Monday, February 27 “If someone dies, will they live again?”
Scripture: Job 14:13-22
13 “If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me! 14 If someone dies, will they live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. 15 You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made. 16 Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. 17 My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin18 “But as a mountain erodes and crumbles and as a rock is moved from its place, 19 as water wears away stones and torrents wash away the soil, so you destroy a person’s hope. 20 You overpower them once for all, and they are gone; you change their countenance and send them away. 21 If their children are honored, they do not know it; if their offspring are brought low, they do not see it. 22 They feel but the pain of their own bodies and mourn only for themselves.”
The season of Lent brings to all the bold confrontation with what we focused on last week; separation from God brings death. We live in a culture and world that ignores death and reminders of death as much as possible in favor of life, entertainment, arts, sports, recreation, travel, and health-anything to avoid thinking about the inevitable. When was the last time you visited or even noticed a cemetery? These places of burial used to be right beside churches. In some parts of the country, where church buildings are old, such is still the case. We even have two small cemeteries on our farmland in Illinois.
With the increasing “popularity” of cremation, seldom do we see a corpse. Put simply, when a person dies, it’s more like “we just don’t see them anymore.” The went on a trip and never came back. Funerals with closed caskets have often been replaced with memorials or “celebrations of life” with pictures of the deceased, usually in reasonable health. Putting it bluntly, does it seem we are avoiding seeing a coffin confirming that our loved one is dead? There are even instances where a memorial or funeral is eliminated altogether. We have several gentle expressions to communicate that a person has died. They “have passed away or passed on.” The infamous “they have gone to a better place,” they “are no longer with us,” or for the less religious, “they have “gone to meet their maker.” (Notice theology can sometimes get a little interesting and fuzzy at this point.)
In the first part of this passage, Job struggles to keep his hope alive of an eventual hereafter with his Creator even as he suffers presently. In his wrestling with his life of suffering, Job asks the fundamental question of life, “If someone dies, will they live again?” Jesus has made the answer very clear, (Jn 3:16) but I fear many people in our world today are afraid to ask Job’s question, preferring to be absorbed in the present. After all, the thought is often “since everyone dies and I’m a reasonably good person, I’ll take my chances things will be OK.”
These weeks of Lent boldly state reality. Nothing is covered, ignored, or glossed over. Life is real, sin is real, and death is real. Everyone’s days are numbered. Everyone dies including you and me and those who are wise will be prepared and acknowledge this reality. We rejoice in the truth that Jesus Christ has overcome death, sin, and the powers of evil. In answer to Job’s question, if a person dies in Christ, they will most certainly live again . . . with Christ forever!
Music: “O Lord, throughout These Forty Days” Cathedral Church of the Advent -Birmingham
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzqjglKoEpU Don’t miss this! Unique setting. Beautiful.
Prayer: Who can tell what a day may bring forth? Cause me therefore, gracious God, to live every day as if it were to be my last, for I know not but that it may be such. Cause me to live now as I shall wish I had done when I come to die. O grant that I may not die with any guilt on my conscience, or any known sin unrepented of, but that I may be found in Christ, who is my only Savior and Redeemer. This I pray through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Victor over death. Amen. –Thomas á Kempis 1380-1471, from Eerdmans’ Book of Famous Prayers, p.38