“Show Me Mercy, My Companions, Show Me Mercy!” but They Show Him None: Job 19
Cool Hand Luke: ‘He Beat You With Nothin!’ The Atheist Search for the Origen of Life, Part 6

Job Rebukes the Prosperity Gospel Preacher: Chapters 20-21

It’s Zophar’s turn to package a nastigram. He rises to the occasion. He is the guy who visits a fellow dying in the hospital, under excruciating pain and so says something rash, who responds: “I have heard a reproof that insults me.” (Job 20:3) What next, challenge him to a duel?

Almost as bad: “My understanding impels me to reply,” he follows up. Job, you lost your money and everything else because of your wickedness, he charges:

“The joyful cry of the wicked is brief And the rejoicing of the godless one is for a moment. . . . He will perish forever like his own dung; Those who used to see him will say, ‘Where is he?’  (20:5-7)

“He has swallowed down wealth, but he will vomit it up; God will empty it out of his belly. . . . He will give back his goods without consuming them; He will not enjoy the wealth from his trade. For he has crushed and abandoned the poor; He has seized a house that he did not build.  . . . His wealth will not help him escape. There is nothing left for him to devour; That is why his prosperity will not last. (15-20)

“When his wealth reaches its peak, anxiety will overtake him; The full force of misfortune will come against him. . . . God will send his burning anger upon him, Raining it down upon him into his bowels. . . . A flood will sweep his house away; It will be a heavy torrent on the day of God’s anger. This is the wicked man’s share from God, The inheritance that God has decreed for him.” (22-29)

Tell me about it! There’s no connection! is Job’s response, as though rebuking a prosperity preacher. The wicked do just fine these days. Is it just me that imagines he hurls this reply with some heat and sarcasm?

Their houses are secure, they are free from fear, And God does not punish them with his rod. Their bulls breed without failure; Their cows give birth and do not miscarry. Their boys run outside just like a flock, And their children skip about. They sing accompanied by tambourine and harp And rejoice at the sound of the flute. They spend their days in contentment And go down peacefully to the Grave. But they say to the true God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. . . . How often is the lamp of the wicked extinguished? How often does disaster come upon them? (9-17)

Job is on to these shallow theologians with their sham holiness, these ones who equate money to God’s favor:

“Look! I know exactly what you are thinking,” he says. “And the schemes you devise to wrong me. For you say, ‘Where is the house of the prominent man [himself], And where is the tent in which the wicked one lived?’” (27-28)

All they have to do, he says, is expand their narrow horizons a little, and they’ll see it is not that way. “Have you not questioned travelers? Do you not carefully study their observations, . . . an evil person is spared on the day of disaster . . . And rescued on the day of fury?  . . . Who will repay him for what he has done? . . . When he is carried to the graveyard, A vigil will be kept over his tomb. The clods of earth of the valley will be sweet to him, And all mankind follows after him. . . . So why offer me meaningless comfort? There is nothing but deceit in your answers!” (29-34)

The sanctimonious blowhards, descending with their gospel of prosperity! How much dough did Jesus have? You don’t think God could have arranged for his son to be born at the Jerusalem Hyatt instead of the Bethlehem Manger? He knows a lot of people. He would have chosen the former were he one to slobber over wealth.


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