Prosperity, Sovereignty and Job

May 20, 2010 at 8:54 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, False teaching, Theology | 1 Comment

          I have been reading Job in my devotions this week.  In the past I have always looked at the book from a perspective of pain and suffering, but this time through I decided to look at the entire book from the perspective of God’s sovereignty.  It makes a lot of sense.  After an introduction, the book gives us an immediate view of God’s sovereignty.  Satan must get permission from God to do anything to Job; God is the one who provokes Satan to test Job.  God is still in control, no matter what Job may see or feel.  When Job’s “friends” come to him, it is God’s sovereignty that they deny.  In doing so, they sound very much like the prosperity preachers of our day.  They see God, not in sovereign control, but as a vending machine that will dispense whatever they need or want if they put in the right things and push the right buttons.

          Listen to their words.  Eliphaz begins, “Who ever perished being innocent?” (4:7)  The implication is that Job is not innocent because of the things that came upon him.  If he would straighten up, God would bless.  In the second discourse, Eliphaz would add these words, “The wicked writhes in pain all his days, and numbered are the years stored up for him.  . . .  He will not become rich, nor will his wealth endure.” (15:20-29)  Of course the experience of life is that the innocent often die and the evil often prosper.  But Eliphaz claims special knowledge because he had a vision of a spirit. (vv12-16).  Doesn’t all that sound familiar?  Bildad is more direct: “If you would seek God and implore the compassion of the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, surely now he would rouse Himself for you and restore your righteous estate.” (8:5-6)  That’s the prosperity gospel pure and simple.  Zophar puts it this way: “If you would direct your heart right and spread out your hands to Him,  . . .  then, indeed, you would be steadfast and not fear, for you would forget your troubles as waters that have passed by, you would remember it.” (11:13-16)

          These men have made God into a blessing machine; if you just do certain things then He will bless.  That totally ignores the sovereignty of God and puts us in control.   They make God, as Calvin once said, “To be whatever their own rashness has devised, . . . fashioned after their own childish conceits.”  But in the end, Job’s friends did not speak what is right about God (42:7-8).  God is God and we are not.  Innocent suffer and evil people prosper.  But it all has purpose.  God knows the bigger picture that we cannot see, and in the ultimate end of time, He may reveal that to us.  The beauty of the book of Job is that we get to see the bigger picture in the beginning scenes, so we can trust his sovereignty throughout the story.  O that we may trust that sovereignty when troubles come to our lives, even if we don’t see the entire story.  Job, who didn’t fully understand what was going on, still expressed it well when he said, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” (13:15)  Put your hope in the God who is sovereign, not in one fashioned from childish conceit.

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  1. Good thoughts here! Indeed we simply must see God as Sovereign in Job, as in fact everywhere in the Holy Scripture! Job is such a great and really profound Book!

    Fr. Robert (Anglican)

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