At 42 chapters, Job is one of the longest books in the Old Testament. Its structure is somewhat unusual. The first two chapters are the prologue, written in ordinary prose. They tell the story of how Job loses everything in the space of a single day. His riches and his family are taken from him. In Chapter 2, he loses his health as well. His wife turns against him, urging him to curse God and die.
Then, his friends arrive to comfort and sympathize with him. They sit silently beside him for seven days and seven nights. It is not until they open their mouths that they become “miserable comforters (Job 16:2).”
Chapters 3-31, the longest portion of the book, takes the form of a debate between Job and his friends. Job breaks the silence in 3:1-10 by cursing the day of his birth and wondering why God had allowed him to be born if only to suffer.
This is more than his friends can take. Eliphaz replies first. We looked at that last week. And the debate goes on for 28 chapters—Eliphaz, job, Bildad, Job, Zophar, Job—and so on. The cycle repeats three times. One thing to note is that the things that his friends say sound good. Their words are correct, even beautiful—but they are wrong because they do not apply to this situation and to this individual.
We looked at some of Eliphaz’s first speech last week, so let’s give Bildad and Zophar equal time.
2 “How long will you
say such things?
restore you to your prosperous state.
That’s cold! “Your children died because they sinned.”
say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless
“You haven’t even gotten all that you deserve.”
These guys are brutal!
As the debate goes on Job’s friends become more intense as Job becomes calmer. As the debate goes on Job answers his friends less and speaks to God more. In fact, both passages we read this morning are Job’s words addressed to God. Even though he is responding to his friends’ accusations, he is speaking to God.
In our text today, Job is at his lowest point but still he is grasping for hope. And he does what we all do, turn to nature because let’s face it, it is in nature where we can see tangible signs of renewal and new life.
Okay, so back to our text. Job is looking at nature, thinking about all the ways it regenerates itself and he settles on the image of a tree. He describes how the tree sometimes will continue to grow even when it is cut. He describes how the roots of a tree will not wither and die if someone cuts the tree down. Job even goes to say that at the first whiff of water, the tree will spring to life. An encounter with water will bring new life for the tree.
But Job notices something else. He notices that he is not a tree. He does not have the power of regeneration. If he is cut or even if he dies, that is the end. So, Job goes on to say that he is more like a dried up river or lake with no hope of every being filled again.
Well, let’s stop a minute. That’s not exactly right. Once again, a good rainstorm can fill them back up again. Sure, it will take a lot of water but still water can bring new life.
Notice a theme?
So what Job finally settles on as he is expressing his anguish, his anger, his fear, his disappointment to God is that he has no hope unless God remembers. Now, Job is not wanting God to say, “Oops, I forget all about Job. Guess I need to check in on him and see how he is holding up under all this stress.”
This is more like Job telling God we are in this thing together and it is time God remembered what God promised, what God had promised and covenanted to do as Job’s God. God had promised be a God of love, a God of justice, a God of mercy, a God who is always there and it is about time God starting acting like the God Job knew and expected God to be. What Job knows is that in God remembering there is a promise. And it is a promise of new life. It is a promise of possibilities.
In our Bible, we are told story after story of how God remembered God’s people, like when God remembered Noah and all the living things. After the flood while Noah was floating around, waiting and wondering, probably losing all hope of ever seeing dry land again, we are told God remembered. God remembered Noah and all the living things on that boat. The waters began to recede, and new life began.
We are told that God remembered Abraham and Sarah when they were old and beyond child bearing years, probably giving up all hope that they would ever have a child. But then God remembered them, and Isaac was born to them.
We are told that God remembered Rachel who cried out to her God. Her sister Leah was having child after child while Rachel was barren. We are told that God remembered Rachel and she gave birth to Joseph.
We are told that God remembered the Israelites while they were in slavery. God heard their cries and remembered God’s covenant with God’s people. God sent Moses to free the Israelites and bring them to the promise land. God remembered and there was new life.
We are told that God remembered Hannah who was bullied by her husband’s other wife because she had no child. Hannah worshipped God and God remembered her. And a son, Samuel was born, and this son grew up to be one of the greatest prophets for the people of God.
It happens in the New Testament as well. Jesus, while dying on the cross, cries out to God, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” And God remembers. Yes, Jesus dies but he is brought forth in new life for the people of God through the resurrection.
Paul, sitting in jail, alone and frighten, prays to his God. And God remembers. The Earth shakes and quakes. The bars come down. And Paul is free.
Time and time again, we are told through our stories of faith, that God will remember the people of God. And when God does this, God will act, and bring forth new life.
I’m not saying that when God remembers we are going to get exactly what we want or what we hoped would come about in life. What I am saying is that when God remembers God’s people, lives become filled with possibilities once more. These possibilities may not look like what we expected or even what we hoped for, but they are still possibilities of new life.
Job even hints at the possibility of a resurrection in vss. 13-15,
only you would hide me in the grave
This is not a full-blown doctrine of resurrection, but it is Job expressing his hope that possibly, after he has died, that God might call him, and he will answer.
What is a flicker in Job becomes a raging fire in 1 Corinthians 15:55,
“Where, O death, is your
A remarkable thing about Job is that he continues to trust in God, even though he doesn’t understand what God is doing, even though his friends are pointing their fingers at him and accusing him of sin. In fact, at one point he says,
he slay me, yet will I hope in him;
I will take my case before God, because I know in the end I will be vindicated. That is really the meaning of 19:25
I know that my redeemer
When we Christians read that word redeemer our minds go instantly to Jesus. But Job is not talking about Jesus. The word redeemer is our old friend go’el – the kinsman redeemer, whose job it is to intervene on the behalf of a relative who is in trouble. Perhaps it is better translated vindicator. Job had said in 13:18, “I know I will be vindicated.” He believes that, if he is given the chance to present his case before God, that God will vindicate him.
This is exactly what is going to happen in chapter 42. But, Job doesn’t know that yet. Even though he doesn’t understand why he is suffering, even though he blames God for his suffering, he still turns to God as his go’el.
And, of course, even though Job is not thinking of Jesus, it is completely correct for us to do so. Jesus is our Advocate (1 John 2:1) before the Father. He plead our case and, because he has paid the redemption price for us, we are vindicated in Him.
Trust in God’s care. Even when he is silent. “We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.”
In the end, God will speak (chs 38-42). He will answer Job’s plea—but for now, in the midst of his despair, Job must cling to the hope that God will answer.
And today the question, “If a man dies will he live again?” (14:14) is answered for all mankind in the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and each believer has the hope of Job.
“I know that my redeemer lives . . . in my flesh I will see God” (19:25, 26).