but the record of an earliest soul’s perplexities? The double difficulty of life solved there, the existence of moral evil--the question whether suffering is a mark of wrath or not. Job appealed from the tribunal of man’s opinion to a tribunal where sincerity shall be cleared and vindicated. He appealed from the dark dealings of a God whose way it is to hide Himself, to a God who shall stand upon this earth in the clear radiance of a love on which suspicion itself cannot rest a doubt. It was faith straining through the mist, and discerning the firm land that is beyond.
I. The certainty of God’s interference in the affairs of this world.
1. A present superintendence. The first truth contained in that is God’s personal existence. It is not chance, nor fate, which sits at the wheel of this world’s revolutions. It is a living God. To be religious is to feel that God is the “ever-near.” Faith is that strange faculty by which man feels the presence of the invisible. We must not throw into these words of Job a meaning which Job had not, Job was an Arabian Emir, not a Christian. All that Job meant was, that he knew he had a Vindicator in God above. At last God Himself would interfere to prove his innocence. God has given us, for our faith to rest on, something more distinct and tangible than He gave to Job.
2. The second truth implied in the personal existence of a Redeemer is sympathy. It was the keenest part of Job’s trial that no heart beat pulse to pulse with his. In the midst of this it seems to have risen upon his heart with a strange power, to soothe, that he was not alone. Note the little word of appropriation, My Redeemer. Power is shown by God’s condescension to the vast; sympathy by His condescension to the small.
3. The third thing implied in the present superintendence is God’s vindication of wrongs. The word translated here, Redeemer, is one of peculiar signification. Job was professing his conviction that there was a champion or an avenger, who would one day do battle for his wrongs.
4. There is a future redress of human wrongs, which will be made manifest to sight. There will be a visible, personal interference. If we use his words, we must apply them in a higher sense. The second Advent of Christ is supposed by some to mean an appearance of Jesus in the flesh to reign and triumph visibly. But every signal manifestation of the right and vindication of the truth in judgment, is called in Scripture a coming of the Son of Man. The visual perception of His form would be a small blessing; the highest and truest presence is always spiritual, and realised by the spirit.
II. The means of realising this interference. There is a difference between knowing a thing and realising it. Job knew that God was the vindicator of wrongs. It was true, but to Job it was strange, and shadowy, and unfamiliar. Two ways are suggested for realising these things. One is meditation. No man forgets what the mind has dwelt long on. You can scarcely read over Job’s words without fancying them the syllables of a man who was thinking aloud. The other is this--God ensures that His children shall realise all these things by affliction. If ever a man is sincere, it is when he is in pain. There are many things which nothing but sorrow can teach us. Sorrow is the realiser. (F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
A spiritual deliverance
In these remarkable words Job was not anticipating a mere temporal deliverance from his afflictions, but expressing his confidence in a higher deliverance, connected with another state of being, and involving his immortal happiness.
I. The glorious character he contemplates. A “Redeemer.” The word is used of the Blood Avenger (Goel) of ancient times. The title of “Redeemer” is used by the prophets as an appellation of Jehovah, and with peculiar adaptation it is appropriated to the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom, it is stated, we have redemption. With propriety and force the Mediator between God and man is invested with the name of our “Redeemer.” The Mediator was unquestionably the revealed and acknowledged object of faith and hope in patriarchal ages. The future Messiah was the being now contemplated by Job when he spoke of a Redeemer.
II. The important truths he states. The first refers to the actual state of the Redeemer,--He “liveth,” or “is now living.” To His being, no commencement, however remote, can be assigned. We conceive that the patriarch was now rendering a specific ascription to Him, as essentially “the living One,” and was acknowledging Him in that attribute of absolute eternity which furnishes so immovable a basis for the confidence and joy of the saints throughout every period of the world. The second of these truths refers to the future manifestation of the Redeemer. “He shall stand (arise) at the latter day upon (over) the earth.” We consider this a prediction of the last day. The clause means, “He shall arise in triumph over the ruins of mortality.” From the certainty of that event, Divine truth derives the appropriateness and the efficacy of its appeals. In what manner, and with what feelings, do you look towards the day of the revelation of Jesus Christ?
III. The personal hope Job indulges. These remarkable words are strong affirmations of a personal interest in the grace and redemption of Him who at the latter day is to appear in His glory as the Judge; and are an anticipation of eternal happiness then to be awarded and enjoyed. The expressions furnish several remarks.
1. Death must be uniformly suffered before the happiness of true believers can be completed.
2. On the arrival of “the latter day,” the bodies of believers will be raised in a state refined and glorified.
3. Believers, in their state of restoration, will enjoy the presence and friendship of God forever.
IV. The absolute confidence Job asserts. “I know.” These expressions of certainty by the patriarch arose from no equivocal impulse. We who are now numbered among the heirs of promise, tell to the world that we have the same confidence too. “We know in whom we have believed.” (J. Parsons.)
The faith and expectation of the Patriarch Job
1. The glorious character ascribed to Jesus Christ. Redeemer. Goel. Christ became our Blood-relation, our kinsman after the flesh, and as such the right of redemption devolved upon Him. This right He exercises.
