Advent 2 Midweek Sermon, 2016
Job 19:23-27a; Psalm 103; Job 1:1-5; Job 42:10-17
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt
In the Lutheran Church, we say that Justification is the article on which the church stands or falls, meaning, if you get Justification right, you’ll get everything else right, and if you get Justification wrong, you’ll get everything else wrong.
That God justified, reconciled, and forgave the entire world in the crucifixion of Jesus is the most important confession that we can make.
As God created our bodies, He redeemed them in Christ. But it doesn’t stop there.
It is also necessary in the Christian church to confess that God, who created our bodies and redeemed them, will also raise them up on the last day.
So, we confess the Resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
Death separates body from soul. The body is buried. The soul is with Jesus.
While true, that’s still incomplete.
When Jesus returns, His Second Advent, His second coming, He will raise all the dead and give eternal life to all believers in Christ.
The body and soul will be reunited, perfected, and will live forever—either with God in bliss or not.
With this in mind, we can look to certain passages in Scripture and see the complete joy that God has in store for us in the Resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
First, we look to Job.
What would you say if I asked you, “Why do we read the book of Job?”
It’s such a downer.
It starts off good. Here’s the first five verses of the book of Job: “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, ‘It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did continually” (Job 1:1-5).
But as soon as we read of Job’s character and wealth, we read of satan’s conversation with God where the Lord says to satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand” (Job 1:12).
Then, all of Job’s servants, oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, and all of his children died. On the same day.
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:20-22).
Job is, at times, a wonderful example of faith for us to follow. But, at times, he’s not.
We don’t read Job so that we feel worse about how we deal with grief. We read Job to see how every single Christian deals with grief—at times, well. And at times, not.
There is, in The Lutheran Study Bible, an interesting footnote that says, regarding chapters three through thirty-seven: “These dialogues of Job with his friends do not always reflect divine truth. Therefore, they should be used cautiously” (TLSB, 786).
What that means is, those chapters record human conversations. Job and his friends say what they think, and sometimes they’re wrong.
Job, blameless and upright, is not perfect and sinless.
In the middle chapters of Job, there’s a back and forth between Job’s friends, Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz.
Each takes a turn trying to console Job, but the only way they try to console him is to ask him what he’s done wrong to deserve such wrath from God.
If there’s one lesson to learn, one refrain from the book of Job to learn by heart, it’s this: God is holy. You’re not. You deserve nothing of what you have. You didn’t call yourself forth and be born, nor did you create from nothing all that is.
From the whirlwind, thus says the Lord: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. ‘Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:2-7).
That’s how God says it. We can say it this way: You can accuse God of nothing.
He created the world, sustains it, redeemed it in the shed blood of Christ, and now causes His word to be preached to you. He owes you nothing.
And consider this, of what can God accuse you?
Which of His laws have you transgressed? Among His creation, who have you hated, called a fool, and murdered? From whom has your laziness stolen? And even among your friends and family, who have your words and thoughts and actions betrayed?
God is faithful.
How have you responded?
That Job has some trouble recognizing this shouldn’t surprise us, we struggle with it, too!
But here are the three greatest things about the book of Job. Here are what I consider to be the three most important things in the book of Job concerning what God wants you to know about the Resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
First, you must put away the desires of your heart.
Thus says the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Before Job can make his great confession about his redeemer, before he can confess with any certainty the Resurrection of the body and the life everlasting, he must put away the desires of his heart.
And that’s exactly what he does and exactly what he says: “My days are past; my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart” (Job 17:11).
And that’s a good thing.
There’s nothing wrong with making plans, there’s nothing wrong with wanting something. But when your heart’s desires become a kind of false god, it takes Job’s kind of terror to wake you up.
Repent! You have desired in your heart things that God has not given you. And He may never give what your heart desires.
Repent! What God ordains is always good.
When Job has cast off the desires of his heart, when God and His will is enough for him, only then can he confess what we all know to be true: “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 19:25-27a).
I don’t know if you read and hear this as literally as it’s meant, but hear it again. “My Redeemer lives. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, when I’ve been food for worms for a thousand years, he means, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (cf. Job 19:25-26).
This is what the Resurrection means.
Your body, though dead and buried, will be raised.
It will be perfected.
And you will be given, righteous and holy, to the Lord, Jesus Christ.
More glorious yet is this: you won’t be alone.
Do you remember how many sheep Job had? 7,000.
After all his trials and temptations of the devil, when God restores Job’s fortunes, do you know how many sheep God restores to him? 14,000. Double.
Do you remember how many camels Job had? 3,000.
And when God restored Job’s fortunes, do you know how many camels God restored to him? 6,000. Double.
How about oxen and donkeys? 500 each.
And the Lord restored unto Job double, 1,000 each.
And, in the beginning, how many children did Job have? Seven sons and three daughters. 10 kids.
And after all his trials and temptations, when God restored his fortunes, how many children did God restore to Job?
Seven sons and three daughters.
This is one of the most gloriously comforting verses in all of Scripture for Christians who’ve lost a child.
God didn’t give Job twenty more children, because the first ten are only dead. They’re not lost.
We confess the Resurrection of the Body and the life everlasting.
So, even though their skin is thus destroyed, yet in their flesh they will see God.
And so it is for all Christians, for all believers in Christ, for all those whose heart’s desire is the Lord’s will—salvation in Christ alone.
We know that our Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after our skin has been thus destroyed, yet in our flesh we shall see God.
Him our eyes shall behold and not another.
In Jesus’ name, Amen!