By Mike Dawson
Retired Baptist pastor
Focal Passage: Job 19:19-29
So might a ring announcer introduce the champ in Round One of the ‘boxing match’ featuring Job the Uzzite, pitted against a tag team calling themselves ‘The Three Friends:’ Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.
It’s uncertain who’d be declared the winner of Round One, dealing with the nature of God. Job began the match by declaring that God should have taken his life after childbirth (chapter 3).
Eliphaz then pounded Job with emotional punches (chapters 6-7), then Bildad hammered away with accusations that Job was a hypocrite (chapter 8), and Job once again went on the defensive (chapters 9-10), even blaming God for not allowing him to speak for himself.
Finally Zophar entered the ring, declaring that God had given Job less pain than he actually deserved (chapter 11). Job fought back in chapter 12, and his self-defense continued in chapters 13-14, where last week’s study showed Job asking the age-old question, “If a man dies, will he live again?” (14:14)
Our larger text for today’s study, Job 15:1 through 21:3 — call it Round Two — deals with the fate of the wicked. This round proceeds much like Round One, and in the same order: Eliphaz starts this set of accusations (chapter 15), followed by Job’s defense (chapters 16-17), followed by Bildad’s blows (chapter 18), followed by Job’s rebuttal, chapter 19, followed by Zophar re-entering the ring, announcing the fate of the wicked (chapter 20), and Job countering with his own version of that subject (chapter 21), thus ending Round Two.
The text for today’s study is made up of Job’s counter-punches described in chapter 19, verses 19-29, containing one of the highest points in the whole book. Job’s story is full of ups and downs; this moment is definitely one of his greatest “ups.” Job shares his continued frustrations with his so-called ‘friends,’ maintaining his own innocence (verses 19-22).
His phrase found in verse 20, “escaped by the skin of my teeth,” is often quoted by people after very narrow escapes; they probably have no idea of the phrase’s origin! Then Job sighs, “I wish my words were written down,” (verse 23) without realizing that God was indeed writing them down — forever. Now comes that mountain-peak moment: Job says “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth” (verse 25).
Remember Boaz the wealthy bachelor who married Ruth the young widow? He took over all her debts as her “kinsman redeemer.” This time-honored Hebrew law allowed someone to take on the obligations of another — if they were related. Job gives a prophetic picture of Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother, who by His death and resurrection became our Redeemer.
Thank God we can know our Redeemer lives — and we shall behold Him! Job then moves from promise to punishment; he tells his “miserable comforters” that they should fear the judgment of God for their false accusations (verses 28-29).
Eventually Job’s words will prove true about God’s sword on them; but that’s a story for later. B&R — Dawson is pastor emeritus at First Baptist Church, Columbia, and also serves as transitional interim around the state.