Today: [Job Fourteen] Is Heaven Our Only Hope? In this chapter Job laments the brevity of life and longs for death. He sees life on earth as nothing but trouble and accuses God of holding Himself aloof from man’s pitiful state of pain and heartbreak. Is this true? Many believers adopt this way of thinking. They see life as a struggle and set their sights on muddling through until they go to heaven. On the surface this can be seen as a godly viewpoint – but is it compatible with gospel truth?
[Job 14:1-22 KJV] 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;
In this chapter Job continues his reply further still to Zophar. He looks to God and complains that the days of a man are extremely fleeting and full of trouble. This remark taken in the context of Job’s full statement implies that trouble is the norm and that God looks on not always engaged with man to make things turn out different. Is this true? The agnostic believes that God may perhaps exist but if sodoes not take notice of mankind or involve himself with man in any way. What is God’s posture toward man in his struggles? The prophet Azariah prophesied to king Asa about this in 2 Chronicles:
[2Ch 15:4 KJV] 4 But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.
David was a man not immune from trying circumstances and wrote extensively about this subject in the Psalms:
[Psa 9:9 KJV] 9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
[Psa 27:5 KJV] 5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.
[Psa 37:39 KJV] 39 But the salvation of the righteous [is] of the LORD: [he is] their strength in the time of trouble.
[Psa 46:1 KJV] 1 [[To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.]] God [is] our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
[Psa 50:15 KJV] 15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
There are 110 instances of the word trouble in the KJV bible and the very first reference is in the story of Achan who stole the Babylonish garment from the ruins of Jericho. The principle there is seen in the command of God to “keep from the accursed thing” and the problem of sin in the camp. We are all members of a fallen race living in a sinful world. Troubles come but God is an ever present help to us when we call upon him.
In verse 4 Job identifies the dilemma of the Old Testament saint: “Can one bring a clean thing out of an unclean thing?” He is enunciating the problem that is revealed in the story of Achan – troubles in life arise because man is a fallen creature in a sin cursed world. Job realizes that he needs a redeemer – he needs God to intervene. In these remarks Job begins to feel after clarity in his struggles and we can be hopeful that perhaps he will see that it isn’t God unfairly tormenting him after all.
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.
Job continues here his poetic description of the vanity of life and suggests in verse 13 that only in the grave will relief come. He states that when man falls asleep that he shall not wake nor come to resurrection. The rejection of the idea of resurrection is a doctrine called annihilation. Annihilationism as a belief system contends that immortality is conditioned upon being adjudged righteous before God at the Great White Throne Judgment. The doctrine proposes that the wicked are not sent to everlasting punishment but rather consigned to a state of “non-being”. This is something obviously that Job finds appealing in his current state of suffering and struggle.
The hedonistic lifestyle of the post Christian era we live in embraces much of what this doctrine suggests. As the gladiators in the arena in centuries past the philosophy of the day is “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die…” On the surface this thinking seems acceptable because no one can control the day his death but it is rooted in atheistic thinking that God either doesn’t exist or doesn’t care about us so why does anything matter. As believers we must remember the words of Pal that keep us aware that we are eternal creatures destined for a span of existence far beyond that which can be measured in our human mortality:
[1Co 15:19 KJV] 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
The question might be posed – is heaven the only hope we have? Do we suffer in life and struggle only to hope that one day we go to heaven where things will be better? Many upon reading Job embrace this thinking and Job seems to take that view now in replying to Zophar. Peter spoke of this issue saying that the promise of God is not just for attaining godliness but also the temporal provisions of life:
[2Pe 1:3 KJV] 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
John in his third letter spoke the heart of God for every believer regarding your temporal life:
[3Jo 1:2 KJV] 2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
God places no premium upon suffering. If the Christian life only finds it’s value in constancy in suffering then why did Jesus come and take the suffering and sin of the world upon Himself? Be assured that Jesus did not only take your sins upon Himself, He likewise took our suffering upon Himself. We call this the efficacious work of the cross as Jesus became our substitute. He suffered so we don’t have to. Many people believe they can and do in their suffering enter into the efficacious or substitutionary work of Christ. This is patently false. Only the suffering of a sinless Messiah can atone for sin. As those born in sin we are incapable of suffering in such a way. Jesus deserved NONE of the suffering of the cross and therefore could stand in our place. We in our humanity deserve nothing BUT the judgment of God and therefore cannot suffer in the stead of any other agenda other than our own crimes before the court of heaven which Jesus expiates in behalf of those who have faith and accept Him as Lord of their life.
In short – you are not suffering for Jesus because He doesn’t need you to do so. We do not suffer for Him – He suffered once and for all for us. The writer of Hebrews takes this on directly speaking of those who suffered in Old Testament times compared to the issue of human suffering in the New Testament after the work of Calvary was accomplished:
[Heb 11:37-40 KJV] 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
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.
Job continues remonstrating with God and emphasizing how hopelessly bound to sin man is. He questions why God would catalog and make record of man’s sins because it isn’t as though man has a choice to be anything other than a fallen creature. He lapses again into accusation against God saying “you destroy the hope of man…” In reality does God destroy hope or give hope? Who is the destroyer? Again Job gives no indication that he can see any other source of his suffering but God Himself. Many who read Job take this as gospel fact but the sayings of Job are not inspired in their character they are simply a divine record of uninspired sayings. We should remember this when we are confronted by those who quote Job’s diatribes against God as though they are the viewpoints that all pious believers should embrace and adopt.
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