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"MY REDEEMER LIVETH"
WITH simple strong art sustained by exuberant eloquence the author has now thrown his hero upon our sympathies, blending a strain of expectancy with tender emotion. In shame and pain, sick almost to death, baffled in his attempts to overcome the seeming indifference of Heaven, the sufferer lies broken and dejected. Bildad’s last address describing the fate of the godless man has been deliberately planned to strike at Job under cover of a general statement of the method of retribution. The pictures of one seized by the "firstborn of death," of the lightless and desolate habitation, the withered branches and decaying remembrance of the wicked, are plainly designed to reflect Job’s present state and forecast his coming doom. At first the effect is almost overwhelming. The judgment of men is turned backward and like the forces of nature and providence has become relentless. The united pressure on a mind weakened by the body’s malady goes far to induce despair. Meanwhile the sufferer must endure the burden not only of his personal calamities and the alienation of all human friendships, but also of a false opinion with which he has to grapple as much for the sake of mankind as for his own. He represents the seekers after the true God and true religion in an age of darkness, aware of doubts other men do not admit, labouring after a hope of which the world feels no need. The immeasurable weight this lays on the soul is to many unknown. Some few there are, as Carlyle says, and Job appears one of them, who "have to realise a worship for themselves, or live unworshipping. In dim forecastings, wrestles within them the ‘Divine Idea of the World,’ yet will nowhere visibly reveal itself. The Godlike has vanished from the world; and they, by the strong cry of their soul’s agony, like true wonder workers, must again evoke its presence. The doom of the Old has long been pronounced, and irrevocable; the Old has passed away; but, alas, the New appears not in its stead, the Time is still in pangs of travail with the New. Man has walked by the light of conflagrations and amid the sound of falling cities; and now there is darkness, and tong watching till it be morning. The voice of the faithful can but exclaim: ‘As yet struggles the twelfth hour of the night: birds of darkness are on the wing, spectres uproar, the dead. walk, the living dream. Thou, Eternal Providence, wilt cause the day to dawn.’"
As in the twelfth hour of the night, the voices of men sounding hollow and strange to him, the author of the Book of Job found himself. Current ideas about God would have stifled his thought if he had not realised his danger and the world’s danger and thrown himself forward, breaking through, even with defiance and passion, to make a way for reason to the daylight of God. Limiting and darkening statements he took up as they were presented to him over and over again; he tracked them to their sources in ignorance, pedantry, hardness of temper. He insisted that the one thing for a man is resolute clearness of mind, openness to the teaching of God, to the correction of the Almighty, to that truth of the whole world which alone corresponds to faith. Believing that the ultimate satisfying object of faith will disclose itself at last to every pure seeker, each in his degree, he began his quest and courageously pursued it, never allowing hope to wander where reason dared not follow, checking himself on the very brink of alluring speculation by a deliberate reconnaissance of the facts of life and the limitations of knowledge. Nowhere more clearly than in this speech of Job does the courageous truthfulness of the author show itself. He seems to find his oracle, and then with a sigh return to the path of sober reality because as yet verification of the sublime idea is beyond his power. The vision appears and is fixed in a vivid picture-marking the highest flight of his inspiration-that those who follow may have it before them, to be examined, tried, perhaps approved in the long run. But for himself, or at any rate for his hero, one who has to find his faith through the natural world and its revelations of Divine faithfulness, the bounds within which absolute certainty existed for the human mind at that time are accepted unflinchingly. The hope remains; but assurance is sought on a lower level, where the Divine order visible in the universe sheds light on the moral life of man.
