What I am going to talk about today, and probably over the next 5 or 6 messages, is about the doctrine of resurrection in the Old Testament. I know your immediate response is how in the world are we going to spend that amount of time talking about something that is so simple and so obvious.
I think the reason for it is a couple of things. First, every New Testament doctrine is rooted in and grounded in something in the Old Testament. And by looking at what the Old Testament says about something, we can get a more accurate viewpoint about what the New Testament teaches about it. Second, I think a lot of things we understand or think we understand about the resurrection are things that we have assumed. In other words, if you ask someone off the street what they think resurrection means; immediately they think of a bunch of bodies flying out of the graves, and tombs flying open and bodies going up in the air. The question is: Does Scripture support such a view, and to what extent does it support this view. If we are going to be Bereans and search the Scriptures to see whether these things are so, I think it is appropriate for us to be able to defend our beliefs and to know why we believe them. So, for the next few sessions I will be talking about the resurrection in the Old Testament.
First, look at Luke. This will kind of form a sort of introduction. I would like you to look at Luke 20:27. Iím not going to exposit this passage, but I am going to use it as a form of introduction. My first premise is resurrection is not a central theme to the Old Testament; even though it is a central theme to Christianity. Letís face it, if you go out of this church or go anywhere and say, "I donít believe in the resurrection of the dead."; immediately you will be labeled as a heretic or as a non-Christian. In the Old Testament, things were not that way. In fact, in this passage in verse 27, we will look at the Sadducees verses the Pharisees. Verse 27 says: "There came to Him some of the Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection)" So the Sadducees were a group of Jews that didnít believe in a resurrection; they did not affirm that doctrine. Now we do not have these days a group in Christian leadership that do not affirm the resurrection. How could the Sadducees exist in positions of leadership? They were on the Sanhedrin. The high priest was possibly a Sadduce at the time Paul was giving his defense. So, how could all this be if the resurrection was so central to Old Testament doctrine? Well, I think it wasnít. In fact, if you look at Acts 23:8; it talks about the "Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge them all." The idea behind that is: the Sadducees didnít really say that the resurrection or angels or spirits existed but the Pharisees "homologeo"- meaning: "to say the same thing"- they confessed that the resurrection existed. And not only that but that there were such things as angels and spirits; which the Sadducees all denied. What was the source of their differences? I think it was twofold. First, the doctrine of resurrection in the Old Testament was not a fully developed doctrine; though I think we find in here a seed form, so that we may better understand the resurrection in the New Testament. Second, the Sadducees believed only in the first five books of the Old Testament-the books of Moses- were canonical. By this I mean the Sadducees thought their Bible existed of only these first five books and the rest of it was just nice writings, but wasnít canon. And for this reason they denied everything except for the books of Moses. So, if we are looking to defend the resurrection in the Old Testament from the books of Moses, we will have a difficult time. Although Jesus does this later in that passage, but Iím not going to talk about that now. Instead, Iím going to focus on the resurrection in the Old Testament.
Here is how I am going to do it. First, let me tell you that there are no verses that say the word "resurrection" in the Old Testament. In other words if you go to your computer and search on the word "resurrection" like I have, it will pop up 41 times for 40 verses in the New Testament, but there will not be a single occurrence in the Old Testament. So, in order to find out how the Old Testament teaches about the New Testament, Iím going to do three things.
First, Iím going to talk about Old Testament verses that might discuss the idea of the resurrection. Remember that there are no verses that actually say "resurrection", but maybe Iíll look at verses that talk about that idea. Verses that use words like "raise" or "awake".
Second, Iíll look at verses that use terms that might be related to the concept of resurrection. For example, if we knew what "death" and "Sheol" and "hell" and "the grave" and "the pit" and what "life" "soul" and "the body" were in the Hebrew mind, then quite possibly we could understand resurrection. We know that resurrection is to be some transference from a dead state to a live state. The question is, what really was the dead state? Really, where were the dead? What was it like to be dead? What was the contradiction in the live state that comes with resurrection. Maybe we can get some clues from that.
Thirdly, we will examine how the New Testament uses Old Testament verses. If you look in this passage. Look at what Christís answer was. Verse 37: "But the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB. Now He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to Him." Now I dare say this is a strange verse to use to prove the resurrection- the fact of what God said at the burning bush. But this may be some clue as to the nature of the resurrection or what the resurrection means based upon what our Lord said here.
What we are going to talk about now is some verses in the Old Testament. To start with, I will tell you what my approach is going to be. We are going to look at the first three verses today. Here is a list of the verses in the Old Testament that talk about resurrection or might talk about resurrection.
