The Real Prosperity Gospel
Anybody want to know the secret to real prosperity? Of course, who wouldn’t? Certainly, no one actually wants to be less than prosperous, right? Then again, I suppose that depends on the definition of the word. What if God said that true prosperity, the stuff He promises to give us just because He knows the good plans He has for us, has little to do with money or possessions? Would everyone still want it?
In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 29:1 through Deuteronomy 29:8 in The Complete Jewish Bible (29:2-9 in The Amplified Bible and other versions), we complete another week and another portion of Torah. That means, it’s time for me to wish all my readers Shabbat Shalom (Sabbath Peace), and may you prosper in all things even as your soul prospers.
Moses summons Israel to remind them of what they have seen in The Lord. He tells them they saw what God did in Egypt to Pharaoh, his servants, and his land; great testings, signs, and wonders which Israel saw with their own eyes. But then, Moses tells them that, in spite of all they’ve seen and heard, God has still not given them hearts of understanding, eyes to see, or ears to hear. For whatever reason, they still just don’t get it.
As Moses goes on, he reminds them how they fared as he led them through the wilderness for 40 years. He talks of their super durable clothing and shoes, and then he reminds them how they did not eat bread or drink any intoxicating liquor because God wanted to make sure they never forgot that He is The Lord. Moses reminds them of the battles they faced when they first arrived to where they are now. Two kings came out against them, but with God’s help, they defeated them both and gave the land to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
In the final verse for the passage and the portion, Moses says, “Therefore, observe the words of this covenant and obey them; so that you can make everything you do prosper.”
We’re nearing the end of the Torah and of Moses’ life, and while Moses pours out instruction and reminders, he also pours out blessings. I find a lot of instruction and inspiration in that last blessing. First, Moses is telling this group of people who have no understanding and cannot truly see or hear, that they are to observe and obey. Observation should need eyes and ears, and obedience should need understanding, but since God has not yet given these things to them, they must observe and obey on pure faith.
I looked up the word “prosperity” in Strong’s Concordance to see what Moses meant in this blessing, and it turns out that the word means pretty much the same in all places it is used. It means to do well and have success, but the full definition expands that to becoming circumspect–intelligent enough to look at things from all angles. Some other words in addition to intelligent include expert, prudent, skillful, and understanding. The prosperous person should be able to teach, instruct, consider, and to guide wittingly. Interestingly, it also says those who prosper will behave themselves. That last definition sure doesn’t describe rich, self-indulgent, party-animal types, does it?
In addition to biblical prosperity meaning something more like abounding in God’s character than abounding in His riches, I also noticed that Moses told the people that they would make everything they do prosper. They, themselves, are responsible to bring that prosperity into their own lives, and it is apparently possible for anyone since these are the same people listed earlier as pretty much ignorant, blind, and deaf. The instruction for bringing themselves this prosperity? Observe the words of God’s covenant with them, and obey. Simple. Put God first. Trust and obey. Seek first the kingdom of God.
In 3rd John 1, an elder of the church writes to Gaius and sends him blessings of prosperity as well. Like the blessing I spoke above, the writer says, in verse 2, that he wants Gaius to prosper in health and all things even as his soul prospers. That he considers prosperity to be like the Strong’s definition is evidenced in verse 4 where the writer says, “Nothing gives me greater joy than hearing that my children are living in the truth.” Truth is found in God’s word, and living in it is observing and obeying. Those things will prosper your soul, so they will also prosper your health and other areas of your life. So, just as Israel, we bring ourselves to biblical prosperity by living in God’s truth; observing and obeying His Holy Scriptures.
God is not a respecter of persons, so the gospel (good news) must be able to work for all mankind. A false “prosperity gospel” cannot be equally applied to the rich and to those who have no ability to increase in riches. This true prosperity gospel can be preached to everyone: From the rich to the poor, the old to the young, the free to the slave, and even from the genius to the ignorant. The message will work for anyone who follows God, whether they live in the bush or the big city, a cave or a mountain top, a mansion or prison cell. That makes it real, and that makes it truly good news; a real prosperity gospel.
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