1. By redeeming our forfeited inheritance of eternal life.
2. By redeeming us from the slavery of sin.
3. He avenges the blood of His people on their murderer Satan.
II. Christ is the “Living One,” possessing life in Himself, and being the source of life to those whom He came to redeem. As God, this is a title peculiarly appropriate to Him, for He possesses independent and eternal life. His existence as our Redeemer is from everlasting to everlasting.
III. This living Redeemer would at some future period make His appearance on the earth. The resurrection of the dead is an event reserved for the second appearance of our Redeemer at the last day. Notice the assured confidence with which the patriarch interests himself in this living Redeemer, who was to stand at the latter day upon the earth. He uses the language of appropriation, “My Redeemer.” He infers the completion of his own redemption by Christ raising him from the dead, and permitting him to enjoy the beatific vision of God. These sublime truths are peculiarly fitted to comfort the children of God amid all the sufferings, anxieties, and sorrows of life and death. (Peter Grant.)
The believer’s confidence in the dominion of Christ after death
I. The subjection of the body to the dominion of death. Man is composed of body and soul. Die we must.
II. The subjection of death to the dominion of Christ. Jesus came to destroy death; He will come to complete His work. The resurrection of the dead will be universal.
III. The character in which Christ will assert His dominion. Redeemer.
1. There was infinite love in the price of redemption.
2. There is omnipotent power in the application of this work.
3. There will be immutable fidelity in the completion of this work. What a source of consolation in all the changes, troubles, and bereavements of the world.
IV. The final triumph of Christ over death will constitute the final happiness of all the redeemed. The text admits of two senses.
1. I shall see God my Redeemer in this my body.
2. I shall see God in my flesh, i.e. in that flesh which He assumed to become my Redeemer. (Edward Parsons.)
The staying power of certitudes
Job’s triumphant assertion of his confidence in God is deservedly ranked as the most important passage in all his discourses. The flukes of his anchor have taken bold of the immovable Rock of Ages; and the rage of the tempest, and the dashing waves and the heaving sea, cannot tear his vessel from its moorings. Held by the strong grasp of the invisible, he can defy all that is visible, and on the surface; and Satan’s most furious assaults have no power to dislodge him, or unsettle his well-grounded persuasion. My Redeemer shall arise last. Job and his friends had been contending first. My Redeemer shall arise last; and He shall enter latest on the scene. And He shall settle the matter unresisted, in His own way. And this shall be the final settlement of this muchdisputed case. And none shall come after Him to change what He has done. Abraham saw Christ’s day; and Job rejoiced to see Christ’s day; and he was glad. It was the seed of Abraham to whom the “Father of the faithful” looked forward. It was his Divine Redeemer that gladdened the believing soul of the man of Uz. (William H. Green, D. D.)
The sceptic beholds his misgivings multiply and his doubts thicken. The believer as a rule sees them all vanish. Schiller, the great German thinker, goes to his study, sits down as usual to his desk, writes with that masterly ability which distinguished him, begins a new sentence, writes the word “But”--and then dies. The great advocates of Scepticism always die with a doubt, expire with a “But.” The Christian, however, grows in faith as he approaches death. “I know that”--in my flesh, etc. Christ mine:--Dean Stanley tells us that Dr. Arnold used to make his boys say, “Christ died for me,” instead of the more general phrase, “Christ died for us.” “He appeared to me,” says one whose intercourse with him never extended beyond these lessons, “to be remarkable for his habit of realising everything that we are told in Scripture.” (Life of Dr. Arnold.)
Natural tendencies to dissolution
There is in every living organism a law of death. We are wont to imagine that Nature is full of life. In reality it is full of death. One cannot say it is natural for a plant to live. Examine its nature fully, and you have to admit that its natural tendency is to die. It is kept from dying by a mere temporary endowment, which gives it an ephemeral dominion over the elements--gives it power to utilise for a brief span the rain, the sunshine, and the air. Withdraw this temporary endowment for a moment and its true nature is revealed. Instead of overcoming Nature it is overcome. The very things which appeared to minister to its growth and beauty, now turn against it and make it decay and die. The sun which warmed it withers it; the air and rain which nourished it rot it. It is the very forces which we associate with life which, when their true nature appears, are discovered to be really the ministers of death. (H. Drummond.)
