There are some who say that life is short. There are others who contend that life is the longest thing we’ll ever do. The truth of this matter must be examined through the lens of the truth concerning eternal life. Compared to the fate that all souls will experience, life is short. Life on this earth is not the longest thing we will ever do. The soul will either live eternally in the presence of the glory of God in His kingdom, or suffer eternally separated from the love of God. However, for those who don’t believe in these truths, then life can seem long. Without the hope of a better life in eternity, life now can seem to drag on forever in a relentless manner, bringing continuous challenges, trials, and little breathing room in between. Whether a believer or non-believer, there are some basic truths concerning life that are stated in the Bible, and are undeniable. These things are true of the believer and the non-believer. All people are forced to deal with these sorts of issues. Those who approach these issues with faith in the Gospel can navigate through life with hope. Those who don’t have faith in the Gospel will live without hope, and a mess of terrible thoughts, fears, concerns, and stresses that can be consuming.
The testimony of Job 14:1-6 addresses these basic truths of life. First, Job explained that all people were born of a woman. We all have mothers. This means that all people are born of the same nature. Our mothers, whether faithful to God or not, are corrupt in nature, having the same spiritual and genetic make-up as the mother of all human life – Eve. Recall that it was Eve who was deceived in the Garden of Eden. She was the first to take the fruit of knowledge of good and evil and consume it, making sin a part of her life, and passing that on to all human life through childbirth. The Bible states that since one man sinned, referring to Adam, then all people sin. This is true because all people are born of the woman that sinned with Adam, thereby giving all people a corrupted sinful nature. Eve suffered the consequences of her sin, involving pain, labor, and eventual death. Since we inherit her nature being born in the same likeness, we all suffer the same consequences from sin with the same weaknesses according to our humanity. This is why Jesus emphasized that our hope requires us to die to self in this life in order to be born again by the Spirit of God. If we remain as we were born, we will die in the same condition – cursed by sin. However, if we are born again by the Holy Spirit according to faith in the Gospel, we are regenerated into a new condition, thereby able to escape the misery of our curse and live according to the hope of God’s mercy and grace found only in Jesus Christ.
Since we are born in this corrupted state, our days are few and full of trouble. Life is full of difficulties of various kinds. We are forced to deal with physical, emotional, and mental strain and stress. There are pressures and expectations in this life that can consume us. Sometimes, just getting by with the basic needs of life can be a tall task, and when our responsibilities concerning others grows, the tension just intensifies. The days are few in that, compared to the amount of days people lived before sin fully consumed the world in the days of Noah, we have far shorter life spans. Men and women used to live in excess of 900 years before the global flood. Since then, lifespans have shrunken significantly! Again, compared to eternal life, our lives now are like vapors. They are here one moment, but suddenly gone, with mostly trouble consuming the moments of our lives in the meantime.
Job compared our life on this earth to a shadow. As time goes on and the sun rotates around earth, the form of our lives begins to dissipate. We begin life with dreams and ambitions, and in time may make good progress towards those desires. However, as time progresses, our lives seem to lose shape. The bounce in our step fades. Our memories become blurry. Our drive and intensity and passion can sizzle out. The longer we live, the more we resemble our infant selves, which were fragile, aimless, and weak. Like shadows, our lives don’t continue on forever, but eventually blur into the horizon, becoming indistinguishable forms that just blend in with surroundings until their gone.
Realizing the morbid nature of this lifetime, Job wondered why God pays any attention to people on earth. Why should such a holy and glorious God spend any time considering such a pitiful, weak, and decaying creature? King David wondered the same thing. In Psalm 8, he began by writing, “What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you consider him?” Why should the Most High God, the Almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth, pay any attention to a creature compared to shadows, made from the dust of the earth? Why should such a God who dwells above the eternal plane of the heavens, look down upon the swiftly decaying factors of this life? It is amazing that God takes any consideration for any human being. This is why Job wondered if God would gaze at the pitiful and shameful condition of humanity forever. Will God just look down upon all life here and just shake His head in shame? Will He hold His glory above all people so that we all are forced to live in embarrassment until we die, and then that’s the end? This is why Job pleaded with God for mercy to restrain His judgment. Indeed, we are pitiful creatures. We are shameful compared to the eternal glory of God. We are weak, decaying, miserable people when we acknowledge the truth of our entire lifespan. Who then can measure up to the glory of God? What then should be our judgment when we, as people whose lives are a mess, when we face the impeccable and majestic Lord God Almighty? Is that really a meeting we want to have in our current state?
