Dear radio friends,
What an amazing confession we have in the words of our text, Job 19:25-27: “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: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” A remarkable confession, I say to you, especially since it was made long before the coming of Christ. A confession which has stood the test of time, so that the church and Christians throughout the ages echo it with hope and with joy. A Word of God which was spoken to declare the glorious truth of our bodily resurrection.
Clearly the text does not speak of seeing God immediately after death in the spirit. That truth is comforting enough, as we have seen now through several passages of Scripture in this series, “Preparing to Die Willingly.” The child of God knows that to be absent in this body is to be present with the Lord immediately. But remember, the child of God is saved body and soul. And he rejoices that in his flesh he shall see God.
Job says this beautifully as he contemplates the resurrection not only of his own body but that of his Redeemer. It is remarkable that he should speak of Christ, in verse 25, standing at the latter day upon the earth. Though my body is destroyed by worms, mutilated, corrupted in the grave, I shall see God. That is the hope of the final resurrection.
As part of our series on death, “Preparing to Die Willingly,” we want to consider that hope of the child of God: In my flesh shall I see God. That is the blessed hope of the final, bodily resurrection, though after my skin worms destroy this body.
When Job writes this he clearly is speaking, first of all, of the destruction of this body. This is his present experience, of course. He has suddenly lost all of his possessions and all of his children in one day. Yet he was able, by the grace of God, to say as he did in Job 1:21, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” But he himself now has been personally touched with painful disease of boils from head to toe and he is suffering greatly. Can you imagine that torment – not only physical, not only loss of all his possessions, and loved ones, but now his friends refuse to have anything to do with him. His own wife refuses to have anything to do with him. His closest friends turn away. And those friends who do stay accuse him of sin. “Job, all this has happened to you because of your sin. Repent or continue to face the wrath of God.”
What does Job do? By faith, Job looks beyond his death at the hope of the final resurrection. Oh, yes, he is realistic about his death. He realizes that this, his body, will enter the grave and rot. Job knew that. He confessed that earlier. Job 14:1: “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” And in verse 2 of that same chapter: “He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.” Notice also in our text that Job is clearly talking about his death. Job 19:26: “And though after my skin worms destroy this body,” he says. And again, in the last part of verse 27, “though my reins be consumed within me.” Job faces squarely the horror of death, and the consequences of death, the rotting away of this body. He knows what the Word of God declared in Genesis 3:19, “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Yet, in spite of the reality of death, Job knew that he will see God. In fact, he emphasizes it this way, “Whom I shall see for myself and not another.” You may argue that he cannot be referring to his own seeing, but note what he says: “which mine eyes shall behold, and not another.”
But, how can that be? Does not Job know that this present body must enter the grave? Yes, but he knows something else. He knows that which only the child of God knows by faith. He knows that his mighty Redeemer will one day come and more fully reveal the glorious promise that the dead shall rise again. On the one hand, he says, “I am going to die. This flesh is going to rot.” But on the other hand, “In my flesh shall I see God.”
Some have said that what Job means is “out of my flesh,” that is, “without my flesh I shall see God.” From my flesh, that is, apart from my flesh, even without my flesh I shall see God. Now it is true that the child of God does not need this body to see God. It is true that the Christian’s death is abolishing of sin and a passageway to life eternal. It is true that Jesus comes at death to bring His own to Father’s house of many mansions. But it is also true that Job is in fact thinking about his own death and the corruption of his body, but looks beyond to the realization and to the confirmation of his resurrection so that he will see God in his flesh. “Yes, even if my flesh corrupts in the grave, I will see God.” Even though this flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, as I Corinthians 15:50 says, yet the conclusion can not be drawn that Job says in this passage of the Word of God that he will no longer have the privilege with this body to see God.
Let us read again his words: “Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.” Though my reins (my skeleton, my bones) are eaten up, yet I shall in this flesh see God. Notice that: I shall see God. My eyes shall behold Him. Job knew that God would not leave him forever to rot in the grave. Rather, he would rise again from the dead. No, not with another body, some strange body which was not his. But with this body he will see God. Yes, our death means that the body must enter the grave while our souls immediately go to be with God. And, yes, our bodies rot in the grave. But the Scriptures teach us that at the resurrection our souls will reunite with our bodies and in the twinkling of an eye God will give to us those new bodies which will be ours in the new heavens and the new earth. This body which God has given me will also be redeemed. I will be saved body and soul.
