Devotional: Job 8 – We Know the Cause By the Effects

In the previous chapters we learned about Job’s losses and illness. According to the narrator of the book of Job, we are told that he is righteous and faultless. We are expected to trust that the narrator is reliable and honest, but Job’s friend, Eliphaz has cast doubt on Job’s godly character and response to his own suffering. Job has refuted this accusation by expressing his right as a human being to express his emotions and to point out that no one has named a specific sin that he has done to desirve this. Now, Job’s second friend, Bildad, speaks.

Job 8

1) Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,

“Shuhite” tells us that Bildad is a decent of Abraham through his last wife, Keturah.

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?
4) If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression;

Bildad makes a very cruel presumption. He asks Job how long will he speak all the hear words that are not true. He tells Job that God’s judgement is always true, and therefore, Job’s children must have sinned to be killed. They somehow must have deserved what they received. This is an unjust accusation and description of God’s justice that we see Jesus specifically refute in Luke 13:4 about those who died from the falling of a tower.

In Luke, Jesus tells his disciples that those who died in the collapse of the tower were no more sinful than anyone else, but he warns them to not sin lest something worse happens to them. This teaching is complex in that is both refutes and affirms the idea that bad events are a punishment for sin. What we see with the heroes of the Bible who go through trials, difficult events are for purifying us either way. People outside of the struggle cannot judge the dialogue between us and God in these cases.

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.
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?

Bildad is appealing to history as the basis of his assumptions. He states that God actions towards Job is proof of Job’s righteous or sinfulness. If Job was righteous, than God wold act. We see this in history.

This is a half truth just like what we saw with Eliphaz. Yes, this statement is true, but God does not always work according to our timeline or the timeline of those who are observing our struggles. God will help and rescue the righteous, but suffering does also have a purpose, even if hard to see, and most fulfill that purpose. Some parts of that purpose is for our own growth and refining, but some of that purpose is for others to grow out of their incorrect ideas as well.

11) Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?

12) Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb.
13) So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish:

Bildad is describing the papyrus plant and rushes by the Nile river. These plants require lots of water, so when you see them, you know water is nearby. Bildad is using nature to argue that you can assume some cause, such as water, when you see an effect, water plants growing. When water plants are withering than we can assume the water is gone. In other words, he says we can assume the cause of turning away from God when we see the effect of hardships.

14) Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider’s web.
15) He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure.

Again, Bildad is appealing to nature. The spider depends on its own power and strength, the web, for its well-being, but the web does not last. Bildad is saying this is what it is like when we turn ourselves instead of God. This is a true saying.

16) He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden.
17) His roots are wrapped about the heap, and seeth the place of stones.
18) If he destroy him from his place, then it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee.
19) Behold, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow.

In this analogy, Bildad is saying that those who are a true planet among a rock spring keeps it well and happy. If that tree get uprooted or destroyed, something better will grow there. These three images is saying that a good source or cause, trust in God, is more important than the thing effected by it.

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.

So, in conclusion, Bildad is telling Job to turn back to God because he will be faithful to the good people. These thought are not all bad, just like Eliphaz’s thoughts, but they are not complete or all good. Job will respond to this by pointing out that no one is good enough, though, to avoid these hardships. Everyone has a flaw that could cause some kind of hardship. We will explore that more, though, in the next post.

My last observation that I want to make, though, is that reading the book of Job reveals a lot in us. I am surprised as I go through this book at how many people are very uncomfortable with Job’s words, but find more truth in his friends’ words. According to the narrator at the very beginning, Job is good and right. Still, each one of must wrestle with this debate to understand why we relate more to Job’s friends who describe God in partial truths. Why does Job’s arguments make us uncomfortable? I hope you keep on this journey with to discover our deep misunderstandings of God’s nature.