I know that my redeemer lives
To inaugurate what may be the last real Christmas Break of my life I headed up with some friends to Mammoth Mountain for a weekend of snowboarding. Mammoth is high in the Sierra Nevada in central California and is the most impressive ski resort I've ever seen. We got a good deal on a slopeside condo and our plan was to snowboard all day Saturday and Sunday. Four-and-a-half hours north of Loma Linda we drove into heavily falling snow in Mammoth Lakes, California as we arrived at the condo. The next morning we arose early to be the first on the lift to snowboard down untracked powder. The chest-deep powder was a challenge that morning but as the runs became more tracked-out and I adapted to the powder the day turned into an excellent day of snowboarding. The snow did not quit falling that day and fell all night Saturday night. When we headed up the slopes again Sunday morning we found that only two of the twenty-eight lifts were open because of wind and snow. It turns out that the storm we weathered in Mammoth has been part of the snowiest December ever recorded there (since record-keeping was started in 1969.) Between Friday and Sunday when we left the storm dumped 6 to 10 feet of snow.
I forgot my camera but snapped a few photos on the way out of town with my iPhone:
Digging one of our cars out of the snow.
After a full day of snowboarding Saturday we gathered, a group of 10, for a time of devotion, focusing on Old Testament prophecies concerning the incarnation, life and atoning death of Jesus Christ. We also read the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke. Some of the prophecies we read and meditated on were very familiar to me such as that from Genesis 3:15, ". . . he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel," and those from Isaiah and Micah. But I had not realized that the Book of Job also contains some words which seem to be Messianic in character. And certainly commentators such as Wesley and Matthew Henry saw some of these words as directly prophetic concerning Christ. It was Job 9:32-35 which especially affected me. In this section Job expresses his desire for an Arbiter between him and the holy and seemingly unapproachable God of the universe. As Job expresses his desire he says, "There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both (9:33)." Job confesses his need for an Arbiter between himself and God, the need of every sinner. But Job does not stop here. In 16:19 he confesses his hope that he does indeed have a "witness" in heaven, "Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high." In this verse Job seems to fit with the Old Testament saints mentioned in Hebrews 11 where the author of that book writes, "These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth (11:13)." Therefore, from afar, Job sees and greets the One who is his Arbiter and Witness in Heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the "one mediator between God and men (1 Tim 2:5)." Later, in a statement that in my opinion points to Christ's incarnation and Job's eventual resurrection, (although the text note in my ESV Study Bible doesn't jump to that conclusion as it says, "Because of Job's earlier laments and the difficulty of the Hebrew in v. 26, interpreters have questioned the likelihood that Job is expressing in these verses a belief that God will redeem him after death."), Job wonderfully proclaims, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another (Job 19:25-27a)." Job knew that he would, in the flesh, see his Redeemer, the One who said, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9b)."
Job's desire for an Arbiter between himself and God, one who could, "lay his hand on us both," reminded me of something I had just read from St. Irenaeus last week. He wrote, concerning Christ:
[In this way] He attached and united man to God. Had man not vanquished the enemy of man, the enemy would not have been justly vanquished. On the other hand, had it not been God who granted salvation, we could never have possessed it securely. And if man had not been united to God, he could never have become a partaker of incorruptibility. It required the Mediator of God and men, through His kinship with both, to bring back both to friendship and concord, presenting man to God, revealing God to man.
During Advent as we prepare to celebrate the Incarnation of our Lord and also look forward to His glorious Parousia, it is good to be reminded of the necessity of God the Son becoming fully and truly man to redeem sinners. Christ's Incarnation was not some arbitrary choice of God in determining how He would save sinners but it was necessary and the only fitting manner in which God would accomplish His sovereign purpose.
When I arrived back in Loma Linda I opened my copy of Pascal's Pensées, which I had recently purchased and came across a quote which fit very well with our recent devotional time focusing on the prophecies concerning Christ. Pascal wrote:
If a single man had written a book foretelling the time and manner of Jesus' coming and Jesus had come in comformity with these prophecies, this would carry infinite weight.
But there is much more here. There is a succession of men over a period of 4,000 years, coming consistently and invariably one after the other, to foretell the same coming; there is an entire people proclaiming it, existing for 4,000 years to testify in a body to the certainty they feel about it, from which they cannot be deflected by whatever threats and persecutions they may suffer. This is of a quite different order of importance.