If only I had ______ (insert any resource you lack) I would ____________ (insert any accomplishment you desire). Making excuses for ourselves, we loop variations of this audio clip in our minds. If only I had more patience I’d be a better parent. If only I had a car I would find a job. If only I had an assistant I’d finish that project.
Countries could make the same claim. Israel—If only we had oil under our sand like our neighbors we’d be successful. Switzerland—If only we had gold like Uzbekistan we’d have prosperity. North Dakota—If only we had sunshine and beaches like California, we’d be growing. Hong Kong—If only we had minerals like Nigeria we’d be rich. Luxembourg—If only we had uranium like Zimbabwe we’d be able to lift our Gross Domestic Product.
But wait! Israel is successful. Switzerland does have prosperity. North Dakota is growing. Hong Kong, an overcrowded spit of land with no natural resources is rich. Luxembourg has the second highest GDP in the world.
Meanwhile, not counting oil sales, the countries surrounding Israel manage lower total productivity than tiny Finland. Uzbekistan is crime-ridden and poor. California is a bankrupt basket case. Much of Nigeria is in economic shambles, characterized chiefly by riots, murders, and airplane disasters. Zimbabwe is a poverty-stricken and corrupt dictatorship boasting an inflation rate of 400%. I intend no insult to these places but let’s be honest. Let’s help these countries, or at least their unfortunate citizens, by seeking the origins of success and prosperity.
Would you be surprised to learn that God promises an obedient Israel, “A land where you’ll eat bread without poverty…a land whose stones yield gold and from whose mountains you will mine silver?”
I wouldn’t be surprised at all. The only problem is that Scripture doesn’t say that. It does say:
…a land whose stones yield iron and from whose mountains you will mine copper (Deuteronomy 8:9)
Wouldn’t gold and silver have been better for Israel? Iron is the second most abundant metal on earth and copper is one of the least valuable, used for pennies sometimes called coppers.
Why would God reward His people with iron and copper, possessing very little intrinsic material value instead of with gold and silver?
In Thought Tools 2008, I taught how in Scripture, iron and copper hint at something deeper than mere metals.
Copper and iron in Biblical juxtaposition always hint at limitless energy. That word energy has many meanings. After a hectic day, I might say, ‘I have no energy left.’ Out on my boat I might say, ‘This fills me with energy.’ We use phrases like ‘solar energy’ or ‘that new CEO energized the entire company.’
In the presence of electrolytes like salt water, lemon-juice or sulphuric acid; copper and iron form an electrochemical couple which yields electrical energy. This is what we call a battery. In 2011, Stanford University invented the ultimate battery based on copper and iron nano-engineered materials. In Scripture, copper and iron refer to pure, limitless spiritual energy—the core of all creativity.
Similarly, we need nothing but our God-given creative cores in order to succeed and prosper. The excuse of “If only I had ___,” is just that—an excuse. Helping you find that creativity in your soul and learning how to apply it in your life is part of the value in studying ancient Jewish wisdom.God gives us all the secret for success and prosperity. We can access limitless spiritual energy giving us the ability to obtain all else. Using this energy, Zurich does have gold beneath its streets in the form of bullion. More of Israel’s citizens drive oil burning cars than its neighbors. Hong Kong and Luxembourg do very well with creative energy rather than natural resources.