Job 14:7-15 - Homiletics
Job to God: 3. A glimpse into the life beyond.
I. " IF A MAN DIE , SHALL HE LIVE AGAIN ?" No!
1 . The voice of nature is against it. "For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again," etc. (verses 7-9). But nothing like this occurs in the case of man, of whom rather the cheerless proverb holds that, as the tree falls, so shall it lie ( Ecclesiastes 11:3 ). Hewn down by the axe of death, or laid prostrate by age beneath the sod, there is in his decaying body no vital germ which can send forth tender sprouts. The earth contains no revivifying principle for him as for trees. The fine manly fellow, rejoicing in his vigorous health, begins to droop and to die; he gives up the ghost, or expires, and where is he? (verse 10). There is no subsequent resuscitation for him. No! Man's appropriate emblem is not the trees, but the streams and the lakes. When man dies, he disappears completely from the present scene, like the dried-up waters of a lake, or of a mountain torrent that have forsaken their accustomed bed.
2 . The testimony of experience is against it. A phenomenon so stupendous as the return of a dead and buried man to life has never once been witnessed. With a terrible uniformity of sadness, each age has followed its predecessor to the tomb. And there are those who affirm that this dreary monotony has never been interrupted; that the sum of human experience is the same to-day as it was in Job's time; that "man lieth down, and riseth not" (verse 12); and that there is no reason to anticipate that it ever will be different, but much cause to conclude that for evermore it will continue the same ( Ecclesiastes 1:9 ). But
3 . The verdict of silence is against it. Not of true science, but of arrogantly talking, much asserting, materialism. What Job uses as beautiful similitudes (verses 7, 11, 18, 19) modern sages employ as scientific truth. Man, according to their findings, is of a piece with the great material world by which he is surrounded, in which there is continually going on a resistless process of disintegration and dissolution, before which he sooner or later succumbs, like the trees and the rocks, the mountains and the streams. To expect, therefore, that a dead man shall return to his place on earth is as unscientific as to anticipate that the alluvial deposits of the plain shall replace themselves upon the mountain's sides from which they have been taken, or that the shattered rock shall resume its station in the crevice out of which it has fallen, or that the water of a lake which has evaporated shall again cover its desiccated bed, or the fleecy cloud which has dissolved and been dispersed shall recombine itself upon the face of heaven.
II. " IF A MAN DIE , SHALL HE LIVE AGAIN ?" YES !
1 . The phenomena of nature suggest it. "There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again." Why, then, should there not be hope of a man reviving from the bed of death? Why should not man have his springtime as well as the plants and flowers and roots? "Everything in nature is a sign of something higher and more living than itself, to follow in due course, and in turn announce a yet higher one; the mineral foretells the plant, the plant the animal, all things in their degree foretell mankind". Again, "The presignificance of animal forms and economy by plants extends to the whole of their organic functions, to many of their organs, even to their spontaneous movements, their habits and qualities". Many of the functions usually supposed to be characteristic of animals have a marvellous foreshadowing in vegetables, as e.g. the processes of eating and digesting food, the procreation and birth of offspring, the act of respiration and the repose of sleep. May it not, then, be maintained that the constantly recurring winter death, and spring revival of trees and plants and flowers, are prefigurements, not only of the sleeping and waking of animals generally, but also of the death and resurrection of man?
2 . The instincts of humanity desire it. "Oh that thou wouldest hide me in Sheol!" etc. (verse 13). Job had not, indeed, perfect certainty on the subject of his returning from Hades, but in the deepest yearnings of his soul, which here flashed up into momentary brightness, he longed for such a revival as is implied in the resurrection. And the argument derived from this is that the existence of such a hope in the human soul renders probable at least the doctrine of a resurrection. "Intuition is worth volumes of logic". "Where in the plan of nature do we find instincts falsified? Where do we see an instance of a creature instinctively craving a certain kind of food in a place where no such food can be found? Are the swallows deceived by their instinct when they fly away from clouds and storms to seek a warmer country? Do they not find a milder climate beyond the water? When the may-flies and other aquatic insects leave their shells, expand their winos, and soar from the water into the air, do they not find an atmosphere fitted to sustain them in a new stage of life? Yes. The voice of nature does not utter false prophecies. It is the call, the invitation, of the Creator addressed to his creatures. And if this be true with regard to the impulses of the physical life, why should it not be true with regard to the superior instincts of the soul?".
3 . The dignity of man demands it. "Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands" (verse 15). It was utterly inconceivable that God could be happy so long as man, the noblest specimen of his handiwork, whom his own hands had fashioned with tender care and infinite skill ( Job 10:3 , Job 10:9 ), upon whom, as it were, he had impressed the stamp of his own Divinity ( Genesis 1:26 ), and whom he had set at the very apex of creation ( Psalms 8:6 ), was lying mouldering in the dust; nay, by the very necessities of the case, God would yearn (grow pale with anxiety and wan with longing) after his absent creature and child, and, eventually breaking in upon the silence of the grave, would summon the unconscious sleeper to arise. "Do you suppose," Job virtually asks, "that if I yearn after God as I do, God does not likewise yearn after me; that if it would add to my felicity to see God in the flesh, and to talk with him as a man talketh with his friend, it would not likewise intensify his blessedness to have me in my complete manhood by his side?" And in this idea of the essential dignity of man as God's handiwork and God's child, we are warranted to find, if not a certain demonstration, at least a strong presumption that man will yet attain to an embodied life be:. end the grave.
4 . The witness of revelation proclaims it. Like other parts of the gospel scheme, the doctrine of a resurrection was only gradually unfolded. In antediluvian times it may have been suggested to thoughtful minds by the translation of Enoch. In the Abrahamic period the hope of a better country, even an heavenly, was strong in pious hearts; but it is not certain that this implied more than a belief in immortality, or in a continuous existence beyond the grave, though the case of Job clearly shows that even then men had begun to speculate about the probability of a return to the embodied state alter death, and the practice of embalming among the Egyptians has been held to prove that such a doctrine had even then become a popular belief. In the age of David the hope of a resurrection burned brighter and clearer ( Psalms 16:11 ; Psalms 17:15 ). Isaiah spoke of a rising of Jehovah's dead body, and of the earth casting forth her dead ( Isaiah 26:19 ); Ezekiel, of an opening of the graves ( Ezekiel 38:9 , Ezekiel 38:18 ); Daniel, of an awaking out of sleep ( Daniel 12:2 ). But not until the times of the gospel was the doctrine fully declared. Christ affirmed it ( John 5:28 , John 5:29 ); St. Peter proved it ( Acts 2:25-32 ; Acts 12:1-25 :34); St. Paul preached it ( Acts 17:31 ) and wrote concerning it ( Romans 8:11 , Romans 8:12 ; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 ).
5 . The resurrection of Christ secures it. "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that sleep" ( 1 Corinthians 15:20 ). The resurrection of Christ being as certain a fact of history as his death, the resurrection of his people at least is conclusively established ( John 14:19 ; Romans 8:11 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:14 ), and the question of Job finally answered.
1 . The importance of using life well, since no man returns to the present scene.
2 . The strong consolation which the saint finds in the hope of a resurrection.
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