August 2, 1998; No. 2900
Today we turn to Job 19:25, 26, "For I know that my redeemer liveth, 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 shall I see God."
In the preceding verses and chapters, Job began to plead with the three friends for pity. His natural strength has become more and more feeble, his voice became weaker and weaker. And a feeling of sorrow is apparent in his description of the suffering, in his pleading with his friends to be sympathetic. It is enough that Jehovah has touched him. Now these so-called friends continue to persecute him and to usurp to themselves a divine authority by which they act toward him as if they are God. They do not look upon him as an equal, but assume a false, elevated position. Job pleaded with them to be honest with him, to be fair with him.
Now Job expresses a higher hope and desire in which he finds his comfort. His comfort is not in the words of his friends, but in Jehovah his God. Jehovah God will avenge Job's blood against his accusers. For Jehovah has sent a Redeemer. And in that Redeemer is found Job's hope.
The three so-called friends have passed judgment upon Job. But Job now demonstrates in this passage that that judgment means nothing compared to the judgment of God. God has spoken His judgment. God will send His Son to take that judgment of sin upon Himself. Job, therefore, is confident as he stands before Jehovah that Jehovah is merciful-more merciful than his friends who have tried to console him.
He therefore directs us to the idea of a Mediator: "I know that my Redeemer liveth." A redeemer is one who mediates for another, one who takes upon himself the cause of another in order to help him. The mediator pays the price of redemption. Most commonly this was done with respect to slaves. When a slave found himself in bondage, the only possibility of his being freed was if another came and bought him, paid the price which he was worth to his master, and thereby gave him his freedom.
The word "mediator" suggests "bondage." It suggests an obligation which cannot be met. Job implies that he is in such a situation. He cannot meet the obligation which is necessary. He cannot pay the price which God demands. Unless there be another, a mediator, his cause is hopeless.
Job reveals here his knowledge of his own sin and debt and his knowledge of the righteous judgment of God. He knows that he deserves God's curse and condemnation. God has every reason to condemn him to eternal woe in hell because he is, by nature, depraved, unworthy of God's grace and mercy.
As Job speaks, he speaks as one who has already found that Mediator. He has found that One who is willing to stand up for him, that One who is willing to pay the ransom and deliver him. He has found the One because of whom he does not need to experience the punishment of hell. He has found the One who atones for sin, who delivers from bondage, the One who assures him of eternal blessedness in glory.
Job has found Christ. It is Christ alone who is the Savior, the perfect, eternal Redeemer. And Job here speaks prophetically of Christ as he saw Him by revelation, as the One who would yet come. But he speaks of Him with such confidence, as though that Redeemer had already come; as though that promise had already been realized; as though the Word had already become flesh.
With that conviction in his heart, he confesses, "My Redeemer lives!" Not merely a redeemer, but my Redeemer-the One who has come to deliver me from the bondage of my sin, my suffering, and my affliction, the One who stands in my place. My Redeemer has come.
And He lives. He has taken me into covenant fellowship with Himself. Jehovah dwelt in Job by His Spirit, renewing him, turning him from death into life. And Jehovah was continually turning Job away from sin into the service of the living God.
Oh, Job remained a sinner. He knew the depravity of his own heart. He was deeply conscious of the fact that by nature he could only sin and could only do that which was contrary to God's law.
But God had implanted in Job a love for God which was evident already at the moment when he was made childless. He arose and worshiped when he confessed, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb. Naked I return thither." Here was a servant of God, perfect and upright, one whom God had taken into covenant fellowship with Him. And within that covenant fellowship the servant of God expresses, "Who is my Judge?" The answer is: It is God, my covenant Friend. It is God, my intimate, personal companion. He is the One who judges. Before Him I stand. Not before these so-called friends.
Often we are wrongly accused. Instead of cursing or lashing out at our accusers we do well to recall this truth. Men may mock us. They may accuse us. They may judge us falsely as did these so-called friends of Job. But the Judge of heaven and earth is Jehovah, our covenant God, our Friend. These men will perish with us. Their judgment means nothing. But that which matters is the judgment of Jehovah. And Jehovah has seen fit to send a Redeemer.