That inspiration should thus work within bounds, conscious of itself, yet restrained by human ignorance, may be questioned. The apprehension of transcendent truth not yet proved by argument, the authoritative statement of such truth for the guidance and confirmation of faith, lastly, complete independence of ordinary criticism-are not these the functions and qualities of inspiration? And yet, here, the inspired man, with insight fresh and marvellous, declines to allow his hero or any thinker repose in the very hope which is the chief fruit of his inspiration, leaving it as something thrown out, requiring to be tested and verified; and meanwhile he takes his stand as a prophet on those nearer, in a sense more common, yet withal sustaining principles that are within the range of the ordinary mind. Such we shall find to be the explanation of the speeches of the Almighty and their absolute silence regarding the future redemption. Such also may be said to be the reason of the epilogue, apparently so inconsistent with the scope of the poem. On firm ground the writer takes his stand-ground which no thinker of his time could declare to be hollow. The thorough saneness of his mind, shown in this final decision, gives all the more life to the flashes of prediction and the Divine intuitions which leap out of the dark sky hanging low over the suffering man.
The speech of Bildad in chapter 18, under cover of an account of invariable law, was really a dream of special providence. He believed that the Divine King, who, as Christ teaches, "maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust," really singles out the wicked for peculiar treatment corresponding to their iniquity. It is in one sense the sign of vigorous faith to attribute action of this kind to God, and Job himself in his repeated appeals to the unseen Vindicator shows the same conception of providence. Should not one intent on righteousness break through the barriers of ordinary law when doubt is cast on His equity and care? Pardonable to Job, whose case is altogether exceptional, the notion is one the author sees it necessary to hold in check. There is no Theophany of the kind Job desires. On the contrary his very craving for special intervention adds to his anxiety. Because it is not granted he affirms that God has perverted his right; and when at last the voice of the Almighty is heard, it is to recall the doubter from his personal desires to the contemplation of the vast universe as revealing a wide and wise fidelity. This undernote of the author’s purpose, while it serves to guide us in the interpretation of Job’s complaints, is not allowed to rise into the dominant. Yet it rebukes those who think the great Divine laws have not been framed to meet their case, who rest their faith not on what God does always and is in Himself, but on what they believe He does sometimes and especially for them. The thoughts of the Lord are very deep. Our lives float upon them like skiffs upon an unfathomable ocean of power and fatherly care.
Of the treatment he receives from men Job complains, yet not because they are the means of his overthrow.
How long will ye vex my soul
And crush me utterly with sayings?
These ten times have ye reproached me;
Ye are not ashamed that ye condemn me.
And be it verily that I have erred,
Mine error remaineth to myself.
Will ye, indeed, exult against me
And reproach me with my disgrace?
Know now that God hath wronged me
And compassed me about with His net.
Why should his friends be so persistent in charging him with offence? He has not wronged them. If he has erred, he himself is the sufferer. It is not for them to take part against him. Their exultation is of a kind they have no right to indulge, for they have not brought him to the misery in which he lies. Bildad spoke of the snare in which the wicked is caught. His tone in that passage could not have been more complacent if he himself claimed the honour of bringing retribution on the godless. But it is God, says Job, who hath compassed me with His net.
"Behold, of wrong I cry, but I am not heard;
I cry for help, but there is no judgment."
Day after day, night after night, pains and fears increase: death draws nearer. He cannot move out of the net of misery. As one neglected, outlawed, he has to bear his inexplicable doom, his way fenced in so that he cannot pass, darkness thrown over his world by the hand of God.
Plunging thus anew into a statement of his hopeless condition as one discrowned, dishonoured, a broken man, the speaker has in view all along the hard human judgment which numbers him with the godless. He would melt the hearts of his relentless critics by pleading that their enmity is out of place. If the Almighty is his enemy and has brought him near to the dust of death, why should men persecute him as God? Might they not have pity? There is indeed resentment against providence in his mind; but the anxious craving for human sympathy reacts on his language and makes it far less fierce and bitter than in previous speeches. Grief rather than revolt is now his mood.
He hath stripped me of my glory
And taken my crown from my head.
He hath broken me down on every side,
Uprooted my hope like a tree.
He hath also kindled his wrath against me
And counted me among His adversaries.
