Stand up, Anastasia!

The young visitor told me her name was Anastasia. ‘That’s beautiful,’ I remarked, ‘and unusual; a big name for a little girl.’ Daddy reminded me, ‘It means resurrection.’

That was years ago, prompting me to examine the Greek term anastasis more closely. It is formed from two words meaning up (ana) and ‘to cause to stand’. And, as everyone knows, the preferred posture of dead bodies is lying down!

Just the other day when Job 19:25 – made famous by George Frederick Handel in his oratorio The Messiah – popped into my mind:

‘I know that my redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth, 

I wondered if the verb stand was related to Anastasia. Opening my Greek Old Testament (The Septuagint), there she stood – anastesai! The Hebrew text agrees: ‘he shall rise.’

Job briefly reaches the peak of his faith in Job 19:23-29 amidst his outpourings of complaint against his recent overwhelming mass of underserved and misunderstood traumas (see chapters Job 1-2).

What we can learn from Job 19:23-29? 

[] Job cries ‘Oh!’ (verse Job 19:23). He has had enough haggling with his three friends.

[] He longs that, after his probably imminent death, his many pleas for justice will be inscribed in a book for others to examine, exonerating him from their blame game. The whole story is published in these forty-two chapters. Wish granted!

[] He wants all this recorded because he knows that even after his demise (verse Job 19:26a) his kinsman-redeemer still lives and will eventually be raised up to ‘stand upon the dust – not ‘the earth’ (this is not the word for ‘land’ or the planet). Job has already used this term ‘dust’ several times (eg. Job 10:9; 17:16; see also Job 4:19; 20:11; 21:26; 34:15). He clearly has in mind what God had said to rebellious Adam: ‘you are dust, and to dust you shall return’ (Genesis 3:19). And when Paul wrote about humanity’s need of resurrection, being descendants of ‘the man of dust’ (1 Corinthians 15:47-49 English Standard Version), he used a unique Greek noun choikos, not earth-ly but earth-y, ‘of the soil’!

[] So here Job speaks by God’s inspiration way beyond his natural understanding and goes on to say: ‘yet [even in death] without my flesh I shall see God’ (verse Job 19:26b, margin). No wonder he gasps: ‘My heart faints within me!’ (verse Job 19:27c).

[] In verses Job 19:28-29 Job warns his argumentative friends of the judgment day when the Redeemer [his ‘family guardian’; see Ruth 4:1 New International Version] stands ‘at last’ on their dust; then their unfounded criticisms will be assessed. Actually, God’s judgement of them came a lot sooner! (Job 42:7-9).

[] We, like Handel, know that Jesus is the fulfilment of Job’s outburst of faith (‘I am the resurrection and the life’, John 11:25) who will at his return trample the dust of our last enemy’ (death) under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:26-27). Meanwhile, should Satan assault you, exert this faith with ‘the steadfastness of Job’ (see James 5:7a, 11).

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