Prophesying a Turnaround in Job 8

by | Jun 29, 2021 | Bible Study | 0 comments

In today’s continuation of our study of the book of Job, we will be covering Job chapter 8, which is Bildad’s first response to Job. Bildad is the second of Job’s friends to speak. We saw in Job’s first friend’s response, Eliphaz’s advice was a mixture of good advice and bad. Eliphaz did speak true words about God, but some of his assumptions about Job were off. Not only did Eliphaz not have all the information, but he was misdirected by revelation from a false spirit.
In Job’s response to Eliphaz, we see that Eliphaz isn’t the only person with some false assumptions. Just as Eliphaz has some wrong beliefs about him and his situation, Job has some wrong understandings about God. Job thinks he is forgotten.

Then Bildad responds with some encouraging words. A little about Bildad. Bildad was a Shuhite, or a descendant of Shuah, who was the son of Abraham and Keturah. Abraham married Keturah after Sarah died and they had six sons.[1]

Here is the thing to remember about Shuah … he shouldn’t have been. Sarah had been infertile for her entire life up to Isaac’s birth, but by the time Isaac was born, Abraham was also past having children. God’s intervention and bringing new life to a couple long past hope did not end with the single son. That blessing, the favor of God, also resulted in six more sons … an overflow.

If Shuah had never been, Bildad wouldn’t have been standing there. Bildad was, as he was sitting with Job, living and breathing evidence of not only the goodness and faithfulness of God, but of his miraculous power. This is an explanation of the meaning of Bildad’s name:

The name Bildad is the combination shortened form (DaD) of the root word DUD (dowd), meaning “beloved” and a qualifier BaL, a shortened form of ba’al, both meaning “lord” or “master.” The word was appropriate as the name of chief gods of ancient Canaanite religions. The combination probably means “Loved by the master.[2][3]

Let’s read he words that the living witness to the goodness of God had to say.

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered,

2 “How long will you say these things,
And the words of your mouth be a mighty wind?
3 “Does God pervert justice?
Or does the Almighty pervert what is right?
4 “If your sons sinned against Him,
Then He delivered them into the power of their transgression.

Bildad stands firm on the justice and righteousness of God. Here Bildad suggests that it was a transgression of Job’s children that brought calamity on them.

5 “If you would seek God
And implore the compassion of the Almighty,
6 If you are pure and upright,
Surely now He would rouse Himself for you
And restore your righteous estate.
7 “Though your beginning was insignificant,
Yet your end will increase greatly.

We learned in chapter 1 that Job was the wealthiest man in the entire area. He was influential. He was “the guy.” But Bildad is saying, that beginning, what Job had before was insignificant and that Job’s end would be greater than his beginning. This are words of prophecy, Bildad is not only speaking a blessing over Job, but he is speaking it as one who is himself part of that latter blessing. Abraham had exponentially more sons at the end of his life than he did in the beginning.

As we mentioned in the overview of the Book of Job, Job is the oldest book in the Bible. It predates the writing of Genesis. Everything in the Bible, from beginning to end, is answering the questions raised in the Book of Job. All of life’s big questions are raised in this book:

  • Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Why am I here?
  • Why is God silent?
  • Does God even care?
  • How can man be right with God?
  • Is this all there is?
The oldest book in the Bible is an apologetic work addressing man’s big questions, and then the other 65 books expand and clarify God’s answers. Not only is the Book of Job an apologetic work, but it is a cultural apologetic work. Just as Jesus taught in parables, these heavy questions are addressed in story and poetry. God invites man to partner with him in his plan, to be a player in his campaign to bring about the Good and Perfect End, the Great Story. God connects to us through story because we are part of his.

Because of this, we see foreshadowing of things to come in the Book of Job, different archetypes. This prophetic word from Bildad is not only a blessing for Job, but a foreshadowing of what is to come for God’s people as a whole, both the nation of Israel as well as all people who are “called according to his name.”

The pre-exile prophets did not only prophesy judgment, but that after the judgment … the chastening … that just like Job, the nation’s latter days would be greater than the former.

Jeremiah 30:18

“Thus says the Lord: Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob and have compassion on his dwellings; the city shall be rebuilt on its mound, and the palace shall stand where it used to be.

Haggai   2:7-9

And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’”

Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

romans 8:28

Like Eliphaz, Bildad’s advice is to seek recompense and restoration because God is just. Bildad is saying the same thing Paul does when, quoting Jesus, Paul reminds us that God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[4]

8 “Please inquire of past generations,
And consider the things searched out by their fathers.
9 “For we are only of yesterday and know nothing,
Because our days on earth are as a shadow.
10 “Will they not teach you and tell you,
And bring forth words from their minds?

