Today: [Job Eight] When Friends Pile On in Your Time of Suffering. In this chapter we meet Bildad, the second of Job’s comforters. Bildad agrees fully with Elipaz that Job is suffering because he is in reality a wicked man. The premise of his thinking, in agreement with Elipaz is that all human suffering originates with God as punishment for wrong doing. Job on the other hand insists that he is righteous and that God is in reality using him as target practice for sport. What is the answer? We need to know lest when we struggle in our own situations we charge God foolishly.
[Job 8:1-22 KJV] 1 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, 2 How long wilt thou speak these [things]? and [how long shall] the words of thy mouth [be like] a strong wind? 3 Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice? 4 If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression; 5 If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty; 6 If thou [wert] pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. 7 Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.
Seven chapters into the narrative of Job we have seen in the beginning the curtain of the natural realm pulled back and witness a dialog between God and Satan. Satan came before God as the voice of the accuser among the sons of God who had otherwise legitimate access to the throne. Satan complains that God has hedged Job protectively so that he cannot exploit what Job later refers to as “the thing I feared the most…” Satan suggests to God that He smite Job to which God replies that this is onl something Satan himself would do – nonetheless the hedge was lifted.
Why would God do this? Yes it is true that Job feared, even “greatly feared” but why wouldn’t God simply keep making concessions to Job and protect him regardless. Genesis gives us the answer:
[Gen 6:3 KJV] 3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
God is long suffering and will forbear but not forever. He expects us to grow up into accountable sons and daughters. At some point consequences draw nigh and what we do at that time is very important. We don’t know what level of accountability Job had before God for his unreasonable fear but we do know that he was aware of it and acted on it daily. Furthermore he didn’t fear the devil – rather he feared God and by his complaint and lament in prior chapter he agrees with Elipaz and the other two comforters that it was God that was bringing all this mishap upon him when in fact ch. 1 and 2 give strong indication that this is not the case.
Elipaz speaks up and reveals his deep animosity toward Job. Elipaz is a son of Esau. Jewish tradition tells us that Esau sent Elipaz to assassinate Jacob when he fled for his life to his uncle Laban. Elipaz was father to Amelek whose descendants God commanded Saul to destroy utterly. Saul was eventually killed by an Amalekite and later on in the book of Esther we see that Haman who planned genocide against the Jews was a descendant of Elipaz through Agag, king of the Amalekites.
It is not surprising then to see that Elipaz in his judgment of Job offers comfort to him which is in reality thinly veiled criticism which Job cannot restrain himself from replying to in ch. 7. Elipaz insists that God does not destroy the righteous therefore Job must have some secret sin that needs to be expiated. Elipaz even suggests that it was his own prayers to God that brought the judgment upon Job and if Job will only acquiesce to his offence things might get better. In ch. 6 and 7 Job answers and agrees (wrongfully) that God is (supposedly) the originator of all Job’s suffering, but it is all unfair because Job insists he is upright and that the apparent judgment from on his is in his view unwarranted. Therefore Job in frustration declares that since God is using him for target practice there is nothing better to do than die in his sleep.
Now in ch. 8 we see the second friend of Job speak up. Bildad will in fact merely parrot the deprecations of Elipaz against Job in fact plagiarizing some of Elipaz’ oratory while claiming he thought of it in it’s originality. What can we learn about Bildad? Elipaz’ pedigree and family history told us all we needed to know about his character and the value (or lack thereof of his words). Does Bildad’s background reveal the same?
Bildad is a grandson of Abraham by his 3rd wife Keturah. After Sarah dies, Abraham took Keturah as his wife and she bare him 8 more sons. When the time came to divide the inheritance these sons only received gifts and Abraham sent them away so that Isaac’s full inheritance would go unchallenged. Bildad’s name means “Bel has loved me”. Bel was a Sumerian deity who in mythology (interesting enough) was robbed of his inheritance by his brother-god Hayk. The story goes (in myth) that Bel fled to Mesopotamia, raised an army and returned to wreak vengeance on his brother and regain the kingdom. This story was so beloved to Bildad’s father – son of Abraham that he named his son after him. Therefore it is not wildly speculative to suggest that Bildad was not necessarily solicitous and kind hearted toward his kinsmen Job – a fellow Semite by the line of Abraham’s surviving triplet Nahor. Bildad has a chip on his shoulder and it shows in his raking criticism of Job.
8 For enquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers: 9 (For we [are but of] yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth [are] a shadow:) 10 Shall not they teach thee, [and] tell thee, and utter words out of their heart? 11 Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water? 12 Whilst it [is] yet in his greenness, [and] not cut down, it withereth before any [other] herb. 13 So [are] the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish:
Bildad insists that Job can only be suffering because he is a hypocrite. He points out that only hypocrites (in his view) are without hope as Job has plainly stated regarding his own heart condition – therefore in some way or another Bildad accuses Job of being among those that have forgotten God and therefore rightly suffer.
14 Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust [shall be] a spider’s web. 15 He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure. 16 He [is] green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden. 17 His roots are wrapped about the heap, [and] seeth the place of stones. 18 If he destroy him from his place, then [it] shall deny him, [saying], I have not seen thee. 19 Behold, this [is] the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow. 20 Behold, God will not cast away a perfect [man], neither will he help the evil doers: 21 Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing. 22 They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought.
Bildad does not encourage Job but rather tells him that all the good things he has experienced in life were no more substantial than a spider’s web. He tells Job no matter what he does to make things better that his house will not stand. He waxes eloquent in painting the picture of a bleak outcome, describing Job as a plant that sprang up and wrapped its roots around the stones of the earth only to be smitten and destroyed. He goes on to rail against Job further telling him that there is no way that he is as perfect as Job insists he is because God does not cast away the perfect man. He mocks Job suggesting a deliverance that he actually insists will never come because Job in reality (according to him) is wicked in his heart and will come to nothing regardless.
Thus we see the sin nature working it’s influence in Job, Bildad and Elipaz. Job is convinced his suffering is unjustified and accuses God. Elipaz speaking from deep, generational resentment assures Job that without a doubt God has smitten him because of secret sin. Bildad echoes Elipaz’ sentiments and further salts the womb by stressing the unyielding logic that God destroys only the wicked therefore Job must be an incorrigible sinner.
This is the kind of thinking that Jesus reproves in Luke 13:1-6. In this passage Jesus takes 2 current events and uses them as an object lesson to reprove the Jews for always interpreting calamity to only falling upon the unjust. He says no – calamity is not always connected with injustice in the character of the victims of any particular causality. Jesus rejects this thinking because the supposition of the argument on the part of one that sees things this way is that it is God doing these things and bringing this suffering about. Jesus goes on to warn them if they do not repent then they will likewise perish. There is great hope for us in the inference by Jesus that we can be spared from causality and calamity and greatly diminish it’s occurrence in the narrative of our life if we will accept and understand that it is never God’s will or God’s direct action that brings about human suffering.
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