Job 8

Sermon preached on September 11, 2016 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

In 1956 Barbara Barclay and her fiancé drowned in a boating accident. Barbara was only 21. It was a terrible tragedy. Barbara was the daughter of Scottish theologian William Barclay. Barclay was not popular in some Christian circles because he didn't believe in the Trinity and he didn't believe Jesus was God. He also believed in universal salvation, the idea that all men people will be gathered to God one day.

After news of his daughter's death became known Barclay received an anonymous letter that read, in part, (The Banner of Truth, January 1986. p. 23)

"I know now why God killed your daughter; it was to save her from being corrupted by your heresies."

How cruel. What a ghastly, devilish letter. It was designed to hurt and indeed, it must have hurt very deeply.

Bildad the Shuhite's first words to Job are like that. One of the characteristics of Job's friends is that they begin their speeches by insulting Job. In verse 2 Bildad basically says that Job's words are 'blustering wind'. Job is a windbag. What he says in verse 4 is even worse. He said to Job, (verses 3 & 4)

"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 their sin."

How horrible. Bildad assumes that Job's children were sinning against the Lord and because of that they were put to death. But the Bible does not say that. It is true that Job offered sacrifices on their behalf, but even Job had no indication that they were sinning. Job 1:5 tells us that Job did it because he thought,

"Perhaps my children have sinned
and cursed God in their hearts."

Notice the word, 'perhaps'. Job had no direct knowledge that his children had sinned. If Job wasn't aware of any sin in his children, how could Bildad, who lived a distance away, have any sure knowledge of the behavior of Job's children?

But the conclusive proof that Job's children were not killed because of some sin on their part is the fact that chapter 1 tells us why they were killed. They were put to death because of their connection to Job, merely because they were his children. Their deaths were part of God taking away everything that Job had.

Yet Bildad takes it as a fact that Job's children were put to death because of some sin they committed. This follows from his theology. Chapter 8 is one of the clearest and most concise description of the theology of Job's three friends. Their theology perhaps best summed up this way, (Tremper Longman III's summary of verses 11-22, Job, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms; p. 155)

"the godly thrive and the godless suffer."

That's what they believe. Theirs is a works religion. It's the same as the prosperity gospel today. Job's friends believed that if you're faithful to God, He will bless you and prosper you. If you're not faithful to God, you will be punished. Bildad puts the question to Job in verse 3.

"Does God pervert justice?
Does the Almighty pervert what is right?"

What's the answer to those two questions? No. Of course God does not pervert justice. Christopher Ash writes, (Job: p. 134)

"To 'pervert justice' (v. 3) is to twist it, bend it, make it crooked, like a merchant using false weights (Amos 8:5: "... deal deceitfully with false balances"); it is to make crooked what ought to be straight."

The Almighty does not pervert what is right. John Calvin comments, telling us that Bildad, (Sermons on Job, Chapters 1-14, Sermon 30)

"wants to maintain the position that God is just when he punishes men and that there is no reason to accuse him. Without contradiction this entire teaching is not only good, but it is one of the principal articles of our faith.""we must resolutely maintain the principle that God is by nature just and that it is no more possible for him to turn from uprightness and equity than it is for him to renounce his very being and cease to be God."

So our answer is the same as Bildad's. God does not pervert justice. He does not pervert what is right.

But Bildad's understanding of this truth is different, and his viewpoint has many defects. One of the problems with Bildad's viewpoint is that

it has too narrow a time frame.

Christopher Ash writes, (Job: p. 134)

"But, says Bildad, it ought to be an unquestioned axiom of religion and philosophy that God never does that. Not ever. So for Job to suggest that God has treated him unfairly is out of order."

Bildad's theology has no room for suffering like Job's. He thinks that if Job repents right away, if he gets right with God, then blessing will not be far behind.

But Job is right with God. Yet he's suffering. Yes, God will put everything right with Job and bless his life much more at the end than at the beginning—but that is still a long way off. We don't know how long Job's suffering lasted, but they it seems it was at least several months long. Bildad's theology has no place for such suffering. Bildad assumes that Job is a great sinner because Bildad's time frame is too short.

