Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Everything Sad Is Coming Untrue

Part 4 of Why?

Text: Job 14:1-17

You can listen to this sermon here.

“If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come. You would call, and I would answer you; you would long for the work of your hands” (Job 14:14-15). 

We Need Hope

Near the end of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, there’s an exchange between the hobbit Sam and the wizard Gandalf that goes like this:
“Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”  
“A great shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. [1]
We ask the same question that Sam asked: Is everything sad going to come untrue? Is there ever going to be a day when all of the bad things in this world come to an end?

Many survivalists believe in the “Survival Rule of Threes.” According to this rule, you can’t survive more than three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without food, and three months without hope. We need hope. We need the expectation that things will get better.

Job says, “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble” (v. 1). In other words, life is short and difficult. Is there any hope for us? Is everything sad going to come untrue?

If a Man Dies, Shall He Live Again?

Job says, “There is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease” (v. 7). But is there hope for Job? “But if a man dies and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he?” (v. 10). Job thinks that there’s more hope for a tree than for a man.

But then Job begins to think about the possibility of life after death: “If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come” (v. 14). The Hebrew word translated “renewal” means “a new vigorous life in a restored body.” [2] Job desires vindication. If his vindication doesn’t happen in this life, maybe it could happen in a new life after death.

But is this just wishful thinking, an “impossible dream” [3]? What we often forget is that sometimes impossible dreams do come true.

God Longs for the Work of His Hands

Where did Job get this idea of a future resurrection? [4] He thinks it might be possible because of God’s love for him. He says, “You would call, and I would answer you; you would long for the work of your hands” (v. 15). Is there any hope for us? Yes!

There’s hope for us because God loves us. 

God made the first man and the first woman to love him and be loved by him. But when they rebelled against God, they were afraid and hid from him. God found them and said to them, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19).

But the story doesn’t end there. God longed for the work of his hands, his creatures made from dust. Jesus—God the Son, the second person of the Trinity—became like us so that he could die for our sins. He suffered so that one day our suffering could come to an end. God is “making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). He is putting together this broken world—including the part of his creation that he loves most: us.

All who of us who put out trust in Jesus are given the hope of a future resurrection. We will one day be raised from the dead as Jesus was raised. “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust [i.e., Adam], we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven [i.e., Jesus]” (1 Cor. 15:50).

We Have Hope

Imagine that you could see the future and you knew when every bad thing would happen to you. If you had this knowledge, I think it would be hard to get out of bed in the morning.

We don’t know when, but we do know that bad things will happen in our futures. But we can get out of bed in the morning because God has given us hope. Things are going to get better. Because of God’s love for us, we have hope because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In The Jesus Storybook Bible, the final story is about heaven. Part of the story goes like this:
And the King says, “Look! God and his children are together again. No more running away. Or hiding. No more crying or being lonely or afraid. No more being sick or dying, because all those things are gone. Yes, they’re gone forever. Everything sad has come untrue. And see—I have wiped away every tear from every eye!” [5]
Yes, there is hope for us. This life is not all there is. There is something more, something better. Everything sad is coming untrue.

[1] J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King, 246 (emphasis added).
[2] John E. Hartley, The Book of Job (NICOT), 236.
[3] David J. A. Clines, Job 1-20 (WBC), 338.
[4] Keep in mind that the doctrine of the resurrection wasn’t fully developed when Job lived.
[5] Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible, 347 (emphasis added).

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