Theme: Job’s Faith in His Redeemer
In this week’s lessons, we look at the amazing trust that Job had in his coming Redeemer.
Scripture: Job 19:25-27
There was a purpose to all of Job’s suffering, of course. This is what the story’s opening and epilogue are all about. I call it the meaning of history, namely, that God and his ways are good even if they do not seem good to us, even if they involve us in much suffering, and that believers prove the truth of this by how they accept what God sends. But here the point is that God’s plans were entirely unknown to Job. Job had not the faintest idea what was going on. He knew he had not done anything to deserve these overwhelming tragedies and defended himself when his friends tried to convince him that he must have done something very wicked. But still he had no idea what was happening.
Which makes his faith even more remarkable since it is a fully developed resurrection faith emerging out of what seem to be the most devastating of faith-destroying circumstances.
The idea of redemption is so important in the Old Testament that there are three words rather than merely one word to describe it. One is padah. A second is kopher. The third is ga’al (noun form, goel). All three words have to do with a powerful person intervening to help another who is helpless. A redeemer takes up his friend’s cause. If he has lost his inheritance through debt, the redeemer buys it back and restores it to him. Boaz did this in the case of Naomi and Ruth, restoring Naomi’s land to her. If the helpless individual has been carried off by a warring, neighboring tribe, the redeemer flies to the rescue and brings his friend home again. Abraham did this when his nephew Lot and his family were carried off by the marauding eastern kings who attacked Sodom and four other cities of the plain.
The third of these three words for redeemer and redemption is the one used by Job, goel. It means everything I have explained each of the other words also mean, but it is distinct from them in that it refers specifically to the duty of a relative or kinsman. It was a kinsman’s duty to redeem, and ga’al emphasizes this responsibility. That is why the verb has also given us the noun goel, which means specifically “a kinsman redeemer.”
Put this into the context of Job’s remarkable confession of faith. He is speaking of God when he says he has a Redeemer. (The New International Version rightly capitalizes the word “Redeemer.”) But by choosing the word ga’al, rather than either padah or kopher, Job is saying that the basis of his faith is that he is related to God. That is, God is his kinsman! And it is because of this relationship that he knows God will appear in time on his behalf. His wife had rejected his profession of innocence. His friends were encouraging him to confess his wrongdoing. But Job knows that he still has a living Redeemer who will stand up for him and vindicate him in due time.
Do you have a Redeemer like that? A faith like that? If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you can know that you are not alone, however alone you may feel, and that you have a God who is for you and will one day appear in power on your behalf.
What was the purpose of Job’s suffering?
What is the general meaning of the Hebrew words padah, kopher and goel? How is goel unique?
Why is it so striking that Job uses the word goel?
Reflection: Think of a time when you have experienced suffering. Did you, like Job, look to God in trusting faith? Do you set your eyes and heart on your redeemer, despite your surrounding trials?