“See … I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” —Isa. 48:10
Hearing From Bildad It is interesting to read this story and see the different personalities and temperaments of Job’s friends. Each one is strikingly different in their method of dealing with Job. Eliphaz was probably they oldest, but also considered the most spiritual of the three, possibly because of his visions of the night, so he spoke first. He also deals the plainest and quite harshly. Bildad, on the other hand, could be described as the humble friend. He speaks the least, always gently, and generally as a soft echo of the other two. Bildad had listened to the exchange between Eliphaz and Job. He had heard Job’s cry to God, “if I have sinned why don’t you pardon my sin and take it away?” Now he tries to reason gently with him. “Brother Job, how long will you go on like this, blowing words around like wind? Does God twist justice? If you don’t know of any sin in your own heart then certainly your children must have sinned and God punished them. “But if you would really seek the Lord and make supplication to Him . . . If you were squared away with Him . . . He would come running to your aid and answer all your questions and bless you with a happy home and make you prosperous.” There’s the rub! That terrible if that stabs you and gnaws at your heart. Satan stands there and sneeringly whispers, “If all was right with God, He would deliver you!” Then your friends come around and cut you with the same as if while they are actually trying to comfort you. Job was even saying to himself, “If I have sinned . . . Why?” I don’t care what you say, no loss of earth’s possessions, no misjudgment of friends, no physical suffering, can compare with the nagging and depressing pain caused by the if in someone that has walked with God in integrity. It would be one thing if he could point to a specific incident or even a pervading attitude of rebellion, or anything. Nevertheless, this if is like a sword of Damocles dangling over his head ready to cut him in two. Isaiah 50:4 says: “The Lord has given me an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary.” Or, as the Amplified Bible says: “ . . . That I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.” I wish we could all learn to have such an instructed tongue. The first rule of counsel or instruction is not to give it unless it is asked for it! Often we know just what to say, but the one suffering does not want to hear it. Even when we mean to give counsel out of love, they will not receive it. However, if we were honest, our attitudes are often ones of spiritual superiority, thinking, “I’m going to straighten him out!” Secondly, don’t add to their guilt! You are there to bring wisdom and healing. You are there to speak a word in season to him who is weary. Proverbs 12:18 explains that “there are those who speak rashly like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:25 also states that anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but an encouraging word makes it glad. I could go on and on, but I think the point is well made. Ask yourself why you are sharing counsel with someone. Is it for your benefit or theirs? Remember how we saw that Eliphaz had based his insight on dreams and visions? Well, Bildad will not make a presumption like that. He is satisfied to accept the authority of the Fathers. He has a great reverence for tradition and he could not venture to assume that he knew anything. The Fathers had searched out the truth, and they had settled that God prospered all who are upright and punished all who were ungodly. Suffering was invariably the result of sin, prosperity the reward of innocence. Job should just bow his head and accept the teaching of authority. Was he going to presume that he knew God better than the Fathers, Bildad questions. “For we were only born yesterday and know nothing.” Bildad was really nothing more than an echo just like many others today. He was content to take his knowledge second hand. It looked like humility. But it was actually laziness. It takes time and energy to search out answers to questions, to pursue any understanding. Have you ever eaten stale bread? Worse yet, drank sour milk? The Israelites were to eat fresh manna every day and not to save it until the next day. Well, some ministers are serving their congregations stale bread, sermons from their files written months or years ago. Which is all right, if they breathe a fresh breath of life into them for today? Jeez, even bakeries sell day-old bread for less. Admittedly though, many times it is simply easier to give the old sermons than spend time alone seeking God’s word for today. Essentially Bildad was saying better and wiser men than he had said these things, and he was satisfied to accept their conclusions. I don’t see the humility. It takes effort to receive wisdom, and “rhema,” the very words breathed from God, will never come through osmosis. If you are just going to hang around the church once in awhile and dust off the old Bible you have on the shelf, you will never grasp the depths of God’s wisdom or experience the reality of the Lord’s love. On top of that, the wisdom you find in the scriptures will be nothing more than words and nice stories. We should think of God’s wisdom and counsel as being very holy, precious pearls that come from the very depths of His being. He only opens His thoughts and intents to someone that is seeking Him as a trusted friend and companion. Think of your own life. You would only share your most intimate thoughts with someone that you were convinced loves you and is committed to you, someone with whom you have developed a strong relationship. That’s the way the Lord is. When He finds someone who is earnest and is diligently seeking Him, He will reveal to him His secrets . . . make known to him His covenant. He will share His life with this person. Proverbs 2:3-5 says that we are to “cry for discernment, Lift up [our] voice for understanding, seek as for silver, search as for hidden treasures. Then [we] will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God.” This crying for discernment and lifting up our voice shows an earnest, intense pursuit. In order to find hidden treasures you must dig deep, search in many places and be very committed not to give up until you find what you are searching for. Jesus compared the hearers and doers of the Word of God as those who dug deeply and built their houses on the Rock. Later, in Job 28, you will find a beautiful word picture of a man mining for silver, gold and precious stones. Verse 10 says “he hews out channels through the rocks,” that “his eyes see anything precious,” and “what is hidden he brings out to the light.” The passage concludes with a key found in verse 20:
“Where, then, does wisdom come from? And where is the place of understanding? Thus it is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the sky.”
As we read the Word daily, we will receive the bread that will feed our spirit; but down underneath its surface, down deep in the Word, is where we find the precious gems of God’s hidden wisdom. You will not find this wisdom with a casual read of the Bible or occasional times of worship. Solomon said, “‘I will be wise,’ but it was far from me. What has been is remote and exceedingly mysterious. Who can discover it? I directed my mind to know, to investigate, to seek wisdom and an explanation . . . “ (Ecclesiastes 7:23-25).
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God; but the things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all of the words of the law.” —Deuteronomy 29:29 “O the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable are His judgments and how untraceable are His ways. For who has known the mind of the Lord and who has understood His thoughts, or who has ever been His counselor?” —Romans 11:33, 34 “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but it is the glory of a king to search it out and understand it.” —Proverbs 25:2
My friend, God’s wisdom obviously cannot be figured out or discovered with the natural mind because it is hidden, veiled, and only to be revealed to trusted companions who will diligently pursue it. As Paul tells us:
“We speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, The hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory . . . Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him. But to us God has revealed them through the Spirit, For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God . . . Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the Spirit of the world, But the Spirit who is from God, That we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in the words taught by the human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining and comparing spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” —I Corinthians 2:7, 9-14
As we dig into God’s Word, mining for the silver, gold, and precious stones found there, as well as spending our energies in fellowship and prayer, God will continue to form His glorious nature within us. As we discover the sweetness of His voice and the depth of His wisdom, we will become partakers of His divine nature. We will escape the corruption that is in the world through lust and become transformed into God’s image from glory to glory. It is obvious that Bildad, as well as his companions, never spent any time searching for God’s wisdom because he is never able to really help Job in his time of suffering. Job’s friends possess many words, but little wisdom.