Divine Prosperity: Heresy or What? #4:
New Testament Warnings Concerning Riches

Introduction

So far in this series, we have thoroughly examined the OT concerning finances and wealth. In this installment, we will begin exploring what the NT has to say on the subject. Most likely shocking to skeptics on this topic, we’ll start by quoting and addressing passages used by many to refute the prosperity message.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon. Matthew 6:19-21,24

Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. Matthew 13:22

Indeed, the single greatest danger of financial prosperity is the temptation to shift our focus away from Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith onto money.

Jesus’ parable warning of “the deceitfulness of riches” comes from the mouth of God Himself and should be heeded by all believers.
Continue reading “Divine Prosperity: Heresy or What? #4:
New Testament Warnings Concerning Riches”

Divine Prosperity: Heresy or What? #3>br>The Children of Israel

In the first 2 installments in this series, we have explored the origins of poverty, several biblical patriarchs and their relationship to money, as well as what the “wisdom books” of the OT have to say on the topic of finances. In this article, we will explore God’s dealings with the nation of Israel beginning with Joseph in Egypt and ending with them in the Promised Land.

Joseph

From Genesis chapters 37 through 50, we read the saga of Joseph. Most folks know this story from a gazillion Sunday School presentations, so I will summarize it here.

Joseph was sold into slavery because his older brothers hated him, he ended up in Egypt, rose to be chief steward of a rich Egyptian’s household where he was later falsely accused of attempted rape by the Egyptian master’s horny wife, and then ended up in prison for it. While there, his godly wisdom was so impressive, he became the lead prisoner in the jail. After awhile, his ability to interpret dreams came to the attention of Pharaoh, who had a dream his pagan advisors could not interpret. Joseph was able to correctly interpret that dream and, as a reward, was promoted from prison to be the prime minister of Egypt. Joseph successfully prepared the kingdom for a coming famine and, as that famine spread throughout the Middle East, his father Jacob sent his older brothers to seek food in Egypt. Though he was in a position to wreak major revenge upon his brothers, Joseph dealt with them mercifully and, after it was all said and done, the entire family emigrated to Egypt in order to survive the famine.

Some quick points here and then we will move on.

  • Joseph maintained a righteous lifestyle and good attitude despite the many major injustices inflicted upon him, never becoming vengeful or bitter, though he had every right to be.
  • It seems that Joseph never got mad at God, blaming Him for his misfortunes when everything went south on him.
  • Because he exhibited diligence and godly wisdom in all his dealings, he consistently rose to prominence wherever he found himself, even in prison.
  • Though Joseph had to endure lengthy periods of poverty, God eventually redeemed him out of them all, finally exalting him to a place where poverty was never again an issue.

The Children of Israel

We will continue this discussion with the Book of Exodus and, again, we will summarize the story. Here we find that the children of Israel had explosively multiplied and prospered in Egypt for 400+ years, to the point where the Egyptians became alarmed at the size of the Jewish population. A Pharaoh arose who didn’t remember Joseph’s role as savior to the nation and decided to take action, enslaving the Israelites and oppressing them at every turn. God raised up Moses to deliver the Israelites from their bondage, and through a series of miraculous events, finally got Pharaoh to set them free. We will take up the narrative where the Israelites fulfilled the prophesy given by God to Abraham 400+ years earlier:

Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. — Genesis 15:13-14

And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will bring yet one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out of here altogether. Speak now in the hearing of the people, and let every man ask from his neighbor and every woman from her neighbor, articles of silver and articles of gold.’ And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people. — Exodus 11:1-3

Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. — Exodus 12:35-36

Ever wonder how a bunch of slaves acquired all the gold, silver, fine cloth, and precious stones, etc. to build that big fancy tent and its furnishings God commissioned — not to mention that solid gold cow they crafted while Moses was up on Mt Sinai! — while they were in the wilderness? This is your answer!
Please note that, while the Israelites gave a significant portion of their wealth to build God’s tabernacle, the Law given to them by God through Moses only required a tenth — the tithe — as part of their regular worship. And that was only a tenth of the increase (profit) they made through their agricultural activities.
Let’s now fast-forward to the end of their 40-years in the wilderness as they are standing at the threshold of the Promised Land after the unbelieving generation had died off. We will take up the narrative in Deuteronomy 8:

Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you.
Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper.
When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest — when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; Who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end — then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God. — Deuteronomy 8

Boy, Moses just said a mouthful and that wasn’t the half of what is recorded in this book! Now, let’s unpack this chapter:
First, Moses begins and ends this passage with admonitions against disobedience and idolatry, that for the Israelites to experience the blessings of the Promised Land, they must stay true to God and His commandments. He also warns against them allowing their riches to seduce them into spiritual complacency and a sense of entitlement, rather than them being mindful of and grateful for the fact that God was the One Who blessed them and their labors.
This has not changed under the New Covenant. The second we start worshipping money, success, and their trappings or engage in a “born on 3rd base, thinking we have hit a triple” attitude and start taking credit for God’s blessings, we have just started the countdown timer on our next financial disaster. Why? Because God will withhold His provision and His protection over that provision, allowing Satan to steal our wealth until we get out heads screwed back on straight and repent!
Second, notice that God not only supernaturally provided food and water to the Israelites while they were in the wilderness, but their clothes and shoes didn’t even wear out for 40 years! This fact is repeatedly stated as Moses reminds them of God’s supernatural provision.
Third, please note the financial blessings promised here:

  • Abundance of water, vital to an agricultural economy
  • Abundance in their crop harvests:
    1. Wheat
    2. Barley
    3. Vines (grapes)
    4. Fig trees
    5. Pomegranates
    6. Olives
    7. Honey
  • Bread without scarcity (i.e., no droughts)
  • No lack of any kind
  • Abundance of mineral wealth (iron, copper)
  • Beautiful houses

God, speaking through Moses, then makes an astonishing statement:

And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. — Deuteronomy 8:18

Did Moses really just state that the ability to get wealth is God-given for the purpose of establishing His covenant with their forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)? Yup. that is precisely what he said!

The Blessing of the Law

Now let’s fast forward to Deuteronomy 28, where in the first 14 verses we find the blessings that come from obedience to the Most High:

Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:

  1. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
  2. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
  3. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
  4. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
  5. The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.
  6. The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
  7. The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.
  8. Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you.
  9. And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you.
  10. The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.
  11. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.

So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them. — Deuteronomy 28:1-14 (numbering mine)

Again, we have an admonition to obedience, but what blessings attend that obedience! Those blessings would come upon the Israelites and overtake them.
Those blessings are unlimited by geography or location or type of business venture. Their enemies would be defeated. The Lord would command blessings upon their equivalent to a bank account and everything they put their hand to would prosper. God would make them a holy people and all the other nations would look on the Jews and be afraid of them because of the Lord’s protection. The Lord would prosper them with goods and children and profitable agriculture. The Lord would ensure that there was plenty of rain to water the crops. They would have plenty of money to lend without having to borrow. They would be the head, not the tail; above, not beneath.

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. — 2 Corinthians 1:20

As believers, we have access to these selfsame promises, with the same qualifying condition: obedience to the Most High

The Curse of the Law

The entire remainder of Deuteronomy 28 comprises the “Curse of the Law,” a lengthy list of the curses the Israelites would suffer for abandoning the Lord in favor of other gods. I’ve addressed this in some detail elsewhere, but that article was focused on divine healing, rather than divine provision. Because of the length of this passage, I have omitted the verses not directly concerning finances; I have left the verse numbers in place so you can see where I skipped:

