Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8
On the surface, this verse tells us that by reading and studying the Word of God we will be prosperous and successful. This is, of course, if you take the verse out of context.
Moses had died and the people of Israel were poised to enter the promised land. The new leader, Joshua, who had already received instructions from Moses, now receives instructions direct from God. The Lord instructs Joshua to be strong and courageous, to adhere to the Law given by God and to take the unprecedented action of entering a territory that God had given the people of Israel.
God’s instructions to Joshua are not a promise that everything will go smoothly for him or the nation of Israel. They are a commandment to abide in God and get to know Him intimately. The promise is limited to the conquering of the land.
The history of Israel, as written in the Bible, shows that the people often failed to adhere to the words of the Law and they moved to do their own thing. They were told not to mix with the people who were currently living in the land. They did. They were told not to worship other gods. They did. Because of their failing to follow those commands, the Israelites started having trouble conquering what was given to them. They were defeated several times and failed to take over certain towns promised to them by God. The Philistines gave the Hebrews trouble all the time and I believe that the reason Israel today has such a difficult time with their Palestinian neighbors is because they didn’t do what they were ordered to do way back then.
Being prosperous and successful is not a promise that believers have as a reward for being close to God. Job proves that point. The prosperity and success promised is in doing the will of God not your own definition of prosperity and success.
There are too many preachers today promising their followers that if they believe and trust and follow God’s word they will be prosperous and successful attaining wealth and health. They also teach that if you are not prosperous and successful in this life, it is because you are not right with God and that you have to do certain things to get you there such as giving more money to the church. That is what it all ultimately boils down to. Mega churches proclaiming that you get by giving.
I don’t believe or find anything in the Bible, other than certain verses, taken out of context, that promise material wealth and prosperity as a reward for good behavior. On the contrary. God’s promise of prosperity and success transcends this temporal human experience we call life. Our prosperity and success is not rooted in this world. Wealth and health are fleeting and it is God who determines how much of each you have. It is not some reward God dishes out for obedience.
Obedience to God stands alone and the promise of the reward is not limited to this world. God’s promises of prosperity and success are eternal. We are meant to live forever, to be eternal creatures in the presence of God. True prosperity is the result we will see in the future for all eternity.
Why would you limit your goal of prosperity and success to a period of time that is, in most cases, less than 100 years when God’s goal is for your prosperity and success for hundreds of thousands of years? A believer needs to look at his life as never-ending. As a chosen child of God, you are eternal. He has, by His grace, through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, given you eternal life. That is the true prosperity and success that God promises. Even Jesus said that “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) He then immediately follows it up with “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) It is ultimately Jesus, Son of God, who is the source of true prosperity. He has overcome the world. He is the embodiment of success. Jesus lives forever and because we are in Christ, we also live forever. Success has already been achieved for us. Not because of what we have or have not done but because of what He did. We are prosperous in God’s grace in that we have eternal life because of Christ. Don’t limit your definition of prosperity and success to wealth and toys in this world. We are meant for much more than that. We are meant for eternal prosperity and success.