His troops come on together
And cast up their way against me
And encamp around my tent.
So far the Divine indignation has gone. Will his friends not think of it? Will they not look upon him with less of hardness and contempt though he may have sinned? A man in a hostile universe, a feeble man, stricken with disease unable to help himself, the heavens frowning upon him-why should they harden their hearts?
And yet, see how his brethren have dealt with him! Mark how those who were his friends stand apart, Eliphaz and the rest, behind them others who once claimed kinship with him. How do they look? Their faces are clouded. They must be on God’s side against Job. Yea, God Himself has moved them to this.
He hath put my brethren far from me,
And my confidants are wholly estranged from me.
My kinsfolk have failed
And my familiar friends have forgotten me.
They that dwell in my house and my maids count me for a stranger,
I am an alien in their sight.
I call my servant and he gives me no answer,
I must entreat him with my mouth.
My breath is offensive to my wife,
And my ill savour to the sons of my body.
Even young children despise me;
If I would arise, they speak against me.
My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh,
And I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.
The picture is one of abject humiliation. He is rejected by all who once loved him, forced to entreat his servants, become offensive to his wife and grandsons, jeered at even by children, of the place. The case appears to us unnatural and shows the almost fiendish hardness of the Oriental world: that is to say, if the account is not coloured for dramatic purposes. The intention is to represent the extremity of Job’s wretchedness, the lowest depth to which he is reduced. The fire of his spirit is almost quenched by shame and desolation. He shows the days of his misery in the strongest shadow in order to compel, if possible, the sympathy so persistently withheld.
"Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends,
For the hand of God hath touched me.
Why do ye persecute me as God,
And are not satisfied with my flesh?"
Now we understand the purpose of the long description of his pain, both that which God has inflicted and that caused by the alienation and contempt of men. Into his soul the prediction of Bildad has entered, that he will share the fate of the wicked whose memory perishes from the earth, whose name is driven from light into darkness and chased out of the world. Is it to be so with him? That were indeed a final disaster. To bring his friends to some sense of what all this means to him-this is what he struggles after. It is not even the pity of it that is the chief point, although through that he seeks to gain his end. But if God is not to interpose, if his last hour is coming without a sign of heaven’s relenting, he would at least have men stand beside him, take his words to heart, believe them possibly true, hand down for his memorial the claim he has made of integrity. Surely, surely he shall not be thought of by the next generation as Job the proud, defiant evildoer laid low by the judgments of an offended God-brought to shame as one who deserved to be counted amongst the offscourings of the earth. It is enough that God has persecuted him, that God is slaying him-let not men take it upon them to do so to the last. Before he dies let one at least say, Job, my friend, perhaps you are sincere, perhaps you are misjudged.
Urgent is the appeal. It is in vain. Not a hand is stretched out, not one grim face relaxes. The man has made his last attempt. He is now like a pressed animal between the hunter and the chasm. And why is the author so rigorous in his picture of the friends? It is made to all appearance quite inhuman, and cannot be so without design. By means of this inhumanity Job is flung once for all upon his need of God from whom he had almost turned away to man. The poet knows that not in man is the help of the soul, that not in the sympathy of man, not in the remembrance of man, not in the care or even love of man as a passing tenant of earth can the labouring heart put its confidence. From the human judgment Job turned to God at first. From the Divine silence he had well nigh turned back to human pity. He finds what other sufferers have found, that the silence is allowed to extend beneath him, between him and his fellows, in order that he may finally and effectually direct his hope and faith above himself, above the creaturely race, to Him from whom all came, in whose will and love alone the spirit of man has its life, its hope. Yes, God is bringing home to Himself the man whom He has approved for approval. The way is strange to the feet of Job, as it often is to the weary half-blinded pilgrim. But it is the one way to fulfil and transcend our longings. Neither corporate sympathy nor posthumous immortality can ever stand to a thinking soul instead of the true firm judgment of its life that waits within the knowledge of God. If He is not for us, the epitaphs and memoirs of time avail nothing. Man’s place is in the eternal order or he does indeed cry out of wrong and is not heard.