I Sam 2:6; Job 14:10-14; Job 19:25-27; Ps 16:9-11; Ps 17:15; Ps 49:15; Ps 73:23-26; Is 25:8; Is 26:19-21; Is 3:10-12; Ezek 37:1-14; Dan 12:2; Dan 12:13; Hos 6:1-4; Hos 13:14
I actually include verses that donít have a thing to do with resurrection, but I include them here because I think that you may come across them or others might come across them and say, "Well this passage teaches on the resurrection." Today, we will look at the first three: I Sam 2:6, Job 14, Job 19. The remaining twelve are others that talk about the resurrection. So if we are only doing three verses today, you can see this series will take some time to get through.
How am I going to look at these passages?
First and foremost, I want to understand what the text means. For those of you that like illustrations, I wore one today. This illustration is my tie. My tie says, "The time is near" and "Watch and pray". There are two reasons why I wore this tie today. One, it goes with my suit. What is the teaching point of this? The teaching point is: this is what we do with verses in the Scriptures, it goes with our theology. If it fits our theology, we use it; if it doesnít fit, we throw it out and say that verse doesnít mean that or it means something else. There is a tendency to say, "If the verse fits, wear it." The reason we are able to do that is because on so many occasions we have heard verses quoted and had no idea where those verses came from. Not as far as the reference goes but as far as the context goes. So, how are we going to know what a verse means unless we know from where it was plucked out of. Because God did not give us thousands of verses thrown on a table and say, "Pick one, choose one, find one." He put them in a form of books that have meaning and context. Iím going to spend some time putting these verses in context.
Secondly, Iím going to exegete the passage. In other words, what exactly is the author trying to say here?
Thirdly, I will wrap it up with some form of interpretation based upon the principles of hermeneutics.
Then, Iím going to ask a number of questions. First, how likely does this text really teach about resurrection? Iíve given you 15 texts, but how likely do they really teach about resurrection? Or is this mostly talking about something else? Or does it not talk about resurrection at all, even though people use it that way? Secondly, what is the main teaching points about resurrection in this text? In other words, when I get to it, what exactly am I going to look at as the main teaching points about resurrection? The only way I can get to that point is by going through these first steps of knowing the context, the exegesis, and the interpretation. Then, because we are trying to find out about resurrection, Iím going to pretend Iím a reporter. What does a reporter do when he wants to get a story? He has to ask about five questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why. I am going to ask based upon the text, as best as I can tell; what is the nature of the resurrection? Why is it important to the author? What is the emphasis? Why is it critical? When will this resurrection occur? Who is going to be resurrected? Not all passages teach that everyone is going to be resurrected. Maybe one passage will talk about the resurrection of an individual. That does not mean it may not have broad applicability, but if we are going to be honest to the text, we must know what it says. And lastly, how will the resurrection occur?
Before I go to the text, as further groundwork I will tell you what my goals are here. Number one, I want to understand the resurrection. I donít know about you, but for those of us who have struggles with changes in our eschatological position, the biggest difficulty that we have is the question of: what does resurrection actually mean? Number two, I want to show you that the Old Testament is a good book. There is a tendency to think that since we are Christians and the Old Testament was for the old saints that it doesnít have any applicability today. But in reality, the Old Testament is a treasure of Godís truth, that if opened up and applied with New Testament revelation, often times gives us insight that we could not get otherwise. If it wasnít that way, God would have wrote: "All scripture was written by inspiration of God, but it is not all profitable, because the Old Testament is old; you only have to read the new." But He didnít write it that way. He said; "all scripture is profitable". Number three, I would like to show you that through intense Bible study, you are sometimes able to dig down and find nuggets that you would otherwise never realize were there.
Although this will look a little difficult as we go through it, and although it may look like we are getting too deep, and we are going too far, the point of all this is that if we are really going to understand something, we are going to have to do some work. That is why we say all the time that illumination of the Holy Spirit occurs in men and opens up our eyes to the truth, but it depends on hard work, holiness, and discipline. This allows us to go to the Scriptures and study. Certainly it is the Holy Spirit that illumines His truths to us, but if we never spend any time in this Book, if we never dig, then the Holy Spirit is not going to illuminate something we have never had a chance to click the light on.
So, that all said as a form of introduction, turn to I Samuel 2. This is the simplest of the three texts that we will be looking at today. This passage is probably familiar to many of you, but let me set the tone of it first. As you recall Hannah is the wife of a gentleman who has two wives. Poor old Hannah has no children and the other wife has many. In fact, the other wife kind of abused Hannah. Understand that the culture of that time was such that those that did not have children were frowned upon and looked upon as not being very useful. So Hannah really cried for a child. She cried so much that Eli, who was the priest at the time, thought she was drunk, because she was praying so much. She was weeping bitterly, and Eli came to her and says, "Why are you drunk woman, get out of here; this is the temple." And she says, "Iím not drunk, Iím here in deep prayer." Eli says that her request will be granted. Iím just paraphrasing chapter one. To Hannah is born Samuel. Hannah had promised that if Samuel was born to her that she would dedicate him to the Lord. So, after raising up Samuel and weaning him, when Samuel was still a young child; she took him and presented him to the temple and to Eli. She says, "Here is the child I prayed for; here is the little boy I promised to dedicate to the Lord. Here he is." She gives Samuel to Eli to serve in the temple. Now Samuel is with Eli, and Hannah breaks forth in a song of thanksgiving. And in contrast to her previous prayer, which was a sort of mumbling utterance in which someone thought she was drunk, her prayer here is a loud exclamation about God and praises to Him.
