When I look at the national leaders who are going into regions of the world who have never heard the name of Jesus before, I see their passion for Christ as being the soul of this bold calling for their life, an interior thrust to serve without reservations, and always the fresh source of an indestructible hope.
Today, we can celebrate our Church because of those who have shown an example of heroic witness to the faith, who have known persecution, which in turn unites all Christians in their places of suffering and making our shared sacrifice a sign of hope for times still to come.
“The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the believers of Gentile origin in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that certain persons who have gone out from us, though with no instructions from us, have said things to disturb you and have unsettled your minds, we have decided unanimously to choose representatives and send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” – Acts 15:23-29
Amazing to find the Trinity here in Job. The Holy Spirit has moved on the mind of Job and he as declared a good confession, soundness of his faith and assurance of his hope. Somehow he knows that Jesus is his Redeemer and that his end hope is not in this world but in heaven. Somehow he knows that he is supposed to look for the resurrection and that his Redeemer would free him from the condemnation of sin and break the power and yoke of Satan. His Redeemer was his salvation. This truth, this Holy Spirit quickening must be the root, as in a tree, in our heart too. For this acceptance of grace in our heart will give us both the security and strength in our foundation as well as produce spiritual fruit in our lives as we live them today. Here he introduces God as his comfort and that God will avenge those who accuse him.
I can still remember the moment when I learned that love was a decision. I am faced with a similar truth here too. I am impressed with Job’s certainty. This was a hope that he knew, and so in some way this was more than a hope but hope sprung from the truth that he declared about his Redeemer.
Other scholars are confident that Job anticipates the future resurrection of his body. Gleason Archer believes this passage “strongly suggests an awareness of the bodily resurrection that awaits all redeemed believers in the Resurrection” (1982, 241). Kaiser asserts: “Job was expecting a resurrection of his body! It was this which lay at the heart of his hope in God and in his vindication” (1988, 151). Andersen observes that: “The references to skin, flesh and eyes make it clear that Job expects to have this experience as a man, not just as a disembodied shade, or in his mind’s eye” (1974, 193).
In any case Job’s hope is in his present life, and in his vindication before God and man. This is not a messianic prophecy or expression of a messianic hope.
Job seems to perceive that the Redeemer who will advocate his case before God is none other than God Himself. It is hard to make sense of that except by the way we Christians know with God the Son as Redeemer standing before God the Holy Father as Judge. Job somehow—I suggest by the Holy Spirit—knows that his Redeemer lives and will advocate on his behalf, and that Job himself will see it in renewed flesh. That gives him hope—not mere wishful thinking but well-founded conviction, a knowing—of eventual vindication in eternal life.
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God – Job 19:25-26
Aria(soprano): I know that my Redeemer liveth
The power of hope is rarely found in us. It is something that comes from our love and faith in someone else. As with love and faith, it is assured because of experience in the past and a presence that is real right now.
So I am in a desert with 5,000 men, possibly 2,000 women and possibly 500 children. I want to see them fed, physically, after spending a day with them. Those who had brought food had already eaten it. There is at least one child who was playing so much with the other kids that he had still not eaten his lunch. What is the hope that I experience when Jesus asks my team to feed them? Unfortunately, Jesus, we are in a hopeless situation – this is not going to happen, unless you can do something with five loaves of bread and two fish?
This is it – this is the phrase that changes our lives – these are the words that matter, that are transformational, and these are the words that infuse hope into our hopeless world — “bring them here to me.”
I am afraid that if I write anymore I might possibly give us an excuse that this does not apply to you or I. It applies to everyone.
When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. – Matthew 14:14-21
I look at events that have attracted large crowds to them and I try to see if the people are there for the speaker, or the singer or for the entertainment or for something to do just to have fun.
It would not surprise me if all of these were reasons at some point or another. But to consistently be at a seminar where the Kingdom of God was the only discussion, it would seem that you would need quite the motivational speaker.
Our world has seen its share of them, whether we have seen them on TV or in our mega church scenario or even our evangelists who have engaged with audiences all over the world.
The one thing that draws all of us to them – whether they are good or bad – is that they have the ability to tap into our mainstream need to hope. That need to hope for another day, to get through the day, to make the day seem not so dark is a need that many keep looking for without be satisfied that they have received it.
What seems worse is that even our best evangelist – and let’s say that is Billy Graham – only 3% of those who make a commitment to follow Jesus actually remain faithful to that commitment.
It seems that hope is fleeting, does not have anchors, the lottery ticket concept of hope causes us to keep trying other things.
So when the crowds gather around Jesus, He tells them straight out, as much as His message is designed to bring them to God, He knows that many of them will not be able to come as they will fall away. But for those who are ready to follow, their lives will exponentially explode as God works in their life. Their hopes of a life changed will be realized.
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach – Matthew 13:1-2