Before we look at today’s Scripture verses, I should note something important about the Book of Job. A lot of scholars think it may be the oldest book of the Bible, predating the writing of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).
No doubt it is ancient. And yet, it foresees events still changing our lives today.
The Book of Job largely deals with theodicy, the question of why God allows evil to happen. As Job’s suffering increases, a debate ensues among Job and his friends. Ultimately, God settles the matter, saying humans cannot grasp all that God is and does.
In the 19th chapter, however, Job makes a strange, visionary declaration, one that seems to capture some remarkable insight:
Job 19:23-27 (NRSV) “O that my words were written down! O that they were inscribed in a book! O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!"
Thousands of years before Christ’s incarnation, Job understood the broad outline of God’s plan to save broken, sinful humanity, a plan stretching to the end of time.
Redemption would come, through one person, a redemption so powerful that even those dead and turned to dust would benefit. As I read the Book of Job, the vision seems to come out of nowhere, almost out of context, leaving Job swooning.
Time having passed, and Christ having come, we have a better lens for interpreting Job’s vision. Like us, the resurrected Job will stand before the one who makes redemption possible.
We know Jesus is the one who went to the cross to die for every sin ever committed. We see him as the slain lamb, the sacrifice to end all sacrifices and ultimately, all suffering.
Job’s words also inspired a powerful song. You might want to hear it with Job 19 in mind this morning.
Lord, thank you for the visionaries who came before us, showing us that your plan to save the world is ancient and assured. Amen.