Wednesday, April 17, 2013

the right question | the wrong answer

How then can man be in the right before God? How can he who is born of woman be pure? Behold, even the moon is not bright, and the stars are not pure in his eyes; how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!
Job 25:4-6

The reply that Bildad gives to Job begins promising but ends with no real hope offered. He begins with the right question but gives an incomplete answer to the question he raises. The question has bearing on Job's situation; the answer, however, does not. Bildad thus cautions us about trying to comfort the suffering with questions. They have loads of questions. What they need are answers, or at least identification as they wait for some answers.

The question is good because it gets to the root issue necessary to be in right relationship with God. It addresses the problem of endemic human sinfulness. It is an admission of total depravity and humanity's inability to fight sin. All of our attempts at self improvement will fall short because we are corrupted by sin at every level: body, mind, and soul.

But there is no hope in the answer that Bildad gives to Job. It is just a reiteration of the problem behind the question. His "answer" is that we are too wicked, too separated from God by our sinfulness to be right before God. And that is only half the answer. It happens to be the wrong half of the answer to emphasize to Job in his suffering and anguish.

The reality was that Job was seen by God as upright and blameless. By faith Job trusted God. He offered sacrifices. He cared for others. He sought to spread his faith to his own children. He prayed earnestly. He had a view of sanctification that accepted that substitutionary sacrifice was the only way to deal with sin. He was right with God. And in God's eyes, Job was blameless and upright. So the reality was that even though sin separates us vastly from God, even in Job's day, God had provided a means for relationship and imputed righteousness. And Job related with God on God's terms.

Job knew the complete answer to Bildad's question. He had lived it all his life. Job knew it, and most importantly, God knew it. And it was why Job was in his current situation. Satan would not have gone after him if he had not been upright and blameless before God. Trials may come by obedience. And that is the real answer to the question.

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