So, letís look at this song. It goes from verse 1 through 10. First of all, Hannah is joyous over the fact at who God is. Notice, how she says in verse, "My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation." Hannah is a pretty pumped up happy person, because of the things that have happened, about what the Lord has done for her, about the fact that the Lord has exalted Himself, and how He has provided salvation. Then in verse 2 and 3, she praises God for His attributes. Iíll just mention them very briefly. God is holy. There is no one like You- God is unique. There is no rock like You- nobody is immutable like God is. Nobody has knowledge like God has knowledge. Nobody is discerning, as it says here "by Him the actions are weighed", as God is discerning. So in these two verses, she focuses on five attributes of God; His holiness, uniqueness, immutability, knowledge, and discerning. And because God is a discerning God, verses 4 through 10 form the rest of the song -- what God does because He is a discerning God. Notice in verse 4 how He breaks the mighty and those that are stumbled get strength. In verse 5, it says that those who were full of bread are now hungry and those that were hungry now get filled. We will skip down to verse 8, because we are trying to get the whole context. Notice how He raises the poor from the dust. He lifts up the needy and makes them sit with the nobles. You can see it is saying all the things God does for His people, because God in holy, unique, immutable, knowledgeable, and discerning based upon His attributes in verses 2 and 3.
Let us now look at verses 6 and 7. Verse 6 is really our text. Notice how it says "The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: He bringeth down to Sheol, and raises up. The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: He bringeth low, and lifteth up." This example of construction is called a parallel synonym. Now what does that mean? Well, the Hebrews used this often times in their poetry. What it would be is: Here is A and here is B. Here is secondary A and here is secondary B. Sometimes to get the idea of a verse you almost have to read A and secondary A, then B and secondary B to see how it correlates together. For example look at verse 7: "The LORD makes poor, He brings low. The LORD makes rich, He also exalts." See how the two go together. Now letís look at verse 6: "The LORD kills, He brings down to Sheol. The LORD makes alive, He raises up."
The question for us, the interpreter is, what is the meaning when she says, "The LORD makes alive" here? Is she talking about resurrection? Could this be a resurrection passage? What does this have to do with resurrection? Well, interpreters have used two lines of evidences to say that this is a resurrection passage. The first is the order. It is: "The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: He bringeth down to Sheol, and raises up." The word order suggests that it is talking about something in the future, some resurrection. The converse is the fact that God makes alive in the sense of birth, or God raises up in the sense of birth. But why put it in that order? It wouldnít quite make sense. Secondly, it says in verse 6: "the LORD raises up." Certainly we may talk of a child being made alive by God, but itís not often times that the phrase "raised up" is used in relation to a child. Again, it fits well with the context of the LORD bringing down to the grave that He would raise these same individuals up from the grave.
So given the context, given the understanding of what these verses say (so as not to disappoint the text), let me tell you what I think this verse means. Based upon the fact that God is the ultimate, sovereign, holy being, who is intimately involved in the affairs of men: He is involved in their affairs, whether it has to do with poverty, success, the womb, social status, who is in control, who is judging, and other thing like that. God is ultimately sovereign over death, over life, over the grave, over the after-life. This is what Hannahís song teaches us about resurrection.
Let me go back to my question that I posed at the beginning of the message. How likely does this text teach about resurrection? I think it does. It doesnít tell us much about how the resurrection occurs or how it happens, but it does seem to give us some glimpse into the after-life. What are the main points about resurrection? I think it shows us that resurrection is a work of God. It depends on God. God determines it. And who gets resurrected and how they get resurrected is dependent upon the discernment of God. It also teaches us that resurrection is possible. Up until now, unless you were to quote Exodus 3:14 - which talks about God being the God of the living - you would have no idea that resurrection was even possible. I would say that this is the first verse that shows resurrection is possible. Not only that, but it tells us that resurrection is particular. In other words, in all this it talks about how God deals with individuals. God takes the rich and makes them low. He takes the poor and lifts them up. He takes the feeble and gives them strength. So, by Him the actions of men are weighed in verse 3. Obviously, if the Lord kills and makes alive, and brings down to Sheol and raises up; it is talking about something particular in Godís discerning judgment that causes it to happen. It doesnít tell us how that judgment works or what that judgment means. But in the context, itís talking about how God treats individuals individually according to His judgment, His discernment. It also applies to the resurrection. So, what is the nature of the resurrection? I donít have a clue from this passage. It doesnít tell me anything. Why is resurrection important in this passage? I think because it demonstrates Godís attributes of power, discernment, and justice. When will the resurrection occur? Again, I donít have a clue from this passage. Iím not trying to add anything in there; itís just not there. Who will be resurrected? I donít know, but I do know that it is Godís choice. He is the one with discernment. How does this resurrection occur? By the power of God.
