VIRTUOUS NATIONS AND PROSPERITY
Revelation 21:18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like to clear glass. 19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. AKJV
First, before going into the why's; lets establish that actual prosperity is part of body of prophecy concerning the New Jerusalem. Visiting Isaiah 60 one more. 1 Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen on you. 2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise on you, and his glory shall be seen on you. 3 And the Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. 4 Lift up your eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to you: your sons shall come from far, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. 5 Then you shall see, and flow together, and your heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted to you, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you. 6 The multitude of camels shall cover you, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall show forth the praises of the LORD. 7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together to you, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you: they shall come up with acceptance on my altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory. 8 Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows? 9 Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, to the name of the LORD your God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he has glorified you. 10 And the sons of strangers shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you: for in my wrath I smote you, but in my favor have I had mercy on you. 11 Therefore your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. 12 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; yes, those nations shall be utterly wasted. 13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious. 14 The sons also of them that afflicted you shall come bending to you; and all they that despised you shall bow themselves down at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you; The city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. 15 Whereas you has been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through you, I will make you an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. 16 You shall also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shall suck the breast of kings: and you shall know that I the LORD am your Savior and your Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. 17 For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make your officers peace, and your exactors righteousness. 18 Violence shall no more be heard in your land, wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise. 19 The sun shall be no more your light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light to you: but the LORD shall be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. 20 Your sun shall no more go down; neither shall your moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended. 21 Your people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. 22 A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time. AKJV
Not wanting to belabor this subject by listing page after page of scripture. Just like this chapter of prophecy about the New Jerusalem. The entire Old Testament is filled with prophecy and promise of prosperity as one of the practical effects of righteousness in the hearts of a population. The reason so many miss this as far as the whole Bible is concerned is the deep poverty of the persecuted church in the New Testament. Its not that prosperity is not mentioned in the NT like in 2nd Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich. This is part of two chapters specifically talking about money. In those two chapters the apostle may be putting some emphasis on Gods supernatural ability to financially prosper his people which this author certainly believes in. However Paul was quite aware of the prophecy about the grace of God through the Messiah bringing prosperity to the masses that in the ancient world lived in perpetual poverty. 2nd Corinthians 8:9 is a paraphrase of those prophecies, Here is one of them.
This is a very famous prophecy because it is recorded in Luke's gospel about the Messiah. In his home town synagogue Jesus reads it out loud and claims it is talking about him. It so angered the town folk that they tried to throw him off a cliff. He only quotes the first part though. The second part, starting in verse 4 is what we will be looking at. It prophesies the eventual results of his ministry which includes prosperity. Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. 4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. 5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. 6 But you shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: you shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall you boast yourselves. 7 For your shame you shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be to them. 8 For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD has blessed. 10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the earth brings forth her bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
There are a number of things worth mentioning to keep this in a scriptural context and away from extremes. The first might be: Why did Jesus only quote the first half of the prophecy rather than the whole thing? One very practical answer to that would be that the second half of it was not going to come to pass to any generation that may have been present in that synagogue. There would have been little purpose in him quoting the rest of it to them. In fact the majority of New Testament prophecy enlightened them, and many future generations, that quite the opposite of this type of prophecy would be what would befall them. These symbolic New Jerusalem prophecies were very clearly laid out in the scripture as a whole saying they will not begin to come to pass in their fullness until the Roman Empire fell. We now know via history that this did not occur until 1453 A.D. (For proof of this see: End Time Prophecy.) We also know through history what the catalyst was that brought the general population the necessary virtue that enabled them to overcome the evil that overcame the saints who went before them. It was the Bible, illegally getting into the hands of the general public in northern Europe. The authorities had always been successful in preventing this from happening before because there was no technology to mass produce Bibles. The very year the Roman empire fell, 1453 AD was the exact time the first commercial printing press went on line in Europe. Bibles were illegally translated, printed and distributed to the general public in northern Europe. The Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire along with the Papacy and some kings in southern Europe tried to bring another in a long string of inquisitions to wipe out these people who were discovering Gods Word. The resulting wars cost tens of millions of lives over the next century. For the first time in history though, outside of ancient Israel. These people who were being dramatically influenced by the righteousness they had found in Gods Word were not only not conquered but eventually became dominate; culturally, economically and militarily.
A second thing worth mentioning is best pointed out in the context of another New Jerusalem prophecy. Isaiah 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 18 But be you glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. 19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. 20 There shall be no more there an infant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth (give birth to children) for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. 24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, said the LORD.
