HEART HEARING HERE
(There are no more recordings by the MIT Choir. Some of Part III is from very old recordings done by Thomas Alva Edison [Yes, the same person who invented the light bulb!] in 1916. You can also listen to this movement here: https://youtu.be/AZTZRtRFkvk?t=1h55m20s)
Scene 1 - "The promise of bodily resurrection and redemption from Adam's fall"
45. Air (Soprano)
I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand on the latter day upon the earth: And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. (Job 19:25, 26)
For now is Christ risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20)
This part of Messiah quotes the book of Job for the first time. In the previous chapter, Job's friend, Bildad the Shuhite, had "comforted" Job by telling him that the "light of the wicked goes out" (18:5). By saying this, he was implying that Job was wicked, and this was why he was suffering. It must have especially hurt Job to have Bildad say that the wicked "has no offspring or posterity among his people, nor any survivor where he sojourned" (18:19) because Job had just lost all his sons and daughters! Isn't he a sensitive friend? (NOT!)
Maybe this last little jab about his family did hurt Job because he says, "How long will you crush me with words" (19:2)? He continues to defend his innocence and shouts for help, but he claims he gets no justice and that God is against him and has "uprooted [his] hope like a tree" (19:10). He claims that everyone else is against him and says that even “My breath is offensive to my wife" (19:17). He cries out for pity, but his friends give him none.
Even though Job says that God has uprooted his hope, he still expresses hope in the final crescendo of the chapter:
The Hebrew word for "Redeemer" is go'el and was "a person who defended or avenged the cause of another, or who provided protection or legal aid for a close relative who could not do so for himself" (Bible Knowledge Commentary Volume 1, p. 741). We read about this most in the Book of Ruth where Boaz, as Ruth's kinsman redeemer, rescued Ruth in the new land by marrying her.As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.Even after my skin is destroyed,Yet from my flesh I shall see God.(Job 19:25, 26)
In the midst of the darkness of Job 19, the words of hope echoed in these verses inspire me to walk by faith even in my darkest times. Job made a hopeful affirmation of faith in the midst of a garbage dump, ostracized from family and friends, and in intense pain and suffering. He shouted: "I know that my Redeemer lives!" to his worthless friends and all those around him. He knew that in the end God would stand upon the earth and testify that Job was innocent. In addition, after he was dead, he would see God.
The Scarlet Thread of Redemption
Job lived during the time of the patriarchs, about 2000-1800 years before the time of Christ, but Job 19:25, 26 is a prophecy of Jesus Christ as our Kinsman Redeemer. He died for our sins and returned to heaven as our Advocate (Job 16:9) and He will, one day, stand upon the earth exercising true righteous judgment. Satan may kill, steal and destroy, just as he did to Job and his family, but Jesus Christ is the Vindicator and Living One who will give life to all who know Him (John 5:21, 26).
1 Corinthians 15:20
It seems odd to pair Job with Paul's letter to the Corinthians in this part of Messiah, but Jennens probably did it because these two verses are paired together in the Burial Service of the Book of Common Prayer. On further meditation, I see their connection: What Job hoped for in a future time in faith, we can be confident that our Redeemer does, indeed, live through the words of one of the witnesses of His majesty, Paul, who proclaimed, "For now is Christ risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep." With the exception of the final chorus, the rest of Messiah will be devoted to the writings of Paul.
The "Hallelujah Chorus" is a pretty hard act to follow, and I think most people assume that Messiah ends here, but that chorus gives us strength to live a life in His Kingdom while we still live on this earth. We are stuck between the "now" and the "not yet."
That is why the faith of Job encourages me. Even in his darkest hour, he knew that there was a Redeemer. He knew there would come a time of justice and righteousness on earth almost 2,000 years before our Redeemer came for the first time, and then He really did! And we have proof that He did through the witness of the apostles, the growth of His Church despite unbelievable odds, and the confirmation of the Holy Spirit.
As we stand between the "now" and the "not yet," Jennens turns us toward the writings of one of those apostles, Paul, who wrote to remind a wavering Corinthian church of the rock solid truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I am updating this devotional today after having biopsies on two out of four suspicious growths on my skin. I will not know the outcome until after Christmas, but what encouragement from these verses today. No matter what happens, I know that I will see God! It is a Win-Win! That comforts my heart.
Do you know that your Redeemer lives? Can you, like Job, rely on Him in the darkest of times and despite your circumstances?
Pray through through that with Him today.
(2015 Update: It was a surreal Christmas in 2014 wondering if it might be my last. One of those growths was cancerous, but it was Stage 0 Melanoma, and I had it removed in January of 2015. Never would have thought it would be melanoma to look at it. Good thing my friend who is a dermatologist knew though!)