Job 8:5-7 But if you will look to God and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place. Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.
Job was really struggling with God’s providence in his life. His understanding of God’s essential character did not easily fit with his present circumstance of continued inexplicable and almost unbearable suffering. And his three ‘comforters’ were also struggling to find a satisfactory explanation as they sat with him there in the dust.
The thing that set Job apart from his friends, however, was that he was prepared to let God be God, and to trust his true goodness and faithfulness in the pitch-black hole of suffering. Job had the right idea about what constitutes true faith: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see [lit. ‘are not seeing’”] (Hebrews 11:1).
Later, Job will express the reality of such a personal faith: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (13:15a). This view of faith presupposes a correct understanding of grace: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
This is where Bildad totally missed the mark in today’s quote. For him, the only way Job could hope for relief was to earn it by ‘good works’. God’s justice must be satisfied by him (Job)! But Job knew he needed someone else to ‘buy him out’, to ‘pay his ransom’. And so he would later say, even before any sign of relief came: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (19:25).
The real irony in all this is that, because of Job’s intransigent attitude, and his seeming unwillingness to accept the watertight ‘logic’ of his (Bildad’s) ‘wise’ counsel, Bildad would have had no idea that his ‘prediction’ about Job’s prosperous future would, in fact, come true! (see 42:10-17)
– Bruce Christian