“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25–27).
IF ANYONE EVER HAD REASON TO DESPAIR, IT WAS JOB. But he did not despair. In the midnight blackness and horror of his ordeal he hung on to the confidence that he had a Redeemer, a Vindicator. “This I know,” he said, “that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold.” This hope was more than a bare fact to him; it was a truth he passionately embraced. Just thinking of the life that awaited him in God stirred him with love and longing. “How my heart yearns within me!”
Job’s hope was also David’s, who prayed, “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness” (Psalm 17:15). Neither Job nor David believed that death would interrupt or end the communion with God which they had begun in this life. And notice that the life Job and David looked forward to was not a mere merging of their personal identity into some vast, impersonal oneness of cosmic “being.” It was a real life — an actual life in the presence of a personal God who could be known and enjoyed as only personal beings can be.
Even now, we recognize that life is at its best when we share it deeply with personal beings, beings who correspond to our likeness. So imagine life with the God in whose image we were made! That would be real life. And that is what is meant by “eternal life” (Titus 1:2; etc.). We can enjoy a foretaste of it, or a down payment on it, right now if we obey the gospel and live faithfully in Christ, but the full experience of it is waiting for us in heaven.
In our hearts, we know that death won’t be the end of us. We know that a greater life awaits us if we die in a right relationship with God, and we know also that a lesser life — a living death — awaits us if we die outside of the gospel. So let us resolve to spend our days seeking Him and His forgiveness, on whatever terms He stipulates, so that when this life slips away from us, as it surely will, the thing that will be waiting for us is real life — life indeed.
Is this the end? I know it cannot be,
Our ships shall sail upon another sea;
New islands yet shall break upon our sight,
New continents of love and truth and might.
(John White Chadwick)