Earthly rewards in the Bible

I recently heard Matt Dillahunty of Atheist Experience say that while the Bible promises rewards for a virtuous life, these rewards are only given in the afterlife. So you have to cash in your chips before you can cash in your chips.

It’s been many years since I read the Bible. Is this so?

And it shall come to pass, if you shall listen carefully to My commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give rain for your land in its season, the former rain and the latter rain, that thou may gather your grain, and your wine, and your oil. And I will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you shall eat and be satisfied.
(Deuteronomy 11:13-15)

That’s just one sample off the top of my head. Of course, there are ways to interpret it that it would be speaking about the afterlife. But the simple answer to your question is: There are LOADS of places where the rewards are described as being in THIS life.

The entire “Prosperity Theology” movement is entirely focused on the idea that faithfulness will be rewarded by earthly wealth. That said, as Wikipedia notes, they rely on unusual interpretations of certain Biblical verses to get there:

I guess this Matt Dillahunty has never heard of Job. He was a very wealthy man when the story starts, but God made him twice as wealthy at the end of the story, as a reward for his faithfulness.

Job 1:3-- “His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.”

Job 42:12-- “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.”

Not only will God provide and bless someone, God will even give you the words to say to get you out of trouble:

Luke 12:12 12 The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment when you need them.,

and might even bust you out of jail

Acts 12: 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison,

In the Bible (and in my own experience) God is active on someone’s life here and now.

I don’t think Job is a good example for what the average Christian might expect. He’s more of a special case, used by God and Satan for a cruel experiment.

Like most of the stories in the bible, Job’s is a parable often used by many believers to reflect and explain the ups and downs in their own lives.

Which are you asking about: Whether the Bible does not promise rewards for virtue in this life, or whether the Bible does promise rewards for virtue in the afterlife?

It’s mostly true, yes.

To greatly simplify things earthly prosperity was promised to God’s followers in the Old Testament but that changed in the New Testament because God’s relationship/covenant/promise with people changed. This is where most of the confusion comes from. In the New Testament God promises to meet His follower’s needs but most of the “rewards” on earth come from living a life which does not intentionally harm one’s self or others.

Generally speaking, those people are naturally going to avoid the negative effects of self-harm (substance abuse, etc) and experience less conflict and so they will be happier for those reasons. There’s also an added sense of purpose which makes life seem meaningful.

But the actual rewards: eternal life, lack of pain & suffering, ruling as kings & queens, etc. Those all come later.

I never thought the Covenant with the Israelites was for prosperity, just for survival. If the Laws are followed then the descendants of Abraham will always endure.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”

It’s worth noting that, as of Old Testament times, Jews did not take an afterlife for granted, and the question was still much debated in Jesus’ time. And if, like many Jews, you don’t believe in an afterlife, then any rewards God sends to the righteous must be in this world.

Though of course you might not believe God sends rewards, period.

Do you have the quote or link to the video? I disagree with Matt on a few issues but he’s very knowledgeable on theology, and he would normally be careful not to make that kind of statement.
He does sometimes say rhetorically that this life is treated as a short preamble to the longer, better afterlife and how that has encouraged all sorts of bad behaviors. But this doesn’t mean God won’t do anything in this life merely that it’s comparatively unimportant.

There are Biblical examples of rewards but this is no promise; many righteous people died destitute.

Boy, you totally missed the meaning of that story.

Sorry, I’ve seen a lot of his videos and can’t recall which one had him make that claim.