Before I leave this text even though Iím talking about resurrection, I canít help but point out a few other things here. When I get into a passage of Scripture, there is so much good stuff here I just canít leave it alone. So, let me tell you a few other things. Notice how verses 8 through 10 speak very strongly of the fact that God is the sovereign ruler of the universe. Although that did not come out in the list of attributes in verses 2 and 3; it clearly says that God is able to do these things, because the pillars of the earth are the Lordís and He sets His throne on them. Notice how the song ends in verse 10. It says: "the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn (the horn referring to the mighty power) of his anointed." His anointed -- Messiah; ever heard that before? The first time in Scripture that the word "messiah" is used is right here. Notice that this passage had the idea of resurrection in verse 6, and it ends up mentioning that the Lord is the ultimate judge -- Jesus Christ the Messiah is the Ultimate Judge. The Messiah is the one with strength and power. Ultimately, it is the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the decision maker when it comes to resurrection and the power of resurrection.
So, now leaving that, let us go on to a more difficult text in Job. You know the story of Job. Iím not going to reiterate it completely. Although I am going to Job 14, and we want to get the whole context; I am not going to give you the whole thing from chapters 1-13. What I will tell you briefly is that Job lost an awful lot. Job had a bunch of friends; and being good Christian friends that they were, they were trying to help Job out. The way they were going to help out Job was to say, "You know, Job, the reason why you are suffering is because you havenít admitted to the sin in your life. If you would just admit to the sin in your life, all your troubles will be over and everything will be fine." That had to really hurt Job, he was already suffering enough. Here is Job; his wife tells him to curse God and die, and his friends are telling him to give up his integrity. Because, letís face it Job, if youíre suffering as bad as you are, then you must be a pretty wicked sinner, and you just need to admit that. If you would admit it, then all this would be done. But Job wants to stick to his integrity, and for good reason because Scripture declares the fact that "Job is a righteous man, and did not sin in all that he did."
So, what is happening in chapter 14 is that this is Jobís third speech, which is actually in reply to the first argument of Zophar, who is one of Jobís friends. Let me tell you a little about what Zophar said. Zophar, in verses 1-6 in chapter 11, rebukes Job for his words and for saying all the things that he said. Basically, he says that Job is out of line. He then praises God as being the one having wisdom in verses 7-12. And finally, based on the fact that Job isnít so good and God is so good and so wise, he says to Job, as all his friends did, "Just admit you did wrong. Come on, repent. If you would repent everything would be done with. Why do you keep holding on to your righteousness?" Then Job goes on from chapter 12 through 14 in his longest speech. Here he talks about his defense against his accuser Zophar. In Job 12:1 through 13:19, he argues against everything his friend said. He says, "Are my friends really arguing for God? Are you His defender? Why do I have to listen to you? You guys are not trying my case." Instead he says, "Iím not going to bring my case before you. Iím going to bring my case before God." That is what chapter 13:20-28 is about. Then he thinks about his circumstances: his wife is mad at him, his skin is rotting, his friends are beating him up, he is pretty miserable. Job goes to the ultimate state of depression in chapter 14. Basically, he is despairing of his life. He is getting to the point where he is hitting the pit here. Heís feeling pretty low; actually, he hits the pit in chapter 19, but we will talk about that later. This is one of the bumps towards the bottom.
In chapter 14 verses 1-6, he talks about the fact that man's life is brief, and that it is determined by God. Notice he uses the terms like "short lived" and "itís full of turmoil", he realizes that you cannot do anything apart from what God does. You canít make yourself clean, your days are determined, and your months are numbered. God has set all the limits. He is basically saying, "My life is set for a short time. It is a brief time. Godís in control, but it is pretty miserable down here. And it is all determined by God." You can tell he is getting pretty frustrated. Then in verses 7-15, he talks about death. He says, "Well if I canít deal with life; what is death going to be like?" So he goes into verses 7-15 looking at death. Then ultimately in verses 16-22, he goes into prayer about the fact that God ultimately is overseeing all his steps; his current state, as wall as his future state.
