Job 19:23-27 (CSB)
“I wish that my words were written down, that they were recorded on a scroll or were inscribed in stone forever by an iron stylus and lead! But I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet “I will see God in my flesh”. I will see him myself; my eyes will look at him, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me.”
We are approaching the Easter season, when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the tomb. Jesus told his followers that his resurrection was just the beginning. He said “Because I live, you will live too” (John 14:19 CSB).
Easter is special for us because Jesus was raised from the dead. It is also special because every time we think of his resurrection, we are reminded of the biblical hope of our resurrection.
There are some things in nature that remind us of this hope as well.
Every night, darkness comes, and the world falls asleep in darkness, awaiting the light of dawn and new life in the morning.
Every year, winter comes, with its darkness, dormancy and stillness. Spring wakes the world up to new life again.
But Easter is different. Easter is outside any normal cycle. When we celebrate Easter, we celebrate a miracle. Our Lord was dead in that tomb and then he was brought to life again. The holiday of Easter gives us hope like nothing else. It looks squarely into the chains and darkness of mortality and death and does not deny it. But it gives us hope in another life – a life to come – a permanent life.
For these next few weeks, as we approach our celebration of Easter, I want to look at that promise of resurrection. I will be highlighting the fact that the resurrection hope is not just a New Testament phenomenon. So, we will be looking at the resurrection hope as defined by three Old Testament believers.
Today, I want to focus on the hope of a future resurrection that Job proclaimed.
Earlier in the book, we hear Job lamenting that “anyone born of woman is short of days and full of trouble. He blossoms like a flower, then withers; he flees like a shadow and does not last” (14:1). Job says “There is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its shoots will not die. If its roots grow old in the ground and its stump starts to die in the soil, the scent of water makes it thrive and produce twigs like a sapling. But a person dies and fades away; he breathes his last—where is he?” (14:7-10).
So, Job asks God “If only you would hide me in Sheol and conceal me until your anger passes. If only you would appoint a time for me and then remember me. When a person dies, will he come back to life? If so, I would wait all the days of my struggle until my relief comes. You would call, and I would answer you.
You would long for the work of your hands.” (14:13-15).
Job is a very old book, and there was not yet much solid content about the hope of the resurrection. But Job seems to be pulling that hope from somewhere with these words.
And then we come to today’s text a few chapters later.
Job wanted the world to know what God was doing in his life.
• “Oh, that my words could be recorded. Oh, that they could be inscribed on a monument, carved with an iron chisel and filled with lead, engraved forever in the rock” (Job 19:23-24 NLT).
Job was a man who was deeply misunderstood. So many bad things had happened to him that he was overwhelmed. He wished that he could make his case, and prove that all his suffering did not mean that he had failed God and was abandoned by him. He wanted to set the record straight, and to preserve the truth that his bad luck was not a judgment from God.
Job got his wish. His words were written down, and in the Bible of all places.
Now we know the rest of the story. We know that Job’s sufferings were not caused by his sin. They were a contest – a way of demonstrating his faith and faithfulness.
Job knew that he was going to die, but trusted God to redeem him from death by resurrection.
• “But I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust. Even after my skin has been destroyed,
yet I will see God in my flesh.” (Job 19:25-26 CSB).
Job declared his faith in God with these words. His faith was not in himself. He did not say “I have an immortal soul which will survive the death of my body.” No, he said he had a redeemer who will outlast him.
Job mentions dust (Hebrew ‘afar עָפָר). This is the stuff that God used to create us.
• “Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).
Dust is what we are made of, and it is the substance we will decompose into after we die.
• “You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust” (Genesis 3:19).
So, Job was saying that when he died, he would eventually rot and return to dust, but that his redeemer lives, and his redeemer will stand upon that dust at last.
And what is this redeemer going to do then? His redeemer is going to raise him from the dead. Job knew this. His faith was in a future resurrection. His body is going to decay. But then the redeemer is going to come, stand on that dust, and speak to those bones, and they will reconstitute into a living, breathing man again.
In (literally, from) his flesh, Job will see God (verse 26).
This is the hope of the Bible – the hope of a resurrection. It is a hope not of release from a body but of reconstitution of the body. His hope was not that he would go to heaven and see God with his spirit, but that God would come down and give life to his eyes again, so that “I will see him myself; my eyes will look at him, and not as a stranger.” (Job 19:27a).
Job longed for the day of his resurrection.
“My heart longs within me.” (Job 19:27b).
Actually, the Hebrew text does not mention Job’s heart. It’s about his kidneys.
What Job literally said was that his kidneys empty out in his lap. In other words, he wets himself! This truth – that he will be raised to life again – is too much to handle. He can’t wait!
Is that your faith? Are you longing for the resurrection above all things?
That was the Apostle Paul’s faith. He said “I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-11 CSB).
The biblical hope is a hope in a future resurrection. That was Job’s hope. That was Paul’s hope. That was Jesus’ promise. He said “Because I live, you will live too!”
Thank you Lord, for forgiveness through the blood of Christ, and the hope of a resurrection by the power of Christ. Thank you that we have a Redeemer, and that our Redeemer lives. Thank you that our Redeemer will stand upon the dust of our dead bodies one day, say the word, and we will come to life again. Thank you for the hope of imperishable, immortal, eternal, permanent life.