Job Chapter Fourteen

 

            Job turns now from speaking to his friends, it doesn’t seem to be doing any good, and speaks rather to God and himself.

 

Read Job 14:1-6

 

v1-2.   “MAN that is BORN OF A WOMAN is OF FEW DAYS, AND FULL OF TROUBLE.  HE COMETH FORTH LIKE A FLOWER, AND IS CUT DOWN: HE FLEETH ALSO AS A SHADOW, AND CONTINUETH NOT.”

 

            Life is short, and when most of us can look back over the several decades of time that we’ve been privileged to live it seems all that much shorter.  Our days are few.  Our time here on this earth doesn’t even begin to compare to eternity.  Job here compares the span of our lives to that of a flower or a shadow.  In a passage we are most all familiar with James says of the rich man:

 

James 1:10-11  BUT THE RICH, IN THAT HE IS MADE LOW: BECAUSE AS THE FLOWER OF THE GRASS HE SHALL PASS AWAY.  FOR THE SUN IS NO SOONER RISEN WITH A BURNING HEAT, BUT IT WITHERETH THE GRASS, AND THE FLOWER THEREOF FALLETH, AND THE GRACE OF THE FASHION OF IT PERISHETH: SO ALSO SHALL THE RICH MAN FADE AWAY IN HIS WAYS.”

 

And we might add the poor will do so as well.  In addition man’s life is indeed full of trouble.  It would seem some times that no day passes without some thing vexing our souls, some hurry, some disorder, some trouble arising or some worry that we’re concerned about.

 

v3.  “AND DOST THOU OPEN THINE EYES UPON SUCH AN ONE, AND BRINGEST ME INTO JUDGMENT WITH THEE?”

 

            And God since this is true; why would you spend your valuable time on such a one as me?  Why would you even give me a second look?  And why would you bother to take time to bring judgment on such a one.  This is much as David asked:

 

Psalms 8:4  WHAT IS MAN, THAT THOU ART MINDFUL OF HIM? AND THE SON OF MAN, THAT THOU VISITEST HIM?”

 

v4.  “WHO CAN BRING A CLEAN thing OUT OF AN UNCLEAN? NOT ONE.”

 

            Here we have to be careful of our commentaries and research works when we study because Matthew Henry, among others, starts to bring in at this point in his work the teachings of John Calvin.  He teaches that we are born sinners, unclean, sinners by nature.  But is contrary to scripture because God tells us in scores of places such as Genesis 8:21, Matthew 18:3, Matthew 19:14, I Corinthians 14:20, and others just the opposite of Calvin’s doctrine.

 

v5.  “SEEING HIS DAYS are DETERMINED, THE NUMBER OF HIS MONTHS are WITH THEE, THOU HAST APPOINTED HIS BOUNDS THAT HE CANNOT PASS;”

 

            Yes, God determines the days of man.  He determines the length or shortness of life on this earth.  Daniel told Belshazzar as part of the interpretation of the handwriting on the wall:

 

Daniel 5:26  THIS is THE INTERPRETATION OF THE THING: MENE; GOD HATH NUMBERED THY KINGDOM, AND FINISHED IT.”

 

He knows the number of days that he will continue to let this earth stand in its wickedness.  And he as appointed or determined the bounds that we cannot and will not pass.  Mankind in general doesn’t believe that do they?  They would scorn Paul just as the Athenians did when he said:

 

Acts 17:26  AND HATH MADE OF ONE BLOOD ALL NATIONS OF MEN FOR TO DWELL ON ALL THE FACE OF THE EARTH, AND HATH DETERMINED THE TIMES BEFORE APPOINTED, AND THE BOUNDS OF THEIR HABITATION;”

 

v6.  “TURN FROM HIM, THAT HE MAY REST, TILL HE SHALL ACCOMPLISH, AS AN HIRELING, HIS DAY.”

 

            Turn from man, turn from me, let me rest.  I’m willing to work and labor as the hireling and welcome that kind of trial, trouble and toil but take away these uncommon afflictions that I have.

 

Read Job 14:7-15

 

v7-9.  “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. THOUGH THE ROOT THEREOF WAX OLD IN THE EARTH, AND THE STOCK THEREOF DIE IN THE GROUND; yet THROUGH THE SCENT OF WATER IT WILL BUD, AND BRING FORTH BOUGHS LIKE A PLANT.”

 

            For even a tree when it is cut down is allowed to sprout again.  The tender branch will not cease but it will grow again.  Even it the roots are old and the trunk should die in the ground yet a little water will grow it back again.  But such is not true of man.

 

v10.  “BUT MAN DIETH, AND WASTETH AWAY: YEA, MAN GIVETH UP THE GHOST, AND WHERE is HE?”

 

            Man is a dying creature.  From the day that he is born his days are numbered.  From the vigor of youth he is continually wasting away, dying daily, spending and unable to recall the shekels of time that God gives us.  Before too many years sickness or old age takes away the strength of our flesh and our lives end in death.  We give up the ghost, the soul which God has given our body leaves, returns to him.  Then Job asks, where it he?  He’s not here any more, he cannot be seen any more, where is he?

 

v11-12.  As THE WATERS FAIL FROM THE SEA, AND THE FLOOD DECAYETH AND DRIETH UP: SO MAN LIETH DOWN, AND RISETH NOT: TILL THE HEAVENS be NO MORE, THEY SHALL NOT AWAKE, NOR BE RAISED OUT OF THEIR SLEEP.”

 

            Just as the waters of sea fail and the floods dry up so our end will be.  Every night we lie down to sleep, and in the morning we wake again but at death we sleep the sleep of the dead and will not know life on this earth again.

 

v13.  “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!”

