Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. When I die, will I live again?
That's the question Job raised several thousand years ago. Surely this brief life is not all there is. Something deep down inside cries out for a long-term meaning that transcends our short-term problems. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, suffering is worldwide. Hunger, disease and war never seem to end. Critics of the Christian faith say that a loving God would not permit the pain people experience. Dave, I can honestly tell you that I have given hours of thought and reading to the question that you have just asked. How we can reconcile a loving God with the kind of suffering that is going on in the world is very difficult.
But I need to emphasize this. We do not need to know what God's purpose is to believe that there is one. I believe that someday in eternity it is going to make sense. Up until now, what we must do is believe. The good news of the Gospel, of course, is that thanks to Jesus Christ, our eternal future is secure for those who believe. And that's why the ministry of Running to Win always emphasizes the Gospel.
And I want to thank the many of you who support this ministry. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? Of course, you need more info. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. When you're there, click on the endurance partner button. Now, endurance partners are those who stand with us regularly with their gifts and with their prayers. And of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And let us keep believing no matter how dark the night. Because you see, when you're going through suffering, you begin to ask the question, is there going to be an opportunity for resolution? What if I die in this suffering? What if the cancer that my doctor told me about is permanently mine? Therefore, my life is going to be very temporary.
What if there's an accident? What if my life remains unfinished and there's unfinished business? And what about all the injustices that were dooming? And what about all the fulfillment in my heart that has never been satisfied? People today teach that everybody who has a fulfillment in his heart or a desire in his heart should find fulfillment.
Well, I'll tell you, there are many people who don't, many people who don't, many people who can't. They are in circumstances where they must live with the frustration of desires and aptitudes that are unsatisfied. The question is, will there be an opportunity to resolve this at some later time? The answer of Christ and of the New Testament is yes.
Yes. Because if a man dies, he shall continue to live. You see, it's that that began to give Job hope. I remember reading a story of a swimmer, a young woman who was trying to swim many, many miles, something like the English Channel, which I believe is about 26 miles. And as the boat that was with her was going along, she asked to be taken out of the water. She became too weary, and so they put her into the boat. And as she looked then from within the boat, she could see the shore.
It was much closer than she realized. And she regretted later having given up because she said, if only I had seen the shore, I think I could have made it the whole way. And when we open the pages of the New Testament and we find out that Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life, and the suffering of this present world is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us, suddenly we begin to realize that we can see the shore, and so we can make it. My dear friend today, in your loneliness, in your heartache, in your depression, in your sense of worthlessness that may have been imposed upon you for whatever reason, in all of the anxieties that are not working out, the promotion that you had in your hand, but it slipped through your fingers, in the injustices that take place in the workplace where others are promoted above you because they perhaps are doing some things that aren't right or they are friends with the boss, whatever it may be, I want you to rejoice today that the Bible teaches that we can see the shore, and because we can see the shore, we can make it. Job's first cry is a cry of reconciliation.
Oh, that I would have a mediator who could put his hand upon us both. Job's second cry is a cry for preservation. What he's saying is, oh, I want to outlast this life so that I will have an opportunity to make up in the life to come, and to find the answers in the life to come that I'm not getting in this life. There's a third cry, and that is in chapter 19, verse 25. 19, verse 25. It is really a cry for God.
It is a cry for realization, reconciliation, preservation, and now realization. Job says, oh, if only I were to see God someday. And this is surely one of the most beautiful texts that we can find anywhere in the Old Testament, and it is buried in one of Job's agonizing speeches. As you read these passages, you notice that from time to time, Job throws out those pearls in the midst of the despair, in the midst of the pain, the misunderstanding, the vacillation between good thoughts and bad thoughts. And he says in verse 25, 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, you remember Job had boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet, and so he's going through this very excruciating time of pain and itching and sores. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh, I shall see God, whom I myself shall behold and whom mine eyes shall see and not another.
My heart faints within me. Here we have the glimmer of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that my Redeemer lives. The Hebrew word is goel, G-O-E-L in English, and it means kinsman Redeemer.
It's the word that is used in the Book of Ruth, where in the Old Testament, if you wanted to redeem someone from slavery, you needed a relative to do it, someone who was related to you who would be willing to pay in your stead so that you could go free, and that was a Redeemer. And Job says here, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last, he is going to stand upon the earth. The Hebrew literally says, upon the dust.
