JOB – THE DEBATE CONTINUES

(d)       Bildad’s First Speech            <8:1-22>

Unlike Eliphaz, Bildad gets right to the point of his speech; “How long will you..”<8:2>, accusing Job and his family of sinning against God, since God does not corrupt justice <8:3> his suffering must be the result of the sins of his children <8:4>. If Job was a pure and upright man God would certainly restore to him all that he has lost <8:5-7>. Bildad further states that Job should seek the wisdom of the older generations, since the younger, like Job, “were born only yesterday and know nothing” <8:8-10>. In so doing Job would benefit from their knowledge, and relates this to plants in the garden and what is necessary for their survival <8:11-19>. “our days on earth are but a shadow.” <8:8 (NIV); cf 14:2; 1 Chr.29:15; Psa.102:11; 144:4; Eccl.6:12>, and because Job is guilty of sinning he will have to face the consequences; “Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.” <Eccl. 8:13 (NIV)>. In proof of this Bildad bluntly declares, “Surely God does not reject a blameless man or strengthen the hands of evildoers.” <8:20 (NIV)>, so it is in Job’s best interest that he should repent of his sins so that God can restore him <8:21-22>.

(e)        Job’s Response          <9:1 – 10:22>

He commences his reply with an important question that should be considered by all people alive on the earth today: “But how can a mortal be righteous before God?” <9:2 (NIV)>. A person cannot challenge God’s words or actions because His wisdom, power and greatness are beyond our understanding <9:5-10>; He cannot be seen or understood, and His actions are beyond our comprehension <9:11-12>. Here Job is longing for an opportunity to defend himself before God, not indicating that he is sinless but to prove his innocence of what appears to be the reason for his suffering; but in all his complaints to God <9:13-19> he does not curse God as Satan had predicted. His response would be “I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.” <9:15 (NIV)>, but he did not believe that God would give him a hearing <9:16>; even though if he were innocent he would be condemned by what he has said or will say, and although he is blameless he now despises his own life, and has difficulty understanding when tragedy comes who is responsible, “If it is not he, then who is it?” <9:24 (NIV)>. Difficulties and suffering brings may questions to the mind of the individual, why has God brought me to this? Does He really care? <cf. Num.11:11-15>. Job understands that his life passes by very quickly <9:25-27>, and even at the end of his days God will not consider him innocent, “Since I am already found guilty” <9:29 (NIV)> why should he then struggle in vain, since even if he washed himself he would still be condemned <cf. Rom.3:10-19, 23>. Since God is not like him Job pleads for an arbitrator to plead his innocence before God since as it stands he is unable to do so <9:32-35; cf. 1 Tim.2:5; Heb.4:15>.

Because of his intense suffering and his unbearable condition he conceives a false picture of God and requests “Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me.” <10:2 (NIV)>; he thinks that God is oppressing him and does not understand what it is to be a mortal being <cf. Psa.62:8; 1 Sam.1:9-18>. He calls for God to remember that he was created by Him, so why is he now being caused to suffer; “though you know that I am not guilty and that no one can rescue me from your hand? “Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?” <10:7-9 (NIV)>, stating that God had envisioned his suffering and that if he had sinned God would not allow his offense to go unpunished. Guilty or not, he is full of shame and engulfed in his affliction <10:10-17>. He then concludes his reply by restating his previous lament of wishing that he was never born <10:18-19>, and since his days of living are almost over he desires that God would “Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy before I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and deep shadow, to the land of deepest night, of deep shadow and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.” <10:20-22 (NIV)>, because he perceives that the only end to his suffering is death.

(f).  Zophar’s First Speech                <11:1-20>

Zophar, like Eliphaz and Bildad, accuses Job by claiming that it is Job’s sins that have caused his trouble; all Job’s words of explanation cannot vindicate him and his claims of innocence cannot go unanswered <11:2-3>, so he begins to correct Job. First he falsely accuses Job of mocking God <11:3>, and that Job claims his beliefs are faultless and he is perfect before God; then Zophar wishes that God would speak against Job, but as is observed later in the account God would speak <42:7>. Zophar would like God to reveal to Job the secrets of wisdom “for true wisdom has two sides.” <11:6 (NIV)>, meaning that there is a “hidden” as well as an “obvious” meaning to any proverb (as used in the O.T. (NIV Study Bible)), and Zophar presumes that God’s punishment of Job is less than what he deserves, “Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.” <11:6 (NIV); cf Ezra 9:13>. Then he continues to explore Job’s philosophy; “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” <11:7 (NIV)>, and states that such are higher, deeper, longer and wider than the human mind can comprehend <11: 8-9; cf Eph.3:18-19; Isa.40:26>, and there is nothing that anyone can do about it, not even by climbing up to the heavens, “what can you do?…..what can you know?” <11:8 (NIV)>. If God were to confine Job to prison and then convene a court hearing no one, not even Job, could oppose Him <11:10; cf Rev.3:7> since God recognizes deceitful persons, and it would take a miracle to change Job who lacks intelligence <“witless”(NIV) 11:12>,  just as it would take a miracle for a wild donkey’s colt to be born tame <11:11-12>. So Zophar’s advice to Job is for him to devote his heart to God, put away sin from his hands and not to allow evil in his life; for this would definitely make his troubles disappear and his life would be brighter than the noonday, he would have a bright hope for the future and would live and rest in safety and no one would cause him to fear <11:13-19; cf 1 Sam.7:3; Jos.24:14; Psa.78:8; 101:4>. He ends his speech in the same tone with which he began: “But the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp.” <11:20 (NIV)>, insinuating that Job is guilty of sin.

