Job 25-26: Worship and Suffering
December 3, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
John 14:22-31, Revelation 2:1-17, Job 25-26, Hosea 7-8
In the two chapters we are looking at this morning, we first read (in chapter 25) of Bildad’s attempted correction of Job, and then (in chapter 26) of Job’s reply to Bildad.
Bildad (chapter 25) basically says that because no one is righteous before God, therefore Job cannot be completely righteous, and this is evident proof that the reason for his suffering is that Job has done something wrong to deserve such suffering. But, of course, Bildad argues poorly. Just because no one is completely righteous before a holy God does not thereby mean that a particular piece of suffering is as a direct result of a particular sin. If someone knifes me in the back, it is no explanation to say that it happened because I am a sinner. That attack is not directly my fault. And it is pious special pleading to attempt to say that Job’s suffering is deserved because no one is righteous before God.
Once again, we should learn not to add guilt to the undeserved suffering of God’s people. Very often, people feel when they are suffering that it is all their fault. Ensure that we preach the gospel to people in suffering, not lecture them with legalism.
Job’s reply (chapter 26), however, does not attempt to unpick Bildad’s case logically, but simply—and powerfully—and starts by employing what can only be called sarcasm. “How you have helped the powerless!” Of course, Bildad has done no such thing. He has made the experience of the powerless (or the suffering, like Job) worse not better! But Job sarcastically speaks in this way in order to make the point that Bildad is doing the very reverse of offering help. Sarcasm is a blunt weapon in rhetoric, but there are times to employ it as Job does here.
But then from verse 5 to the end of chapter 26, Job elevates God to his true position as beyond their human comprehension. Bildad has spoken as if the answer to suffering was simple. But it is far more complicated than that. Indeed, no good theology can be done that is not steeped in profound worship. As Job puts it as he concludes, “Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”
If you are struggling to understand something in your life, the place to start is with worship. Build God up in your mind, don’t tear him down. Worship him as the God who made the universe. And as your mind and heart begin once again to realize how little they know or understand, and how great God is, would you fall on your knees and say (as Jesus did) “not my will, but your will be done”?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
To receive God Centered Life devotionals directly in your inbox, as well as other resources, enter your email address in the form at the bottom of this page and click "subscribe."