Riches and Wealth
I. BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE OF POSSESSIONS
A. LORD’S PERSPECTIVE OF RICHES
To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) . . . (Revelation 2:9).
1. Man’s perspective of possessions
And the schemer is eager for their wealth (Job 5:5).
He [wicked man] will not become rich, nor will his wealth endure . . . (Job 15:29).
His [wicked man] sons favor the poor, and his hands give back his wealth . . . He swallows riches, but will vomit them up; God will expel them out of his belly . . .as to the riches of his trading, he cannot even enjoy them. For he has oppressed and forsaken the poor; he has seized a house which he has not built . . .his prosperity does not endure . . .darkness is held in reserve for his treasures . . . The increase of his house will depart; his possessions will flow away in the day of His anger (Job 20:10, 15, 18-20, 26, 28).
They [the wicked] spend their days in prosperity, and suddenly they go down to Sheol . . .their prosperity is not in their hand (Job 21:13, 16).
If you [Job] return to the Almighty, you will be restored; if you remove unrighteousness far from your tent, and place your gold in the dust, and the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks, then the Almighty will be your gold and choice silver to you (Job 22:23-25).
This is the portion of a wicked man from God . . . Though he piles up silver like dust, and prepares garments as plentiful as the clay; he may prepare it, but the just will wear it, and the innocent will divide the silver (Job 27:13, 16-17).
If they [people] hear and serve Him, they shall end their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures (Job 36:11).
Will your riches keep you from distress . . . (Job 36:19).
Wisdom along with an inheritance is good and an advantage to those who see the sun. For wisdom is protection just as money is protection (Ecclesiastes 7:11-12).
B. WE TAKE NOTHING WITH US WHEN WE DIE
Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not descend after him. Though while he lives he congratulates himself – and though men praise you when you do well for yourself – he shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see the light. Man in his pomp, yet without understanding, is like the beasts that perish (Psalm 49:16-20).
There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt . . . As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand (Ecclesiastes 5:13-15).
For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either (1 Timothy 6:7).
Surely every man walks about as a phantom; surely they make an uproar for nothing; he amasses riches, and does not know who will gather them (Psalm 39:6).
C. YOU CANNOT BUY REDEMPTION FOR YOUR SOUL
Why should I fear in days of adversity, when the iniquity of my foes surrounds me, even those who trust in their wealth, and boast in the abundance of their riches? No man can by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him – for the redemption of his soul is costly (Psalm 49:5-8).
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death (Proverbs 11:4).
For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26).
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:36-37).
For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:25).
D. RICHES PRODUCE MANY “FRIENDS”
. . .those who love the rich are many (Proverbs 14:20).
Wealth adds many friends . . . (Proverbs 19:4).
E. WEALTH TRANSIENT/TEMPORAL
Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens (Proverbs 23:4-5).
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward (Hebrews 11:24-26).
that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire . . . (1 Peter 1:7).
You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold . . . (1 Peter 1:18).
F. ALL POSSESSIONS ARE NOTHING COMPARED TO KNOWING JESUS
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ . . . (Philippians 3:7-8).
G. RICHES ARE UNCERTAIN
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God . . . (1 Timothy 6:17).
1. Riches useless apart from the Lord
I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself, and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees, I bought male and female slaves, and I had homeborn slaves. Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. Also, I collected for myself silver and gold, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasures of men – many concubines. Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem . . . I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun (Ecclesiastes 2:4-11).
H. THINGS MORE VALUABLE THAN RICHES
Pure gold cannot be given in exchange for it [wisdom], nor can silver be weighed as its price. It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx, or sapphire. Gold or glass cannot equal it, nor can it be exchanged for articles of fine gold. Coral and crystal are not to be mentioned; and the acquisition of wisdom is above that of pearls. The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it, nor can it be valued in pure gold (Job 28:15-19).
Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked (Psalm 37:16).
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches (Psalm 119:14).
The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces (Psalm 119:72).
Therefore I love Your commandments above gold, yes, above fine gold (Psalm 119:127).
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. For its profit is better than the profit of silver, and its gain than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor (Proverbs 3:13-16).
Take my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choicest gold. For wisdom is better than jewels; and all desirable things can not compare with her (Proverbs 8:10-11).
