Read Job 8
8 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
2 “How long will you say such things?
Your words are a blustering wind.
3 Does God pervert justice?
Does the Almighty pervert what is right?
4 When your children sinned against him,
he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.
5 But if you will seek God earnestly
and plead with the Almighty,
6 if you are pure and upright,
even now he will rouse himself on your behalf
and restore you to your prosperous state.
7 Your beginnings will seem humble,
so prosperous will your future be.
8 “Ask the former generation
and find out what their ancestors learned,
9 for we were born only yesterday and know nothing,
and our days on earth are but a shadow.
10 Will they not instruct you and tell you?
Will they not bring forth words from their understanding?
11 Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh?
Can reeds thrive without water?
12 While still growing and uncut,
they wither more quickly than grass.
13 Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
so perishes the hope of the godless.
14 What they trust in is fragile“.
what they rely on is a spider’s web.
15 They lean on the web, but it gives way;
they cling to it, but it does not hold.
16 They are like a well-watered plant in the sunshine,
spreading its shoots over the garden;
17 it entwines its roots around a pile of rocks
and looks for a place among the stones.
18 But when it is torn from its spot,
that place disowns it and says, ‘I never saw you.’
19 Surely its life withers away,
and“ from the soil other plants grow.
20 “Surely God does not reject one who is blameless
or strengthen the hands of evildoers.
21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy.
22 Your enemies will be clothed in shame,
and the tents of the wicked will be no more.”
The Book of Job can be a confusing one to many readers. What do we make of the actions of God in this book? What about Job’s anger and frustration–is that okay? And then there are Job’s friends. For a time, they have a perfectly appropriate response to the trauma Job is enduring, but then they decide they’ve had enough. When they open their mouths, they have the intent to help, but this is neither the time nor the place for sermons based on assumptions.
In Job 8, we read the “advice” of Job’s friend Bildad. Reading through this, Bildad seems to make some decent points. He points Job to being “pure and upright,” and he tells him to “ask the former generation [to] find out what their ancestors learned” (v. 6, 8). This would be great advice in many situations! Understanding that the previous generations have so much to teach us is so very important, and it’s always a good idea to do what is right, so is there anything wrong with what Bildad is saying?
Bildad’s entire argument is based on two assumptions: that Job and his family messed up in some way and that he (Bildad) believes he knows why all of this is happening. First, as we see in chapter 1, Job was already “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” If this is to be believed (and it is), then Bildad’s first underlying assumption is rendered null and void. His second point, that he is the one who understands how God works, is defeated by his own argument: “…we were born only yesterday and know nothing.” Bildad proves his own ignorance in trying to illuminate Job’s.
None of this is to say, however, that we shouldn’t try and understand what we can about God—not at all. The point here is simply that no human can understand everything about the Infinite Creator of all we know as “real.” So, what can we know about God?
There is so much! The entirety of the Bible is God’s revealed nature and will for us! We learn that He is a relational God, that He loves us, that He loves us so very much that He sent His Son to die for the very people who made the cross necessary, and that He wants to guide you through life no matter what you have or haven’t done. There is much to know, so let us humble seek Him and what He has revealed to us today.
- What assumptions do you have about God right now (who He is, what He’s like, etc.)? What does Scripture have to say about those?
- Do you know people who have different assumptions about His character? Have a conversation with someone this week and find out.
- What are some questions you still have about who God is? Take those to Scripture and share what you find with your community (life group, mentor, family, etc.).
This is the Bible Project’s overview of Job (which is different from their overview from the first Rest Day) from their series on Biblical Wisdom Literature. It’s very helpful in understanding the book and its overall role in Scripture. Check it out!
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