Three Important Questions Are Asked in Job 14
First, Job asked, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?not one” (Job 14:4). The Biblical answer is that only Christ can make a person new. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Let the heart rejoice. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin so that an individual can exchange their sinfulness for His righteousness, thereby becoming acceptable in the sight of God. “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Col. 1:21-22).
“Sinners Jesus will receive:
Sound this word of grace to all
Who the heav’nly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall.
Sing it o’er
and o’er again:
Make the message
clear and plain:
Christ receiveth sinful men.”
Job, you asked, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” Job, Jesus can. The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses from all sin.
Second, Job asked, “But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?” (Job 14:10). Every thoughtful person wants to know, “When a person dies, where is he?”
The Bible tells us where a person is after they give up the ghost; they are either in heaven, or they are in hell. There is no soul sleep, there is no intermediate state called purgatory. There is heaven, and there is hell.
According to the Bible, a person will go to heaven by having faith in the vicarious death, and substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The person who calls upon the Lord shall be saved.
In contrast, a person will go to hell if they choose to be judged on the basis of their own good works. On this issue, the Scriptures are clear. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
It is Christ who provides the answer to the question Job asked so long ago. To the dying thief at Calvary, Jesus said, “Today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Job, you asked, “Where does a person go when they have given up the ghost?” Job, they either go to heaven, or, to a place called hell.
Third, Job asked, “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14). There are people who believe, and teach that life is a cosmic accident. When a person dies, that is the end of any meaningful existence. Such people live without hope, and are content to let the grave be the end of the story of life.
Dr. Charles Krauthammer (1950 – 2018) was a respected conservative journalist, who had an opinion on a wide range of topics. When thinking about heaven and earth he wrote the following: “Science has thoroughly desacralized the universe. It is in the language. When in the last [presidential] election [of 1980, former vice-president] Walter Mondale, warned against militarizing “the heavens,” the usage seemed quaint. After [astronaut] Neil Armstrong and [Star Wars film producer] George Lucas, what up there now is simply “space.” …One price of demystifying the universe is that science, unlike religion, asks only how, not why. As to the purpose of things, science is silent” (Things that Matter, pp. 115-17).
Jesus gives a different answer. On the subject of heaven, Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1 3).
Job, you asked, “If a man die, shall he live again?” Yes, Job, in Christ, if a person dies, they shall live again. It is Jesus, not an astronaut, or a film producer, that has the final word on this matter.
Be Very Careful of Dark Thoughts
As Job consider the place of pain and suffering in the plan of God, it was easy for him to come to a conclusion based on a syllogism. A syllogism is a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn, whether it is valid or not.
Major Premise: I am innocent.
Minor Premise : My suffering is not based on divine justice.
Conclusion: God is not just.
The syllogism of Job’s friends is different. They argue the following.
Major Premise: God is just.
Minor Premise: God always rules the universe in justice.
Conclusion: Job is guilty.
Eventually, Job dismisses his friends as miserable comforters. “I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all” (Job 16:2).
The Vacillating Thought of a Saint
Throughout the Book of Job, the man of God is on an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes God is Someone to be embraced by faith at all cost, but at other times, God is unjust.
God is faithful. “Though he slays me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him” (Job 13:15).
God is faithless. The Lord is not fair. He is not just. The Lord treats His servant harshly. “He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me” (Job 15:9). “As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul” (Job 27:2).
The Final Word of the Man from Uz Job 29 – 31
In the end, Job wants to hope, and believe, that God is holy, just, and good. To that end, he invites God to speak to him.
Elihu, the Buzite Job 32 – 36
It is at this point in the narrative that Elihu, the Buzite, appears. While Elihu is not an Israelite, he does have a Hebrew name which means, “scorn”. The man from Buz, in eastern Arabia, a place condemned by the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 25:23), appears to speak in anger against Job. Elihu is filled with self-righteous indignation because Job continued to justify himself, rather than God.
Elihu took the position that God is just, and He does rule in justice, but, God might inflict pain and suffering so that in the future, people will avoid sin. The Lord might also use sadness and sorrow to build spiritual character, which leads to hope (Romans 5). Whatever the hidden reasons God has for His actions, Job would be wrong to accuse the Lord of inappropriate behavior. Job is worthy of rebuke. “Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man” (Job 33:12). Job, “Do you really dare to condemn Him that is Most Just?” (34:17). Eventually, the dialogue with Elihu comes to a conclusion (36:24).