The law of justice universal and unfailing
Whence came our sense of justice? We can only say from Him who made us. He gave us such a nature as cannot be satisfied nor find rest till an ideal of justice, that is of acted truth, is framed in our human life, and everything possible done to realise it. Upon this acted truth all depends, and till it is reached we are in suspense . . . Justice there is in every matter. The truthfulness of nature at every point in the physical range is a truthfulness of the over-nature to the mind of man, a correlation established between physical and spiritual existence. Wherever order and care are brought into view there is an exaltation of the human reason, which perceives and relates. Is it of importance that each of the gases shall have laws of diffusion and combination, shall act according to those laws, unvaryingly affecting vegetable and animal life? Unless those laws wrought in constancy or equity at every moment, all would be confusion. Is it of importance that the bird, using its wings adapted for flight, shall find an atmosphere in which their exercise produces movement? Here again is an equity which enters into the very constitution of the cosmos, which must be a form of the one supreme law of the cosmos. Once more, is it of importance that the thinker should find sequences and relations, when once established, a sound basis for prediction and discovery, that he shall be able to trust himself on lines of research, and feel certain that, at every point, for the instrument of inquiry there is answering verity? Without this correspondence man would have real place in evolution, he would flutter an aimless unrelated sensitiveness through a storm of physical incidents. Advance to the most important facts of mind, the moral ideas which enter into every department of thought. Does the fidelity already traced now cease? Is man at this point beyond the law of faithfulness? This life may terminate before the full revelation of sight is made; it may leave the good in darkness and the evil flaunting in pride; the believer may go down to shame, and the Atheist have the last word. Therefore a future life with judgment in full must vindicate our Creator. No one who lives to any purpose or thinks with any sincerity can miss in the course of his life one hour at least in which he shares the tragical contest, and adds the cry of his own soul to that of Job, his own hope to that of ages that are gone, straining to the Goel who under, takes for every servant of God, “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” etc. (R. A. Watson, D. D.)
In my flesh shall I see God.--
The general resurrection
Now, this clause of our text has been understood by the Church of Christ throughout all ages, as expressing Job’s assurance of the general resurrection of the body at the last day, and such appears to be the plain, straightforward meaning of the passage. Others, however, seem to think that Job, in these words, refers only to a metaphorical resurrection, that is, a restoration to his former happiness and prosperity. But if he expected such a resurrection, then his constantly longing for the approach of death, as his only hope of relief, seems totally inexplicable. It was under these circumstances of accumulated affliction that Job uttered the words of the text. How strong is faith--how rich the consolations of religion--how powerful that Divine influence which raised the spirit of the patriarch superior to the ills of her earthly tabernacle, and while, in near vision, contemplating the approach of “the last enemy,” illumined and quickened by the Sun of Righteousness, to record her feelings, and embody her prospects. “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” The true state of the case is here--Job looks toward the period when he should become a tenant of the house appointed for all living, as the due of his sorrows; and his grief was that he should sink into the grave in the estimation of his fellows as one punished by God for his hypocrisy; but his joy was that there would be a general resurrection of the body, which would be followed by a general judgment, when the shades should be removed from his character--and that character presented in its own unblemished rectitude. We say, then, that in the text, Job directs our attention to the general resurrection. “In my flesh shall I see God.” Now, unless Job’s body were remoulded, the statement in the text could not be realised. Man was at first created with body and soul, and he will live so throughout all eternity. The fact itself is certain; but how it shall be brought about we do not know. Our bodies will then undergo some change. Our bodies now are adapted to an earthly state; but the resurrection body will be adapted to the heavenly state. These bodies will undergo many general changes; this corruptible will put on incorruption; this mortal will put on immortality; this dishonour will put on glory; this weakness will put on power, and so forth. These bodies will undergo many particular changes; all blemishes, all deformities, will be done away; all varieties, arising from climate, from employment, from disease, and so on, will doubtless be done away. Now, doubtless, this will be met by a corresponding change in the conformation of our bodies. Our bodies will then be made of imperishable materials. But, amid all these changes, our bodies will be essentially the same; fashioned after the glorious body of our ascended Lord and Master. Yes, when the archangel’s trump shall sound, in the plenitude of omnipotence, these bodies which have long reposed in the noiseless chambers of the grave, will rise, from their dusty beds, superior to disease and death. Run in the same mould as that of Jesus Christ--they will be adorned with living splendour--splendour and honour surpassing the brightness of the noonday sun, and shall continue co-existent with the ages of eternity. At this glorious period our bodies will be exempt from those diseases which now desolate our world. We say, such a remoulding of the fabric which sin has dissolved and destroyed, Job anticipated in the words of the text; but he looked forward to another event, namely, the general judgment. “And though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” The meaning of these words, “Whom I shall see for myself,” is, I shall stand before His throne; I shall plead my own cause; I shall be able to tell my own tale, and shall receive from His hands a righteous reward. Now I am misrepresented by my friends; now I am misconceived by my relatives; now I am treated as a hypocrite by those of my own household. But a period is coming when I shall stand before the bar of the Omniscient, when these clouds shall be dissipated by the brightness of His appearance, and I shall appear before an assembled world--before angels, and before the spirits of just men made perfect, as the sincere and devoted servant of the Most High. This, doubtless, had been a source of much consolation and comfort to the patriarch, and would doubtless throw a kind of calm over his troubled bosom when he thought of the day of restitution that was coming. That day when he should see God on his side, not estranged, but as his friend. This is often a source of much joy to Christians in general. It not unfrequently happens that clouds of calumny overhang their character; often are their actions and motives misconceived by their own Christian friends; often are they misrepresented by the wicked and ungodly; but it should be a source of joy to them that their record is on high--their testimony is with God; they should not indulge a principle of revenge, but live like men having in prospect the period of accounts, when all men shall receive according to the deeds done in the body. (S. Hulme.)
