How do we face the darkness?
Job 19:25-27: I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes; I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
The amazing statement of three mighty claims: HE LIVES! HE WILL STAND! I WILL SEE HIM! (Sometimes only capitals will do!)
What’s the story?
The hardest lesson is submission to the will of God. It is hard because we are so unwilling in ourselves, so full of ourselves and our own desires. It’s hard too, because the lesson may only be learnt when the things that we hold dear are taken from us. Even Jesus prayed in the midnight of Gethsemane: “Not as I will, but as You will, Father.” Jesus had to face that very crisis! Imagine that!
The book of Job is a story about this, about the central puzzle of life. It’s an archetypal story, a sort of Riches to Rags slice of life. Everything went wrong that could go wrong and at the time he stated the famous phrase above, he was a bitter, ruined man, who longed for death “I should have been at rest – where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest.”
The story asks the familiar question: it’s about the existence of God in the face of all this evil, and the question whether suffering is a mark of God’s anger or not, or about the meaning and purpose of pain (if any).
Job goes to the edge of the cliff –so to speak- and looks down into darkness and oblivion. He is asking: why is life like this? His friends offer the platitudes of their age: but theirs are the clichés of truth so misapplied as to become falsehoods, and they simply make things worse.
Think of the clichés of our age. “Look out for number one!” “Charity begins at home!” Can you see how easily these could become destructive?
And so we come to the text: he turns – you might say- from the view on the street to the view from the balcony, to a different perspective, from man’s opinion to God’s truth. And this is his astonishing conclusion: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.”
In the heart of his darkness, Job makes three powerful claims. He claims that God is personally involved and that he will intervene. And that I [Job, that is] will see him. He lives! And he will stand on the earth! And I myself will witness this.
God is personal!
Truth literally dawns on Job: it’s the truth of God’s personal existence amidst the darkness of human doubt. It’s his faith rising, that despite the circumstances, God is working. Faith is the assurance of things not seen. That is the difference between believers and non-believers: our faith feels the invisible, just as surely as bats manage in the dark. Most people know nothing beyond what they see and touch, but everyone has glimpses of life beyond that “norm”. In a mysterious phrase, it’s said that “Enoch walked with God.” And, ultimately, “he was not, for God took him.” I’m not pretending to fully understand this sentence from Genesis, but at the very least it speaks of someone who was so open to the spiritual realities of life that it marked him out from everyone else -someone who had learnt to “manage in the dark” because of the light of God.
Now Job was not a “Christian”, so to speak. You have to read it from his point of view, gazing into the darkness and acknowledging the character of God amidst that darkness! pon that character, he claimed that God Himself would intervene to set things straight! But we have something better (Heb 11:39-40) for our faith to rest on: we have a living Person manifesting Deity.
But for Job, he only knows that God exists, and yet he understands that God’s character means that God feels for us and sympathises with our situation: “He knows our frame.”
And so Job arrives at a powerful insight: “He’s MY redeemer.” Job personalised it. And if he lives, he loves, and if he loves, then he gives….he gives vindication. He will set it right! Goel is the word here: Defender of the weak, rescuer, avenger of blood, putter-right. One day a Hero will arise!
We can look at the state of the world, or the sheer awfulness of the stuff happening around us and in us…. We can consider the size of the problems we face…
But there will come a day! Job was reaching forward into the darkness and acknowledging that it would not always be so…
Because God is interventional!
God intervenes: presently by faith, through Christ, decisively, through his Spirit, as a guarantee of something more. “He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” I shall see Him.
The belief in the Second Coming of Christ is a belief in a visible, personal intervention.: the fuse has been lit and we hold our breaths before the explosion. Right now we see so little , a thin, small column of white smoke…. But it will come…
It is so with the world. By God’s word the world is doomed. “The heaven shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,” and the feet of the Avenger shall stand on the earth.
Job was guessing at something we know a little more about! Ultimately, he saw that love means justice!
We know, as he did, about death itself. The question is: what then? Job’s insight took him to a new level: “I shall see him.” Myself. Not another. My own eyes.
Based on the character of God, based on his LIFE, his LOVE, his INVOLVEMENT with who I am; based on his PUTTING THINGS RIGHT:…..I will see him. God our Friend – Christ our living Redeemer; our sympathizing Brother; our conquering Champion: the triumph of truth, the end of wrong.
We shall live upon realities then: joy will not be at the mercy of misery and when the darkness is at its most intense, you shall see His face, and hear His voice, and know that your Redeemer lives.
- A Heart Surrendered to Christ (janemacdonaldcreate.wordpress.com)
- Does God exist? (altruistico.wordpress.com)
- Sermon on 20th October, St Barnabas IELC (emmauksentiella.wordpress.com)
- The contrast of spiritual light and darkness (christianresourceministry.com)