If A Man Dies Shall He Live Again?

W. Terry Varner
July 7, 2013

The words, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14) occur within the cycle of controversy between Zophar and Job. Zopher claimed Job’s suffering was the result of Job’s sinning against God; consequently, God was punishing Job. Job addresses his question, “If a man dies shall he five again,” to God. Who has not asked or wondered, at some time, what happens to man when he dies? Who has not stood and viewed the casket holding the physical remains of a loved one and not wondered, “If a man dies shall he live again?” “Will I see him/her again?”

The setting of Job 14:14. To understand Job’s question consider the context. (1) Job 14:1-6, the beauty and difficulties of life befall all men. (2) Job 14:7-12, the death of man is the end of mortal life, while man’s soul abides in Sheol [in the New Testament hades]. (3) Job 14:13-17, God will call man’s soul from Sheol, and He will raise and change his mortal body (physical) to immortality. The immediate context must be understood within the remote context of the book of Job and the entire Bible as an unit.

The story of Job. Job’s story begins with happiness with Job described as “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” (1:1). God allowed Job’s faith to be tested by Satan. Satan insisted that Job’s blamelessness was due to God placing “a hedge around him” (1:9-12). Satan tested Job’s faith in four ways, meaningful to all men. It is no wonder, at one point, Job desires to die.

  • Materially—Job lost all his possessions in one day (1:13-16).
  • Death—Job lost seven sons, three daughters, and his servants (1 :17-19).
  • Health—Job’s body was covered “with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (2:7-8).
  • Marital—Job’s helpmate, life’s companion, and mother of their ten children insisted that Job “curse God and die (2:9-10).

The reaction of Job. Job had three friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—who came to “mourn and comfort him” (2:11). There was silence for seven days after their arrival. Finally, Job speaks from a heavy, grief-stricken heart. We are told “his grief was very great” (2:13). Job s words portray a troubled heart. Why not? His words are expressed without sin or falsely accusing God (1:22).

  • Job wished he had never been born (3:3-10).
  • Job was bewildered as why he suffered in life (3:11-19).
  • Job experienced both physical and mental bewilderment over his miseries (3:20-26).
  • Job could not understand why he should be the object of such intense affliction (3:17-18).

Job saw little hope for better days in his life; consequently, he raises the question, which was/is quite natural, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14). Be easy on criticizing Job. We have to keep in mind that Job did not have the revelation from God about matters of immortality that we possess.

His experience seemed to be against men living again. He observed that a fallen tree will sprout again if water is nearby (14:7-9). However, Job had never seen a man laid in a grave rise again (14:12). Have you? While Job longed for rest from his afflictions and the question of a man in a grave, he did not desire to remain there. Do you? At the same time, Job gives no hint of annihilation; i.e. the soul of man ceasing te^exist after physical death. He desired God would call him from the grave. “You shall call, and I will answer you” (14:15). This was Job’s hope! Is it not your hope? This is the context of Job 14:14, “If a man die, shall he live again?” While Job’s inquiry is not answered convincingly until it is answered in the affirmative by Jesus, Job 14:14, as well as many other Old Testament passages, hint at the biblical concept of immortality.