Job 8-10: A Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Are we ever victims of circumstances as God’s children? The answer is NO. Believing God to be Sovereign means nothing can occur in our lives as His children without God allowing it or decreeing it. This is a difficult truth. We are going to be overwhelmed by life’s various trials at times- they come like a flood, a fire or a mighty storm. But God has promised the waters will not overflow us, the flames will not scorch us and when our life is built on the rock of His Word, it will withstand the storms.
In his dialogue with his three friends, Job is being accused of being a hypocrite, a man with a serious sin problem he will not own up to. His friends are in fact basing their accusations on circumstantial evidence.
Circumstantial evidence is evidence which relies on inference to connect it to a conclusion of fact. This is exactly what these three friends are basing their arguments upon. Once again we will hear Job complain in Job 9 he ‘needs a mediator, (someone to arbitrate) to lay his hand on both of us; someone to remove God’s rod from me.’ Do you see the picture there of a go-between who lays his hands on both the sinner and Holy God, the Judge? A picture of reconciliation accomplished in only one person. The Lord Jesus wants to act on your behalf as an Advocate, a Mediator. He tells us clearly: ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.’ (John 14) In John 8, Jesus tells us He is our Redeemer, and when He, the Son, sets you free, you are free indeed. The enemy wants to tempt you to sin, then humiliate you when you sin by saying- you are not free, I don’t care what Jesus told you.
I did not like Eliphaz, I dislike Bildad even more. He is blunt to the point of brutality. What we realize is the devil has these three doing his work for him. To make Job even more miserable with their accusations based on circumstantial evidence and in doing so not offer Job comfort, but make Job even more miserable and create more doubt in the love and mercy of God. Remember Satan’s goal is to get Job to curse God. He has used his wife to incite him to do this and now he uses these three ‘friends.’
Bildad will present three arguments. His opening salvo is – Job you are full of hot air. Wow! What an opening line for someone who supposedly came to comfort a person who has suffered so much loss and is in such physical pain and mental anguish, he wants to die.
Bildad’s Three Arguments
- The character of God. He brings God immediately into the discussion by looking up to Almighty and asks Job a rhetorical question: “Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? Bildad is implying Job has blasphemed God by questioning Him as to why he was going through this. Bildad is right in one area of God’s attributes: God is Holy and Just. But God is Love. His love is holy, and His Holiness is exercised in love, even when He is allowing adversity in His children or judging sin. Want to see an example of how His Holiness and Justice are joined with His love, mercy and goodness? Look at the cross. I love this verse from Psalms 85:10- “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed.” To me this is description of what happened at Calvary. Jesus died for the sins of the world, the righteousness of God was vindicated, sin was judged and the penalty of death was applied. But at the same time the love of God was demonstrated for God provided a sacrifice, the Lamb of God, His Only Begotten Son. At Calvary, God is both “just and justifier”. ( Romans 3:24-26) Bildad stuck a dagger in Job’s heart when he implied his 10 children died because of their sin. Bildad is telling Job to look up at the character of God. This has happened because of sinfulness in your life and the life of your children. Bildad is basing his opinion on circumstantial evidence.
- Bildad then resorts to the wisdom of the past. We look back at the heroes of the Bible, we stand with them, and as we do, we know we also stand on their shoulders so we can look further ahead. The revelation of God is progressive. The Old Testament was pointing to the coming of the Lamb of God. Hebrews 1 tells us “God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. “Bildad, Job and those who lived at this time, lived in a time of incomplete revelation. Their viewpoint was much like the disciples’ viewpoint regarding the man born blind in John 9. They assumed his suffering was because of his sin or his parents. Job’s friends are attempting to connect Job’s suffering to his sins. Yet even looking back, how could they miss the story of Joseph, where evil befell him and he suffered although innocent. And his story reveals this truth- what Joseph’s brothers meant for evil, God meant for good for the saving of many lives. Those patriarchs of old were saved by looking to God to provide Himself a sacrifice (Gen. 22). A lamb without blemish who would take away the sin. They were saved by grace through faith. You want evidence? “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for the EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN. For by it (faith) the elders obtained a good report. ( Hebrews 11: 1&2) Is not revelation progressive to each believer? Having been saved, we are justified and thus reconciled to a Holy God by our mediator, our High Priest, the Lord Jesus. When we get saved, the Holy Spirit comes within us and uses the Word of God to conform us. To teach us what we now possess and how to use it for our good and the Glory of God. It is always progressive- never coming to a plateau but building precept upon precept.