But our focus is on verses 7-15. So, we will read parts of it, and we will stop for some teaching points. Verses 7-9 give us an example from the vegetable kingdom. Let us look at how vegetables deal with resurrection. "For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant." So what is Job saying here? What Job is doing is he is pondering the idea of death here. He looks to a physical example in the vegetable kingdom. He looks to a tree. Letís see, if you cut down this tree, it will sprout again. The idea behind sprout is that the tree will change its current condition. It will no longer be a dead stump or what appears to be a dead stump, but actually a tree that is bringing forth life, and it will sprout. But not only that, it says that its shoots will never fail. Which has the idea that although this thing is dead (again he is using this as a figure of speech, referring to the resurrection), the shoots that come up this time will not fail. This may give us some teaching points on the resurrection, meaning that they will obviously continue. Even though the fact that this root is old and dead, it says in verse 8 that at the very first scent of water, it will bring forth shoots like a plant. The idea is that by some external force, here the scent of water, this plant comes up to life. So, we can learn a couple things. What does Job learn about the vegetable kingdom? Something that looks dead can sprout dead. If it sprouts new life, that life will not fail. Although we know in the vegetable kingdom it will, but in this metaphor it will not. It is in the proper environment that this occurs, upon the scent of water. Now Job will ask, "What happens with man?". Letís look at man in verses 10 and 11. "But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:" He asks a question: "What happens to man? Letís see the tree dies, you can see the root; you put some water on it and it grows. But what happens to man? If he dies and he is lying in the ground, and he expires; Where is he?" There is a couple of teaching points I want to get from this.
First, when it uses the word "man" it is not the common Hebrew term for man. The common Hebrew term for "man" is adam. This term actually is the word geber, and the idea is it is someone that is a valiant man or warrior. It is often times used as somebody that is a soldier or someone that is ready to do battle. In this context and in some other texts in Scripture, it is used figuratively to picture a male at the peak of his strength, a man at his most capable level. Notice, it says that he dies and lies prostrate. The word "prostrate" has the idea to make weak, to waste away. In other words, God sucks the very life out of him. When man is at his very best, when man is at his peak of his humanity; he dies and his very life is sucked out of him. That is what happens to man. He gives up his ghost or he expires, and where is he? Notice the question is "Where is he?" Well, his corpse is in the ground. He didnít ask, "Where is his corpse?" He says man gives up his ghost or expires. So in the passage, when Job is looking at "he", Job is talking about the dead man. But he is not looking at the body in the ground, he is looking at where his ghost is. We know the corpse is not him; that was his body. But where is he?
He is going to give us another metaphor or another figure of speech. He says, "As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:" OK, letís think about this. Water evaporates from the sea, and a river dries up. Where did the water go? It went somewhere. Did it go up into the heavens? I donít know where it went. Donít forget; Job isnít at a time where he understands the water cycle. He hasnít had what kids now have in science around the third or fourth grade; about the fact that water would go up into the clouds, and then come down again. All he knew from his experience was that the water was there and now it is gone. So, that is why his question "where is he?" kind of goes unanswered. He knows that it is somewhere, because the water must be somewhere. It just didnít disappear, it went somewhere. But he doesnít know where, that is why he is left with an unanswered question. So he goes on and continues his train of thought. "So man lies down and doesnít rise, he will not awake out of sleep, nor arouse from sleep the heavens be no more." I purposely put it in this order, because I wanted you to see it. He says four things about the man that is dead: He lies down, doesnít rise, doesnít awake, and is not aroused from sleep. All those are just about the same thought. I could tell you what each of these words mean, but it doesnít really add much to the idea of this passage. The whole concept is that he is down and he is not coming up, heís not awakened; he is sleeping. It looks like he is sleeping over there. And that will happen until the heavens be no more.
So, in response to all this, Job thinks about his situation: "My skin is rotting away, my wife is really mad at me, my friends are telling me to give up my integrity. Iím not getting any comforts in life. That dead sleep does not sound that bad." So that is what he says: "O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!" Let me talk about what this verse means. What Job is saying here is that he wants to be hidden in the grave. Why does he want to be hidden in the grave? Because he wants the suffering to stop. Have you ever been there? When it gets really bad and you sort of say, "Lord, just take me home. Just put me in the ground in the grave. I donít really understand all this theology stuff. It doesnít matter, You will work it out. Just put me in the ground; I trust You." That is really where Job is at; he says, "Just hide me in Sheol." The idea is that he would be covered, he would be gone, nobody would think about him, nobody would know about him. He would be hidden in Sheol. He emphasizes that twice; he says, "Hide me in Sheol, conceal me." In other words, put me away; forget about me. Iím going to take a nap. Remember in verse 12, he says that he is going to lie down in sleep, not awake, and not be aroused. "Iíll take a nap, and all the pain will go."