16 Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.
17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
18 Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
19 Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
20 The Lord will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me.
23 And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron.
24 The Lord will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
25 The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth.
26 Your carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and no one shall frighten them away.
29 And you shall grope at noonday, as a blind man gropes in darkness; you shall not prosper in your ways; you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no one shall save you.
30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall lie with her; you shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but shall not gather its grapes.
31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it; your donkey shall be violently taken away from before you, and shall not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you shall have no one to rescue them.
32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes shall look and fail with longing for them all day long; and there shall be no strength in your hand.
33 A nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land and the produce of your labor, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually.
34 So you shall be driven mad because of the sight which your eyes see.
36 The Lord will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods — wood and stone. And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the Lord will drive you.
38 You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it.
39 You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.
40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olives shall drop off.
41 You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity.
42 Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.
43 The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower.
44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.
45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever. Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you.
49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young. And they shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks, until they have destroyed you. They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the Lord your God has given you. You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you. The sensitive and very refined man among you will be hostile toward his brother, toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the rest of his children whom he leaves behind, so that he will not give any of them the flesh of his children whom he will eat, because he has nothing left in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you at all your gates. The tender and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because of her delicateness and sensitivity, will refuse to the husband of her bosom, and to her son and her daughter, her placenta which comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of everything in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you at all your gates.
62 You shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven in multitude, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.
63 And it shall be, that just as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess.
64 Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known — wood and stone.
65 And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul.
66 Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life.
67 In the morning you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were morning!’ because of the fear which terrifies your heart, and because of the sight which your eyes see.
68 And the Lord will take you back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I said to you, ‘You shall never see it again.’ And there you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.

I think this list is pretty self-explanatory and requires no summarization, analysis, or commentary. This laundry list of calamity describes the plight of both Jews and Gentiles alike who are living lives ruled by “whatever was right in their own eyes,” rather than in submission to the Lord Jesus. The vast majority of the world has found itself in one or more of these tragic states of existence throughout human history, even to this day.
The crucial point I want to make about the Curse of the Law is the same one I made concerning divine healing:

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)… — Galatians 3:13

Jesus became a curse for us by hanging on the Cross, taking upon Himself our inability to meet God’s standards through our dead religious works, and transforming those of us who believe into the righteous, the healed, the prosperous, and the delivered — all as a free gift which we could never afford to purchase were it for sale, could never earn through our own efforts were it a wage, and could not deserve through our own feeble attempts at “goodness” were it a reward for holy behavior.
In conclusion, the same redemption from sin purchased for us by Jesus’ finished work of the Cross also purchased us redemption from all the sickness and disease as well as the poverty-inducing situations described above!
Thanks for reading!

Divine Prosperity: Heresy or What? #2
The Book of Proverbs

In the first article of this series, we examined God’s original intentions for mankind concerning wealth as well as the biblical accounts of some “fathers of our faith” who were fabulously wealthy and what God had to say — or equally importantly, not say — about them and their money. The last person we covered was Solomon, the man primarily responsible for penning the Book of Proverbs as well as the Book of Ecclesiastes. In this article, we will tackle these two OT books plus the Book of Psalms and take a brief dip into the Book of Joshua.

Proverbs

Proverbs is an amazing book because it is a book of applied wisdom. It covers everything from the importance of wisdom itself to applications of wisdom in areas ranging from child-rearing to marriage to work ethic to the power of our words, but — most of all — finances.
Even if you discounted or even completely threw out everything else I have to say in every article in this series while wholeheartedly embracing and practicing what Proverbs has to say about money, you will prosper financially! One of the most important ways of doing this is finding everything that Proverbs says “leads to poverty” and then not doing them!
Humorous? Yes, but absolutely true!
So let’s see what Proverbs has to say about what leads to wealth and what leads to poverty. Moving from the front of the book towards the back, we read the following:

My son, if you become surety for your friend, if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, you are snared by the words of your mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; for you have come into the hand of your friend: go and humble yourself; plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird from the hand of the fowler. — Proverbs 6:1-5
How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep — so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man. — Proverbs 6:9-11
I (wisdom) traverse the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice, that I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries. — Proverbs 8:20-21
He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. — Proverbs 10:4
The rich man’s wealth is his strong city; the destruction of the poor is their poverty. — Proverbs 10:15
The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it. — Proverbs 10:22
He who is surety for a stranger will suffer, but one who hates being surety is secure. — Proverbs 11:5
There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself. — Proverbs 11:24-25
He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like foliage. — Proverbs 11:28
He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding. — Proverbs 12:11
The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich. —Proverbs 13:4
The ransom of a man’s life is his riches, but the poor does not hear rebuke. — Proverbs 13:8
Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase. — Proverbs 13:11
Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored. — Proverbs 13:18
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. — Proverbs 13:22
In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty. — Proverbs 14:23
He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given. — Proverbs 19:17
The lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing. — Proverbs 20:4
Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread. — Proverbs 20:13
The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty. — Proverbs 21:5
Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard. — Proverbs 21:13
He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich. — Proverbs 21:17
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant (slave) to the lender. — Proverbs 22:7
He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor. — Proverbs 22:9
He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty. — Proverbs 22:16
Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, one of those who is surety for debts; if you have nothing with which to pay, why should he take away your bed from under you? — Proverbs 22:26-27
Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men. — Proverbs 22:29
For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags. — Proverbs 23:21
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man. — Proverbs 24:33-34
He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. — Proverbs 28:13
He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough! — Proverbs 28:19
A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, and does not consider that poverty will come upon him. — Proverbs 28:22
He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses. — Proverbs 28:27
Whoever loves wisdom makes his father rejoice, but a companion of harlots wastes his wealth. —Proverbs 29:3

So we can condense all this into three categories: 1) moral mistakes; 2) financial mistakes, and; 3) a bad work ethic.

Moral Mistakes

  1. Immorality
  2. Money obtained through wickedness
  3. Troubling your family
  4. Refusing correction
  5. Covering your sins
  6. Not hearing the poor
  7. Loving pleasure or wine
  8. Gluttony
  9. Vain companions

One time I was ministering all this to about 20 jail inmates at the Pima County Jail in Tucson, Arizona. When we came to the topic of vice as something that “leads to poverty,” I simply asked them how much various vices cost. At that time, a pack of cigarettes was about $10/pack including tax, so a pack-a-day smoking habit cost about $300/month. One guy used to drink a fifth of vodka per day at about $20/bottle: $600/month! And that wasn’t even touching the costs of their addictions to illegal drugs  such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and crystal meth, all of which ran into the thousands of dollars per month, hence their incarceration for various offenses that were directly related to drug use, drug distribution, and/or indirectly such as burglary and armed robbery to support their addictions. It’s no wonder that their families were living on welfare and food stamps in housing projects and tenements!
Vice is EXPENSIVE!
One other salient point is the recurring theme of giving to the poor. We have promises from the One True God to both prosper us because of our giving to the poor as well as poverty coming to those who ignore the needs of the poor. Interestingly, it seems that God blesses even the heathen who give to the poor! Selah!

Financial Mistakes

  1. Trusting in riches
  2. Not being generous
  3. Money without labor
  4. Unwise use of credit
  5. Giving to the rich
  6. Get rich quick schemes
  7. No planning

Another recurring theme we see in Proverbs is that of not becoming surety for others (cosigning a loan in modern parlance).

Poor work ethic

  1. Sleeping too much
  2. No diligence
  3. Slothfulness
  4. Talking too much
  5. Chasing fantasies

I would have to say that the most important financial theme in Proverbs is that of being diligent in our work while avoiding laziness and sloth. God doesn’t bless slackers!

