He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” —Deuteronomy 8:16-17
But Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. —Deuteronomy 8:18
Joyce Love tells a story about her grandparents in her devotional book, Memories from the Heart. After three of her grandparents’ homes burned to the ground, they learned that possessions do not last. Consequently, they hoarded nothing and showered love and blessings on everyone who came to their door. Living by the railroad tracks gave them many opportunities to feed hungry hobos.
While the youngest son, Wilbur, was still home, he and his father went to town for lumber to build a small brooder house for chickens. On the way home an elderly gentleman hitched a ride. He was wearing a dirty, gray shirt and tie that formerly were very nice clothes.
Grandpa stopped and asked, “Wanna ride?”
The stranger climbed into the truck. As Grandpa neared his turn-off, he stopped to let the stranger out. “No,” he said, “I would like to ride some more.”
This happened again with another turn until they arrived at their house. Grandma was not surprised, as they often provided shelter for strangers. As Grandpa started building the small brooder house, the man said, “There’s no need to make such a small house. Let’s make a big one. Let’s go back to town and get more lumber so we can make a big building.”
“I can’t afford that. I can’t afford anything like that. We’ll just go ahead with this small one,” said Grandpa.
“Let’s build a big one. Instead of ordering 100 chickens, get three to four thousand!”
Grandpa laughed and said, “Naw, we’ll just make the little brooder house.”
That night, the stranger slept on the porch. The next morning he asked Grandpa who the neighbors were. Grandpa told him.
“How many acres on this place?” Grandpa told him he just rented the forty acres.
“We could build a new house and after we get that brooder house built, we could build whatever else you want. We’ll make a ranch out of this,” the stranger said.
The stranger went around to the property owners and found they did not want to sell. He said he was surprised because, “Money will usually buy anything you want.”
Again, Grandpa laughed at the stranger and tried to ignore him, thinking he was not responsible for his actions and out of his mind. The man kept making ridiculous suggestions and claimed to have a lot of money.
Finally, Grandpa asked the man, “Why are you dressed like that and why were you hitchhiking if you have so much money?”
“Well, I’ll tell you. A few years back I bought a brand new car and had a wreck. It really messed me up. I said to myself right then that I would never own another car. That was going to be my last one. And the only time I ride is when I get awfully tired. Otherwise, I just walk.” He later told Grandpa he used to own a lot of oil wells and had all the money he needed.
The visitor spent several days at Grandma and Grandpa’s table. Then one morning he quietly left. Later that same day he was struck by a car and killed. A large sum of money was found on his body, and they later heard he was a millionaire!
This story raises many questions. What would have happened if Grandpa had taken him seriously? Wilbur and Grandma believed him. Was the man looking for a home, for love? He received the latter, but what did he do with it? This is a sad story that deserves our attention. If Grandma and Grandpa, as well as the stranger, were being tested, who passed? Did any of them? These questions will be answered as we look at why and how we are blessed. In the process, we will find that God alone is our only source of supply and security—not the job, not parents, 401K’s or retirement plans, and not even a millionaire who happens by our door— only El Shaddai.
WHY I AM BLESSED
What is God’s purpose for blessing His people? Deuteronomy 8:16-18, answers this question—to confirm or establish His covenant. But what is His covenant? [This question was addressed in detail in Chapters 4 and 5 of Jehovah-Tsidkenu.] In a nut shell, the covenant is God’s promise to Abraham’s seed, passed on to his children, next to his children’s children, and eventually to the nation of Israel. To the nation of Israel, which the Father had prepared to receive His son, He sent His seed—Jesus Christ.
What is God’s purpose for blessing us? This is it: that the whole world may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the only Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no man can come to the Father except through Him. When we have this firmly established and settled in our heart and mind, Jesus gives his disciples what is called the Great Commission:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end on the age.–Matthew 28:18-20
WHAT TWO WAYS DO BLESSINGS COME?
I am blessed in the desert:
To go into all the world takes many resources. Before looking specifically at how this can be accomplished, we need to review how blessings to establish His covenant come to us. They come in two forms:
In the desert: with one-day-at-a-time manna. “He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you” (Deut. 8:16). Manna was supernatural, miraculous bread from heaven that fell every morning for the children of Israel to gather—only enough for one day. On the sixth day, they were to gather enough for two days so they could rest on the Sabbath. On the Sabbath, none fell. Being disobedient and undisciplined children, some gathered more than they could eat in one day during the week; thus, when hoarding it, they found it rotten the next morning— full of maggots and smelly.
Manna means “whatness,” or “What is it?” because this is what the people said when they saw it. It could be ground or milled, baked or boiled, and tasted like honey wafers. On the sixth night they were to bake and boil it and keep it for the Sabbath. It did not rot this day. El Shaddai provided manna forty years while the first generation of Israel wandered in the desert until they died. In contrast, their children chose to enter the land of El Shaddai’s abundance.
The desert was testing ground. Would the children of Israel follow God—the same God who delivered them from Egypt and met their needs one day at a time, when they did not know what was ahead? Would they be able to praise the one and only true God when times grew tough and real fighting battles erupted in the land? Would they allow themselves to become hardened to difficulties for the Lord’s sake? Could they be trusted with more responsibility? The desert would tell.
I am blessed in the land:
In the land: with plenty, prosperity, and a plan to serve others, one day at a time. Prosperity is more than money. It is defined as “to become strong and flourishing” Its definition is from Deuteronomy 28:1-14, the Biblical definition for blessings: to be above only and not beneath, to be the head and not the tail, able to lend and not borrow, to be at the top, and not at the bottom. These are the desires of El Shaddai for all His children. Should it be so hard for us to believe that the God of the whole universe wants to bless His children even as an earthly father wants to shower on his children good things?
“Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant” (Deut. 8:18). God is saying that after the time of hardship, recall those times when there was no doubt it was God alone who met our needs because we had nothing. He also tells us to guard against ever thinking we have produced any wealth on our own, because it all comes from Him.
Wealth comes from the Hebrew word chayil. “The main meanings of this noun, which occurs 244 times in the Heb. O.T., are strength, army, wealth.” It is also derived from the word chayl, additionally meaning “power, valor, military force, virtue, and honesty.” Chayil refers to the entourage of the queen of Sheba who visited King Solomon, the third king of Israel, David’s son, who built the temple in the land of Israel.
After King David’s death, Solomon worshipped the Lord. In that night, God appeared to him and said, “Ask what I shall give you” (2 Chron. 1:7).
Solomon responded, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chron. 1:10).
God said to Solomon,
Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.—2 Chronicles 1:11-12
King Solomon asked for wisdom and God gave him wisdom and wealth. It was the queen of Sheba who pronounced how blessed everyone was who heard Solomon’s wisdom. Regarding the king’s wealth, she exclaimed, “Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you, setting you on His throne as king for the Lord your God; because your God loved Israel establishing them forever, therefore, He made you king over them to do justice and righteousness” (2 Chron. 9:8 emphasis added). She recognized Solomon’s true wealth, virtue and honesty, and above all, that the true God was the God of Israel forever. Then, she showered on him even more earthly wealth, which he used to bless the people.
 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary-Eleventh Edition, (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, Springfield, MA 2003), p.998.