I know that my redeemer lives,
And that at the last he will stand upon the earth
These words from the Book of Job are read at the beginning of almost every Episcopal funeral.
There’s a pretty famous, and quite wonderful, musical rendition of this text which is included in Handel’s /Messiah/. You can watch a YouTube clip of that below:
On its own, the text seems to be pointing to Jesus, who is our Redeemer. Knowing that our redeemer “lives” appears to be a call of victory that would make sense on any Easter morning.
But, Job, when he utters these words, is in no way thinking about Jesus here. He has a whole different sort of “redeemer” in mind.
In fact, when Job extols the virtues of his redeemer, he’s actually talking about someone who resembles a lawyer who will come and help him take God to court. He wants to sue God because he has come to believe that God has wronged him—he believes that God wrongly allowed all the horrible things that happened to Job. He’s so convinced of his own innocence, and God’s guilt, that he believe that any impartial judge would see it this way.
All he needs is a good lawyer.
In this week’s lesson from Job 23 we find these words:
Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?
No; but he would give heed to me.
There an upright person could reason with him,
and I should be acquitted forever by my judge.
Isn’t this amazing?! Job the upright and just man, who God brags about to all the heavenly host, ends up getting so upset with God that he says /outloud/ that he thinks a good lawyer and a good judge could successfully bring suit against God.
And, not only does Job think this, and say this—but then his words get memorialized as scripture.
Now, next week we’ll hear God’s response to Job. It’s not pretty. At the end of it Job is put back in his place with his knees knocking.
But, also in the end, Job is found to honestly express to God what was on his heart. His relationship with God meant enough to him that he felt it appropriate to be honest with God. And, like when we spout off to a friend or spouse, Job had to go back and apologize.
But, I’m convinced that God was at least pleased with one thing: Job’s relationship with God meant enough to him that he was willing to express his displeasure.
What’s on your mind with God today?