Comments for Study 4
Key verse: 9:33
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I. Bildad Comes to God's Defence (8:1-22)
>1. Describe the spirit behind Bildad's response to Job's claim of innocence. (8:2-3) What is the first point Bildad brings up as proof he is right? (8:4) (Remember Job's actions for his children?) What concerns Bildad more, Job or defending his own religious beliefs? How is he like the teachers of the law in Jesus' day? (Mark 12:38-40, Matt. 16:12)
Job 8:1 "Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
* Bildad the Shuhite comes across even more insensitive than his more diplomatic counterpart, Eliphaz. All three of Job's friends are more concerned with maintaining conformity to their religious systems than they are with reaching out to Job.
Obsessed with being right, Bildad closes his eyes to the despair of the tormented being before him. Perhaps the reason for the intensification of vitriolic rhetoric in Bildad's speech over that of Eliphaz is that he is personally offended by Job's assertion that his friends have failed him. Instead of honestly expressing his hurt feelings he assumes the role of "defender of god." He attacks Job's insistence on his innocence with a stinging personal epithet.
Job 8:2 ""How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind."
* He is saying, "You are a wind bag!"
Job 8:3 "Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right?"
* Bildad latches onto Job's inference that God is unjustly punishing him. Actually, Job stopped short of direct accusation, framing his remarks as questions. God, Bildad asserts twice, never twists justice.
* "God" -In Hebrew "el" meaning; "strength; as adj. mighty; espec. the Almighty (but used also of any deity):-God (god), X goodly, X great, idol, might (-y one), power, strong." Comp. names in "-el."
Job 8:4 "When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin."
* As proof of God's even-handed justice, Bildad cites the most cutting example he could have chosen, that the death of Job's children was direct punishment for their sin against God. Bildad is the defender of God who will do anything to win an argument, even if it means jabbing an opponent at his most vulnerable point. His kind of religious commitment is the kind that crushes people on the way to its goals.
Job, who was priest of the family, offered sacrifices for his children's sins, even though he didn't know of any. He had said, "Perhaps my children have sinned, so I will offer for them." After their death, he still would be concerned for their spiritual welfare, and would even blame himself if their sins wouldn't have been forgiven. There would have been a lot of unanswered questions, as is common amongst all humans. When Bildad said such things as verse 4 here, it would have hit Job in a very sensitive and vulnerable point.
>2. What does he want Job to do? (8:5-7) What does he say will happen if he repents? Who does he say backs up his beliefs? (8:8-12)
Job 8:5-7 "But if you will look to God and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place. Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.
* Bildad is saying, if you are innocent, as you say you are, go to God and his will immediately restore you.
Job 8:8-10 ""Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow. Will they not instruct you and tell you? Will they not bring forth words from their understanding?"
* Bildad's authority for what he believes and teaches is tradition and what God has revealed in former days. His problem is that he does not recognize that God is alive today, working with people today, and that God is acting out a plan that is unfolding continually. Thus what God does today, while not disowning the past, is a continuation and fulfillment of what he has done in the past working toward an ultimate goal. So, what was done in the past, may not be relevant or useful today. An example of this would be animal sacrifices which was abolished when Jesus died on cross for our sins as the ultimate sacrifice.
What then can we turn to as a guide to a life of faith? See insert: "A person's faith is not static."
From here, Bildad gives three examples to support his theology.
>3. What does he say will happen to those who forget God? (13) What examples from nature does he give as proof of his claims? (14-19) How does his concluding remarks resemble what Noah knew? (Gen. 6:9-14)
Job 8:11-13 "Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? Can reeds thrive without water? While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass. Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless."
* "If an Egyptian papyrus reed grows up quickly without water, it may look like a healthy green shoot, but it withers quickly in the heat of the sun. This is Job, who was shallow in faith all alone because he did not rely on the wisdom of the ancients." says Bildad.
Job 8:14-15 "What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider's web. He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold."
* Job's persistent claims of innocence are as flimsy a bulwark as a fragile spider web. It will not support him in the storm.
Job 8:16-19 "He is like a well-watered plant in the sunshine, spreading its shoots over the garden; it entwines its roots around a pile of rocks and looks for a place among the stones. But when it is torn from its spot, that place disowns it and says, 'I never saw you.' Surely its life withers away, and from the soil other plants grow."
* From its description, biologists recognize this plant as a gourd whose roots snake along the ground in search of crannies in the rock. The vine appears luxuriant in full growth, but when it dies it leaves no permanent roots. "This is Job", says Bildad", "reputed to be perfect and upright, but he is dying and contrary to what he says (in 7:21) God won't miss him when he's gone!"
Job 8:20-22 ""Surely God does not reject a blameless man or strengthen the hands of evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Your enemies will be clothed in shame, and the tents of the wicked will be no more."
* Here Bildad repeats what he said in 5-7, "Repent and God will bless you again."
II. Job's New Questions (9:1-10:22)
>4. To what does Job concede and to what does he oppose? (9:1-2) What desire does Job express in verse 3?
Job 9:1-2 "Then Job replied: 'Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can a mortal be righteous before God?'"
* Job answered Eliphaz with bitter sarcasm. He responds to Bildad with the quiet concession that what has just been said is true. Job takes Eliphaz's question (4:17) as his starting point in the cynical argument he pursues for the next 20 verses. Eliphaz and Bildad have urged him to repent. Job concludes that even a righteous man (Hebrew: "weak, mortal man") cannot justify himself before Almighty God. God, as Job describes him in chapter 9:2-20, is transcendent and powerful and needs to explain "nothing to nobody."
* "God" -Throughout the Book of Job many Hebrew words are used for God that are used elsewhere in the Bible. In the previous chapters and those included in this lesson, the following Hebrew words for God are used:
1) "Eloyiym" translated "God" in 1:5,16,22; 2:9.
