Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Our Redeemer Lives

Job is a popular book of the Bible, but it is also one of the most difficult to grasp.  We realize that God has caused all this misery on Job, and yet we make excuses.  Well, we say, Satan was actually the one who did it, but God allowed Satan to inflict Job, so it is God's fault.  Atheist's hold up this book against the goodness of God, and we, as Christians, have to admit that we really don't know what true goodness is.  God is pure goodness, but goodness, when exercised, doesn't necessarily look like what we conceive it to be.

We have to realize several things.  One, everything is God's.  He giveth and he taketh away.  Not because he's mean, but because he knows our hearts better than we do.  Sometimes goodness means "for our good," and not necessarily "doing nice things."  So, yes, Job's life was essentially taken away.  He was inflicted with sores.  He lost everything.  He despaired.  But let's see how he reacts to this affliction.

He has three friends with him, and what they are doing to him is torture.  These three are essentially espousing the prosperity gospel to him.  This is the false gospel that is permeating our Christian culture today.  What this false gospel says is that with positive thoughts, you can have great health and prosperous wealth, and IF YOU DON'T get those things, that means you don't have enough faith.  You are failing as a Christian.  You must have done something sinful.  This is essentially what Job's friends tell him, and he finally screams at them: "you are worse than the affliction!  You are twisting the knife in deeper!  Leave me alone!"  He knows that the Lord has done this to him, but it is not because he did something particularly sinful.  We are ALL sinful.  We all deserve what has happened to Job and WORSE, but it is the Lord's discretion what happens to us.  Job's three friends deserve what he has gotten.  They are misled, because they think they do not deserve that, but they do.  God is only delaying their affliction till a later time, probably at actual death, and that affliction is everlasting ruin.

Here is what Job says:

Job 19:23-27a
19:23 "O that my words were written down! O that they were inscribed in a book!

19:24 O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock forever!

19:25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;

19:26 and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God,

19:27a whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

He wishes his words would be preserved forever, and indeed they are, and the following words are some of the most well-known in all of scripture.  Let's look at them closely:

Verse 25 actually begins with the words, AS FOR ME.  This means that Job cannot speak for his friends or anyone else, for that matter.  Likewise, we cannot speak for others.  Each person has an individual walk with the Lord or not.  I can't speak for anyone in this room, but AS FOR ME, I can speak.  I can speak for myself.  What are Job's friends doing?  They are speaking for him.  They are telling him all that he has done wrong, and what his problem is.  Have you had friends who try to FIX your life?  They tell you what you should do.  They tell you were you should go.  They tell you how you should live.  Job says he only speaks for himself.

I KNOW that my Redeemer lives.  He doesn't think.  He doesn't hope.  He doesn't postulate based on the available evidence.  He KNOWS.  There's a fellow I know who tells me he has serious doubts about the Christian religion.  He is PLAGUED with doubts.  He fancies himself a Christian, but he has many doubts about Jesus, about the New Testament, etc.  He tells me that he would love to sit down with me and converse over coffee, but he is afraid that his doubts might rub off on me and ruin my walk with Christ.  Really?  I shook my head and told him that it would never happen.  Why?  Because I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVES.  I'm not just convinced through lots of reading the right authors, and if I read the wrong authors, I'll fall out of faith.  I KNOW.  There is not a DOUBT.

MY REDEEMER.  Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God.  God got Job in this mess, in order to bring Job low and close to God, and God in the end will pull him out of the depths.  The only person he could be talking about in history is Jesus.  LIVES.  When does the story of Job take place?  Chronologically it's at the end of the historical books and right before Psalms.  But it is only there because it is wisdom literature.  Job lived somewhere in the time period of the book of Genesis. Job is a very early book, chronologically.  And Job KNOWS THAT HIS REDEEMER LIVES.  Jesus was alive at the time of Job.  He was alive at the creation of the world.  Jesus has always been and will always be. He is our redeemer, too, and he LIVES.

Not only does Job see the beginning and everlasting nature of Jesus, he sees him at the end of all things.  Job says that AT THE LAST, the end of everything, Jesus will take his stand on the earth.  He is seeing him at the end of everything as well as the beginning of everything.  Jesus permeates everything.  Even after Job's flesh, and our flesh for that matter, has been destroyed.  Yet, from his eyes, and from our eyes, we will see all these things take place.  Next week I will talk about how we will be witnesses of recreation.  This is possible, because we will receive new bodies from our Lord, and we will see through actual eyes.

The whole of verse 27 says, "Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another.  My heart faints within me."  Not only will we behold the risen Christ with our own eyes, but we will not see anything else.  As it says in Isaiah 65: the former things will be forgotten and not even come to mind.  Everything involved in our future lives revolves around God.

Does this mean that heaven is one long Church service?  No.  I think it means that, because we are the bride of Christ, it is like one long marriage feast.  Christ is our lover, and we collectively focus on him, because he is our true love.  Someone once asked whether there would be chocolate in heaven, and the answer may be yes, but even if there was a truck load of chocolate in the corner, we wouldn't notice, because our attention will be on Christ.  The only way we will taste chocolate in heaven is if and when our lover places it in our mouths.

In the midst of despair, Job says these amazing words.  Why?  Because when we are at our lowest, that is when we find our redeemer, and we find that he is alive.  We know it to be so.  What about those who lose faith in God when they hit rock bottom?  Well, the world has misled them, and they have been given a false god in place of the true God.  When Jesus was at his lowest, death on the cross, the Father was right there with him, working salvation for us all.  At his lowest, Job knew that his redeemer lived.  Do we?

We know the verse that says, "the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away," but have we ever read it as, "the Lord taketh away and the Lord giveth?"  That order is just as true.  Everything created is the Lord's.  We are created beings.  We are the Lord's.  Pray that he will give us himself, because he is the most important possession we need.