“Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind. Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of sin. But if you ask God earnestly 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 prosperous state. Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. Ask the former generation and find out what their ancestors 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? 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. What they trust in is fragile; what they rely on is a spider’s web. They lean on the web, but it gives way; they cling to it, but it does not hold. They are 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 God does not reject one who is blameless 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.” Job 8
Bildad’s words sound good and familiar, yet he has no idea what is really going on. God will let him know soon. We should be very careful not to assume what God is doing.
“Then Job replied:
Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God? Thought they wished to dispute with him, they could not answer him one time out of a thousand. 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, and Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders 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. 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 catch 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 can challenge him? Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty. 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? 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 cleansing powder, you would plunge me into a slime pit so that even my clothes would detest me. He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.” Job 9
Wow! We have what Job didn’t have. We have a mediator in Christ!
“I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. I say to God: Do not declare me guilty, 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 plans 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 strong 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 from 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 utter darkness, to the land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.” Job 10
The pain and agony that Job must have been going through is unimaginable. Even though he was called blameless by God, he doesn’t understand what has happened. He still doesn’t know that it isn’t God doing this to him.
“Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
Are all these words to go unanswered? Is this talker to be vindicated? Will your idle talk reduce others to silence? Will no one rebuke you when you mock? You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight.’ Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom has two sides. Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin. Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above – what can you do? They are deeper that the depths below – what can you know? Their measure is longer that the earth and wider than the sea. If he comes along and confines you in prison and convenes a court, who can oppose him? Surely he recognizes deceivers; and when he sees evil, does he not take note? But the witless can no more become wise than a wild donkey’s colt can be born human. Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than the noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor. But the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp.” Job 11
To say we know why God is putting someone through something is arrogance. Yes, we may be able to look back and see with understanding. These guys spoke with eloquence but without wisdom.
“Then Job replied:
Doubtless you are the only people who matter, 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? I have become a laughingstock to my friends, though I called on God and he answered – a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless! Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping. The tent of marauders are undisturbed, and those who provoke God are secure – those God has in his hand. But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his. What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; whose he imprisons cannot be released. If he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, they devastate the land. To him belong strength and insight; both deceived and deceiver are his. He leads rulers away stripped and makes fools of judges. He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties a loincloth around their waist. He leads priests away stripped and overthrows officials long established. He silences the lips of trusted advisers and takes away the discernment of elders. He pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty. He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light. He makes nations great, and destroys them. He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he makes them wander in a trackless waste. They grope in the darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.” Job 12
“My eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it. What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God. You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you! If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom. Hear now my argument; listen to the pleas of my lips. Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for him? Will you show him partiality? Will you argue the case for God? Would it turn out well if he examined you? Could you deceive him as you might deceive a mortal? He would surely call you to account if you secretly showed partiality. Would not his splendor terrify you? Would not the dread of him fall on you? Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay. Keep silent and let me speak; then let come to me what may. Why do I put myself in jeopardy and take my life in my hands? 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 person would dare come before him! Listen carefully to what I say; let my words ring in your ears. Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated. Can anyone bring charges against me? If so, I will be silent and die. Only grant me these two things, God, and then I will not hide from you: 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 to me. How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin. Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy? Will you torment a windblown leaf? Will you chase after dry chaff? For you write down bitter things against me and make me reap the sins of my youth. You fasten my feet in shackles; you keep close watch on all my paths by putting marks on the soles of my feet. So man wastes away like something rotten, like a garment eaten by moths.” Job 13
More from Job:
“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble. They spring up like flowers and wither away; like fleeting shadows, they do not endure. Do you fix your eye on them? Will you bring them before you for judgment? Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one! A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. So look away from him and let him alone, till he has put in his time like a hired laborer. At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant. But a man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. As the water of a lake dries up or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, so he lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, people will not awake or be roused from their sleep. If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me! If someone dies, will they 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 my sin. But as a mountain erodes and crumbles and as a rock is moved from its place, as water wears away stones and torrents wash away the soil, so you destroy a person’s hope. You overpower them once for all, and they are gone; you change their countenance and send them away. If their children are honored, they do not know it; if their offspring are brought low, they do not see it. They feel but the pain of their own bodies and mourn only for themselves.” Job 14
Job is tired of his friends’ blather and simply wants to plead his case before God. Many good lessons from Job about our opinions.