Riches and honor are with me [wisdom], enduring wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, and my yield than choicest silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice, to endow those who love me with wealth, that I may fill their treasuries (Proverbs 8:18-21).
Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and turmoil with it (Proverbs 15:16).
Better is a little with righteousness than great income with injustice (Proverbs 16:8).
How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver (Proverbs 16:16).
It is better to be of humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud (Proverbs 16:19).
Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity, than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool (Proverbs 19:1).
There is gold, and an abundance of jewels; but the lips of knowledge are a more precious thing (Proverbs 20:15).
A good name is to be more desired than great riches, favor is better than silver and gold (Proverbs 22:1).
Better is the poor who walks in his integrity, than he who is crooked though he be rich (Proverbs 28:6).
I. RESPONSIBILITIES OF WEALTH
1. Much required from those who have been given much
. . .from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more (Luke 12:48).
II. BLESSINGS OF WEALTH
A. THE RIGHTEOUS WILL BE REWARDED WITH PROSPERITY
Adversity pursues sinners, but the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity (Proverbs 13:21).
Much wealth is in the house of the righteous . . . (Proverbs 15:6).
B. WEALTH FOR MAN WHO MEDITATES ON WORD
How blessed is the man who . . .delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:1-3).
C. THE PROSPEROUS WILL WORSHIP THE LORD
All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship . . . (Psalm 22:29).
D. PRAYING FOR PROSPERITY
That I may see the prosperity of Your chosen ones . . . (Psalm 106:5).
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces” (Psalm 122:6-7).
. . . may you [those who fear the Lord] see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life (Psalm 128:5).
Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).
1. Rich godly people
Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran . . . (Genesis 12:5).
Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold (Genesis 13:2).
God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions” (Genesis 15:13-14).
Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in every way (Genesis 24:1).
Then the servant took ten camels from the camels of his master [Abraham], and set out with a variety of good things of his master’s in his hand . . . (Genesis 24:16).
The Lord has greatly blessed my master [Abraham], so that he has become rich; and He has given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and servants and maids, and camels and donkeys (Genesis 24:35)
Now Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And the Lord blessed him, and the man became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy; for he had possessions of flocks and herds and a great household . . . (Genesis 26:12-14).
[Jacob] became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks and female and male servants and camels and donkeys (Genesis 30:43).
Please take my [Jacob] gift which has been brought to you [Esau], because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have plenty . . . (Genesis 33:11).
Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand, and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen, and put the gold necklace around his neck (Genesis 41:42).
Now you must tell my father of all my [Joseph] splendor in Egypt . . . (Genesis 45:13).
[Jacob’s family] took their livestock and their property, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan . . . (Genesis 46:6).
Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful . . . (Genesis 47:27).
[Joshua] said to them [tribe of Manasseh], “Return to your tents with great riches and with very much livestock, with silver, gold, bronze, iron, and with very many clothes; divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers” (Joshua 22:8).
Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth . . .whose name was Boaz (Ruth 2:1).
O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel (2 Samuel 1:24).
When the queen of Sheba perceived all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built . . .[she said] You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard . . . (1 Kings 10:4, 7).
And God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself . . .riches . . .but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days” (1 Kings 3:11-13).
Then Solomon sat on the throne . . . and he prospered . . . (1 Chronicles 29:23).
Then he [David] died in a ripe old age, full of days, riches and honor . . . (1 Chronicles 29:28).
God said to Solomon, “Because you had this in mind, and did not ask for riches, wealth . . .but you have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge, that you may rule My people, over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge have been granted to you. And I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings who were before you has possessed, nor those who will come after you (2 Chronicles 1:11-12).
So King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom (2 Chronicles 9:22).
. . . [Jehoshaphat] had great riches and honor (2 Chronicles 17:5).
The Philistines brought gifts and silver as tribute to Jehoshaphat; the Arabians also brought him flocks, 7,700 rams and 7,700 male goats. So Jehoshaphat grew greater and greater . . . (2 Chronicles 17:11-12).
Now Jehoshaphat had great riches . . . (2 Chronicles 18:1).
Now Hezekiah had immense riches and honor; and he made for himself treasuries for silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields and all kinds of valuable articles, storehouses also for the produce of grain, wine and oil, pens for all kinds of cattle and sheepfolds for the flocks. And he made cities for himself, and acquired flocks and herds in abundance; for God had given him very great wealth . . . Hezekiah prospered in all that he did (2 Chronicles 32:27-30).
