Monday, August 25, 2014

Job, chapter 8 comments: Bildad's advice to Job

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.

Another friend speaks up. Bildad wants to know how long Job is going to go on being a windbag, full of hot air, so to speak. Job referred to his lamentations as so much wind in 6:26. Bildad challenges Job. Are you saying that God perverts judgment and justice? If your children sinned, and the assumption here is they did, and God killed them for their sins, and you pleaded with God as a pure and upright person would, God would make it right, and restore your wealth to you, at least.

What is right in here is that God never does wrong. He sets the standard for right and wrong. When a modern conservative or libertine Christian questions God’s goodness he or she is placing themselves in the place of God.

Note that a sin and a transgression are arranged in verse 4 as synonyms. Also, see in the following.

1John 3:4  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Now, the Law has not been given to Moses as yet for the Hebrews. So, there must have been an understood standard of life and worship that existed before the inhabitants of Canaan began on their path of child sacrifice, bestiality, and perversion in their religious practices. This is important to consider as in Noah’s time there are animals listed as clean and not clean long before the Law given to Moses. Read Genesis 7. There must have been a standard set after Abel began sacrificing in Genesis 4. Was the Law given to Moses actually a new thing or was it the reaffirmation of an older standard that God had set that mankind was abusing and ignoring?

The phrase, cast away, is significant in verse 4. It sometimes means to remove from God’s favor.

Luke 9:25  For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

Romans 11:1 ¶  I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2  God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew…

As Job’s messengers came to him with bad news so his friends come to him with bad opinions, foregone conclusions, already set by their self-righteous lack of compassion for his plight. Job, your children must have done something very bad. They got what they deserved because God never does wrong. If you were really as good as you think you are you’d turn to God in prayer and he’d restore you. It’s simple warped doctrine, typical of many conservative Christians, error drawn from truth.

You draw the wrong conclusions from the truth. We do it all the time. We know certain things from God’s word and we see certain things, the causes of which we don’t know. So, we assume knowledge we don’t have based on the truth we do have, instead of focusing on what we are called to do as a response to circumstances.

Jesus said;

Matthew 5:7  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Paul said;

Romans 12:15  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

2Corinthians 1:3 ¶  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

When you see a brother or sister engaging in sin you rebuke and correct and this is good, out of love, and for their sake. But, being unable to separate circumstance from behavior renders you a useless comforter. Let’s use a hypothetical situation to explain this. You see a brother or sister smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, a lifelong habit they haven’t broken free from since being saved. You rebuke them for their self-destructive ways and remind them of the fate of cigarette smokers, perhaps lung cancer, offer to pray with them and for them for deliverance, and promise to be there in their struggle. Another brother or sister, who never smoked, or maybe quit years ago, is told they have lung cancer. You suggest in word or thought that God is punishing them either for the sin that was forgiven long ago or you insist that they must be guilty of some other wickedness for which God is judging them, something that, in their case, you have no way of knowing because I am certain God didn’t tell you.

In the first case you did well to, “warn them that are unruly.” (1Thessalonians 5:14). In the second case you were like a friend of Job, rather than taking the opportunity to do God’s work for you of comfort and mercy, choosing to be a sanctimonious boor. Beware of the worst you assume about others when you have no direct knowledge.

    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: 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.

Bildad explains to Job the destruction due to the hypocrite who is struck down in the prime of his life with nothing that he depends on for support as being of any value to help him. Search history, Job, and ask of the past. We haven’t been around long and don’t know much. Our day comes and goes quickly. But, there are some facts of history and human nature you should know.

Something to know about people and nations;

Psalm 9:17  The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

Some things to know about humankind.

Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Jeremiah 10:23  O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

And when the wicked and the hypocrite are brought down others rise up to take their place.

    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, in his mostly true, but oversimplified view of how God deals with humans, says that, like Eliphaz who said bad things don’t happen to good men, God will not refuse to help a perfect man, which we saw in the first chapter refers to an upright and righteous man. God will also not help the wicked. Bildad promises victory to Job, if he is righteous, and the destruction of his enemies.

This is advice that sounds a lot like it comes from a modern, conservative Christian’s mouth. If you do right, come to church every week, be an active soul-winner, get all prayed up, read the Bible as if it was Emily Post’s Etiquette, don’t swear, or drink, he says, bad stuff won’t happen to you. Bad stuff only happens to bad people. I say this not to discourage you from doing right but to discourage you from doing right for the wrong reason. You cannot make a business deal with God. I’ll be good and you be nice, God.

Good people, faithful Christians, suffer persecution, pain, and even are murdered around the world today, as in all times of history in the last two thousand years. Bildad’s simplistic view of life doesn’t take this into account as he, like so many, is regarding his own experience as the standard by which to judge life. Truthfully, Bildad did not have the Scripture record we do. We read that the Christian is promised tribulation and that trouble will come his or her way.

Romans 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

But, more importantly, for our purpose, here we must understand that natural calamities, apart from persecution for being a Christian, can befall the faithful follower of Christ. Note the condition and the response of the Christians in the following.

Acts 11:27 ¶  And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 28  And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29  Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30  Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Their response was to send their brothers and sisters relief, not to send someone to tell them how they were probably being judged by God for some wickedness on their part. If a modern Pharisee, a fundamentalist, was around back then he would have told the churches in Judea that if they would just get right, even though the failure of harvests and the resulting famine were everywhere else, they’d have plenty.

Remember, your calling as a Christian for those who are in any distress.

2Corinthians 1:3 ¶  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

I would put forward my opinion here that one reason you are permitted to suffer, when it is not a direct result of your sin or negligent living, is so that you can minister to someone else who is suffering and understand what Eliphaz and Bildad cannot, the agony of the person to whom you are ministering. Empathy and compassion are more important than a judgmental know-it-all attitude on our part to God.

James 2:13  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

While Bildad and Eliphaz are out telling a brother, “the truth in looovvvve,” they could have been putting medicine on his wounds and helping him get back on his feet, encouraging him and praising God. But, then, we wouldn’t have had this great lesson from which to learn.

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