Job and the resurrection of the body
That God refrained from uttering to the ancient world the promise of the resurrection is easily understood. Many other important truths, cardinal truths, accepted by the modern world and necessary to its life and movement, were withheld, and for the same reason. The average human mind, even among His chosen people, was too simple, feeble, and benighted to appreciate thoughts so transcendent and refined. But this reason did not apply to a mind and soul like those of Job. The mountain tops catch the glory of the coming sunlight long before it strikes the levels below. We know that God did reveal it to Moses when, in the solitude and silence of the wilderness, He spoke from the burning bush. Why should He not reveal it to Job, His servant, His worshipper, His faithful friend, who was fighting his forlorn battle with the foes, as it were, “of his own household,” with the torment of his body and the anguish of his soul? (D. H. Bolles.)
Vision of God
There is a sense in which reason and the Bible assure us God cannot be seen. He is the Unapproachable, the Invisible. There is a solemn sense in which He can be seen, and in which He must be seen sooner or later. We make three remarks concerning this soul vision--
I. It implies the highest capability of a moral creature. The power to see the sublime forms of the material universe, is a high endowment. The power to see truth and to look into “the reason of things,” is a higher endowment far; but the power to see God, is the grandest of all faculties. To see Him who is the cause of all phenomena, the life of all lives, the force of all forces, the spirit and beauty of all forms,--this faculty the human soul has. Depravity, alas! has so closed it generally that there are none in their unregenerate state who see God. Jacob said, “God is in this place and I knew it not.”
II. It involves the sublimest privilege of a moral creature. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” “In Thy presence is fulness of joy.”
III. It includes the inevitable destiny of a moral creature. All souls must be brought into conscious contact with Him, sooner or later “we must all appear before His judgment seat.” Every soul must open its eye and so fasten it upon Him that He will appear everything to it, and all things else but shadows. The period of atheism, religious indifferentism, ends with our mortal life. (Homilist.)
The sight of God incarnate
The happiness of heaven is the seeing God; and because our Lord and Saviour is God incarnate, God the Son made man, by taking to Himself a soul and body such as ours, therefore to see Christ was, to faithful men, a kind of heaven upon earth, and losing sight of Him, as they did at His Passion, was like being banished from heaven. Of course, then, His coming in their sight again was the greatest happiness they could have. I do not say that St. John, St. Mary Magdalene, and the rest, were all of them at the time fully aware that He whom they had seen die, and whom they now saw rise again, was the very and eternal God. They probably came by slow degrees, some at one time, some at another, to the full knowledge of that astonishing truth. But thus much they knew for certain, that they could not be happy without seeing Him. The sight of God was the very blessing which Adam forfeited in Paradise, and which poor fallen human nature, so far as it was not utterly corrupt, has ever been feeling after and longing for. The holy men before the time of our Lord’s first coming in the flesh, looked on, by faith, to the happiness of seeing God. But the apostles, and those who were about Him when He came, actually had that happiness. They enjoyed in their life time that privilege which Job had to wait for till he came to the other world. In their flesh they saw God. Some of them even touched God, and handled Him with their hands. When they knew He was risen, it was their life and joy, the light of their eyes, and their soul’s delight, their comfort, their hope, and their all, come back again after seeming to be lost. This is why Easter was so bright a day to them. After forty days, He promised to send His Holy Spirit, which should make Him really, though invisibly, nearer to them than He had been as yet. Upon the faith of this promise we and all Christians even now live, and if we have not forfeited our baptismal blessings, are happy. But our happiness is so far dim and imperfect, in that we do not as yet see Christ. The apostles saw Christ, but were not yet members of His body; we are members of His body, but do not yet see Him. These two things, which are now separated, are to be united in the other world; and, being united, they will make us happy forever. Behold, He has mixed up the account of His resurrection, so awful to sinners, with the most affecting tokens of His mercy. From the moment of His rising to the hour of His ascension, He is never weary of giving them signs, by which they might know Him, however glorified, to be the same mild and merciful Jesus, the same Son of Man, whom they had known so well on earth. Think not that our Master’s condescending grace in all these things was confined to those disciples only. Surely it reaches to us, and to as many as believe on Him through the apostles’ word. Though He be at the right hand of God, His human body and soul are there with Him, and all His brotherly pity for the lost children of men, and tender fellow feeling towards those who stand afar off and smite upon their breast. All these blessings of our Lord’s presence are sealed and made sure to us with the promise of the Holy Ghost, which makes us members of Him, in His baptism first, and afterwards in the holy communion. (Sermons by Contributors to “Tracts for the Times.”)
Job’s idea of resurrection
The question asked concerning this passage is, does it refer to the Messiah, and to the resurrection of the dead; or to an expectation which Job had, that God would come forth as his vindicator in some such way as He is declared afterwards to have done?
1. Arguments which would be adduced to show that the passage refers to the Messiah, and to the resurrection from the dead.
2. The weighty arguments showing that the passage does not refer to the Messiah and the resurrection.
But ye should say, Why persecute we him?
