Job 9:4 “God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?”
Sometimes, when learning a principle such as prospering, the message has been so convoluted by worldly rhetoric that the antithesis may give greater insight. The book of Job provides a good example of looking at how not to prosper, which when avoided may give insight in how to move forward and succeed.
Right from the start, in Job 9:4, we can see that hardening your heart is a good way to fail. When we hardened our hearts, we usually have an agenda, our agenda. Bitterness, distrust, anger, hatred, apathy, these all mark the one who sets themselves fiercely against God.
Job 8:11-13 “Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh?
Can the reeds flourish without water?
12While it is yet green and not cut down,
It withers before any other plant.
13So are the paths of all who forget God;
And the hope of the hypocrite shall perish,
Looking further, we can see that forgetting God is a good way to fail. When we go about our lives and we cease to acknowledge the One who has breathed life into our bones, by neglecting the One who holds our future in His hands, we place our trust in ourselves and deny His goodness.
This path of self seeking or having an attitude of pride is one that surely leads to a fall. Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Hypocrisy, or claiming one position and acting another is a good way to fail. You don’t have to search far to find someone who is disgusted by people who are hypocritical. Politicians have a long history of maintaining this quality as well as those who are self-righteous, acting as if they have succeeded in all aspects of life and yet hide the corruption behind closed doors. This state of hypocrisy is one I lived for quite a while, and I can tell you, it is a miserable existence.
Job 35:9-13. “Because of the multitude of oppressions they cry out;
They cry out for help because of the arm of the mighty.
10But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
Who gives songs in the night,
11Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth,
And makes us wiser than the birds of heaven?’
12There they cry out, but He does not answer,
Because of the pride of evil men.
13Surely God will not listen to empty talk,
Nor will the Almighty regard it.”
Have you ever looked through scripture and observed how many times it addresses this concept of God not hearing?
Isaiah 1:15 “When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood”
Job 9:31 “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but He does listen to the one who worships Him and does His will.”
Isaiah 59:2 “But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”
Jeremiah 11:11 “Therefore this is what the LORD says: I am about to bring upon them a disaster that they cannot escape. They will cry out to Me, but I will not listen to them.”
Ezekiel 8:18 “Therefore I will respond with wrath. I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout loudly in My ears, I will not listen to them.”
Hosea 5:6 “They go with their flocks and herds to seek the LORD, but they do not find Him; He has withdrawn Himself from them.”
This pattern of God not hearing has a common thread. A rebellious people, living in sin, who want help from the consequence of sin, seek God in despair. “Rescue me”, is the cry of those who want to do their own thing, live life the way they want then when calamity comes, want the quick fix they hope God will provide. God says in the midst of their rebellion that He will not hear that prayer. So as people grow hard hearted, “God has abandoned me”, they exclaim or deny His existence because He just wasn’t there when they needed Him.
The egotistical nature of this thinking that God supports sinful lifestyles is the ugliest pride mankind can conjure up. The thought that a life of abusing God’s nature and then somehow assuming He blesses the effort is the epitome of foolishness.
So what can we deduce from looking at the antithetical pattern of success?
The opposite of pride is humility, of a hard heart is tenderness, of stubbornness is obedience.
We see a continuous pattern of God rebuking the rebellious and yet His mercy calling them back in Deuteronomy 11. The Lord showed us His pattern of chastisement with love to the people of Israel and God’s pattern of love hasn’t changed through the ages. A brief look at this pattern gives us hope that His mercies never fail, that He is patient with us and His hope for us isn’t destruction but grace.
Deuteronomy 11:13-17 “And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14then I[f] will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. 15And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be [g]filled.’ 16Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, 17lest the Lord’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.”
So we can say, the pattern of prospering is listening to God’s correction and obeying His pattern of living. He ultimately brings prosperity in a myriad of ways. He loves you, He desires to bless you but it’s on His pathway, not yours.