Tag Archives: wealth
With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√The Prologue: Chs. 1-3, Part 2)
As we continue our examination of “The Prologue” (Chs. 1-3), the scene shifts dramatically from earth to heaven. The curtain is pulled back as it were and we listen in on a conversation between God and Satan!
II. A Celestial Challenge (1:6-12)
God’s messengers, spirit beings called angels, report to the Lord and He singles out Satan for a challenge. Asking him, “Where have you come from?”, God requires the devil to give an accounting of his activities. Satan’s response is: “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth in it.” (v. 7). We are reminded of Peter’s declaration of the devil that we are to “be alert and of sober mind [because our] enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8).
Ours is no stationary adversary. He roams, he prowls, he’s looking for his next meal! Amazingly the Lord does not say to Satan, “Stop it! Stop your roaming!” No, the Lord issues a challenge to the devil: “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (v. 8).
What an endorsement of Job’s character! These words are the same as those which introduced the book, that Job was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (v. 1). Again we are reminded that whatever calamities eventually come Job’s way, they are not punishment for his sins.
But Satan does not cower in the presence of the Almighty. His retort to God is: “Does Job fear God for nothing?” (v. 9). He explains Job’s godliness by a kind of quid pro quo argument (something for something else). “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.” (v. 10).
This demonic accusation — that Job’s loyalty is conditional upon God’s blessing — evilly focuses upon God’s goodness toward His servant. God’s “hedge” has provided protection for Job, his family, and his many possessions. God’s blessing has been the bribe God used to keep Job loyal and godly.
And Satan is not finished with his debate with the Lord. He next issues a challenge to God: “But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” (v. 11). Satan wants God to do the striking. Satan wants God to be cursed by Job.
But Satan is not in charge, even if he acts like he is. The Lord’s response to Satan’s assault is: “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” (v. 12). Satan is a real and powerful adversary. But he is not God. And God gives him permission to remove Job’s possessions. However, the devil is commanded not to lay a finger on Job himself. How will a poverty-stricken Job respond to his upcoming loss of all things?
Satan wastes no time in carrying out his God-allowed attack on Job and his wealth. We read that he “went out from the presence of the Lord.” (v. 12).
This first challenge from the devil should give pause to all who have swallowed the health and wealth gospel nonsense. Is the Lord obligated to materially bless His servants? Are riches a definitive proof of God’s blessing? Should one be loyal to the Lord in order to receive prosperity? What about when that wealth wastes away or is violently removed?
Psalms of My Life (Psalm 49)
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
2 both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
3 My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
4 I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:
5 Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
6 those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?
7 No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them—
8 the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
9 so that they should live on forever
and not see decay.
10 For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.
11 Their tombs will remain their houses[b] forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had[c] named lands after themselves.
12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.
13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.[d]
14 They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
he will surely take me to himself.
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
when the splendor of their houses increases;
17 for they will take nothing with them when they die,
their splendor will not descend with them.
18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
and people praise you when you prosper—
19 they will join those who have gone before them,
who will never again see the light of life.
20 People who have wealth but lack understanding
are like the beasts that perish.
Time for a Great Cartoon (happiness)
Calvin has a point, doesn’t he? If HAPPINESS depends on HAPPENINGS, then having the financial where-with-all to control life’s circumstances seems a very reasonable goal.
But even the filthy rich can’t buy themselves out of some life’s tragedies. As one bumper sticker puts it, “He who dies with the most toys — still dies!” Psalm 1 (which we looked at way back on December 8’s post) makes the simple point that true happiness (what the Psalmist calls “blessedness”) is a relational, not a possessive, issue. If I know the God of Creation in an intimate and personal way, I can be truly happy, regardless of what happens around me.
How’s your relationship with the Lord going?