John T. Willis

Friday, October 09, 2009

Fear Tactics--Job 18

We come now to Bildad's second speech, recorded in Job 18.

When people are engaged in a debate, and one side runs out of arguments, that side resorts to using "fear tactics" to threaten the opponent(s). Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar have "run the gamut" of arguments against Job. Job's friends have ONE ARGUMENT: All righteous people prosper, and all wicked people suffer. This HAS to be correct, BECAUSE IF God is JUST, then obviously, all righteous people prosper and all wicked people suffer. Many people today buy into such a view.

Job's three friends are still expected to continue the planned debate, but they are out of arguments. So, now, Bildad resorts to "fear tactics," and this is what Job 18 is all about.

Job 18 falls into two parts. We will track with Bildad's words.

I. Bildad makes some lame accusations of Job against Job's three friends: (1) Job is floundering--Job is hunting for words, because Job's position is so weak; (2) Job considers his friends as mere cattle, not human beings; (3) Job thinks his friends are stupid; (4) Job tears himself in his anger. Job 18:1-4.
Notice that in this paragraph, Bildad consistently uses the word "we" (once in verse 2, and twice in verse 3). As we have pointed out several times earlier, Job's three friends FIRST confer with one another, THEN the next appointed speaker proclaims their decisions. See 5:27.

II. Bildad simply ASSERTS that all wicked people suffer--they are filled with TERROR and HORROR (note especially verses 11, 14, 20). Job 18:5-21.
a. Bildad offers NO ARGUMENT, but simply ASSERTS or CLAIMS that SURELY the light of the WICKED is put out. All the schemens or plans of the wicked are doomed to fail very soon. Verses 5-7.
b. In the next four verses, Bildad "stacks" illustrations after illustrations to CLAIM that the wicked are doomed. The wicked: are thrust into a net by their own feet, walk into a pitfall, a trap seizes them by the heel, a snare lays hold of them, a rope is hid for them in the ground, a trap for them in the path. TERRORS frighten them on every side, and chase them at their heels. Verses 8-11. Bildad says the same thing OVER AND OVER AND OVER.
c. Bildad claims that all kinds of bad things happen to wicked people: hunger, calamity, disease, cast out of their house, lose everything, shrivel up, forgetting, expulsion from society, have no children or grandchildren, make people on earth stand appalled at their misfortunes. Verses 12-20.
d. Verses 5 and 21 form an "inclusio" around the assuring word "SURELY." So, Bildad REPEATS his ASSERTION in verse 5. The UNGODLY will experience all the losses Bildad has just described. This is the fate of those who do NOT KNOW GOD. Verse 21.

When a person first hears such "thinking," it appears to be right--until we begin looking around REAL LIFE in our own world. How many people do YOU know who are obviously or probably wicked and therefore suffer? And how many people doe YOU know who are obviously or probably righteous and therefore prosper? My experience is that there is no univeral one-to-one relatio between righteousness and prosperity, and wickedness and suffering. To cite just one biblical thought is: Was Jesus righteous or wicked? Did Jesus prosper or suffer? Then, think of other biblical examples pertaining to this.

What is YOUR response to Bildad's tirade in Job 18? Share your thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

1 Comments:

  • I've been pondering the "prosperity theology" of the "sons of the east." It makes a lot of sense, given the basic human knowledge about God from nature (see Romans 1), but subsequent revelation shows what is lacking.

    It isn't that God isn't good to the good--it's that (as Eliphaz said at the very beginning) there is no one righteous in God's sight.

    The problem with that (true as it may be) is that God HAS been good to many (wicked) people. The mystery of Job is NOT why Job suffers from chapter 2 forward--it is, "Why did he prosper at the start and end of the book?" There's only one way to answer that...

    ...and it's Jesus. The righteousness of Christ makes it possible for a good God to be good to wicked people.

    By Blogger A Future Metaphysician, at 4:21 AM  

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