From men to the written book, from men to the graven rock, more enduring, more public than the book-will this provide what is still unfound?
"Oh that now my words were written,
That they were inscribed in a book;
That with an iron stylus and with lead
They were graven in the rock forever."
As one accustomed to the uses of wealth Job speaks. He thinks first of a parchment in which his story and his claim may be carefully written and preserved. But he sees at once how perishable that would be and passes to a form of memorial such as great men employed. He imagines a cliff in the desert with a monumental inscription bearing that once he, the Emeer of Uz, lived and suffered, was thrown from prosperity, was accused by men, was worn by disease, but died maintaining that all this befell him unjustly, that he had done no wrong to God or man. It would stand there in the way of the caravans of Tema for succeeding generations to read. It would stand there till the ages had run their course. Kings represent on rocks their wars and triumphs. As one of royal dignity Job would use the same means of continuing his protest and his name.
Yet, so far as his life is concerned, what good, -the story spread northward to Damascus, but he, Job, lost in Sheol? His protest is against forms of death: his claim is for life. There is no life in the sculptured stone. Baffled again he halts midway. His foot on a crumbling point, there must be yet one spring for safety and refuge.
Who has not felt, looking at the records of the past, inscriptions on tablets, rocks and temples, the wistful throb of antiquity in those anxious legacies of a world of men too well aware of man’s forgetfulness? "Whoever alters the work of my hand," says the conqueror called Sargon, "destroys my constructions, pulls down the walls which I have raised"-may Asshur, Nineb, Raman and "the great gods who dwell there pluck his name and seed from the land and let him sit bound at the feet of his foe." Invocation of the gods in this manner was the only resource of him who in that far past feared oblivion and knew that there was need to fear. But to a higher God, in words of broken eloquence, Job is made to commit his cause, seeing beyond the perishable world the imperishable remembrance of the Almighty. So a Hebrew poet breathed into the wandering air of the desert that brave hope which afterwards, far beyond his thought, was in Israel to be fulfilled. Had he been exiled from Galilee? In Galilee was to be heard the voice that told of immortality and redemption.
We must go back in the book to find the beginning of the hope now seized. Already Job has been looking forth beyond the region of this little life. What has he seen?
First and always, Eloah. That name and what it represents do not fail him. He has had terrible experiences, and all of them must have been appointed by Eloah. But the name is venerable still, and despite all difficulties he clings to the idea that righteousness goes with power and wisdom. The power bewilders-the wisdom plans inconceivable things-but beyond there is righteousness.
Next. He has seen a gleam of light across the darkness of the grave, through the gloom of the underworld. A man going down thither, his body to moulder into dust, his spirit to wander a shadow in a prison of shadows, -may not remain there. God is almighty-He has the key of Sheol-a star has shown for a little, giving hope that out of the underworld life may be recovered. It is seen that Eloah, the Maker, must have a desire to the work of His hands. What does that not mean?
Again. It has been borne upon his mind that the record of a good life abides and is with the All-seeing. What is done cannot be undone. The wasting of the flesh cannot waste that Divine knowledge. The eternal history cannot be effaced. Spiritual life is lived before Eloah who guards the right of a man. Men scorn Job, but with tears he has prayed to Eloah to right his cause, and that prayer cannot be in vain.
A just prayer cannot be in vain because God is ever just. From this point thought mounts upward. Eloah forever faithful-Eloah able to open the gate of Sheol-not angry forever-Eloah keeping the tablet of every life, indifferent to no point of right, -these are the steps of progress in Job’s thought and hope. And these are the gain of his trial. In his prosperous time none of these things had been before him. He had known the joy of God but not the secret, the peace, not the righteousness. Yet he is not aware how much he has gained. He is coming half unconsciously to an inheritance prepared for him in wisdom and in love by Eloah in whom he trusts. A man needs for life more than he himself can either sow or ripen.
