The Mortal Change!
William Nicholson, 1862
"You change his countenance, and send him away." Job 14:20
"You change his appearance [in death], and send him away [from the presence of the living]." Job 14:20 (Amplified Bible)
Man has nothing to boast of, for his foundation is the dust. He has nothing to be proud of, for "all flesh is grass," etc. Man is now laboring to make himself attractive, and is attracted by others. But this will soon cease. "You change," etc. What an affecting view of man's state by sin! Created in the image of God, sin has marred the beauty of both body and mind.
I. The Affecting Change."You change his countenance."
Probably the text refers to the custom of covering the face, when a criminal was condemned, and then sending him away to execution. Esther 7:8.
The "countenance" is an interesting part of the human structure, frequently indicating by its expressions the various emotions of the mind. It often expresses hilarity, intelligence, beauty, fortitude, and majesty. The mind shining through the countenance, captivates and commands.
The impression produced by the countenance on the minds of others, is sometimes strong and lasting, and especially in cases of reciprocal affection, and in families. Nothing is so cheering as when the countenance of one friend or relative meets that of another.
But however pleasing and fascinating the countenance may be, it will soon be changed. Its beauty shall be marred; its bloom shall decay; it shall become pale and emaciated. "You change his countenance."
1. By sickness. By bodily disease, wasting and consuming. When a man has been a few days sick, what a change in his countenance! Protracted affliction especially changes his countenance.
2. By trials and disappointments. These oppress and corrode the mind. Mental grief soon appears on the countenance. Protracted grief is like water that wears the stones. "As water wears away stones and torrents wash away the soil, so you destroy man's hope." Job 14:19. Then the countenance soon loses its youthful beauty and fullness.
3. By the terrors of conscience. Then the countenance betrays guilt, gloom, agony, painful foreboding, and guilty remorse. Witness Cain, Ahab, Belshazzar, etc.
4. By old age. Compare the countenance of an aged man with that of his youth. Where is the roseate hue now? Where the muscular energy, the athletic strength, and the graceful figure, now?
All these mutations are but the precursors of the final changing of his countenance!
5. By death. "You change his countenance" then! What a change! Look now at the pale, cold, and rigid form.
The eye sparkles no more;
the tongue pleases no more;
the face beams with intelligence no more, and
no more entrances by its beauty and loveliness.
All is changed now!
The countenance which was majestic and endearing, is now base and despicable. That which was once lovely and amiable, is now ghastly and frightful. That form was perhaps once adored, but now its adorers say, "Bury my dead out of my sight."
The approach of death will make . . .
the strongest and stoutest to change countenance,
the most merry, smiling countenance to look grave and serious, and the most daring countenance to look pale and timorous.
II. The Solemn Event."And send him away."
1. This is the effect of sin, Romans 5:12; 6:23.
2. You "send his body away" to the grave — to the house appointed for all living — to become the prey of worms — to abide there until the resurrection.
3. You "send his soul away" into eternity. And the quality of that eternity will be according to the deeds done in the body.
4. You "send him away" irrevocably. He cannot resist your imperative decree. He cannot return. See verse 7-12.
5. You "send him away" from all the means of grace. "Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie." Ecclesiastes 11:3
6. You "send him away" from all human enjoyments. From his friends, possessions, etc.
1. Let this text check pride and presumption.
2. Let it induce preparation for the final change.
3. Let us value Christ the conqueror of death, the resurrection and the life.