Wednesday, March 29, 2017

When Bad Things Happen To Good People: A Study Of The Book Of Job. Day 25, Bildad Answers Job

Bildad wants Job to stop talking. He doesn't believe he's making any sense. He thinks Job should stop asking questions of God and just accept that God is right all the time. More importantly, he thinks Job should accept that his three friends are right all the time. He insinuates he and Zophar and Eliphaz are speaking for God.

"Then Bildad the Shuhite replied: 'When will you end these speeches? Be sensible, and then we can talk. Why are we regarded as cattle and considered stupid in your sight? You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger, is the earth to be abandoned for your sake? Or must the rocks be moved from their place?" (Job 18:1-4) Bildad says, "You think we are a bunch of dummies. We're giving you good advice but you're too angry to listen to it. A man reaps what he sows! Your problems are a result of sin, even if you won't admit it, and God isn't going to change His principles for you."

"The lamp of a wicked man is snuffed out; the flame of his fire stops burning. The light in his tent becomes dark; the lamp beside him goes out." (Job 18:5-6) Bildad accuses Job of walking in darkness. He believes his friend earned these dark days by turning away from the Lord.

"The vigor of his step is weakened; his own schemes throw him down. His feet thrust him into a net; he wanders into its mesh. A trap seizes him by the heel; a snare holds him fast. A noose is hidden for him on the ground; a trap lies in his path." (Job 18:7-10) Bildad advises, "It's no use blaming God. Your own wicked ways have gotten you into trouble. You walked right into a trap with your eyes wide open. It's not God's fault."

"Terrors startle him on every side and dog his every step. Calamity is hungry for him; disaster is ready for him when he falls. It eats away part of his skin; death's firstborn devours his limbs." (Job 18:11-13) We previously learned that Job can't find any rest day or night. In the day he's consumed with grief. In the night he's troubled by bad dreams. He's also become sick in body with festering sores. Bildad considers these things proof that God is punishing Job for wrongdoing. We can't look into a person's heart and see what's there, but we can look on their outward appearance and tell that they are sick. Bildad thinks the Lord allowed disease to touch Job's body as public proof he is a sinner. Job's friends and neighbors can't see what's in his heart and mind, but they can look on him and see his wounds. And when they do, they shake their heads and click their tongues and whisper behind his back.

The enemies of Jesus had the same wrong opinions about Him as these men have of Job. While He hung on the cross, beaten and bloody, Jesus' enemies "considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted". (Isaiah 53:4b) Those who mocked Jesus and called Him a sinner didn't understand that "it was the Lord's will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer". (Isaiah 53:10a) Job's friends don't understand that his tragedies are not punishment for sin but that they are God's will to accomplish some other purpose. We may never fully understand God's purpose for Job's suffering, just as we may never fully understand God's purpose for everything that happens to least not until we get to heaven. But we should never make the judgment that a person's hardships are a result of sin, especially when there is no evidence of such a thing. Even if they are living in sin and reaping what they have sown, an attitude of condemnation toward them is not the attitude Christ wants us to have. If He had displayed an attitude of condemnation toward sinners, we never would have found Him on the cross. We would never have seen Him stricken and afflicted by God for the sake of mankind. We would have no Good Friday to observe and no Easter to celebrate. Whether the suffering of our fellow man is due to the wages of sin or whether it's a case of bad things happening to good people in order to fulfill a purpose of God, we are to imitate our Redeemer. Instead of attacking those who are hurting (as Job's friends attacked him) we should be ministering to them in love.

"He is torn from the security of his tent and marched off to the king of terrors. Fire resides in his tent; burning sulfur is scattered over his dwelling." (Job 18:14-15) The tent Bildad refers to is likely Job's body. The Apostle Paul used this metaphor twice in 2 Corinthians 5, referring to the earthly body as a temporary dwelling place such as a tent. Bible scholar Adam Clarke believes Bildad is telling Job that God is purifying him from sin by attacking his body, just as a person might purify a house of ill repute by burning sulfur.

"His roots dry up below and his branches wither above. The memory of him perishes from the earth; he has no name in the land. He is driven from light into the realm of darkness and is banished from the world. He has no offspring or descendants among his people, no survivor where once he lived." (Job 18:17-19) With his ten children dead, there is no one to carry on Job's name. As if this isn't bad enough, he's lost his reputation for being a godly man. What cruel words Bildad pours out on a person who is supposed to be his friend! He says, "This is how God deals with a wicked man. He cuts off his descendants and He takes away his good name. The world will forget you, Job, if you don't repent and make things right with the Lord." King Solomon once said that, "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." (Proverbs 22:1) This is a wise saying, for what godly influence can we have on anyone if we gain a reputation for being a rebellious sinner? But Job has done nothing to lose his good name; it's the gossip of his friends and neighbors that has tarnished his reputation. Job's name is still good as far as the Lord is concerned, and God has no intention of allowing the memory of Job to be blotted from the earth. We are studying this man's life today because he was justified in the eyes of the Lord by his faith.

"People of the west are appalled at his fate; those of the east are seized with horror. Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man; such is the place of one who does not know God." (Job 18:20-21) Bildad says, "Case closed! Everyone on the earth, from the east to the west, can plainly see that you are a sinner or else God would not have dealt with you this way. There should be no more protests of innocence, no more lies about your righteous living. This is how the Lord punishes the one who forsakes Him. Period. End of discussion."

Bildad thinks he's getting the last word, but Job is not finished. And God is not finished. He will vindicate Job. A day is coming in which Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz will have to rely on the intercessory prayer of Job to help them get their lives right with God. This man whom they have so harshly slandered will stand in the gap for them, as Moses stood in the gap for the children of Israel and as Christ stood in the gap for all mankind. In the end God will have the last word.

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