Round 2: Bildad

Posted: June 16, 2011 in Job

Job 8-10, “Round 2: Bildad”

If God is so good, how can He allow evil to exist?  Both skeptics & believers alike have asked this question throughout the centuries – to a variety of answers along the way.  Yet we’re all late-comers to the party – we’re all in the back of the line behind Job who asked this question in regards to his own suffering.

Recall that Job had truly been suffering in immense ways!  [Job 1-3]  God had seen Job as completely blameless & upright & offered him as an example to Satan of someone who loved God in complete purity.  Satan puts Job to the test (under God’s limitations), and wipes out his entire fortune, servants, and children in a single day.  Job is grieved, but maintains his faith in God in superb humility.  Satan gets another shot at Job, this time allowed by God to touch his body, but not his life.  Job is left in physical anguish on top of his emotional grief, and it’s completely overwhelming to him.  His friends come to mourn at his side – but then open their mouth & everything goes downhill at that point.

Review Round 1 with Eliphaz (Job 4-7): Eliphaz rightly observes that no one is more holy than God, but wrongly assumes that Job must have done something to deserve his suffering.  He rightly tells Job to humbly seek God, but wrongly assumes that God is disciplining Job for some unknown sin.  Job responds by pointing out Eliphaz’s words bring no comfort to his suffering & is brutally honest with his hopelessness – asking God why God allowed him to go through all of this.

As we move to Bildad, we’re going to find that Bildad is a little more harsh with his accusations than Eliphaz was – though he seemingly wraps everything in an insincere smile (and Zophar is going to be downright rude!).  Bildad moves from suggesting Job has sinned to outright declaring it to be so, basically putting words into God’s mouth that were never there.  As we read his accusations, we need to remember that the beginning of the book of Job makes it absolutely clear that God saw Job as innocent & righteous – Job had done nothing to deserve this suffering.  Thus even when Bildad may seem to be sticking up for God’s holiness, in essence he is lying about God’s character & motives – Bildad couldn’t have been more wrong if he tried.

What do you do when someone beats you over the head with the Bible?  When they act like the Pharisees in having a zeal for God, but it is a zeal without knowledge as they forget the heart of God?  That’s what Job has to deal with, with his friends.  (Not the best friends, are they?)  In the end, Job is going to still be left without answers – knowing that he needs to plead with God, but seemingly having no way to go about it.

Job 8 (NKJV)
1 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said: 2 “How long will you speak these things, And the words of your mouth be like a strong wind?

  1. Back in Ch 6, Job complained to Eliphaz, wondering why he was rebuking Job’s desperate words, which were “as wind,” (6:26).  Bildad turns it back around on Job by basically saying, “You’re filled with hot air – how long are you going to continue?”  Bildad simply ignores Job’s grief & wonders why he’s not over it yet.
  2. Note: it’s not very comforting to tell a suffering person: “Shut up already & get over it.”  Our Lord & Master looked upon suffering people with compassion – He’s our model on how we ought to relate to one another.  There’s something wrong when we replace compassion with condemnation.
    1. That’s not to say that whatever Job had proclaimed in Ch 6-7 was all theologically correct – it wasn’t.  Yet there’s a time & place to bring correction to someone’s doctrine…typically it’s not when they’re still crying out in pain. During those times, they need someone to demonstrate the love & compassion of Christ.  The correction can come later, if needed.

3 Does God subvert judgment? Or does the Almighty pervert justice? 4 If your sons have sinned against Him, He has cast them away for their transgression.

  1. It’s amazing how Bildad can simultaneously be so right & so wrong.  Amen to the fact that God is always just & will never “subvert justice” – the God of all the earth will always do what is right (Gen 18:25).  Yet at the same time, Bildad’s assumption about God’s motives and actions are absolutely incorrect.  God did not strike out at Job’s children in vengeance & judgment – God did not “cast them away for their transgression.”  We can know this without a shadow of a doubt, based on the events of Job 1.  Obviously, this was unknown to Bildad, but that doesn’t make his error any better.
    1. This is the danger with false teachers!  Many times they’ll speak a bunch of absolute Scriptural truth – but it’ll have a poisonous mix of heresy contained within.  The more someone listens, the harder it is to distinguish between that which is true & that which is false.  We need to beware of ALL false teaching – and the best way to be prepared is to be thoroughly steeped in the revealed word of God: the Scripture!
  2. We need to be extraordinarily careful when it comes to attributing motives to God.  One person sees a tornado strike a city & proclaims God’s judgment; another person sees that same tornado wipe out a church and wonder if God cares.  The plain fact is we don’t know why some of those things happen.  Some tragedies happen simply because we live in a fallen world…it won’t be until eternity that we won’t see natural disasters any longer.  What we DO know is this: God sovereignly allows some things to happen, God is in control, and God has already demonstrated His love for us when He sent Jesus to die upon the cross (Rom 5:8).  To speak beyond that concerning God’s “motives” during tragedy is simply to speak in ignorance.  We need to be careful, because we very possibly might be speaking incorrectly about God. (Bearing false witness about Him.)
  3. BTW – how cruel can Bildad get here?  Job is grieving the loss of his 10 children, whom he loved greatly & gave sacrifices for on a regular basis.  And here Bildad goes, just twisting the knife a bit by claiming that “Of course they were unrepentant sinners & deserved the death God gave them!”  Terrible, uncaring counsel!

