Job 8-10: Job and Bildad exchange words

Reading:  Job 8-10

Bildad offers very little other than arguing with Job. After Job defends himself, Bildad reiterates what was already said — if there were no sin, there would be no punishment, repent. He did offer the suggestion that perhaps the punishment was not for Job’s personal sins, but sins that were within the household. In terms of debate, Bildad left unanswered Job’s protest that the punishment was too great for whatever the crime might be.

Like Eliphaz before, Bildad associates God’s blessings with material wealth, and God’s punishment with loss. If Job is personally right with God, God will restore him to where he was before. Like Eliphaz, Bildad finds it necessary to defend God, and Job’s suffering accuses God.

Job observes another difficulty that he has — God is transcendent. Job and his friends can see what God has done, but God is not visibly there. Job does not experience God answering his prayers in any helpful way. Job wants to know what he did to deserve this, and what he can do to gain forgiveness, but God remains silent.

At this point, Job doubts that God has compassion, or understands what it means to live as flesh. We might say that at this point, Job accuses God of being distant and uncaring. He points out that as he cannot face God, it does not matter whether he is innocent or guilty — he cannot be acquitted if there is nobody capable of offering a trial.

Job is calling for a God who sees through human eyes, a God who walks a few miles in human feet, and knows what it is like to ache after walking all day. Job says that God, being transcendent cannot judge, just as humanity cannot live according to the standards of a God who does not see through human lives. Job wants God to spend some time in human flesh.

The Christian can point to the incarnation of Jesus as the best answer to Job’s complaint. Jesus is able to judge, yet we see that Jesus is most often merciful. The thing we see about Jesus is that Jesus lived the life of a poor person in an conquered minority. Jesus was described as a man of sorrows. Jesus died a torturous death, and he suffered unjustly under a system of injustice. Jesus was the one that suffered with those who were innocent and suffering.

Jesus also turned the assumptions of Job’s friends right on its head. While Job’s friends insist that suffering is God’s punishment for sin, and that those who are good people are rewarded, Jesus told his disciples that they would suffer for their obedience to God. We know that God faced the same injustice we do, and chose to suffer with us.

Continued: Job 11-14 Job and Zophar

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