Genesis 42, Job 8, Psalm 40

Read Genesis 42, Job 8, and Psalm 40.

This devotional is about Job 8:1-7

Sometimes people have a simplistic view of God and his work for us. Job’s friend Bildad the Shuhite here in Job 8 is one example. Bildad’s thought was that Job was full of hot air when he claimed not to deserve his suffering (v. 1). Since God is just, he thought, then Job’s children must have sinned. Therefore, in their death, they got what they deserved (vv. 3-4), according to Bildad.

On the other hand, Bildad thought that, if Job just repented and sought the Lord, God will give him everything back that he lost and then some: “But if you will seek God earnestly and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your prosperous state. Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be” (vv. 6-7).

This shows that the Prosperity Gospel is a very old heresy. It sounds so simple and so good: Bad things happen to sinful people but God blesses the repentant and upright. Claim the truth that “Christ died for our flu according to the scriptures” and you’ll get better immediately, says the prosperity gospel. Seek God now, Job, and all your kids will come back to life. That’s Bildad’s simplistic understanding of God.

Job was written, in part, to cure us of this nonsense. Scripturally, God does promise blessings for obedience and punishment for disobedience. The problem is that, in this life, “blessings” are not primarily material goods or physical health. Those blessings will be fully realized in God’s kingdom but, until that kingdom exists on earth, people on earth–even believers–will still have to struggle with financial issues, sickness and death, and other human problems. God allows many kinds of sufferings in our lives to test our faith, deepen our faith, and purity our faith. Job received this testing, not for unconfessed sin, but for the glory of God so that his power would be demonstrated through Job’s faith.

It’s not wrong to desire health but it is wrong to suggest that someone’s spiritual life is damaged because they are sick or suffering. The thing that someone condemns someone else over might be the very thing God is using powerfully in their lives for his glory. So don’t impose on God simplistic, false human notions about God and his blessings. Instead, trust God in your suffering and let him testify to his own greatness through your faith as he faithfully carries you through the trials of life.

Exodus 5, Job 22, Hebrews 11

Read Exodus 5, Job 22, and Hebrews 11 today.

This devotional is about Job 22.

Eliphaz, the speaker in this chapter of scripture (v. 1), was the first of Job’s friends to speak back in chapter 4. His word to Job back in that chapter was that Job used to be a good man, but now he was under discipline by God. So, Eliphaz continued, Job should repent and get right with God.

Eliphaz also spoke in Job 15. There he rebuked Job for defending himself and, again, argued that it is the wicked who suffer, not the godly.

Here in Job 22, Eliphaz took his third crack at Job. He begins by asking, rhetorically, if any of us human beings have anything to offer to God (vv. 2-3). Eliphaz said that because Job continued to insist that his suffering was not the result of any wickedness and was, therefore, unjust.

Then, in verses 4-10, Eliphaz made direct, specific charges of sin against Job. He accused Job of oppressing people (v. 6), of refusing to help people in need (vv. 7-9). These sins, Eliphaz confidently asserted, caused Job’s suffering. His charges this time around against Job were more specific and caustic than before.

In verses 12-17, Eliphaz accused Job of believing that God was so far away that he can’t know or see what we do. This, according to Eliphaz, was why Job was so willing to mistreat people (v. 17b), because Job did not recognize all the good things God does for us (v. 18).

In verses 21-30, Eliphaz turned to the conclusion of his argument. His conclusion was that Job needed to “submit to God” (v. 21) and “return to the Almighty” (v. 23). Again, this is another call to repent. The benefits of repenting would be:

  • prosperity (v. 21).
  • restoration (v. 23)
  • the ability to treasure God and his relationship with God (vv. 25-26).
  • answered prayer (v. 27)
  • and success in every way (vv. 28-30).

Eliphaz’s message is very similar to the “gospel” delivered by prosperity preachers today. The assumption is that God can be controlled and manipulated into giving us whatever we want through our prayers and our obedience.

Not only are these ideas untrue, they are completely inadequate to generate and sustain true faith in the true God. As soon as God allows something into your life that is painful, this kind of prosperity theology will fail.

You may not believe in the prosperity gospel per se, but do you believe that faith in God entitles you to get your prayers answers, your bills paid, obedient children and a long life? While we may not expect to become rich, as the prosperity gospel preaches, if we serve God in order to get something from him, we have not understood that God is sovereign and that his will is not bound by or manipulated by anything we do or say.

In verses 25-26, Eliphaz said, “…the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you. 26 Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God.” This is the closest thing Eliphaz said to describing a true relationship with God. God saved you so that you will treasure him and delight in him. These are not incentives for us to seek by turning from sin; instead, they are the result of God’s saving grace to us. They are the things that should compel us to turn from sin. And, they are one reason why God allows trials into our lives. God strips away, sometimes, the good things about our lives in order to reveal whether or not we really love God for who God himself is or if we love him because we think it is a pathway to a better, more prosperous life.