- Bildad continues by telling Job: not only to look up at the character of God and also look back to the wisdom of the forefathers. Bildad says look around at nature, at God’s creation and observe the truths of God’s handiwork. Look at plants which God gave Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden abounding with fruits and herbs good to eat as well as food for the animal life. After the fall, weeds and thorns sprang up as God cursed the ground because of sin. And these had to be uprooted. God does not uproot the good- He uproots that which has been cursed by sin. This was Bildad’s theology which says to Job- you have lost everything because of the curse of your sins. God has uprooted your life. He also makes note of the intricate web the spider weaves- which when leaned upon collapses. He is saying Job’s confidence in his blessed, abundant life he has built is as fragile as a spider’s web and God caused it to collapse.
Job’s reply reveals Job feels like his friends have put him on trial rather than comforting him. They are piling up the circumstantial evidence based on their legalistic belief system which does not allow God to operate outside of their preconceived ideas of how God is supposed to operate.
Job responds and what he wants is his day in court with God on the stand to ask God questions which He will have to answer to Job’s satisfaction. Job in legal language wants to subpoena God and make Him appear and answer his questions. Job wants some answers! Now! Can you really blame him for wanting God to tell him what is going on?
Job wants God to answers his questions. First, he wants to know how can I be righteous before God? Second, how can I meet with God in the courtroom? And third, why was I born? What is the reason for my existence if this is all there is to life.
Let’s take these three questions and see if we can make sense of them in light of what we know.
- How can I be righteous before God? How does one get declared not guilty- innocent of the charges? Job wants to clear himself before his accusers. Job says how can I get Holy, Almighty, and Invisible God to appear in court and answer my questions. Job answers his own rhetorical question by saying- ‘ how would I contend with God who is wise and mighty in strength- who removes mountains, shakes the earth, commands the sun, seals off the stars, and Job goes on the describe the majesty, sovereignty and power of God. No one can say to God – ‘what are you doing? And force Him to answer. We need someone to bear witness on our behalf to go before God and plead our case.
- How can I possibly meet with Him in court? What would I say? Would I declare my innocence? Would I try to be happy, when my life has been completely turned upside down and emptied of everything? I cannot do that. I need a mediator- someone to come and lay hands on me and Holy God and reconcile us.
- Why was I born? What purpose is there to my life if this is all I have? Just let me die if this is the way it is. Job did not understand what God was doing. We have all had that experience at some time in our lives. Do you realize it is important sometimes NOT TO KNOW WHAT GOD IS DOING? This is where faith is tested and grows stronger in the fire. This is where we ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking and knock and keep on knocking. Earnestly asking and seeking, and persisting in knocking until it is opened. Remember when Mary broke her alabaster jar and anointed the Lord Jesus? Judas who knew the price of everything, but the value of nothing, thought it was wasteful. He said how much it could have been sold for and the money given to the poor. (We know he was an embezzler, so he probably wanted the money to cover his embezzling or to siphon off some more of the group’s money.) Nothing that is given to Christ in faith and love is never wasted. I wasted my opportunities to have a college education. I wasted so much of my life in those very important years from age 17- 31. When I looked back at them, it made me sick to realize what I had done. Yet God has used those years to give me a story, a testimony, which has been told to hundreds of people. This our story- by our, I mean this God’s and my story. God comforted me in my trouble and suffering and lifted me out of the miry pit and set me on the solid rock. He did this so I could comfort those who have suffered wasted days and wasted nights captured by the sin of drunkenness. He gave me back and used the years which I thought were lost and without purpose and has used them for my good and His Glory.
