Job Speaks to God About Death

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Death

In this passage Job turns from confidence that he could win his court case against God to a complaint about life’s futility and death’s certainty. He says that life is brief and full of trouble (v. 1). There is nothing any truer than that; trouble is the common denominator of mankind. All of us have had trouble. Sickness, loneliness, disappointment and death cause Job to say that life is not fair. He states that no man is perfect, or sinless, so what harm would there be in dealing with all men less severely.

Like a flower, man is born to die. He disappears like a shadow (v. 2) or like evaporating water (v. 11). Man’s days are numbered (vv. 5-6), but does he have a future? Job’s strongest image is that of a tree (vv. 7-12). Chop it down and its stump remains, and there is always a possibility that the tree might sprout again. The tree has hope, but man has no hope. When he dies, he knows that God is going to call him, and he will answer the call. In other words God is not through with us at our death. God leaves no stump behind. Man is more like water that evaporates or soaks into the ground; it can never be recovered again ( v. 11). Job just wants to be remembered (v. 13).

Job raises an important question, “If a man die, shall he live again?” (v. l4). He says death is a release from the burdens of this life, and like an honorary discharge or a changing of the guard. Though Job anticipated that death would release him from life’s woes. Even in death Job knows that God is going to call him, and he will answer the call (v. 15). We need to remember that the Old Testament does not say much about the resurrection of the dead. This is why Job’s pessimism about death is understandable. In fact, it is remarkable that he had hope that God would hide him with the dead and bring him out again.

Application

When I must endure suffering, I have an advantage over Job. I know that the dead in Christ will rise again. My hope is based on Christ’s promise in John 14:19.

Job 14:1-15 (English Standard Version)

"Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not. And do you open your eyes on such a one and bring me into judgment with you? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one. Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass, look away from him and leave him alone, that he may enjoy, like a hired hand, his day. "For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant. But a man dies and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he? As waters fail from a lake and a river wastes away and dries up, so a man lies down and rises not again; till the heavens are no more he will not awake or be roused out of his sleep. Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come. You would call, and I would answer you; you would long for the work of your hands."

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