Heavenly Father, we have and do worship you in a number of ways: by our singing, by our finances, by our listening and applying your Word and by a lifestyle that says we're children of God. Help us to do that Lord. You give us not only principles but you give us power to be able to pull it off and for that we are grateful. I thank you for your people who have gathered here and those that are listening by Internet or radio, those who are outside enjoying the beautiful weather that we have. But we just do pray that you would speak and we would hear. In Jesus' name. Amen.
The name of my message this morning is a single word "Epiphany." Epiphany according to the Oxford American Dictionary is a moment of sudden revelation or insight. It's the moment something dawns on you, "Ohhhh." That sudden insight or revelation, that's the moment, an epiphany. Like the passengers aboard a flight, they were getting on the airplane, the flight had been late already, they were anxious to leave. Once they got seated however, the pilot got on the intercom and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to inform you that a warning light has just appeared on my dash and that is for the Thermal Expander valve on Engine number two. And I as your pilot do not feel comfortable flying this plane until we replace that so I'm going to ask you to get off the plane and go wait in the terminal. So they got off the plane, they waited in the terminal, but only for about twenty minutes. Finally they boarded back the plane. The plane took off and one of the passengers said to the stewardess, "Wow, they found that thermal expander valve, huh?" And she smiled and said, "Are you kidding? There's not one of those things around for a thousand miles. We got us a new pilot." That was the epiphanal moment for that passenger. "Ohhhh, we're vulnerable." Or, the man from Kilgore, Texas, true story, was in an auto accident, he was driving, he was rendered unconscious by the accident, some people pulled him out unconscious out of the wreckage, took him to a gas station, there he regained consciousness and as soon as he did he struggled violently to get away. They subdued him, took him to the local hospital and there they found out why he was trying to escape. They had taken him to a Shell gas station and the S had fallen off the sign. (laughter) You can imagine the epiphany that would be, right/ You wake up, you come to after an accident and you real "Hell. Open 24 hours." Great. The epiphany (though not true) is that I died and didn't make it to heaven.
Well both of those examples are uh-oh epiphanies. Job in chapter 19 has a 'aha epiphany.' Chapter 19 of the book of Job marks the high point for this entire book. It is the high water mark of Job's expression of faith. It doesn't get any higher than this in the book. Chapter 19 is the closest that Job ever gets to Jesus during his time. In fact, what Job says and you and I are about to read it, is almost a New Testament confession of faith. In this little paragraph that we're about to read Job will say that he believes that he will see God. He believes in a living redeemer. And he believes in a physical resurrection from the dead, that his living redeemer will at one time raise his body out of the grave and he will with his eyes see God. Now here's what's noteworthy, before we even jump into these verses. Job is at his lowest point in life, physically and emotionally. And at his lowest point he speaks the greatest things, he gests the greatest insight, the most wonderful epiphany about God. So think of it this way, his greatest suffering produced his greatest insight. You know how many times I've heard similar stories from people who have suffered desperately? I've heard it over and over again, "Skip, when I was at my lowest moment, everything was dark, I was in despair, just then is when God came through, showed up, revealed himself, I experienced his presence," or whatever.
My mind goes back to a great story I've told you before about a Chicago lawyer named Horatio Spafford who sent his family on a vacation cruise across the Atlantic Ocean to the British Isles. Their boat sunk, his wife survived but all three of his children died in that accident. The Chicago lawyer boarded his own boat, was traveling across the waters and the captain told him, "You are now over the spot where the accident happened and your children died. Spafford recounts that he experienced the presence of God so intensely at that moment on that spot that he penned a song that you and I sing from time to time, "When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, 'It is well, it is well with my soul.' It would seem that Job had a similar experience. Things were bleak, his friends weren't any help but here he makes the strongest clearest confession of faith. Whatever question Job had in chapter 14 is gone. Remember the question last week? He wondered about, "If a man dies, will he live again?" And that question was dangling and really wasn't fully answered until the full revelation of the New Testament. Well here in chapter 19 he rises form that at the highest peak of the book and so to speak answers his own question. He has hope.