He is going to come here to this earth. Now, I need to tell you that interpreters of the Bible are divided on how to understand the expression, from my flesh, I shall see God. The problem is that the Hebrew expression can be translated in one of two ways, and each way is permissible. One way is to say that, without my flesh, I shall see God.
That would be consistent with the construction that is here. And Job is saying, therefore, that my body is going to die, it's going to be in the grave, but even apart from my flesh, in the realm of spirit, when my soul survives the body, I shall yet see God. I shall see my Redeemer.
It's possible that that's what he meant. The other interpretation is to say that, in my flesh, I shall see God, and that means that Job is already anticipating, really, the resurrection. Job is saying, in effect, that even when I die, I'm going to be raised, and in my flesh, and you'll notice he seems to have that meaning because he says it's going to be with my eyes, I shall see God. I shall see my Redeemer, and I shall see God.
What a prediction that is made by this man who had so little revelation to go on. It's almost as if here, the Holy Spirit of God inspired him to be able to say that a day is coming when Christ, the Lord, will come as Redeemer. And may I say, just in case you might be confused about this, the reason that we anticipate Job being in heaven and us being together with him is because of the coming of Jesus Christ. Thousands of years later, Jesus Christ will come to the banks of the Jordan River and John the Baptist will say, behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world. And Jesus Christ will die on that cross, and he will make a ransom for those who have not yet been born, namely you and me. And he will gather up our sins and make a ransom for us. But he will also gather up the sins of all the Old Testament sates, Job, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, because you see, their sin needs to be permanently put away too. And without that sacrifice, there is no redemption. And so the sins of Job were also going to be laid upon Christ. And the reason that God can communicate with Job even back in these days is because Job and the Old Testament saints were saved, as it were, on credit. God says, I know that Christ is coming, and in anticipation of his coming, I will already forgive you and communicate with you.
Your mediator will come, and because he will come, I will communicate with you right now. So Job says, I know that someday my redeemer will come. And he goes on to imply that he understands that this redeemer will be God. What I'd like to do is to give you two statements as we conclude and as we try to put this in focus. First of all, I want you to notice that difficult questions in life, difficult questions always lead us to ultimate questions.
They lead us to ultimate questions. You see, Job begins the book trying to unravel the mystery of his own suffering. And by the time the book begins to progress, he begins to talk about immortality, reconciliation with God.
We noticed, first of all, reconciliation, preservation. He begins to speak about that. And then in the third instance here, realization, he says, I shall see God, and all the longings of my soul will be satisfied.
And isn't that the way it is in life? God takes us through a difficult time, and one of the purposes of that difficult time is to help us to begin to focus on eternal issues. It is sometimes said that there is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole, because when a person is in difficulty and when your life is in jeopardy, suddenly the ultimate questions begin to come to mind. And so first of all, difficult questions lead us to ultimate questions. But most importantly, and don't ever forget this, ultimate questions, ultimate questions can only be answered by Jesus Christ, by Jesus Christ. Because certainly an ultimate question is, how can we have reconciliation with God? No man, said Jesus, comes to the Father but by me.
I am the one mediator between God and man. The question of, if a man die, shall he live again? The answer of Jesus Christ, I am the resurrection, and the life is the answer to our desire for preservation.
What about realization? There's something within us that wants to see God. The Bible says in the New Testament that Jesus Christ, though God has not been seen by anyone, it says, the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, namely Christ, he has revealed him. No man has seen God at any time, but Christ revealed him. One day when Jesus was talking to his disciples and he had warned them that he was about to go away, you remember they began to question him and he said, nobody comes to the Father but by me, and Philip heard those words and he says, oh Jesus, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.
By the way, I think that there's an entire message just in that phrase. Show us the Father and we will be satisfied. I want to tell you today that there is no need in our lives ever as great as the need to see the Father, because when we see God, sin becomes horrid to us, trials cease to have their sense of disappointment, and the fulfillment of the human heart is brought to its most blessed realization in the vision of God. So Philip said, show us the Father and we'll be satisfied. And Jesus turned and made one of the most astounding statements that ever fell from his lips. He said, Philip, have I not been so long time with you and haven't you seen me? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.
Last night I was speaking to some international students, and what a wonderful ministry that is, by the way, to befriend students from various countries and various religions. And during the question period, there was a young woman who asked this question, what about the unknowability of God? We cannot know him. Years ago, when I studied philosophy, I had an entire course on the unknowability of God.