In this prophecy, in verse 19, we have the promises of heavenly salvation and general (not continuous) peace and tranquility. Verse 20, of low infant mortality rates and long life, even for the sinful. Verse 21, of a general prosperity and stability. Verse 22, of real property rights. Verse 23, of the possession of life liberty and the pursuit happiness. Verse 24, freedom to practice your religion, to have God bring about answers to prayer that could not or would be far more difficult for him to answer in times past. ( As opposed to, say, praying for freedom during the time period of the Roman Empire. Yeah your answer is coming, but not for a thousand years.) Verse 25, of nations not warring with one another due to shared vision and values, plus, those nations overcoming evil. All brought about because of the influence of Gods invisible government illustrated by His Holy Mountain where the New Jerusalem is. These promises are descriptive in nature and I am illustrating them using terminology that may be little more familiar to the reader. My terms are certainly not intended to be exhaustive but just to ring a bell in the heart of those who are reading them to the fact that many peoples have been enjoying these promises, some for centuries now. These were things that were generally non-existent in ages past simply because of a lack of virtue to win them. The peoples did not have the Gospel, the written Word of God anywhere near the extent they began to get it after the Roman Empire fell. God's plan for the earth and the work of his government required these ingredients for it to bring the transformation prophesied. This last scripture, another one of Isaiah's about the New Jerusalem encapsulates this truth.
Isaiah 54:11 O you afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay your stones with fair colors, and lay your foundations with sapphires. 12 And I will make your windows of agates, and your gates of carbuncles, and all your borders of pleasant stones. 13 And all your children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of your children. 14 In righteousness shall you be established: you shall be far from oppression; for you shall not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near you. Without a Biblical virtue, at the very least in the form of principle established in individual hearts; a nation cannot be established in righteousness. If a nation is not reflecting the righteousness of a virtuous people in its culture and form of government. Then the people of faith cannot have these promises fulfilled in their lives, nor can anybody else. There are no shortcuts. 14. In righteousness shall you be established..... If this is not the case then some form of despotism and lawlessness will rule over the nation and persecute the people of faith. Believers are rarely persecuted for purely religious reasons. They are persecuted because the light they have and their work on earth is a threat to the darkness that empowers the despotic rule of lawless men. 100,000 believers per year are being murdered for this very reason in nations that have yet to come under the influence of Gods good government through the Gospel and the Word of God. Plus, the battle lines are drawn in the nations that had been transformed over what kind of culture and form of government will prevail. Freedom\liberty, self rule based in virtue and limited civil government or the tyranny of men and unlimited human government that gets its power through an ignorant and sinful population. This brings us to the third and final thing worth mentioning.
What role are the true people of faith to play in this scenario? Can, (has any of this) come to pass without them not only being active participants but a, or the, driving force? The answer is no, not only has none of what we do see today come to pass without the people of faith being the driving force behind it but further, it cannot. Consider some scriptures. 1st Timothy 3:15 so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth. (NLT) Look at the parallels in this prophecy. Isaiah 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. It is clear, not only in the light of prophecy but in the light of history that the nations have been and will continue to learn of God, his ways and his paths from the house of the Lord, the people of faith. That is what brings the necessary virtues. There will be no true peace, none of these promises won without believers actively participating and in fact leading the way in the creation of the necessary circumstances where mankind can prosper.
Perhaps, for some of those who have been reading this whole article rather than just this section. They are beginning to wonder why, in the beginning of the 21st century the influence of the Gods people seems to be waning in western nations if what this is pointing out is true. The easy answer is the obvious. Is the vision for the future of todays believers based in these prophecies? The answer to that is for the most part no. The vision for the future of the vast majority of todays believers are contained in the end time prophecies that accurately predicted the end of the last to ages. It is not in these and the other 100+ chapters of prophecy that accurately predicted this current age. An age by the way is really just in its beginning stages but clearly coming to pass. As an example for us; ask yourself what the results were for ancient Israel in the Old Testament when they accepted false prophecy? The answer is; it would lead them down a path to their own destruction. A path where they themselves were active participants in bringing about the circumstances of their own demise. Today, without a scriptural vision for the future based in the prophecies for this age. The people of God, for the most part have embraced a vision that is the polar opposite of what is prophesied about this age. Practically speaking they have embraced false prophecy in the guise of end time prophecy teachings that cause them to be active participants in their own demise. The fact that the wicked are reigning culturally and politically in lands where real Christians are the largest voting blocks is a spiritual malady\condition rather than a political one. Caused in a very practical way by accepting false prophecy about the future that closes the door in the hearts of believers to the grace of God that would otherwise develop inside of them the things necessary to overdcome the evil of their day. The whole subject is a lot deeper than these simple statement but here they are to make a point. How can the evil of these days be overcome if the people created to overcome it don't believe it can be overcome? How can a people who believe the Bible is the Word of God and who believe it prophesies that evil will overcome the world overcome that evil? How can God on an individual level, spiritually and intellectually, develop people to lead the world in a transformative process when they do not believe God wants to transform the world? Many question like this could be asked but the simple formula is cure. Learn of these prophecies and embrace them. In doing so God will work in those who do their individual roles to play in bringing his will to pass in the world.
© Daniel Martinovich 2002-2016