Lent Devotional: Job 21

by Jonathan Haefs

Job 21 (click here)
[The wicked] spend their days in prosperity, and in peace they go down to Sheol. 14 They say to God, “Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways. 15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?” (Job 21:13-15)

Job is once again rebuking his friends and pointing out holes in their tight knit theodicy. Again and again he claims that the wicked do not always experience punishment for their sins, but are often prosperous in this life. Do we not see this played even today?

All around us, people prosper through lying, cheating, oppressing, etc. Dishonesty has become considered necessary if one wants to succeed in gaining power or wealth. Even more than that, how often have you seen someone be successful who has no regard for God… or perhaps they even mock him! Yet, their success seems to have no end.

Without meaning to do so, Job is actually highlighting for us another tactic of Satan to keep people from worshipping the Lord, namely, prosperity. Throughout this book, we have watched Satan use pain to try and get Job to curse God, but I think Satan actually uses prosperity for this purpose even more so than pain.

Perhaps the entire reason he brought pain into Job’s life was that Job was not distracted from worship of the Lord amidst all his original prosperity! Job points out to us that many people who are prosperous see no need for God. There is no purpose in serving him or praying to him, for they have everything they want and couldn’t imagine any more benefit from serving some deity.

This is what happens when we view our relationship with God as a means to some other end. If we only want God so that he will do “x” for us or give us “y” then if we already have it… we don’t need him… and if it is withheld or taken away… we curse him. Pleasure or pain brings our “relationship” with God to ruin when the foundation of that relationship is anything other than joy in God himself!

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.