Making Clean What Was Unclean

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.
Job 14:4

There is an odd expression in English: “Pull yourself up by your own boot straps.”

I take it to be an encouragement to be self-reliant, to work hard on improving oneself.

But it is an odd expression in that you cannot actually pull yourself up by your own boot straps.

It’s physically impossible!

How can something that’s impossible be a good example of doing something?

When Job asks his question in verse 4 of chapter 14, he also answers it.

In one sense it’s a rhetorical question. It isn’t meant to be answered.

Job is making the point that humans are limited in what they can do. They cannot live forever. They also cannot stand up to God.

But in asking this question, Job touches on something that is well worth exploring.

Since a human cannot live forever and cannot do anything to change who he or she is, why would someone like God even bother dealing with them?

Job recognizes that our lives are relatively short. So why should God bother with us at all?

Job appears to be questioning why God has struck down his wealth, children, and health. Questioning, in the sense that God might have done this because he was threatened by Job.

This is how Job’ friends (so-called) seem to be explaining what has happened to Job.

To them, God is punishing Job for some sin he’s committed.

But Job knows that a) he hasn’t committed any sin to warrant this kind of punishment, and b) there’s nothing threatening to God in man at all!

Remember that Job is venting here. He’s letting out his anger, frustration, and pain over what happened.

But in Job’s venting are some pretty profound truths.

One of them is the frailty and temporariness of a person’s life.

“Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).

This has been abundantly clear at the church I serve in that we just had our sixth funeral in 21 days.

Now, that’s a lot for one church. I’ve only seen this one other time and that was in 1998. In February of that year, my colleague and I preached and presided at 14 funerals – practically one every other day.

“He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not” (Job 14:2).

Still another truth Job hits on in chapter 14 is that there is more to this life than just this life.

If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come” (Job 14:14).

The answer to Job’s question is actually “Yes!”

Not in the sense of the Hindu or Buddhist philosophy of reincarnation, but in the sense that there is life after this life for those who fear God and have faith in his Christ, Jesus!

This life in this world will ultimately end.

But like certain trees that are cut down, there will be new growth.

For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease” (Job 14:7).

It will be the Branch of David that grows from the “Stump of Jesse” – Jesus Christ – who will bring everlasting life to a world that must endure pain and suffering.

Jesus Christ, through his birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension for us brings cleaning to the unclean!

Conceived and born in sin, we are truly unclean until we are born again in Holy Baptism. The Holy Spirit of God creates faith in us and makes us children of the heavenly father and heirs of the Kingdom of God!

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one” (Job 14:4).

Not one human that is,

But there is one – and only one – who can do this: The God-Man Jesus Christ, Savior of the world!

©2017 True Men Ministries


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