If a Man Die, Will He Live Again?
Job 14


If you have any notions of immortality in your present state, this passage in the book of Job has some sobering facts that state you will not experience it in this present body.

Itís interesting to note that Job is the oldest book in the Bible. It predates the writing but not the events of even Genesis, so this information has been around a long time. Itís wonderful how much Job did understand about God with no previous written revelation.

Job was a very rich man who probably lived in Ur about the same time Abraham and Isaac were living in Cannan, so weíre reading a document written about 1600 to 1800 BC - 3,600 to 3,800 years ago.

The subject is as old as the human race. Why do men have to suffer? More specifically - Why do the righteous suffer? Itís also important to remember that Job himself didnít fully understand this question until about chapter 38.

JOB 14:1-22 1: "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. 2: He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. 3: And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? 4: Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. 5: Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; 6: Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day. 7: For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. 8: Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; 9: Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. 10: But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? 11: As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: 12: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. 13: O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! 14: If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. 15: Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands. 16: For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin? 17: My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity. 18: And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place. 19: The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man. 20: Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away. 21: His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them. 22: But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn."

There are 3 very serious truths that canít be denied found in verses 1, 5, and 10.

(1.) Verse 1: "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. (2.) 5: .. his days are determined, the number of his months are with Thee, [God] thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; (3.) 10: .. man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?"

Itís recognized in any court of law that the accused has the right to know what the charges are against him. This is Job's dilemma. He has searched his heart, and he still doesnít really know what he is charged with before God.

His theology - along with that of his friends -- tells him that punishment and suffering come because of sin. But what sin? Thatís what he canít answer. And so he asks, "What have I done?" "Why is this happening to me?" Job plainly expresses this in chapter 13 where he protests the silence of God, and Godís apparent anger against him.

JOB 13:21-26: "Withdraw thine hand far from me: and let not thy dread make me afraid. 22: Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me. 23: How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin. 24: Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy? 25: Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble? 26: For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.Ē

Job appears to be arguing with God and C. S. Lewis once stated that to argue with God is to argue with the very power that makes it possible to argue at all.

Job knows that itís only by Godís mercy that he can even stand before God, so he asks that two conditions be granted him: one, that God will lift the physical pain that heís going through so that he doesnít have to speak out of the constant torment of his body; and second, that God would veil his presence so that Job wonít be terrified by the awsumness of God. This gives us a pretty good sense of the awe this man has for God, even in his time of physical torment. Through all this, Job never forsook his awareness of the character of God. He may have wondered at what God was doing, and feel that heís being mistreated in some ways, but he never shows distrust in God. He always retained that sense of Godís majesty and authority. Here he has just asked that he be delivered from fear so that he can tell God how he really feels.

First, heís helpless to control his own affairs, Verses 1-2: "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. 2: He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.Ē

We come into this world a sinner, a helpless little creature who is a victim of circumstances, and yet God judges us for things that we canít help. Verses 3-6: "And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? 4: Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. 5: Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; 6: Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day."

Job is asking, "What can man do? Iím a victim of what happened to me." This comes from Job's heart. "I can't help it that I was born into this situation and to these pressures, and these circumstances. What can I do?" This is the basis of Job's plea to God for mercy after his days on earth are done.

JOB 14:7-12: "For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. 8: Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; 9: Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. 10: But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? 11: As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: 12: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep."

These verses express man's sense of hopelessness. Even the stump of a tree that has been cut down can sprout and grow again, but there is no way a man can go back and live life over. Weíve all said it at one time or another, ďI wish I could do that over again, or live that part of my life over, at least some aspects of it. If I could go back, knowing what I know now, I know I would do it a lot different! I know I wouldnít make the same mistakes twice. Give me another chance, God, Iíve learned what I need to know." Thatís a universal feeling, and Job knows that this is impossible but itís how he sees life right now.

I think weíre dealing with a great big problem here that everyone faces. We have a distorted view of this present life, and Job expressed that here.

JOB 14:13-17: "O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! 14: If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. 15: Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands. 16: For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin? 17: My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity."

In this passage, verses 13-17, he went on to suggest an after-life in a safe place until God comes to right the world [ďHis wrath is past,Ē verse 13] and to claim him for eternity [ďremember meĒ, verse 13 and ďtill his change come,Ē verse 14]. And then he asks, in verse 14a, "If a man die, shall he live again?" Job 14:14a.

And the hope that God will provide redemption causes him to say, "all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.Ē Job 14:14b

Later on in chapter 19, Job suddenly sees a ray of hope.

