The Book of Job is an amazing book! It is a book that has many layers to it; the more layers one peels back, the more truth is discovered. When one gives this book enough examination, when enough layers have been peeled back, one can see the Book of Job deals with a variety of topics including human suffering, human sin, God’s sovereignty and providence, God’s justice, justification before God, nature, creation, the heavenly realm, and even epistemology and metaphysics to name a few. However, in the following I would like to focus on the topic of how a particular passage in the Book of Job points to the two natures of Christ and how both of Christ’s natures are necessary for our hope in the future resurrection of our bodies.
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25-27 ESV)
Let’s begin with the statement “at the last he will stand upon the earth”. The Hebrew word translated into the English word “earth” can also mean “dust” (BibleHub, n.d.). Job’s description (or proclamation) that “at the last he shall stand upon the dust” is in contradistinction to man who, according to the Old Testament, comes from the dust and returns to the dust:
“then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7 ESV).
“… till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19 ESV)
“When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.” (Psalm 104:29 ESV)
“All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.” (Ecclesiastes 3:20 ESV)
Of more significance, this same word is used throughout the context of the Book of Job in reference to death (shining more light on the significance of its use in verse 25):
“Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust?” (Job 10:9 ESV)
“Will it go down to the bars of Sheol? Shall we descend together into the dust?” (Job 17:16 ESV)
“His bones are full of his youthful vigor, but it will lie down with him in the dust.” (Job 20:11 ESV)
“They lie down alike in the dust, and the worms cover them.” (Job 21:26 ESV)
“all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.” (Job 34:15 ESV)
“Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below.” (Job 40:13 ESV)
That this “Redeemer” will “stand upon the dust”, “at the last”, rather than returning to the dust at some point prior to “the last” suggests the “Redeemer” is enduring, unable to see corruption. Therefore, this “Redeemer” is immutable, eternal, and therefore divine. Even “at the last”, which can also mean ‘in the very end’ (BibleHub, n.d.), this “Redeemer” will endure, standing on that which man must return. This “Redeemer” must be the same “God” in verse 26, otherwise he would return to the dust.
But the word/concept translated as “Redeemer” is one who is also ‘next of kin’ (BibleHub, n.d.):
If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold… If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit… If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave… You shall not rule over him ruthlessly but shall fear your God. (Leviticus 25:25, 35-37, 39, 40, &43 ESV).
It is true that Job likely lived prior to the writing of Leviticus, or at least was not amongst the Old Covenant community either when Leviticus was written or societally applied. However, William Henry Green, who was an Old Testament scholar and one of America’s foremost linguists, believed Job was in fact referencing a nearly identical concept/practice:
“It is commonly supposed, and with reason, that in this word ‘redeemer’ there lies an allusion to an institution dating from the simple and as yet but partially regulated society of patriarchal times, and which was subsequently admitted with some restrictions and modifications into the Mosaic code. It was the office of the next of kin to espouse the cause of his injured or impoverished relative; to redeem his property, and restore it to him if he had in any way forfeited it or been obliged to sell it; to defend him against injury and wrong; and, especially, to avenge his blood if he had been unrighteously slain.” (Green, 1874)
If Job was merely human, and he was, then it follows that all of Job’s kin, especially the one in closest relation to him, must be human too. How does Job have a “Redeemer” who is both divine and eternal, yet ‘next of kin’, his own flesh and blood? I don’t know if Job was aware of the implications of what he said, but the words of his lips, in describing this “Redeemer”, point to some one or some person with both a divine nature and a human nature.
From what will this “Redeemer” redeem Job from? The concept of Redeemer relates primarily to one’s property or finances (Leviticus 25:25&35). But Job speaks of and hopes for a redemption of his flesh: “after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another ” (Job 19:26& 27 ESV). Job was referring to his own body being resurrected, even after it has been destroyed and decomposed. We are debtors and death is what we deserve (Mathew 6:12; Romans 6:23). But we have a “Redeemer” who will redeem what has been lost.
I think Charles Spurgeon articulates the meaning of this quite well:
“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 sends his troops to take our vineyard and to spoil the vines thereof and ruin it. But we turn round to death and say, ‘I know that my Goel [Redeemer] liveth, and he will redeem this heritage; I have lost it; thou hast taken it from me lawfully, O Death, because my sin hath forfeited my right; I have lost my heritage through my own offense and through that of my first parent Adam; but there lives one who will buy this back.‘” (Spurgeon, n.d.)
The resurrection of the body was the redemption Job was thinking of and setting his hope in as he seemed to be nearing death himself (Job 2:7&12; Job 7:8; Job 10:9; Job 30:23). A redeemer is not able to redeem if he is under the same poverty as the one he is supposed to redeem: a mere man can redeem another mere man from death about as effectively as a poverty-stricken homeless man can house another poverty-stricken homeless man. Thus, Job’s “Redeemer” must be God himself, one whom death has not the ability to conquer. Yet, to be Job’s Redeemer he must also be Job’s kin (Leviticus 25:25). Jesus is both of these things. He is God, and he is man. He has conquered death by his divinity, and he is the brother, the closest brother, to sinners by his humanity (Hebrews 2:11-14&17). Jesus fulfilled Job’s description when he took on a human nature (John 1:14), conquered death (2 Timothy 1:10), and accomplished redemption for his brethren (Hebrews 9:12 & 15; Revelation 5:9).
In conclusion, we see how the words of Job, a suffering servant, point to another suffering servant who is divine and human; and who redeems sinners from that which justice demands: death and hell. I hope the one who reads this sees, or will soon see, the Lord Jesus, who is truly God and truly man, as his or her own “Redeemer”, to God’s glory!
English Standard Version of the Bible. (2011). Crossway.
Job 19:25. (n.d.). BibleHub: https://biblehub.com/interlinear/job/19-25.htm
6083. aphar (n.d.). BibleHub: https://biblehub.com/hebrew/6083.htm
314. acharon. (n.d.). BibleHub: https://biblehub.com/hebrew/314.htm
Leviticus 25:25. (n.d.). BibleHub: https://biblehub.com/interlinear/leviticus/25-25.htm
Green, W.H. (1874). Conflict and Trumph: The Argument of the Book of Job Unfolded (pp. 94). First Banner of Truth Edition (1999).
Spurgeon, C.H. (2001). I Know That My Redeemer Liveth. In K. J. Allen, The Suffering of Man and the Sovereignty of God: Twenty-Five Selected Sermons from the Book of Job (pp. 168-169). Fox River Press.