(This 4-part study is Study #4 from the series, Studies From the Book of Job. You can access the other studies by clicking here.)
Last week, in The Prosperity Doctrine Exposed, we saw that the ever-popular “prosperity doctrine” is truly a teaching that reduces the God of the universe to one, big, cosmic Santa Claus.
Is this a new doctrine?
Not at all. Let’s look at the book of Job:
“Remember now, whoever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?” (Job 4:7 NKJV)
“Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity And sow trouble reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of His anger they are consumed.” (Job 4:8-9 NKJV)
“He does not preserve the life of the wicked, But gives justice to the oppressed.” (Job 35:6)
“He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous; But they are on the throne with kings, For He has seated them forever, And they are exalted. And if they are bound in fetters, Held in the cords of affliction, Then He tells them their work and their transgressions–That they have acted defiantly.” (Job 36:6-9 NKJV)
In other words, if a person is right with God, good things will happen to them; and conversely, God destroys those who have sinned. This cause/effect relationship so clearly described here is found at the foundation of the prosperity doctrine.
You see, in Job’s day, people readily attributed to God whatever it was that God did not prevent from happening. Thus, God was responsible not only for the good things, but also for the bad.
Was this just the mentality of Job’s friends? Let’s look at some of Job’s responses:
“Surely He would not stretch out His hand against a heap of ruins, If they cry out when He destroys it. Have I not wept for him who was in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?” (Job 30:24-25 NKJV)
“If I have made gold my hope…If I have rejoiced because my wealth was great… If I have rejoiced at the destruction of him who hated me… If I have covered my transgressions as Adam…Oh, that I had one to hear me! Here is my mark. Oh, that the Almighty would answer me, That my Prosecutor had written a book! Surely I would carry it on my shoulder, And bind it on me like a crown; I would declare to Him the number of my steps; Like a prince I would approach Him.” (Job 31:24-38 NKJV)
Note how broken Job is. You see, when we aspire to something that is not Truth, it is like building upon shifting sand (See Matt. 7:26). When the storms of life come, as they did with Job, the faulty foundation sink, and we are left broken and without hope.
The problem with this mentality is that we know from the first two chapters of the book of Job that God was not responsible for what happened to Job, the devil was:
“So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!'” (Job 1:9-11)
Wait a minute, friends. Did you catch that? “Have you not made a hedge around him…? But stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” The devil knows that Job believes in the prosperity doctrine, and he tries to use it against God!
Through the ages, many have asked why God would allow these horrible things to happen to Job. All God would have had to do was say, “No, you’re not touching Job!” and the devil would have been forced to leave him alone.
I don’t know how many of you have ever held on to a false doctrine, but if you have, then you, like me, will have experienced how God lovingly and gently works to guide you into all Truth. He will stop at nothing to wake us up, to get our attention, to bring us into all Truth! Could it be that one of the reasons God allowed Job to go through these troubles was to guide him into all Truth about the prosperity doctrine? Maybe even so that we would understand its follies and not fall into the same trap as Job and his friends?
In addition to the fact that we know God did allow Satan to touch Job, we also know the end of the story. We know how God reveals the Himself to Job and his friends, then challenging Job: “Who then is able to stand against Me? Who has a claim against Me that I must pay? Everything under Heaven belongs to Me!” (Job 41:10b,11)
And thus, Job and his friends, as well as the millions of people through the years who have read this story, learn of the majesty and omniscience of God. We come to understand that though we don’t see the big picture, God does. What we’re going through may seem horrible to us. It may seem to stand in stark contrast to the “abundant life” (see John 10:10) we signed up for. But despite all of this, God is still in control. And that same God, who created the ferocious creatures described in Job 40 and 41, has made “everything beautiful in His time…” (Eccl 3:12 KJV).
But God does want good things to happen to us. What can be the harm in this doctrine? Please join us next Saturday for The Prosperity Doctrine Exposed, Part 3: The Dangers.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access other lessons in The Prosperity Doctrine mini-series, please click here.)