Sunday, September 13, 2009
What About Prosperity?
In that wonderful musical film "Fiddler on the Roof", the protagonist, Tevye, milk merchant, husband and father of three daughters is heard to say, "Ah, Lord, I realize that it is no shame to be poor, but it is no great honour either...". He then goes on to sing "If I Were a Rich Man". By this time the audience realize that they are watching one of the movies' all-time greats.
The question of the prosperous life is addressed in Psalm 112. (To the Jew prosperity meant well-being in all areas of life and not just at the bank.):
1Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.
2His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.
3Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.
4Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
5A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.
6Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.
7He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.
8His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies.
9He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.
10The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.
At a later date Jesus was heard to say, "The poor you will have with you always". The widow who threw her last mite into the collection box received words of praise from the Lord unequaled in the Gospel account. James, the Lord's bother, would say, "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"
Again we go to the Cross, the brazen serpent, the atonement. Debate has been heated as to what is included in the atonement. Salvation? Healing? Wealth?
I have heard the prosperity teachers, with penetrating stare, proclaim, "Our precious Lord did not go to the Cross, suffer the humiliation, bloody his back, hands, feet, side and head so that you might walk around with holes in your shoes and a hang-dog look on your face!"
One teacher in the Word of Faith movement went so far as to exclaim, "If you are spending your days feeling guilty, sick or poor, you deserve it!"
What a blow to the faith and assurance of Christ's little ones (Matthew 25:40) who travel through life heroically facing adversity, condescension, challenge, a sparse pantry, a cautious budget, all the while looking for a City whose Builder and Maker is God.
Let us re-visit the scene of the brass serpent (Numbers 21). Anything said there about crops, lands, precious metals, living in luxury, miraculous hundred-fold returns, Christian boat cruises in the Caribbean? Nope.