Under the law, when a man was not able to act for himself, to assert and use his own right, one that was akin to him, had a right to act for him, coming in his room, and standing up in his right. And such a one was called his Goel; which properly signifies a Kinsman-redeemer.
One of the most wonderful declarations of faith in the Bible is set in the contect of severe suffering and affliction. Having lost all of his possessions and children, having been subject to the rejection of his wife, and having become the object of the condemnation of his friends, Job cried out,
I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me” (Job 19:25–26).
These verses have been subject to no small debate throughout church history. Many have rejected a Christological reading based on faulty conclusions about the message of Job. Some have suggested that Job couldn’t be referring to Christ since he sees God as his adversary. This is to miss the fact that Job clearly states his hope of seeing God face to face in verse 26. The hope of the beatific vision is based on the hope of redemption. Others suggest that Job couldn’t be speaking about Christ since that would mean that he is admitting sinfulness. However, nowhere in the book of Job are we meant to conclude that he was sinless. Far from it, Job sacrifices for himself and his children. This is an explicit acknowledgement of sinfulness and the need for the promised sacrifice of God. Furthermore, Job repents of his speech at the end of the book–intimating that he is sinfully ignorant of the ways of the Lord.
Instead of rejecting the Messianic hope in these verses, the better part of Reformed theologians have advanced the Christological interpretation. For instance, Thomas Manton wrote,
“Job’s confession of faith, which was very ancient [states]: Job 19:25, 26, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God.’ His Redeemer was true man, as appears by his title Goel; and because he shall stand on the earth, and be seen by his bodily eyes; true God, for he calls him so: ‘I shall see God.”
Again, Manton wrote,
“Christ is called Goel: Job 19:25, ‘For I know that my Redeemer liveth;’ Isa. 59:20, ‘The Redeemer shall come to Zion.’ Christ is our kinsman; not only true man, but the Son of man. True man he might have been if God had created him out of nothing, or he had brought his substance from heaven; but he is the Son of man, one descended from the loins of Adam, as we are; and so doth redeem us not only jure proprietatis, by virtue of his interest in us as our creator; but jure propinquitatis, by virtue of kindred, as one of our stock and lineage, as the Son of Adam as well as the Son of God; for Jesus Christ, of all the kindred, was the only one that was free and able to pay a ransom for us.”1
Jonathan Edwards, taking up the meaning of the Hebrew word Goel, explained the Christological connection in the following way:
“‘My redeemer,’ גֹּאֲלִי. The word also, as it was used among the Hebrews, signified near kinsman, as in Ruth 3:12. “And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman, goēl;howbeit there is a kinsman, goēl, nearer than I.” V. 13, “Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, or if he will redeem thee, יִגְאָלֵךְ, well; let him do the kinsman’s part, יִגְאָֹל. But if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, לְגָאֳלֵךְ, then I will do the part of a kinsman to thee, וגְאַלְתִּיךְ.” So the word is the same, 1 Kgs. 16:11. “As soon as he began to reign, he slew all the house of Baasha; he left none of his kinsfolks, וְגֹּאֲֹלָיו.