Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Gleanings from Job #6

...continuing in my devotional series on Job

(previous post can be viewed here)

Bildad's Speech - Job's Response (Job 8-10)

We have been considering the the story of Job. Under divine direction, Job suffered severe trial from the devil: he lost his family, his livelihood, and eventually his health. After experiencing this intense suffering, Job's friends come to him to offer encouragement. Their encouragement, however, is really discouragement for Job.

The key reason they were so discouraging for Job was they had the wrong perspective of what was happening. Specifically, they didn't know of the dialog in heaven between the Lord and Satan. Job's three friends promoted a retribution theology that suggested all human suffering is a result of just punishment for our sins either done overtly, covertly, or even ignorantly.

With this entry I come to the second speech given by the second of Job's friends, Bildad.

Just like Eliphaz had, Bildad blames Job's calamities upon his unconfessed sin. Whereas Eliphaz accused Job of resenting God's judgment, Bildad accuses Job of impugning God's justice. Rather than being bitter against God's judgment, Bildad claims Job was accusing God of being unjust.

I. Bildad's Accusation:

Immediately after Bildad opens his speech by rebuking Job for his "windy" words (8:1,2), Bildad asks Job, Does God subvert judgment? Or does the Almighty pervert justice? He is implying with his question that Job is saying God is unjust with his actions against him. Job was saying in part, "How dare God do this to me?" "What right does he have to mistreat me, I am innocent?" But Bildad simply points out that if his sons had sinned against God, He had every right to take them away (8:4).

The same can be said of Job's suffering. If Job were truly innocent and undeserving of God's just punishment, well Job could earnestly seek God and He would be awakened to set things right (8:6,7).

II. Bildad's Authority:

In order to support his accusation against Job, Bildad, like Eliphaz in his previous speech, appeals to an outside source of authority. Eliphaz appealed to his personal experience with a vision. Bildad appeals to the historical past and what it can teach Job about his situation.

Bildad says he and Job are young - born yesterday - and should consider the things discovered by their fathers: things people have known about years before they even lived on the earth (8:8-10).

Directing Job's attention to a series of illustrations from nature (papyrus whithering in a marsh, the frailty of spider webs), so it is with hypocrites and those who forget God. As all men have known from previous generations, those people who attempt to live their lives in rebellion against God in a life of sin will only flourish for a moment, but then they dry up. They can have no confidence in their houses, because like the spider's web, God can easily break it up (8:11-19).

This is what has happened to Job. He should take a life lesson from what all men know to be true from their past dealings with God.

III. Bildad's Conclusion:

Wrapping up his speech, Bildad simply says that God doesn't cast off the blameless. If Job were truly blameless, God wouldn't deal with him so harshly. However, his severe suffering clearly demonstrates what everyone knows to be true: Job isn't blameless and needs to confess his sin.

There is truth to what Bildad says as a principle. God most certainly judges those who sin against him, which is all men. The problem with Bildad's words, though, is that he doesn't understand the circumstances behind Job's trial. Job didn't do anything to bring upon himself God's judgment.

Job then responds in chapters 9 and 10,

Job does respond to Bildad by agreeing with some of what he says. His opening comment in 9:2 affirms the main points of Bildad. But Job asks a rather interesting question. Yes, Job says, God will uphold the righteous and put down the evildoer, but in light of who God is, how exactly can any man be righteous?

There is hint of a messianic prophecy speaking of Christ. The person and work of Jesus is not fully understood or even specifically anticipated, but Job recognizes no man can make himself righteous before what he knows of God. His only hope is to have a mediator.

How can a man be righteous before God? Meaning: How can he be declared "NOT GUILTY?"

This question is a serious one in light of who God is as revealed in His attributes:

> God is omnisapient = He is all wise (9:3-4).

> God is omnipotent = He is all powerful (9:56). Note how He alone can move mountains.

> God is fully sovereign (9:7-9). He commands nature. Consider verse 8 where the text says "he treads on the waves of the sea." The word treads can also mean walk. Who was it who commanded the sea and literally walked on the waves?

> God is Creator (9:9). He was the one who created the stars and galaxies.

> God is omniscient = He is all knowing (9:10)

> God is omnipresence = His is every where (9:11, 12)

> God is all consuming (9:15-19)

> God is absolutely holy = He is sinless and no sinner can stand in His presence (9:20)

Job is correct when he answers Bildad with the question: how can a man be made righteous before God? There is no way he can. Not by his own abilities. He must have one who can meet these divine attributes, not be consumed, and then can offer himself up as a substitute in Job's place ("take the rod away" vs. 34); who can serve as a mediator by laying his hand on both God and Job (vs. 33). There is only one who has met these requirements.

Chapter 10 records more of Job's despairing words and his appeal to God to grant him a legal hearing so he can present his case of being innocent before God. He wants God to show him how he has sinned. Job even miserably asks that if God merely created him to be destroyed in the manner in which he is now being destroyed, then what was the point of him even being born (10:13-19)?

Job's words in chapter ten reveal a heart that is desperate for answers, but is presuming upon God that He, as the one who possesses all of those glorious attributes Job just listed in chapter 9, owes him, a puny man, a clear and direct answer as to why things are happening to him the way they are. As we will witness later, particularly when God finally breaks His silence in chapters 38 and following, Job is overstepping his bounds and is approaching being scornful with his comments. This attitude must be avoided by all of God's children who will at one time or another suffer severe trial.



Blogger Joe Blackmon said...

On my blog, I have been studying through the goepel of Matthew and I have just started looking at chapter 4. I think it is important for us as Christians to remember God's purpose in Christ's trial as well as Job's trial is to prove our faith as being genuine. I was greatly encouraged by your post.

3:05 PM, February 05, 2008  

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