Job 19:1-6, 21-27
I know that my Redeemer lives may be the best-known verse (25) in all of Job thanks to Handel’s Messiah. Handel was one of the world’s greatest composers, but that didn’t make him a great theologian. Reading the verses that lead up to this famous verse is important.
After enduring Bildad’s blistering condemnation, Job asks, How long will you torment me? (v. 2). Whatever errors Job committed, how did they harm his visitors? Why do they persecute him? They should have pity on him because, as they say, God has persecuted him and ruined his life. Isn’t that reason enough?
Job accepts Bildad’s point that his god has done this to him. His suffering must come from the divine, he reasons, for who else could do this to him? But Job insists it was done unjustly. Bildad’s god is unfair, because Job doesn’t deserve this. O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock forever (v. 24), Job wishes. Then future generations could stand against Bildad’s theology.
Now Job makes a turn that continues through the rest of the book. This becomes his first speech that doesn’t end with a wish for death. From now on, he hopes for his Redeemer (v. 25) to provide justice. The identity of this Redeemer isn’t quite clear. The word gives Handel permission to claim this is Christ, though I’m uncomfortable tying it up so neatly.
What is clear is that Job has changed. Now Job pursues God and believes that he’ll receive justice. When our theology no longer makes sense with the hard realities we experience, Job invites us to transform our theology, listen for a new word from God, and look for a Redeemer whose being is larger than we’ve yet to understand.
How has your theology changed in the last ten to twenty years? How might it be different in the next ten to twenty years?
God, help me release those beliefs that restrict my faith, open me to beliefs that make my faith soar, and give me wisdom to know the difference. Amen.