Toleration of intolerance
One of the hardest things in this world is, for the tolerant to have to tolerate intolerance, for the liberal to have to endure illiberality, for the charitable to have to put up with bigotry. We can conceive of an intolerant person being vexed by the intolerance of others; but it is because their intolerance is not of the same kind as his own. To the abettors of particular theological tenets, and the adherents of particular religious systems, such terms as intolerance, illiberality, and uncharitableness, convey no meaning. With them there are no such things. According to their notions, you cannot be too intolerant, so long as you are orthodox; nor too illiberal, so long as you are correct; nor too uncharitable, so long as you are on the right side; which singularly enough, usually happens to be the strong side. Intolerance, in their eyes, is nothing but consistency. It is hard to have to tolerate intolerance. This is what the patriarch had to do, throughout and in addition to the sore calamities permitted by the Almighty to fall upon him. It was a case in which anyone might well have cried, “Save me from my friends.” The book is filled with the recriminations of the friends on one side, and the remonstrances of Job on the other. But the cause pleaded by the patriarch was the cause of humanity at large, against Jewish and every other form of intolerance If you see a man bearing good fruits in his life, knowing somewhat of himself and more of God,--though he may not agree in all points with you, speak as you speak, or use the forms you use,--do not suspect him, think the worse of him, or disparage him; but say, rather, to the confusion of all who would do so, “Why should I persecute him, seeing the root of the matter is found in him?” (Alfred Bowen Evans.)
Seeing the root of the matter is found in me.--
The root of the matter
I. What the patriarch intended by the root that was in him. A root may be employed for any principle from which effects proceed. Sometimes the metaphor is employed for a good principle, as in the parable of the sower, where they who withered because they “had not root,” lacked the good principle from which spiritual life proceeds. We may find several points of analogy between the principle of faith in the soul, and the root of any plant or tree which vegetates upon our earth.
1. The root is the menus of stability. So is faith. As the root balances every plant, from the gigantic oak and the towering cedar, to the hyssop that grows upon the wall, so faith balances and sustains the soul and character of the Christian.
2. The root--and faith--are the channels of nourishment. As the fibrous harts of the root of any plant absorb the moisture which the earth supplies, so faith receives the Spirit which the Saviour imparts. Thus the idea of vitality is intimately connected with faith in the rooting of the Divine Word.
3. Faith is the source of spiritual production. Botanists tell us that the root performs the part of a tender parent, by preserving the embryo plant in its bosom; and thus all the stems, and leaves, and petals, and fruit, are found in the root. Here the analogy is very complete; because as the root is the source of production to the plant, so faith is the source of every other grace in the soul.
II. How the patriarch manifested that this boot was in him.
1. By the confession which he uttered. Faith has ever been the parent of a good confession. Job could say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”
2. By the satisfaction he avows. Faith in the Son of God satisfied his mind under all the desolations.
3. By the disposition he displayed. What was his patience but the result of faith?
III. What the patriarch expected. Forbearance and sympathy from his fellow believers. Many of us greatly err in entertaining uncharitable thoughts, and in using unguarded words, in reference to them who have “the root of the matter in them.” (J. Blackburn.)
Faith a root
Faith is the root of that tree whose flower and fruit is righteousness. Not much fruit is produced without roots. Generally the roots are hid, but they are always there. Sometimes they are unsightly, but they are very necessary. He is a foolish gardener who neglects them, or allows beast or insect to destroy them. So intimate is the relationship existing between belief and righteousness. This utilitarian age may find fault with the careful culture of a faith in the unseen, but these roots, so ugly in many eyes, have produced some luscious fruit. While the world cries out so lustily for the fruits of pure lives and noble deeds, why should it despise the roots from which the finest virtues spring? Christian works are no more than animate faith and love, as the flowers are animate spring buds. (J. L. Jackson.)
The root of the matter
What is the meaning of “the root of the matter”? Everything would seem to depend upon the root; if we go wrong there, we go wrong everywhere. Now what do we mean by the “root”? Sometimes we talk of a radical cure. It simply means a root cure; not a cure of symptoms, not an alleviation of pain for the moment, but going right down to the root. If the root is right, the tree is worth saving; if the root is right the man is saved. The root is the man. Not your coat, but your character is you. Oh, if we could look at one another in the root, there would be ten thousand times better men in the world than we seem to think there are. But we cannot get men to look at root ideas, root purposes. Now, the root is you; what you are in the root, that you really are before God. The root is the verb out of which all the other words come. Here is the verb; how am I to treat this long verb? Wring its tail off; that is the first act in true grammar. Take off its tail, throw it away, there is the root left; that is the thing you have got to deal with. Beware of artificial qualifications, beware of human certificates, if above it all is not the signature of God. So the root is the man. Do we always judge so? What do they say about the man? His “oddities.” Well? His “eccentricities.” Well? His “infirmities.” That is a little deeper, but not much. What of it? His “peculiarities”--what of them? You have said nothing yet; that is not criticism. What is the man’s purpose in life? Talk of that. “Oh, so good!” Then that is the man, and why should you and I talk about his whimsicalities and his oddities? Here is a man about whom they say, “You would mark, I am sure, his want of polish; you would see that there was a great deal of gaucherie about his whole air and manner.” Yes, I saw that. “You observed that he was not metropolitan in his bearing, that there was a good deal of