Why would God spend so much time in the New Testament promising us Spiritual blessings, spiritual weapons and armor, Spiritual gifting and fruit if we are to expect physical blessings for the church in this age? No. They are for the spiritual work of taking the Gospel around the world. To preach health and wealth is to deny most of the New Testament and prevent spreading God’s glory to the ends of the earth.
Israel’s Physical Mission
The Old Testament gave the Jews special blessing as his chosen people. If they obeyed the commandments then God blessed them as a chosen race as a special people among the nations so that all the nations around them would know that God was among them – In Israel and in the Temple. God would draw all the nations to Israel because of the blessing of God on their land. That is why he placed his chosen people in the middle of the cross roads of the known world (see Map ). As nation upon nation traversed between continents through Israel’s borders, they would see the glory of God at the temple in Jerusalem and from the blessings of God on every aspect of the country, they would know God is with them. However, when Israel disobeyed, then God removed his blessing and brought hardships on them to discipline and drive them back to obedience to the contract. God’s glory was shamed (“I will make my name a byword”) because the Lord would withhold his blessings from them and everyone would know that God was punishing Israel. As stated in verses such as in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that says “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land”. God was concerned for His glory in the eyes of the world.
The Church’s Spiritual Mission
In the New Testament, we have a new and different plan. God is still interested in spreading His glory to the entire world but now since Christ rose from the dead, He has created the church. He says that he has blessed us, his children, with every spiritual blessing (not physical) in the heavenly places in Christ (not earthly). He has done this because we are no longer a physical entity, organization or location but a spiritual one to go to all the corners of the earth. Even though God started his church in Israel, which was at the cross roads of the known world (see map above), we are not to congregate in that one little country. God is not in one little Temple. He lives in the hearts of his people, a temple not made with hands. When the church tried to stay put in Jerusalem (against orders I might add), like a mother bird kicking her fledglings out of the nest, God allowed persecution to drive them to be about the great commission. God did not bless them physically so they could stay in Jerusalem to compete for wealth. Our work is not a physical place but a spiritual one, in the hearts of every person reached by God around the world.
We are not to horde our wealth as and example to the world of some blessing to show the world that God can make you rich and give you a big house as depicted by the American dream. Nor is it a reward because we have proven our obedience to God. For now, He has given physical blessings to his children for the funding of the spread of the Gospel to every nation, people, tribe and tongue. We are to be a conduit of his resources and to be a part of God’s work on earth. In the Old Testament it was a matter of drawing all men to Israel for salvation, now it is a matter of sending his church to reach all men for salvation in Christ, not to a location. He reached out to his own (in the parable of the wedding feast) inviting them to come to the wedding feast, since they rejected the invitation, now we are to go into the highways and byways to call all men to the wedding feast of the lamb.
When we mix these theologies up, our priorities and our expectations get mixed up. We believe God owes us a life of happiness, and his church and glory become incidental to that goal. Often we feel that God owes us something for the “good life”, or the “years of church going” which we have put in, and when something threatens our happiness, as a result, it shows. But the New Testament doesn’t promise physical blessings to the church. Spiritual yes, all of them in the heavenly realms so we can be about his business not our happiness.
More to come,