If a man die, shall he live again? That is the question isn’t it? Is this all there is? We live out our lives, we return to the dust and oblivion forever.
It was a man named Job who asked the question, and he had good reason to ask whether life was even worth living. He had lost everything he owned. All his children had been killed when a storm collapsed house around their heads. He was in constant pain from boils on every part of his body. And his wife’s best encouragement was,
Why don’t you just curse God and die. He wanted to know whether this is all there is to life. There is a marvelous passage in Job 14, where he muses on the question that troubled him and still troubles us.
1 Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.
2 He comes forth like a flower, and is cut down: he flees also as a shadow, and continues not.
3 And do you open your eyes upon such a one, and bring me into judgment with you?
4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? no one.
5 Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with you, you have appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
6 Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as a hireling, his day.
7 For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender shoots thereof will not cease.
8 Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the ground;
9 Yet at the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth branches like a plant.
10 But man dies, and wastes away: yea, man expires, and where is he?
11 As the waters fail from the sea, and the river decays and dries up:
12 So man lies down, and rises not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
13 O that you would hide me in the grave, that you would conceal me, until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change comes.
15 You shall call, and I will answer you: you will have a desire to the work of your hands.
Job doesn’t cite Scripture, because there probably was no scripture when he wrote this. There is reason to believe that Job is actually the oldest book of the Bible. But Job knows one very important thing. He knows God. And once you allow God into the play, once He is on the stage, everything changes. Everything has a point, an objective, a purpose. Job knew that he was the work of God’s hands, and it was plain to him that God had a purpose beyond what he had experienced. Up to this point, life in the flesh was enough. But when that life began to fail, Job tried hard to peer beyond it. The Answer to Job’s questions lies in the person of one Jesus Christ. Who died. Who was raised from the dead. And that brings us back again to Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 15.