Job has been brought to poverty, lost all of his children, and now is in pain from boils which cover him from head to toe. All he had left was his suffering, his faith and his love for God, whom he still would not curse. In other words, God has Job exactly where He wanted him. And Job is being used by God to silence the devil.
I believe it was from the study of the life of Job, James; the brother of Jesus developed his belief about tribulation and suffering. He ‘counted it a joy, knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing.’ (James1)
And later James writes: “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord- that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” (James 5:10, 11)
We learn more in our valley experiences than on our mountain tops.
- God uses adversity to get our attention.
- Adversity leads us to examination.
- The effective lesson leads to a change in behavior.
You do not want to waste these costly lessons. When God gets your attention through adversity, He is signaling He wants you to look at this particular area of your life. We must allow the Holy Spirit free access to all areas of our lives. We learn how to recognize these events and from experience we learn to respond the right way and change our behavior.
Unless we change our behavior we will not benefit from the adversity and grow as a result of it.
God wants you to learn perseverance, endurance, patience. Adversity exposes a weakness and/or reveals the hidden sin causing it.
God wants to teach us dependence upon Him.
He wants to teach us to wait on Him.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and faint not.” (Isaiah 40)
Job is teetering on the brink of complete collapse, burnout- a nervous breakdown and who can blame him? Been there? What do we do? The key word in the above passage says those who the Lord renews and strengthens are those who WAIT on Him. It is inescapable- the Lord has made it clear- patience, perseverance, endurance is what is needed.
Let’s look at James 1 again.
“My brethren (this is for Christians) count (accounting term meaning put this fact in your ledger) it all joy when you fall into various trials, (what we put in our ledger is joy); knowing (do you know that you know) that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2, 3 NKJV
Hebrews 11:6 tells us without faith it is impossible to please God.
Patience reveals our faith in God’s timing, promises, protection, provision, plan, omnipotence, sovereignty, wisdom, love and mercy. So when our patience is tried, it is actually our faith being tried. Patience is also described as endurance and perseverance.
We know there is a chasm between sinful man and Holy God. Jesus, the Carpenter of Nazareth, God the Son came to build a bridge between sinful man and Holy God. Faith is the bridge to the saving grace of God. “For by grace are saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8) This is the bridge built over the troubled waters. Picture a railroad trestle over a span of rushing waters. The trestle is held up by large poles or columns of concrete and steel. These supports are the promises of God’s Word to us – His children.
Temptations, trials and test which James describes as various are to test our faith by revealing our patience or lack of patience. There are promises for every need you will ever have. Here they come like a train crossing the trestle, the bridge, will they hold? Will they be strong enough? Now here is where we grow weary- we try to carry the weight in our own strength, our own wisdom. Control is very important to us. But control is an illusion.
Patience does not develop overnight. It is developed only in the various trials in which the enemy of your soul wants you to fall, collapse, and cave in. While God wants you to learn to lean on Him, not our own understanding. To trust Him with all your heart- that all the support which holds up the trestle is from God- His Word. Peter told us He has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him. Guess when we get to know Him? In the tests of life which call upon us to step out on the bridge. Faith is stepping out that bridge and is a test of our faith in God’s Word. The pressure on your faith produces patience and patience is a measure of your faith in God’s timing and ability to get you through this. You come to believe God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. These experiences are like work-outs which strengthen your muscles.
God has also promised not to place more on you than you can bear. He will make a way where you can bear it.
The bridge over troubled waters is faith. And this faith is a gift of God, not of works.
One other word about patience. Patience is not passive it is active. Hebrews 12:1 says we are to run the race with patience. Paul tells us: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
“I would have lost heart (hope lives in the heart), unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage. And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27)
Surrender all to Him. Depend on Him. Trust Him. Wait on Him.