The Expository Files


 

The Days of My Years

“...My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle...”

Job 14:1,2


 
"Man, who is born of woman,
Is short-lived and full of turmoil.
Like a flower he comes forth and withers.
He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.”   (Job 14:1,2).
 
On that “cheery note”  I would like consider some things that I believe to be important matters when it comes to the inevitability that we will one day leave this world behind. In all fairness to Job, things were going extremely bad for him. He is despondent and hopeless. He does not believe that there is any reason at all for him to stay here one day longer.
 
 Both the Old Testament and the New Testament speak of the brevity of human life on earth. Life is a very frail thing, and can be interrupted by disease, accident or crime, sometimes quite unexpectedly. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot to cheer about.
 
 
The Brevity of Life
 But, there is indeed something to cheer about! We'll get to that later. The key is not to deny  or ignore the obvious: what Job said is correct. Even when we talk of someone who has lived what we call “a long and fruitful life”  the length of his or her days is not great compared to other, more permanent things (though nothing is truly permanent as far as the physical realm). 
 
The older we get, the faster the days seem to go by. Job had also observed the same when he said, "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, And come to an end without hope.” (Job 7:6).  As you look at the spokes on a rapidly spinning wheel, they become a blur, and Job says that is how the days of his life have been as he looks back on them.
 
The Psalmist described the average human lifespan as being 70 or 80 years long (Psalm 90:10). James tells us that those 70-80 years are like the wisp of vapor, and even at that, we do not even truly know what tomorrow will be like “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14).
 
In fact, the length of human life is only about half that of the giant sea turtles in the Pacific ocean. The oldest living things on the planet seem to be the Giant Redwood trees in California that were alive when Abraham walked the earth 1900 years before Christ. Think about it: those trees were already almost 2000 years old when they witnessed three hours of darkness across the face of the earth on that afternoon when Jesus died on the cross! And, they're still here! But, as Job says, man is much more short-lived.
 
The Eternal Quality of the Human Soul
If all ended at death, Job's forlorn cry of hopelessness would be unanswerable. But we know something Job didn't and so we have an answer to the problem; we have a much greater expectation of an eternal future, grounded in hope, than he had.
 
But even Job had a vague notion that there was an answer. Though God had not yet revealed all that we have come to know through Christ and the Holy Spirit-inspired apostles, Job still had an inkling.  He knew enough to ponder his plight and provide for himself at least a partial answer:
 
"If a man dies, will he live again?
All the days of my struggle I will wait
Until my change comes.
You will call, and I will answer You;
You will long for the work of Your hands.”
                                                                (Job 14:14-15)
 
Death is not the final curtain as far as a human being's existence is concerned. The Word of God tells us that we do not cease to exist at death, but rather our state changes. We will still have knowledge, but not knowledge concerning anything taking place on earth. Still, we will be self-aware and capable of having emotions and thoughts and experiences. Though it may be, as Job said, “The days of my years are few” with regard to my earthly life, the length of my existence is eternal. As Jesus said, teaching on the resurrection, God is “not the God of the dead but of the living”. Though Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had died centuries before, Jesus taught that they still existed as individuals (Matthew 22:29-32).
 
What Jesus has done for us is to give us hope. He has prepared a way for us so that we might be prepared for eternity. The days of our lives here are still few, but our eternity is forever. We need to recognize that this is important as we choose how to spend our lives. It will help us to:
 
                a). Make the best decisions as we arrange our priorities. We begin to make choices that will benefit us in eternity even if it costs us something right now. We begin to live by reasonable and righteous choice instead of by mere instinct.
 
                b) Maintain hope, and therefore a deep-seated joy and peace even when our days here take a turn for the worse. 
 
                c) Win by faith the eternal victory, the one that God has planned for us.
 
Eternal Redemption
 Redemption from sin is necessary to be ready for eternity. Without it, we, as sinners, are lost and without this hope. This is not to say those unprepared for eternity will cease to exist. It is to say that they will continue to exist without God and the goodness He shares. Even as the reward of God is described in the Bible as “eternal” or “everlasting”; so is the punishment described (Matthew 25:46).
 
 The most important choices we make in life have to do with preparing ourselves for eternity and doing what we can to help others prepare as well.
 
In discussing the end of time and the beginning of eternity, Peter tells us that this ought to motivate us into making life-changing decisions about our conduct and priorities. He said, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,  and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…” (2 Peter 3:14-15).   
 
Oh yes, there are many things on our plates as we deal with life's events, opportunities and problems. There are financial and social concerns; family and national; health and career. While these are certainly important and must not be neglected, our spiritual responsibilities need to come first, and, in fact, are intertwined with all these concerns. I need a spiritual, eternal perspective as I deal with every life event. I simply cannot afford to miss the blessings of having an eternal perspective as I live out my life in every area of my earthly existence. I am here only for a short time, but let my true citizenship be in heaven! “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21).

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 17.8; August 2010

 

 

 

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