Michael Youssef - Biblical Prosperity
Whenever I mentioned the word prosperity, what is the first thing comes to your mind? Probably thought of prosperity gospel. Some of you probably thought, well, $10 million mansion, a Rolls-Royce and a 50 million jet, all right? That's how we think about it when we think prosperity. The problem with this modern interpretation of biblical prosperity is that, it turns off a lot of people and for good reason, and yet the word prosper or prosperity is a beautiful biblical word. It is a biblical concept.
Now, today I'm gonna challenge you probably like I've never done before, I'm gonna challenge you to rethink this whole concept of prosperity. I want you to think afresh because money and prosperity are not evil in themselves, money and prosperity are very important to God. And the reason I say money is important to God, it is mentioned in the Bible 2085 times. In Psalm 37 verse 25 and Philippians 4:19, God promised to meet and bless his faithful children. God committed himself to do that. And if you study biblical history, you're gonna discover that there are certain periods of time in which God blessed his people. And he blessed them abundantly, made them exceedingly prosperous, always for a reason, always for a reason.
Genesis 30:43, it makes it very clear. Every time in history, when God prosper one of his children or a group of his children, it is always for a purpose, his purpose, a higher purpose. Genesis chapter 30. You have to agree that Jacob had an absolutely lousy boss. Am I right? I mean, though he was his uncle, slash father-in-law, Laban was selfish, devious, money-grabbing, deceitful, dishonest man. And you think you got a bad boss? Hello? Read the chapter when you go home and you're gonna give thanks to God for your boss. The secret of Jacob's prosperity, and I'm gonna prove it to you in a minute, it was that he did not think he was working for his uncle Laban, he was working for God.
Regardless of who your earthly boss is, regardless of who your earthly authority is, you must realize that all the work you do regardless of what profession you are in, you are working for God. And you know that God is the one who's watching you 24/7, and God is the one who will reward your faithfulness. And when you realize that, you have nothing to worry about, good boss, bad boss, it doesn't matter. Listen to what Ephesians 6:7 and 8 said. "Work wholeheartedly as if you are serving the Lord and you know that the Lord will reward everyone according to their faithfulness". You received salvation by grace. You didn't have to work for it, you didn't have to do anything for it, it was pure grace of God through faith. But faithfulness, after you come to Christ, as Paul said again to the Ephesians that you have been predestined unto good works, faithfulness is required after you come to Christ.
And here in Genesis chapter 30 you'll see, that God is the one who prospered Jacob. Couple of messages ago, he said, if you protect me, and you give me enough food to eat, and clothes to wear, and stopped, he didn't ask for anything else. Only the necessities of life. Instead of these mere necessities of life, God blessed Jacob out of his socks. Solomon could have asked for anything. He said, Lord, I only want wisdom, and God said, because you asked for wisdom, I'm gonna give you the others as well. Chapter 30, verse 43 Genesis. "In this way the man," Jacob, "Grew exceedingly prosperous".
Here are several principles about prosperity God's way I want to share with you, and if you're not taking notes, I hope you have a good memory. I don't want you to ever forget those three things I wanna share with you, three biblical principles about prosperity God's way. First of all, let not prosperity be your all-consuming focus. Secondly, let hard work be your all enduring quality. And thirdly, let your trust in God's faithful provision be your all abiding comfort and confidence. Look at that first one. Let not, say that with me. Let not prosperity in itself be your consuming purpose or focus. Jacob's attitude was not, I wanna get all I can, can all I get, and sit on the lid.
Look at verses 25 and 26. He said to his father-in-law, slash uncle. Give me my wives and my children so that I may go back home. I worked for them and that's all I'm asking for, he was not asking for anything else. For 14 long years, he worked so hard, sweating blood and asked for nothing. Let's face it. Had Jacob done something to feather his own nest, none of us would've blamed him, right? I mean, after all he's got a large family to feed, right? No, he wanted to be faithful in the trust that was placed upon him because he believed with all his heart that he is working for the Lord. Listen, Jacob had lots of faults, but not unfaithfulness. So that was Jacob's first priority. He's gonna rest upon the Lord.
So don't make prosperity to be your overriding focus. Remember what Jacob said to God in Bethel? Do you remember couple of messages ago when he saw this incredible vision of the ladder going up and down from heaven and angels coming up and down and he saw, as I told you, nothing less than the pre-incarnate Christ. God gave him a vision of what to come thousands of years later, the pre-incarnate Christ. You remember what Jacob said to him, and this by the way, I remind you again, 400 years before the law, he said to him, "Whatever you place in my hand, I'll return 10%".
Jacob trusted that God is the one who's gonna bless him not his uncle Laban. Jacob consciously devoted himself to God. Jacob believed that he was serving God by serving Laban. And don't you ever forget that you are serving God in whatever company, whatever work you're doing, you're serving God first. Please don't miss this. By not making his own prosperity to be his all-consuming focus and refusing to enrich himself, only enrich his boss, Jacob prospered. Isn't that amazing?
Secondly, let hard work be your all enduring quality. If anyone had an excuse for not working hard, goofing off and taking it easy, it would be Jacob, right? No, no sir, not Jacob. Listen carefully. With all of his faults and we've seen some, we're gonna see some more, but with all of his faults, Jacob was a faithful man. When it comes to faithfulness, he worked his heart out for 14 solid years. And so he tells Laban, look with me at verse 26, "For you know how hard I worked for you". Laban who was idol worshiper, Laban who was dabbling in the occult, Laban who was a pagan in every way, even he acknowledged that he was blessed because of Jacobs faithfulness. Verse 27. Even the demons told Laban that God prospered him because of Jacob. Let not prosperity be your all-consuming focus, let hard work and faithfulness be your all enduring quality.
