SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON PLAN - 6-20-2021 - JOB 19:19-29 - REDEMPTION FOUND
LAST WEEK: In Job 14:1-14, we came into Job's story right after his wife told him to abandon his uprightness and curse God and after all three of his so-called friends informed him that all of his suffering had to be due to hidden sin in his life-that he need to repent. In response to them, Job refused to admit that he had sinned and remained firm that he was innocent. In the lesson text we found Job brooding over a man's mortality-the fact the our lives are so short. In pondering this, Job arrived at four conclusions: (1) That human life is temporary, like a flower that blooms and then withers or a distinct shadow that disappears a soon as the light shifts. (2) That humans, hard as we might try, will never measure-up to God's level of perfection because He is powerful and we are weak, He is holy and we are not, He can judge and know all our deeds, and we stand guilty before Him. (3) Unlike trees, man has no hope of coming back in this life, because our lives are slowly evaporating like pools of water that return to the soil of the earth. And (4) Like Job, when we suffer from calamities we don't understand, we need to place all of our faith and hope in God and trust Him for the outcome.
THIS WEEK: In the immediate context of today's lesson in Job 19:19-29, we find Job just after he received a scathing rebuke from his supposed friend Bildad, who declares that God not only punishes the wicked but that Job should include himself among the wicked people whom God is punishing. Chapter 19 is Job's reply to this. In the opening verses, he asks his friends how long they plan to keep on tormenting him and lists all the other people who have turned against him: his wife, his brothers, his cousins, his servants (workers), the children in his community-in short, everyone around him. Its from this depressing scenario, that Job makes his reply. So, let's hear what he has to say.
Read Job. 19:19-22 - PITY ME, YOU FRIENDS!
19 All my associates loathe me, And those I love have turned against me. 20 My bone clings to my skin and my flesh, And I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth. 21 Pity me, pity me, you friends of mine, For the hand of God has struck me. 22 Why do you persecute me as God does, And are not satisfied with my flesh?
v. 19: "All my associates (inward friends) loathe me, And those I love have turned against me" - The term "associates" used here refers to Job's closest friends, men with whom he'd shared his most secret thoughts, purposes, and plans. They knew him inside and out. Their relationship was special and he loved them (like Jesus' inner circle of Peter, James, and John). And like all the other people he mentioned earlier (vv. 13-18), they had totally turned against him and abandoned him. This represented a monstrous case of adding insult to injury
v. 20: "My bone clings to my skin and my flesh, And I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth" - Job now describes his wretched physical condition: He has deteriorated down to skin and bones. When he says he "escaped only by the skin of my teeth," it's not the modern cliché describing a narrow escape but means that the gums holding his teeth are the only part of his body not covered in boils and sores (see, Job 3:2-7).
vv. 21-22: "Pity me, pity me, you friends of mine, For the hand of God has struck me. 22 Why do you persecute me as God does, And are not satisfied with my flesh?" - These verses are important because they set the stage for what follows. He minimally asks his three friend for pity. At God's hands (remember that Job doesn't know that Satan is at the root of all his problems), he's been beaten down to nothing in every category of life. So he asks why do his friends feel compelled to "pile it on"? Why do they want to make it worse? Why can't they offer some kind words of compassion rather than judging him? The Hebrew word for "pity" (hanan) also means "to be gracious toward" or "have mercy on." So, why can't his friends be gracious or show some mercy for a suffering man? If God's persecution weren't enough, why are they motivated to add to his troubles?
APPLICATION 1: Correction of friends who have fallen into sin should always be balanced with love, compassion, and mercy. The treatment that Job received from his three friends represented a shocking example of adding insults to injury. By doing this they became the real sinners in this story.
Read Job 19:23-24 - THAT MY WORDS WERE ENGRAVED IN ROCK
23 "Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were recorded in a book! 24 That with an iron stylus and lead They were engraved in the rock forever!
v. 23: ""Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were recorded in a book!" - We need to notice the progression in this and the next verse: Words written down on paper can be expected to last for a little while at least. And Words inscribed in a book (a form of protective binding) can be expected to last a lot longer. I mean, right now we are sympathizing with words that were written thousands of years ago and appear in the best-selling book (5 billion+) of all of history, yes?
v. 24: "That with an iron stylus and lead They were engraved in the rock forever!" - Words carved in stone can be expected to last centuries or longer. Scholars say that lead was sometimes used to inlay characters carved in stone to make them stand out more.
• Let's stop and look at these two verses in context: Job has insisted all along that he's innocent, yet it seems clear (to Job) that God, his remaining family members, his closest three friends, and just about everybody else, have turned against him. Because nobody will believe him, he thinks he will most likely die without being vindicated. If that happens, he fears that he will either be forgotten or go down in history as a conspicuous example of a bad man who received well-deserved punishment.
• Thus, Job wants his claims of innocence to be recorded, preferably on a stone monument, so that future generations can hear what he said, and then, just maybe, someone might investigate and verify his claims, and even after his death, exonerate him and clear his name.
APPLICATION 2: The written word is more powerful and enduring than the spoken word. Job wanted his story recorded for future generations and indeed, people have now been learning about the truth that desperately Job wanted to vindicate for over 2,000 years.
Read Job 19:25-27 - I KNOW MY REDEEMER LIVES
25 Yet as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last, He will take His stand on the earth. 26 Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I will see God, 27 Whom I, on my part, shall behold for myself, And whom my eyes will see, and not another. My heart faints within me!
