It’s not just the American Dream, it’s a dream that most humans relate to: sipping iced drinks by a palm-shaded pool, taking care of every need with the click of an iPad bill-paying app. But biblical prosperity does not mean living in vacation mode. God designed us to accomplish His purposes, and that takes a certain effort.
God’s commission to Joshua certainly does not read like a resort welcome letter. God reiterated His promise of land to Israel and then said:
No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5-9)
The plans of God were clear: Israel would conquer Canaan. However, the inhabitants would resist God’s plans and Israel would have to overcome the Canaanites. Success was certain, but not necessarily quick and easy. Three times, God drummed home to Joshua the need for strength and courage—the capacity to face repeated battles and temporary setbacks without giving up. Biblical prosperity is the victory that comes on endurance’s pay day.
The key to strength and courage is a focus on the will and ways of God. In Joshua’s day, the Law encoded the principles of God’s heart. By thinking deeply about the Law that reflected God’s will and ways, Joshua would be able to walk a straight line with God. That was all it took to enjoy the unfailing presence of God—stick to His side. For us, the principles of God’s heart are still found in Scripture. But we have a huge advantage. Jesus showed us how to live by those principles and the Holy Spirit keeps them fresh in our hearts. The assurance that we are living in the presence of God is our greatest encouragement and source of strength. Only in His presence can we achieve His purposes—that’s true prosperity.1
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- A similar message is found in 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 18:7; 1 Chronicles 22:11-13; 2 Chronicles 26:5 and Psalm 1:1-3. [↩]