A REMINDER OF DEATH
Ever-listening Father, speak to me clearly from your Word as I draw near to you today.
Read JOB 14
“Mortals, born of woman,
are of few days and full of trouble.
2 They spring up like flowers and wither away;
like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.
3 Do you fix your eye on them?
Will you bring them[a] before you for judgment?
4 Who can bring what is pure from the impure?
5 A person’s days are determined;
you have decreed the number of his months
and have set limits he cannot exceed.
6 So look away from him and let him alone,
till he has put in his time like a hired laborer.
7 “At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
8 Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.
10 But a man dies and is laid low;
he breathes his last and is no more.
11 As the water of a lake dries up
or a riverbed becomes parched and dry,
12 so he lies down and does not rise;
till the heavens are no more, people will not awake
or be roused from their sleep.
13 “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!
14 If someone dies, will they live again?
All the days of my hard service
I will wait for my renewal[b] to come.
15 You will call and I will answer you;
you will long for the creature your hands have made.
16 Surely then you will count my steps
but not keep track of my sin.
17 My offenses will be sealed up in a bag;
you will cover over my sin.
18 “But as a mountain erodes and crumbles
and as a rock is moved from its place,
19 as water wears away stones
and torrents wash away the soil,
so you destroy a person’s hope.
20 You overpower them once for all, and they are gone;
you change their countenance and send them away.
21 If their children are honored, they do not know it;
if their offspring are brought low, they do not see it.
22 They feel but the pain of their own bodies
and mourn only for themselves.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectNo resurrection? Then we are ‘a pretty sorry lot’ (1 Corinthians 15:19, The Message). Give joyful thanks that Christ has indeed been raised.
One of the better-known paintings in London’s National Gallery is Holbein’s ‘The Ambassadors’.* One reason for its fame is that standing at an angle to the painting you can clearly see a skull at the feet of the two ambassadors. It’s a reminder that, for all the splendor, wealth and power of the pair, they too will die! And as the writer to Ecclesiastes reminds us, this can all feel ‘meaningless’ (Ecclesiastes 2:11,17–26). For Job, his emotional, physical and spiritual agony leave him in similar despair. If life is so fleeting, imperfect, and limited (vs 2,4,5), why can’t God just leave us alone (v 6)? Even trees are better off (vs 7–10). Sometimes life overwhelms us, and we blurt out things that are less than balanced. This is ‘the language of feeling… of what it is like to be out of harmony with God’,** and questioning why.
Job has only the vaguest notion of the resurrection of the body, our great hope as those who stand this side of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Job’s cries of ‘if’ (vs 13,14) display an intensity of longing that can only finally be answered in our Lord.
Does knowing Jesus mean we never feel the weight of Job’s anguish or the intensity of his feeling? We do, and God understands that. When our faith conflicts with our present reality, what do we do?
Risen Lord Jesus, all thanks to you for the light and gladness you bring into my life. Your resurrection changes everything.
**DJ Clines, Job: New Bible Commentary 21st Century Edition, IVP, 1994
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