2) "Yehevah" or "YHWH" translated "LORD" in 1:7,21.
3) "Elowahh" translated "God" in 3:23;4:9; 5:17; 6:4; 9:13 10:2.
4) "Shadday" translated "Almighty" in 5:17; 6:4,14; 8:3.
5) "Qadowsh" translated "Holy One" in 6:10.
6) "El" translated "God" in 8:3,5,13,20; 9:2.
>5. How does he illustrate God's power and sovereignty? (9:3-13) What else does he reveal about God? (11) In light of what he knows of God what does he conclude? (14)
Job 9:3 "Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not answer him one time out of a thousand."
* Job wishes he could argue his case with God in court (that's the idea in the Hebrew legal term in the word "dispute" or "contend"). As the drama unfolds, Job becomes obsessed with that idea and at least four times subpoenas God (10:2; 13:22; 14:15; 31:35-37).
God finally responds and, when he does, Job finds himself speechless (40:3-5). Even as he wishes for his day in court with God, in his heart he knows he would be too overwhelmed by God's greatness to answer.
Job 9:4-13 "His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed? He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble. He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him. If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, 'What are you doing?' God does not restrain his anger; even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet."
* With the thought, "In God's present I, Job, would be overwhelmed." Job launches into a hymn to the power, wisdom, and invincibility of God.
Job's understanding of God is amazing, considering the fact that, if this story did happen in the patriarchal period, there is no written revelation to shape that understanding. All Job and his friends have is natural revelation-what they can observe from the created world, their experiences with God, and verbal traditions passed down from those before them. In those days as now, God speaks to people, But the advanced revelation in Jesus Christ-available to us-is not available to Job. It is wonderful to discover all he is able to discern about the LORD from those primitive sources.
* "Rahab" -Rahab does not refer to the harlot of Jericho who hid the spies (Joshua 2). Instead Rahab was a female character in a Babylonian myth who was defeated by the god Marduck. She also went by the names of Tiamat and Leviathan. Later the Jews nicknamed Egypt "Rahab."
Rahab (Job 26:12; Psalms 87:4; 89:10; Isa. 30:7; 5:19-10), Leviathan, and Taminin are monsters of the deep against whom God displays his power as he did over the chaotic sea (Gen. 1:2). These creatures stand for the strongest forces of chaos in the creation.
>6. What does Job claim again? (15, 20) What else does he believe about God? (16-18) What two attributes of God does Job state? (19)
Job 9:14-20 "How then can I dispute with him? How can I find words to argue with him? Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy. Even if I summoned him and he responded, I do not believe he would give me a hearing. He would crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason. He would not let me regain my breath but would overwhelm me with misery. If it is a matter of strength, he is mighty! And if it is a matter of justice, who will summon him? Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty."
* Here, after describing God (4-13), Job returns to the idea of arguing his case with God in court who would be the Prosecuting attorney, judge, and jury. Again Job repeats that he would be insignificant and tongue-tied in God's presence. Even if he could find eloquent words with which to present his case, his ignorance and weakness would condemn him before the Almighty.
>7. How does he see mankind before God? (22) What is wrong with this view? (Rom. 3:23) How else does God use hardship? (Heb. 12:5-13)
Job 9:21-24 ""Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; I despise my own life. It is all the same; that is why I say, 'He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.' When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent. When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he blindfolds its judges. If it is not he, then who is it?
* Being as Job described man before God in verses 14-20, Job here, in verses 21-24 asks, "What difference is there, then, between the righteous and the wicked?" God seems so far away that Job is sure he makes no distinction between good people and bad and lashes out indiscriminately with destructive power. Still, that conclusion makes no sense, and Job feels that God is mocking him. The positive aspect of these desperate conclusions is that they represent denial of the simplistic notions of retribution theology. So now, Job is undergoing a needed renovation of his belief system which is always needed by all throughout our life. See handout, "A persons faith is not static."
>8. What does Job know about his friends attitudes about him? (29-32) Who does Job seek? (33-35) Who fulfills this role? (1 Tim. 2:5-6)
Job 9:25-35 "My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy. They skim past like boats of papyrus, like eagles swooping down on their prey. If I say, 'I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile,' I still dread all my sufferings, for I know you will not hold me innocent. Since I am already found guilty, why should I struggle in vain? Even if I washed myself with soap and my hands with washing soda, you would plunge me into a slime pit so that even my clothes would detest me. "He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God's rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot."
* Job again repeats the idea that he being a sinful and insignificant man could not confront God in a court case. So he asks for an "arbitrate between (God and him)....Then (he) would speak up without fear of him."
With the eyes of faith, Job cries for precisely what the New Testament reveals-the man Christ Jesus is a mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5-6). Job's hope, and that of every suffering person who ever lived or will life, is not in reason but in reconciliation with God!
If a reconciler were there to stand between God and him, Job cold speak his mind freely (35, Heb. 4:16).
>9. In chapter 10 who does Job address? What questions does Job have for God? What is his concluding request to God? (20-22)
Job 10:1-22 ""I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God: Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the schemes of the wicked? Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees? Are your days like those of a mortal or your years like those of a man, that you must search out my faults and probe after my sin--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? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit. "But this is what you concealed in your heart, and I know that this was in your mind: If I sinned, you would be watching me and would not let my offense go unpunished. If I am guilty--woe to me! Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction. If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power against me. You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger toward me; your forces come against me wave upon wave. "Why then did you bring me out of the womb? I wish I had died before any eye saw me. If only I had never come into being, or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave! Are not my few days almost over? 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."
* At this point Job directly addresses God (where as in 9:25-35 it was indirectly). He presence his complaints to God as he would do if he were in his earlier wised court case before God with a mediator.