Praying Through the Bible #39 | with Daniel Whyte III
TEXT: Job 21:1-16
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible”. The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the new Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible.
On last week, we began looking at the question that Job poses in verse 15 of our passage: “What profit should we have, if we pray unto God?” Or, is there profit in prayer? As you know, Job was in a very devastating situation in his life. He had lost all of his children, and all that he owned. And he himself was sick with a grave disease. The friends who had come to sit with him and comfort him in his grief had proved to be of no comfort at all. They had only condemned Job as a sinner who needed to humble himself before God.
Job’s question — is there profit in prayer? — comes as he is reponding to Zophar, one of his friends. The question is couched in Job’s discussion about the seeming prosperity of the wicked. As you can imagine, Job was having rather negative feelings about this matter at this point. Seeing that he was a righteous man who was not being blessed, it is not strange for him to wonder why it seems as though those who live openly wicked lives are begin blessed.
In fact, some of us have probably wondered the same thing at times in our Christian walk. Young people who are faced with the choice of committing their lives to God probably struggle with this more than older believers. But many of us have had this question to cross our minds at one time or another. Today, I want us to examine this passage and see what the Bible has to teach us about this matter.
1. Let’s examine how the wicked seem to prosper. Job says, “Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them…”
Job begins his discussion with this question: “As for me, is my complaint to man?” This demonstrates that Job’s real point of crisis was his conflict with God, not with man. He was not mad with the wicked who prospered. He wanted to know why God allowed them to prosper considering their lifestyle. His crisis was much more than being a financial crisis, a medical crisis, or a family crisis — it was spiritual in nature. And, so, he asks God, “How is it that they prosper while I suffer?”
2. Now, let us examine how the righteous seem to suffer. Job continues his discussion of this dilemma with these words: “Their bull gendereth (gives birth), and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf. They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.” Job challenges his friends to see that if it is possible for a wicked man to be seemingly blessed, then perhaps also a righteous man like himself could seem to be cursed.
It is impossible to miss the contrast in Job’s words. All of the advantages that many of the wicked seemed to have, Job, a righteous man, had been deprived of. Job’s descendants were not “established”. They were dead. Job’s house was subject to fear. All of Job’s livestock had perished. All of Job’s children are gone and no longer dance. Job does not rejoice with the timbrel or harp. Job, a righteous man, feels as though the “rod of God” is upon him.
3. Lastly, let us examine how God is in control. As Job ends this part of his discussion, he speaks of the wicked once again and says, “Lo, their good is not in their hand: the counsel of the wicked is far from me.” What is this verse saying?
The word “good” or “goods” refers to the material things that the wealthy people have. Job says “it is not in their hand”, meaning they do not really have control or power over those things. Those material things do not really belong to them. God can take away the pleasures that the wicked enjoy just as Job’s possessions were taken away.