In this chapter, Job spoke about the condition of man; and in this part of his discourse, he addressed himself also to God. Every child of Adam’s fallen race is short-lived. All human beauty, happiness, and splendor falls before the stroke of sickness or death, just like grass before a scythe. How is it possible for a human being’s conduct to be sinless, when his heart is unclean by nature? What a striking enquiry! Who can bring forth anything clean from such a polluted creature as man? But Jesus, and Jesus alone, can do so! Every poor, polluted sinner who is washed in His blood will indeed come forth clean; the darkest creature in corruption may still be made whiter than snow. Job seems to have intended these words as a plea for the Lord to not deal with him according to his own works, but according to His mercy and grace.
The Lord has counseled and decreed how long we shall live. Our times are in His hands; in Him, we live and move. And it is very profitable for us to reflect seriously upon the shortness and uncertainty of human life, and the fading nature of all earthly enjoyments. But it is even more important to consider the cause and remedy of these evils, which is our own sin. Until we are born anew by the Holy Spirit, no spiritually good thing dwells in us. Therefore, we should humble ourselves before the Lord and cast ourselves entirely upon His mercy. We must daily seek the renewing of the Holy Spirit, and look forward to heaven as the only place of perfect holiness and happiness.
A tree may be cut down; and yet in moist situations, shoots come forth and grow up again as a newly planted tree! But from this, Job drew a contrast. When a human being is cut off by death, he is forever removed from his place in this world. The life of man may very properly be compared to the waters of a flood; they spread far, but they soon dry up. But can it be supposed that man, when he drops into the grave, has no hope of any life afterwards? Job rose to higher thoughts when he added a prayer to God (verse 13) that he might be hid until the indignation was past. “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come,” he said (verse 14). And then he declared that when the Lord would call him, he would answer. All of Job’s expressions here showed his belief in the great doctrine of the resurrection! His friends proved to be miserable comforters, but he pleased himself with the expectation of a change at last! If our sins are forgiven, and our hearts are renewed to holiness; then heaven will be the rest of our souls, while our bodies are hidden in the grave. There they will be veiled from the malice of our enemies, and they will feel no more pain from our corruptions or our corrections.
The man of Uz clearly displayed his belief in the resurrection, but how far short do his thoughts fall of what believers in Jesus now understand! Our precious Savior has brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel. It is a blessing to read what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church of the Thessalonians, in order to animate their minds on this important subject. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.)
Let us pause and ask ourselves whether we ever fix our minds upon the resurrection. We know the joyful truth that Jesus died and rose again, and that death could not retain Him in the tomb! If that had been the case, what black despair must have seized our hearts! And shall we neglect this important article of our faith, which smooths the rugged bed of death – making it, to us, only a dark door which opens upon a bright and tearless world? Be assured that Satan rejoices at every instance in which we turn aside from this thought; for it is by this doctrine, and the glory that shall follow it, that the Christian’s foundation and hope are bound together!
Job’s faith and hope spoke, and grace appeared to revive; but his depravity soon manifested itself again, beginning in verse 16. The poor man seems to have sometimes had his whole soul warmed with the subject of Divine love, but then he lost sight of it to his own sorrows again – perhaps because some new pain or distress of mind broke out afresh. He was like a captive awaking from sleep – whose refreshment, during that state of nature’s forgetfulness, has been sweet; but he finds himself still in prison. After dwelling upon the Lord’s goodness, Job fell back again to the feelings of his own misery; and he lamented it. Alas! What is the sum total of life? It is surely what Job observed it to be, in both the opening and the close of this chapter. Without an interest in Jesus, a person’s life is only as a single day – a day full of trouble! How sweet, then, is that prayer of the Psalmist: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” – the “wisdom that is from above!” (Ps. 90:12; James 3:17)
God may sometimes send disease and pain to us. We may lose all comfort in those who are near and dear to us. Every hope of earthly happiness may be destroyed, yet the Lord will receive the believer into realms of everlasting happiness. But what a change awaits the prosperous unbeliever! How will he answer when God shall call him to His tribunal? The Lord is still upon His mercy-seat, waiting to be gracious. O that sinners would be wise, and that they would consider the state of their soul! It is folly for them to defer their repentance until their death-bed, and to wait until then to seek the “one thing needful!”
Lord, we thank You for giving us the blessed assurance that You will one day raise us from the grave and bring us to a state of glorious perfection in heaven! Amen.
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