As we continue our examination of the word “hope” in the Bible, we’ll be continuing to see it used a lot in the book of Job. And that certainly seems appropriate. For that Bible book is all about hope: first the hopelessness of Job because of loss and grief and pain. Then his wrestling with God which ends in restoration and hope of a future with a new family. Through the process, Job’s friends believe they have the answers to Job’s problem and they love to talk about Job’s lack of hope. That’s where we are as we come to Job 8:11-14:
“Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh?
Can the rushes grow without water?
“While it is still green and not cut down,
Yet it withers before any other plant.
“So are the paths of all who forget God;
And the hope of the godless will perish,
Whose confidence is fragile,
And whose trust a spider’s web.”
These words are spoken by Bildad who like Eliphaz believes that only good things happen to good people and only bad things happen to bad people. Since Job has bad things happening to him, well…the application is obvious. Job is a bad guy.
Then Bildad takes it a step farther. He points out that papyrus needs water to grow and dies when there’s no water, no provision. He compares that to those who seem prosperous but when their provision fades away, they turn on God, not to God, but on God, blaming Him for their problems.
Hmmm, could he be referring to Job? Of course. He’s saying, “Look Job, you were prosperous and now with everything gone, you’ve turned from God because you were just as flimsy as the papyrus to begin with. You only had faith because it did something for you. And by the way, you’re just as fragile in your faith as a spider’s web. Anybody can wipe away a spider’s web. You’ve been tested by having everything you depended upon taken from you to prove that your roots weren’t there to begin with.”
Bildad’s point is that Job is a hypocrite. When things are going good, Job has faith and trust in God. But when things are going bad…well…guess what? He’s turning away.
Commentator Matthew Henry wrote, “The spider’s web, spun with great skill, but easily swept away, represents a man’s pretensions to religion when without the grace of God in his heart.” That’s what Bildad is accusing Job–but it isn’t true! It isn’t true!
Job’s friends sure aren’t very encouraging. They are actually accusatory. And I’m reminded of another passage in the Bible, Revelation 12:10-11 where someone accuses you and me!
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” (NASB)
Satan is the one who accuses us before God’s throne. And unfortunately, he can also use those around us to try to make us feel hopeless and condemned. What can we do about it?
Verse 11 gives the three pronged counter attack;
“because of the blood of the Lamb.” Our position in Christ because of Jesus’ spilled blood on the cross solidifies our place in God’s kingdom. Gaining salvation has nothing to do with our performance. Therefore when Satan whispers or someone suggests we’re not qualified or we’re unfit for the kingdom, we can say, “It doesn’t matter because actually you’re right. I don’t deserve it. I’m only here by grace.”
“because of the word of their testimony.” We stand firm when we speak our faith and hope. We refute and rebuke Satan by telling him the truth. He must then flee and can’t accuse us anymore. If someone is accusing us, we can tell them we aren’t worthy to be in the Kingdom but God is working in us both for salvation and for obedience. He doesn’t require us to be perfect but He does want us seeking Him. That’s our “testimony.”
“they did not love their life.” The chance of us having to die for God’s cause isn’t huge but this refers to our surrender for whatever God calls us to do, whether die for Him or live for Him.
Job didn’t know about this three-pronged attack against his accusers, but we do. When you’re feeling like there’s no hope because you don’t deserve God’s love, take advantage of those responses. They are God’s gift to us for hope.