Daily Devotion Saturday August 5, 2017
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“Proclaim again, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord shall again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.”
Zechariah 1:17 AMP
Prosperity is a very positive word yet it can be theologically dangerous to the Christian faith if put out of context of the Gospel of Salvation. The scriptures are full of passages or portions that if not well looked at, may derail the Truth of the Gospel—the purpose for the Cross of Christ. According to the King James Bible Dictionary, prosperity is to
“Advance or gain in anything good or desirable; successful progress in any business or enterprise; success; attainment of the object desired; as the prosperity of arts; agricultural or commercial prosperity; national prosperity.”
Honestly with this definition, prosperity is a very positive word and all of us have all reasons to advance or gain anything good or desirable.
Jerusalem and Judah had been in ruins for about seventy years of the Babylonian captivity until the Emperor of the Medes and Persians allowed the Jews to return to Judah. The cities of Judah with broken walls, torn down temple and no standing houses needed nothing but to prosper politically and economically if they were to be rebuild. God therefore declared through his prophet Zechariah that Judah’s “cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord shall again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.”
God desires wellness for his children. This was the prayer of John in his epistle; “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 2). In his letter to the exiles who were in Babylon, Jeremiah wrote this of God’s desire for his people; “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). In these texts; John prays for wellness of his audience, meanwhile Jeremiah writes God’s vision of prosperity for the exiles, this is the very prosperity that Zechariah now proclaims to Jerusalem.
However, as we embrace God’s plan of wellness—prosperity for us as revealed in these few texts, we must be careful not to be caught up in an “unorthodox version of Jesus’ gospel is referred to as “prosperity theology” or the “health and wealth” gospel… [which on appeals to] the desire to avoid suffering (be healthy) and the desire for gratification (be wealthy)” (David Jeremiah).
John Piper, a renown American Evangelical pastor believes that one danger of the prosperity theology or the health and wealth gospel is that it
“tends to lead prosperity preachers to comfort people not with the presence of Christ in suffering and his rescue from suffering in the age to come, but rather to comfort people with the assurance that they will get out of suffering in this life if they follow the right prescription” John Piper
To preach an end to suffering through material gains is folly. It is even more folly to reduce the Gospel of Christ to only “the desire to avoid suffering (be healthy) and the desire for gratification (be wealthy). For Christ Jesus came to this world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), he died such that we might be freed from the slavery of sin—not slavery of poverty and that we may be reconciled to God. Let us ponder on this: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36). It is therefore proper that we focus on Christ and our redemption, “first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). Amen! Rev. J
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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture Quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV) 2011.
Rev. Julius Izza Tabi is the founding Director of this online New Dawn Ministries. He holds a Master of Philosophy in Religion, Society and Global Issues from the Norwegian School of Theology. Julius also is a pastor in the Anglican Diocese of Ma’di and West Nile of the Church of Uganda who believes that God’s timeless truth of salvation must be preached to all Nations. Help Donate here to support the New Dawn Ministries. You can also support this ministry by purchasing Julius’ popular books Triumphing Over Odds and Suffering and Pain? from Amazon. Thank you.