Also, knowing that Jehovah is Judge, we do not act as hypocrites, as if it is enough merely to look good before men. Rather, we must humble ourselves before God. And the question which matters in our lives is: Will God accept me? Will God accept my lax attitude towards sin? Will God tolerate my leaving my family night after night to go out with the guys? Will God accept my secret enjoyment of pornography? Will God approve of the way I treat my neighbor? I can, perhaps, justify myself before men. Perhaps I can cover my sins in the eyes of my family and loved ones. But the fundamental question is: How am I living before God? He is the Judge of heaven and earth. He hates sin and hypocrisy. He will not allow the unrepentant sinner to have fellowship with Him in heaven. No adulterer, no drunkard, no thief, no unrepentant sinner will have any place in the kingdom of heaven. But the covenant friend of God finds his comfort in the fact that God will receive him as a repentant sinner, as one who hates sin, though he finds himself repeatedly falling into it, as one who knows the joy of forgiveness and who pleads with God for that joy.
Then we are able to have the comfort that the Almighty, unchangeable Jehovah keeps His covenant with His people forever. He rules over all things, He holds all things in His hands. My remaining faithful to Him is His own work in and through me. Therefore, my confidence is not to be found in my own abilities, in my own obedience, but in that covenant promise which Jehovah has given me: I will be your God; you will be My people.
Jehovah will stand as Judge in the last day. He will stand upright upon the earth. All men will be as the dust of the earth. If they are not lying dead, they will be cast down because of His majesty. He will restore all of the bodies of men, casting the wicked into everlasting destruction and ushering the righteous into eternal bliss. On that last day, when He stands as Judge, He will be more merciful than any man. His love is eternal. His grace and mercy will cover all of His own. Those whom He has chosen He will redeem by the blood of His own Son, Jesus Christ-the One who came into our flesh, who suffered, died, was buried; the One who rose again on the third day as the Victor over death; the One who paid the price of ransom. That One is our Redeemer.
Job, by faith, was able to lay hold upon this precious truth knowing that indeed Jehovah had sent him a Redeemer.
If Job was able to lay hold upon this truth, how much more ought you and I, since the cross and the resurrection have become a historical reality. By faith we see Jesus Christ exalted in the highest heavens. The books of the Bible testify to that reality. By faith we know that our Redeemer, our Savior, lives. He lives even now in our hearts by the power of His Spirit. By faith, therefore, our concern is not merely, How am I living before men? But, How am I living before God, my righteous Judge? And we keep our eye of faith fixed upon Him, that we might find ourselves approved by Him.
The only possibility of making this confession, "I know that my Redeemer liveth," is by faith. Faith knows the Word of God and knows Jesus Christ as the Savior of sinners. That gift of faith is given by God to His people, according to Ephesians 2:9. That faith is the ability to know God and to trust in Him as one's Savior.
The confidence of faith is always personal. I cannot know Jesus Christ as Savior without knowing that He is my personal Savior. No one can believe in God and in Jesus Christ without putting all of his confidence and trust in God. One who confesses that God is God also confesses that God is his God, He is his Lord, He is his Redeemer.
This confidence is frequently tested in our lives. The believer is faced with many trials from day to day. The Lord is purging us even as silver is purified by fire. This purification is difficult. It is painful. There are many temptations that face us: pressures to give in to evil, sufferings which we must bear, sufferings within our marriages when we fail to live as a godly husband or wife, suffering with respect to our children when they fail to live for Christ and when they seek their own selfish pleasure, suffering when it seems as though the wicked are prospering and we are experiencing disappointments, adversities, pains, distresses. In the face of all of the temptations and trials there are times when we, like Job, are inclined to give up, to throw up our arms in despair. Why, if God loves us, must we suffer like this? His hand seems so heavy on us. There seems at times to be no relief. With the psalmist, we are inclined to ask, Will God cast me off? Has His mercy gone from me? Has He forgotten to be gracious?
In the midst of these trials and temptations, the triumph of faith is: I know that my Redeemer liveth and that I shall see Him. I know this because this is the testimony of the Word, of the revelation of God to me in His Word. He has made known to me His great love for me. He has made known His pardoning grace and saving mercies for all those who are in Jesus Christ. He has promised victory and a glorious inheritance for all His saints.
