Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 11 2019 - Job 19 – Job's torment and hope

Yesterday we looked at the speech of Eliphaz, the first of Job's "comforters",  recorded in Job 4-5. Job's reply is then in chapters 6-7, prompting Job's second friend, Bildad, to have a go at putting Job right in chapter 8. Job then replies to Bildad in chapters 9-10 to be followed by Job's third friend, Zophar, counselling Job in chapter 11. Job's answer to Zophar in chapters 12-14 triggers a second round of debate. Eliphaz speaks in chapter 15, Job replies in chapters 16-17, Bildad returns in chapter 18 before we read Job's reply here in chapter 19.

These rounds of debate between Job and his friends do not seem to be providing any resolution to the question of why Job is suffering, nor are they bringing any comfort to poor Job. Unsurprisingly Job complains, "How long will you torment me and crush me with words?" (19:2).

Job argues that if his suffering is the result of some sin, that is between him and God and it is not to be turned into a matter of investigation and debate by his "friends " (v. 4). Job knows that God has, in some sense, sent all these troubles upon him – it is as if God has thrown a net around him and trapped him in it – but he does not know the reason why (v. 6). Perhaps the greatest pain for Job is that he feels that God is totally unresponsive to his cries for help (v. 7). He feels trapped and humiliated in his suffering and totally without any real friends. It's as if God were treating him as an enemy rather than as one who had loved God and delighted in serving him (vv. 11-12).

Job's description in verses 13-20 of the way in which his remaining family, former friends, and even his servants now avoid him is pitiable. In his sickness he has become a living skeleton; he has only escaped death "by the skin of [his] teeth" (v. 20).

Job has expressed the pain he feels because his cries to God for help go unanswered. But even in his distress, he has not given up hope – hope in God. He longs that his words might be recorded indelibly so that they will stand as a plea before God (vv. 23-24). This leads to Job's remarkable affirmation of faith in verses 25-27:

I know that my redeemer lives,
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
    with my own eyes – I, and not another.
    How my heart yearns within me!

Job cannot understand why such suffering has been visited upon him, but he remains confident in his knowledge of God rooted in his lifelong determination to live a life pleasing to God. He is confident that the day will come when God will rescue and vindicate him. He knows that he will see God; he will stand in God's presence and discover that God is his defender and redeemer whether that be in this present life or when his body is laid in the grave. He knows God will not abandon him.

We have more reason for such certainty than Job. Jesus Christ, God's Son, came into this world to be our redeemer. His resurrection has destroyed the power of sin and death to separate us from God. We can be confident that Jesus our Redeemer lives for us and that through his redeeming work we also will at last see God. We may face death, but we will also share in his resurrection life and in his eternal kingdom and glory. Job warns his friends that they too will face the judgment of God (v.29). But we know that all who trust in Christ need no longer fear the judgment of God.

Father God, thank you for our great Redeemer. May we trust him in life and in death and be used to lead our friends to trust also in him.

Peter Misselbrook