They captured fortified cities and a fertile land. They took possession of houses full of every good thing, hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves, fruit trees in abundance. So they ate, were filled, and grew fat, and reveled in Your great goodness (Nehemiah 9:25).
His [Job] possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east (Job 1:3).
Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to prosper in the province of Babylon (Daniel 3:30).
There came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus (Matthew 27:57).
You are already filled, you have already become rich . . . we [Apostles] are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless . . . (1 Corinthians 4:8, 11-12).
Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction . . . I have received everything in full, and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent . . . (Philippians 4:11-18).
E. LORD DELIGHTS IN PROSPERITY OF HIS SERVANTS
. . . The Lord be magnified, who delights in the prosperity of His servant (Psalm 35:27).
F. NOT ALL WILL PROSPER
and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect (Hebrews 11:36-40).
G. JESUS IS WORTHY TO RECEIVE RICHES
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (Revelation 5:12).
H. THE WISE BECOME RICH
The crown of the wise is their riches . . . (Proverbs 14:24).
I. HOW WEALTH IS ACQUIRED
By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches (Proverbs 24:3-4).
1. Things that will keep you from wealth
He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not become rich. (Proverbs 21:17).
He who oppresses the poor to make much for himself or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty (Proverbs 22:16).
III. DANGERS OF WEALTH
A. DANGER OF LOVING WEALTH
If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them (Psalm 62:10).
B. RICHES PRODUCE PRIDE
By your [king of Tyre] wisdom and understanding you have acquired riches for yourself, and have acquired gold and silver for your treasuries. By your great wisdom, by your trade you have increased your riches, and your heart is lifted up because of your riches (Ezekiel 28:4-5).
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God . . . (1 Timothy 6:17).
1. Rich should not be proud because life is short
But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind, and withers the grass; and its flower falls off, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away (James 1:9-11).
2. Boast in Lord not riches
Thus says the Lord, “ . . .let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
C. RICHES AFFORD A SENSE OF SECURITY
The rich man’s wealth is his fortress . . . (Proverbs 10:15).
A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own imagination (Proverbs 18:11).
Now as for me, I said in my prosperity, “I will never be moved.” O Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong; You hid Your face, I was dismayed (Psalm 30:6-7).
1. Those who trust in riches
Why should I fear in days of adversity, when the iniquity of my foes surrounds me, even those who trust in their wealth, and boast in the abundance of their riches? No man can by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him – for the redemption of his soul is costly . . .even wise men die; the stupid and the senseless alike perish, and leave their wealth to others. Their inner thought is, that their houses are forever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they have called their lands after their own names. But man in his pomp will not endure; he is like the beasts that perish (Psalm 49:10-12).
D. WEALTH TENDS TO SEPARATE PEOPLE
Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock . . . Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.” And lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was watered everywhere this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah – like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan . . . Thus they separated from each other (Genesis 13:5-11).
Now Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And the Lord blessed him, and the man became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy; for he had possessions of flocks and herds and a great household, so that the Philistines envied him . . .Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are too powerful for us” (Genesis 26:12-16).
Then Esau took his wives and his sons and his daughters and all his household, and his livestock and all his cattle and all his goods which he had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to another land away from his brother Jacob. For the property had become too great for them to live together, and the land where they sojourned could not sustain them because of their livestock (Genesis 36:6-7).
Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field, until there is no more room, so that you have to live alone in the midst of the land! (Isaiah 5:8).
1. Riches can separate Christians
When you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you . . . when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God, and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you (1 Corinthians 11:18-22).
E. RICHES ARE DECEITFUL/CAN CHOKE FRUITFULNESS
The wicked earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness gets a true reward (Proverbs 11:18).
And He [Jesus] spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed . . . others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out . . . And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful (Matthew 13:7, 22)
He was teaching them many things in parables and was saying to them in His teaching, “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow . . . and other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop . . . the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, and the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:2-3, 7, 18-19).
And other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it, and choked it out . . . the seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity (Luke 8:7, 14).
F. HARD FOR RICH TO ENTER KINGDOM
And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking upon them Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:16-26).