Just as our Lord Jesus Christ came, the glorious Son of God, in the flesh, so, by His death and resurrection, He saves His people body and flesh. Flesh and spirit. And, as Job says, with this body, in this flesh, we shall see God.
I believe in the resurrection from the dead. Do you? There is no doubt that Job could make this confession years ago because he believed in the resurrection from the dead. The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be His name. That is true. That was Job’s confession at the beginning of this book. And we must begin there in our pilgrimage knowing that all things come from the hand of God.
But I want you to remember that there is another lesson in the book of Job which we should not forget – that the Lord almighty is faithful and He restores again, even after our greatest loss and sorrow. God did so for Job. Remember, in the end, when he had once again his children and possessions, even more than when he began. God is faithful to restore. The Lord gives, the Lord takes away; but the Lord restores again and multiplies.
Even more than all the earthly blessings that Job desired, he desired this: to see God. No, he could not fully understand why everything had happened to him that did happen to him. Those friends of his thought that they understood, but they were wrong. Some of the things that they said were right, but their conclusion was absolutely wrong. They asked him to repent. They asked him to repent of some sin that he had committed against God. But, no, Job knew.
Allow me to apply this to the recent tragedy of 9/11. It is true that God sends judgment to the wicked. But we must be careful not to judge or to know the mind of God. It is not the case that all who died in that tragedy were the enemies of God. God may have other purposes: to chastise His church, perhaps, for slumbering in apostasy and for slumbering in the work of missions. Perhaps God, in sending wars and rumors of wars, is awakening His people, to show to them open doors that they have to spread the gospel yet more diligently abroad but also at home, awakening in them that zeal that this gospel must go to the nations before Christ will return, causing them as His people to realize that indeed the greatest treasure that they have is not in the possessions of this present life, but in the eternal life that God has given to them in His Son.
Job came to that conclusion. God was testing him to see what was most precious to him. You remember that this was, after all, the beginning of the story recorded in the Scriptures of Job. Satan came with the accusation that this servant was righteous and eschewed evil all because God had built a hedge round about him. So, because he had all those gifts, he trusted in God. But if God would remove all those gifts, then Job would curse God. Oh, no! Job, by the grace of God, came through. In spite of all his sufferings, what was his greatest desire? To see God, to love and understand God, to know God now and unto all eternity.
Is that also your hope and aspiration, by the grace of God? In this flesh, to see God? The solid ground of this assurance that Job had he tells us himself. “For I know that my redeemer liveth.” Job knew God not only as his maker, his provider, his sustainer, his defender; but also as his redeemer. Job could have said, “For I know my maker lives. I know He is my defender and my judge and He will bring all things to pass.” But, no, Job had come to know the mercies of Jehovah. And he knew he needed a middle man, a mediator far greater than any human.
That is the beautiful and rich idea of redeemer in the holy Scriptures – one who comes to avenge, to set right what was wrong, to plead on behalf of, or to buy back. Job had lost everything. He was helpless. He could not deliver himself, and all his friends had forsaken him. Who would plead on his behalf, who would deliver him from this present distress and maintain his cause? No one. Ah, but then he remembered and then he knew: “I know that my redeemer liveth!” Job was sure that he would see God in his flesh only because he saw Christ, his Savior.
I realize Job is one of the most ancient writings passed down to us in the Old Testament Scriptures. I realize that he lived thousands of years before the Messiah came. And I realize that this seems so impossible. I searched every possible commentary to see if this was really possible. Job saw Christ! No, I am not saying that Job could fully understand how God would accomplish all of this. We now, of course, have the better promises, according to Hebrews 11, because Christ has already come. We have seen the wonder of the gospel that Christ was sent, the Son of God in the flesh on this earth, to die for our sins and then, after His resurrection and ascension He is sitting at the right hand of God, only to return again at the latter day to stand on the earth as the conquering King and Judge. But something of this Job saw and so confessed, “I know that my redeemer liveth.”
