Job 19 - My Redeemer Lives (Rev. Erik Veerman)
My Redeemer Lives
Our sermon text is the book of Job, chapter 19. You can find on page 505 in the church Bibles under the seat in front of you.
Don’t stand yet, but our practice is to stand for our sermon text in reverence of God’s Word. The reason we do this comes from Nehemiah chapter 8. That was when the prophet Ezra opened the Scriptures. It had been years since God’s Word had been read. He had the people stand to give their attention to and honor of God’s Word.
We read from the Bible multiple times in our service. It would be a lot of up and down if we stood every time, so we stand for our sermon reading as representative of the Scripture readings in the service. Please stand.
God has given us his very Word. It’s written for his Glory and our good – so that we may know him and the power of his resurrection.
Hear now God’s inspired Word from Job 19
When something difficult happens to us, our natural tendency is to want to know why. Why me, Lord? What have I done to deserve this? Did I sin? Is this a judgment on me?
Actions have consequences – that’s the way of life. And so when a painful situation happens like the diagnosis of a disease, or sickness or the loss of a friend or family member, we cry out to God for answers… and for reasons.
These last couple of years have been extremely hard with the pandemic. We have lost loved ones or know of friends who have lost loved ones. It has been painful and difficult. And we want to know why. Why am I suffering? …or why is he or she suffering?
Understanding what the Bible teaches about suffering is important. It impacts how we live. It affects our view of God and our counsel to others. And if we misunderstand suffering, it will lead to even further hurt and pain. When suffering comes, we’ll be disoriented and depressed and left to question God.
But on the other hand, if we can believe in God and his answer to suffering, our lives will be changed. We will have a foundation on which we can hope and rest. Underlying the days of sadness and grief will be a firm foundation of hope. We won’t be questioning anymore what we did to deserve such pain. No, because we’ll have the promises of God, and we will believe in what God will do.
You’re probably thinking, “what kind of Easter message is this?” Well, it’s the kind of Easter message that intersects the reality of suffering with the resurrection. That’s because the resurrection of Jesus is that foundation. Our hope through suffering comes through the risen Savior.
And if you were to ask, where in Scripture does God teach us about suffering and hope and Jesus resurrection? Well, I would say one of the clearest testimonies is the book of Job.
The book of Job is a book of contrasts.
•It’s a book of right and wrong.
•Of wisdom and foolishness.
•Of God and Satan.
•Of heath and sickness.
•Of prosperity and desolation.
•Of joy and pain.
And through those contrasts, the book gives us clear guidance on suffering and who God is. Later in the book of Job, God speaks – he sets his very character and nature in front of Job.
Maybe one day we can work through the book of Job on Sunday mornings.
But this morning, this Easter morning, I hope to provide some insights into this man, Job, into his suffering and discouragement, what his friends thought, but then focus in on where he lands, answering some of the hard questions and pointing us to his redeemer.
Let me ask you to picture in your mind the ancient world – no modern buildings or machines or roads. A countryside with farms and animals, of vast land, and vegetation. Communities near waterways. Well worn paths that traversed the land. Workers served masters, who owned the land, who produced crops and raised animals. Trade involved commodities like wool and food, and other goods. Large families flourished with grand celebrations – like Job and his family.
Some have suggested that the book of Job is the earliest book written in the Bible. That Job lived before Abraham. I think that analysis is likely true.
We’re told that Job was a righteous man. As it says in chapter 1, “blameless and upright, who feared God and turned away from evil.” He was a wealthy man – when we think of wealth today, we often think of it in a consumer setting, but no, Job wasn’t a consumer, he was a producer. He produced jobs, a stable environment for the town and his workers - cared for them and his family. And he was known for his wisdom.
And all was good…
That is, until Satan came along! And in the devil’s interaction with God, he accused Job of a righteousness based only on God’s material and relational blessing. “Of course, he’s faithful. Of course, he’s upright and righteous. Of course, he’s follows you. That’s because you have given him much - family and possessions. But if you take that all away – he will curse your name.”
We didn’t read all that happened to Job, but we did see how God allowed Satan to have his way with Job and his family. And all the pain that Satan caused.
His possessions and servants destroyed. His children killed. Fire and enemies and wind taking the lives of his beloved. It was tragic. He felt intense grief… some of you know that grief well. The sudden loss of a family member – a brother, sister, son, daughter, husband, wife – or the loss of a dear dear friend. The physiological and emotional reaction – the shock. And for Job, the grief kept coming as story after story of death, compounded. And Job fell to the ground.
And what do we expect? For him to yell and pound the ground and curse God. But no, instead he blessed God. He acknowledged God, his creator.
And this wasn’t even the end of the suffering that Job would go through. Satan next sought permission to afflict Job’s body. And Job breaks out in painful sores all over. It was so painful that Job would take a piece of clay pottery and scrape the blistering sores.
And Job’s wife, also in grief, watching. She saw the pain Job was in, and she had had enough. “Job, how can you hold so fast to your integrity?” she asked. And then in her distress and anger, she said to him, “Curse God and die.” She was saying to him, “reject your creator. Look at the pain he has caused. Why do you worship him? Don’t sit any longer wallowing in your suffering… take your life.”
