Daily D – Job 17:10-16
“But come on, all of you, try again!
I will not find a wise man among you.
11 My days have passed, my plans are shattered.
Yet the desires of my heart
12 turn night into day;
in the face of the darkness light is near.
13 If the only home I hope for is the grave,
if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness,
14 if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’
and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’
15 where then is my hope—
who can see any hope for me?
16 Will it go down to the gates of death?
Will we descend together into the dust?” (NIV)
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Job 17:10–16.
“Maybe you’d all like to start over,
to try it again, the bunch of you.
So far I haven’t come across one scrap
of wisdom in anything you’ve said.
My life’s about over. All my plans are smashed,
all my hopes are snuffed out—
My hope that night would turn into day,
my hope that dawn was about to break.
If all I have to look forward to is a home in the graveyard,
if my only hope for comfort is a well-built coffin,
If a family reunion means going six feet under,
and the only family that shows up is worms,
Do you call that hope?
Who on earth could find any hope in that?
No. If hope and I are to be buried together,
I suppose you’ll all come to the double funeral!”
Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), Job 17:10–16.
Job listened deeply to his friends. He discovered two things from what they had to say. First, they were miserable comforters (16:2-5; 17:10). Second, they offered him no hope. Take a look at Bildad’s speech in Job 18. Here is what he says to his long-time buddy:
and his branches wither above.
The memory of him perishes from the earth;
he has no name in the land.
(verses 16, 17)
With friends like this, who needs enemies?
Job felt like a dead man walking and his friends treated him like one. No wonder Job asked for a do-over (verse 10), for them to shift their presuppositions and to begin again more intelligently.
Job’s plans and dreams were at an end. As fruitful, effective, beautiful, and wonderful as his life had been, his life was now at an end. The good times were over for good. Job was going to die with songs left to sing, steps left to dance, paths yet to follow. The brightness he wanted to shine on his family, friends, and community was darkening and drawing to a close.
Worse still, everyone would remember him as a failure. They would remember his goodness and gain as ill-gotten and justly judged. In answer to the sad old song, Will You Remember Me, yes, yes they would. Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar would guard and dispense the History of Job: A Warning to Those Who Prosper Unjustly.
The good news, and right about now aren’t you glad there is good news, is there was burning in Job’s heart an ember of hope. He expresses this hope in 19:23-27. You may recognize these words from Handel’s Messiah. You may have seen them on Handel’s grave marker in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Cathedral.
23 “Oh, that my words were recorded,
that they were written on a scroll,
24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
or engraved in rock forever!
25 I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Job 19:23–27.
Never, ever, give up when there is life yet to live and story yet to tell. The final word is always God’s word, not Eliphaz’s, not Bildad’s, not Zophar’s. The final word does not belong to the president of the USA, the Pope, or the loud voices on The View.
The final word is God’s. This is always true. This is true for everyone everywhere forever.
If all of this doom and gloom and death make you uncomfortable, and it should, leap forward to chapters 38-42. God is there and he is not silent. What he says puts all things in order. Part of the order is him asking questions we cannot answer which are bigger than the questions we pose to him which we currently think render him dead, gone, and of no use.
The two halves of chapter 42 include repentance, forgiveness received, and forgiveness forwarded. It ends with vindication and restoration. It ends with friends becoming true friends forever bound in God’s truth and eternal hope.
Job did die, but he died much later than he feared, much later than predicted, much more blessed, and much more of a blessing, than he had ever been.
Bottom line? Death comes for us all. Make death wait as long as possible. Live in confident expectation, hope, in your relationship with God. Allow only him to say, “Time’s up!” Receive that day with all the joy of the gathered goodness of all your days and know no matter how good those past moments have been, that moment on that day will excel them all by far.
I will bless God for the certainty of death and the greater reality of eternal life.
Our Father, may others see in my life and death your hand of grace molding me, shaping me, using me, and welcoming me in whatever manner you see fit. May they look past me to your amazing grace. May they see in me your wonderful work of repentance, renewal, restoration, and reality rewarded by hope in your presence, your peace, your plan, and your path. Before I pile on more words, I will end this paragraph, yet our conversation will go on in richness and fullness and endless praise. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.