5 If you would earnestly seek God And make your supplication to the Almighty, 6 If you were pure and upright, Surely now He would awake for you, And prosper your rightful dwelling place. 7 Though your beginning was small, Yet your latter end would increase abundantly.

  1. Bildad takes it a step further here: he claims that not only were Job’s children killed for their sin, it’s only because Job was slightly LESS sinful that God didn’t kill him as well.  If Job would simply seek the Lord, then of course God would lift him back up again.  (As if Job hadn’t been seeking God this entire time!)
  2. The smug confidence of ignorance is astounding.  Yet as obvious as it is through Bildad, we need to admit we do the same thing when we go spouting off pronouncements about God when we ourselves are not truly submitted to the Lord.  It’s easy to give someone advice from the cheap seats; it’s another thing when we find ourselves in the same situation.

8 “For inquire, please, of the former age, And consider the things discovered by their fathers; 9 For we were born yesterday, and know nothing, Because our days on earth are a shadow. 10 Will they not teach you and tell you, And utter words from their heart?

  1. On one hand, this is a good thing for Bildad to do.  It’s good to take our eyes off ourselves to look at what other voices have had to say on a subject.  At the same time, we need to be careful to ensure that those other voices are in line with what God has to say in the Bible.  Ancient truth is good, but it needs to be TRUE.  “Old” doesn’t necessarily equal “accurate.”  For example, it’s good to read what many of the early church fathers had to say on certain subjects, but we need to be careful to remember that only the Bible carries the authority of God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; the writings of the Church Fathers are definitely NOT inspired.  Some of what they write is helpful; other writings are simply unbiblical. (Origen’s allegorical method of Bible interpretation, for example.)

11 “Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh? Can the reeds flourish without water? 12 While it is yet green and not cut down, It withers before any other plant.

  1. Bildad is going to appeal to several examples from nature.  The 1st is of papyrus reeds – they need to be rooted in water in order to grow.  Without a nourishing foundation, they will quickly wither.  That’s true, but…his conclusions are incorrect.

13 So are the paths of all who forget God; And the hope of the hypocrite shall perish,

  1. Amen, those who forget God will wither like the uprooted papyrus reed.  The only problem with his theory is that Job hadn’t forgotten God. Ch 1-2 make it abundantly clear that not only was Job faithful in his worship & praise of God prior to his suffering, he was faithful AFTER his suffering as well.

14 Whose confidence shall be cut off, And whose trust is a spider’s web. 15 He leans on his house, but it does not stand. He holds it fast, but it does not endure. 16 He grows green in the sun, And his branches spread out in his garden. 17 His roots wrap around the rock heap, And look for a place in the stones. 18 If he is destroyed from his place, Then it will deny him, saying, ‘I have not seen you.’ 19 “Behold, this is the joy of His way, And out of the earth others will grow.

  1. The 2nd nature analogy: the spider’s web.  The hypocrite’s faith is like that of a web – completely unstable & wrecked easily.  The 3rd nature analogy: plant life.  The hypocrite will look for a place to set down roots, but will find none if not planted in good soil.
  2. All of this is true, to an extent.  We DO need a good foundation!  Jesus made it clear that if we hear His words & keep them, it’s as if we’re building our house upon a rock (Mt 7:24).  When winds come & blow against us in a storm, we will stand firm.  Moreover, Jesus even used a similar analogy when teaching the parable of the sower (Lk 8).  The seed that sprung up on the rocky soil had no root, and withered away quickly.  Without being rooted & grounded in Christ, we WILL falter & fail when trials & tribulations come in our life – no doubt.  Jesus told us flat out that unless we abide in Him, we can do nothing (Jn 15:5), yet at the same time we know that we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil 4:13).  We desperately need the foundation of Christ!  There is indeed a joy that comes when we’re rooted in the Lord – we dare not leave that foundation!
  3. The problem is that Job had not abandoned the Lord, nor was he un-rooted in God.  Job had certainly felt abandoned by God, but he himself had not left the Lord or denied His name.  Bildad’s statement was largely true, but his application was completely off-base.