the agricultural districts about him.” Yes, there was a good deal of the agricultural districts about him. Well, what more? Are you going to put me off with that judgment? Oh, tell me what he is in his soul, in his root, in his first idea, in his grandest aspiration. That is the man; that is how God judges us. And here is a man about whom they say, “He made a great many slips, you know.” Yes, he did. What shall we do with him? Will you say? Why do you not tell me about his truthfulness? We are to be judged by our truthfulness, which is permanent, constant, all-pervasive, and not by our accidental alightings upon some great truth, and naming it. Many a man has told the truth occasionally who is not filled with the spirit of truth. And many men are misunderstood about this matter because we look for the wrong points of judgment. Many a man is misunderstood through shyness; he does not do himself justice. And many a man would be better in private life, would do himself more justice, but for timidity, for fear. He wants to be so good, and so proper in all his outward behaviour and relations, that he stumbles in the very act of trying excessively to walk uprightly. Do not misjudge him; tie is a good soul. And many a man is misunderstood by poverty. He has good judgment, he has a capacious mind, but he has no money, and he thinks that poverty should slink off into the corner. My aim is to show you that we must get to the root of a man before we can know what the man is. Look not upon his outward appearance, but look, as God looks, on his heart. “The root” means more than it seems to mean at first. It is not the fruit, but it must bear fruit, or it must be cut up and burned. You cannot have this wonderful, invisible, inscrutable root in you without having some proof of its existence; you must grow something good. Now, what is your fruit? Here, again, is the danger of wrong social judgment. There is your whole world’s judgment upon one another. We are trees of the Lord’s right-hand planting, and I believe in fruit trees of all kinds. I do not believe in a Christianity so absolutely hidden that it never makes itself seen or felt or known in any of the outgoing and action of life. What is the root in a man? Christ, Christ received personally, officially, atoningly, in all the grandeur and pathos of His priestly character; not Christ the Example whom I can keep on a shelf, but Christ the living God that I must hide in my heart if I would have Him at all. Here is the hope of heterodoxy. It is in the root. You know you are curious in your view of things, don’t you? Well, but what do you think of Christ? “Oh, I love Him. Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee.” But do you really and truly love Him? “Yes.” Then you are orthodox. (J. Parker, D. D.)
The root of the matter
I take up the expressive figure of our text to address myself to those who evidently have the grace of God embedded in their hearts, though they put forth tittle blossom and bear little fruit; that they may be consoled, if so be there is clear evidence that at least the root of the matter is found in them.
I. Our first aim then will be to speak of those things which are essential to true godliness in contrast, or, I might better say, in comparison with other things which are to be regarded as shoots rather than as root and groundwork. The tree can do without some of its branches, though the loss of them might be an injury; but it cannot live at all without its roots: the roots are essential. And thus there are things essential in the Christian religion. There are essential doctrines, essential experiences, and there is essential practice.
1. With regard to essential doctrines. It is very desirable for us to be established in the faith. But we are ever ready to confess that there are many doctrines which, though exceedingly precious, are not so essential but that a person may be in a state of grace and yet not receive them. A man with weak eyesight and imperfect vision may be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven; indeed, it is better to enter there having but one eye, than, having two eyes and being orthodox in doctrine, to be cast into hell fire. But there are some distinct truths of revelation that are essential. The doctrine of the Trinity we must ever look upon as being one of the roots of the matter. A Gospel without belief in the living and true God--Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity--is a rope of sand. As well hope to make a pyramid stand upon its apex as to make a substantial Gospel when the real and personal Deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost is left as a meet or disputed point. Likewise essential is the doctrine of the vicarious sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Any bell that does not ring sound on that point had better be melted down directly. So, again, the doctrine of justification by faith is one of the roots of the matter.
2. Turning to another department of my subject; there are certain root matters in reference to experience. It is a very happy thing to have a deep experience of one’s own depravity. It may seem strange, but so it is, a man will scarcely ever have high views of the preciousness of the Saviour who has not also had deep views of the evil of his own heart. High houses, you know, need deep foundations. Yet die you must, before you can be made partaker of resurrection. This much, however, I will venture to say, you may be really a child of God, and yet the plague of your own heart may be but very little understood. You must know something of it, for no man ever did or ever will come to Christ unless he has first learned to loathe himself, and to see that in him, that is in his flesh, there dwelleth no good thing. It is a happy thing, too, to have an experience which keeps close to Christ Jesus; to know what the word “communion” means, without needing to take down another man’s biography. But though all this be well, remember it is not essential. It is not a sign that you are not converted because you cannot understand what it is to sit under His shadow with great delight. You may have been converted, and yet hardly have come so far as that. Now what is the root of the matter experimentally? Well, I think the real root of it is what Job has been talking about in the verses preceding the text--“I know,” saith he, “that my Redeemer liveth.” There must be in connection with this the repentance of sin, but this repentance may be far from perfect, and thy faith in Christ may he far from strong; if Christ Jesus be thine only comfort, thy help, thy hope, thy trust, then understand, this is the root of the matter.
