William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.Job Chapter 14
Now we come to a very remarkable chapter (14). Here we find how far were people, in those days even, ignorant as they were, from confounding the resurrection of the unjust with that of the just. This chapter brings in man raised from the grave. I would not say from the dead. Resurrection from the dead means some raised and others left. Resurrection from the grave will be true after all the saints are raised, and there remain only the wicked to be raised. That will be the resurrection from the grave, but not from the dead (for "from the dead" allows that others remain), there will be none left at that time. There are two resurrections. What is called in the common creeds of Christendom the "general resurrection" is a figment; it has no foundation in scripture. It is entirely opposed to the plainest words of God. Now you have in this world the righteous and the wicked all confused together. The tares are growing with the wheat. But that is only till the judgment come; that is only till the Lord come. And when the Lord comes there will be the separation of the righteous called not only from the dead (other dead being left in their graves), but to heaven where He is now. They are going to be like Himself - "the resurrection of the just." But there remains the great mass of mankind; and that is what Job describes in this chapter. I shall have little more to show, if God will, next Wednesday, about "the resurrection of the just"; but here is the resurrection of the unjust. And therefore you observe how beautifully the language suits. "Man that is born of a woman" - not a word about anyone that is born of God. Those that are born of God will be the righteous. But "man that is born of a woman" (and all are) "is of few days" - it looks at man since the fall - "and full of trouble."
Now, if you are speaking of those that are born of God, is that all you could say? Surely not! To depart is no doubt gain, but to live is well worth while; particularly when Christ is the object; and such can say in their measure, in spite of all their weaknesses and all their faults, "To me to live is Christ." Yes, it is full of blessing; but here it is merely man born of woman, never born of God - not yet, till we come to a later chapter - not one of these is supposed to be born of God. "He cometh forth like a flower" - for they are all pretty much the same when they are born, so far like a flower - no doubt, an interesting object, but how soon developed and made perfectly plain. "He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not." You know very well - we all know - that there is great mortality among the children; it is particularly there that we have death so frequent. "And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one." It does not mean, "not one person," but "not one thing." I merely make that remark in order that it may be understood. "Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass." It its all therefore an uncertainty - a precarious condition as far as man is concerned - but all settled of God.
"Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. But man dieth, and wasteth away." There is no hope for him for this earthly life; he dies and is done with. A plant on the contrary may be brought down to the worst and nothing appear, and yet it may shoot up again, particularly if there is water to help it. "Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth, and drieth up; so man lieth down, and riseth not." There people very often stop, but not so the Spirit of God here by Job. For it is plain here he really does say what Scripture fully warrants - "till the heavens be no more." A very remarkable expression. It might have been thought to be - and that we could easily understand as a natural thing - "till the earth be no more"; but man lives and dies, and does not rise - not till the earth be no more, but - "till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep."
Surely, what is here said is very striking, that even man without God - man who is only born of woman, and not of God - man is to sleep till the heavens be no more. Now take the last Book of the New Testament. In Revelation 20 you find that, after the last outbreak of the world and the external nations of the world in the millennium, all that are not converted during the millennium will fall victims to Satan, after his release from the abyss, and they will all be rallied by him against Jerusalem on earth. They cannot touch Jerusalem above, the holy city. And not merely that, but "the camp of the saints about" - another striking thing. Why is there a camp of the saints around Jerusalem at that time? Has Satan gathered all the outside nations for one great effort to destroy the righteous that will then be on the earth? All the righteous flow up to Jerusalem, and as it will be entirely beyond the capacity of that Jerusalem to take in the saints from every quarter of the world, they will make a vast encampment round the "beloved city," and that will be the great mark for Satan. Against that he thinks to hurl his battalions - all the rebels of the millennium on earth. And what happens then? Fire comes down from God and destroys them all. And what then? Satan is cast at last into the lake of fire. There is to be no temptation more; everything is going to be changed now. It is not merely that he is bound - he is cast into the lake of fire. There is no use which God can put him to; he is now to be punished for ever. And that is not all.