And now, hear Job. Whether the rock shall be graven or not he cannot tell. Does it matter? He sees far beyond that inscribed cliff in the desert. He sees what alone can satisfy the spirit that has learned to live.
"‘Tis life whereof our nerves are scant,
Oh life not death, for which we pant;
More life, and fuller, that I want."
Not dimly this great truth flashes through the web of broken ejaculation, panting thought.
"But I know it: my Redeemer liveth;
And afterward on the dust He will stand up;
And after my skin they destroy, even this,
And without my flesh shall I see Eloah,
Whom I shall see FOR ME,
And mine eyes shall behold and not the stranger-
My reins are consumed in my bosom."
The Goel or Redeemer pledged to him by eternal justice is yet to arise, a living Remembrancer and Vindicator from all wrong and dishonour. On the dust that covers death He will arise when the day comes. The diseases that prey on the perishing body shall have done their work. In the grave the flesh shall have passed into decay; but the spirit that has borne shall behold Him. Not for the passing stranger shall be the vindication, but for Job himself. All that has been so confounding shall be explained, for the Most High is the Goel; He has the care of His suffering servant in His own hand and will not fail to issue it in clear satisfying judgment.
For the inspired writer of these words, declaring the faith which had sprung up within him; for us also who desire to share his faith and to be assured of the future vindication, three barriers stand in the way, and these have successively to be passed.
First is the difficulty of believing that the Most High need trouble Himself to disentangle all the rights from the wrongs in human life. Is humanity of such importance in the universe? God is very high; human affairs may be of little consequence to His eternal majesty. Is not this earth on which we dwell one of the smaller of the planets that revolve about the sun? Is not our sun one amongst a myriad, many of them far transcending it in size and splendour? Can we demand or even feel hopeful that the Eternal Lord shall adjust the disordered equities of our little state and appear for the right which has been obscured in the small affairs of time? A century is long to us; but our ages are "moments in the being of the eternal silence." Can it matter to the universe moving through perpetual cycles of evolution, new races and phases of creaturely life arising and running their course-can it matter that one race should pass away having simply contributed its struggle and desire to the far-off result? Conceivably, in the design of a wise and good Creator, this might be a destiny for a race of beings to subserve. How do we know it is not ours?
This difficulty has grown. It stands now in the way of all religion, even of the Christian faith. God is among the immensities and eternities; evolution breaks in wave after wave; we are but one. How can we assure our hearts that the inexterminable longing for equity shall have fulfilment?
Next there is the difficulty which belongs to the individual life. To enjoy the hope, feel the certainty to which Job reached forth, you or I must make the bold assumption that our personal controversies are of eternal importance. One is obscure; his life has moved in a very narrow circle. He has done little, he knows little. His sorrows have been keen, but they are brief and limited. He has been held down, scorned, afflicted. But after all why should God care? To adjust the affairs of nations, to bring out the world’s history in righteousness may be God’s concern. But suppose a man lives bravely, bears patiently, preserves his life from evil, though he have to suffer and even go down in darkness, may not the end of the righteous King be gained by the weight his life casts into the scale of faith and virtue? Should not the man be satisfied with this result of his energy and took for nothing more? Does eternal righteousness demand anything more on behalf of a man? Included in this is the question whether the disputes between men, the small ignorances, egotisms, clashing of wills, need a final assize. Are they not trifling and transient? Can we affirm that in these is involved an element of justice which it concerns our Maker to establish before the worlds?
The third barrier is not less than the others to modern thought. How is our life to be preserved or revived, so that personally and consciously we shall have our share in the clearing up of the human story and be gladdened by the "Well done, good and faithful servant" of the Judge? That verdict is entirely personal; but how may the faithful servant live to hear it? Death appears inexorable. Despite the resurrection of Christ, despite the words He has spoken, "I am the resurrection and the life," even to Christians the vision is often clouded, the survival of consciousness hard to believe in. How did the author of Job pass this barrier-in thought, or in hope? Are we content to pass it in hope?
