I Know That My Redeemer Lives
April 15, 2017
Verse: Job 19:25–19:27
Christ Lutheran Church
April 16, 2017
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
I Know That My Redeemer Lives
Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen, and with 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 destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. Job 19:23-27
On this most blessed day of the Christian religion we hear from a man with whom every Christian is familiar, but who at the same time is not very well-known. His name is Job, and is famous for his patience, and for the Old Testament book that bears his name.
Many Christians are familiar with the breathtaking aria from Handel’s Messiah, “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth,” a piece inspired by Job’s famous words. Words which are in fact “inscribed in a book,” “engraved” as it were in this musical rock that, since its inception in 1741, has proven an indispensible expression of Christian faith, just like Job had hoped.
Perhaps even more familiar is the glorious hymn, #200 in The Lutheran Hymnal, which we will sing with deep joy at the close of Liturgy today. A hymn that contains not a single word of Law. No should’s, no ought's but only Promise! Only Good News to banish every sorrow, and to breathe new life into every sinner. It’s the hymn you want to sing when you are overcome by adversity like Job was. By sin, guilt, shame, the ugly consequences of the sins of your youth, and above all on your dying bed. In which case you, like aged Simeon, could “depart in peace” for your eyes would see God’s salvation, and you would want it more than anything you ever wanted in your life … the things that God has prepared for those who love him.
But to understand the intensity of Job’s desire, that his words would live on in perpetuity, you need to recall his life, which was not only his own, but was also a parable of the Redeemer to come. The One whose blessed death, and shining resurrection we celebrate in holy communion today!
From the book which bears his name we learn that Job was a good, and righteous man, the foremost of all the people in the east. A man who stood head and shoulders above all others; a man who enjoyed every possible blessing from God. He was filled with happiness from “the crown of his head to the soles of his feet.” He was blessed with a beautiful family of 7 sons and 3 daughters. He was wealthy and influential beyond telling. But above all he had a deep and abiding faith in God, whom he loved and worshiped, and whom he served by a stainless life.
But one day all that changed when the Old Evil Foe incited God against Job. When Satan sought permission to test him, and to torment him! And God, having great confidence in his servant Job, allowed it to happen!
In a single day Job lost all his earthly wealth: his oxen, donkeys, camels, sheep and the army of servants who managed his vast business empire. But worst than that his ten children were taken from him in the blink of an eye, when according to Scripture “a great wind came across the wilderness, and struck the four corners of the house” they were in; so that it collapsed upon them, and claimed all of their lives.
But through all this Scripture reports that Job did not curse God, but fell down and worshiped him instead, and prayed these words, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away, blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Shortly thereafter we read that Satan sought permission to take away Job’s health. And that he struck Job with painful sores from the “crown of his head to the soles of his feet.” And we next find Job sitting in a heap of ashes, scratching himself with pieces of broken pottery, and the dogs licking his wounds.
There is much more to the story and Job, like us, at times bore his sufferings patiently with trust in God, and at other times cursed the day he was born. The book of Job is 42 chapters long and it is the story of the intense struggles he had with his wife, his friends and above all with his God. Truly, Job had become “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” (Isaiah 53:3) and no Christian is complete in his faith until he reads and studies the Book of Job.
But because the Old Testament is a Christian book the account of Job is not a standalone story but a prophecy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A prediction of him who, like Job, enjoyed all the glories of heaven. But who, for our sake, humbled himself, took on the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. An ordeal far worse than Job ever suffered as we learned once again this Lenten Season.
But in the end Job was restored. Not only restored but given double for all that he had lost. In the same way our Lord was raised from the dead, and all the signs of his suffering were now gone: except for the marks of the nails and the spear which are the font of our salvation, and will remain as the shrine of our worship unto the ages of ages.
Job was granted a second family as well. Seven more sons and three more daughters of whom Scripture says, “there were no women so beautiful as Job's daughters.” You, Dear Christians, are those daughters! You who are sanctified and justified by the Lord’s death, and made beautiful by his resurrection.
It is he who is our Redeemer. He who will stand over the dust of our graves on the Last Day, and restore to us double for all that we have lost to sin, death and Satan. And so on this holiest day of Christian joy let Job’s beautiful daughters confidently declare with their father, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another!”
Christ is risen, he is risen indeed! Hallelujah! Amen.