My Seminary class is just finishing the book of Deuteronomy and moving into Joshua. This is an important moment in the history of Israel, as the Children of Israel are finally allowed to enter the Promised Land. Of course, Moses is deprived of the right to accompany them, and before he leaves he offers a blessing.
In Deuteronomy 28:2-8, we read some of the blessings of materials prosperity:
And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
In the verses that follow, Moses tells the people that they will be cursed materially if they “wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day.” We see a similar linking of righteousness to material prosperity in the Book of Mormon. We even hear about it in modern times. How many times have I heard in Gospel Doctrine class that the Lord blessed Jon Huntsman with great wealth? (Many) On the other hand, we are told that inferences about righteousness from a person’s material wealth are inappropriate.
Now, I understand that there is no necessary contradiction here. Some rich people might be rich because they are righteous, while others are rich because they are wicked. From a distance, it might be difficult to distinguish the two. As for the poor, well, I suppose that the promised blessings might come after this life? That seems kind of lame. Perhaps the link between righteousness and material prosperity is not universal, but a special blessing given only to some people.
Which leads me to the Seminary Thought Question: What lesson do we learn from scriptures that link righteousness with material wealth?