3. Did I not say that there was a root of the matter practically? Yes, and I would to God that we all practically had the branches and the fruits. These will come in their season, and they must come, if we are Christ’s disciples; but nobody expects to see fruit on a tree a week after it has been planted. It is very desirable that all Christians should be full of zeal. The real root of the matter practically is this--“One thing I know; whereas I was blind now I see; the things I once loved I now hate; the things I once hated I love; now it is no more the world, but God; no more the flesh, but Christ; no more pleasure, but obedience; no more what I will, but what Jesus wills.” There are those who do certain duties with a conscientious motive, in order to make themselves Christians--such as observing the Sabbath, holding daily worship of God in their families, and attending the public services of the Lord’s house with regularity. But they do not distinguish between these external acts--which may be but the ornaments that clothe a graceless life, and those fruits of good living that grow out of a holy constitution, which is the root of genuine obedience. Some habits and practices of godly men may be easily counterfeited. You may generally ascertain whether you have got the root of the matter by its characteristic properties. You know a root is a fixing thing. Plants without roots may be thrown over the wall; they may be passed from hand to hand; but a root is a fixed thing. Well, now, if you have got the root of the matter you are fixed to God, fixed to Christ, fixed to things Divine. If you are tempted, you are not soon carried away. Oh, how many professors there are that have no roots! Get them into godly company, and they are such saints; but get them with other company, and what if I say that they are devils! You have no roots unless you can say, “O God! my heart is fixed, my heart is fixed; by stern resolve and by firm covenant Thine I am; bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” Again, a root is not only a fixing thing, but a quickening thing. What is it that first sets the sap a-flowing in the spring? Why, it is the root. Ah! and you must have a vital principle; you must have a living principle. Some Christians are like those toys they import from France, which have sand in them; the sand runs down, and some little invention turns and works them as long as the sand is running, but when the sand is all out it stops. A root, too, is a receiving thing. The botanists tell us a great many things about the ends of the roots, which can penetrate into the soil hunting after the particular food upon which the tree is fed. Ah! and if you have got the root of the matter in you, you will send those roots into the pages of Scripture, sometimes into a hymn book, often into the sermon, and into God’s Providence, seeking that something upon which your soul can feed. Hence it follows that the root becomes a supplying thing, because it is a receiving thing. We must have a religion that lives upon God, and that supplies us with strength to live for God.
II. Wherever there is the root of the matter there is very much ground for comfort. Sounds there in my ears the sigh, the groan, the sad complaint--“I do not grow as I could wish; I am not so holy as I want to be; I cannot praise and bless the Lord as I could desire; I am afraid I am not a fruitful bough whose branches run over the wall”? Yes, but is the root of the matter in you? If so, cheer up, you have cause for gratitude. Remember that in some things you are equal to the greatest and most full-grown Christian. You are as much bought with blood, O little saints, as are the holy brotherhood. You are as much an adopted child of God as any other Christian. You are as truly justified, for your justification is not a thing of degrees. Though “less than nothing I can boast, and vanity confess,” yet, if the root of the matter be in me, I will rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the God of my salvation.
III. Wherever the root of the matter is, there we should take care that we watch it with tenderness and with love. If you meet with young professors who have the root of the matter in them, do not begin condemning them for lack of knowledge. People must begin to say “Twice two are four,” before they can ever come to be very learned in mathematics. Now I ask you, by way of solemn searching investigation, Have you the root of the matter in you? (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The substance of true religion
You will always understand a passage of Scripture better if you carefully attend to its connection. Job in the verse before us is answering Bildad the Shuhite. Now, this Bildad on two occasions had described Job as a hypocrite, and accounted for his dire distress by the fact that, though hypocrites may flourish for a time, they will ultimately be destroyed. In the two bitter speeches which he made he described the hypocrite under the figure of a tree which is torn up by the roots, or dies down even to the root. The inference he meant to draw was this: you, Job, are utterly dried up, for all your prosperity is gone, and therefore you must be a hypocrite. No, says Job, I am no hypocrite. I will prove it by your own words, for the root of the matter is still in me, and therefore I am no hypocrite. Though I admit that I have lost branch, and leaf, and fruit, and flower, yet I have not lost the root of the matter, for I hold the essential faith as firmly as ever; and therefore, by your own argument, I am no hypocrite, and “Ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?” There is a something in true religion which is its essential root.
I. Our first thought will be that this root of the matter may be clearly defined. We are not left in the dark as to what the essential point of true religion is: it can be laid down with absolute certainty. This is the root of the matter, to believe in the incarnate God, to accept His headship, to claim His kinship, and to rely upon His redemption. Still look at the text further, and you perceive that the root of the matter is to believe that this Kinsman, this Redeemer, lives. We could never find comfort or salvation in one who had ceased to be.
II. This fundamental matter is most instructively described by the words which I have so constantly repeated “the root of the matter.” What does this mean?
1. First, does it not mean that which is essential? “The root of the matter.” To a tree a root is absolutely essential; it is a mere pole or piece of timber if there be no root. It can be a tree of a certain sort without branches, and at certain seasons without leaves, but not without a root. So, if a man hath faith in the Redeemer, though he may be destitute of a thousand other most needful things, yet the essential point is settled: he that believeth in Christ Jesus hath everlasting life.
2. The root, again, is not only that which is vital to the tree, it is from the root that the life force proceeds by which the trunk and the branches are nourished and sustained. There is hope of a tree if it be cut down that it shall sprout again, at the scent of water it shall bud; so long as there is a root there is more or less of vitality and power to grow, and so faith in Christ is the vital point of religion; he that believeth liveth.