In Matthew 13:24–30 Jesus told the parable of the Wheat and the Tares. Again, this would not fit in with Bildad's theology. Jesus said,

"The kingdom of heaven is like
a man who sowed good seed in his field.
But while everyone was sleeping,
his enemy came and sowed weeds
among the wheat, and went away.
When the wheat sprouted
and formed heads,
then the weeds also appeared.
The owner's servants came to him
and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow
good seed in your field?
Where then did the weeds come from?'
'An enemy did this,'he replied.'
The servants asked him,
'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
'No,'he answered, 'because
while you are pulling the weeds,
you may root up the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest.
At that time I will tell the harvesters:
First collect the weeds and
tie them in bundles to be burned;
then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn."

According to Jesus the great reckoning does not come until the end of the age. During this age the wicked are often allowed to prosper.

I recently read a biography of Joseph Stalin, who led the Soviet Union from the mid 1920's till his death in 1953. He was an evil man even from the time he was a young man. It seemed like the more evil he did, the more doors opened for him for more power and success. He was a monster, responsible for the death of tens of millions of his own people. Yet he went from success to success.

Bildad had no room in his theology for someone like Stalin. But according to the parable of the Wheat and the Tares the wicked can prosper in this age. There is a reckoning coming, for God is just and God does not prevent justice—but that reckoning comes at death and at the final judgment.

We see the same principle in Jesus teaching in Matthew 5:44–45. Jesus said to His disciples,

"But I tell you:
Love your enemies and pray
for those who persecute you,
that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

God sends good on those who are evil. He gives them sunshine and rain.

Bildad has no room in his theology for that. According to his theology, God must reward the righteous and punish the wicked quickly. There can be no great delay. Bildad's judgments were based on too narrow a time frame.

The second problem with Bildad's viewpoint is that

it allows no room for exceptions and so misses the big picture—God's glory.

God has plans for His glory and those plans are inscrutable to us. God's plans confuse us and we don't understand them.

We have an example of this in John 9:1–3. We read about Jesus,

"As he went along,
he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?'
'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,'
said Jesus,
'but this happened so that the work of God
might be displayed in his life.'"

Neither the man born blind nor his parents sinned—yet he was afflicted with blindness for a great deal of his life. He was born blind so that the power of God in his life could be shown by Jesus healing him. The man was blind so that the glory of Jesus could be displayed. As John Calvin tells us that when God sends afflictions, (Commentary on John)

"God has sometimes another object in view than to punish the sins of men…"

As in the case of Job, affliction was sent to the blind man and his family so that God's glory would be displayed in his healing.

It was similar with Saul of Tarsus. His life on this earth, in very real ways, became so much worse after he repented of his sins and went to Jesus. It was at that point that it descended into suffering. God's purpose was not to punish Saul. Before Ananias laid hands on him and healed his blindness, God told Ananias, (Acts 9:16)

"I will show him how much
he must suffer for my name."

Paul was going to suffer for the name of Jesus, for God's glory.

It was the same with Peter. John's gospel tells us that Jesus predicted the kind of death by which Peter was going, (John 21:19)

"to glorify God."

Peter was going to be faithful to God and suffer for God's glory.

Both Peter and Paul endured great suffering and their sufferings had nothing to do with personal sin.

There are also exceptions to Bildad's theory in the sense that sometimes it doesn't matter if people repent—it's too late. God will not bless them in an earthly way.

Late in Judah's history there came a time when repentance would not save Judah from God's judgment.

You'll remember in the time of the Judges the people would sin, then they would come to their senses, cry out to God and God would deliver them. But such a pattern did not last forever.

Consider the people of Josiah's day. Josiah was a great king who led many of the people to repentance before God. But it was too late for the people of Judah. In 2 Kings 23:25–27 we read,

"Neither before nor after Josiah
was there a king like him
who turned to the Lord as he did—
with all his heart and with all his soul
and with all his strength,
in accordance with all the Law of Moses.
Nevertheless, the Lord did not turn away
from the heat of his fierce anger,
which burned against Judah
because of all that Manasseh had done
to provoke him to anger.
So the Lord said,
I will remove Judah also from my presence
as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem,
the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said,
'There shall my Name be."

