+27 (11) 867 3505 church@bbcmail.co.za

Yesterday, I noted the opinion of many interpreters that the third cycle of speeches in Job has somehow been corrupted. They note, among other things, Zophar’s lack of contribution and Bildad’s brevity of speech in chapter 25, the shortest chapter in the book and the focus of our attention this morning. His speech is thought by some to be “far too short” to be uncorrupted, though there is nothing textually to substantiate this opinion. In fact, it may be that the comforters merely ran out of steam, having exhausted all they had to say.

Before he was finished, however, Bildad had one final point to make: Job needed to understand that, for his protestations of innocence, and for all his hope of vindication, mortal human beings have no hope before God. We are probably correct to read between the lines here that Bildad was referring to a certain type of mortal: the mortals that did not fit into his neat systematic theology. Job-like mortals, wicked as they were, had no hope before God, while righteous mortals, like him and his two friends, could have confidence before God.

Bildad’s central thesis lies in v. 4: “How then can man be in the right before God? How can he who is born of woman be pure?” This thesis is sandwiched between two wonderful theological affirmations.

First, Bildad affirmed divine sovereignty: “Dominion and fear are with God; he makes peace in his high heaven. Is there any number to his armies? Upon whom does his light not arise?” (vv. 2–3). Bildad was absolutely persuaded of divine sovereignty. He would have gladly affirmed with Abraham Kuyper that there is not a single inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Jesus Christ does not boldly declare, “Mine!”

Second, God is not only utterly sovereign but also utterly 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!” (vv. 5–6). Creation melts in the face of his purity. What hope, then, does mortal man have of standing before him?

Hebrew scholars note that the word translated “man” in v. 4, and the phrase translated “born of woman” in the same verse, emphasise mortality and frailty. Bildad was trying to discourage Job’s hope in some form of vindication. Job needed to place his trust in their neat systematic theology, not in a vague notion of vindication. Vindication was impossible. He must accept that.

On the face of it, Bildad was right. The Bible teaches that God “alone has immortality” (1 Timothy 6:16). Human beings are unequivocally “mortal” (Job 4:17; Romans 1:23; 6:12; 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:53–54; 2 Corinthians 4:11; 5:4; Hebrews 7:8). Because of sin, our destiny is death (Romans 5:12; 6:23). These facts are beyond dispute. Bildad was accurate in his assessment of human frailty and mortality. But his words only applied to Job inasmuch as Job was looking within for vindication. And we know that Job’s hope, far from looking inward, looked outward to a Redeemer (19:25).

In this regard, the Bible affirms Job’s hope. It teaches us that Christ is the Redeemer who “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). Mortals can find life and immortality in him. In Christ, and Christ alone, our mortality can put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53–54). If we seek immortality, we will find it in Christ alone (Romans 2:7). Job was right to look to a Redeemer for the hope of vindication.

Apart from Christ, God’s appointed Redeemer, none of us has hope before God. We are destined to melt like wax before his sovereignty and purity. But Jesus …

Jesus took humanity’s punishment upon himself so that he could give immortality to mere mortals. All those who, like Job, place their confidence in a Redeemer, can escape the misery of mortality for the eternal bliss of immortality.

As you meditate on Job 25 this morning, thank God for the inexpressible gift of his Son, through whom he grants immortality to all those who trust in him.