What is the first passage of Scripture that comes to mind when you think of the Resurrection? Something from the book of Revelation? Paul’s famous defense of the doctrine in I Corinthians 15? What about Job 19? Anybody?
Most of us wouldn’t even consider an Old Testament book, let alone the book of Job, if we wanted to read about the resurrection. But right there in the middle of one of the oldest books in the Bible, we find the future hope of the believer’s resurrection. It comes in Job’s reply to Bildad and here is what it says:
"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."
On my first read-through of this passage a few days ago, I had to make sure I hadn’t accidentally flipped open to the New Testament – because here Job sounds like the Apostle Paul as he staunchly stands on the comforting doctrine of the resurrection. These words come on the heels of what was undoubtedly the world’s worst day – in a moment, Job had lost everything he ever loved or cherished. And here he is, just a few chapters later, laying out the hope that he still has in His Redeemer.
I think we tend to downplay this a bit. Job lost – literally – everything he had. But it says in Job 1:22 that, “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” Just a few weeks ago, my car was giving me trouble and by the end of the ordeal, I was angry – actually angry – that God would allow me to have car trouble. If I had been Job, I likely would have taken my wife’s advice and “Cursed God and died.” But Job did not do that. Instead, he says things like he says in 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.” What? Most of us are ready to give up if we drop our iPhone and it cracks – how does Job so gracefully handle his tragic situation?
How does he, looking at our passage again, say with confidence, “For I know that my redeemer liveth” and “I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another”? And joyfully declare that even after worms have devoured his flesh, he will somehow see God? The answer isn’t a complex one. But it’s one that I fear flies over the heads of a lot of our church-goers today.
Job was able to handle his tragedy with grace because his hope was not in this life. Job’s hope was not in his children, or his cattle, or his money – his hope was in God. Job could handle his difficult (but God-ordained, remember) life for the same reason Moses could face the Pharaoh without fear. Job could watch his livelihood disappear and say, “So be it” for the same reason Abraham could pack up his entire family and move to a land he had never seen. It’s because they were nothing more than sojourners in this life. Their hope was planted firmly in, “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10)
Their hope was planted in resurrection. It was rooted in redemption. Job stood firmly on the conviction that his Redeemer lives and that one day He would see him face to face. Job said that his heart longed for that.
Does your heart long with Job’s? Do you desire the heavenly city? Do you dream of the day when your body, that is wearing down even as you read this post, will be redeemed and made new? Or are you content to put down your roots here on earth? Are you at peace with your inherently earthly mindset, with thoughts that never find their way past the present? If so, it’s time to rise to a new level of thinking – one that transcends this life and breaks into the new creation that God has promised for those who love Him. It’s time to long for resurrection, when we will finally be restored to the image God always had in mind for His children. Long for that, just as Job's heart longed for it.