Father Abraham saw that day of Christ and rejoiced in it. In John 8 we read that they mocked at Christ, saying that He was not even forty years old and yet He spoke of Abraham seeing Him and rejoicing to see His day. Of course, the response of our Lord Jesus was, “Before Abraham was, I am.” The second person of the triune God, co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit. Job, by faith, saw God and recognized God as his maker and defender not only, but as his Redeemer, as his Redeemer who lives and who will stand at the latter day upon the earth. Job knew that this his Redeemer not only lives but shall stand at the latter day on the earth. Ultimately, then, Job saw Christ standing as the Judge at the latter day on the earth. Perhaps he could not see as clearly that Jesus would come by way of the incarnation and then the crucifixion and then the glory with which He will return. Some say all this is giving too much to Job. He could not have seen so long ago all these details. Perhaps so, but I believe Job knew somehow, by faith, that all this would mean that his Redeemer will stand at the latter day upon the earth by way of the resurrection, for he connects his own bodily resurrection to the glorious knowledge that his Redeemer lives and will stand at the latter day upon the earth.
How could he or anyone else see God in the flesh except the Redeemer would come, then would die and rise again and return upon the clouds of glory and stand at the latter day upon the earth. Really, after all, what Job expresses here is the confession made by all the Old Testament saints.Hebrews 11:12ff.: they saw the promises of God. They embraced those promises and they confessed that they were pilgrims and strangers on this earth. They saw the land of the living. They sought the city which had foundations whose builder and maker was God. Their heart was not set on this world, not even on the promised land, but in heaven itself.
How could they but by faith of the Son of God, who liveth, was dead, but is alive again forever. How could they except through that faith of the Son of God. Job knew he would see God in the land of the living and that in fact his body would be raised from the dead. By faith he could say, For I know my Redeemer lives, and because he lives, I shall live also.
There is a reason behind this bold conviction. Again the text begins with a “for,” connecting it with verses 23 and 24, where we read, “Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!” Job wanted these words, especially this confession of our text, to be written down. Many things, of course, he had said when he was down and out and which, I suppose, he had hoped would never be remembered. But he hoped that these words that he was about to speak would be written, printed in a book, graven with an iron pen and lead in a rock forever.
Why these words? Why not all the other words which he had spoken? Because, particularly what he was about to say, he knew was the very word of God. By divine revelation he had received these words. It was not something of human invention at all. He believed by faith, and so he spoke. And he wanted it recorded for all times for the church of Jesus Christ. “For I know my that my redeemer liveth.” These words I want written forever in a book, graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever. Because this I know to be true: My Redeemer liveth.
These words carried him through when everything was against him, when his own body was rotting, when his own friends forsook him, when he was down in the dust. But one thing he knew for sure: I know my Redeemer lives, so, in this flesh, I too shall see God.
You see, he found his assurance not in himself, not in his friends, but in the unchangeable Word of God. It is good to have the consolation of friends and fellow saints. I know, in times of death and separation, and during this time of tragedy, we give and receive words and works of compassion. But we must not depend on them or be weary when instead we get mockery and false accusations and lack of support and love from human friends and loved ones. For the eternal destiny of your and my soul and body must not rely on men’s word and men’s care. Man’s word will pass away. But it is God’s Word which will endure for ever. And His Word tells us clearly that Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, lives. He was and is and ever is to come.
When you face sorrow and distress in this present life, is this also your confession? When the heavy hand of God is upon you so that you suffer sickness and poverty and sorrow, or when you are falsely accused for the sake of the truth of God to which you hold, or when you face the reality of death (your own or that of a loved one) – then is this also your confession: I know that my Redeemer lives?
Believest thou this? He who believes Christ shall never die, and though he die, yet shall he live. If you do not believe, the only word I bring to you is: Kiss the Son lest ye perish in the way ( Ps. 2), lest His wrath be kindled but for a moment and you find yourself in everlasting torments.
But if you do believe, be of good courage. Say with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Now is not the time to be wishy-washy about our faith and say, “Well, nothing is certain.” Oh, no. Now is the time to let our faith shine as gold and say, “I know, I absolutely know, my Redeemer lives. And, therefore, I know in this flesh I shall see God.” Can you say that with Job of old? Is that your highest goal, your greatest desire, your most blessed hope that you, now and forever, shall see God in Jesus Christ? Then rejoice, for blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Amen.
Eternal God, our gracious heavenly Father, we bow in reverence and adoration of Thee as we look to Thee in hope, faith, and love for our resurrection through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.