To some extent yes!
So much has been said about the prosperity Gospel. Many of those who believe in true Biblical faith will refute the very thought of it. The question is, what exactly is wrong about this other Gospel? The go-to short answer is that it’s not biblical. But someone would ask, what then do we make of Old Testament passages like Deuteronomy 28 which clearly seem to advocate for prosperity Gospel? Is God to blame for prosperity Gospel then?
I must tread carefully here but we cannot avoid the fact that this passage does talk about prosperity in the most wildest form. No prosperity preacher has even come anywhere close to what God is promising here and as we see later in passages like Isaiah 25-26 and Revelation 21-22. Which is what you would expect from a God who abounds in steadfast love. That his people would profit from his unlimited share of goodness.
But what about context?
However, we wouldn’t be faithful to scripture if we ignored the conditions for this blessings, or the fact that in this same chapter there are more and worse curses than these blessings if Israel didn’t obey. The God who has delight in blessing them would then delight in doing them harm;
63. And as the Lord took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Deut. 28
What’s more, 2 chapters later in Deuteronomy 31 we realise that God knows exactly what the people of Israel will do and that Israel will therefore end up facing the curses in it’s fullest form ending with the exile and the undoing of the great Israel nation.
16 And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. 17 Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us? Deut. 31.
What’s the point then?
What I have always found puzzling is the fact that Moses, God’s friend and Israel leader himself wasn’t going to enjoy any of these blessings. Which means if the point of this covenant was merely to deliver these material blessings then he was going to miss out big time. But I think Moses would disagree because as we see earlier in Exodus 33, he realised that it was far better to have God in the wilderness than all the blessings of the land without God.
Moses knew that the biggest blessing of all is having a relationship with God, with which comes the overflow of blessings and without which comes destruction. It’s no wonder the author of the book of Hebrews identifies him as one of the heroes of faith. Like Abraham, he enjoyed fellowship with God as a stranger to this world; waiting for the Lord’s dwelling, the city whose designer and builder is the Lord, Hebrews 11:10.
So yes God did promise prosperity to Israel but this was tightly connected to having a relationship with him. It was only if they had God on their side that they would enjoy these blessings and be distinct before other nations. But if they turned away from God as they did then they would be worse than the nations.
What’s wrong with prosperity Gospel?
As we have seen, context really matters. What prosperity preachers miss is not just the timing and context in which God’s promises are fulfilled, it’s the ultimate blessing of all; having a relationship with God. As we see later in revelation, at the heart of all the blessings that God’s people enjoy in heaven is the fact that God dwells with his people.
They can enjoy every good thing because God is with them and has given them a new heart so that nothing evil dwells in them. It follows then that if we pursue a relationship with God now we will eventually get all the blessings. But if we want God’s blessings without God then we better prepare for the eternal curse. In reality we wouldn’t be any different from this evil world that enjoy God’s blessings while rejecting the very giver of life.
Pursue the greatest blessing
But here comes the good news. On this side of heaven we can have this great blessing, we can enjoy having a relationship with God because of what Jesus has achieved for us. As he says in John 17:3, And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. If we know him now we can have the greatest blessing of all and in future we will flourish as we live with him forever.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” Rev. 21.