So let's read through what we're going to look at, chapter 19 verse 23 through 27 and here's the first thing I'd like you to notice: Job's hope was a person. Let's get introduced to that person. "Oh that my words were written, oh that they were inscribed in a book, that they were engraved on a rock; with an iron pen and lead forever. For I know that my redeemer lives and he shall stand at last on the earth. After my skin is destroyed, this I know that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself and my eyes shall behold and not another. How my heart yearns within me." He speaks about a person and his hope is that person. Well, who is that person exactly? Well it's not Job himself. Job does not believe that he is his own hope. This isn't some kind of a self-help statement, bootstrap theology, "Ill pull myself up by my own bootstraps." Job didn't just read "The Seven Highly Effective Habits of Successful People" or whatever thinking, "I'm going to be one, watch this." Job has no hope in himself at all. He's diseased, he's lost everything, he's hanging on by a thread. Nor is Job's hope in his friends. Obviously by no we know that. It's not in his family, his children have died, his wife abandone him. And his three friends are accusing him. So his hope is not in humanity. He's not a humanist or a social evolutionist. In fact, look at the statement he makes in verse 20, "My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh. I have escaped by the skin of my teeth." Did you know that that's the origin of that familiar statement? Job 19, "I've escaped by the skin of my teeth." He's hanging on by a thread. But we continue to read on and there's this flash of insight, this revelation, this epiphany. He has hope in a person. Who is the person? Job calls him a redeemer, "I know that my redeemer lives." Now let me tell you about the word redeemer. It's a Hebrew word go-el, if you were to transliterate it, it would be G-O-E-L, go-el. It literally means a kinsman redeemer. Basically a relative who would step up and pay a ransom price and deliver you from slavery or get your land back that you lost in a transaction. That was a go-el, a redeemer, a kinsman redeemer. So, if you had a tragedy happen in your life, if you lost everything, if you were in debt, a go-el could step in, write the check, get your land back and set you free. The most notable example of that in the Old Testament was a man by the name of Boaz in the great little book of Ruth, four chapters. And Boaz was a relative to Alimelech who lost everything. Boaz was wealthy. He came in, paid the price, restored the land back to the family of Alimelech and married Ruth. That's a redeemer. And Job believes in a redeemer, Job needed a redeemer. He lost everything, his land, his cattle, his family, he thinks he's going to lose his life. But what Job wants us to know is this is not the end of the story. "I know that I have a go-el, a redeemer, who will step in and even after I die redeem my very life and restore it." It's this rare burst of light in the book of Job, an epiphany. It's as if the curtains open in a dark room and Job goes, "Aha. This is what I believe in." Quite a statement of faith. One commentator calls Job "The Neil Armstrong of the Bible, or of the Old Testament." Remember Neil Armstrong who stepped on the Moon and said, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Well here's Job in the foreign terrain of Old Testament patriarchal age making this kind of statement. A great statement that would be a statement echoed forever of the redeemer.
Well I think you know where I'm going with this. The greatest redeemer in all of history and certainly in all the Bible is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the redeemer of mankind. He paid the price to set us free. Paul in Romans chapter 3 verse 24 says, "WE have been justified freely by his grace through the redemption that comes through Jesus Christ." Ephesians chapter 1, "In him we have redemption, through is blood the forgiveness of sins." Even Jesus sort of summed up his mission by saying, "I have come to give my life as a ransom for many." That's redeemer talk, redeemers pay a ransom. "I've come to give my life a ransom for many." So when the New Testament speaks about a redeemer or redeem or redemption or ransom, they knew that their audience had this Old Testament background. Now here's the deal: there were three qualifications that a redeemer must be able to match. Number one, the redeemer had to be related to the person, he had to be a relative. Number two, you had to be able to pay the price, in other words when you write the check it's not going to bounce, you have the bank account to buy this land back and these people back. And number three, you have to be willing to do it, no coercion, you're not forced, you're willing to make this transaction. So, you have to be related, able and willing.