Ecclesiastes

This book, also authored by King Solomon, takes us on a different tack, exploring a life apart from being in right relationship with The Almighty in the pursuit of all things earthly. In it, Solomon describes how he sought satisfaction in life though work, pleasure, sex, and money, just to name four. Which now leads us to workaholism and the pursuit of riches for its own sake.
Workaholism is an addiction to our vocation, whether than be our work-a-day job, the business we founded and/or operate, or the ministry to which we are called. Whenever we start deriving our identity from anything or anyone other than Jesus, we have entered into the sin of idolatry because only God can righteously define who we are (our significance and worth), as well as our purpose and destiny in life.
Reasons abound as to why people become workaholics. An impoverished childhood, parents who expressed doubts about our intelligence or ability to succeed, the pride which comes through accomplishment, and the power which comes through success and financial clout are all reasons why people fall for this particular idol. I’ve covered addictions and recovery from them in my two-part series on the topic, so I won’t rehash the topic of addictions and recovery from them here.
We have all heard clichés concerning unhappy rich people and how money doesn’t buy happiness. While I have often joked that I would love to have a shot at being that melancholy dude driving a Ferrari, the reason this has become such a cliché is because it is absolutely true. And, Solomon, the richest man in history as we have already covered in the first article of this series, appears to be the first to say so in writing and he speaks from his personal experience. He had anything and everything that wealth and power could obtain and he found it empty of meaning.
The clear message of Ecclesiastes is that a life without the One True God at the center of it, ruling over it, is “vanity and chasing of the wind.”

Psalms

(Yeah, I know we’re back-tracking, but this is how the chips fell! 🙂 )
Psalms says a lot concerning finances. Again, we’ll start towards the beginning and work our way through the book:

The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. — Psalm 10:2
“For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now I will arise,” says the Lord; “I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.” — Psalm 12:5
The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever! — Psalm 22:26
This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. — Psalm 34:6
The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. — Psalm 34:10
All my bones shall say, “Lord, who is like You, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?” — Psalm 35:10
A little that a righteous man has Is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous. The Lord knows the days of the upright, and their inheritance shall be forever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. — Psalm 37:16-19
The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous shows mercy and gives. — Psalm 37:21
I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; and his descendants are blessed. — Psalm 37:25-26
Wait on the LORD, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it. — Psalm 37:34
Blessed is he who considers the poor; The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. — Psalm 41:1
Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches, none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him — Psalm 49:6-7
Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him. — Psalm 49:16-17
The righteous also shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him, saying, “Here is the man who did not make God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.” — Psalm 52:6-7
Do not trust in oppression, nor vainly hope in robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them. — Psalm 62:10
You visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; You provide their grain, for so You have prepared it. You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows; You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth. You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance. — Psalm 65:9-11
For He will deliver the needy when he cries, the poor also, and him who has no helper. He will spare the poor and needy, and will save the souls of the needy. He will redeem their life from oppression and violence; and precious shall be their blood in His sight. — Psalm 72:12-14
Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches will be in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion…He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted with honor. — Psalm 112:1-5,9
He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that He may seat him with princes – with the princes of His people. — Psalm 113:7-8
I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread. — Psalm 134:15
I know that the LORD will maintain The cause of the afflicted, And justice for the poor.— Psalm 140:12

We can see some definite themes running throughout Psalms.
The first is the foolishness of trusting in worldly wealth. We’ll explore that issue in greater depth as this series continues.
The second is that God is the Champion of the poor and oppressed. This should definitely inform our decisions concerning our business dealings, governmental policies, and who we vote for.
Oppressors look out! Your abuse of the poor is a stench in the nostrils of the Almighty and He will avenge them in this life or the next. And it ain’ta gonna be good for you, either!
And then we see promises of abundance for the righteous, those who fear the Lord and choose to obey His dictates.
Nowhere in any of the verses within this book are riches considered evil in and of themselves, only the unrighteous pursuit of them at the expense of others.

Psalm 1

Which leads us to the one Psalm that I will quote and explore in its entirety, the very first one. In it, we have a massive set of promises to the righteous and evildoers both.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. — Psalm 1

So, according to this passage, what qualifies a person to be blessed by God?