I answer all these questions together. And the answer lies in the very existence of the idea of justice, our knowledge of justice, our desire for it, the fragmentariness of our history till right has been done to us by others, by us to others, by man to God, and God to man-the full right, whatever that may involve.
Whence came our sense of justice? We can only say, From Him who made us. He gave us such a nature as cannot be satisfied nor find rest till an ideal of justice, that is of acted truth, is framed in our human life and everything possible done to realise it. Upon this acted truth all depends, and till it is reached we are in suspense. Deep in the mind of man lies that need. Yet it is always a hunger. More and more it unsettles him, keeps him in unrest, turning from scheme to scheme of ethic and society. He is ever making compromises, waiting for evolutions; but nature knows no compromises and gives him no clue save in present fact. Is it possible that He who made us will not overpass our poor best, will not sweep aside the shifts and evasions current in our imperfect economy? The passion for righteousness comes from him; it is a ray of Himself. The soul of the good man craving perfect holiness and toiling for it in himself, in others, can it be greater than God, more strenuous, more subtle than the Divine evolution that gave him birth, the Divine Father of his spirit? Impossible in thought, impossible in fact.
No. Justice there is in every matter. Surely science has taught us very little if it has not banished the notion that the small means the unimportant, that minute things are of no moment in evolution. For many years past science has been constructing for us the great argument of universal physical fidelity, universal weaving of the small details into the vast evolutionary design. The micoscopist, the biologist, the chemist, thee astronomer, each and all are engaged in building up this argument, forcing the confession that the universe is one of inconceivably small things ordered throughout by law. Finish and care would seem to be given everywhere to minutiae as though, that being done, the great would certainly evolve. Further, science even when dealing with material things emphasises the importance of mind. The truthfulness of nature at any point in the physical range is a truthfulness of the Overnature to the mind of man, a correlation established between physical and spiritual existence. Wherever order and care are brought into view there is an exaltation of the human reason which perceives and relates. All would be thrown into confusion if the fidelity recognised by the mind did not extend to the mind itself, if the sanity and development of the mind were not included in the order of the universe. For the psychological student this is established, and the working of evolutionary law is being traced in the obscure phenomena of consciousness, subconsciousness, and habit.
Is it of importance that each of the gases shall have laws of diffusion and combination, shall act according to those laws, unvaryingly affecting vegetable and animal life? Unless those laws wrought in constancy or equity at every moment all would be confusion. Is it of importance that the bird, using its wings, shall be able to soar into the atmosphere; that the wings adapted for flight shall find an atmosphere in which their exercise produces movement? Here again is an equity which enters into the very constitution of the cosmos, which must be a form of the one supreme law of the cosmos. Once more, is it of importance that the thinker shall find sequences and relations, when once established, a sound basis for prediction and discovery, that he shall be able to trust himself on lines of research and feel certain that, at every point, for the instrument of inquiry there is answering verity? Without this correspondence man would have no real place in evolution, he would flutter an aimless unrelated sensitiveness through a storm of physical incidents.
Advance to the most important facts of mind, the moral ideas which enter into every department of thought, the inductions through which we find our place in another range than the physical. Does the fidelity already traced now cease? Is man at this point beyond the law of faithfulness, beyond the invariable correlation of environment with faculty? Does he now come to a region which he cannot choose but enter, where, however, the cosmos fails him, the beating wing cannot rise, the inquiring mind reaches no verity, and the consciousness does flutter an inexplicable thing through dreams and illusions? A man has it in his nature to seek justice. Peace for him there is none unless he does what is right and can believe that right will be done. With this high conviction in his mind he is opposed, as in this Book of Job, by false men, overthrown by calamity, covered with harsh judgment. Death approaches and he has to pass away from a world that seems to have failed him. Shall he never see his right nor God’s righteousness? Shall he never come to his own as a man of good will and high resolve? Has he been true to a cosmos which after all is treacherous, to a rule of virtue which has no authority and no issue? He believes in a Lord of infinite justice and truth; that his life, small as it is, cannot be apart from the pervading law of equity. Is that his dream? Then any moment the whole system of the universe may collapse like a bubble blown upon a marsh.
