The struggle in the book of Job is real. It is as old as Genesis and as current as today’s news. Why do good people suffer? When does God intervene to remove suffering? While it can be easy to spout what we think we know, what grandma said or to quote the modern philosophies of the day, it is not a small matter to attempt to speak for God. The book of Job is considered one of the oldest books of the Bible and yet today it continues to admonish those who forget that God’s ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. The next two lessons, taken from the book of Job, are reminders that just because Adam ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we humans did not take on the omniscient attributes of God.
Job is one of three books that are known as the Wisdom Books. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job all voice perspectives on how to live with wisdom, the cause and effect of our behavior, and about life in general for those that serve God or for those that do not. It is hard to study one book without referencing the other two. If you struggle to know why good things happen to bad people or why bad things happen to good people, you are not alone. The story of Cain and Abel is often noted for its first murder but we miss that the the good guy dies.
In chapter one of the book of Job, we hear from God himself that Job is his servant, a perfect and upright man, that fears God and escheweth (stays away from and deliberately avoids) evil. Satan then reminds God that if it were not for his hedge of protection around Job he would not be such a good man. God agrees to allow Satan to take away all that he has but without touching Job physically.
Satan then comes back in chapter two to hear God again boast of Job. God even goes so far as to say he was still holding fast to his integrity, although Satan had moved God to destroy him without cause. It is at this point that Satan asks to be able to afflict him physically and God sets the boundary that he cannot cause his death.
By the end of chapter two, Job’s three friends have arrived to mourn with him and comfort him. They have sat without saying a word for seven days and nights. The Bible says that they did this because they saw that his grief was very great. But around Chapter 3 Job starts talking, cursing the day he was born. He admits that the thing he has greatly feared has come upon him. It is here that his friends start to speak up and try to figure out why he is going through all of this. In Chapter 8, we start our lesson.
8 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,2 How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?3 Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?
There is very little we know about Bildad the Shuhite. The general consensus is that he is the descendant of Shuah the son of Abraham and Keturah. His tone is all about looking to the authority of tradition. However as a friend, he pulls no punches when he says Job needs to stop whining. Bildad says Job is going on and on with no substance to his words because God doesn’t pervert Justice. The previous friend, Eliphaz the Temanite (probably a descendant of Esau), set in motion the first accusation that God does not allow the innocent to suffer. He states that he had a terrifying vision that accused the mortals. Although it does not say, who is the accuser? Job answers him back in Chapters 6-7 pleading for some pity instead of being accused of some hidden secret sin. So far their help is not comforting at all, he feels worse now than when he started. Bildad then comes along to take up where the other friend left off. He starts quoting things known by all but things that are not helpful.
4 If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression;5 If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;6 If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.
Can you feel the knife twisting as Bildad comforts! We are told earlier in the story that Job offered many sacrifices for his children in case they had sinned or cursed God in their hearts. He did this continually. Now his friend Bildad comes along and basically says if they sinned God killed them and by the way Job, if you were a Godly man, wouldn’t God rescue you from this. Can you imagine the pain that would have inflicted on Job to hear his children spoken of in this manner. As these friends continue, they start making up things that could be possibilities for the sins that Job must surely have committed. Is it interesting to you that the friends feel they have to “figure out” why this is happening to Job. Is that something they should do?
7 Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.8 For enquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers:9 (For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow:)10 Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart?
Even though he didn’t mean to, Bildad correctly predicts that Job’s situation would improve and he would increase. We know from the end of the book that Job does get back even more than he had in the beginning. Bildad is a traditionalist. He suggests that Job needs to look back to see what those before him would advise. Interestingly, in searching the stories/scripture he would find the story of Cain and Abel. As stated above, the one doing the right was killed. Here is where the Wisdom of Proverbs and the thoughtfulness of Ecclesiates come into play. Wisdom allows us to choose our paths and we benefit greatly from Godly decisions. We also suffer from ungodly and unwise decisions. However, nothing ever says that the righteous never have trouble. We live in a sin cursed world. There is going to be trouble. Ecclesiastes says that time and chance happen to all. That many things are vanity/worthless that we put much stock into and desire.
20 Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers:21 Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing.22 They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought.
In summary, this lesson teaches us that although humans would like to know all the answers to every situation, they do not. More importantly, we are to be the light in truth, by loving each other as we love ourselves. Humans forget. We are all in the same sin cursed world. We all see bad things happening to good people. We understand that it rains on the just and the unjust. Jesus said in this world you shall have tribulation. He meant it. In this biblical account it is interesting to me that God says that he permitted Satan to destroy Job without cause, yet even today we try to figure out why these things happened to Job. As is always true, God is working many angles in every situation. Does Job learn things from his experience? Of course he does. The question we should ask is do we truly believe that God is in control of this world and every situation? Is he still God if things are not going the way we think they should? Could we sometimes be like those in the New Testament, who only follow Jesus for the miracles and bread? Is your relationship with God one that is steadfast through the rough times as well as the bad?
Is God affected by our suffering?
In what ways do we know that God cares about the small and big things of our lives?
What happens when we assume we know what God is thinking about or doing personally in the life of another believer? Why is that wrong
What is the goal of God in the life of his children?
How does Romans 8:18-19 apply to what we’ve read in Job?
Thank you for studying with us! God Bless!