Now let's think about Jesus. Jesus was related to us. That's the whole purpose of the incarnation. God becoming a man so he could be related to us so to speak, to become a blood relative to us. Here is God stepping out of glory through the constellations into the Milky Way galaxy onto a speck of dust called the Earth into the womb of a peasant girl and being born in conditions of abject poverty in Bethlehem. He was related to us.
The second, he had to be able to pay. Now what is the currency that Jesus paid for us with? It wasn't money, it was blood. We're redeemed by blood. He gave his very life, he gave everything. His blood redeemed us. I Peter chapter 1 says, "You were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold but by the precious blood of Christ as a lamb withut blemish and spot.
And third, Jesus was willing to do it. Now this amazes me the most. To this day I stand utterly amazed that Jesus Christ was willing to come here and pay that kind of a price for us because the Bible says, "He came unto his own and his own received him not." While we were still sinners Christ died for us." In other words, while humanity was slapping God upside the face, he was redeeming the human race. But he was willing to do it. "It was a joy," the Bible says, "That was set before him." IN fact, the Bible put it this way, "Nobody takes my life from me," this isn't some kind of a murder plot. "Nobody takes my life from me, I lay it down of myself." That's voluntary, I have the authority to lay it down and I have the authority to take it back up again." He volunteered for the act. So he was related, he was able by his own blood and he was willing.
Now do we need that? That's the question a lot of people ask, a lot of secularists and humanists and liberal Christians ask. "Do we really need this bloody religion? Do we really need this kind of redemption? Do we need a redeemer to pay that kind of a price for us? Absolutely. Now we're coming to the very heart of the gospel. The heart of the gospel. If you had the wisdom of Solomon, if you had the patience of Job, if you had the voice of Billy Graham, if you had the compassion of Mother Teresa, you would still need redemption that comes by the blood of Jesus Christ. That is the heart of the gospel. So, my question to you is this: Is your hope in a redeemer? Is that where your hope is fixed this morning? Or, are you hoping for life and your future through a set of teachings or a religion or a political agenda or whatever?
I read a story by Penelope Duckworth, chaplain at Stanford University. Penelope Duckworth said that she met a Christian woman who raised a Jewish daughter. Here's her story, "It was after Adolf Hitler had annexed Poland and the Nazis came from town to town and taking people to Jewish concentration camps. It came to her village, Nazi soldiers swarmed her village and they were pushing people toward the railway cars to get them to the concentration camps to die. One soldier stepped toward a woman, a Jewish woman, and pushed her with his body language toward the car, like "Go this way." Well as the woman was moving toward the car a little girl came toddling behind her and the soldier exclaimed, "Is that your daughter!" Well the Jewish mother knew, "If I say that daughter's coming with me and she'll die as well." The Jewish mother saw a Christian woman and looked pleadingly into her eyes responding to the soldier and said, "No, it's her daughter." And the Christian woman took the daughter home and raised her as her own. The Christian woman became the living redeemer, the only hope for survival of that young Jewish girl. And this is why Christians make such a big deal of Christ. He's central. Christianity may have its creeds but Christianity is not a creed. Christianity may have its rituals and right but it is not a ritual or a right. Christianity might have its institutions but it's essentially not an institution. NO, Christianity is Jesus Christ or rather or relation to him. It's a person. Like Job, our hope is a person, a redeemer.
Look a little more carefully at the verse. Not only a redeemer, a living redeemer. Job says, "I know my redeemr lives." That's important, isn't it. I mean, what good is a dead redeemer? A dead redeemer can't redeem. A dead redeemer can't pay the price. A dead redeemer can't take anybody out of slavery. A dead redeemer can't restore any land or inheritance or money. It has to be a living redeemer. So, here's Job believing in a living redeemer, one who lived now, lived then and would still be alive at the end of time. Now doesn't that sound New Testament? I mean it's like a little piece of the New Testament that has been moved into the Old. Now I'll tell you why this is so crucial: I know that there's lots of religions in this world, lots of belief systems and everyone and anyone is entitle to believe whatever he or she wishes to believe. I believe that with all my heart. You can believe whatever you want. And I know that we live in a culture of pluralism that basically says it doesn't matter what you believe or who you believe, we're all going to the same place, just different roads, you know that nonse4nse. But what separates followers of Christ from followers of Buddha or Mohammed or anyone else is this: Our redeemer lives. He conquered death. He just didn't say a few nice things and become an example for people and sort of create a religious system, he made incredible statements and proved their voracity by a physical resurrection.
