Man a Maggot? (Job 25-26) March 27-28
In chapter 25, Bildad speaks for the third and last time. He still cannot accept Job's declaration of himself as righteous. Furthermore, as The Nelson Study Bible notes on verses 5-6, "Bildad's view of God's dominion and majesty in the heavens causes him to devalue mortal man as a maggot. He responds insensitively to Job by suggesting that Job does not need to wait until he dies to be grouped with maggots (the same Hebrew word that Job used in 17:14). This was caustic sarcasm, for Job was in fact covered with worms (see 7:5)."
While Bildad is right in making the point that human beings of themselves, corrupt and impure, are morally unworthy to have anything to do with God, he is wrong in making it seem that mankind is essentially worthless in God's eyes. God would later show just how much He values mankind through Jesus Christ actually becoming a human being and suffering for them—and that to rescue even the worst of sinners.
Bildad's brief speech here is the last we hear from Job's three friends in the book. Zophar has no third speech.
God Is Beyond Human Understanding (Job 25-26)
Job evaluates the counsel of Bildad as worthless (the "you" here being singular in the original Hebrew). While the New King James Version presents the opening verses of the chapter as questions, they could also be translated as sarcastic statements, as in the New International Version and New Living Translation. The Good News Bible renders verses 1-4 this way: "What a big help you are to me—poor, weak man that I am! You give such good advice and share your knowledge with a fool like me! Who do you think will hear all your words? Who inspired you to speak like this?"
In the remainder of the chapter, Job makes several statements about God's great power and majesty (verses 5-14). This response may have been sparked by Bildad's cosmic references, where he said the moon and stars pale before God (compare 25:5). Most likely, Job was criticizing Bildad and his other two friends for thinking they knew all about what the Almighty Creator was doing. Job points out some of the great mysteries of the creation and then asserts that these things don't even scratch the surface of God's wonders and ways (compare verse 14).
Job demonstrates surprisingly accurate scientific understanding in this ancient context. Notice verse 7, where he states that God "stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing." Author Grant Jeffrey remarks on this verse in his book The Signature of God: "This [verse] was an astonishingly advanced and accurate scientific statement. The ancient pagans, who were contemporary with Job, believed that the earth was balanced on the back of an elephant that rested on the back of a turtle. Other pagans believed that the mythological hero Atlas carried the earth on his shoulders. However, [nearly] four thousand years ago, Job was inspired by God to correctly declare that God 'hangs the earth on nothing.' Only a century ago scientists believed that the earth and stars were supported by some kind of ether. Yet Job accurately stated that our planet moves in its orbit through empty outer space. [Moreover] an astonishing discovery by astronomers recently revealed that the area to the north of the axis of our earth toward the polar star is almost empty of stars in contrast to the other directions. There are far more distant stars in every other direction from our earth than in the area to the far north of our planet. As Job reported, 'He stretches out the north over empty space' (Job 26:7). Mitchell Wardrop wrote the following statement in an article in Science magazine. 'The recently announced 'hole in space,' a 300 million-light-year gap in the distribution of galaxies, has taken cosmologists by surprise.... samples in the Northern Hemisphere, lying in the general direction of the constellation Bootes, showed striking gaps ...' (Mitchell Wardrop, 'Delving the Hole in Space,' Science magazine, Nov. 27, 1981). This relative emptiness in the direction to the North of our solar system is not visible by the naked eye. It is only as the result of very careful observation by [modern] telescopes that scientists have recently proven that Job was correct" (1996, pp. 114-115).
The "serpent" God pierced in Job 26:13 is probably related to God stirring up the ocean in verse 12, as the original Hebrew in verse 12 has "the ocean...Rahab"—a word meaning "fierce" that other passages define as a serpent cut apart by God (see Psalm 89:10; Isaiah 51:9). Isaiah 30:7 analogizes Egypt as Rahab. And as was stated in the Bible Reading Program commentary on this reference, Rahab seems to be equated on one level with the Egyptian crocodile god Sobek, whose name means "rager." Yet the real power behind the throne of human empires and the one behind the mask of pagan deities is Satan the devil. The serpent of old who was in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3; Revelation 12:9), Satan is the ultimate serpent Rahab. This name actually occurs earlier in the book of Job. In 9:13, "allies of the proud" is literally "allies of Rahab"—who will lie prostrate beneath God. As we will later see, Rahab seems also to be equated with the sea monster Leviathan, which is another likely picture of Satan.
Ironically, Job did not realize that all that he himself was going through would yet demonstrate God's power over Satan.