Comment: During my research for this lesson, I ran across a sermon that said preaching from the Book of Job is a little bit like handling hazardous material: You have to be very cautious and think carefully about what you're doing with it. What this means is that any book of the Bible should be preached and taught from the context-time and place-in which it was written. A majority of modern Bible scholars date the Book of Job in the Age of the Patriarchs (prior to 1800 B.C), centuries before the Pentateuch or any prophecy had been written-that is our context. Because we now have the entire revelation of God from the beginning to the end-times (Genesis to Revelation), it's very easy take Job's words in the next few verses out of context and give meanings to them that Job could not possibly have understood or intended in his time, so I have qualified my remarks accordingly.
v. 25: "Yet as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last, He will take His stand on the earth" - The interpretation of this verse in the context of Job's time has been complicated by the fact that it was repeated in the aria of George Frideric Handel's well-known operatic production Messiah in 1741 and the word "Redeemer" in this verse has been since then been capitalized in many Bible translations, which encourage the idea that this verse points to Christ. The Hebrew noun used here for Redeemer (ga'al [gaw-al]) is used frequently in the OT to refer to "kinsman redeemer," who was a person with both rights and responsibilities for vindicating a family member (e.g., Boaz in Ruth 4:1-6), and God used the same word in Ex. 6:6 when He told Moses, "I...will also redeem you with an outstretched arm," in reference to leading the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt.
• Now, in this verse, Job states with confidence that His ga'al lives, and though he doesn't say so directly, Job also strongly implies that his ga'al will redeem him and his reputation. Yet, we are left with unanswered questions: (1) Does Job believe that God will redeem him, or is he counting on a member of his family )a kinsman) to do so? (2) Does Job believe his redeemer will redeem him during his lifetime, or after his death? And in that case, if he's to be redeemed after his death, will he be resurrected to witness his vindication? Or (3) Is Job actually pointing to Jesus Christ as his redeemer? While there is no evidence in the text to support the view that Job expected a Messianic Redeemer, God's Spirit can and does inspire people at times to say things that go beyond their understanding. And the last clause of v. 25, "He will take His stand on the earth," sounds like a portrayal of Christ's second coming. Again, while it's highly unlikely Job would have understood it that way, there is no reason that God could not have inspired him to say something that was outside his own understanding.
vv. 26-27: "Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I will see God, 27 Whom I, on my part, shall behold for myself, And whom my eyes will see, and not another. My heart faints within me!" - These two verses also raise more questions. Although it's not certain, there are several clues in these verses which suggest that Job expects vindication in his lifetime. The first and most evident clue appears in v. 26, "from my flesh I will see," and the second and third in v. 27, "Whom I, on my part shall behold" and "whom my eyes will see." Other interpreters argue that since Job sees himself as close to death, that he believes death isn't the end of existence, and that someday he will stand in the presence of his ga'al (Redeemer) and will see Him with his own eyes. Because I'm only a layman reading the opinions of Bible scholars far more learned than me, I can't say who is right. Finally, the ending phrase, "My heart faints within me!," is an idiom that indicates Job at this point had reached the end of his rope-was totally exhausted physically, emotionally, and otherwise.
APPLICATION 3: Job's example powerfully demonstrates that, above all else, that we should trust God completely. Whether Job saw God as his ga'al (Redeemer) in this life or the next is not entirely clear, but the major point is that Job completely trusted God to redeem him one way or the other.
Read Job 19:28-29 - BE AFRAID OF THE SWORD
28 If you say, 'How shall we persecute him?' And 'What pretext for a case against him can we find?' 29 Then be afraid of the sword for yourselves, For wrath brings the punishment of the sword, So that you may know there is judgment."
v. 28: "If you say, 'How shall we persecute him?' And 'What pretext for a case against him can we find?'" - Here, Job sharply turns the narrative back towards his accusers-his three friends. He is warning them that if they continue to persecute him, they are placing themselves in a dangerous position. Because Job is speaking prior to the advent of Mosaic Law, he isn't directly accusing them of violating the 9th Commandment, "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor" (Ex. 20:16), he strongly implies that they will ultimately be judged before God for their wrongdoing.
v. 29: "Then be afraid of the sword for yourselves, For wrath brings the punishment of the sword, So that you may know there is judgment" - Next, Job declares that their false witness was going to bring down "wrath" (and he means God's wrath) in the form of "punishment of the sword," a figure of speech for certain death, and with death, God's judgment of eternal damnation. Even if his friends aren't afraid of him, they surely ought to be afraid of the One who is mightier than he. Job's underlying message here is that his three "friends" had better recant their story while they had the chance and start telling the truth-and the truth is that Job is innocent. Or else!
APPLICATION 4: Only God has the right to judge. We should always give our friends the benefit of a doubt before we blame them of any kind of wrongdoing. Job's friends were obviously very confused. Why had all of these terrible things happened so suddenly and inexplicably to their friend Job? In truth, they were as just as ignorant as Job in regard to the heavenly council that allowed Satan to attack him. By turning against Job based on what little they actually knew, they were, in effect, finding him guilty based on insufficient evidence.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, Job's example in today's lesson teaches us some powerful truths on how we should treat Christian brothers or sisters whom we think have fallen into sin. I pray, Father, that this lesson will convict every one of us to always give our friends the benefit of a doubt before we blame for anything. You show us mercy every single day of our lives and we should show that same mercy to others, not because they deserve it, but because it's our Christian duty to show it. You and only You, Dear God, have the right to judge others. In the powerful name of Jesus, AMEN.