Heaven and earth flee away. And as the fire had consumed these wicked nations, they now are raised from the dead, and not only they, but all the wicked since the world began. This is the resurrection of the unjust, and they will all be in one company, and without one righteous person. You may ask what is to become of the righteous. Oh, they are translated, just as we are at the coming of the Lord for us before the millennium. They will be with the Lord. They are not spoken of; there is no need to speak about it. They were never promised to sit upon the throne; we were. They had their comfort all the time of their righteousness. They will enjoy nothing but comfort; and, consequently, as they never suffered with Christ, they are not to be glorified with Him. Nevertheless, they are to be raised, or as I should rather say, they are to be changed, because they do not die. But they will no doubt be changed.
That great principle of change will apply to all that are found alive - all the saints on the earth at that time. And we do find them in the next chapter. "The tabernacle of God is with men." There they are the men; they are not the tabernacle. The tabernacle of God are the glorified saints - are those that had been already with Him and reigning - all those that were His, and they are particularly, as far as I know, the church. I do not know that one could predicate it properly of any but the church. Still, all the others will be blessed throughout all eternity. But the tabernacle of God is with men, and I presume that these men that are spoken of are the saints that are transported from the earth into the "new earth." You may ask me, How and why? I say, God does not tell us, and I cannot tell you, beyond that I know it will be; and we are all bound to believe that it will be, because the word of God says so. So that there is the tabernacle of God quite distinct. And now when they are all in this city, fit for all eternity, the tabernacle of God, instead of being up in the air, comes down. It is not that it mingles with the other, but there it is. It deigns to be in the midst; God Himself is there, and all those that are in especial nearness to God will be there; but all the blessed inhabitants of the millennial earth will be there as the men with whom that tabernacle shall then be.
So that nothing can be plainer than how this coalesces with the words of Job. The wicked lie in the grave till the very end of the earth. Not merely the end of the age, but the absolute end, not only of the earth, but, of the heavens; and therefore it is said "till the heavens be no more." For it might be thought that at the beginning of the millennium the earth sustains a very great change, and so it does. But it is not then; it is "till the heavens be no more," and that will never be till the absolute end of all the dispensations of God; and then it is that the wicked from the beginning and up to the end of the millennium will be all raised for judgment. And this entirely agrees with the 5th of John. You recollect that very remarkable drawing out of the grand principle of life and judgment by our Lord Jesus. He is the source of life, and He is the executor of judgment. In giving life He had communion with His Father. "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will." But He, and He alone, will judge the dead. And in effect He carries on the judgment of the living also, the "quick" or "alive." But at this time all His enemies will be dead; all the wicked from the beginning of the world; and they will be sentenced therefore to that which lasts when the world is no more, when there is nothing but the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. They will meet their doom then. And it is lovely, it appears to me, that God should bring those that He loves into their blessing, long before those that are accursed meet their doom, and they will all meet this doom together.
Speaking now of those that are left when the Lord comes for His saints, there will, of course, be great executions of judgment; but then they remain (as a general law) till the end of all - till the thousand years are over, and the heavens and the earth that now are, are completely changed. I would therefore leave this with you as showing how Job had a very good inkling of this blessed truth - much more than the theologians have now- a-days. In general they are all partners in error, no matter who they may be. They may be Established or non-Established; they may be what they call the Free Churches; or they may be Ritualist or Roman Catholics, or anything; but they are all agreed in that great error; they jumble together both the righteous and the unrighteous in what they call one general judgment - a general resurrection - a thing that is entirely without one single scripture to justify it. Nay, more - that is condemned by all the light of the word of God, both Old Testament and New.
Now, I need not say much more; for Job turns from this very solemn scene that is before his mind to call upon the Lord, and says, "Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee; thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands." His heart is beginning to get a little courage. "For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin? My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity. And surely the mountain falling, cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place. The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man." But the Lord does not leave Job until he sees that he was not merely man looking up to God, but a man knowing God's love that was taking him up and chastising him in order that he might be blessed more than ever he had been before. That is the great object of the Book of Job.
He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.
And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee?
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.
Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.
For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;
Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.
But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?
As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:
So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!
If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.
For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin?
My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.
And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place.
The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man.
Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away.
His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.
But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.