Title: Five Big Questions
Text: Job 14:1-22
Reading: Job 14:1-22
Subject: Questions About Life, Death, and Eternity
Date: Sunday Morning - December 17, 1995
Tape # S-6
Serious men are men of thoughtful contemplation. They do not waste their time and energy upon trifles, except for necessary recreation. They take serious things seriously. They ask serious questions. God’s servant Job was such a man. His experiences in life caused him to ask some very serious, thoughtful questions about life, death, and eternity. I want us to look at some of the questions he asked. My text is Job 14:1-22. I have titled this message Five Serious Questions.
We do not know who wrote the book of Job; but it was probably written by Job himself, or by Moses. This much we do know: The book of Job is one of the oldest books in the Bible, if not the oldest. It describes the life experiences of a man who walked with God in those earliest days, when very few people knew and worshipped the Lord. Some suggest that Job probably lived in the days of Abraham. Others suggest that he lived in the days of Enoch, or perhaps in the days of Noah, after the flood. No one can say for certain. But we do know that Job walked with, worshipped, and served the Lord God when very few did. God said, there was “none like him in the earth,” and described him as a perfect and upright man who feared God and eschewed evil (1:8).
Some have questioned whether Job was a saved man, suggesting that he was a self-righteous man because he justified himself. But such questions should never be entertained. God himself owned Job as one who served him, one who had been saved by his grace and made perfect in Christ. When he justified himself, he was not speaking to God, but to men who accused him of hypocrisy and deceit. When Job spoke to God, he frankly acknowledged his sin. He said, “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse” (9:20). This is very important because unless you understand who Job was and what kind of man he was, you simply cannot understand the book of Job.
· Job was a faithful, faithful servant of God (1:8; 2:3).
· He was a man whose faith was greatly tried.
- The Loss of His Children
- The Loss of His Health
- The Speech of His Wife
- The Loss of His Reputation and Influence
- The Accusations of His “Friends”
· At times, Job showed signs of weakness, frustration, and even unbelief; but even in his lowest times he worshipped God, maintained his integrity, and believed God (1:20; 2:10; 13:15; 19:25-27).
· In the midst of his heavy, heavy trials this man Job acknowledged God’s total sovereignty and absolute dominion over all things (1:10; 12:14-16).
· In the end, God honored Job and made even his enemies to know that the Lord accepted him.
- He condemned the harsh judgment of Job’s three “friends” (42:7-8)
- He gave Job twice as much as he had before he was afflicted (42:9-17).
Divisions: We have already read the fourteenth chapter of Job. So I want you to hold your Bibles open at chapter fourteen and follow along with me, as we look together at these Five Big Questions that arose from Job’s experiences in this world.
1. “Dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one?” (v.3).
2. “Bringest (thou) me into judgment with thee?” (v.3).
3. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” (v.4).
4. “Man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?” (v. 10).
5. “If a man die, shall he live again?” (v.14).
Proposition: If we are wise, we will give thoughtful consideration to these serious questions about the most serious of matters: life, death, and eternity.
I. “Dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one?” (vv. 1-3).
This question arises from Job’s consideration of the frailty, brevity, and utter insignificance of man. We all like to think that we are somebody, that our lives count, that some part of this world depends upon us. In a natural sense, of course, certain things do depend upon us, because God has so ordered it. Even in spiritual matters, it can be said that certain things depend upon us, again, because God has so ordered it. But once a man starts to look beyond his nose and sees that the first cause of all things is God (12:14-16; Rom. 8:28; 11:36; II Cor. 5:18), once he sees that “all things are of God,” he realizes that before God he is utterly insignificant.
A. “Man that is born of woman is of few days.”
The longer I live, the more thankful I am that life in this world is but a very brief part of my existence. I am truly thankful that since the days of the flood, the life span of the human race has been shortened. Wouldn’t you hate to live in this world, in its present condition, for 969 years, like Methuselah did? I much prefer the expectation of threescore years and ten to 969!
Yet, we ought to learn to recognize the brevity of this life and learn to apply our hearts unto wisdom. None of us is guaranteed seventy years in this world, or even another moment. But if we should live to be the age of Bro. Montgomery, ninety years is just a speck, when you think of eternity. And those few days will pass by quicker than a weaver’s shuttle.
· Psalm 90:12
B. The few days we have upon this earth, because we are sinners in a world full of sin and sorrow, are “full of trouble”
The word “trouble” here is one of those words with many shades of meaning.
· It might be translated trouble because sin and trouble always go hand in hand. Where there is sin, trouble is sure to follow.
· It might be translated commotion because the lives of men in this world are, like the troubled sea, restless. Fallen man is in a constant state of uneasiness.
· The word might also be translated trembling. The reason for man’s restlessness is, to a very great extent, the trembling of his soul in the prospect of death, judgment, and eternity.
C. Troubled man, whose life is but a momentary thing in this world, is as insignificant as withered flowers after the first winter freeze (v.2).
D. In the light of these facts, Job was simply overwhelmed with the knowledge that the holy, infinite, eternal, omnipotent God should take notice of him. “And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one?”
· Psalm 8:4
· Psalm 144:3-4
Think of it. What a wondrous thing this is - That God almighty should look our way, that he should cast his glance upon us! Job was simply overwhelmed by the thought of it. Aren’t you?
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused his pain,
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Does God almighty open his eye upon such useless, sinful wretches as we are? Indeed, he has, and he does!
· In Electing Love!
· In Redeeming Grace!
· In Providential Goodness!
· In Saving Mercy!