3. Again, it is called the “root of the matter” because it comprehends all the rest; for everything is in the root. The holiness of heaven is packed away in the faith of a penitent sinner. Look at the crocus bulb; it is a poor, mean, unpromising sort of thing, and yet wrapped up within that brown package there lies a golden cup, which in the early spring will be filled with sunshine: you cannot see that wondrous chalice within the bulb; but He who put it there knows where He has concealed His treasure. The showers and the sun shall unwrap the enfoldings, and forth shall come that dainty cup to be set upon God’s great table of nature, as an intimation that the feast of summer is soon to come. The highest saintship on earth is hidden within the simplicity of a sinner’s faith.
III. This root of the matter may be personally discerned as being in a man’s own possession. Job says to his teasing friends, “Ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?” Notice the curious change of pronouns. “Ye should say, Why persecute we him seeing the root of the matter is found in him?” that is how the words would naturally run. But Job is so earnest to clear himself from Bildad’s insinuation that he is a hypocrite, that he will not speak of himself in the third person, but plainly declares, “The root of the matter is found in me.” Job seems to say, “The vital part of the matter may or may not be in you, but it is in me, I know. You may not believe me, but I know it is so, and I tell you to your faces that no argument of yours can rob me of this confidence; for as I know that my Redeemer liveth, I know that the root of the matter is found in me.” Many Christian people are afraid to speak in that fashion. They say, “I humbly hope it is so, and trust it is so.” That sounds prettily; but is it right? Is that the way in which men speak about their houses and lands? Do you possess a little freehold? Did I hear you answer, “I humbly hope that my house and garden are my own”? What, then, are your title deeds so questionable that you do not know?
1. Note well that sometimes this root needs to be searched for. Job says, “the root of the matter is found in me,” as if he had looked for it, and made a discovery of what else had been hidden. Roots generally lie underground and out of sight, and so may our faith in the Redeemer. I can understand a Christian doubting whether he is saved or not, but I cannot understand his being happy while he continues to doubt about it, nor happy at all till he is sure of it.
2. And note again, the root of the matter in Job was an inward thing. “The root of the matter is found in me.” He did not say, “I wear the outward garb of a religious man”; no, but “the root of the matter is found in me.” If you, my hearers, are in the possession of the essence of true Christianity, it does not lie in your outward profession. True godliness is not separable from the godly man; it is woven into him just as a thread enters into the essence and substance of the fabric.
3. When grace is found in us, and we do really believe in our Redeemer, we ought to avow it; for Job says, “The root of the mutter is found in me. I know that my Redeemer liveth.” Are there not some among you who have never said as much as that?
4. The fact of our having the root of the matter in us will be a great comfort to us. “Alas,” saith Job, “my servant will not come when I call him, my wife is strange to me, my kinsfolk fail me, but I know that my Redeemer liveth. Bildad and Zophar, and others of them, all condemn me, but my conscience acquits me, for I know that the root of the matter is in me.” Critics may find fault with our experience, and they may call our earnest utterances rant, but this will not affect the truth of our conversion, or the acceptableness of our testimony for Jesus. If the little bird within our bosom sings sweetly it is of small consequence if all the owls in the world hoot at us. There is more real comfort in the possession of simple faith than in the fond persuasion that you are in a high state of grace.
5. This fact also will be your defence against opposers. Thus may you answer them in Job’s fashion, “You ought not to condemn me; for, though I am not what I ought to be, or what I want to be, or what I shall be, yet still the root of the matter is found in me. Be kind to me, therefore.” If our friends are sincere in their attachment to the Redeemer, let us treat them as our brethren in Christ.
IV. This root of the matter is to be tenderly respected by all who see it. “Ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?”
1. What a rebuke this is to the persecutions which have been carried on by nominal Christians against each other, sect against sect! How can those who trust in the same Saviour rend and devour each other? If I believe, and rest my soul on the one salvation which God has provided in Christ Jesus, have charity towards me, for this rock will bear both thee and me. This should end all religious persecutions.
2. But next it ought to be the end of all ungenerous denunciations. If I know that a man is really believing in Jesus Christ, I may not treat him as an enemy.
3. Further than this, the question is, “Why persecute we him?” We can do that by a cold mistrust. Do not let us stand off in holy isolation from any who have the root of the matter in them. Wherefore should we persecute such? (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Roots give fixity
A root is a fixing thing. Plants without roots may be thrown over the wall; they may be passed from hand to hand; but a root is a fixing thing. How firmly the oaks are rooted in the ground. You may think of those old oaks in the park; ever so far off you have seen the roots coming out of the ground, and then they go in again, and you have said, “Why I what do these thick fibres belong to?” Surely they belong to one of those old oaks ever so far away. They had sent that root there to get a good holdfast, so that when the March wind comes through the forest and other trees are torn up--fir trees, perhaps trees that have outgrown their strength at the top, while they have too little hold at bottom--the old oaks bow to the tempest, curtsey to the storm, and anon they lift up their branches again in calm dignity; they cannot be blown down. Now if you have got the root of the matter you are fixed, you are fixed to God, fixed to Christ, fixed to things Divine. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Job 19". The Biblical Illustrator. https://beta.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24