Job's Concept of the Afterlife, by Melissa Gibbs

Job's Concept of the Afterlife, Job 12-14

But man dies, and is laid low;
man breathes his last, and where is he?
As waters fail from a lake,
and a river wastes away and dries up,
so man lies down and rises not again;
till the heavens are no more he will not awake,
or be aroused out of his sleep.[Job 14:10-12]

What did the people of Job's time think about the afterlife? There is some debate about this because the Old Testament deals only sporadically with the subject and speaks vaguely about a place called "Sheol" where the dead existed in a sleepy state of nothingness. Even less is said about resurrection. Some scholars say that the doctrines of immortality and bodily resurrection are too advanced for such a primitive culture, but the Egyptians of that time period were mummifying their dead in preparation for the afterlife. So why wouldn't the ancient Hebrews have held similar hope for life after death? The fact that their concept of Heaven and resurrection was skewed is perfectly understandable, given the fact that they had not been taught, nor had they seen evidence of either. New Testament believers have the advantage of knowing Jesus' teachings on Heaven and his example in resurrection. Old Testament believers merely had hopes of what might be after death. But like Job's hope for a mediator, his hopes for immortality and resurrection are spot-on!

"As water evaporates from a lake and a river disappears in drought, people are laid to rest and do not rise again. Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep" (Job 14:11-12)

"I wish you would hide me in the grave (Sheol) and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again!" (Job 14:13)

This sounds alot like the physical resurrection of the dead at the end of time (the book of Revelation is going to be CRAZY...and I look forward to attempting to understand it).

"Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle..." (Job 14:14)

Isn't it interesting that just like Job's desire for a mediator, his felt need for immortality is something God already has in store for him. It's like the analogy of the God-shaped hole in each of our souls. He has created certain needs in mankind, and He has planned to meet each one. Having Adam name the animals, thereby witnessing the parade of unsuitable helpers for himself in the animal kingdom, God allowed Adam to feel his need for a mate. Once the need was felt, God stepped in to meet the need. Job is another great example of God allowing one of his children to experience a deep need that only He can fill... and will fill, even though Job doesn't quite grasp how.

About Melissa Gibbs:

Melissa is the mother of four boys and the wife of her junior high sweetheart, JD.  He is the President of Joe Gibbs Racing and the son of NFL Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs.  JD and Melissa have been married 16 years and are actively involved with Young Life, Motor Racing Outreach, their church, and other ministries.  Their youngest son Taylor is nearing completion of a 3 year treatment protocol for leukemia, which has been a powerful faith walk for their family.  Since his diagnosis, Melissa has been called upon to share their family's testimony with many local churches.

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