Josiah was killed in a battle with the Egyptians and soon after Judah was overrun by the Babylonians.

I saw a testimony once of a guy whose life was really bad. He was on drugs and worked as an enforcer for a drug dealer. He was married and his wife had two miscarriages. On their third try, the baby that was born seemed to be okay. So on leaving the hospital he said he made a deal with God. He threw away the drugs he had with him, put them in the trash and resolved to clean up his life. A week later his new baby died. He was devastated. He said to God.

"I kept my part of the deal. You didn't keep your part."

He was serving God, in part, because he wanted good things from life. When God didn't give him what he wanted, he realized that there was more to it.

You can't manipulate God like that. We must not serve God because He will make it worth our while. We must love Him and serve Him no matter how He treats us on this earth. Those who try to manipulate God by serving Him because He makes it worth their while will eventually find out it doesn't work that way.

In his theology Bildad has no place for exceptions like that. Job is suffering so he must be sinning. He needs to repent. If he repents prosperity will return to him. Tremper Longman III writes, (Job, p. 156)

"As we will see, the three friends are convinced that this is the problem, and so they urge Job to become pure and virtuous, saying that if he does, God will immediately restore him."

But Bildad is wrong. Job is not in an unrepentant state. He is right with God, pleasing to God.

The third major problem with Bildad's viewpoint is that

it misses the way of salvation.

How would Bildad deal with Jesus and His suffering? He would conclude that Jesus was a great sinner. Christopher Ash writes, Job: p. 135)

"That's how Bildad's system works, with no grace and no redemptive suffering."

But Jesus was perfect. He was sinless. But He suffered and died.

Why did Jesus suffer and die? It wasn't for His own sins because He didn't have any. He died in our place, for your sins. As the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21,

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,
so that in him we might become
the righteousness of God."

1 Peter 3:18 says,

"For Christ died for sins once for all,
the righteous for the unrighteous,
to bring you to God."

His suffering was redemptive—for us. His suffering and resurrection led to our justification. In Romans 4:4–8 the apostle wrote,

"Now when a man works,
his wages are not credited
to him as a gift, but as an obligation.
However, to the man who does not work
but trusts God who justifies the wicked,
his faith is credited as righteousness.
David says the same thing
when he speaks of the blessedness
of the man to whom God
credits righteousness apart from works:
'Blessed are they whose
transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.'
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord
will never count against him."

God justifies those, who, in themselves, are unrighteous. Romans 3:23–26 says,

"for all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God,
and are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption
that came by Christ Jesus.
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,
through faith in his blood.
He did this to demonstrate his justice,
because in his forbearance
he had left the sins
committed beforehand unpunished—
he did it to demonstrate his justice
at the present time,
so as to be just and the one
who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."

In His forbearance he left sins committed by the saints of the Old Testament unpunished. C.E.B Cranfield writes, (Romans, Vol. 1, p. 211-212)

"for God simply to pass over sins would be altogether incompatible with His righteousness. He would not be the good and merciful God, had He been content to pass over sins indefinitely; for this would have been to condone evil—a denial of His own nature and a cruel betrayal of sinners. God has in fact been able to hold His hand and pass over sins, without compromising His goodness and mercy, because His intention all along has been to deal with them once and for all, decisively and finally, through the Cross."

Christopher Ash writes, (Job: p. 135)

"Bildad has no place in his system for sacrifice, because he has no place for redemptive suffering, and ultimately no place for the cross of Christ. For him it is a pretty simple system of double retribution—good things happen to good people, bad things to bad people."

You who are Christians, how thankful you ought to be for the sufferings of Jesus. His death and resurrection are your salvation. Without them you would be lost.

For those of you who are not Christians, know that Bildad's theology is wrong. You can't make yourself right with God by doing good works. As we read in Galatians 2:16,

"know that a man is not justified by observing the law,
but by faith in Jesus Christ.
So we, too, have put our faith
in Christ Jesus that we may be
justified by faith in Christ
and not by observing the law,
because by observing the law no one will be justified."

You need Jesus. Go to Him now.