How Does Job Slam the “Prosperity Gospel?”

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

I cringe when I hear preachers or evangelists promise their followers that if they will believe in Jesus, their lives will be blessed with material wealth and prosperity. I have decided that the only way the “prosperity gospel” can flourish is if absolutely nobody in those churches where it is preached reads the Book of Job.

See, the idea behind the prosperity gospel is that if you move from a sinful life to faith in Jesus (which gives you a righteous standing before God), your material wealth will immediately increase. Faith = righteousness = wealth.

How does the Book of Job flatly contradict this theology? Well, it’s simple. Job is called the most righteous God-believing man alive and God allows Satan to take away all of Job’s material wealth, not to mention all of his children. Let’s look at the verses.

In verses 1-3, look at what kind of man Job is:

In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

To strengthen the point, God himself says of Job, “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.”

The author of Job is trying to make it clear that Job is a paragon of righteousness. Job is the kind of man who God wishes all of us would be like. So, according to the prosperity gospel Job should continue to prosper and never suffer. As long as he is blameless and upright, God will bless him.

But look what happens to Job next. God allows Satan to take all of Job’s blessings away in Job 1:13-19. First, Job’s oxen and donkeys are carried off by Sabean marauders, and the servants watching over them are killed. Second, Job’s sheep and more servants are killed by fire from heaven. Third, another group of marauders, the Chaldeans, steal Job’s camels and kill yet more of his servants. Fourth, Job’s children are all killed when a windstorm destroys the house they are feasting in.

Where is the prosperity? Where is the good life that God owes Job for his righteousness? What is truly fascinating is that for the next 30 chapters of the book, three of Job’s friends preach the prosperity gospel to him! What is their theology? Their theology is simple: God always and immediately punishes the wicked and always and immediately blesses the righteous.

But we know their theology is false because Job is a righteous man, and yet he is suffering enormously. Job continuously argues his case to his friends, but they will not listen. At the end of the book, God finally weighs in and agrees with Job that his friends’ theology is completely wrong. God says to one of the three friends, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”

Here is the bottom line: a person’s righteous standing before God is no guarantee of continuous material blessings. Job was as righteous a man as was alive at that time, and yet God, through Satan, took away all of Job’s material blessings. So if you believe in the prosperity gospel, I have a simple question for you: Are you as righteous as Job?