Job 8:11–15 11“Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh? Can the reeds flourish without water? 12 While it is yet green and not cut down, It withers before any other plant. 13 So are the paths of all who forget God; And the hope of the hypocrite shall perish, 14 Whose confidence shall be cut off, And whose trust is a spider’s web. 15 He leans on his house, but it does not stand. He holds it fast, but it does not endure."
Romans 5:1–5 1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Two Types Hope
Hope is a vital reality in human experience. The possibility of something good or the anticipation of better times is what gives life impetus and contributes to our happiness and peace. The absence of hope is despair. The Bible tells us that there are two types of hope. One that will perish because it is centred on the temporal and transient things of this world and one that is sure because it is based upon, and anchored to the eternal Christ. This is the hope God wants you to have. The hymn writer wrote of it: My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand. When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace; In ev'ry high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil. When he shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in him be found, dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne. Let us contrast these two types of hope. 1. Hope that will Perish – Job 8:11-15 Bildad says ‘the hypocrite’s hope shall perish’ (v 13). Hypocrite is a strong word. It refers to the godless, those who wilfully forget God. They by choice reject and abandon God and His truth. Bildad is one of Job’s so called ‘friends’ (Job 2:11). He along with the other two friends who came to comfort Job spoke truth generally, but applied it wrongly. Particularly they mistakenly accused Job and misrepresented God (Job 42:7). Bildad speaks within a framework of cause and effect. To him human sin is met with divine justice. He sees Job’s children in this light (v 4) and assumes Job is heading for the same fate (vs 5-7). Bildad in vs 11-15 depicts those who forget God as possessing an unreliable hope with a confidence no better than a spider’s web (vs 13-15). They are like a papyrus plant that perishes without water (vs 11-12). Think about three things we learn from his words concerning those who forget God. a. The Frailness of their Lives vs 11-12 Papyrus and reeds grow in damp marshy areas like the Nile. The papyrus plant, once abundant in Egypt, grows straight and erect up to a height of 8 to 10 feet. Growing and flourishing under the sun nourished by an abundant supply of water it was prized in ancient times for its uses which included watercraft, mats, baskets and writing material called parchment, the ancient equivalent of paper. But, if the source of water fails, more quickly than grass the plant withers and dies in a night long before it is ever harvested. Papyrus, is a superficial plant, being all appearance without any ability to sustain itself and lacking deep or stable roots in the ground. This illustrates the nature of man and the reality for those who live independently and in forgetfulness of God. Proud and successful, they live life to the full confident in themselves, yet all the time so frail and vulnerable in danger of succumbing to death in a moment. How quickly we wither and soon die when illness comes and the vitality of life goes. No matter how strong or successful someone is, when health and strength leave us how weak we soon become. Man is not self-sufficient, he depends on the Giver and Sustainer of life, God. How superficial we really are. In a moment we can be reduced to helplessness facing the fate of all humans – death and with it, the loss of all our hopes and dreams. b. The Emptiness of their Hope v 13 ‘So are the paths of all who forget God; and the hope of the hypocrite shall perish’. The fate of those, says Bildad, who forget God will be to die without hope probably far sooner than they ever expect. Like the papyrus plant, those who have no stable roots of faith in God so often and suddenly have their hope cut off. The many plans and schemes they dream of will never materialise and the long prosperous future they anticipate will never be realised as He upon whom their very existence depends ‘withdraws the water of life’ and their hope falls to the grave and their soul goes out into the darkness of eternal night. How quickly the hope of man will perish. Taken in a moment from the things they love and live for, leaving them all behind for someone else. Such is the emptiness of the hope of those who forget God. Job in his ‘oath of innocence’ says, “If I have made gold my hope, or said to fine gold, ‘you are my confidence’; if I have rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because my hand had gained much” (Job 31:24-25). Job didn’t hope or trust in wealth, but many do. Two things that drive and consume people are money and power. The deception of self-sufficiency is based