Job’s struggles continue. His oldest friend, Eliphaz has spoken, and Job has answered. Now it is Bildad the Shuhite’s turn. And like Eliphaz, Bildad believed that Job’s sufferings were God’s retribution. Bildad revered the wisdom of the past and addressed Job with a mixture of instruction and encouragement. His point was that Job should quit blustering. He advised Job to repent and allow God’s justice to bring about restoration. According to Bildad God does not twist justice so the death of Job’s children proved that they had sinned against God. Bildad divided people into the blameless and the secretly wicked. He believed that they could be differentiated by watching what God did to them. Job had poured out his grief and was waiting for a sympathetic word, but Bildad said his speech was just so much hot air. Bildad was so concerned about defending the justice of God he forgot the needs of his friend. His ’sermon’ was based on Eliphaz’s dream.
His response to Job had three parts. In the first (v1-7) Bildad spoke of the character of God. It angered him to think Job would even entertain the thought that God would do anything wrong. In Bildad’s mind, Job was blaspheming God. Had he forgotten what God did to the sinners before the flood or to Sodom and Gomorrah? Bildad was correct. God is just. But his application was all wrong. He was only looking at God’s holiness and justice. He forgot all about God’s love, mercy, and goodness. We see these two attributes of God reconciled at the cross. When Jesus died for the sins of the world, the righteousness of God was vindicated, for sin was judged. But the love of God was demonstrated, for a savior was provided. In Christ’s resurrection, the grace of God triumphed over sin and death and all who repent and trust in Jesus Christ will be saved. It must have pained Job when Bildad said his children had died because they had sinned. Bildad may have thought he was encouraging Job. In other word, they can’t change anything now, but you still can so don’t wait too long to confess your sins.
Bildad’s appeal in verses 5-7 is another echo of satan’s philosophy. You say you have not sinned. Then plead with God to restore your prosperity. If you were right before God, He would do great things for you. Isn’t prosperity better than pain? Little did Bildad realize that his words would come true, and Job’s latter end would be greater than his beginning. In the end though, Job’s prayer would be for Bildad and the others because they were the ones not right with God.
Eliphaz based his thinking on observation and experience but Bildad was a traditionalist who looked for wisdom from the past. His key question was what did the ancients say? The past must be a rudder to guide us, but it cannot be an anchor that holds us back. To Bildad the past was a parking lot, but God wants the past to be a launching pad for the future. We stand with the ancients so that we can walk with them and move towards the goals they were seeking. Bildad made it clear that he respected the wisdom of the ancients more than the teachings of his contemporaries.
Bildad looked towards nature in his arguments. First the papyrus plant. If it does not have water, it withers and dies. Job was withering and dying so there had to be a reason. He was a hypocrite, and his hope was perishing. Then Bildad moved on to spiders. No matter how confident you are, leaning on a spider web will cause it to break. Bildad then moves on to a plant. If you pull it up, no matter how lush it was it will eventually die. Something had happened to Job’s root system and he was fading away. That meant that sin was the cause.
In chapters 9 and 10 Job asks three painful questions: How can I be righteous before God? How can I meet God in court? Why was I born? The first question is not a question about salvation but about vindication. He is not asking how can I be justified but how can I be vindicated. If a person tried to take God to court, they would not be able to answer one of God’s questions. But Job doesn’t know any other way to clear himself before his friends. After asking this first question Job spent time speaking of the wonder and glories of God. Who in their right mind would want to go to court with an opponent powerful enough to shake the earth, make the stars, and walk on the waves. Job knows God is not only invincible but also invisible. And even the great monster Rahab, a mythological creature, had to bow down to the Lord’s power.
In order to prove himself righteous, Job had to take God to court. But suppose God accepted the summons? What would Job say or do? How would Job answer God’s cross examination? If God should answer, Job would not believe it was really His voice, and if Job should say the wrong thing, God would only afflict him more. When Job finally did meet God (Job 38-41) the Lord asked him 77 questions…and Job couldn’t answer one of them! Job realized that even if he could declare his innocence before God this was no assurance God would set him free. Job is accusing God of injustice, not only toward Job and his family but toward other innocent people in the land. It seemed that time was running out for Job. Perhaps Job should take a more positive attitude toward his afflictions, forget his pain, and smile but would that change anything? No! He would still appear guilty before God. He would still be rejected by his friends and family. He would still be sitting on an ash heap in sickness and pain. And even if he took a bath and changed clothes as an act of public contrition and cleansing, he would still fear what God might do. Job is convinced that God is against him and that any steps he takes on earth will be nullified by heaven.
Job wonders what would happen if he had a mediator. If God were a man, then Job could approach him and plead his case. Or if there was a mediator between Job and God, he could take away the rod of judgement and bring Job and God together. But God is not a man and there is no mediator. Not until Jesus comes to save us from our sins. Jesus is the mediator that Job was pleading for centuries before.
The last question here, why was I born, may be the most challenging. By this point Job is on a roll. His argument is that God made him and gave him life, but God was not treating him as one of His own creations. From Job’s perspective God had put time and effort into making him and now God was destroying him. Job describes God making him like a potter would make a vessel. And although the potter has sovereignty over his clay Job was questioning God. Job sees the shortness of life here on earth. He sees his situation and sees dust to dust happening very quickly. Life on earth is temporary. Furthermore, God was judging Job without even telling him what the charges were against him. No wonder Job was weary and bitter and confused. Here in chapter 10 Job is speaking directly to God and not his friends. He recognized that God is not a man like him that has to investigate things and fight against time. God is eternal and He can take all the time He wants and needs. God is all knowing, and He doesn’t have to investigate like some kind of private detective. Job feels like God is an ever-present guard, watching his every move and stalking him like a loin, attacking him with His army. Job was hemmed in with no way out.
In light of all this Job’s question seems reasonable. His life seemed purposeless, and he begged God to give him a few minutes of peace and happiness before his life ended. Job could not understand what God was doing, and it was important that he did not understand. Had Job known God was using him as a weapon to defeat satan, he could have simply sat back and waited for the battle to end. In light of all Job’s losses and his personal suffering he saw his life as a waste. But God knew what He was doing then… just as He knows what He is doing now.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W