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The Renewal of All Things

The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. Job 42.12-13.

To what extent did the Lord bless the latter part of Job’s life more than the first? I went back to the beginning to find out … “Job had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys” (Job 1.2-3). So Job ended up with double the number of sheep, camels, oxen and donkeys — but only the same number of sons and daughters, even though he had lost his original seven sons and three daughters along with all his livestock. That’s odd!

Or is it? Job is a man who hopes for the resurrection of the dead. “If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me! If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come” (Job 14.13-14). “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27). And it seems to me that in the blessings with which God blesses Job at the end, he has the assurance of the resurrection for which he looked. God doesn’t double the number of Job’s sons and daughters now in the way he has doubled everything else that Job lost. No … because in the resurrection, Job’s original sons of daughters will be restored to him so that then he will have double the sons and daughters as well!

Thinking about these verses, I am taken to something Jesus says in Matthew’s gospel: “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19.28-29).

The renewal of all things. The word is palingenesia in Greek … regeneration. It encapsulates the authentic Christian hope of a new earth brought to birth from this old one upon which I, after an interval of “being with Christ”, will walk in my resurrection body … “life after life-after-death,” as Tom Wright frequently calls it.  And in the new conjoined heaven and earth, all that was lost and foregone for the sake of Christ will be restored too, just like Job’s seven lost sons and three lost daughters, for, in the words of Thomas Aquinas, “God is no man’s debtor.”

Lord Jesus, keep alive in me this day the sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

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