Job 14:7-14 - Homilies By W.f. Adeney
Is there a life beyond the grave?
We have here one of the dim Old Testament speculations on the life beyond, that stand out in startling contrast to the prevalent obscurity and apparent indifference of ancient Hebrew thought in regard to the great future. This serves as a good starting-point from which to approach the more full Christian light on the resurrection.
I. THE CRAVING FOR IMMORTALITY IS INSTINCTIVE . The craving may be hidden by more pressing desires of the moment; it may even be crushed by despair. But it is not the less natural and instinctive. For when we come to ourselves and calmly reflect on life and its issues, we cannot be satisfied that death should end all. Then there wakes up in us a deep, insatiable hunger for life. The essential characteristic of this desire is its craving for more than the repose of a future that is rescued from the turmoil of this present time; its object is life. It is not enough for us that an end may come to our present troubles, That is all Job desired at first (see Job 3:1-26 ), but now a deeper thought stirs in his breast, and he thinks of the possibility of living again. Surely it is a miserable degradation of this instinct of immortality that represents the future blessedness as chiefly consisting in indolent repose.
II. NATURE DOES NOT SATISFY THE CRAVING FOR IMMORTALITY . Job turns to the analogies of nature. They are obscure and contradictory. The tree that has been cut down will sprout again from its roots. But is this life the fate of man? "Man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?" Has he any root remaining that can be quickened at the scent of water? Then if the tree sprouts again, there are other things in nature that cease altogether, e.g. the stream that is entirely dried up. May not man's fate be like these temporal things that come to an end? We look for analogies in the awakening spring, in the emerging of the butterfly from the chrysalis, in the return of day after night. These analogies afford but faint suggestions, little more than fanciful illustrations, Nature does point to the existence of an unseen universe, but she gives us little, if any, hints as to our share in the life beyond the present and the seen.
III. CHRIST SATISFIES THE CRAVING FOR IMMORTALITY . He has brought "life and incorruption to light through the gospel" ( 2 Timothy 1:10 ).
1 . By his revelation of God. In Christ we see God as our Father. Such a God cannot mock us with a delusion, cannot plant an instinct in us for which there is no satisfaction. All other instincts have their objects provided. A good Father will not let this starve and pine into disappointment.
2 . By his direct teaching. Christ said little about the future life, but that little was clear, unhesitating, emphatic. He made no mention of harps and palms, but he said, "I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" ( John 11:25 ).
3 . By his own resurrection. He is "the Firstfruits from the dead" ( 1 Corinthians 15:20 ). One man has risen. This is enough to show that death does not end all.
4 . By his saving grace. He not only reveals the life beyond. He gives the life eternal. A mere shadowy existence in Hades would be no boon; an existence of torment in Gehenna would be a curse. We want a full and glorious life. That is not ours by nature; it is the gilt of God ( Romans 6:23 ); and it is received through Christ ( 1 John 5:11 , 1 John 5:12 ).—W.F.A.
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