Thirdly, let your trust in God's promises, be your all abiding comfort and confidence. Jacob trusted the Lord for his prosperity. Back then, they did not have social security, 401(k), profit sharing, stock options, none of that. But Jacob had something superior to all of that, Jacob had the Lord. And let me tell you about the God of Jacob. Let me tell you about the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let me tell you about the character of our God, he does not repay us for our faithfulness with inflated dollars. Did you get that? He does not allow the money pool to dry up. God does not bless his faithful children based on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. He does not bless his faithful children based on the S&P 500. He does not bless his faithful children based on the stock market. He does not bless his faithful children based on the state of the economy. No sir, that's not our God. Our God has his own criterion for prospering us. Amen. Amen. Give him glory, give him glory.
Laban said to Jacob, here's a Youssef translation. "Don't leave me. Name your price. What are your wages"? And Jacob said, "I don't want anything that I did not work for. Only my wives and children". But Laban insisted. "No, no, no name your price, name, your price," I want... So Jacob said, "I'll keep the spotted and stripped animals". I wanna summarize it for you 'cause I'm sure some of your eyes kind of go sideways when you heard about the peeled branches and all that stuff, and I'm gonna summarize it, make it easy for you, okay? Laban had all the solid color animals. Jacob took the spotted and the stripped animals.
I want you to watch for this. Watch it 'cause you miss it if you're not watching, okay? Everybody knows that the solid colors are the majority of the animals, now that's a fact. The rare ones are the spotted or the striped. Then Jacob continued. "But after I work with these animals that I'll keep, I will keep all the spotted and the striped ones and you keep the solid ones". I am convinced if you read it carefully, Laban must have thought of this proposal for no more than a second, possibly two seconds and he put his hand on there and had "Deal buddy". I'm sure in his mind he was saying, you know, I know this guy is my son-in-law and he's my sister's son, but he's gotta be as dumb as a doornail. Everybody knows that the solid color animals do not produce spotted or striped offsprings. Everybody knows that. Oh, but Laban did not know God's prosperity program for his faithful children.
So they separated the two sets by about 15 miles. What was Jacob doing? He was placing himself at a disadvantaged position. He placed himself in disadvantage, that's what really he was doing. I'm gonna give you something from me, you can take it or leave it. You can throw it out or keep it, but it is my personal conviction and I'm gonna prove it to you scripturally. Some people said what Jacob did by peeling the branches make them all stripes or colors, it's superstition. But this peeling of the branches to produce spotted and striped offspring, I personally believe wasn't Jacob's idea. Now the Bible does not affirm it, yes or no. The Bible does not commit, it just said he believed it. Jacob believed it. And there's another way, God could have commanded Jacob to do it that way. And to see if Jacob gonna obey God or not.
I'm gonna tell you another incident in the scripture to prove what I'm saying. Jacob could have said now I Jacob, I've been around animal husbandry for a long time and things don't work that way. This doesn't make sense, but I'll do it in obedience. Some 400 years later, Moses in the wilderness, the Israelites were bitten by deadly snakes and were dying one after the other. God said to Moses, go and make a bronze snake and lift it up high and every bitten, dying person looks at that bronze snake will be healed and will live. Imagine somebody is hearing Moses giving this command say, "Well, this is crazy. Whoever said, looking at the bronze snake can heal you"? And they didn't do it, and they died. Others were brought said, "Well, I don't know, but God said it, I'll do it," they looked up and they got healed. Question, were those who were healed were healed because of something magical in that bronze snake? God bless you. They were healed by their obedience.
Beloved, obedience heals, obedience blesses, obedience answers prayer. In fact, the next chapter we're gonna see Jacob had a dream about this pickled and spotted animals. Was it Jacob's superstition? I don't believe so personally, but don't ever forget that he did not have a Bible. We have five, six different translations of the Bible in our houses, where we have so many Bible studies and home groups, where we have a church on every corner. This man only heard God once in Bethel and so put him in context of his time. What he did, he did in obedience. Question, was the power to produce genetically-altered offspring in the peeled branches? God bless you. The power was in Jacob's obedience because he was in God's supernatural program for prosperity and therefore God prospers his faithful obedient children because Jacob trusted in God's provision and God provided in the most unusual way and there may be someone here today, or somebody's watching me around the world who is living in blatant disobedience and saying to themselves why God is not blessing me.
Why is God not doing this, why God is not answering my prayer. Beloved, listen to me, our God feeds the birds of the air and he closes the flowers of the field, how much more valuable are his faithful children? Jesus said, when you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, that is obedience and faithfulness, then all of whatever it is you need is gonna be given to you in abundance. Beloved, God's grace saves you from sin. God's grace redeems you from the judgment. God's grace convicts us and lead us to repentance. God's grace overwhelms our past scars, as we saw a few weeks ago. God's grace supplies all of your needs. It is the same grace that God can use to bless his obedient children, same grace, and he longs to do that. He longs to do that, but only when you don't make prosperity to be your all-consuming focus.
When you let hard work be your all-enduring quality, and when you trust in God's provision become your all abiding comfort and confidence. If I've learned anything in 52 years of walking with the Lord, is that he's always on time, always on time. He is never a minute early or a minute late. Oh, there are many times I want him early, but that would've been a terrible mistake as I look back. He's always on time, he's always on time. Even if it takes like in the case of Jacob 20 years from the time he made the promise in Bethel, to the time it happened, 20 years. God is faithful and he will keep his promises. God will always keep his promises. The question is, are you willing to wait or are you ready to give up? It is the cry of my heart that everybody at the sound of my voice will say, "God, I trust you. I'm gonna anchor my hope in your promises and I want to be obedient and faithful in every way".