Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blogging the Bible: The bottom of the pit and the hope of resurection

In Job 19, It’s Jobs turn to push back. His message is simple. Why do you have to keep attacking me? I’ve been wronged by God. You should pity me, not join in. But I know that one day I will see God with my own eyes on the earth! Then you will be judged too.

This chapter contains Jobs lowest level of spiritual and emotion health, and yet, it also contains a level of spiritual confidence that is unparalleled, as he declares with certainty that he will see God, and be vindicated. He holds up amazing hope in the resurrection and longs for it. D.A. Carson notes that this chapter “is striking in its intensity. It is almost as if he is willing to spell out the tensions and paradoxes in his own position.”

The chapter breaks down into 4 sections. First, Job berates his three friends more in 1-4. He says “How long will you torment me and break me in pieces with words…are you not ashamed to wrong me? He says, even if he had erred, its not their business to humiliate him, “my error remains with myself”.

In 5-6, he says if they going to act superior (magnify selves), they should see that he has not sinned. His suffering is unjust, and if God is in charge, then God has wronged him. IN verse 6 he says, “know then that God has put me in the wrong and closed his net about me

He then goes on to explain his suffering, picturing it graphically in 7-22. He begins by declaring “Behold, I cry out, 'Violence!' but I am not answered; I call for help, but there is no justice…He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass, and he has set darkness upon my paths…He has stripped from me my glory and taken the crown from my head…He has kindled his wrath against me and counts me as his adversary…His troops come on together; they have cast up their siege ramp against me and encamp around my tent.” He colorfully describes the way that God has torn him down, and made life miserable. But it’s not just God he says, others have turned on him and left him alone. God has “put my brothers far from me, and those who knew me are wholly estranged from me.” In his loneliness he says, “My relatives have failed me, my close friends have forgotten me.” His guests and servants are now strangers who do not show mercy. Even his wife has turned from him. “My breath is strange to my wife, and I am a stench to the children of my own mother.” On top of that, “Even young children despise me; when I rise they talk against me. All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me.” IN a culture where older and wiser were respected by the young, in an age where gray hair was a crown of splendor, children scorn him. His health fades, “My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth”, and even is closest friends have turned their back on him. IN his agony he cries out “Why do you, like God, pursue me? Why are you not satisfied with my flesh?”

If the passage ends with 22, it’s a sad, hopeless declaration. However, The final section is a shining example of hope in Christ. Because after all this. Job pivots, and moves from his lowest ebb, he rose to his highest peak. Roy Zuck writes that “forlorn, and wracked with pain, and maligned, by both God and people, he then mounted in spirited confidence to a future vindication of his cause. The was a magnificent burst of faith.”  Look at his words. “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! 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, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. Job still trusts God, and he affirms that his redeemer (kinsman-redeemer) lives. This word kinsman-redeemer is the word that is used of Boaz in the book of Ruth (Ruth 2:20), and it probably has the overtone of “defender.” Despite the evidence of his current sufferings he affirms that God his defender lives, and “that in the end he will stand upon the earth”. This is an eschatological (end times) reference. Job is saying, "in the end, I will stand vindicated before the Lord on the Day of Judgment. Fully, completely healed, in a resurrected body". He longs for this day. He hopes for this day, and he says, "I am innocent", he refuses to confess sins that he didn’t commit, and he knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt that in the end he will see God, face to face, and be vindicated for his hope in God. He never stops acknowledging God, even when things are beyond terrible. He ends by saying, “if you keep pursuing me, God will pay you back, there will be judgment on you”.

What’s the lesson in this? To quote a song we sing at First Baptist, “When the darkness closes in, still I will say, blessed be the name of the Lord”. When hope is gone, we can still hope in him. Why, our redeemer lives. He rose again. He was dead, and three days later, the door blew of the tomb, and Jesus Christ rose, victoriously. Even when things are at their worst, we can look to him with hope, because in the end, we will see him with our own eyes, in our resurrected bodies. Hallelujah!

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