Basically, even though I think that Bildad made some good points in the previous chapter, in Job 26, Job himself criticizes Bildad for essentially stating the obvious.
Job 26:2 How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength?
Job 26:3 How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom? and how hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is?
Job 26:4 To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from thee?
It kind of seems as if his friends were more interested in winning the debate than in helping out their friend who was suffering.
This is something I think that we need to take seriously when we are dealing with non-Christians. Yes, they certainly might need convincing at times, and we should be willing to talk about these types of spiritual issues, but we need to show people that we care about them.
That is really the key to being a successful missionary I think. We need to let people know that we actually want something better for them. It isn’t that we simply want to convince. We have a message that, if we take Christianity seriously, these other people need to hear. It has eternal significant. Naturally, that is pretty important stuff, and we should care about sharing that.
However, while we certainly care about our message and believe it is incredibly important, that will not necessarily give us the opportunity to share that with other people. People want to hear what we have to say when they know that we actually want what is best for them. At that point, we will have the opportunity to tell them all that we know about why Christianity is so important and why it matters in their lives.
I think that we can sometimes skip over that part. Getting to know people certainly takes work, but we don’t want to get a reaction like the one that Job gave to Bildad. That doesn’t help us or them.
Job’s other friend Bildad decided that it was time for him to start talking in Job 8. Unfortunately for Job, the message was not very much different than what he heard before.
Job 8:2 How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?
Job 8:3 Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?
Job 8:4 If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression;
Job 8:5 If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;
Job 8:6 If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.
Again, we see a radical misunderstanding of the situation, but there is quite a bit of truth in this passage. God is just, and He does not pervert justice. When people sin, sometimes they do face consequences. If you do seek God for mercy, He will listen and forgive (although He never promises the financial restoration that we hear Bildad discussing at this point).
This is an interesting problem that I think we can all run into particularly when our Christian lifestyle is challenged. People might bring true statements to the table. A popular one is Matthew 7:1.
Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Critics argue that Christians can never make any type of correction because we are not allowed to judge. This statement itself is true, but the understanding of the statement is wrong without context. As the chapter goes on, it becomes clear that if we do judge, we need to make sure that we have our own life in order. We need to deal with the major problem in our own eye first before we can help other people understand that they need the same kind of change. This is a classic proof text.
This is basically the same kind of problem that we saw in Job. There were true statements spoken. Bildad understood quite a bit about the character of God, but he did not understand the situation. He did not understand the greater context (Job did not understand it either), but he was quick to offer an opinion that apparently Job’s children must have done something wrong.
Unintentionally, this kind of fits in really well with Matthew. We need to understand the context and not make blanket judgments. Not only does that kind of behavior violate what Jesus said in Matthew, but it also causes a lot of collateral damage with the person you are misunderstanding. Job did not appreciate being misjudged.