How do I know that this is all for me? The Holy Spirit assures me in my heart that all of these benefits are for me. By the power of the Spirit I am convicted of sin. By the power of the Spirit I am made weary, but I am also assured of rest. By the power of the Spirit I am cast down in agony of soul, but I am also lifted up, delivered. By the power of the Spirit I am made hungry, but I am also fed. I am made thirsty, but I am given to drink of the streams of living water. And by the power of the Spirit I am able to cry out, "Abba, Father." The One whom I love, the One who has redeemed-He, indeed, is the One in whom I put my trust.
And this trust in God is not a trust that is conditioned upon earthly blessing. We do not believe in God because He feeds and fills our bellies. Our faith rises above all that we see in this world. We believe in God since He has already given us to taste His goodness and His power. He cares for us now, even though our bodies are corruptible. How much more will He not care for us when our bodies are spiritual?
Our confidence is not based merely upon the things that we see around us. Such was the temptation of the three friends-"Job, if you do not have any possessions, if you do not have any food, if you experience suffering, then God does not love you."
But Job was able to see through that false conception of God's love. Job was able to make his confession by a true and living faith which God had implanted in his heart. And in that faith he was able to be comforted. "In my flesh shall I see God."
How are we to understand that statement of Job? I Corinthians 15:50 makes clear that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. And the flesh which Job here mentions is the same as the flesh and blood in I Corinthians 15:50. The Scriptures make clear that our present, corruptible bodies cannot inherit the kingdom of God. We must have new, spiritual bodies in order to enjoy the blessings of heaven. How is it possible, then, that Job can say here that he will see God "in his flesh," that is, in his earthly, corruptible, natural body?
The explanation can be derived, I believe, from a little better translation of the Hebrew. A better translation here would be: From my flesh shall I see God. The idea is, literally, outside of, or separate from, my flesh shall I see God. Job is stating here his confidence in a spiritual, raised body, apart from his current physical body. His current body is decaying. Huge sores are causing him tremendous pain and affliction. This body, he knows, will die. It will go to the grave. It will be eaten by worms. But Job's confidence is not in this body. His confidence is outside of this body, so that when this present flesh has been stripped away, when it has been put off, when worms have eaten it up, then, he will see God. Not in this present, corrupted, earthly body, but he will see God in a new body, a body which will be raised and spiritual.
The confidence of Job is outside, apart from, this present physical body. Then God will give me the ability to see Him. He will give me new eyes, a new spiritual body by which I will be able to lay hold upon and behold God.
My flesh informs me that death is imminent. My flesh informs me that I will die. I experience the struggles and difficulties of my flesh. But yet I will see God. My soul will be safe and secure in God's protection. And God will give me a new body, a body far different from this present earthly body. And Christ will make me strong.
My body may be so weak, but I will be made strong. Such is the confidence here of Job, expressing the truth of II Corinthians 5:1 that his body is but a temporary house, a hut which will pass away. When that exterior is removed from us, we have a building which is prepared, much better, more excellent: an eternal home.
There is no way to comfort us more in our afflictions. When our need gets greater and greater, when our backaches become more frequent, when sleep becomes far more difficult to attain, when our heart begins to give out, when it seems as though doctors can do very little or nothing to alleviate our pain or discomfort, then our confidence is: "When this body will be destroyed, I will see God. I will see God, then, not merely by faith, but directly, through Jesus Christ, with my new, spiritual, raised body." This victory song must echo in our homes, in our lives: This is the power by which we can face adversities and trials. Jehovah is our Judge. His judgment is perfect. And that judgment is gracious because our Redeemer lives.
Then the truth of Romans 8 will echo in our hearts: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor thing present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let us pray.
Our Father in heaven, we thank Thee for the wondrous comfort which faith is able to proclaim. And we thank Thee for the victory which is ours in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Preserve and keep us in the midst of our trials, give us the confidence with Job that our Redeemer lives, and grant that our hope might be put in Him alone. Amen.
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Last modified, 09-Sep-1998