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There Are Shades of Joel Osteen in the Book of Job

Joel Osteen

When reading the Book of Job, I’m often struck by the similarities between Job’s friends and Joel Osteen. Granted, Job’s friends probably presented themselves in a much dourer manner than Osteen does. If not in their assumed scowls, it's the content of their unhelpful advice to Job that bears a similarity to the teachings of the smiling author of Your Best Life Now. More accurately, the words of Job’s friends are the opposite side of the same false coin held out by the message of self-idolatrous false-hope preached by Joel Osteen.

Many are familiar with the Biblical story of the ancient patriarch named Job. As way of a brief reminder of the first part of the story, after God allows Satan to afflict Job, three of the miserable man's friends show up. The Bible records, "They made an appointment to come together to come to show him sympathy and comfort (Job 2:11)."

Showing him sympathy and comfort apparently meant scolding him. However, Job rebuffs the lectures from each of his friends, but they persist.

The core of what Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar tell Job is that he needs to humble himself before God and recognize that he's a sinner who is being justly punished. Throughout their harangues, the three claim that the wicked suffer and the righteous live blessed lives. For them, Job's distress is proof that he is being punished by God for unrighteousness. If only he would say/do the right things, he could live his best life again once again be blessed by God.

Reprovingly, Eliphaz tells Job, "The wicked man writhes in pain all his day. ... Because he has stretched out his hand against God and defies the Almighty (Job 15:20, 25)."

Building on Eliphaz's claim, in chapter eighteen Bildad lists a series of unfortunate events, so to speak, and then concludes, "Surely such are the dwellings of the unrighteous, such is the place of him who knows not God (Job 18:21)."

At one point, during the midst of the back and forth between Job and his friends, Eliphaz pleads, "Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you (Job 22:21)." His words echo Bildad's promise found in Job 8:5 -- "If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation. And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great."

If you haven't already picked up on the similarities between Job's friends and Joel Osteen, you are either unaware of the mega-pastor's teachings or you misunderstand the well-coifed charlatan. Or maybe you do understand Osteen, agree with him, and, hence, don't want to acknowledge that Joel Osteen basically equals Job's friends.