What a frustrating course. At the end of the day, he is unknowable, except for this. He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. We see what Jesus Christ did. We see what he taught. We see the blessedness of his life. And the text says, in doing that, we see God.
He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. Job said, I know that my Redeemer lives. At the latter day, he will stand upon the earth. And when Jesus was standing on the earth, the words of Job were fulfilled in a way that he could never have possibly anticipated. But of course, there is a future realization too, because even Jesus was veiled. And though he was God and people who saw him saw God, his glory was veiled.
It had to be, because no man can see God and live. There was a little manifestation of that glory. When he was on the Mount of Transfiguration, when he became suddenly ablaze with light, the glory broke out of his human form. And what a sight the disciples saw.
And someday, we are going to behold him completely in his glory. You say, well, Pastor Luther, what does this have to do with suffering? We began with the book of Job, the agony of Job.
How does this relate? Well, let us remember that the Redeemer about which Job spoke became a Redeemer because he himself suffered. Christianity is the only religion that has a wounded God. Jesus Christ became involved in our predicament.
And no matter what answer we may or may not have regarding suffering, all that we can hang on to is the recognition that God, God has been involved in our suffering. Come with me to a concentration camp, Corrie ten Boom in her book, The Hiding Place. Here are women in a concentration camp, women scarcely clothed in coldness, treated with brutality in hunger. Here are women who have been despised and misused in that awful, awful period of history. And Corrie, bless her heart, she and her sister Betsy are having a Bible study with some of the women and a woman across the way becomes angry and begins to taunt them and begin to say, is this what your God has done?
The angry woman takes the bandages from her hands and then she shows them her hands, fingers that had been broken, which were now gnarled and filled with pain. And she said, I played the first violin in a symphony and look at this, is this what your God has done? Silence. There is no answer except for Corrie ten Boom saying quietly, all that we know, all that we know is that Jesus Christ, God himself suffered for us that we might be lovingly reconciled to him.
And maybe that's about all we know in answer to such a question. God has been involved. The Redeemer has come.
He has stood upon the earth. And though after our skin worms destroy this body, yet we shall see God, not through these eyes, but with a revelation that will be unrestrained and unhindered because in a blaze of glory we shall see him finally as he is, the Bible says. Little wonder Augustine, that great theologian and philosopher who so thirsted for God said, oh Lord, it is said that no man can see thee and live. Oh God, let me die that I might see thee and be satisfied. Let me die that I might see thee and be satisfied. That is your great desire.
That is my great desire. Whether we are willing to admit it or not is to see God. I know that my Redeemer lives, said Job. And someday Job is going to join with the rest of us as we see our Redeemer. And I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders.
And the number of them was 10,000 times 10,000 and thousands of thousands saying with a loud voice, worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and glory and honor and blessing in every creature which is in heaven and under the earth. And such as are in the sea and all that are in them heard I saying, blessing, glory and honor and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne and onto the land forever and ever. And at that hour when we behold him, our sufferings will fade away. We will need no further answers for the desire of the soul will have been fully satisfied for our greatest need is always to see him. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Luther. That s a lesson, of course, that Job had to learn.
It s a lesson that we have to learn. Our greatest desire is that we might see him and be fully satisfied. I m holding in my hands a letter from a pastor in the Middle East. I want to remind you that the ministry of running to win is in four different languages including Arabic. When I look at a map and see the area that is encompassed through this ministry, my heart is so blessed. It s because of people like you that the gospel of Jesus Christ is going out in Muslim countries. This pastor says, I m serving the Lord in a Muslim country and I request your prayers. I am blessed with your encouraging resources for the church.
Now, all that is made possible because of people just like you. Some of you have perhaps never connected with the ministry of running to win. Would you consider doing that or maybe you ve been listening for a long time, maybe you even support this ministry, but you d like to become an endurance partner, someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.
Hope that you have a pencil or a pen handy. Go to RTWOffer.com. That s RTWOffer.com.
Of course, RTW offers all one word. When you re there, click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That s 1-888-218-9337. Thanks for helping us get Running to Win into the Middle East. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God s roadmap for your race of life. Tough questions must be faced. Questions like, Where was God in the Holocaust?
and Why is our economy unraveling? But there are mysteries we may never fathom. Every generation needs to learn some key lessons anew, and now it s our turn. Next time on Running to Win, some sensible words from another of Job s friends, a young man named Eli Hugh. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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