Bildad’s Second Speech. 1 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said:2
When will you put an end to words?
Reflect, and then we can have discussion.
3 Why are we accounted like beasts,
equal to them in your sight?
4 You who tear yourself in your anger—
shall the earth be neglected on your account
or the rock be moved out of its place?
5 Truly, the light of the wicked is extinguished;
the flame of his fire casts no light.
6 In his tent light is darkness;
the lamp above him goes out.
7 His vigorous steps are hemmed in,
his own counsel casts him down.
8 A net catches him by the feet,
he wanders into a pitfall.
9 A trap seizes him by the heel,
a snare lays hold of him.
10 A noose is hidden for him on the ground,
a netting for him on the path.
11 On every side terrors frighten him;
they harry him at each step.
12 His strength is famished,
disaster is ready at his side,
13 His skin is eaten to the limbs,
the firstborn of Death[a
] eats his limbs.
14 He is plucked from the security of his tent;
and marched off to the king of terrors.[b
15 Fire lodges in his tent,
over his abode brimstone is scattered.
16 Below, his roots dry up,
and above, his branches wither.
17 His memory perishes from the earth,
and he has no name in the countryside.
18 He is driven from light into darkness,
and banished from the world.
19 He has neither offshoot nor offspring among his people,
no survivor where once he dwelt.
20 Those who come after shall be appalled at his fate;
those who went before are seized with horror.
21 So is it then with the dwelling of the impious;
such is the place of the one who does not know God!
Bildad’s second speech trying to, in his way, save his suffering friend, Job. It is a plea for Job to reflect on his sins, admit to them, and stop trying to justify himself. When will you put an end to words? Reflect, and then we can have a discussion.(2)
Bildad goes on to spare no detail in his description of the fate of those who stand apart from God; or should we say fall apart from God. Of course, we already know that his judgement of Job’s condition, like Zophar’s and Eliphaz’s, is faulty and based on a skewed and incomplete knowledge of God. But although this fate does not belong to Job, it is, nevertheless, worthy of consideration and does apply to those who are cut off from God: ever present danger, fear, traps, weakness, isolation, futility, and the list goes on. What a wonderful thing that through the good news of Jesus Christ we have been adopted into God’s people.
The Lord’s Wonders at the Exodus
1 When Israel came forth from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from an alien people,
2 Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel, God’s domain.
]The sea saw and fled;
the Jordan turned back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams;
the hills, like lambs.
5 Why was it, sea, that you fled?
Jordan, that you turned back?
6 Mountains, that you skipped like rams?
You hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, earth, before the Lord,
before the God of Jacob,
]Who turned the rock into pools of water,
flint into a flowing spring.
Psalm 114 reminds us that God moved the earth and the waters for Israel, to free them from those fears described by Bildad. The psalm tells us why God has done all of this, for “Israel [is] God’s domain,” (2) so in them is found the kingdom. For with God, there is nothing to fear. This is reiterated in the final two chapters of Acts, as Paul faces both storms and a shipwreck as he journeys to Rome in response to the Lord’s call on his life. In the midst of the storms, as panic has begun to set in and cargo has started finding its way into the sea, Paul says everyone, I urge you now to keep up your courage; not one of you will be lost, only the ship. For last night an angel of the God whom I belong and whom I serve stood by me and said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You are destined to stand before Caesar; and behold, for your sake, God has granted safety to all who are sailing with you.’ Therefore [Paul says], keep up your courage; I trust in God that it will turn out as I have been told. We are destined to run aground on some island. (27:22-26)
Hymn: Be Strong in the LORD.
The Reader’s Digest version is this: Through it all (yet another hymn), Paul proves that Bildad is not talking about him. These storms and the deadly calamity that would have claimed all of their lives under different circumstances, in fact, actually save them and save all those that have been entrusted to Publius on Malta. Oh yeah, God wouldn’t even let a snake kill Paul. He goes on to spend two years in Rome, sharing the gospel with both Jews and Gentiles.
Now that that is out of the way, consider for a moment Paul’s encouragement to those on their sinking boat, examine what he does following them, and ask yourself what all of this means for us, for Christ’s apostles in the world today.
“God has granted safety to all who are travelling with you.” Why would God do this? Couldn’t and angel of the LORD have swooped down and carried the apostle all the way to Rome? Yet one doesn’t. Couldn’t the ship have been spared if they had just thrown some people on the dinghy? It would have lightened the load; probably a more sensible option than to have thrown all your wheat overboard. Why does God spare them from the chaos, and why would Paul prevent anyone from attempting to escape to safety? Let’s call it, vicarious blessing for now.
Why would God do this? Paul is the anti-Jonah, that’s why. He is responding to God’s command to head west by heading west. Christ told him that he wanted him in Rome, and Paul is going to let nothing stand in his way of getting to Rome, even a little thing like a shipwreck: which, by the way, brought healing and the gospel to the Maltese. But before their arrival on the island, Paul does two extraordinary things: He refuses to lose even one by cutting loose the dinghy, and he shares communion with them—he places a boatload of Gentiles and foreigners around the table with Christ. And not one of them is lost.
Great, but you said that this has something to do with us…Let me preface this with the fact that I was once asked what color the sky was in my world. But let me also say that I believe that what is impossible for us is possible for God.
Turn on the tv or log onto the internet; what do you see? How do you feel when you think about the state of the world, of the country? For that matter, what feeling arises in your chest when you think about the state of not just Christ’s Church but that of the United Methodist Church, specifically?
Now if God granted them all: pagan, heathen, and Christian alike, shelter in the eye of the storm (another hymn), because Paul was with them and had his heart set on his calling and his face toward Rome, why might our communities, our institutions, our countries, and even our world be in the midst of perishing? Hmm, I think there might be a hymn about that, too.