 

            So Job pleads with God, hide me in the grave, put me in the secret place where all souls go until your wrath is spent and past.  As Isaiah begged Judah when the days of her destruction were coming:

 

Isaiah 26:20  COME, MY PEOPLE, ENTER THOU INTO THY CHAMBERS, AND SHUT THY DOORS ABOUT THEE: HIDE THYSELF AS IT WERE FOR A LITTLE MOMENT, UNTIL THE INDIGNATION BE OVERPAST.”

 

v14.  “IF A MAN DIE, SHALL HE LIVE again? ALL THE DAYS OF MY APPOINTED TIME WILL I WAIT, TILL MY CHANGE COME.”

 

            If a man die will he live again?  Job says God I will gladly go and patiently wait my appointed time, till my change come.  Death is a serious business.  It is indeed a change, our bodies change, life as we know it in the flesh ends but the soul is immortal and continues in a place hidden and then it also is changed.  In the twinkling of an eye:

 

I Corinthians 15:52-53  IN A MOMENT, IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE, AT THE LAST TRUMP: FOR THE TRUMPET SHALL SOUND, AND THE DEAD SHALL BE RAISED INCORRUPTIBLE, AND WE SHALL BE CHANGED. FOR THIS CORRUPTIBLE MUST PUT ON INCORRUPTION, AND THIS MORTAL must PUT ON IMMORTALITY.”

 

So what should our reaction be?  So what can we do about the shortness of our time and days here?  We must expect death to come and plan for it.  We may even desire it to come as Paul did and as those who long to be with Christ.  We must be willing to patiently wait until it comes, believing that the time that God, through his providence has appointed is best.  We must diligently get ourselves ready for death to come so that the change that we go through when the day of resurrection comes will be a blessing to us and not a curse.

 

v15  THOU SHALT CALL, AND I WILL ANSWER THEE: THOU WILT HAVE A DESIRE TO THE WORK OF THINE HANDS.”

 

            And there is a joy and satisfaction in this approach to inevitable death.  It brings us a peace of mind.  It stays our fears knowing that we are the Lord’s and he is ours.  Then we can truly say along with Job: call me Lord, I’ll answer you, give me a place to be, give me a job to do in your kingdom to come.

 

Psalms 138:7-8  THOUGH I WALK IN THE MIDST OF TROUBLE, THOU WILT REVIVE ME: THOU SHALT STRETCH FORTH THINE HAND AGAINST THE WRATH OF MINE ENEMIES, AND THY RIGHT HAND SHALL SAVE ME.  THE LORD WILL PERFECT that which CONCERNETH ME: THY MERCY, O LORD, endureth FOR EVER: FORSAKE NOT THE WORKS OF THINE OWN HANDS.”

 

Read Job 14:16-22

 

v16-17.  “FOR NOW THOU NUMBEREST MY STEPS: DOST THOU NOT WATCH OVER MY SIN? MY TRANSGRESSION IS SEALED UP IN A BAG, AND THOU SEWEST UP MINE INIQUITY.”

 

            Now Job returns somewhat to his previous complaints as he finds it hard as we would to push his afflictions from his mind.  God, you know the number of my very footsteps, you watch over my sin, my transgressions are sealed up as in a bag, sewed up and waiting for judgment.  In Israel of old the indictments against a prisoner were sewn or sealed up in a bag to be kept safely until the time of his trial.  Perhaps that is were we get our terminology today when we say that a grand jury seals an indictment against someone.

 

v18.  “AND SURELY THE MOUNTAIN FALLING COMETH TO NOUGHT, AND THE ROCK IS REMOVED OUT OF HIS PLACE.”

 

            Nothing stays the same forever.  Even the mountains wear down, fall and come to naught as the weather beats against them.  Time and temperature freezing and thawing breaks up even the rocks and they are moved out of their place.  We don’t have this in Louisiana but in some places in the Ozark Mountains and all over New England in this country we can see the rock fences along the side of the fields.  They didn’t get there by accident.  Most of them were created as men plowed the ground and removed the rocks that the freeze and thaw would move upward to the surface of the ground each winter.

 

v19.  “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.”

 

            Water wears the stone out in the creek and river beds cutting ever deeper into the rock, especially if it’s a little soft.  Floods wipe away trees and crops and things that grow out of the ground and many times destroy the hope of man for certain things as well.  This is all part of the providence of God, placed here in what man in his ignorance of the ways of God call nature.

 

v20.  “THOU PREVAILEST FOR EVER AGAINST HIM, AND HE PASSETH: THOU CHANGEST HIS COUNTENANCE, AND SENDEST HIM AWAY.”

 

            We should not marvel then that we see the decay of man upon the earth, for he is of the earth and earthly.  God sometimes puts an end to all the projects and plans that man has and the satisfactions that he has pleased himself with by removing us from here in death.  But as we mentioned earlier our hope in Christ, God’s promise of a heavenly home gives us a hope that death will only consummate, not destroy.

 

v21.  “HIS SONS COME TO HONOUR, AND HE KNOWETH it NOT; AND THEY ARE BROUGHT LOW, BUT HE PERCEIVETH it NOT OF THEM.”

 

            In death we will be little concerned about the affairs of this life.  If struck by a palsy or apoplexy, or delirium brought by a fever, or in conflict with death someone could tell us even the most wonderful news and we may not know or acknowledge what is being said.  We may not understand or even perceive that anyone is talking to us.

 

v22.  “BUT HIS FLESH UPON HIM SHALL HAVE PAIN, AND HIS SOUL WITHIN HIM SHALL MOURN.”

 

            Dying can be hard work, dying can also be painful.  All the more reason to store up true wisdom by making our peace with God through Christ and keeping a good conscience to treasure up comforts which will support and relieve us against the pains and sorrows of dying.