The Power to Make Wealth
“But you are to remember the Lord your God, for it is he who is giving you power to make wealth, in order to confirm his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8.18). These words were spoken by Moses to the generation of Israel who would enter the land promised to them. These words were God’s admonition for them to remember something of grave importance.
On the surface, one might conclude that God was promising them wealth in the form of material riches and abundance of material things. Not only was this not the case, it was the very opposite of material wealth that God was speaking of.
The same mistake is made today by those who proclaim that Christianity equates to physical wealth. They assert the “proof” of God’s favor is the abundance of things possessed. This is why a closer study of any singular statement is needful. It will reveal the true meaning of God’s words, which are in keeping with his eternal purpose for man.
Notice that this “power to make wealth” is connected with the covenant God had made wit h Israel years earlier at Mt. Sinai. It had to do with confirming something in that covenant. The next two verses reveal a clue as to the meaning of the “power to make wealth.” In vv. 19-20, we read, “It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God.”
The nature of the “wealth” under consideration can be seen from the statements made by Moses to the parents of this generation. Those statements were not heeded by their parents. So this generation was told to remember the failures of their parents.
Let us consider two questions as we look at these statements: 1.) What was it that qualified as the “power” for them to make wealth? and 2.) What was the nature of the “wealth” that was in keeping with both God’s confirming the covenant his oath to Abraham? The following passages provide us the answers to both questions.
You shall remember all the ways which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that he might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
In the wilderness he fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and that he might test you to do good for you in the end.
The “power to make wealth” resided in the words of the covenant. Those terms were in the form of statutes, commands, ordinances, and laws. Those words were for their good. Their “wealth” was spiritual. In fulfilling the promises to Abraham, they would dwell in security in the land until the time would come wherein God would bless them as Peter stated in Acts 2.36: “…by turning everyone of you from your wicked ways.”
Just how important is it that we recognize that this wealth which God promised is spiritual? Its importance can be seen from the fact that failure to do so will cost you your soul! How so? First of all, the wealth comes by empowerment from God. Reread Deuteronomy 8.18: “But you are to remember the Lord your God, for it is he who is giving you power to make wealth in order to confirm his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
We know it as the “power unto salvation” (Romans 1.16). It reveals God’s righteousness (Romans 1.17). God’s righteousness is powerful. God’s word is synonymous with wisdom. Moses told Israel, “See, I have taught you statutes and judgements…that you should do thus in the land. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’” (Deuteronomy 4.5-6).
Paul told Timothy that the scriptures “are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3.15). Clearly this power (strength) to become wise and understanding is when our faith in God’s word moves us to obey. Apart from obedience, the “power to make wealth (wisdom)” as God intended will never materialize. The Hebrew writer was clear in posting out that unless the word is united (mixed) with faith, the word does not benefit (Hebrews 4.2).
Let us learn from Israel’s failure. The resources of the land of Canaan were at their disposal. But their faithful obedience to God’s law would enable them to use these resources to promote justice and mercy. Without such power (knowledge), these vast resources would be used selfishly and would ultimately be their ruin. The same is true of us.