upon possessing these two things. The apostle Paul wrote: ‘For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil’ (1 Tim 6:10). Jesus said to a man who was concerned about an inheritance: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). He told this story: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:16-21). If money and things are the basis of our hope, what an awful disappointment we will face in the end. c. The Worthlessness of their Confidence vs 14-15 Confidence in what is worthless is not only folly, it will prove fatal. ‘Whose confidence shall be cut off, and whose trust is a spider’s web’ (v 14). A spider’s web is a fascinating phenomenon of nature. The silken web woven by the tiny creature is in itself a work of art. Its primary purpose is for catching prey. The fact alluded to here is that while a web from the perspective of a spider is fit for purpose, it is of no value as a means of strength or support to a human. To lean on or grab hold of a spider’s web as a means of support would be foolish, it has no strength to support our weight either as a prop or in a fall. Yet this is like the confidence of many people. Their confidence is meaningless because it is placed in what is worthless. The believer has put their trust and confidence for eternity in the ‘Rock of Ages’, the Lord Jesus Christ. Many reject the very idea of needing Him. But, those who ‘trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches’ are leaning on and holding to what amounts to the house of a spider (v 15); they will be sorely disappointed and discouraged when the day of death comes and eternity looms. If my confidence is in something other than Christ, be it wealth, success or religion or anything else, in the end it will prove to be ‘a spider’s web’. 2. Hope that is Sure – Rom 5:1-5 The apostle Paul says that the believer in the Lord Jesus rejoices ‘in hope of the glory of God’ (v 2). Here is a hope that won’t perish when death comes, rather it will be realised in all its fullness. But, why does, and how can someone possess such a sure and certain hope which far exceeds and transcends anything in this world? Paul gives us the reason. It is a believer’s standing before God in Christ that assures them of ultimately being in God’s glorious presence. Think with me about these two things concerning the believer in the Lord Jesus. a. The Security of their Standingvs 1-2 There are three things to observe in vs 1 & 2 about the standing of a justified sinner. It is: >A Standing through Faith >A Standing of Peace >A Standing in Grace Nobody deserves divine forgiveness or righteousness. As those who ‘have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Rom 3:23) acceptance before Him is by ‘being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’ (Rom 3:24). Christ’s work on the Cross and the sacrificial shedding of His precious blood paid for our liberation from the bondage and condemnation of sin. He paid the debt of our sin and secured for us the gift of God’s righteousness, meaning that God can through Christ reach out to us in mercy and extend grace to us by calling us to repentance and offering us forgiveness and acceptance with Him. Those who respond are assured of what Paul writes here: ‘therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand’ (vs 1-2). This acceptance, this peace, this standing of grace can be yours today. How? By placing your total trust in the Lord Jesus now. He promised: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). He is waiting to welcome you, but the question is, are you willing to come to Him? b. The Certainty of their Hope vs 3-5 Notice the two things Paul says about the believer’s hope: >The Anticipation of their Hope is the Glory of God >The Assurance of their Hope is the Love of God The apostle Paul asserts that the believer rejoices, or boasts ‘in hope of the glory of God’ and in tribulations also, knowing that ‘tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope’ (v 4). The trials of life develop these qualities in the believer and intensify the hope he or she has been of assured of through the gospel. The anticipation for the believer is that one day they will be in the very presence of God. This is no fairy-tale thinking. This hope will not disappoint. God’s love poured out into the heart of the believer is the present assurance of the ultimate realisation of God’s glory. Christianity, true Bible Christianity, is not a theory or a nice idea, nor is it some kind of warm fuzzy feeling. The reality of divine love experienced by the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God gives a sense of peace and settled assurance to the heart of the believer who has accepted the revelation of God’s love through Christ and has embraced the truth of the Cross that expresses the nature, power and assurance of that love. The believer has a sure hope because of God’s enduring love. Paul writes later in this epistle: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:35-39). AJC