But there will be two conditions upon which that will end. Number one, "until Thy wrath returns to Thee", or the idea until Thy wrath is past. In other words, he will be glad to sleep in the ground until Godís wrath is past. And second, "until Thou will set a limit for him". Just as God appoints the time of how long a man will live, as seen in chapter 14:1-6, God sets a limit to his days. Remember, we are trying to think like Job here. Job is saying, "Not only does He have the limit to my days in this life, but He has the limit of my days in Sheol." So, two things have to occur: Godís wrath be past, and the set time will be finished, whatever that set time is. Again, it is not Jobís choice but Godís choice. Finally he says, "When that wrath is past and the set time is done; God, I want You to remember me." Then he asks, "Will He remember me?" (Verse 14) "If a man dies, will he live again?" Job is still thinking about this. He is contemplating whether to go to the grave or not. But he is thinking that maybe if I get down there, I might sleep and not wake up at all. He has already said that it would only be a limited time, until Godís appointed time and His wrath is past. But he is still going to ask the question, "Will God remember me? Please remember me God; Iím stuck in the grave, I canít get out. I have no power." Second of all, "If a man dies, will he live again?". His conclusion is the remainder of verses 14 and 15: "All the days of my struggle I will wait until my change comes." I like how the NAS translates this as "all the days of my struggle". The KJV says "He will wait through an appointed time", but this time the word here is different for "appointed time"; it has the idea of joining the military and having a period of enlistment. I know some of you already know what that is. There are a few things about that. First, it is for a prescribed period of time. Second, you have no control. Third, it is not a piece of cake. The grave is not a piece of cake, it is hard duty. This is military service, that is why he uses this term here. Job says, "God, if You are going to put me in the grave; I am pretty confident that Iím going to live again. Iím going to sit here and wait; Iím going to do my time in Sheol. Iím going to serve my period of enlistment, until my change comes." His change comes, thatís his resurrection. When his change, his transformation, comes, he will be with God again. That word "change" is the same exact word as the tree that is sprouting in verse 7. It doesnít cease and continues to grow. His change comes just like that tree: forevermore.
His response is in verse 15; how will this occur? "Thou will call, I will answer." Why will this occur? "Thou will long for the work of Thy Hands." How is the resurrection going to occur? Verse 15a "Thou will call, I will answer." Ever heard that before? What about John 5: "As many as are in the graves in the earth shall hear His voice. The voice will come forth and these that are in the graves will rise and come forth." God shouts, and we answer. Why does the resurrection occur? Because God desires it. Notice verse 15 it says, "Thou will long for the work of Thy Hands." That word "long" means, in the most descriptive language that I can get it to in the English; "to be so anxious for something that you are turning pale." Ever been there? Youíre so anxious for something that you almost make yourself sick. Thatís what it says about God. God is anxious almost to the point He is turning pale. Now we know this is anthropomorphism. We are putting manly characteristics on God so that we can understand things. Obviously, God does not turn pale, nor is He anxious. The concept is to bring it down to human terms. God seriously desires for the work of His hands to reach that point. Based on the fact that God is the Creator, guarantees that God will resurrect the dead.
Here is my interpretation; let me go through the whole thing and fit it all together for you. Poor old suffering Job looks at this tree that was cut down to almost nothing. He says this will come back to life no matter how bad it gets. If the environment improves, it will sprout. When it sprouts it will bring forth life, and that life will not cease. But what about me? Iím suffering pretty bad, what happens when I die? What will happen to me? What happens to man when he dies? I guess it is like the water when it evaporates; it just disappears. I donít know where it goes but it goes somewhere. He still exists. It may look like in the grave he is sleeping and will not awake. Job will be hidden and secret from God in the grave until Godís wrath is past and until the appointed time. Then God will remember Job. God will resurrect him and give him life. Because of that, Job is willing to wait during this time of military service. Enduring this time of bondage until his military tour is over. Then Job, like that tree, will be changed. He will be changed to new life. Job will be resurrected. God will call; Job will answer. Would this happen? Could this happen? Sure, because God is the Creator, and He painfully longs for it to happen.
Does this passage teach about resurrection? Undoubtedly. Resurrection is like a tree that dies and sprouts again. You can kind of get some concepts from that. We know resurrection is a transformation. Notice, it says that Job was changed. Also, the tree was changed when it came back to life. Notice also, that resurrection occurs on command to a waiting and responsive Job. What is the nature of the resurrection? It is a transformation. It is clear from this passage that is some kind of transformation. The transformation is similar to a rotting tree that sprouts; so man in the grave is transformed to new life. Why does this occur? Why is resurrection important? Well it is important to Job, because he is suffering and ultimately he will be vindicated at the future resurrection. We will get to more of that in chapter 19. It is important to Job, so that now he can hide in death from his sufferings, and because he has promise of new life in the future. Why is it important to God? As the Creator, He desires this as an end to His creation. When will this occur? It says pretty clearly when this resurrection is to occur. After an appointed time upon the remembrance of God. And the question is: Is this upon the completion of Godís wrath? I donít know; Job says "until Thy wrath comes" or "until Thy wrath returns to Thee" or "until Thy wrath is past". Certainly, in Jobís case it seems to imply that the resurrection will occur at the completion of the wrath of God. But does that apply to everybody? I donít know, I am just telling you what the Scriptures say. Iím telling you how much they say. Then we will have to see how many leaps of judgment weíll have to make from there. So, who exactly is resurrected? Job; itís not talking about anybody else. Though there is probably some broad applicability in this passage. How does this occur? God calls, and Job answers.
Now we are going to go to Job 19. This will be the last text that we look at today. Job 19 is Jobís fifth speech; this is to reply to Bildadís second speech. Bildad does the same thing that they have done in every other chapter. If you have read through Job, youíre thinking that it seems to be saying the same thing over and over. What Bildad does in chapter 18 verses 1-4, is he rebukes Job. Then in verses 5-12, he lists the fate of the wicked. He goes on to say that their lamp goes out, they are diseased, it's their calamity. In verses 14-21, he brings it down to a personal level and says, "their limbs are torn out, their roots are dried out, their memory is cut off, they are driven from the light." It doesnít have a lot of good things to say about the wicked. But weíre not talking about them so letís move on. In Jobís reply in chapter 19, he notices his friend's animosity in verses 1-6. "How long are you going to insult me? How long are you going to pick on me? How long are you going to bother me? God has placed all this around me. Will you just shut up." The animosity to God is expressed by Job in verses 7-13. Notice how many verses start with "He has...": "He has" in verse 8 "walled up that he cannot pass." In verse 9, "He has stripped my honor." In verse 8, "He has put darkness in my path." "He has" in verse 9 "removed the crown." "He breaks" in verse 10 "He has uprooted". In verse 11 "He has kindled". In verse 12, "His troops". Again it is talking about God, Godís animosity towards Job. Job is figuring that he is suffering, but he doesnít know Romans 8:28; it hasnít been written yet. He is trying to figure out what is going on here. "Iím suffering; I donít have a relationship with God. This is awful." Then in verse 13, there is a transition. He talks about how God has removed his brothers from him, and his acquaintances are completely estranged to him. It is not the idea that his brothers died, but rather that his relationship with his brothers had become estranged. His brothers and his friends have become like strangers to him. Job is the ideal doormat that everyone wants to kick and beat up. So, that is what he says in verses 14-22; he says, "My brothers donít know who I am. My breath is offensive to my wife. I am loathsome to my brothers. My children donít even know me." So, finally in desperation Job says, "My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth." "Canít you have some pity on me? Canít you see what my situation is? You donít like me; God doesnít like me. My family doesnít like me; nobody likes me. Have some pity on me. Why do you keep persecuting me? Havenít I suffered enough?" He is pretty depressed, isnít he? So, in verses 23 and 24, Job says, "Give me a pen and paper. I want to write something down." I would do that at this point, wouldnít you? He says that he wants to write down the words of what is happening. Why does Job want to write this down? Because Job says, "Wait, I know everybody is saying that I am screwed up. I know everyone is saying that I am wrong. But I know that I havenít done anything wrong." So he says, "I want to write these thing down. I want people to know what is happening. Iím going to write it down; I will engrave it on a rock forever."
Now this gets to our text, verses 25-29, except 28 and 29 because they donít talk about resurrection, but Iíll get to that later. So verses 25-27 say: "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." How does that fit contextually? Remember Job is going to write down his defense; because he knows his redeemer, his vindicator, his trial lawyer, his judge, his defender lives. He is getting ready to write down his defense because his redeemer lives. That word "redeemer" is from the Hebrew word gaíal , which has the idea of: "a kinsman-redeemer." If you remember the story of Boaz and Ruth: Ruth is widowed. She doesnít have anybody to raise up a seed unto her husbandís name. She follows her mother-in-law, and she comes across this guy in a field. He turns out to be a relative. He says that he will redeem Ruth, he will buy her. He is a kinsman-redeemer, a type of Christ. That is the idea behind this redeemer. My kinsman-redeemer, my defender, my avenger, the one who will vindicate me is alive. That is why he says that he can come out with confidence. So, from the very pit of depression, he thinks about God. Just like we do, right? Whenever we get depressed or discouraged, we think about God right away, right? Well, maybe not. That is probably how we should do things. "For I know", this not just a thought that maybe it will happen; he knows, "that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth" Iím not sure exactly what "that he shall stand upon the earth" means. They translate it in various different ways. The word "stand" is a very broad term. The word "earth" means: "dust." It may be talking about Christ physically standing on the earth; or it may be that He stands in judgment metaphorically on the dust of the earth, or over the dust of mankind that is dead. You take it as you will; but the idea is that his redeemer is going to stand there. He is going to be there to defend Job. When will this defense occur? At the last. His defense is not going to occur while Job is alive. His defense is not going to occur when Job dies. His defense is going to occur "at the last". Remember, we saw this in Job 14, when His wrath is done. So that in verse 26, "And though after my skin worms destroy this body" as it says in the KJV; though the text does not have the words "worms" or "body" in it. The idea behind worms is: "destroyed." So, "even after my skin is eaten by worms, and even though my body is destroyed." What is he talking about? Death.
"And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:" Now here comes the interesting part. How many of you have memorized or know about Job 19:26? Even after my skin is gone, even after death, "Yet in my flesh shall I see God". My flesh- I shall see God. Teaching bodily resurrection right? In my flesh I shall see God. The word "in" translated in the KJV really means: out. It doesnít mean: "in"; it means: "out." There are two ways people have looked at this. The best way to translate this word is: "out." So it should read "Out of my flesh I shall see God". Out of my flesh is the most literal translation of the word. It is also the most consistent with the preceding thought. What is he saying in verse 26? "Even after my flesh is destroyed, even after my flesh is eaten with worms. Even after it is all destroyed, out of my flesh, I will see God." However, some people take the viewpoint that it should be translated the way it is. Out of my flesh, I see something. In other words, I see that over there. I am seeing that out of my eyes, or out of my body, or out of my flesh. They translate the word "in", so as not to confuse us, because we are a bunch of idiots who canít read the Scriptures for ourselves. They say, "In my flesh I shall see God"; but the best way to translate it is: "Out of my flesh I shall see God". I donít know the best way to interpret it. I cannot tell you from the Hebrew grammar or the text what the right answer is. But what I can tell you is this. It would be impossible, based upon this text alone, to say that you can affirm/prove a bodily resurrection. This text, if anything, easily proves the opposite. Because the best way to translate this is: "Out of my flesh I shall see God" not "In my flesh I shall see God". In verse 27, He does the same thing but he goes backwards. All verse 27 is, is a backwards verse 26. So we will read it backwards: "My heart faints within me" which means the same thing as: "My skin is destroyed". The word "heart" actually means kidneys. It is the center of the body, the seed of the emotions in the Hebrew mind. The idea of "faints" is the idea of: "being consumed, being destroyed, being eaten up." So he says, "My heart faints within me"; "My kidneys are destroyed". So he is saying the same thing as in verse 26a: "My skin is destroyed". Notice he says, "I myself, will behold"; "Out of my flesh I shall see God". "With my eyes I will see Him and not another." What the Scriptures are really teaching here is not necessarily a physical resurrection, but it is teaching a particular resurrection. In other words, Job, he himself, will see God. It is not somebody else; it is not a new creation. It is not a new person, it is Job, himself. This goes back to the question in chapter 14: "Where is man?" He doesnít know, but he does know this: That he, himself, will behold God in the future. So the teaching from this passage is not one necessarily of fleshly, bodily resurrection, but one of particular redemption of a guy who needs to be vindicated, who needs a defender. That is the context of this passage.
So, let me go through it again and interpret it. Job wants his case reported on a permanent record. Why does Job want to do this? Because he knows his vindicator, his kinsman-redeemer, his defender lives. And at some future time, at the latter days, this Redeemer will stand on the earth, and in doing so, will vindicate Job. So that even if his body rots in the ground, Job is confident in his vindication, his redemption, because his Redeemer lives. He will see his vindication; he will see his redemption, because he will see God. Either apart from his flesh or from the viewpoint of his flesh, depending on how you take that verse. Somehow, Job will see God. To emphasis his point further he says, "Even though my kidneys are rotting away, even though I am being consumed; he, himself, will see God and not another."
Does this passage talk about resurrection? Not really. Youíre saying, "Wait a second, what have you been talking about this whole time?" What it is talking about is what the after-life is like. It doesnít have anything to do with resurrection itself. All it did was describe what Job saw as his state somewhere in the future. It didnít describe how he got there. There wasnít any process; it just described the end result. That being the case, it can probably teach us something about the nature of the resurrection. So, what does it tell us? Well, it gives us the idea that Job, as an individual, with his own eyes as his own person will arise. The word "eyes" by the way means: "perception." Sometimes you say, "I see that" not talking about your physical eyes but your mind. There are two words about him seeing there: One has the idea of him seeing with his mind, the other seeing with his eyes. The idea is that Job, with his mind, with his being, with his perception, will awake from his sleeplike state and see God, perceive God, understand God. So what does this text tell us about resurrection? It is difficult to say, because the key verse in this whole passage is: "And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:" It depends on how you take: "out of my flesh". If you take it to be: "in my flesh" it affirms the doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh. If you take it to mean: "out of my flesh" it may very well support a doctrine that out of your flesh you shall see God, so your resurrection may be apart from your physical flesh. Why is this important? Because Job wants vindication. And at resurrection there is vindication of the righteous. Remember that resurrection and judgment occur at the same time, at least in most peoplesí theology. Because of that, Job says, "At resurrection there is judgment. If there is judgment, and my Redeemer lives; I will get vindicated." When does this occur? At the latter day. Who is resurrected? Job, although I think it has applicability to others. How does the resurrection occur? Who knows. It doesnít tell us anything about that. It just tells us what the end result is.
Verses 28 and 29 is Jobís response: "My Redeemer lives. He is going to take care of me. Iím going to be vindicated. So you guys better watch out." That is what verses 28 and 29 say. "I am sick and tired of you picking on me. Because my Redeemer lives, He is going to come and get you." So if you are ever depressed, because people are picking on you, all you have to do is start thinking about God, thinking about who He is, and the fact that God will defend His righteousness, and He will defend those who are righteous.