HOPE FOR A FELLED TREE
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.
‘Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.’1 Thank you, heavenly Father, for my security in Christ.
Job’s words expose his pain. His body is being devoured ‘like a garment eaten by moths.’2 This is the context for the poem (vs 2–6) in which he wonders why God bothers with mankind at all. Yet, as he affirms, his days are determined by the Lord and his life is being lived within God-appointed limits (v 5). Through many years of chronic illness, I struggled at times to recall the sovereignty of God too, but when I did so it brought great comfort. For the God who is in sovereign charge is also perfect in love and infinite in wisdom.3 When we know that God has a plan for our lives, we can commit to him not only the ultimate outcome, as Job does (vs 13,14), but also the intervening circumstances that will bring us to that place.
Job is a grim realist about death and, in these verses, seemingly devoid of hope. That only fully comes in Christ. For Job, death was ‘something dark and obscure, not yet revealed in the orthodox doctrines of his day’.4 Resurrection does not really appear clearly in Scripture till the time of Daniel,5 but this is one of many early signs of hope. Understanding this correctly, we grasp the sheer boldness and originality of Job’s proposed solution to the dark riddle of death in verse 14. He does not ignore the stark realities of death but proclaims faith in ultimate victory, ‘I will wait for my renewal to come’ (v 14). He foreshadows New Testament faith in which we are called to wait eagerly for the redemption of our bodies.6 Waiting in pain was not easy for Job, however, and it may not be for you. Hold on to the truth of eternal life today and thank God that there is hope beyond the grave.
Consider Jesus’ words: ‘a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.’7
Risen Lord Jesus, all thanks to you for the light and gladness you bring into my life. Your resurrection changes everything.
1 Ps 16:5 2 Job 13:28 3 Ps 36:5–7 4 Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, Crossway Books, 1994, p161 5 Dan 12:2,3 6 Rom 8:23 7 John 5:25
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.