At the same time, it is important to recognize that, since God does pay attention to our corrupted condition, it must be only to ensure that our lives have some sort of use for His eternal purposes. God does not put His eyes on corrupted creatures so that they can remain corrupted. God’s aim is to address the weaknesses and pity of our lives now to give us purpose in ways that glorify His eternal nature. Thus, while we might be pitiful and weak until the end of this life, God’s intent is not to let things remain that way forever! In order to receive the benefits of God’s intents though, we need to come to terms with one of the most fundamental truths that Job uttered. Job plainly stated, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one!” Can a diseased tree produce good fruit of itself? Can a polluted stream produce clean water of itself? Can darkness make itself brightness on its own? It is a fundamental principle of life that everything reproduces of its own kind. Since we are all alike, being born of women, all having corrupted natures, we are all together cursed. We all fall short of the glory of God. Together, we have become unprofitable to God, and we are TOTALLY unable to change our condition. We cannot summon up the will or power to be different. We cannot suddenly within ourselves, learn to do works that are valuable and pleasing to God’s eternal purposes. If we are born corrupt, we will remain corrupt, and will inevitably produce corruption. How then can we have a fruitful life for God’s purposes, and the hope of a better future unless someone besides God change our condition from unclean to clean?
This is why the Gospel is the hope of our lives. The Gospel teaches that it is the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world that cleanses the soul. It is faith in the identity, purpose, and promise of Jesus Christ that allows us to be cleansed according to the mercy and grace of the Father. We do not perform in order to impress God and receive His cleansing that way. Instead, we confess who we are – unclean and hopeless within ourselves – at which point God will cleanse the soul, fill us with His Spirit, and supernaturally empower us to produce His own cleanness. Our lives then become evidence of God working through us according to His holiness, righteousness, and glory. Without His involvement in our lives to this degree, we remain unclean, without genuine purpose, without hope, and condemned to a bitter end.
Lastly, Job reminded himself of one of the most important truths of this life. All of our days are numbered. It is said that we will all die right on time. God is sovereign and providential. He has supreme control and authority to number the days of every life that has ever lived. He has the power to produce and fulfill His plans concerning all lives until the fulfillment of His purposes. Job mentioned that our lives are measured by the day, not by the month or year. When we wake up, we don’t know what the outcome can be. There are numerous variables in life that can swiftly bring our lives to an end, and we have no control over these factors. The truth is, God has numbered each and every day for us, and we cannot add to them nor take them away. God is the One that appoints the limits, and this is true for both believers and non-believers. To the non-believer, this is a frightening thought. A day in the hands of someone else without purpose of hope can be a terrifying thing. For the believer, this is a glorious revelation. Praise God that our days are in the hands of He who is omnibenevolent, righteous, and wise. Praise God that the misery of this life will come to an end one day so that we can inherit the promises of eternal life, being freed from the bodies of death and corrupted minds that consume us now.
This is why Job sought the Lord to just put an end to his life. Job pleaded with God to make his suffering like that of a day-laborer. As a laborer goes to work, his shift ends at a certain point. When the workday ends, so too does the worker’s strain. The worker then gets the benefit of rest for the remainder of that day. Job longed for that kind of rest. Job longed for the end of his “workday” so as to be freed for the labor of his pain and suffering. Since God is the One that numbers days, Job hoped that his number would come up soon so as to get rid of the weakness of his body, the burdens of this life, and hopefully inherit something far greater from the God who is supremely great.