Job 17-20 Who will see my hope? Will it go down to the bars of Sheol?

From Job 17-20

18 Job three friends thumb

Job is confident that he is in the right, but he does not expect he will be found that way before he dies. Job feels his death is approaching. The chapter contrasts hope and death.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

18 Job 17-20

17 “My spirit is broken; my days are extinct; the graveyard is ready for me.

2 Surely there are mockers about me, and my eye dwells on their provocation. (Job 17.1-2)

In addition to feeling his death is imminent Job is surrounded by mockers. He refers to his friends and what they have said to him.

3 “Lay down a pledge for me with you; who is there who will put up security for me?

4 Since you have closed their hearts to understanding, therefore you will not let them triumph.

5 He who informs against his friends to get a share of their property— the eyes of his children will fail. (Job 17.3-5)

Many do not support Job or are willing to help him financially. Job criticises his friends for the way they have treated him. He predicts their children will suffer because of what they have done.

6 “He has made me a byword of the peoples, and I am one before whom men spit.

7 My eye has grown dim from vexation, and all my members are like a shadow.

8 The upright are appalled at this, and the innocent stirs himself up against the godless.

9 Yet the righteous holds to his way, and he who has clean hands grows stronger and stronger. (Job 17.6-9)

Job comments further on the treatment people have given him.

Sometimes a person’s suffering is made worse for the way society treats them.

The upright (could also be called ‘the righteous’) however treat him differently. Jobs commentary of the way people have been treating him condemns the many. He calls them ‘the godless’. But there are a few who treat him well. They prosper and grow.

Job turns his attention to his friends again.

10 But you, come on again, all of you, and I shall not find a wise man among you.

11 My days are past; my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart.

12 They make night into day: ‘The light,’ they say, ‘is near to the darkness.’ (Job 17.10-12)

Job, like several times before laments his last days. He believes he will die soon.

He has no hope for a better future.

13 If I hope for Sheol as my house, if I make my bed in darkness,

14 if I say to the pit, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My mother,’ or ‘My sister,’

15 where then is my hope? Who will see my hope?

16 Will it go down to the bars of Sheol? Shall we descend together into the dust?” (Job 17.13-16)

Job describes Sheol (aka ‘the pit’) as a place of nothingness. If he dies he will know nothing more. His hope of vindication will be gone. He will never be shown innocent.

Story of Jesus

Job sees the negative aspect of death. He recognises death will be the end. This is typical of the Old Testament’s understanding of death and Sheol. In the gospel Jesus tells a parable about the rich man and Lazarus. He teaches an ongoing existence after death.

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried,

23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’

25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’

27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ” (Lk 16.19-31)

Is death the end? Can we hope for things after death?

Death is never more than a step from any man. Those who are daily travelling towards the grave should prepare for their future homes. Painful experiences in this world for some can pursue a man no further than to the bounds of life. God’s people are given hope because of what Christ has said and done.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.