In this stanza, we are reminded that there is a lot to learn in life. If we don’t learn from the example and testimony of those who have come before us, we will be reworking the same ground unnecessarily. Take advantage of the wisdom of the past and build on it. Bypass the mistakes they made and gain the benefit of their experience without the pain of the cost of gaining it.

11 “Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh?
Can the rushes grow without water?
12 “While it is still green and not cut down,
Yet it withers before any other plant.

The imagery highlights the necessity of water for life, and that just as plants need water for life, so people need the knowledge of and trust in God for true life. Jesus identified himself as the Living Water in his conversation with the woman at the well.  In our Bible study on the I AM statements of Jesus, we learned that God identifies his Spirit as the living water in Isaiah 44:1-4:

“But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant,
Israel my chosen one.
2 The Lord who made you and helps you says:
Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant,
O dear Israel, my chosen one.
3 For I will pour out water to quench your thirst
and to irrigate your parched fields.
And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants,
and my blessing on your children.
4 They will thrive like watered grass,
like willows on a riverbank.

that he will give His Holy Spirit to all who are thirsty, Isaiah 55:1

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

Jeremiah says the same thing in chapter 2, verse 13:

“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

Like Bildad, Jeremiah promises that God will be as an everflowing stream to those who put their trust in him.

7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.[5]

All of this is a repeat of Bildad’s words in verses 11 through 14 isn’t it? Bildad began his speech by praising God and exalting his name. Then he advised Job to seek God for recompense and prophesied a blessing. He then reminded him to remember what God has done in the past and that no one can stand without God. Then he moves into words of warning. A lot of commentary on this chapter has a negative view of Bildad. They see Bildad as accusing Job of not only trusting in his possessions, but of bringing on the trouble that came upon him. I don’t see it that way.

When Bildad suggests that it was a transgression of Job’s sons that brought about their destruction, he wasn’t saying that Job sinned. He was pointing out that it was entirely possible that something Job wasn’t aware of opened a door and that the calamity was due to association. This is entirely Biblical. It is the reason for the corporate sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, which was for any unintentional sin that hadn’t already been atoned for. The blood of the sacrifice covered the sin so judgment wouldn’t fall on the community as a whole. It is the reason we are told and given witness repeatedly in the Bible to confess not only our own sins, but the sins of our families, communities, and nations. (This is the whole point of 2 Chronicles 7:14) The guilt of sin may be individual,[6] but the consequences are collective.[7] As we saw in the Bible study on Job chapter 1, Job was not only doing as he ought, but he was acting as priest for his family and atoning for any unintentional sins. Disaster struck before he could do so.

As for the claim that Bildad is accusing Job of trusting in his possessions. I don’t think so. Job has lost everything, Bildad began his speech by proclaiming that whatever Job had, God would give him greater. Bildad is comparing and contrasting, what the righteous can hope for and have expectations of when they put their trust in God versus those who trust in what they have or who they know. We continue in verse 13:

13 “So are the paths of all who forget God;
And the hope of the godless will perish,
14 Whose confidence is fragile,
And whose trust a spider’s web.

Shelob’s web in Lord of the Rings may be one that can hold someone, but other than that, a spider web isn’t something that you would want to put your trust in to hold you up.

15 “He trusts in his house, but it does not stand;
He holds fast to it, but it does not endure.
16 “He thrives before the sun,
And his shoots spread out over his garden.

17 “His roots wrap around a rock pile,
He grasps a house of stones.
18 “If he is removed from his place,
Then it will deny him, saying, ‘I never saw you.’

19 “Behold, this is the joy of His way;
And out of the dust others will spring.

I mentioned in the overview of the Book of Job that there is a lot of variation in the translation. It’s a difficult book to grasp and in order to translate, a person has to not only understand the work in the original language, but how it translates into another. Adding to this, the Book of Job has more unique words that are used in no other place than any other book in the Bible. There isn’t anything else to get a fuller understanding of what the context of the word might be. This stanza is one of those passages. We just read the NASB. This is Young’s Literal Translation:

13 So [are] the paths of all forgetting God, And the hope of the profane doth perish,

14 Whose confidence is loathsome, And the house of a spider his trust.

15 He leaneth on his house — and it standeth not: He taketh hold on it — and it abideth not.

16 Green he [is] before the sun, And over his garden his branch goeth out.

17 By a heap his roots are wrapped, A house of stones he looketh for.

18 If [one] doth destroy him from his place, Then it hath feigned concerning him, I have not seen thee!

19 Lo, this [is] the joy of his way, And from the dust others spring up.’

Both the NASB and YLT are more literal translations. The NIV puts more interpretation into it:

13 Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
so perishes the hope of the godless.
14 What they trust in is fragile;
what they rely on is a spider’s web.
15 They lean on the web, but it gives way;
they cling to it, but it does not hold.
16 They are like a well-watered plant in the sunshine,
spreading its shoots over the garden;
17 it entwines its roots around a pile of rocks
and looks for a place among the stones.
18 But when it is torn from its spot,
that place disowns it and says, ‘I never saw you.’
19 Surely its life withers away,
and from the soil other plants grow.

When I first read the passage in the NASB, it seemed to me to be somewhat prophetic, that the roots were first around a rock, something more sturdy, but then moved to movable stones. Then when he (the one rooted) was removed, that the place, where he was originally, denied him. To me, it evoked the comparison to Jesus as a cornerstone, and he warning to believers to make sure that they were on a firm foundation. But reading it in the other translations, that doesn’t come through at all.  It is solely a warning to those who put their trust in anything other than God.

So how did the translators of the Septuagint understand this passage? Remember, the Septuagint is the Hebrew Tanakh translated into Greek about 200 years before Jesus was born. How the Septuagint translators translated passages very often gives us insight into what they understood it to mean, for example, the prophecy that a virgin would conceive a child in Isaiah 7:14. Skeptics will say that the Hebrew word that is translated into “virgin” in English can also mean a “young woman.” That is true. But the word used to translate it into Greek in the Septuagint strictly means, “a virgin.” From the time Isaiah was written to the time the passage was translated into Greek, the consensus of the Jewish opinion … represented in the Septuagint … was a Messianic expectation of a virgin birth.

This is the Septuagint translation:

13 Thus then shall be the end of all that forget the Lord: for the hope of the ungodly shall perish.
14 For his house shall be without inhabitants, and his tent shall prove a spider’s web.
15 If he should prop up his house, it shall not stand: and when he has taken hold of it, it shall not remain.
16 For it is moist under the sun, and his branch shall come forth out of his dung-heap.
17 He lies down upon a gathering of stones, and shall live in the mist of flints.
18 If should destroy, his place shall deny him. Hast thou not seen such things, 19 that such is the overthrow of the ungodly? and out of the earth another shall grow.

I see Jesus here. What do you see? In verses 13-15, Bildad states that those who put their trust in their own strength will be destroyed. I think the reference to the house, one’s descendants, is more clear in this passage. And Job has lost all of his children. He is left with nothing. Bildad has prophesied that Job’s latter days will be greater than his former, and that regardless of the work of evil, “out of the earth, another shall grow.”

This is what happened to Jesus isn’t it? He was cut off. His house, his people, denied him, but out of his death came the resurrection.

Let’s continue in verse 20, again from the NASB.

20 “Lo, God will not reject a man of integrity,
Nor will He support the evildoers.
21 “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
And your lips with shouting.
22 “Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,
And the tent of the wicked will be no longer.”

These are words to Job, but it is also a proclamation of the justice of God. Jesus lived as a man of complete integrity. Because of that, death could not hold him. Mourning was turned to laughter. Victory came from defeat. Even though it seemed all was at an end, what was hoped for came when there seemed like there was no hope.

This is who God is. He is the God of the Turnaround, the unexpected good end.

This is the simple answer to Job’s question. Bildad is telling him the end without any of the details of the road that leads to that end. But this is only chapter 8 out of 42.  Job and his friends have more words, a lot of them.

This is Job’s response in chapter 9:

Then Job answered,

2 “In truth I know that this is so;
But how can a man be in the right before God?

This is the real question isn’t it? How do we get in right standing for that promise and Good End. We will look at Job’s question in Chapter 9 next week.


This Bible study is part of A Study of Job (2021)


Endnotes

[1] Genesis 25:1-6

[2] “Bildad,” Bible Wiki, accessed June 25, 2021, https://bible.wikia.org/wiki/Bildad.

[3] “Bildad,” Bible Wiki, accessed June 25, 2021, https://bible.wikia.org/wiki/Bildad.

[4] Matthew 16:27, Romans 2:6

[5] Jeremiah 17:7-8

[6] Deuteronomy 24:16

[7] Exodus 20:5, 34:7, Numbers 14:18, Ezekiel 18:19-20, Jeremiah 31:29-34 (A promise of release of the curse of generational iniquity)