20 Behold, God will not cast away the blameless, Nor will He uphold the evildoers. 21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughing, And your lips with rejoicing. 22 Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, And the dwelling place of the wicked will come to nothing.”

  1. Again, there’s both truth & error here.  From an eternal perspective, this is absolutely true; from a temporary perspective it’s undoubtedly false.  Bildad had a simplistic theology based on temporary circumstances: if you do good things, God will reward you with good things – if you do bad things, God will give you bad things in return.  There’s no question that in eternity, God will not cast away the blameless (and only those found in Christ will be found blameless) – God will maintain His absolute justice as everyone who is left in their own sin will experience the wrath of God.  In eternity, this is true.  The problem is: we don’t yet live in eternity.  In this fallen world, injustice sometimes does exist & Godly people do experience hardships & trials.  Jesus even promised us that much! John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." []  That’s a promise straight from the mouth of God!
  2. The problem comes in when we mistake the promised blessings of eternity for temporary principles today.  It’s in heaven that all our tears will be wiped away, not on earth.  God will fill our mouth with laughing in eternity – but on earth we will still deal with sadness and grief. …
    1. Be careful of those who give empty promises mistaking the two! …..

Job 9 (NKJV)
1 Then Job answered and said: 2 “Truly I know it is so, But how can a man be righteous before God?

  1. Job starts with an “Amen.”  To the truth that Bildad states, Job affirms it.  Truly God is absolutely righteous & no man can ever be truly found righteous in God’s sight without the intervention of the grace of God.  As Paul quoted from the Psalms, “there is none righteous, no not one.” (Rom 3:10)

3 If one wished to contend with Him, He could not answer Him one time out of a thousand. 4 God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?

  1. It’s impossible to raise a case against God.  God is far TOO righteous – how can we possibly bring a case against the God who gave us life?  He sees every circumstance – He knows every heart – He knows the beginning from the end.  He is the very definition/standard of righteousness – it is impossible to find fault in Him.
  2. Unfortunately for Job, this is exactly what he ends up trying to do – and God personally reminds him that it is impossible to contend with the Almighty. …

5 He removes the mountains, and they do not know When He overturns them in His anger; 6 He shakes the earth out of its place, And its pillars tremble; 7 He commands the sun, and it does not rise; He seals off the stars; 8 He alone spreads out the heavens, And treads on the waves of the sea; 9 He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, And the chambers of the south; 10 He does great things past finding out, Yes, wonders without number.

  1. Speaking of the sheer power of God.  God rules over the mountains & earth (shaking the very foundations).  God rules over the oceans (the waves of the sea).  God rules over the heavens (both the near sun & far away stars). There is nothing beyond His command and control – He truly performs “wonders beyond number.”  God is a wondrous God!
  2. The point: how is it possible to take a stand against GOD?  How exactly does someone compel the Infinite All-powerful Creator God to do anything? …

11 If He goes by me, I do not see Him; If He moves past, I do not perceive Him; 12 If He takes away, who can hinder Him? Who can say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’

  1. Beyond His power, God is Spirit.  He cannot be trapped.  It’s not as if we can back Him into a corner.

13 God will not withdraw His anger, The allies of the proud lie prostrate beneath Him. 14 “How then can I answer Him, And choose my words to reason with Him?

  1. God is holy and cannot be questioned.  That’s not to say that we never have questions or doubts along the way as we walk in faith – but by definition, God is perfect.  The infinite ways of the Creator simply cannot be called into question by His creation.

15 For though I were righteous, I could not answer Him; I would beg mercy of my Judge. 16 If I called and He answered me, I would not believe that He was listening to my voice.

  1. Here’s Job’s quandary: he has a legitimate complaint, only no way to take it to God.
  2. Yet even if Job could take his complaint to God, he wouldn’t believe God heard him.  This is a bad place for Job to be!  We need to always be willing to listen to God’s voice…  We may not understand or like what He has to say at the time, but we ought to be willing to hear & obey.  As Jesus prayed in the garden – “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Mt 26:39)  That’s the picture of submission in the midst of suffering.

17 For He crushes me with a tempest, And multiplies my wounds without cause. 18 He will not allow me to catch my breath, But fills me with bitterness.

