God is a God of abundance. There is nothing about him that smacks of insufficiency, lack or limit.
He didn’t just create our planet; he created eight others that make up our solar system. That’s about all our minds can naturally take it, but God has created more. Much more.
Our sun is a star. In addition to our sun there are an estimated 200 billion further stars in our Galaxy. The nearest of those stars to our solar system is called Proxima Centauri, and is about 4.3 light-years away. (By plane that would take 53 BILLION years to reach!) Some of the stars that we can see at night with the naked eye are more than 1,000 light years away. And we’ve only been looking at stars in our galaxy.
If the universe were a beach, then our own vast Galaxy is but just one of numerous grains of sand. NASA’s Hubble Space telescope can see up to 50 million of these galaxies in our universe!
Now I say all this to make the very important point that God is a God of relentless abundance. He wasn’t content with one planet, one solar system or even one galaxy, but the realm of his created order is far, far greater than the brightest human mind can comprehend.
Yet out of that abundance, when we focus on little planet Earth, we can see that God has created it with an incredible amount of wealth. There are vast natural resources that lie under the earth’s surface such as minerals and oil. God gave us plants and trees that reproduce after their own kind. We have animals on the ground, birds in the air, creatures in the sea and the sun in the sky. And in all of this, God has given us the ability to use these resources to create wealth for ourselves.
So how do we see God working all this out through his people in the scriptures?
The Old Testament
Contrary to widespread belief, great people in the Bible enjoyed great wealth.
Abram was ‘extremely rich’ (Genesis 13:2), Jacob became “very wealthy” (Genesis 30:43) and Isaac “became a very rich man and his wealth continued to grow” (Genesis 26:13).
King David was ‘a man after God’s own heart’ (1 Samuel 13:14) – but he was also incredibly rich. The Bible tells us in 1 Chronicles 29:3 that he gave all the gold and silver from his personal stock towards the building of the Temple (millions of pounds worth in today’s terms, probably in excess of a billion)!
We revel and stand in awe of the timeless truths and incredible wisdom found in the book of Proverbs. But who wrote most of it? Only the wealthiest king to have ever lived, and will ever live, King Solomon. One time, the Queen of Sheba visited him and she was left breathless when she saw the degree of his wealth.
And when we look at the magnitude, detail, precision, costly materials and skilled labour that was put into the building of Solomon’s Temple, it tells its own story of wealth, abundance and excellence.
We are not told so much detail about the prophets, but Jewish custom tells us that Isaiah came from royal stock, Jonah had enough money to finance a trip to a distant country and Jeremiah didn’t appear to have any problems in buying £4,000 worth of land when God instructed him to (Jeremiah 32:9).
The New Testament
Even Jesus had a degree of wealth! Kings (probably quite a few more than the statutory three that the Christmas Carols state) brought incredibly rich gifts at his birth. Wealthy women supported him and his 12 disciples throughout their ministry.
Jesus quite rightly spoke about the trappings of riches, but he was also comfortable around wealth. He even produced it miraculously!
In his first public miracle we don’t see Jesus amazing the crowds by healing the sick, raising the dead or walking on water. We see him keeping a party going by supplying extra wine! He took 135 gallon capacity containers used for ceremonial washing and turned the water in them into wine. And not any old wine, but fine wine. That’s the equivalent of about 800 bottles of wine from each container – at £20 a bottle in today’s value you’re looking at a total of £16,000 worth of wealth created – from each container!
We can also look at when he produced a meal for the multitudes – not once, but twice! With crowds being probably around 15,000 people (writers only recorded men in those days), we see Jesus taking the young boys offering of fish and bread, blessing it, miraculously multiplying it and feeding everyone. There were even basketfuls left over! Taking the value of a tuna baguette in today’s market at £1.50, we can see that Jesus created around £35,000 worth of wealth. Of course the focus of the account is that he was meeting a need and teaching a principle, but nevertheless, a huge amount of value was created. And the disciples didn’t have to go and spend that money on food themselves.
And even to show that the principle of miraculous provision was not just about huge wealth, we see Jesus instructing Peter to go fishing at the rivers edge, take the first fish that bites and open its mouth. In it he would find a coin which was to be used for Jesus and Peter’s temple tax (Matthew 27:17).
We can flick further through the pages of scripture to the writings of the Apostle Paul. He had enough money to go on three world trips and supported his team. He was also a tent-maker by trade (a very well-to-do business). And listen to this: the scriptures tell us that not only did Paul know what it meant to live in need, but he also “knew what it was like to have plenty” (Philippians 4:12).
What about you?
Am I saying that God want us all to be millionaires? No. Am I saying that wealth equates directly with godliness? No. Am I saying that we should all strive to be rich? No. What I am saying is that Christians are called to greatness, but unfortunately many are conformed to mediocrity. Yes there will be troubles and times of tribulation in this life, but that doesn’t negate the fact that God wants us to share in his wealth. His plan is for us to prosper. He wants us to pay our bills and be out of debt. He wants us to succeed and prosper. And not just for our own sake, but for the sake of those who are in our sphere of influence.
I’m not talking here about a certain amount of money that God wants to bless you with. But with a principle that God wants to bless you according to his abundant riches, just as he blessed those who followed him obediently in the scriptures. And that blessing includes wealth (The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it. Proverbs 10:15, NIV).