Explore The Bible Study: Hope Defined

8:50 AM

"IF ONLY GOD WOULD . . ." How would you complete this statement with regard to your life and circumstances? Amid his suffering, Job realizes things about his own immortality and searches for hope from the God who loves him. In the midst of his searching, he makes the statement, “If only,” several times. Each time Job is searching for hope and clarity because of his life experiences.  This Explore the Bible Study: Hope Defined, will help you understand that it's alright to search for hope and meaning in the midst of difficult circumstances.

In the previous session, Job was described as a man who demonstrated a mature faith in God, and turned away from evil. He was a man of integrity, and was well-respected in his community. He had been blessed with children, possessions, and other material wealth. Because of these blessings, Satan challenged God by stating that Job only loved Him because of how he had been blessed. Satan told God that, if Job had all this taken away, he would turn away from Him. 

God allowed Job’s faith to be tested by Satan, to prove that authentic faith is not based on what one has but on Whom one trusts.

One must answer this question as the study of the Book of Job continues this week: “Are you mature enough in your faith to handle any test or trial you face? Or do you possess a situational or conditional faith – a faith that is only strong when situations and conditions are favorable?"

In Job 14:1-14 Job begins to reflect on the brevity of life, God's judgment, man's mortality, and the hope for life after death.

Brevity of Life and God's Judgment - Job 14:1-6

Job accepts the reality that life is short and that suffering and adversity should be expected. We know life is short because of sin. Romans 5:12 reminds us that, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned. Yet we are reminded in Romans 6:23 that even though the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. If we are living in a right relationship with God through Christ, then we must realize, as Job did, that we aren’t immune to problems, sickness, or pain while living in this sin-broken world. But, like Job, we will still have questions.

Job asks three questions that one must answer regarding God:

  1. Do you really take notice of one like this? The following passages remind us that God does take notice – Psalm 139:13; Psalm 139:16; Luke 12:7; Romans 5:6-8
  2. Will you bring me into judgment against you? - The following passages help keep God’s judgment in perspective for the believer – Hebrews 12:5-7; 1 Corinthians 11:32; Revelation 3:19. If we profess Christ as Savior, then God’s judgment on this side of Heaven is for the purpose of discipline as a father disciplines his children. Additionally, we must always remember that not all bad things are a result of God’s discipline. Like Job, sometimes we have done nothing that is deserving of God’s discipline. The things we face are either due to the sin of others, living in this sin-broken world, or for the purpose of bringing glory to God.
  3. Who can produce something pure from what is impure? - The following passages help answer this question –1 Peter 2:24; John 3:36; Hebrews 10:22; Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:21. The only way we can be truly pure in heart is to give our lives to Jesus. We are only pure through the cleansing power and blood of Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, after asking these questions, Job asks God to just leave him alone and let him finish out life with some relief like a hired hand. Job was tired and desired some relief, which is something I'm sure many can relate to today.

Man's Mortality - Job 14:7-12

Job dwelt upon the finality of death, which led him to slip into an attitude of fatalism and despair. He felt like any hope of relief and renewal had to happen in this life. However, we know that, if we commit our lives to Christ, we aren’t without hope. Because of Christ’s resurrection, our grief is infused with hope.

Hope for Life After Death - Job 14:13-14

Job longed for death in hopes of escaping God’s wrath that had been poured out on him. Job felt that, at least in the grave, he would find relief, and he hoped he would stay there until God’s anger had passed. 

Job then asks a question in verse 14, When a person dies, will he come back to life? This is a universal question everyone asks. While Job may have sounded fatalistic in this conversation, we see something in Job’s final thoughts in verse 14 that is significant. He says, I would wait all the days of my struggle until my relief comes.  Job needed reassurance that after a period in the grave, God would call him back to life. In knowing this, he would determine to endure and live faithfully in this present life in spite of his present circumstances. This was the hope he needed. It is the hope everyone needs in order to endure present day difficulties.

Wanting to Die Versus Ready to Die

What is the difference between a person saying, “I just want to die” versus “I’m ready to die”? If you have ever ministered to someone who is facing death, you noticed how differently an unbeliever or the unbelieving family members respond to death than does a believer or the believing family members. There is a hope that comes with death instead of despair. 

In Philippians 1:21-26, the Apostle Paul helps us understand what Job is trying to say as he tries to gather his thoughts, " – For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. I am torn between the two. I long to depart and be with Christ—which is far better— but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that, because of my coming to you again, your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound. (CSB)

Job's thoughts in chapter 14 give us glimpse into the thoughts of a man who had been driven to despair by his suffering. Now that the Bible is complete, we have the advantage of seeing the whole picture. The good news of the gospel brings us a clarity of hope that had not yet been fully revealed in the time of Job.  As believers, we find hope to endure our current circumstances because of the promises we have through the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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