  1. Had God crushed him?  No.  God had certainly allowed Satan to crush Job & multiply his wounds, but God was not the one at fault here.  Of course, Job did not know the background – all he know was that he was in emotional & physical agony.
    1. How important it is to remember that God does not cause our pain!  God does allow us to go through pain – and there are times God does not remove our pain (as Paul learned with his thorn in the flesh).  But God is not to blame for our pain.  There’s a big difference there!  On the contrary, God is the one we can run to in the midst of our pain!
  2. Where had Job’s pain left him?  In bitterness.  Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick… (Pro 3:12)
  3. Is Job to be faulted here?  Not at all!  He’s simply being honest with how he feels.  Sometimes we get the idea that if we’re truly “holy” then we will never experience bitterness, grief, or depression.  That’s simply not the case!  Just a cursory look at the Psalms tell us otherwise…

19 If it is a matter of strength, indeed He is strong; And if of justice, who will appoint my day in court? 20 Though I were righteous, my own mouth would condemn me; Though I were blameless, it would prove me perverse.

  1. Absolutely true.  Our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (Isa 64:6)

21 “I am blameless, yet I do not know myself; I despise my life.

  1. At the same time, this is also absolutely true.  Job WAS blameless.  Yet because of his situation, he’s left in utter confusion & despair.

22 It is all one thing; Therefore I say, ‘He destroys the blameless and the wicked.’ 23 If the scourge slays suddenly, He laughs at the plight of the innocent. 24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked. He covers the faces of its judges. If it is not He, who else could it be?

  1. Obviously God does not laugh at the innocent who suffers – yet we shouldn’t be too hard on Job.  These are simply honest questions about injustice in the world. …
  2. Skeptics often raise an objection to God, saying, “If God truly existed, how could a good God allow injustice in the world?  Since injustice does exist, it follows that God does not.”  Not only are there issues of idolatry involved (making up an image of God in our minds that don’t comply to the description of God in the Scripture) – there’s also a philosophical issue to be addressed regarding how we recognize injustice/evil to begin with. [Ravi Zacharias]  We’ve been made in the image of God, which is the reason we can recognize injustice where it exists – we can only identify injustice because there IS a just God.  It’s not that the existence of evil that proves there is no God; on the contrary – the fact we can recognize evil proves the existence of a good God.

25 “Now my days are swifter than a runner; They flee away, they see no good. 26 They pass by like swift ships, Like an eagle swooping on its prey.

  1. Life is fleeting – Job feels like he’s at the end & is running out of time.

27 If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will put off my sad face and wear a smile,’ 28 I am afraid of all my sufferings; I know that You will not hold me innocent.

  1. Brings up a great point.  It’s not as if Job could put on a happy face & pretend everything is ok.  He can’t lie about his sufferings; that would be sin.

29 If I am condemned, Why then do I labor in vain? 30 If I wash myself with snow water, And cleanse my hands with soap, 31 Yet You will plunge me into the pit, And my own clothes will abhor me.

  1. Feels like nothing he does matters.

32 “For He is not a man, as I am, That I may answer Him, And that we should go to court together. 33 Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both.

  1. Asking for someone to be an umpire between him & God in order that Job could make his case.
  2. Although He isn’t exactly the mediator that Job was asking for, we DO have a mediator!  1 Timothy 2:5–7, "(5) For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, (6) who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, (7) for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying— a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth." []

34 Let Him take His rod away from me, And do not let dread of Him terrify me. 35 Then I would speak and not fear Him, But it is not so with me.

  1. Wants to speak to God without reproach, yet he’s afraid to do it.  …  Yet this is the promise that we have in Christ Jesus that we can come boldly before the throne of grace in order that we might find grace in our time of need (Heb 4:16).

Job 10 (NKJV)
1 “My soul loathes my life; I will give free course to my complaint, I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. 2 I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me; Show me why You contend with me. 3 Does it seem good to You that You should oppress, That You should despise the work of Your hands, And smile on the counsel of the wicked? 4 Do You have eyes of flesh? Or do You see as man sees? 5 Are Your days like the days of a mortal man? Are Your years like the days of a mighty man, 6 That You should seek for my iniquity And search out my sin, 7 Although You know that I am not wicked, And there is no one who can deliver from Your hand?

