Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Blogging the Bible: Bildad

The debate between Job and his friends continues in chapter eight. Here Bildad speaks for the first time. His message is, in essence “Don’t be ridiculous, you can’t accuse God of injustice. We all know that God punishes the wicked and blesses the faithful. Therefore, you should repent – because you know that He won’t reject integrity”.

Notice    4   things here.

First, he’s got good instincts. He assumes that God will not pervert justice, or do what’s wrong. But then he stabs Job in the heard, say that if his children had sinned, they earned their punishment. There is incredible insensitivity. In essence, stop grumbling old man, you and yours are getting the just recompense. Any other conclusion is to assume that God is unjust. So, look to God, because “If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation.” Furthermore, God will make him even better off than before, Bildad says “And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.”

Second, notice that at the heart of Bildad’s words are an appeal to history. First, he says, “inquire, please, of bygone ages, and consider what the fathers have searched out. For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding?. He says, what I’m saying is nothing new, look back on history. Then he says, let me illustrate, pointing to nature and saying, the path of the godless, literally, the profane, the irreligious, is like a person trusting in a spiders web to hold him.

Third, notice that he offers a slim chance of hope. God does not reject a blameless man, nor take the hand of evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting. Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more."

Fourth, see that once more, we have a case of some stuff being correct, and yet the message being wrong. He’s right, generally God does vindicate the righteous and judge the wicked. Generally, the Lord works for the hurting. And yet, as he appeals to this maxim, this received truth, He’s the one that is trusting in a spiders web to hold him, because he’s not seeing that God is the one at work.

Here’s the lesson. You don’t know everything. You need to understand the limitations of your vision, and not presume to know more about God’s doings than you really do. Just as Job and his friends can’t see what’s happening backstage, neither can we. We should be careful as we seek to draw conclusions.

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