Eisegesis is the process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that the process introduces one’s own presuppositions, agendas, or biases into and onto the text.
18”You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. “ Deut 8:18
This passage has been frequently used to teach us that God gives to all of us who profess to be his children power to become materially wealthy and prosperous. In fact, I recently came across a Facebook post (actually it ‘magically’ appeared in my FB newsfeed) in which a lady used the passage to tell us that the Bible actually teaches that principle. We can take our lives to the next level in terms of breakthroughs in business and financial wealth and she can teach us how to apply it.
But is that what this passage is teaching? Let’s put it back into context and see for ourselves.
“11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. 17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.” Deut 8:11-19.
God is clearly speaking directly to the children of Israel concerning his having delivered them from bondage in Egypt. They are being warned against taking any credit for their deliverance and prosperity (wealth), but that their ‘wealth’ was a result of God’s hand, not theirs. The use of the term ‘wealth’ refers to their much-improved condition. One notable commentary (Adam Clarke) offers this meaning:
“Who among the rich and wealthy believes this saying? Who gives wisdom, understanding, skill, bodily strength, and health? Is it not God? And without these, how can wealth be acquired? Whose is providence? Who gives fertility to the earth? And who brings every proper purpose to a right issue? Is it not God? And without these also can wealth be acquired? No. Then the proposition in the text is self-evident: it is God that giveth power to get wealth, and to God the wealthy man must account for the manner in which he has expended the riches which God hath given him.”
While many other commentaries agree, but all it takes to discover the meaning of this passage is to read it in context.
God was not giving his children a formula for success, but merely reminding them that their successful escape from bondage and circumstances after their release were a result of his hand and power, not theirs. Deuteronomy, Chapter 8 is admonition to his children to never forget God and a warning against pride.
Why does all of this matter? I can answer that. It matters because when we become believers in Christ we still have sinful hearts. In fact, Janes 2:2 tells us we sin when we are drawn away (tempted) by our own sinful passions. False teaching that appeals to our ‘sin hangover’ can result in our straying from the path of self-denial we are called to by our Lord and a return to the same focus on personal material gain we were in bondage to as unbelievers. Because we are prone to become prideful and put God on the back burner, we need to be reminded of who is really in charge.
And remember, the first three rules of proper biblical interpretation are:
CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT