Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Book of Job
Lesson 12. Job's Redeemer
What does Job know? By faith he knows three wonderful truths: he has a living Redeemer, this Redeemer will stand upon the earth, and Job will see Him with his eyes.
He says in effect, "I will not finally believe that the monster god is the God who made this world. I know that the God I have always feared and loved is related to me by covenant--I belong to Him and His family and His people--and in the end, even if it is after my death, I will see Him, and He will vindicate me so that it will be publicly seen that I have been a real believer with a clear conscience" (Job 19:25-27).
Job knows he has a living Redeemer. The "Redeemer" was someone tied to you by covenant, usually a relative, whose calling was to stand for you when you were wronged. One of the most beautiful illustrations of this principle is in the book of Ruth, where Boaz acts as Naomi and Ruth's kinsman-redeemer, caring for them in their widowhood and becoming for Ruth the husband she needs.
Job is confident he has a Redeemer who "lives." This Redeemer can be none other than God Himself, who stands as the Redeemer of His people.
Job knows by faith that this Redeemer will "at the last ... stand upon the earth," "upon the dust," referring to Job's grave. There will be an eternally living vindicator standing on my grave, attesting my genuineness and justification with God.
Job knows that in the end he will see this Redeemer-God with his own eyes. Job expects this to happen after his death--"after my skin has been thus destroyed" (Job 19:26). Job will be hidden in the grave and then summoned in the resurrection to meet his God. To stand before God has the meaning of justification with God, being vindicated. Job's faith makes this future reality so vivid that it is almost as if he is already experiencing this longed-for vision of God. Job is a prophet and the Spirit of Christ within him searches and inquires about what person and time is being indicated by these longings (1 Peter 1:10-12). The deepest longing of Job's heart is to stand vindicated before the God he loves and worships.
Unless the book of Job is nonsense, it clearly indicates that Job vindicated God. Those who say it is blasphemy or near-blasphemy to recognize that converted sinners can ever have even the slightest part in vindicating the Lord and helping to resolve the "great controversy between Christ and Satan" have ignored the obvious import of Job.
The Lord staked the honor of His throne on the outcome of Satan's temptations to Job. There are links that bind Job on his dung hill with Christ on His cross.
Imagine for a moment what would have happened had Job failed the test: Satan would have trumpeted all over the universe that God is defeated, that He is wrong, mistaken, and that His plan of salvation is a failure. The fact that Job did not fail ("My servant Job" [has] "spoken of Me the thing which is right", Job 42:8) obviously means that He honored God, defended His cause, silenced Satan, got God off the hook, in short--vindicated Him.
Some say, "Only Christ could do that!" But the fact is, Job did it too! The fact that Job vindicated God does not mean he did it on his own. It was by faith ("I know that my Redeemer liveth ..."). It was righteousness imparted by faith.
Christ on His cross, Job on his dung-hill, and the saints apparently forsaken of God during the Time of Trouble, all have something in common: a practical experience of atonement. By faith they span the awful gulf of God-forsakenness that all have felt. There is no sense in the heavenly universe watching the demonstration if it is meaningless!
Christ was not afflicted with boils or leprosy. He did not lose a family or hear a wife say, "Curse God and die." He suffered no sudden, forced deprivation of wealth. But He was tempted more than Job could possibly have been. As He hung upon His cross, it was not for Him to say, "I know that My Redeemer liveth!" Rather, it was His to bear the nakedness and of pure distilled despair. No conviction of righteousness triumphantly upheld Him as was Job's privilege.
Job was "made the righteousness of God" even in his darkest moments, and rejoiced in the conviction of innocence which was imputed to him from the Innocent One. But Christ was "made to be sin," and both in appearance and in actuality, was numbered with the transgressors (2 Cor. 5:21; Isa. 53:12). The bitter cup He drained was the second death, the pain and guilt of naked sin, which He was "made to be" on our account, and which was imputed to Him. Job drank no such cup, but rather was sustained by the fruits of Christ's atonement. "The light that lighteth every man" shone in his soul.
Christ vindicated God by enduring the darkness of the second death. Had He not endured that darkness, He would have been sustained by hope, and thus His sacrifice would not have been complete. It is only when this truth is comprehended that a complete atonement becomes possible to contemplate.
The 1888 message sees Christ's sacrifice on the cross as accomplishing infinitely more than "merely deferring" the original punishment for sin. "The punishment or wages of sin--eternal death" was neither "waived," "deferred," nor "delayed," but was inflicted totally on Christ. This is the only foundation on which grace can rest. Grace that does not rest on Christ's complete sacrifice must be "cheap grace." He actually and truly paid the debt of every man's sin, and therefore fully died the second death of "every man." Thus there is no reason for any human soul to die that second death except for his own personal unbelief, his refusal to appreciate what Christ has actually (not provisionally) accomplished for him on the cross (John 3:17-19). This view of the cross may take one's breath away, but we see it as stark Bible truth.
"Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3). This was the equivalent of the second death. He made the commitment of all He had, to give Himself to death and hell forever, withholding nothing. This is the measure of His agape.
Christ's atonement is infinitely more than we have been ready to understand. Every human being is involved: "Jesus, the world's Redeemer, stands between Satan and every soul. ... The sins of everyone who has lived upon the earth were laid upon Christ, testifying to the fact that no one need be a loser in the conflict with Satan." (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, May 23, 1899).
What good news! And how the world hungers to hear it!
--Paul E. Penno