Let’s begin by defining success. According to Webster success means the attainment of a favorable or desired goal or outcome. Webster further describes such a goal as the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence.
Webster’s definition parallels the accepted basis of the American Dream that pervades present day thinking. Consider the following definition:
“The American Dream is…a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity, success, and an upward social mobility achievable through hard work.”
As would be expected the issue of success is also found in the Bible.
The setting for the following is approximately 1400 BC. Moses has died and Joshua is about to lead the people across the Jordan to possess Canaan. God defines the Promised Land of Canaan as extending to the river Euphrates.
God speaks directly to Joshua and reveals the Biblical definition of success.
“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7
The Hebrew meaning for ‘courageous’ includes steadfast, and to prevail. The meaning of ‘prosper’ means to be successful. The major thought was that success depended on adhering to the law which had been given to Moses. No deviation was allowed.
“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.” Joshua 1:8
The Hebrew basis for ‘success’ has several profound synonymous. The primary meaning centers on wisdom. It further means insight, prudence, and intellectual comprehension.
Again note that Biblical prosperity and success depended on observing the whole law as written. Joshua was to study and meditate on the law day and night. In other words understanding and applying God’s law, i.e. standard of righteousness was to be Joshua’s first priority.
Moving forward in history to approximately 970 BC King David was speaking with his son Solomon about building the temple.
“Now, my son, may the LORD be with you; and may you prosper, and build the house of the LORD your God, as He has said to you. Only may the LORD give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the LORD your God. Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the LORD charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage…” 1 Chronicles 22:11-13
David’s counsel to his son Solomon echoed God’s charge to Joshua, i.e. prosperity and success was based on obeying the total law given to Moses approximately 400 years earlier.
And then Solomon passed on the same advice to his sons nearly a generation later.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.” Ecclesiastes 12:13
Solomon reiterated that keeping God’s law was man’s first priority.
A millennium later Jesus proclaimed the same message, i.e. God’s standard of righteousness and justice given to Moses hasn’t, nor will it, change.
Interestingly the word ‘prosper’ in the New Testament is used to describe the bearing of fruit, not the attainment of fruit.
Therefore, it can be seen that the present day meaning of prosperity and success have very different meanings than the Biblical definitions. But if God’s standard of righteousness and justice haven’t changed, what has changed?
What have changed are present day definitions of success and prosperity. Progressivism requires change to keep pace with changing moral standards based on popular trends.
Those who adhere to Biblical teachings, however, might surmise that a great deal of effort is being expended today on learning how to do the wrong things better.
But as political correctness continues to rule and Biblical teachings are continually marginalized, there appears little hope for a change in direction.
Remember the worldly majority has more voting power than the kingdom minority.
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