A follower of Buddha wrote this and I quote, "When Buddha died it was with that utter passing away in which nothing whatever remains." Boy, that's pretty final. That's pretty hopeless. They tell us that Islam is perhaps the fastest if one of the fastest growing belief systems, ideologies, in the world. Even still, the prophet Muhammed died in the year 632 AD on June the 8th and was buried in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Every year people visit his tomb. I mean hundreds of thousands of Muslims come to the tomb of Muhammed every year but they are mourning his death, they are not celebrating his resurrection. And yet here we are on Sunday, because Jesus rose on the first day of the week, every week celebrating the resurrection, the resurrection, the resurrection. Every year at Easter, the resurrection, it's a huge event.
There was an atheist who was spouting off in some kind of a place, some meeting and he said, "Well you know so many people have claimed to be the Messiah, who do you know who to believe? Who do you know who to follow? And one little girl heard it and she said, "I know. I believe the guy who got up from the dead." It was pretty simple to her. She understood that the resurrection separates every would-be Messiah or religious leader from Jesus who is a living redeemer. So, Job's hope is a person.
The second thing that I'd like you to see is that Job's hope wasn't just a person, a redeemer. Job's hope was personal. Notice Job doesn't say, "Well I know there's A redeemer. Somewhere. Someone." Or, "Let me tell you about my mother's redeemer. Or my grandparents, they have a redeemer." He said, "I know MY redeemer lives." He personalizes this. You know I do notice people when they speak of God, some speak of him secondhand, you can just tell there's no MY relationship with MY Lord and MY Savior whom I love. It's aloof sounding, it's distant. They'll talk about "The good Lord." That's sort of a dead giveaway. "You know, the big guy upstairs and I…" Or, "The man upstairs." Or, "The spirit in the sky," or whatever it might be. The question is, do you have a MY in the relationship with Christ, with the redeemer? It's sort of like my wife Lenya, before she was my wife I could say, "Look, there's a girl. Look at that girl." But I married her and now she's MY girl. And this big God up there somewhere in the sky is now MY redeemer. It is personalized. Paul wrote this to Timothy, he said, "I have been reminded of your sincere faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and I am persuaded now lives in you also." You're not coming here based upon your parent's wishes or relationship with God, it's yours, Timothy." Jesus said to Nicodemus, a religious man, "You must be born again." Nobody can do that for you. There's no two-for-one specials. It's interesting you ask people, "Are you a Christian?" "Well I was raised in a Christian home and my parents believed." That's not what I asked you. There's no two-for-one specials. God has no grandchildren. He only has children. There's no like "family-rate special" for heaven. You've got to come on your own. It has to be personal. And it was for Job. Moreover, do you notice how confident Job is here? Notice he says in verse 25, "For I know my redeemer lives." Not, "Now I'd like to believe he does." "I sure hope so. I'm not quite sure but maybe." "I know he does." In verse 26, "After my skin is destroyed, this I know that in my flesh I shall see God." That's confidence.
Okay, now go back to verse 23. We read these verses but we didn't say anything yet about them. Job utters, "Oh that my words (and I'm just vocalizing) Oh that my words were written, that they were inscribed in a book." Well, good luck Job, here they are. "Oh that they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead forever." In other words, cut into stone and then molten lead poured in to form lettering. What Job is saying is this: What I'm about to say I'm so confident in, I wish a permanent record would be made of what I'm going to say." And it is. Here's my point: If you're a Christian, you should have assurance this morning of your salvation. If you do, if you know, it will show. You should have assurance. You should know you're going to heaven. And you can know. You should be able to say, "I know that when I die I'm going to go to heaven." Now some people call that arrogant. The Bible calls that confident, being confident. I am confident that Jesus is good enough as a savior to get me to heaven. That's what John writes, I John chapter 5, verse 13. He says, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the son of God that you may know that you have eternal life."
