The Common Fate
Job 21:23-26
One dies in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet.…

Job has pointed out that the wicked are not always punished in this life with external trouble; on the contrary, they often flourish to the end in unbroken prosperity (ver. 7, etc.). He next proceeds to show that the end of the happy and the sorrowful is the same. The prosperous had man does not meet with a reverse of fortune at last, nor does the afflicted righteous man find an earthly reward in his later days. Both go down to death without a sign of the reversal of their condition which justice would seem to demand.

I. DEATH HAPPENS ALIKE TO ALL. As Shakespeare puts it, this may be said of all of us -

"Nothing can we call our own, but death:
And that small model of the barren earth,
That serves as paste and cover to our bones." The "great leveller" should not only humble pride, but also teach us more bureau brotherhood. If we are brothers' in death, should we not he brothers also in life? The deepest facts of life are common to all men. Our differences of state and rank only affect what is superficial.

II. DEATH IS NOT FELT TO BE THE SAME BY ALL. Our feelings are affected by contrasts and changes, not by our absolute condition at any moment. The candle-light that looks brilliant to the prisoner in a dungeon, is most gloomy to a man who has just come from the sunshine. Death is all loss and darkness to one who is suddenly snatched away from earthly enjoyment, but it is a haven of rest to the storm-tossed soul. The same death has very different meanings according to our spiritual condition. In sin and worldliness and heathenish ignorance, death is a going out into the darkness. To the Christian it is falling asleep in Christ.

III. THESE IS NO EARTHLY ADJUSTMENT OF LOTS. Job is quite right. It is vain to expect it. If it has not come yet, we have no reason to believe that it will come later on, even at the last. There is nothing in experience to warrant us in the hope that it will come at all. In many respects, no doubts moral causes work out visible effects on earth. But this is by no means universal, nor are the effects always adequate to the requirements of justice.

IV. THERE MUST BE A FUTURE LIFE. The story is not complete on earth. It breaks off suddenly without any kind of finish. This abruptness of the visible ending of life points to a continuance beyond the grave. Justice requires that the unfinished life should have its appropriate conclusion. Not from necessity of nature, but from moral considerations, we conclude that the broken threads must be picked up and drawn together again to make the perfect pattern.

V. THE SPIRITUAL LIFE IS INFINITELY SUPERIOR TO THE MATERIAL. It looks as though the differences of external fortune could be treated with contempt. The good have misfortune, the bad have prosperity. These are slight matters in the eyes of Providence, because real prosperity, is spiritual prosperity, and that is only possible to those who live a right life. - W.F.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet.

WEB: One dies in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet.

Providence Vindicated Against the Superficial Observer
Top of Page
Top of Page