(g). Job’s Response                <12:1 – 14:22>

“Doubtless you are the people, and wisdom will die with you! But I have a mind as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know all these things?” <12:2-3 (NIV)>. Job’s response begins with cynicism, saying that his friends are the only smart ones and have all the wisdom needed to solve all problems; he, however, is not inferior to them and knows all that they have been trying to tell him. He confesses that he has become a joke to all his friends even though he is righteous and blameless; the affluent despise those that are in difficulty and those that provoke God seem secure, but if they would be able to speak to the animals they would learn that it was the Lord who is responsible for all his difficulty <12:4-10>: “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” <12:10 (NIV)>. Wisdom is not only for the young and intelligent, it is also for the aged since long life produces wisdom. Even more important: “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.” <12:13 (NIV) cf. Isa.45:9>, since God is sovereign what He does mankind cannot change <12:14-25>. Job confesses that he has seen, heard, and understood all that they have been trying to tell him, and reminds them that he is just as smart as they are but his one desire is “… to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God.” <13:3 (NIV)>; since they continue to smear him with falsehoods they are worthless physicians <13:4> adding “If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.” <13:5 (NIV)>.

Surely this would be applicable today to those who would attempt to apply human wisdom to mankind’s suffering and difficulties, especially if the reason for such is not evident <cf Prov.17:28>.

Job continues by requesting that they hear his difference of opinion, and comments: “In order to support your own cause, in contradiction to the evidence which the whole of my life bears to the uprightness of my heart, will ye continue to assert that God could not thus afflict me, unless flagrant iniquity were found in my ways; for it is on this ground alone that ye pretend to vindicate the providence of God. Thus, ye tell lies for God’s sake, and thus ye wickedly contend for your Maker.” [(From Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)] <13:7>. Would God, if He were to examine them, declare them to be blameless, would they be able to deceive Him as they deceive their companions or colleagues; they should be terrified by God’s majesty for His wrath could fall on them; and again Job requests that they keep silent and listen to him <13:8-13>. He continues to ask them why he should jeopardize himself by putting everything at risk in justifying his cause, placing his life in his hands not mindful of the consequences <13:14>.

“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him! Listen carefully to my words; let your ears take in what I say. Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated.” <13:15-18 (NIV)>. Here Job expresses his confidence in God in the fact that he can defend himself before God since no ungodly person would dare to stand in God’s presence in an attempt to offer a defense; it will turn out for Job’s good and he knows that he will be vindicated <cf. Rom.5:1-2; 8:1-2, 38-39>. No one can bring any charges to God against him, and he is confident in this otherwise he would silent be and die <13:19; cf. Rom.8:33-35>.

He requests two things from God: “Withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors. Then summon me and I will answer, or let me speak, and you reply.” <13:20-22 (NIV)>. He wants to know how many sins he has committed and if God will continue to hide His face and torment him until he wastes away like a rotten garment that is eaten by moths <13:23-28; cf. Matt.6:19-20; Lk.12:33>.

He continues to complain that “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” <14:1 (NIV) cf. 5:7>, springing up like a flower that soon withers away, so God should not be permanently attracted to such a creature that cannot be made pure, since his days are determined and the limits cannot be exceeded, God should let him alone until his time is over <14:3-6>. He compares himself to a tree;  “At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.” <14:7 (NIV)> the tree will again come to life, but he will not; “But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more.” <14:10 (NIV); cf. Psa.37:2; Isa.40:7, 24>, so he would die and will not rise again <14:13; cf. Jn.11:25-26; Rom.8:18; 2 Cor.4:17-18>.

As he ends his response it appears that he begins to rise from the despair of his awful condition; “If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made. Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin.” <14:14-17 (NIV)>; he is once more reminded of the hope that God gives to His children who suffer the effects of illness or other difficulties that this life brings upon us; he looks forward to the time of resurrection and accountability and the fact that God wipes away all our sin <cf. 1 Cor.15:17-20; 1 Thess.4:13-17; Heb.8:12>. So as he continues to endure his suffering, and although he looks forward to a better life, it appears to him that God is unwilling to do anything for him in his present condition <14:18-22>.