Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Godliness and Blessedness

"If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God … will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine, and oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that He swore to your forefathers to give you"
(Deuteronomy 7:12–13).

As Moses exhorted Israel to obey God’s law, he told them that if they did so, God would bless them. In addition to spiritual blessings, He would give them prosperity and wealth. In our day materialism has run amok. Too much value is placed on material things. But the response to materialism in some circles has been to resurrect an old pagan antimaterialism which suggests that wealth and prosperity are somehow intrinsically evil. We are told that God is always on the side of the poor, as if poverty by itself, apart from righteousness, has His blessing.

In fact, prosperity can be and often is the blessing of God. God forbid that we should envy and rebuke someone who is enjoying prosperity as if it were automatically a sign of sinfulness. Of course, it may be that their wealth was earned wrongfully or through exploitation, but, it may be that their wealth, by the blessing of God, was earned through faithful service to others.

We must beware of attacking those whom God has blessed. Abraham, after all, was a very wealthy man, and we are told that Job was one of the richest men in the world (Job 1:3). Job lost his riches, but not because of any sin on his part. In the end, remember, God gave him back double what he had lost (Job 42:12).

Moreover, God promised to remove all sickness from Israel (Deuteronomy 7:15). Does this mean that anyone who suffers sickness or poverty has sinned and is being judged by God? Of course not. The book of Job and many other passages in the Bible teach that a righteous individual may be called to suffer for the glory of God. We are also told that God sometimes gives strength and wealth to the wicked in order to raise them up to chastise His wayward people.

What Deuteronomy 7:12–15 does mean, however, is that culturally and nationally there are physical blessings that come to those who honor God. The more righteousness present in a nation, the more health and prosperity it will enjoy. There is a general cultural correlation between sin and suffering and between obedience and prosperity. There is nothing in the New Testament to indicate that God has changed this promise.

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “America is great because America is good; if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” He also wrote that the foundation of America’s greatness was in her churches, where the pulpits were aflame with righteousness. What can you do to restore our nation?