John T. Willis

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tradition! Tradition!--The First Speech of Bildad--Job 8

[A Reminder: As we work slowly through the book of Job, keep in mind that each speaker is responding to EVERYTHING that has already occurred. This is very important].

We turn now to the first speech of Bildad, reported in Job 8. This chapter falls into four parts.

I. Bildad extends an invitation to Job to repent and turn to God. Job 8:1-7.
a. Bildad begins by chastening Job with saying such terrible things that Job uttered. Surely, no one should or could say such things. Verses 1-2.
b. Bildad is appalled at Job's assertion that God is unjust and perverts the right. Verse 3. This is clearly directed against Job's declaration in Job 6:4 and 7:20 that God has particularly picked out Job to make Job suffer for no reason.
c. In a bitter heartless and unsympathetic attitude toward Job, Bildad boldly affirms that God destroyed Job's ten children because they sinned against God. Verse 4. Like Eliphaz and Zophar [and even Job before his suffering occurred], Bildad is smugly convinced that all righteous people prosper, and all wicked people suffer. SO, if Job's ten children suffered a great calamity, this HAS TO BE BECAUSE they had sinned against God.
d. Bildad now assures Job if Job will simply seek God and pray to God and be pure and upright, God will restore Job and bring Job back to his former advantageous status. Verses 5-7. [Note that Job's three friends assume that Job is sinful; therefore, Job needs to repent. If Job will just do this, God will restore Job].

II. We are right, because we are taking the position of our ancestors. Job 8:8-10.
Tradition! Tradition! Remember the song of Tevye in the play Fiddler on the Roof. All of us human beings "receive" a great deal of ideas and customs and gestures copying our parents and grandparents and close friends and revered church members. So, we ASSUME that MY RIGHT is the ONLY RIGHT. Tradition! Tradition! Now, some tradition is very good and very important. But much of the time, tradition is just wrong. Some of my friends are shock when they learn that I have changed my ideas, my beliefs, my practices, my outlook on life has changed tremendously over my almost 76 years of life. But, I ask you, how can we GROW spiritually if we do not CHANGE? God is constant. But we need badly to change.

III. All wicked people suffer, even though they may enjoy prosperity for a brief time. Job 8:11-19. Here, Bildad uses several figures and metaphors and similes to try to PROVE that all wicked people suffer.
a. A papyrus or reed plant grows quickly and early in the season. It looks so good and so enduring. But it withers before any other plant. In the same way, the godless have the same experience. This is invariable. Verses 11-13.
b. A spider's web looks strong and lasting. Hence, the spider enmeshes flies and beetles and other insects. But if a human being leans against the web, it will not endure. In the same way, the wicked are doomed to perish after prospering for a brief time. Verses 14-15.
c. Shoots of growing grass or small plants living near rocks seem impenetrable. But soon, the dry weather or human beings or animals or insects will destroy these plants. Similarly, the wicked will soon perish. Verses 16-19.

IV. God's LAW is invariable. All righteous people prosper; all wicked people suffer. Job 8:20-22.
a. Bildad sums up the position of Job's three friends in one verse: Job 8:20.
"See, God will not reject a blameless person,
nor take the hand of evildoers."
God will not allow a righteous person to perish. And God will not sustain an evil person. "Blameless" here does not mean "sinless," but one whose life is continually committed to God. [See Job 1:1, 8; 2:3].
b. Bildad promises Job "the moon" if Job will simply repent and turn to God. Further, Bildad assures Job that if Job repents, Job's enemies will be put to shame and the wicked will perish. Verses 21-22.

What about YOUR TRADITIONS? Often, we do not realize that our beliefs have been handed down to us from previous generations, some of which may have been good, and some of which may have been bad. This is why it is so important for us to THINK through our own ideas and beliefs and customs and practices.

How are YOU doing? Share your thoughts with others--your family, your friends, your community, your church. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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