And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go thorough the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” Looking upon them, Jesus said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:17-27).
And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “The things impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:28-30).
1. Rich who do not know Lord will be separated from God for eternity
There was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day. And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things, but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony” (Luke 16:19-25).
G. RICH THINK THEY ARE WISE
The rich man is wise in his own eyes . . . (Proverbs 28:11).
H. RICH TREATMENT OF THE POOR
The poor man utters supplications, but the rich man answers roughly (Proverbs 18:23).
The rich rules over the poor . . . (Proverbs 22:7).
. . .Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called? (James 2:6-7).
I. DANGER OF MANY POSSESSIONS – FORGETTING GOD
Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you shall eat and be satisfied, then watch yourself, lest you forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery (Deuteronomy 6:10-12).
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you shall eat food without scarcity, in which you shall not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day (Deuteronomy 8:9-18).
For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant (Deuteronomy 31:20).
Two things I asked of Thee, do not refuse me before I die: keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, lest I be full and deny Thee and say, “Who is the Lord?” . . . (Proverbs 30:7-9).
I [the Lord] spoke to you [Jehoiakim] in your prosperity; but you said, ‘I will not listen!’ This has been your practice from your youth, that you have not obeyed My voice . . . you will surely be ashamed and humiliated because of your wickedness (Jeremiah 22:21-22).
Because you [church in Laodicea] say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see (Revelation 3:17-18).
J. WEALTH CREATES ENVY
Now Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And the Lord blessed him, and the man became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy; for he had possessions of flocks and herds and a great household, so that the Philistines envied him . . .Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are too powerful for us” (Genesis 26:12-14, 16).
Now Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, “Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what belonged to our father he has made all this wealth” (Genesis 31:1).
IV. CURSES OF WEALTH
A. CURSE OF KIDNAPPING
The ransom of a man’s life is his riches . . . (Proverbs 13:8).
B. CURSE OF LACK OF SLEEP
The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little of much. But the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep (Ecclesiastes 5:12).
C. WOES PRONOUNCED UPON THE RICH
[Jesus said] woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full (Luke 6:24).
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! . . . You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter (James 5:1-5).
V. WHY DO THE WICKED PROSPER?
For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, and the greedy man curses and spurns the Lord. The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him, all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” His ways prosper at all times; Your judgments are on high, out of his sight . . . (Psalm 10:3-5).
Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass, and fade like the green herb . . . Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes . . .evildoers will be cut off . . . Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place, and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land, and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity (Psalm 37:1-2, 7, 9-11).
Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart! But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; my steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant, as I saw the prosperity of the wicked . . . They are not in trouble as other men; nor are they plagued like mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; the garment of violence covers them . . . the imaginations of their heart run riot . . .[godly people] say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?” Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure, and washed my hands in innocence; for I have been stricken all day long, and chastened every morning.
If I had said, “I will speak thus,” behold, I should have betrayed the generation of Your children. When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end. Surely You do set them in slippery places; You do cast them down to destruction. How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form (Psalm 73:1-20).
A gracious woman attains honor, and violent men attain riches (Proverbs 11:16).
Righteous are You, O Lord, that I would plead my case with You; indeed I would discuss matters of justice with You; why has the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease? You have planted them, they have also taken root; they grow, they have even produced fruit. You are near to their lips but far from their mind (Jeremiah 12:1-2).
A. UNGODLY RICH
Now there was a man [Nabal] in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats . . . (1 Samuel 25:2).
[king Ahasuerus] displayed the riches of his royal glory . . . for many days, 180 days (Esther 1:4).
Then Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches . . . and every instance where the king had magnified him, and how he had promoted him . . . (Esther 5:11).
Their [Israel] land has also been filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land has also been filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots (Isaiah 2:7).
When your [Tyre] wares went out from the seas, you satisfied many peoples; with the abundance of your wealth and your merchandise you enriched the kings of earth (Ezekiel 27:33).
. . . a fourth [Persian king] will gain far more riches than all of them; as soon as he becomes strong through his riches . . . (Daniel 11:2).
. . . [Zaccheus] was rich (Luke 19:2).
B. COMMANDED NOT TO SEEK PROSPERITY OF PARTICULAR PEOPLE
You shall never seek their [Ammonite or Moabite] peace or their prosperity all your days (Deuteronomy 23:6).
