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The notion makes logical sense, and it has been around since before the Law was written on the tablets at Sinai .  It is an assumed truth that God rewards people in this life for obeying Him.  This is the way we think of those under our care, so we assume God thinks like we do.  That was the problem with Job's friends.  At least Job's wife understood the corollary when she gave up on him, saying "curse God and die."[1]

Job knew himself to be righteous, and he had observed that the wicked do not always experience the consequences of their sins in this present life.[2]  He challenges his well-meaning friends to re-evaluate the situation.  He himself was older and wiser than they were, and he had come to suffer far beyond what any of them could imagine.  He asks them to consider the world around them[3].  Could not they tell that God was in control of all things -- even bad things -- to fulfill some greater purpose?

As he begins his own defense, Job observes that prosperity also comes to the wicked.  But even that prosperity is a gift from God![4]  Though Job does not understand the reason, he is steadfast in his faith that God knows what He is doing.  Whatever might happen to him, he was going to trust God[5] rather than compromise his convictions.  This was the case even if God wanted to kill him outright for whatever reason.

The title of this blog was not just a "hook" to get more readers. The notion that God rewards good people and punishes evil ones is as old as mankind. Though God is true to His promises, it takes more than good intentions for mankind to "deserve" anything from God. That many people prosper who have been obedient to God's Law is not sufficient to prove the theory that the prosperity is a result of that obedience. Hard work is a time-honored method of achieving success made necessary by the Fall . When effort is exerted, works are accomplished. Honesty is indeed the "best policy," though greater success in this world often comes by dishonorable means. God does not often step in to prevent this. More often than we would like, evil prevails at the expense of the innocent victims.

Near the end of this defence, Job puts things in perspective, saying: "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him: but I will maintain mine own ways before Him."[6] This was no "blind faith" in a god that "allows" evil in the world, but rather a faith grounded in a personal relationship with the Creator. Job knew that God's ways did not have to be the ways of men. It behooves us to keep this in mind as we ponder our present state in this world. Whether we are poor, or blessed with riches, let us trust God to use us to glorify Him in all that we do.

  1. Job 2:9 (Link)
  2. Job 12:6 (Link)
  3. Job 12:7-8 (Link)
  4. Job 12:10 (Link)
  5. Job 13:15 (Link)
  6. Job 13:15 (Link)

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