  1. He doesn’t listen to the ungodly or heed their opinions.
  2. He doesn’t associate or identify himself with sin or those who pursue it.
  3. He doesn’t associate or identify himself with those who mock and scorn the Almighty or other people.
  4. He delights in God’s Word and constantly meditates on it.

And what blessings will be bestowed upon those who meet these qualifications?

  1. He shall bear much fruit.
  2. He shall be resistant to lack and will not be subject to disgrace or contempt.
  3. Whatever he pursues will prosper.

Let’s take a look at some of the Hebrew words used here to ensure we are interpreting this passage correctly.

meditate (hagah)
to speak, to mutter
wither (nabel)
to be senseless, foolish, contemptible
prosper (tsalach)
to make prosperous, bring to successful issue, cause to prosper; to show or experience prosperity

And now we’ll explore what the dictionary says about that final word:

prosper
succeed in material terms; be financially successful; flourish physically; grow strong and healthy; make successful

So what we can clearly and accurately conclude from this psalm is that financial prosperity follows those who eschew evil and evildoers and meditate on God’s Word. And the kind of meditation involved here is not that found in the eastern religions of Hinduism and Buddhism, but of speaking the Word of God aloud to ourselves.

Joshua 1:8

There is another verse that conceptually ties into this one, a verse found within God’s personal commission of Joshua as Moses’ successor. To establish context, God has spent the previous 7 verses encouraging Joshua be strong, courageous and not be afraid, promising that he will be successful and prosperous in everything he does as God’s anointed leader of Israel. In verse 8, we find an extension of the concepts found in Psalm 1:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Interestingly, the words meditate and prosperous here are the same Hebrew words hagah and tsalach, respectively, we just covered in our discussion of Psalm 1. Let’s add a couple of new definitions to our list:

observe (shamar)
observe, keep, give heed to, celebrate, watch over
success(sakal)
to have insight, to be prudent, to have comprehension, to act circumspectly, to act prudently, to act wisely

So what’s the bottom line here?
It’s this: if we speak God’s Word aloud to ourselves with the goal of applying His Word to our lives in obedience, we will have insight and comprehension, we will act wisely, prudently, and circumspectly, and we will be prosperous.

Confessing God’s Word Aloud

More than a few non-charismatic pastors and teachers have blown off the concept of confessing God’s Word aloud as nonsense and have dismissed it as cultish “mind-science,” but the fact of the matter is it has been scientifically proven that, though we can filter out what we heard from others or what we read, we cannot help but believe every word we personally say, regardless of its truth or falsehood. This explains why some people who have repeated a lie long enough actually start believing it to be the truth, even though it is demonstrably false and they knew it was false when they started telling it.
When we confess the Scriptures aloud, we cannot help but believe our own voices. Since our voices are speaking the Truth, we cannot help but believe the Truth. Over time, that Truth becomes our “reality.” This is what is meant by the term “being transformed by the renewing of our minds” in Romans 12:2 and “pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.
Meditating on God’s Word is one of the most effective tools God has given us to accomplish that and He prewired our brains from the foundations of the earth so that His promises would work as He commanded. WOW!

Conclusion

There are those who would read this and derisively dismiss it, saying, “that’s just charismatic doctrine” or “that’s just the health & wealth gospel,”, but Joshua 1:8 and its practical application was actually taught to me by The Navigators — a non-charismatic organization — well over a year before I was baptized in the Holy Spirit.
My brothers and sisters, this isn’t “charismatic doctrine” or “the health & wealth gospel,” it’s the Bible, God’s Word, taken in context using the original languages. You are free to choose to accept and practice it -or- not accept it and ignore it. Why? Because you are a free moral agent created in the likeness and image of God not to mention this is a peripheral doctrine that has no impact on your eternal destiny or standing before the One True God. In other words, whether you ever agree with me or not, your place in heaven is assured if you have named Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
What you are NOT free to do is dismiss it as false doctrine because it’s right there in black and white on the page!
That’s about it for this installment. We’ll explore God’s dealings with the children of Israel during the Exodus in our next one.
Thanks for reading!