UNDERSTAND the FALLACY of ‘PROSPERITY GOSPEL’: "If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. But if they do not obey, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge." (Job 36:11-12)
In Elihu’s fourth speech, he professes to draw from deep truths to defend the justice of God and to explain suffering. The Lord is eminently just in dealing with the wicked and the oppressed as well as the righteous (vv. 7–9). Elihu states his thesis as follows: God is both mighty and just in His dealings with humankind (see 36:1–37:24).
Claiming to speak for God, Elihu repeats his instruction about God’s absolute justice and fairness. God opposes wicked men (vv. 5, 6); exalts righteous men (v. 7); tries to bring sinners to repentance (vv. 8–12), and delivers those who suffer unjustly (v. 15). If the righteous should suffer, it is God’s compassionate call to them to repent (vv. 7–10). Those who turn to the Lord will prosper, but those who do not will die.
According to Elihu, repentance was Job’s only alternative. Job should rejoice in affliction because of what he might learn from God. God knows the righteous and rewards them. But He disciplines them if they have acted defiantly. Elihu then tries to convince Job that this is what God is attempting to teach him through his suffering (vv. 17–23). Elihu proposed that suffering was always in direct proportion to sins and righteousness is always blessed. However, only the last judgment will reveal this (compare John 9:2, 3 with Rom. 2:6; 2 Cor. 5:10).
Let us live daily with the view of what we know to be true about God, the world, and ourselves. Our approach God should be always humble as we patiently embrace and endure suffering, knowing that God’s loving hand will prevail beyond it. Let us discern whether our present adversity, opposition, or restraint is part of God’s discipline, and if so, we should agree quickly with His correction and repent. Let us understand that although we are to seek to live righteously, our righteousness cannot earn God’s favor: grace is a gift, not a debt!
The ‘prosperity gospel’ is less than a half-truth! The God of the Bible is good; the God of the Bible indeed blesses. But the God of the Bible is the God who will see us through regardless of the circumstances. God sometimes blesses and we raise our hands in thanks. But other times we are not experiencing the blessing of God (or at least we think we are not), and what we learn is that God is there, watching and waiting for us to trust him, obey him, and learn that in loving him we have life's deepest blessing. He's with us, through thick and thin!
We may or we may not be prosperous; what we are called to be is faithful and loving! Let us understand the fallacy of the ‘prosperity gospel’ that was initially proposed by Elihu, and be sensitive to God’s Master Plan for our lives!