Now let us clearly understand the point and value of the argument. It is not that a man who has served God here and suffered here must have a joyful immortality. What man is faithful enough to make such a claim? But the principle is that God must vindicate His righteousness in dealing with the man He has made, the man He has called to trust Him. It matters not who the man is, how obscure his life has been, he has this claim on God, that to him the eternal righteousness ought to be made clear. Job cries for his own justification; but the doubt about God involved in the slur cast upon his own integrity is what rankles in his heart; from that he rises in triumphant protest and daring hope. He must live till God clears up the matter. If he dies he must revive to have it all made clear. And observe, if it were only that ignorant men cast doubt on providence, the resurrection and personal redemption of the believer would not be necessary. God is not responsible for the foolish things men say, and we could not look for resurrection because our fellow creatures misrepresent God. But Job feels that God Himself has caused the perplexity. God sent the flash of lightning, the storm, the dreadful disease; it is God who by many strange things in human experience seems to give cause for doubt. From God in nature, God in disease, God in the earthquake and the thunderstorm, God whose way is in the sea and His path in the mighty waters-from this God, Job cries in hope, in moral conviction, to God the Vindicator, the eternally righteous One, Author of nature and Friend of man.
This life may terminate before the full revelation of is made; it leave the good in darkness and the evil flaunting in pride; the believer may go down in shame and the atheist have the last word. Therefore a future life with judgment in full must vindicate our Creator; and every personality involved in the problems of time must go forward to the opening of the seals and the fulfilment of the things that are written in the volumes of God. This evolution being for the earlier stage and discipline of life, it works out nothing, completes nothing. What it does is to furnish the awaking spirit with material of thought, opportunity for endeavour, the elements of life; with trial, temptation, stimulus, and restraint. No one who lives to any purpose or thinks with any sincerity can miss in the course of his life one hour at least in which he shares the tragical contest and adds the cry of his own soul to that of Job, his own hope to that of ages that are gone, straining to see the Goel who undertakes for every servant of God.
"I know it: my Redeemer liveth,
And afterward on the dust He will stand up;
And without my flesh I shall see Eloah."
By slow cycles of change the vast scheme of Divine providence draws toward a glorious consummation. The believer waits for it, seeing One who has gone before him and will come after him, the Alpha and Omega of all life. The fulness of time will at length arrive, the time fore, ordained by God, foretold by Christ, when the throne shall be set, the judgment shall be given, and the aeons of manifestation shall begin.
And who in that day shall be the sons of God? Which of us can say that he knows himself worthy of immortality? How imperfect is the noblest human life, how often it falls away into the folly and evil of the world! We need one to deliver us from the imperfection that gives to all we are and do the character of evanescence, to set us free from our entanglements and bring us into liberty. We are poor erring creatures. Only if there is a Divine purpose of grace that extends to the unworthy and the frail, only if there is redemption for the earthly, only if a Divine Saviour has undertaken to justify our existence as moral beings, can we look hopefully into the future. Job looked for a Redeemer who would bring to light a righteousness he claimed to possess. But our Redeemer must be able to awaken in us the love of a righteousness we alone could never see and to clothe us in a holiness we could never of ourselves attain. The problem of justice in human life will be solved because our race has a Redeemer whose judgment when it falls will fall in tenderest mercy, who bore our injustice for our sakes and will vindicate for us that transcendent righteousness which is forever one with love.
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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Job 19". "The Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19