Posted by: bellissimanh | January 13, 2009

A Prosperous New Year. Really?

“Best wishes for a prosperous New Year!”

It’s a familiar theme as we bid adieu to the close of one year and usher in the new one. You hear it over and over again.

Do we really know what we’re asking for?

“So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant-when you have eaten and are full- then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

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…” (Deuteronomy 8:6-14)

“…then I 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. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.’  Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them…” (Deuteronomy 11:14-16)
 
Are you catching a pattern here? God knew that prosperity would have a tendency to lead us to self-sufficiency, and ultimately, to turn from Him. Not only that, but we confuse having our needs met with being ultimately satisfied. Check out what Jennifer Rothschild has to say on this subject:

 

“Satisfying our needs is not the same as satisfying our souls. We can easily believe that just because our earthly longings are satisfied our heavenly thirst is quenched.”

I wonder what the people of Israel were thinking. Did they become so excited at the blessings the Lord was promising that they didn’t notice the warnings tagged onto them? Did they feel a sense of self-righteousness and think to themselves, “That might be an issue for some… but certainly not for ME. I KNOW the Lord is the source of everything good!” Or did they take His admonishment and tuck it away, vowing to heed it should the situation ever arise?

Hosea 13:6 gives us the final outcome.

“When they had pasture, they were filled; They were filled and their heart was exalted; Therefore they forgot Me.”

Ugh. As much as we’d like for the story to have taken a different course, this is where prosperity led the nation of Israel. It is where prosperity will take us, if we insist on focusing on the gifts, rather than the Giver.

And as much as we’d like for the story to be solely about the nation of Israel, it’s not. Deuteronomy holds a warning for us today as well. Do we become so enamored with the gifts that we neglect to notice the Giver and His admonishments? Do we assume the warning is for someone else, since we’re so “spiritual”? Do we read the words and tuck them away, intending to pull them out when we think we need them?

Jesus came to show us that He alone is the ultimate satisfaction. Is this truth real for us? Is He enough?

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not on the verge of taking a poverty vow or anything like that. I’m thankful that the Lord has provided so faithfully for my family, and I know that He will continue to do so… but I know that I can do a better job of  having the center of my attention be on HIM, not the gifts. I want HIM to always be my exceedingly great reward (Gen. 15:1)!

The way to do that? It’s no coincidence that the warning given in Deuteronomy 11 was followed with these words:

“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mind in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heaven above the earth.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)

Let’s not confuse having our earthly longings satisfied with having our heavenly thirst quenched. That ultimate satisfaction of intimacy with God Himself only comes through His Word.

Drink Deeply!

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Responses

  1. I think you are so right in your comparison between Israel and us. When things go well we forget God, but in times of trouble we call out to him. Prosperity isn’t really good for us.

  2. This was a great post. We are so like the Israelites sometimes, and we don’t even realize it. I often read about their murmuring and turning from what is so obviously right and find myself wondering how they could behave that way. Well, it’s easy to see when I turn the microscope around on myself and the Christians around me.

    Xandra

  3. Wow, that was a powerful video. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Thanks for this great post. 🙂

    Paul said he had learned how to both “abound” and “abase” in life. I think it is a true test of our character in God when we can handle both success and prosperity, as well as suffering and difficulties, in a way that brings glory to Jesus. In the end it is all about Jesus and making him our treasure, no matter where we find ourselves.


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