The first wealthy man mentioned in the Bible is Abraham.
The father of the Jewish nation, Abraham followed God’s command and left his birthplace in Mesopotamia to come to the land of Israel, which he inherited for his offspring forever. Abraham came to Israel and became very successful.
We learn in Genesis 13:2, “Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.”
I’m not a finance expert, an economist or a tech entrepreneur. I’m an Orthodox rabbi.
Yet in looking at Abraham’s life, I can see three valuable lessons about wealth we would all do well to heed as individuals — lessons that I see at work in Israel today.
First, Abraham is clear that his success comes only from the Lord.
After rescuing his nephew, Lot, and saving the five kings from the four kings, Abraham is appreciated by everyone for his heroic efforts. The King of Sodom offers him all the loot from the battle, but Abraham rejects it: “I have sworn to God … that I will not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything else that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’” (Genesis 14:22-23).
Think of what it took to stand face-to-face before a king and say, “I won’t even take a shoelace. I don’t want anyone to think for a second that any man enriched me. All my wealth and all my success come from the King of Kings.”
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If you’re not clear about the source of wealth — and even if you are — that’s the place to start.
Second, Abraham makes it clear that true wealth is measured by impact. Summing up Abraham’s life, Genesis 24:1 says, “Abraham was old, advanced in age, and God had blessed Abraham with everything.”
As successful as Abraham was for much of his life, he hadn’t been blessed in everything — not until, at age 100, God gave him a son.
So for Abraham, “everything” is defined as a son. His greatest blessing was Isaac, his spiritual heir who followed in his footsteps and continued his life’s work.
We learn from this that wealth is not measured in dollars or shekels or pounds or euros. Being rich is not achieving a certain number in a bank account. It is fulfilling our purpose on Earth, planting the seeds in God’s garden, and ensuring that those saplings will bear fruit for future generations to enjoy.
Finally, Abraham is clear that blessings flow to those who bless him. God gave Abraham this promise in Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you, and all the nations of the world will be blessed by you.”
Abraham’s blessing was not limited to him. His wealth was not meant just for him. It was just the opposite. Everyone who came into contact with Abraham was themselves enriched.
In essence, God said to Abraham, “Everyone whom you encounter who blesses you will be enriched by that experience. Their lives will never be the same, and they, too, will be blessed.”
These same three lessons can be seen at work today in Abraham’s descendants, the Jewish people as manifest through the great State of Israel:
1.) Israel’s blessing comes from the Lord. All of Israel’s success and innovation in high tech, agriculture and security is a miracle. The return of the People of Israel to the land of Israel over the last 100 years and the incredible economic success that occurred and is occurring in Israel is a miracle, promised and outlined in the Bible, and comes not from our own grit but from God.
2.) Wealth is not measured by dollars. It is measured by impact. The main contribution of Israeli innovation is not measured by our financial impact on the global economy. We are a tiny nation whose GDP is smaller than some American states. Our blessings are the technologies we are creating that improve our lives and the lives of people around the world. Israeli breakthrough technologies are generating positive social and environmental effects on the world. Israel’s mission is not to become the richest nation, but rather to be a light unto all the nations.
3.) God is blessing those nations that bless Israel. Countries that stand with Israel will be protected; nations that stand against Israel will be cursed. And that goes for individuals as well. And if they don’t see this now, they will.
Those who want to bless the Jewish people will see great blessing in return. It’s the promise of God to Abraham.
Rabbi Tuly Weisz, who is based in Israel, is the editor of The Israel Bible, the first study Bible edited by Jews for Christians and dedicated to highlighting the land and the people of Israel; it’s a number-one release in both Jewish and Christian Bible categories on Amazon. Through his popular Israel365 websites and emails, Rabbi Weisz is dedicated to spreading love for Israel, primarily to non-Jews all over the world.
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