On Sunday, many Lutheran churches in the U.S. observed the Feast of All Saints Day, one of the principal feasts of the Church Year. Today, the Eurasia Blog Wednesday Devotion reflects on this day (which actually falls on November 1 every year).
–By Elizabeth Ahlman
“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.
My heart faints within me!”
(Job 19:23-27 ESV)
When Job speaks these very well-known words, he is at “the end of his rope” so to speak. God has crushed him by turning Satan loose on him (Job 1:8-12) despite the fact that Job is “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1 ESV). His friends, who have purportedly come to counsel and aid him, only heap burning coals upon his head by steadfastly asserting that Job MUST have done SOMETHING wrong. God MUST be teaching him SOMETHING. Job repeatedly replies to his friends asking them to see that this is not the case. Rather, he has been blameless and upright; he has been declared righteous by God (Job 1:8 ESV), therefore God is tormenting him not because he was unfaithful, but because he was faithful. This is blasphemous to Job’s friends, and as they attack him in the name of advising and helping him, one portion of Job’s answers culminates in these beautiful verses which reveal the grasping hand of faith holding onto the promises of God in the face of a God who does not Himself appear faithful and who has seemingly forgotten His promises.
Before we come to this moment of confessing faith in the promises of God, Job lists his grievances. And he sounds much like someone else we know. Job asserts that:
- God has put him in the wrong and closed a net about him (19:6)
- He cries out but is not answered (19:7)
- there is no justice (19:7)
- God has walled up his way and set darkness on his paths (19:8)
- God has stripped his glory from him and taken his crown (19:9)
- God has kindled his wrath against Job and counts him as an adversary (19:11)
- God has put his brothers far from him, his relatives fail him, and he is a stench to his siblings (19:13, 14, 17)
- He has become a foreigner (19:15)
- Those whom he loved turned against him (19:19).
God put Jesus in the wrong and closed His net around Him when God placed our sins upon Him. Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me,” and although the Father had spoken to Him several other times from Heaven, in Jesus’ hour of need, the Father was silent. Jesus suffered through a farce trial with false witnesses in which justice was not carried out. God the Father set Him on only one way…the way to the cross, and when He came to it, darkness descended. God stripped Him of His glory as He hung naked on a cross and replaced His crown with one of thorns. God kindled His wrath against His Son and counted Him as an adversary. The disciples scattered, His siblings thought he was crazy, His relatives did not believe in Him. He was placed outside the city walls to die on the cross like a foreigner or criminal. Those whom he loved turned against Him as Judas betrayed Him and the crowds shouted for His death.
And yet, Jesus clung to the promises given to Him by His Father that His body would not see corruption. And three days later God fulfilled that promise by raising Him from the dead. And He who was put in the wrong is declared the most righteous of all. He who was abandoned by God and friends is no longer alone. He who was shrouded in darkness is shown clearly to be the Light of the world. He who was momentarily God’s adversary is once again God’s Beloved. He who became a foreigner is revealed as the Son once again. He who was dead is alive and lives forever.
That is why Job, the Type of Christ, is also Job, the Confessor of Christ. That is why Job declares that no matter what God may do to him, he knows that he is in the right, true justice is on his side, and he has not been abandoned entirely. His Redeemer will come and does come. His Redeemer stands upon the earth and gathers His people to Himself so that all who have died in the Lord will meet Him face-to-face in love, peace, and joy. They will again have their OWN bodies, see Him with their OWN eyes, and stand before Him with their OWN feet. Their own hearts will “faint within them” at the great and glorious Day when their Lord resurrects them and all His people to life everlasting. It is so for those we love who have died in the Lord, and for us as well!
Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Resurrection and the Life Everlasting; grant that we ever trust in and longingly await the day when You will raise all the dead to life everlasting and gather Your people to Yourself, so that we may ever confess this truth even in the face of trials, death, and unbelief; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever-living head.
He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives and I shall conquer death;
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.
“I Know that My Redeemer Lives” Lutheran Service Book 461:1, 7
- Last week’s devotion reflected on “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” in honor of the Reformation. It included the first verse of that hymn in many languages from the region. If you missed it last week, you can still read it here.