I was in high school when I asked the clergyman in the faith that I grew up in about this issue. I was struggling, I didn't know if I was going to die and go to heaven or what would happen. So I asked him, I said, "How can I know that when I die I'm going to go to heaven?" And he hemmed and hawed and he didn't have great answers for me. And I asked him again, "How can I know that when I die I'm going to go to heaven?" And he told me right eye-to-eye, "You can't know for sure until you die." That was an epiphany for me. That was a moment for me. And I said, "With all due respect, isn't that a little bit late to find out your were wrong?" What if you went to a doctor and he said, "You may have a terminal disease." "Well how can I know?" "Well if you die from it, you did." It's not going to help me and that's not the way to live. Spiritually speaking, you can have assurance. It's not arrogant, it's confident. Somebody once asked me, "Well how do you know you're saved?" Easy, I was there when it happened. I was there when it happened, I remember the prayer that I prayed, I remember the sense of cleansing that I felt and more than that I remember the life changes that started happening subsequent to that. I was there when it happened. So, are you sure of your salvation, that you've made the right eternal choices?
Third, and finally, what I want you to notice here is that Job's hope is not just a person, it is not just personal, it is perpetual, it is ongoing, it will outlast this life. He says in verse 26, "After my skin is destroyed (very graphic) this I know that in my flesh I shall see God whom I shall see for myself. And my eyes shall behold and not another, how my heart yearns within me." Please understand something here. This is Job saying this. Here's a guy living in the patriarchal age from the time of Abraham as far back in the biblical record as one can get making this kind of a statement of believing in the resurrection. Here's Job piercing through the grave, expressing belief in immortality. Job says he knows two things. Number one, Job says, "I know I'm going to die." "I know I'm going to die. I don't know when, don't know how, don't know if it's this week or in twenty years. I know I'm going to die." He says, "When my flesh is destroyed." That speaks of the decaying corpse in the ground, very graphic. "I know that's going to happen." It's like the taxi driver who said, "Life is like a taxicab. The meter keeps going whether you're going somewhere or just standing still." Whether I'm going to sit here on this dungheap or get over this disease and move on, I will die, that I know.
The second thing Job says that he knows is that when I die, whenever that is, I know that in this same body with these same eyes, I'm going to see God." Now how is that possible? How is it possible for a body to die, decay, and yet to be able one day in that same physical body with your own eyes see God? There's only one answer to that: A resurrection. A physical resurrection from the dead. Job says, "I believe that." These really aren't the words of a dying man as much as the words of a man who facing death knows he'll live afterwards. Job's hope is perpetual. And this is the kind of a hope that will outlive aches and pains and wrinkles. You'll get them, if you don't have them yet, and you can stretch them away or Botox them away. But you'll die, I'll die. But here's the hope that goes beyond all of that.
So this is what I want to leave you with: If Job, thousands of years before Jesus, believed in a redeemer, a living redeemer who would resurrect his dead body from the grave in a physical resurrection one day, if you can believe all of that way back then with very limited information and lots of struggle going on in his life; here we are in a New Testament era two thousand years after Jesus with all of the promises, all of the track record, where's our confidence? Can you say with Job this morning, "I know my redeemer is alive. And I'll see God one day. And my body will be resurrected." Because Jesus said and we covered it last week, Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life." Now somebody might have hard it that day and said, "Excuse me, Jesus, prove it." He could have said, "Okay, watch this. Lazarus, out of there dude." And what if the person said, "I still don't believe it, prove it again." Okay, hang around for a few months because I'm going to go to a cross and die. And three days after I die I'll get up from my own grave, push the stone away and walk out of it and still be alive."