. . . and never seek their [Canaanites] peace or their prosperity . . . (Ezra 9:12).
VI. WRONG WAY TO PROSPER
A. SOME PROSPER BY SINNING WITHOUT ACKNOWLEDGING SIN
And Ephraim said, “Surely I have become rich [by oppression], I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they will find in me no iniquity, which would be sin” (Hosea 12:8).
Those who buy them slay them and go unpunished, and each of those who sell them says, ‘Blessed be the Lord, for I have become rich!’ (Zechariah 11:5).
B. SOME ACT RELIGIOUS TO BE PROSPERED
Micah then said to him, “Dwell with me and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, a suit of clothes, and your maintenance.” So the Levite went in. And the Levite agreed to live with the man; and the young man became to him like one of his sons. So Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in the house of Micah. Then Micah said, “Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, seeing I have a Levite as priest” (Judges 17:13).
If you seek her [wisdom] as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures (Proverbs 2:4).
. . . in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man, for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound, and the winged creature will make the matter known (Ecclesiastes 10:20).
A. MEN SOMETIMES DECEIVE AS TO THEIR FINANCIAL STATUS
There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing; another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth (Proverbs 13:7).
B. MONEY USED TO ILLUSTRATE THE VALUE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it (Matthew 13:44-46).
C. RIGHTEOUS LIVING EQUATED WITH SILVER
The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver . . . (Proverbs 10:20).
D. JUDGMENT ON WEALTHY, UNGODLY NATIONS
Therefore the abundance which they [Moab] have acquired and stored up they carry off over the brook of Arabim [during their judgment] (Isaiah 15:7).
O you [Babylon] who dwell by many waters, abundant in treasures, your end has come, the measure of your end (Jeremiah 51:13).
“Say to Tyre . . . merchant of the peoples to many coastlands . . . Tarshish was your customer because of the abundance of all kinds of wealth; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they paid for your wares. Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they were your traders; with the lives of men and vessels of bronze they paid for your merchandise. Those from Beth-togarmah gave horses and war horses and mules for your wares . . . coastlands were your market; ivory tusks and ebony they brought as your payment. Aram was your customer because of the abundance of your goods, they paid for your wares with emeralds, purple, embroidered work, fine linen, coral, and rubies. Judah and the land of Israel, they were your traders; with the wheat of Minnith, cakes, honey, oil, and balm they paid for your merchandise. Damascus was your customer because of the abundance of your goods, because of the abundance of all kinds of wealth, because of the wine of Helbon and white wool. Vedan and Javan paid for your wares from Uzal; wrought iron, cassia, and sweet cane were among your merchandise. Dedan traded with you in saddlecloths for riding. Arabia and all the princes of Kedar, they were your customers for lambs, rams, and goats; for these they were your customers. The traders of Sheba and Raamah, they traded with you; they paid for your wares with the best of all kinds of spices, and with all kinds of precious stones, and gold . . .They traded with you in choice garments, in cloths of blue and embroidered work, and in carpets of many colors, and tightly wound cords, which were among your merchandise. The ships of Tarshish were the carriers for your merchandise . . .Your wealth, your wares, your merchandise, your sailors, and your pilots, your repairers of seams, your dealers in merchandise . . .will fall into the heart of the seas on the day of your overthrow (Ezekiel 27:3, 12-27).
Israel is a luxuriant vine; he produces fruit for himself. The more his fruit, the more altars he made; the richer his land, the better he made the sacred pillars. Their heart is faithless; now they must bear their guilt. The Lord will break down their altars and destroy their sacred pillars (Hosea 10:1-2).
. . .all who [wicked] weigh out silver will be cut off . . . their wealth will become plunder, and their houses desolate; yes, they build houses but not inhabit them, and plant vineyards but not drink their wine . . . Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them on the day of the Lord’s wrath . . . (Zephaniah 1:11, 13, 18).
For Tyre built herself a fortress and piled up silver like dust, and gold like the mire of the streets. Behold, the Lord will dispossess her and cast her wealth into the sea; and she will be consumed with fire (Zechariah 9:3-4).
E. THE KING WAS NOT TO BECOME TOO RICH
Moreover, he [the king] shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiple horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way . . .nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself (Deuteronomy 17:16-17).