The Voice from the Whirlwind Job 38 – 39
When the dialogue between Job and his friends ended, the Lord spoke to him out of the worldwind. Does Job have some questions to ask God? God has a few questions of his own. There are no less than 66 questions the Lord put before Job. List them, read them, and then consider the great chasm between the Creator, and the creation. Humble yourself before the Lord.
God is Not on Trial
After the Lord compelled Job to consider the universe, its origin and order, Job had nothing to say (chapters 38 – 39). The point becomes clear. God is well aware of nature. God knows all about His creation, including the pain and suffering in it. The Lord is the one who created all things, inconcluding animals, and how they act in nature. Even the large sea creature obeys His commands.
God does not need Job, or any human, to question the order of His creation, or His moral justice, in governing it. Man does not stand in judgment on God. The Lord is not in the dock, as the British would say. God is not on trial. God will not permit Himself to be subjected to examination to prove either guilt or innocence. Man has only a small perspective to consider; God has the whole universe to comprehend and control.
Any appearance of God’s injustice must be considered against the larger context of God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence.
God’s Sense of Humor 40 – 41
After the Lord has taken Job to task, there is a flash of Divine humor. Job is asked if he would like to rule the universe? Would Job like to instruct the Almighty? (40:1-2). Wisely, Job declined (40:3-5). Perhaps Job would at least consider two amazing creatures, Behemoth, and Leviathan (lit. “coiled one”; “twisted one”). Study Job 3:8; Psalms 74:13-14; Isaiah 27:1
Some believe these creatures refer to the hippopotamus, and the crocodile.
There are scientists associated with the Institute for Creation Research who suggest dinosaurs are referenced (Leviathan: Legend, Croc, or Something Else? Brian Thomas, PH.D.). Study Job 40:15-41:1-34
A third alternative is to understand the creatures as mystical symbols of disorder, and danger, in God’s world. They are not always symbols of evil, for the Lord is very proud of them. They have enormous strength and toughness. They are designed by God for His pleasure and purposes.
The larger point is that the world is an amazing place. It is not perfect. It is not always safe. It is not always understandable. However, all of creation is under the sovereign control of God, and that should bring comfort to any heart in times of sickness, sorrow, and suffering. Creation is full of beauty, but there are terrible beasts at large.
The conclusion of the Book of Job finds the man from Uz humbled, and apologetic. He had asked God to explain Himself, and the Lord refused, reminding Job that his inquiry was inappropriate. God was to be trusted, even if He cannot be fully understood in the totality of His essence, or works.
Job’ s Wealth
Taken / Restored
- Sons: 7 / 7
- Daughters: 3 / 3
- Sheep: 7,000 / 14, 000
- Camels: 3,000 / 6, 000
- Oxen: 500 / 1, 000
- She asses: 500 / 1, 000
- A great household: — / —
Because Job humbled himself, and accepted the well-deserved rebuke, in matchless grace, the Lord restored to Job his health, and more than what had been taken from him. “So, the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. 13 He had also seven sons and three daughters. 17 So Job died, being old and full of days” (Job 42:12-13, 17).
The three friends of Job also received a rebuke, for the Lord’s anger was turned against them (42:7). They were to go to Job, and offer an appropriate sacrifice. Job would pray for them (42:8).
Obedient to the demands of the Lord, the three friends did as directed, and lived another day, but much wiser.
Lessons from Job
Anyone who has tried to turn from evil can appreciate how challenging and difficult it can be. The passions of the body are strong, the thoughts of the mind are intense, the will to power is natural, and the desire for pleasure is almost insatiable. Job is a man to be admired. He is a worthy role model of personal integrity.
Every Christian must examine their motive for being religious. Is it fear of punishment that a person seeks to do right? Is it a desire to be blessed and rewarded that evil is forsaken? Is the goodness a person displays simply the lack of opportunity to do wrong? Professing Christian, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor. 13:5).
When you find yourself bewildered with pain and suffering, rebuked by your spouse, and without understanding friends, do not despair, or immediately determine it is because of some sin committed. There are many reasons for suffering in the plan of God. Pray and study the whole counsel of God on this matter.
Even if the Lord does not answer all of your questions as to why something happens, it is still important to trust Him. God is perfect in all of His ways (Psalms 18:30). The heart can trust Him to do all things well, and submit to His sovereignty. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Do not ascribe to people a motive they may not have, nor accuse them of bad behavior without evidence. Questionable accusations will only cause self to be angry, as Elihu became angry with Job, and it will be unfair. People resent being blamed for something they have not done.