Live Long and Prosper!

22 Feb 2013 by James Hoh CM-

 

Is it Biblical for Christians to wish each other “Gong Xi Fa Chai” and “Nien Nien You Yu” during Chinese New Year? Some people might feel it is not so “spiritual” to do so and are not so comfortable with it.

The Bible gives us a wider and deeper meaning of prosperity than what the secular world perceives. Quoting from Jeremiah 29: 4 -11, Rev. Calvin Lee who is the newly elected Senior Pastor of Kajang Assembly of God, cautioned that Christians today may stop short of the full blessings of God.

 

 

We must not be influenced by the kind of “prosperity” the secular or Merriam-Webster Dictionary defined: the condition of being successful or thriving; especially : economic well-being  

He added, “This kind of perspective which focused solely on material gain measured economically will miss out on God’s full blessings. With this perspective, we may even view people who are poor as bigger sinners because sin blocked us from what God wanted prosper us. Such a view is extreme!”    

 

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God wants to give us a future and hope.

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (NKJV)

 

Joshua 1:8 also tells us that God indeed wants to prosper us.

 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (NKJV)

 

Psalms 1: 2, 3 instructs us accordingly so that we can prosper.

He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
    And whatever he does shall prosper.(NKJV)

 

However in the Bible, success and prosperity is peace or “Shalom”.

When we look at Isaiah 53: 5 in the Jewish Orthodox Bible, the word “Shalom” is found:

But he was pierced [Yeshayah 51:9; Zecharyah 12:10 Sukkah 52a, Tehillim 22:17 Targum Hashivim] for our transgressions, he was bruised mei’avonoteinu (for our iniquities); the musar (chastisement) (that brought us shalom [Yeshayah 54:10] was upon him [Moshiach]; and at the cost of his (Moshiach’s) chaburah (stripes, lacerations) we are healed. Orthodox Jewish Bible (Yeshayah 53:5) 

So is the verse in Jeremiah 29:11, shalom is mentioned again:

11 For I know the machshavot (thoughts, plans) that I think toward you, saith Hashem, machshavot shalom, and not of ra’ah, to give you an acharit (future) and a tikvah (hope). Orthodox Jewish Bible (Yirmeyah 29:11, OJB)

According to Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology , the biblical concept of peace rests heavily on the Hebrew root slm, which means "to be complete" or "to be sound." It is grouped into 4 parts:

(1) salom [l'v] as wholeness of life or body (i.e., health)

(2) salom [l'v] as right relationship or harmony between two parties or people, often established by a covenant (see "covenant of peace" in Num 25:12-13 ; Isa 54:10 ; Ezek 34:25-26 ) and, when related to Yahweh, the covenant was renewed or maintained with a "peace offering"

(3) salom [l'v] as prosperity, success, or fulfillment (see Lev 26:3-9 )

(4) salom [l'v] as victory over one's enemies or absence of war. Salom [l'v] was used in both greetings and farewells.

It was meant to act as a blessing on the one to whom it was spoken: "May your life be filled with health, prosperity, and victory."

 

Beware of False Teachings

Rev. Lee cautioned us to beware of false prophets and teachings that promise immediate material fulfillment instead of the concept of peace God had intended for his people. Instead of 70 years that God had said that the Jews would be in captivity in Babylon, the false prophets prophesied falsely in the Name of the Lord to the kings and priests that it would only be for 2 years.  False teachings often promising great gain in a short time.

10 For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. (Jeremiah 29:10, NKJV)

 However, false prophets Hananiah who prophecy in the Name of the Lord:

Jeremiah 28: 3,Within two full years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord's house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon.” (NKJV)

The Lord sent Jeremiah to confront Hananiah, the sooth sayer:

15 Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, "Hear now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie. 16 Therefore thus says the Lord: 'Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the Lord.' " 17 So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.  (Jeremiah 28:15-17,NKJV)

Jeremiah prophesying about Hananiah

 

What should we do Now?

Rev. Lee asked us to focus on the four conditions that God had instructed His people to:

  1. Stay where you are and do what you have been doing.

5 Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6 Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters–that you may be increased there, and not diminished. (Jeremiah 29: 5-6, NKJV)

  1. Seek the prosperity (Shalom) of others –having good relationships with others and God.

7 And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. (Jeremiah 29:7, NKJV)

  1. Do not be deceived by false prophets anymore.

8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. 9 For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 29:8,9, NKJV)

  1. Wait upon God.

10 For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. (Jeremiah 29:10, NKJV)

  1. Receive the promise.

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV)

 

Rev. Lee concluded by encouraging and reaffirming to his congregation that Shalom is the accurate interpretation of prosperity for all Christians. It is much greater and better than what the world could give.

 The Son of God said

“For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:32-34, NKJV)

 

Dear Viewers in Christ, if you find this article edifying to you, please share with your friends or loved ones by using the social media plugs (Share, Email to this article). The Lord will surely bless you as you bless others. May the Lord’s peace and love be with you. Amen.

 

References for pictures:

http://www.huna.org/image/kala2bow.jpg

http://www.truthandlife.info/images/ForestRays.jpg

http://www.lifeandbalance.nl/wp-content/uploads/cropped-DSC03073-tekst.jpg

https://www.pcog.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/JeremiahMusical-8022.jpg

http://www.faithwithoutborders.com/wp-data/uploads/2011/07/wait_bench_ocean.jpg

http://funfactory.spruz.com/gfile/75r4!-!GKDDEM!-!zrzor45!-!JODEKGLI-IFNS-HHOJ-NIEM-QSMPQNMSFERI!-!72y1nq/peace_i_give_you_by_bluroses.jpg

 

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