AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH - November 20, 2005
Presbyterian in background, Biblical in Basis
THE ETERNAL REDEEMER WHO BROKE INTO DAY TO BE BROKEN
AND RETURNS INTO DAY TO RULE
At Christmas time, we grow accustomed to hearing "I know that My Redeemer liveth" sung with its buoyant sadness and triumphant grief, as the shield for the saved is praised and the rock for the redeemed is unveiled once more.
It is perhaps three millenia since Job mouthed these words which have gripped millions for millenia, and encapsulated the only anti-depressant, pro-life agenda which has ground. It is time to reflect on Job's condition, position and portent. What was happening ? This Sunday, one plans to examine Job 19.
I JOB'S TRIAL IS SACRED BETWEEN MAN AND GOD - tests may be inscrutable but not purposeless - 19:1-12
Job, rich, reliable, socially active in help to the needy, respected if not even revered, is selected to SHOW that man in his Redeemer DOES worship God, not merely use Him for self-advancement, as a kind of spiritual tool. Pangs of ill-health are added to financial ruin and the death of his sin-corrupted children. At first Job declares, The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. As the pressure mounts, he comes to question WHY this is happening, reflecting that the righteous seem to suffer as do the others, and insisting that many of the unscrupulous reside in comfort in this world, while their deeds reek. This however is not the point; rather it is the nature of the heart's fidelity, the question of LOVE for God; and Job is stressed to the uttermost, wholly tried, before eventually coming to this vast declaration of Job 19:23-27.
II JOB IS SEEN AS A SYMBOL OF JUDGMENT - 19:13-20
Stripped of all support of flesh and health, respect and deference, an object of derision, scoffed at, scorned, Job becomes a symbol of judgment, beginning to resemble those who, in the ultimate judgment, having merely USED God or abused His love, or forgotten Him in reality, become stripped to nakedness, their faithlessness or hypocrisy now their warrant for exposure by the light from which they shrink into eternal darkness. This you see exemplified in Jeremiah 4:11-28, as in Hebrews 11:25-29, applied in James 5:1-6 and exhibited in II Thessalonians 1. Job cannot understand this proximity to such nakedness under divine wrath, his bones clinging to his emaciated condition, to his skin, while he is escaping instant death only by the 'skin of his teeth'.
III VAIN IS JOB'S APPEAL FOR HUMAN PITY - 19:21-22
His friends withhold pity, instead acting as if to replace the wisdom of God with their own, bombastic in blighting his name, assuming sin the basis of his suffering, and giving simplistic accounts of things which are as gall to Job's burning throat.
IV SOURCED FROM THE ETERNAL, JOB WANTS ETERNITY HIS WITNESS 19:23-27
Job, seeing as shown in Psalm 49, that there is no help in this realm of redemption, from man, that even a brother is as helpless as a kitten to remedy his plight, seeks for paper and pen in his own way - he wants irremovable, indeed ineffaceable testimony for his eternally significant plight: He want ROCK for paper, and LEAD for ink, with an IRON stylus for writing, so that he may INSCRIBE his condition, his faith and his assurance, attested for ever. Whatever his grief and stupefaction, this is HIS OWN sentence on the situation, and it will not change.
This raises the question for everyone who hears, DO YOU have this faith ? Do YOU rely thus on the Lord in the tempest, when all His waves and billows have gone over you ? (Psalm 42:7-11). Man is indeed useless to help, when the tempests of truth rage over the uncovered soul, except to point to the way GOD does it! (as in II Corinthians 3:5, I Cor. 4:4-5,10). Cover divine is not found by dither or skittering, but by grace, and it does not rely on YOU but on HIM (Ephesians 2:1-10), who alone can reach down to uplift; and to whom does the Lord look but to him who is of a humble and a contrite spirit, who trembles at His word (Isaiah 66:2), for what can you feed, a mouth filled with its own sweetness, or the hungry!
You either RELY on Christ Jesus as the OBJECT of your faith, BELIEVING and RECEIVING Him according to His word, or else you ignore Him in the last analysis, when the sums are written. Ignoring leads to ignorance of who He is, what He does and your own destiny; but it will not alter it! His word comes like fresh air to the converted soul and like perfume to the one turned from the dark declivities of this unjust world to the uplands of glory to which He has brought us carriage, by grace alone, through faith alone, by Himself the only door (John 14:6, Ephesians 2:1-12).
V FAITH RISES TO ECLIPSE SURMISE, UNABLE TO EVAPORATE 19:27
Man's yearning is the other side of the gulf of God's action and, unmet by disbelief, it leaves a gap which becomes an abyss. With Job, exemplar for Christians, the matter is personal, propositional, profound: it does not reduce the ferocity of the test; but it does provide the answer and the rationale of rest.
These words of Job 19:23ff. enshrine the salvation message, not a matter of how you feel, your day to day emotions, but of how you worship and where you rest, your realisation of redemption based on Jesus the Christ who came when and how and where and for what the prophets had forecast, did it to the last point of perfection, positively as in Isaiah 49-55, and negatively as in Malachi 2-3, revealing, exposing, healing, declaring, equipped with supernatural power because He is supernatural, acting with God as God because that is who He is, God the sent achieving in God the sender the vast trinitarian commission with a humility which was real because the infinite God as man is infinitely humble to begin, and He was incalculably willing to the end (Isaiah 48:16, Micah 5:1-3).
In ghetto, in war, in peace, in divisions and collisions with false or defecting churches, in the minds of the great and the small - and in His divine sight many of the great ARE small and of the small are great, since GOD KNOWS, and none deceives Him, past upheavals and beyond the cluttering of philosophy bearing bastard children to science falsely so-called; and whether in domestic trial, financial diminution, social thrust, it is all one: I KNOW that my Redeemer lives, and in the latter day, HE WILL STAND ON THIS EARTH, and my ears will SEE Him, not some dupe or substitute, some adjuvant or collaborator, but HIMSELF, the very Redeemer who is none other than God as man (Isaiah 9, Psalm 45, Zechariah 12:10) so that in seeing Him, one sees GOD (Job 19:28). For this the heart of the believer YEARNS (cf. Hebrews 9:27-28). His people DO eagerly await Him because their heart does not rest ON this world but IN Him! There is the test, where you rest! If this is so with you, rejoice; if not, realise and repent and seek the Lord.
VI GOD IS JOB'S DEFENDER - THE ROOT OF THE MATTER IS IN THE AFFLICTED JOB BEFORE HIS DELIVERANCE 19:28-29
Thus Job, instead of merely squirming in his affliction, warns his judgmental friends that the ROOT of the matter is in him, and that whatever his outward feebleness and trouble, the truth is his repose, God is defender.
"How shall we persecute him ?" they may ponder, as they see one not in the club of the contented yet daring to declare faith in the God of truth and judgment, amidst many moanings and some groanings ? If you proceed thus, seeing how to bury your teeth in my hide, Job in effect declares over his long conversations with his friends, then beware of the sword, for judgment is not mere myth, but fact, and desecration of truth in the interests of simplistic ideas of pleasure-pain philosophy are mere dribblings of machine-made mouths, unable to speak aright, and ripe for divine judgment.