An undertaker at a local mortuary had a five-year-old boy. He took him to church on Easter and that little boy for the first time heard the Easter story. And so at the end, this undertaker's son raised his hand and said, "Excuse me, am I hearing this right? Are you telling me that a guy named Jesus who was once dead got up again and walked out of his tomb?" "That's right," the teacher said, "That's exactly what I'm saying." And he said, "Hah, it's obvious that my dad never worked on him because nobody gets up after my dad works on them." Well that's cute but not true when it comes to Jesus, nothing and no one could keep him in the grave. That's why there's hope. That's why he's a living redeemer. But is he your redeemer? Is he your redeemer, do you know it? Do you know it?
You might live sixty years, eighty years, a hundred years, don't know if you want to but you might. That's a long time, a hundred years old on this earth. But you're going to live a gazillion years in eternity. Of course that's not a number, I'm just, you get the picture. Eternity is a long time, forever is a long time. It's actually the absence of time. Forever compared to this life. So my question is, here in this life, the warmup act really for eternity, the dress rehearsal, are you ready for the real show? Are you making the right choices now about life, about death, about heaven, about hell, about God, spiritual things, so that you could ever say like Job, "I know that when I die I'll be in his presence."
And by the way, I mentioned that epiphany means, according to the dictionary, this sudden revelation or flash of insight. The dictionary has a second meaning of the word: It's a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being. Maybe you'll get an epiphany today, from God the supernatural being, the Lord of heaven and earth, the living redeemer, who would give you that flash of insight that says, "I am getting older, I am not sure about heaven and hell, I am not sure about my future but I sure want to be sure and have peace."
Let's pray. Father, we, we bow because we submit to you as the Lord of all, the Lord of all creation, as its sole source originator, maker, fashioner, the source of all life, the source of revelation in your word. And the more we study it, there are certain themes that recur, that are underscored over and over again, without contradiction, so clear is this statement of Job. It's hard to interpret it any other way unless there's some fancy twisting and wrangling and dishonesty. Here's a man who had an epiphany, a flash of insight into his future. At a very dark place he saw so clearly. And I pray that many here today would as well. As we close this service, I pray for those who have never personally made Jesus their own redeemer, though he has wanted to for a long time. I pray that they would come to know Jesus.
As our heads are bowed, as our eyes are closed, as we're thinking about our own life choices, I ask you, what do you know for sure? Do you know this for sure? Do you know that Jesus is your savior, your redeemer? Do you know that when you die you'll see him and be forever at his side? Do you still wonder about those issues? I'm not asking you if you've gone to church all your life or if you are a religious person, many here are. I'm asking, has Jesus saved you from your sin? Has he cleansed you? Do you know it? Do you have peace because of that? If you are uncertain then it's a good chance that you never have received Christ. I'm not saying that's the only reason for that but it's a good chance you may not have and I want to give you an opportunity to make the right choice now. Whether you have never done it before or you made some choice as a youngster but you're not sure today or following Jesus today, if you're ready to receive hope, receive life, receive Jesus.
As our heads are bowed, I want you to raise your hand up in the air so that I can pray for you as we close this service and we're just about to close it. But in raising your hand you're saying, "Okay, pray for me, Skip. I need to do this." God bless you and you to my left. Anybody else? Raise your hand up. God bless you and you on my right and up front, right up here, right up in the very front. Anybody else? Raise your hand. In the very back and in the balcony and again in the balcony. And right there toward the center in the middle and on the far left, and a couple more on the sides. And in the family room. And perhaps outside, there's a pastor out there to indicate what to do.
Lord, I do pray and those believers, solid believer that are in this room pray along with me, for these who have raised their hand that they would know your love, your peace, assurance, that they'd learn to fall in love with Jesus and as they discover your love for them. I pray that as they give their lives to you this morning, it would be something that they would never forget as they step out of darkness into light, out of uncertainty into the certainty of forgiveness. In Jesus' name.
And as you're just sitting there right now if you raised your hand would you say this to God from your own heart, right where you're sitting, 'Lord I know that I'm a sinner. Would you forgive me? I believe in Jesus that he died on the cross and that he rose form the dead for me. I turn from my sin. I turn to you and I receive you Lord as my Savior, as my Lord, as my living redeemer. Fill me with your Spirit and help me to live a life that pleases you. In Jesus' name. Amen.'