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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Jeremiah 18:1-4 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Philippians 1:4-6 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Jeremiah 17:7, 8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
2 Chronicles 35:25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments. (NIV)