“I Shall See God” Job 19:23-27
Poof! A genie appears and asks what is you greatest wish. If you could have anything at all, what would you ask for? Job’s friends thought Job‘s greatest desire should be a return to physical and financial prosperity. They continually exhorted him, “Job, repent of your sin and God will return the blessings that you lost.” But Job’s view in his suffering was quite different from that of his “so-called” friends. Above all else Job said, “I want to see God.”
Theologians call this the “beatific vision,”– to see God as He is. Moses also desired this above all things. Remember his spiritual audacity in Exodus 33? “So the LORD said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.’18And he said, ‘Please, show me Your glory.’” God responded to Moses saying no man could not see the face of God and live. Still, the LORD did show the hinder parts of His glory.
Job wanted a permanent record made of his assertion. Verses 23-24 say, “Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book that they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever.” Clearly Job had thought about this declaration and believed it to be very significant for his day and for future generations.
To understand Job’s proclamation we need to know a little about Job’s life. Chapters one and two tell us how Job lost his wealth, his family, and finally his health. In short, Job lost almost everything. He did not lose his faith in God.
We cannot understand Job without the glimpse the writer gives us of a conversation that took place in heaven. In Job 1 we evesdrop on a conversation between God and Satan, “Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” This then is the challenge of the book. Satan says, if God does not uniquely bless Job, he will curse God to His face. God is proving through Job’s reaction to his adversity that this is not true.
Along the trip through the valley of the shadow of death in his life, Job made some very significant statements about his faith in God. For example, in Job 9:32-35, Job wished for an arbiter, an intercessor, a mediator, who could lay his hand on both Job and God This would require the mediator to be both God and man. “He is not a man, as I am that I may answer Him and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both. Let Him take His rod away from me, and do not let dread of Him terrify me. Then I would speak and not fear Him, But it is not so with me.” This anticipates 1 Timothy 2:5-6, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
Job declared his confidence in his God and in his ultimate salvation in Job 13:13-16. “Hold your peace with me, and let me speak, Then let come on me what may! Why do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in my hands? Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. He also shall be my salvation, for a hypocrite could not come before Him.”
One chapter later, Job said. “Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, That You would conceal me until Your wrath is past, That You would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes. You shall call, and I will answer You. You shall desire the work of Your hands” (14:13-15).
In Job 16:18-21, Job claimed he had a witness in heaven, an advocate before God. “O earth, do not cover my blood, and let there be no resting place for my cry. Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my advocate is on high. My friends are my scoffers; my eye weeps to God. O that a man might plead with God as a man with his neighbor!” (NASB)
This record is vital because some insist from these same verses that Job is a cynical man. According to them, Job sees God as arbitrary and cruel. Job thinks his own integrity condemns God in this case. This thinking misses the point of the book.
While Job does not understand what God is up to in his suffering, he still clings to his relationship with God. He does not curse God and die. Instead, Job declares his greatest hope in our text today, Job 19:23-27. Job understood the importance of this statement. He wanted to mark it down so all would know that Job absolutely knew this to be true. “Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever”
What Job wanted engraved in the rock for others to see was not philosophical speculation. He wanted recorded for all to see the rock solid conviction of his heart! He wanted the world to know that He knew that he, Job, would one day see God.
How did Job know this? The answer is first and foremost he knew this because he was a prophet and God had revealed it to him. Second, with Job expecting to die, God in His grace gave him a strong assurance of this fact.
Having talked about Job’s confidence, let us now look at the certainty in which he had such confidence. The first thing that Job knows is that his Redeemer lives. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth” (v.25) Who is this “Redeemer?” We know very little about the word translated “Redeemer” outside of the Mosaic Law. The “Redeemer” was the next of kin. He would deliver his enslaved relative, buy back his relative’s inheritance, or marry the man’s childless widow. What did Job mean by “Redeemer?”
Some go to great lengths to try to show that this is not God Himself. They beg the question, “If this is not God, who is it? Who is it who will stand on the earth? Who is it who will intercede and make sure that Job receives justice with God after Job is dead?”
Consider the Hebrew parallelism here. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me” (Job 19:25–27). The parallelism says the “Redeemer” is God.
If we put this with what we have read before, this “Redeemer” is none other than the mediator, the advocate who could put His hand both on God and on man. Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ is Job’s redeemer. He is the one who redeemed us from the penalty of sin and who opens the door to fellowship with God, the Father.
Second, Job himself, will see God. “And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
This encounter will take place after he is dead and buried. In fact, it will be after his body has decayed and there is nothing left! But even when his body is no more, Job knows that in his body, he will see God. How can this be? God either will give him a celestial body so Job can see God in his flesh with his own eyes. Or this passage suggests a resurrection from the dead.
Job emphatically says he will “see God.” Actually seeing God is the heart desire of every believer. In 1 Peter 1, Peter wrote of our present state. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” Our tested faith being found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ causes Peter to remember where we are right now. At His revelation, His coming, we will see Him, but right now we do not see Him, yet we love Him.
The Apostle Paul also thought about the day that we will see God. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” 1 Corinthians 13:12. Now we can only see our Lord as He is reflected to us in His Word. But someday we will be allowed to do what Moses was denied. We will see Him face to face.
The Apostle John also knew about the reality that Job declared. He tells us in 1 John 3:1-2 about the time we will see the Lord. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called children of God, and so we are. Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
What has this to do with our strengthening ourselves in the LORD our God? Job lost almost everything when God allowed him to go through the fires of Satan’s test. Yet, Job did not lose his faith in God. He sometimes gave into self-pity and self-righteousness. At times he lost patience with God. In the end, he passed the test. He never cursed God to His face. His strength came from this assurance that his Redeemer lives and someday, he would see God.