“No! heaven forbid.” Job said, “how can we receive good from God and not evil!” And we’re told in chapter 2 that he did not sin.
What a man! In the face of deep personal suffering, he held fast to what he believed - trusting in and fearing God. Oh, that we would each grasp hold of those same promises that grounded his faith.
It’s not that Job didn’t struggle, nor that he didn’t express his sadness and confusion. No, we’ll come to that in a minute. But in the darkest days, he was able to stand firm trusting in the God who created him.
In the book overall, we’re next introduced to three friends. They had come to him in his time of lament. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Their desire was to help Job; to come alongside of him and help him process all that has happened. At first, they just sat with him; they were present with him. And it would have been better if they never opened their mouths.
Because here’s one of the contrasts in the book. The wisdom of Job when he sought out God and worshipped him versus the foolishness of his friends.
Let me summarize their message to Job: you are suffering because you did something to deserved it. This was their false Gospel. And they went on and on. For example:
•The innocent prosper. That was a lie in multiple ways. I mean, Job’s friends believed it, but it is a false belief.
•Or… God is disciplining you because you need disciplining. That’s why you have been experiencing this torment from God. Well, there is some truth in that statement. God does discipline those he loves. But this was a misdirected belief for Job’s situation. They were calling Job to repent for something he did so that God would stop disciplining him.
•Overall, their message connected actions with consequences. They assumed a connection between Job’s experiences of sickness and the death of his children with his sin.
•To be sure, sin has natural consequences – that’s true.
•And also true, the sin condition of the word – it’s fallenness – is the source of suffering. In this particular case, it was the devil whom God allowed to afflict Job.
•But Job’s friends presumed that some specific sin caused God to inflict suffering on him.
When suffering comes, it’s so easy to think and feel that we did something wrong and God is acting out against us. But that is not the message of Job. No, that is seeing our suffering through the eyes of Job’s friends and their grave misunderstandings about the broader impact of sin and the nature of redemption.
From chapter 3 through chapter 28, Job went back and forth with his friends. It’s tiring stuff as you work your way through this intense dialogue.
And throughout this back and forth, Job was honest. He lamented. He even lamented his own birth. The mental and emotional anguish was overwhelming to him. Many of the Psalms are songs of lament. The Lord desires us to come to him in our sorrow and in our grief.
In the middle of these chapters, we come across chapter 19. In it, we hear Job’s pain. And we sense his anger at his friends “How long will you torment me and break me in pieces with words?” Verse 2. He then accused them of exalting themselves and beating him down.
The torment from his friends only compounded the pain that he was already suffering.
And then Job pours out his heart. Verses 8 and following. We sense the weight of all his anguish. He cried out to God…
•…He has walled up my way… Darkness is on my path… (verse 8)
•…He has stripped from me my glory… (verse 9)
•…my hope he has pulled up like a tree… (verse 10)
•…my brothers are wholly estranged from me… (verse 13)
•…He called himself a “stranger” and a “foreigner” in his own house… (verse 15)
•…young children despise me… (verse 18)
•…my intimate friends hate me… (verse 19)
•No one wants to be near Job… they think he’s cursed and no longer want to associate to him
•Then Job said in verse 20…my bones stick to my skin… we get the sense here of his ongoing condition. Frail, weak, emaciated.
•And then Job cried out to his friends, verses 20-21. “have mercy on me… why do you, like God pursue me…”
Job is lonely, isolated, rejected, distraught, and overwhelmed. Perhaps we don’t feel all of these emotions at the same time as Job does, but we can relate to each one of these feelings at different points in our lives. And in our times of despair and grief, they compound as they did for Job in his lament.
But the beautiful and wonderful thing is where Job lands. It’s where he stakes his hope. It’s centered around, of course, verse 25, “I know,” he says, “that my redeemer lives.” But the leadup in verses 23 and 24 teach us just how much weight Job puts into his belief. “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever!” I’ve always thought how ironic that was. Little did Job know at the time that the words he penned would indeed be inscribed forever. Inspired by the Holy Spirit. Encapsulated in the Holy Scriptures. Billions of people have read and reflected on Job’s words, have considered his life and suffering, have been built up and encouraged, and have been pointed to the Redeemer.
The words in verses 25 and 26 are words for each of us to reflect on.
If you have your Bible in front of you, read verses 25 and 26 with me. Believe it as you say it. Here we go… “For 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”
There it is. There is the answer… the key.
There’s so much here for us to take hold of in our suffering. And I would say, we can grasp even more than Job understood! To be sure, God gave Job a supernatural sense that He would redeem Job and restore him eternally.
But we have an even deeper realization of what his words meant …
•Job lived before the covenant promises were given to Abraham and David
•Job didn’t have the Gospel pictures that the other Old Testament saints had like the Passover and Exodus. Like the temple and the sacrificial system.
•And of course, Job didn’t have the blessings of the revealed Messiah – Jesus, the Son of God, who came in the flesh. Who died and was risen.
But yet, God gave Job a depth of trusting in what was to come and what it meant for him in his misery and anguish.
And it centers around his Redeemer.
