Purely Rhetorical (Job 25).
Bildad has not been a very helpful friend to Job these past 24 chapters, and now in chapter 25 he bows out with some words that are worth pondering:
“How then can a mortal be righteous before God?
How can one born of woman be pure?” (Job 25:4)
It’s a good question, and one that would have been impossible to answer in Job’s day. In fact Bildad didn’t expect an answer, because he’s asking a rhetorical question. He’s listened to Job and the other friends debate good and evil for quite a while now and this is his way of summing up. God is so high and so pure, and humans are so low that they are like ‘worms’. Mortals can never match up to God’s standards – perfection is out of reach.
The implication is that Job, like everyone else, is impure, but also that therefore he must have sinned and done something to bring this punishment upon himself. It’s very much in keeping with the friends’ main line of argument, and, as we have seen, it’s both right and wrong. Job was impure, but that’s not why he suffered.
Other people in the Bible come to the same conclusion as Bildad. Paul quotes Scripture when he says in Romans 3:12 that “there is no one who does good, not even one.” He’s quoting two psalms of David (14:3 & 53:3) and also a pronouncement of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”
It’s a well-established Biblical principle, and one that is absolutely foundational for Christian faith. No one is good enough on their own. No one has lived a perfect life. For Jesus to be accepted as the only way to God, it needs to be understood that there is no other way.
I’ve spoken to so many people who think that they are basically good people and therefore deserve to go to heaven. They compare themselves to others and excuse their little sins, thinking that so long as they haven’t done anything really bad that they’ll be ok. By human standards many of them were great people, but they really struggle with the concept that God has different standards, ones they can never measure up to on their own. The very idea is an affront to the self-empowerment culture prevalent today. Try hard enough, believe in yourself, and you can do it, says the world. Wrong.
This question of Bildad’s would still be purely rhetorical today if Jesus hadn’t come. The only reason we can answer it now is because of Him and what He did. Jesus, both fully God and fully man, was the only person ever who led a blameless life, so that 2 Corinthians 5:21 could say with perfect honesty: “God made Him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Amazing.
That’s the answer right there – how a person can be good enough for God? In Jesus. Because of the greatest offer in history, we can be right with God. It’s a transaction: Jesus took our sin and gave us His righteousness. Sin was dealt with, justice was satisfied, and God’s love triumphs. It is amazing. But for some people the stumbling block lies in the words ‘in Him’ – having to rely on someone else. It’s a big deal to finally acknowledge that you’re not good enough in yourself.
I urge you, if you haven’t taken God up on this offer yet, do so! Do whatever you need to do to get past that stumbling block. Realise that it’s hopeless going it alone and that you need Jesus. Salvation is found in no one else, but it’s there waiting for you, a free gift that you need only accept.