“Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it, let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it” (Job 3:5).
This doleful imprecation-uttered by Job after sitting for months in awful misery-was a key portion of the sad lament of the confused patriarch as he finally let go and cursed the day he was born. He had long been living in the grim “shadow of death,” but could not die. This cry of Job’s contains the first of no less than 20 references in the Scriptures to “the shadow of death.” Of these, 18 are in the Old Testament including 10 in the book of Job.
In one of these, God Himself speaks: “Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?” (Job 38:17). These are rhetorical questions, for no one in Job’s day had ever returned from death.
Even in our day, despite the so-called “out-of-body experiences” claimed by some, no one yet has personal knowledge of what really lies beyond those grim doors.
But Jesus knows! “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18) When Christ conquered death, He destroyed its sting (though not its sorrow). We can now say with David: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4).
The last reference in the Old Testament to the dark shadow is Amos 5:8: “Seek Him that . . . turneth the shadow of death into the morning.” And the last reference in the Bible is when the father of John the Baptist thanked God that “the day spring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78,79). HMM