A redeemer to Job was someone who would restore him. Someone who had the ability and the authority to reinstate what was right and to avenge wrongs. Job didn’t know who or how that redemption would come, but he did know the redeemer would be God himself. At the end of verse 26, Job says, “I shall see God.” Here Job is directly connecting his Redeemer to God himself. He lives… he shall be the last to stand on the earth… I shall see him, God.
A Redeemer God… who we know is Jesus. Jesus is the one who Redeemed Job. Jesus would redeem Job in 2 ways. First, yes, Job was an upright man – he lived righteously. But that did not mean he wasn’t a sinner and there did not need redemption from his sin and reconciliation with God. No, Job needed that… we need that. Redemption from sin.
But second, Job needed redemption from suffering and death. He needed redemption for both his sin and his suffering.
Even though Jesus came a couple thousand years after Job…yet he looked to his Redeemer.
For us here, this is the redemption that we each need. Redemption from our sin and redemption from our suffering. And it’s the cross of Christ and his resurrection through which God brought about that redemption. And Jesus had both the ability and authority to redeem… as the son of God and in human flesh. Jesus is our Redeemer.
And notice how Job captures his own faith. He calls him “my redeemer.” There’s a personal assurance that Job has of his redeemer. He knows that his redeemer will restore him. He believes in his redeemer.
And in order for someone to be a redeemer, they had to be alive. And Job says, “my redeemer lives”
It’s not, “he will live” or “he has lived” But “he lives.” Meaning he is alive now.
•And the second half of verse 25, “He will be the last one to stand upon the earth” – meaning he’s going to be alive a long time! When the heavens and earth pass away – this redeemer, Jesus, will be there. He will be calling those he redeems to a new heavens and earth.
•And Job has this assurance that he will be in this redeemer’s presence. Twice in verses 26 and 27… Job uses the word “see” … and related to that, the word “behold”. Job will “see” him…. After Job’s life from this earth is gone. After his flesh is destroyed (verse 26 as it says, then Job will see his redeemer God! He will be in his presence. Did you notice that Job says, “in my flesh, I shall see God.” But he said that will happen “after his skin has been thus destroyed.” In other word, Job himself will be resurrected. He will physically be in the presence of his redeemer.
Through all his suffering and trials and grief and pain…. Job hoped in his redeemer NOT for an immediate restoration and reconciliation, BUT rather an eternal restoration and reconciliation.
This redemption from our suffering and sin will be fully realized when Jesus, the redeemer, returns.
•The Bible does not promise health here and now. We can pray for healing, and we should. And the Lord hears those prayers and he may answer them the way we ask, but it’s not an earthly promise.
•The Bible also does not promise a deliverance from evil in our life on earth. We can pray for deliverance from evil, and we should – The Lord’s prayer calls us to pray for that and God may deliver us from evil. But ultimately that deliverance will be fulfilled in eternity.
•To say it in a different way, the redemption that God promises us is spiritual (redemption from our sin) and is physical (redemption from our suffering). But those redemption promises will be fully realized in eternity – in heaven with him in his presence.
And although Job didn’t know how this redeemer would come, and how he would accomplish his redemption… Job did know that this redemption would involves a living redeemer whom Job would see in the flesh because he would also be resurrected.
And of course, we know how this redeemer lives. And we know how we will see him in the flesh one day.
It is because he was resurrected - the Lord Jesus. He lives. Now. He is reigning. Now. His resurrection makes way to our resurrection one day.
That is where our hope comes from in our physical and emotional suffering. A risen savior, who lives, and who will one day restore us fully.
In your difficult days, like the days of Job, when suffering and grief is pressing in on your life… seemingly from every side, you can fix our eyes on your redeemer who lives. And even in your crying out and lament like Job did, you can see your redeemer.
I think about it this way - My eye glasses are the kind that gradually change from helping me see far in the distance, to helping me see things a little closer to me, and also really close up… the lower part even magnifies for reading. The prescription gradually changes from far to near. It took some time to get used to, but what I really like about them is that things are clear far away (I can see you in the back row), it’s clear for things several feet away, clear for close-up, and clear for reading.… and it’s clear all at the same time!
Being able to say like Job “my redeemer lives, and I will see him in the flesh” is like putting on these kind of glasses. Where you can see and believe clearly in the distance that you will be with Christ in eternity in his presence, resurrected with him. You can also see and believe that day when Christ will return and will be the last to stand upon the earth. And you can see and believe clearly now, in the depth of your anguish and pain, that you have a living Redeemer, who will do all those things. Seeing and believing now with lasting eternal hope.
And it’s a contrast to the foolishness of Job’s friends, who say that our suffering is a result of our personal and particular sin – not the sin condition of the world. They are trapped, in a sense, in a short-term view, without the eternal redemption that our redeemer will give us.
What we need to do is we need to take that question “what did I do to deserve this suffering?” and change it to “what did I do to deserve this redemption, this eternal redemption?” It’s a heart and it’s mind change that comes from seeing Jesus as your redeemer who lives now because he has been raised.
If you don’t know this redeemer. If you can’t yet call him “my redeemer.” Then come to him. Because he lives.