  1. At this point, Job makes it plain that he speaks in bitterness – and it’s clear in vss 2-7.  The question is fairly simple, though his tone with God is not generally how we would expect to interact with the Almighty God of the Universe.
    1. It’s ok to be honest with God.  He’s big enough to take our complaints…
  2. When we boil it down, Job’s question was simply: why?  Why did God seem to oppress Job (though God wasn’t at fault)?  Why did God allow all of this – was there some sort of limitation like eyes of flesh?  (Obviously not.)  Job’s question is the question all of us ask from time to time: why me?  On one hand, we’re all in the place of Job when we suffer…after all, Job had no idea of the interaction between God & Satan in Ch 1-2, but neither do we regarding our own circumstances.  Because of the Scripture, we know why Job was suffering, but we rarely know the reasons of our own suffering (we don’t have a Job 1-2 written about us that we can consult).  How do we answer the question of “why?”
    1. Often, we can’t.  But we CAN do exactly what Job is doing here – pleading before the Lord.  Granted, Job’s attitude and theology is going to go through a period of adjustment, but the very fact that Job continued to appeal to God rather than abandoning Him was exactly the right thing to do.  When we ask “why,” we don’t turn our back on God – instead, we go straight to His feet…even in the midst of our tears.

8 ‘Your hands have made me and fashioned me, An intricate unity; Yet You would destroy me. 9 Remember, I pray, that You have made me like clay. And will You turn me into dust again? 10 Did You not pour me out like milk, And curdle me like cheese, 11 Clothe me with skin and flesh, And knit me together with bones and sinews? 12 You have granted me life and favor, And Your care has preserved my spirit.

  1. God is the maker; Job is the servant.  God is the potter; we are the clay.

13 ‘And these things You have hidden in Your heart; I know that this was with You: 14 If I sin, then You mark me, And will not acquit me of my iniquity. 15 If I am wicked, woe to me; Even if I am righteous, I cannot lift up my head. I am full of disgrace; See my misery! 16 If my head is exalted, You hunt me like a fierce lion, And again You show Yourself awesome against me. 17 You renew Your witnesses against me, And increase Your indignation toward me; Changes and war are ever with me.

  1. Job understands that God would discipline him if he deserved it – and it would seem that Job would welcome the chastisement of God in that case.  Yet in this case, he doesn’t see any reason for the punishment he’s enduring. 
  2. On this point, Job is making the same mistake as Bildad.  Job isn’t being punished because of sin at all.  Yet in his circumstances, it’s hard to understand that.

18 ‘Why then have You brought me out of the womb? Oh, that I had perished and no eye had seen me! 19 I would have been as though I had not been. I would have been carried from the womb to the grave.

  1. As he did back in Ch 3, Job is asking why God even allowed him to live past pregnancy.  In his mind, it would have been better to be stillborn than to endure the trials he’s going through.  His despair has him almost completely blind to the blessings God did give him in the past.

20 Are not my days few? Cease! Leave me alone, that I may take a little comfort, 21 Before I go to the place from which I shall not return, To the land of darkness and the shadow of death, 22 A land as dark as darkness itself, As the shadow of death, without any order, Where even the light is like darkness.’ ”

  1. Job’s theology of the afterlife isn’t exactly accurate here – but the basic thought is plain: he’s simply pleading with God to let this all stop & allow him to die.  Job certainly isn’t suicidal – but he’d be satisfied with God taking his life (the very thing that God forbade Satan from doing).  Job doesn’t understand the blessing in God’s maintenance of his life – this was actually a blessing from God.  In his despair & bitterness, Job doesn’t understand how much God loves him.
  2. This is why it’s so important for us to cling to what we DO know when we’re going through times we don’t understand.  Some of the children’s songs & memory verses might seem so simple to our mature theological minds – but what do you do when your theology is rocked to the ground?  We’ve got to go back to the foundations!  “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…”  Amen!  When everything else fails, stand firm on what you do know.  We know God is in control – that God loves us – that we have been purchased by the blood of Christ & belong to Him.  Even if everything else is shaken, that much can stand firm.

Job’s endured another round of criticism & complaint.  Bildad has in his self-righteousness condemned Job by beating him over the head with half-truths from the Scripture.  The Bible is the sword of the Spirit – may God give us wisdom in wielding it correctly!  When we comfort others, may we be those who represent God correctly – from the full counsel of His word, and ensuring to show forth His heart of love and grace to those who would call upon Him.

As for Job, he’s sinking further into bitterness & despair.  May God guard us from such a fate!  When we suffer, may God help us go to the feet of our Mediator who made it possible to go boldly to the throne of grace!

Some of you here may be suffering tonight – hold fast to the hand of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.  It may seem that He has abandoned you, but He hasn’t.  He is with you – even to the end of the age.  He grieves with us & comforts us in our sorrow – He will give you the grace to endure your trial.


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