JOB 19:23-27. ďOh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! 24: That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! 25: For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.Ē

These are some of the greatest words of faith to be found in the Old Testament. Itís one of the earliest mentions of the resurrection of the body that you will find in the Word of God. Slowly, through the pain and anguish heís suffered, Job began to realize that God has a purpose in this suffering and itís not without itís reward. There is an after-life for the righteous that will be spent in the presence of God. Out of this manís misery comes the realization that God was working out a great and wonderful plan where one of these days, God Himself (whom Job has never failed to see as a God of great majesty and power), would visibly appear before men in the role of a Redeemer.

God Himself will come as the Redeemer of mankind. This is a glimpse ahead by faith to the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Job calls Him My Redeemer, actually a kinsman-redeemer, One who will come in the form of a man and thus will be related to me. He will defend me and vindicate me in all that I am charged with.

What joy it will be to stand before God with God's wrath already past. Job is trying to express the inarticulate longings of the human heart to be freed from guilt -- even guilt that you donít always feel you can help - but that there is a condition that would somehow set you free. Job knew that condition all those years ago, itís called faith -- believing God.

In verse 17, Job says, ďYou have my sins sealed up and my iniquities sewed up in a bag. I plead guilty as charged.Ē

Chapter 14 closes with a vivid description of the hopelessness of man trying to become righteous in himself.

JOB 14:18-22: "And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place. 19: The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man. 20: Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away. 21: His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them. 22: But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn."

Here is an expression of what is wrong with our view of life. Job is looking at life as a natural man, and he sees it as the world sees it, wanting to be someone important and to see his children accomplish great things. [Verse 17]

Doing things to promote ourselves rather than to honor the Lord is not the reason we were brought into existence. We are here to bring honor to the Lord before we bring honor to ourselves out of this present experience.

Weíre constantly warned that "You only go around once!" Weíre bombarded by the world with its distorted understanding of life. "Seize the moment -- itíll never come around again!"

Weíre told that if there is any pleasure and enjoyment left in this life, we better grab it now.

Thatís not the right view of life, and that is not what God is teaching Job in this book. This isnít why human existence is given to us. This life is the preparation time for the real life that lies ahead for the believer. Where do we get the idea that everything is for right now?

I think this is why we get upset with ourselves and with life at times. We feel like life has been put together backwards. You have to make all the major decisions right at the time when you know practically nothing. You feel like the tour guide went home early.

Every now and then I talk to someone who is going through a struggle and they asks the same question Job asks, "Why me?" The answer I try to give and the answer given most often in Scripture is that God sent that trial to wean us from our dependence on people and to get us to put our dependence on God himself. God has to separate us from these human supports in order to teach us that He is able to sustain us. Job is gradually coming to understand that God, and God alone, wants his total trust.

Life is basically a mystery. We canít comprehend it all; itís too involved for us to grasp it all. The ways of God are beyond us and unless we accept His leading, weíre bound to fail. Job is gradually learning through pain to trust God, that Heís working out a purpose in line with His love. Thatís what the Christian life teaches.

Elizabeth Elliot briefly described her first widowhood at a seminar this way. Her husband was killed along with four companions in the jungles of Ecuador at the hands of savages. She spent 13 years as a widow, and then she married a man with whom she was very happy for just a few more years. Then he died, taken by cancer. She said, "I have spent six-sevenths of my life single, though I have been married twice. I did not choose the gift of widowhood, but I accepted it as the sphere I am to live in to the glory of God."

Thatís what Job is gradually learning. God is working out a purpose. Itís not related to any specific sin, but weíll see that Job learned much more about the depravity of his own nature through this.

Some time ago I ran across these words by an unknown poet that I think wraps up the lesson of the book of Job to this point:

When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man, And skill a man;
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part,
When he yearns with all his heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch his methods, watch his ways-
How he ruthlessly perfects
Whom he royally protects.
How he hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows, converts him
Into trial shapes of clay
Which only God understands,
While his tortured heart is crying,
And he lifts beseeching hands.
How he bends but never breaks
When his good he undertakes.
How he uses whom he chooses,
And with every purpose, fuses him,
By every act, induces him
To try his splendor out.
God knows what he's about.

We all go through varying degrees of trials and tribulations and suffering. No doubt some of us are doing so right now or there would be little need for a prayer meeting.

Some of you may be going through pain, suffering, disappointment and anguish that others know nothing about, and you may be crying out, just like Job did, wondering "Why? What have I done? Where does it all fit together?"

The answer to us (as it is in all of Scripture), "God knows what Heís doing.Ē He knows what heís doing with you.

Life is basically a mystery that is painted on a canvas too big and too involved for us to grasp. The ways of God are beyond us. Trust Him. Heíll come up with answers. Heís working out a purpose in line with His love for us.

Thatís what life gradually teaches us when Heís in control of our life.

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