1. Kings disobeyed command not to become too rich
And Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen (1 Kings 4:26).
Now the weight of gold which came in to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold, besides that from the traders and the wares of the merchants and all the kings of the Arabs and the governors of the country. And King Solomon made 200 large shields of beaten gold, using 600 shekels of gold on each large shield. And he made 300 shields of beaten gold, using three minas of gold on each shield, and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon. Moreover, the king made a great throne of ivory and overlaid it with refined gold. There were six steps to the throne and a round top to the throne at its rear, and arms on each side of the seat, and two lions standing besides the arms. And twelve lions were standing there on the six steps on the one side and on the other; nothing like it was made for any other kingdom. And all King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. None was of silver; it was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon. For the king had at sea the ships of Tarshish with the ships of Hiram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks. So King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches . . . Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; and he had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen . . . the king made silver as common as stones in Jerusalem, and he made cedars as plentiful as sycamore trees that are in the lowland. Also Solomon’s import of horses was from Egypt . . . (1 Kings 10:14-28).
Solomon amassed chariots and horsemen. He had 1,400 chariots, and 12,000 horsemen, and he stationed them in the chariot cities and with the king at Jerusalem. And the king made silver and gold as plentiful in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedars as plentiful as sycamores in the lowland. And Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue; the king’s traders procured them from Kue for a price. And they imported chariots from Egypt for 600 shekels of silver apiece, and horses for 150 apiece, and by the same means they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Aram (2 Chronicles 1:14-17).
Now the weight of gold which came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold, besides that which the traders and merchants brought; and all the kings of Arabia and the governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon. And King Solomon made 200 large shields of beaten gold, using 600 shekels of beaten gold on each large shield. And he made 300 shields of beaten gold, using three hundred shekels of gold on each shield . . . the king made a great throne of ivory and overlaid it with pure gold. And there were six steps to the throne and a footstool in gold attached to the throne, and arms on each side of the seat, and two lions standing beside the arms. And twelve lions were standing there on the six steps on the one side and on the other; nothing like it was made for any other kingdom. And all King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; silver was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon. For the king had ships which went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks. So King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches . . . Solomon had 4,000 stalls for horses and chariots and 12,000 horsemen . . . the king made silver as common as stones in Jerusalem . . . (2 Chronicles 9:8-27).
The rich among the people will entreat your [God’s people] favor (Psalm 45:12).
And Hezekiah was pleased, and showed them [Babylonians] all his treasure house, the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious oil and his whole armory and all that was found in his treasuries . . . [Isaiah] said, “What have they seen in your house?” So Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not shown them . . . Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord (Isaiah 39:2, 4-6).
The wealth of the nations will come to you [Zion]. A multitude of camels will cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba will come; they will bring gold and frankincense . . . their silver and their gold . . . men may bring to you the wealth of the nations . . . (Isaiah 60:5-6, 9, 11).
[afflicted] will eat the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion . . . (Isaiah 61:6-7).
‘I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations; and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts (Haggai 2:7).
“Again, proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem’” (Zechariah 1:17).
Are not these the words which the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous with its cities around it . . . (Zechariah 7:7).
The kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb . . . (Revelation 6:15-16).
He [antichrist] causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name (Revelation 13:16-17).
The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality (Revelation 17:4).
For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her [Babylon] immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality (Revelation 18:3).
Merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her [Babylon], because no one buys their cargoes any more; cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pears and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and slaves and humans lives. And the fruit you long for has gone from you, and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you and men will no longer find them. The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen an purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!’ And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like the great city?’ And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’ (Revelation 18:11-19).
G. PROSPECTS OF WEALTH USED AS A MOTIVATION
[Jacob] shall live with us, and the land shall be open before you; live and trade in it, and acquire property in it . . . but give me the girl in marriage (Genesis 34:10-12).
[Jacob’s family] are friendly with us; therefore let them live in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them . . . Will not their livestock and their property and all their animals be ours [Shechem’s neighbors]? . . . (Genesis 34:21, 23)
. . . the king will enrich the man who kills him [Goliath] with great riches . . . (1 Samuel 17:25).
H. THE MESSIAH WILL PROSPER
Behold, My servant [the Messiah] will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted. (Isaiah 52:13).
. . . the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His [Messiah] hand (Isaiah 53:10).