It is defined as a congenital, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or conduct (as a religious practice or a social custom). It is credence, a story, a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as antique though not verifiable. It is also the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction. Many decisions are or have been made by observing traditions as the basis and object of their influence. It is called TRADITION, FOLKLORE, CUSTOM or PRACTISE.
He was one of Job’s friends: that came to mourn when he heard of the challenges Job faced. He was not careful or cautious enough as he approached his friend. Limited to the understanding of the Nomadic province he was from, he had no choice but to speak from the little understanding he had. He wouldn’t have been able speak beyond what he had stored in his database; he had no time to check the authenticity of what he knew as compared to what should be known and understood. He did not have the time to bother himself about what the Will of God was for patriarch Job. It was Bildad the Shuhite, probably a member of a nomadic tribe dwelling in south eastern Palestine.
Bildad went a little deeper than Eliphaz in that he never spoke about himself or his experiences; rather spoke from the wisdom of his fathers, customs and traditions. In his opening remarks and address to the present devastation as he listened to Job’s reply to Eliphaz, it was apparent that it was better if he never came to comfort Job because the situation grew worse. Bildad said to Job that, “he should inquire of the former age, and to prepare himself to search of their fathers”. He said:
How can you keep on talking like this? You’re talking nonsense, and noisy nonsense at that. Does God mess up? Does God Almighty ever get things backward? It’s plain that your children sinned against Him otherwise, why would God have punished them? Here’s what you must do, and don’t put it off any longer: Get down on your knees before God Almighty. If you’re as innocent and upright as you say, it’s not too late He’ll come running; He’ll set everything right again, re-establish your fortunes. Even though you’re not much right now, you’ll end up better than ever. He went on:
“Put the question to our ancestors, study what they learned from their ancestors. For we’re newcomers at this, with a lot to learn, and not too long to learn it. So why not let the ancients teach you, tell you what’s what, instruct you in what they knew from experience? Can mighty pine trees grow tall without soil? Can luscious tomatoes flourish without water? Blossoming flowers look great before they’re cut or picked, but without soil or water they wither more quickly than grass. That’s what happens to all who forget God; all their hopes come to nothing. He continued:
They hang their life from one thin thread, they hitch their fate to a spider web. One jiggle and the thread breaks, one jab and the web collapses. Or they’re like weeds springing up in the sunshine, invading the garden, spreading everywhere, overtaking the flowers, getting a foothold even in the rocks. But when the gardener rips them out by the roots, the garden doesn’t miss them one bit.
The sooner the godless are gone, the better; then good plants can grow in their place. “There’s no way that God will reject a good person, and there is no way He’ll help a bad one. God will let you laugh again; you’ll raise the roof with shouts of joy, with your enemies thoroughly discredited, their house of cards collapsed.”
God could never do a thing like this to anyone except the person involved has done something wrong to God, he said. Bildad put God in a box describing as man or as though it’s a tit-for-tat kind of saga. He painted God like man who reacts to external stimuli. He was very wrong in his summations. Not only did he make the situation worse for Job, he painted a wrong character about God to his friends. God is not man; His thoughts would always be higher than ours forever.
Little did Bildad recognize that TRADITION is a mass of confusion in itself, the fathers he referred to varied from one to the other and nothing can be more slippery or uncertain than the voice of it. His words to Job were empty words; they carried no weight.
One could never compare the voice of tradition to the Word of God. They are far and too wide apart, like the mathematician would put it; they are like parallel lines and no matter how much we extend the lines they can never meet (no common ground). The truth of God’s Word is the only standard and that’s why no one has any authority to lay down any experience as a yardstick for another. Tradition would always remain the voice of man and not God but the latter should always be our guard and guide. Heaven and Earth will pass away including traditions but one thing will abide forever and that’s the Word of God. Tradition will not judge us but the Word of God that remains and abides forever.
We are reminded here of the Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees as they approached Jesus. They were all bent on one tradition or the other and were never going to give up in their quest to finding God. They were shut up from the grace of God because they felt they had a corner on God’s market. They were wrong and so would anyone be wrong when we attempt to judge what God is doing with the perception of TRADITION rather than from His Word. The elder brother of the boy we call the “prodigal son” refused to go into the banquet because he felt offended that their father did not observe TRADITIONS.
None of them thought the other speakers (Eliphaz and Bildad) were wrong in their presentations. There was no challenge of any sort from any of them. Many don’t believe they are wrong in their postulations; many don’t believe they are wrong especially when they are the ones in control of the pulpit, podium or platform. Sometimes we feel we know because we have a good command of the language and no substance. We need to slow down to check the pedigree of our assertions; only then are we going to find out that most of what we say or believe in had been passed down through EXPERIENCES or TRADITIONS from the generations before us.
Traditions are dangerous especially when compared to the Word of God. They frustrate the Grace of God and like Jesus recapitulated, “By our traditions, we make the Word of God of non-effect”.
Job would have been better off if Bildad never visited him.