· In the Exercise of His Preserving Power!
II. “And bringest thou me into judgment with thee?” (v.3).
What a horrible realization this is for a sinful man to come to. Sooner or later you and I must face up to the fact of divine justice and judgment.
· The Word of God teaches it.
· History illustrates it
· Your conscience bears witness to it.
When Job thought of God exercising the rigor of his strict justice, it was no laughing matter. He knew that the standard of judgment in that great day would not be the opinions of men, but God himself. He does not say, “Bringest me into judgment before thee?” That would be bad enough. But his question is, “Bringest thou me into judgment with thee?” Here are two facts that I hope will get your heart’s attention and cause your soul trouble from which you can find no escape until you flee away into the arms of Christ.
A. There is a day appointed by God when we must appear before his august, great, white throne to be judged by him.
· II Corinthians 5:10-11
· Hebrews 9:27
· Revelation 20:11-15
A. In that great and terrible day, the standard of judgment will be God himself.
God will bring us into judgment with himself. Someone once asked, “How good does a person have to be to get to heaven?” The answer is, you have to be as good as God. God almighty will not and cannot accept anything less than perfection.
· Leviticus 22:21
· Revelation 21:27
III. Understanding both the brevity of life and the certainty of divine judgment, Job asked this next question: “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” (v.4-6).
Our translation reads, in response to this question, “not one.” A better translation might continue the question to the end of the fourth verse. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean, is there one?” Realizing that man who is altogether unclean, by imputation, nature, birth, and practice, must stand in judgment with the holy Lord God, this question is one for which every sensible soul must seek an answer.
· The number of our days in this world was determined by God’s decree before ever we were born.
· God himself has appointed the boundaries of every man’s existence in this world, beyond which none can pass.
“As the time of a man’s birth, so the time of his death is according to the purpose of God; and all the intervening moments and articles of time, and all things that befall a man throughout the whole course of his life, all fall under the appointment of God, and are according to his determinate will; and when God requires of a man his soul no one has power over his spirit to retain it one moment.” John Gill
A. If man has no power over his own life and death, or even his own health, it is certain that no man has the power to bring a clean thing out of an unclean.
No mortal can give himself spiritual life. No man can give himself faith, regenerate himself, justify himself, save himself, or even put himself into a savable condition.
· Job 9:15
· Romans 3:9-19
B. But there is One who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean. The Lord God our Savior can bring a clean thing out of an unclean! He does so by three marvelous works of grace.
1. Redemption (Rom. 3:24-26)
2. Regeneration (John 3:5)
3. Resurrection (Phil. 3:21)
“Salvation is of the Lord!”
- II Timothy 1:9-10
IV. Here is Job’s fourth big question (vv. 7-13). Start reading at verse seven. “Man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?”
A. When the wicked die in their sins, though their bodies are in the grave, they are in hell.
Illustration: The Rich Man (Luke 16)
If you die without Christ, as soon as you close your eyes in death, you will lift up your eyes in hell, tormented in the flames of the damned, forever imprisoned in darkness with satan, the fallen angels, and in company with all your brethren, all the wicked who have lived and died in rebellion against God. There, in eternal misery, forever banished from God, goodness, and righteousness, you shall suffer the wrath of God forever and forever.
B. But when the righteous die in faith, though their bodies are in the grave, awaiting the resurrection, they are with Christ in heaven.
· II Corinthians 5:1 (Read and explain the intermediate body.)
As soon as the righteous close their eyes in death in this world they open their eyes in glory, in heaven, in the paradise of God, in Abraham’s bosom. There we shall forever be in the presence of Christ, the holy angels, God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, the spirits of just men made perfect, free of sin and perfectly righteous, serving Christ in that house not made with hands until the resurrection of our bodies.
C. This blessed state of death (life) is for the believer a matter of hope and expectation, not dread and fear.
Job prayed for the Lord to graciously take him out of this vale of tears and keep him, hiding his body in the grave and his soul in heaven until the days of God’s wrath and judgment against men is over (v.13).
· Isaiah 26:19-21
· Isaiah 57:1-2
Illustration: God has graciously taken Becky away from so much sorrow and trouble.
V. “If a man die shall he live again?” (v.14).
Read verses 14 and 15, and you will understand that Job had absolutely no question about the blessed hope of the resurrection of the body.
· I Thessalonians 4:13-18
· I Corinthians 15:51-58
Illustration: The Robin’s Eggs
Application: Let me show you three things that I hope you will take home in your heart, for the comfort of your soul. The Word of God describes a bag, a book and a bottle, which ought to console our hearts throughout the days of this earthly pilgrimage.
1. God has given us A Bag for our Sins (Job 14:17). Like men buried at sea are sewn and sealed in a weighted bag and cast into the depths of the sea, so the Lord God has cast the sins of his people into the depth of the sea of his infinite forgiveness.
2. The Lord has written A Book for our Names (Ps. 139:16; Phi.4:3; Rev. 13:8). Take heart, child of God, all is well for those whose names are written in the book of God!
3. The Lord God keeps A Bottle for our Tears (Ps. 56:8-9). It was customary at ancient Egyptian funerals for mourners to have a small sponge or cloth to wipe away their tears. Then they were squeezed into a tear bottle and placed in the tomb with the dead, symbolizing the care the mourners had for the one who died. Even so, the Lord God cares for us.
Can anything be more comforting? In this world of sin, sorrow, and death, the Lord our God has put our sins in a bag and buried them, our names in a book to remember them, and our tears into a bottle to show his tender care for us.