Article of the Month

May 2011

 

­GO TO NOW, YE RICH MEN;
WEEP AND HOWL
 

 

We live in stressful times.  Jesus characterized our day with the words found in Luke 21:26:  “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.”

Among those things we see “coming on the earth” is financial disaster.  Instinctively we all have this inner hope that somehow the distress will ease, the debts will lessen, the uncertainties will stabilize.  But this inner hope, we realize, may just be wishful thinking. The fact that our nation, as well as other nations, has always seemed to “recover” from such situations tends to give us confidence that we will, indeed, once again conquer the situation. But, those of us who rely on God and His prophetic Word, need to re-evaluate our thinking, our expectations, and our hopes.

Will the collapse of the world’s finances be a disaster?  Yes, in ONE sense; but ABSOLUTELY NOT in another.  We who have prayed “Thy Kingdom come,” if we truly believe in what we are praying for, must know that the new kingdom of God will not be based on or even tolerate the selfish and destructive economic imbalances of today’s world. 

Political, social, economic, and, yes, even some religious interests are all lobbying, scheming, pushing, maneuvering, lying, and conspiring—not only behind the scenes, but even openly—each to get, maintain, or increase that which is good for SELF.  The gap between wealthy and poor is statistically increasing at an alarming rate, and those who control the wealth seem numb to the concept that this gap will spell their own doom!

It would be a mistake to condemn wealth.  In this current evil world, the disparity between wealth and poverty is just a fact.  As Jesus said, “The poor ye have always with you.”  What IS condemnable is SELFISHNESS, GREED, and lack of concern for the welfare of the less fortunate.  Listen to only a few texts from the prophets on the subject:

(1)  Speaking of the sins of Sodom, which most people assume to be general immorality, Ezekiel quotes God as saying:  “THIS was the iniquity of…Sodom: Pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness; …neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”  (Ezekiel 16:49) 

(2)  Ezekiel 22:29 further elaborates on such selfishness: “The people of the land have used oppression (deceit), and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy.  Yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.”

(3)  The prophet Amos (4:1, 2) refers to the privileged class in their selfishness even as we do in modern times as FAT COWS.  His condemnation says that they “oppress the poor…crush the needy” and then they revel in their excesses by saying “Bring, and let us drink!”  NOTE:  These fat cows do not just  passively ignore the poor; they actively OPPRESS and CRUSH them.  In other words, THEY PURPOSEFULLY ADOPT POLICIES WHICH WORK AGAINST THOSE NOT IN THEIR “CLASS”!

 

These are not pleasant accusations; but they are the words of God Who has no tolerance in the end for the way we are doing things.  Thus, the soon-to-be collapse of the financial world will be disastrous because it will cause immense pain and suffering — particularly on the “haves;” but it will, in the end, be a BLESSING because it will mark the beginning of a NEW WORLD in which righteousness will prevail. (II Peter 3:13) Thus the faithful can rejoice DESPITE the circumstances. 

This brings us to the words of James 5:1-8 from which come the title of this article.

James warns that a time is coming (a time now very close at hand) when the selfish-wealthy will no longer comfort from their riches.  To the contrary, they will “weep and howl” because “miseries…shall come upon” them.  It will not be a pretty sight; and it will affect everyone in society like a tsunami affects a coastline.

James points out that wealth is characterized at this time as “corrupted.”  He suggests, in symbol, that the clothing of the wealthy (symbolic of their justification of their stewardship) is “MOTH-EATEN”! ― full of holes!

In the Apostle’s tirade against the horrors of the misuse of wealth, he uses examples which are IMPOSSIBLE in nature!  He says that their gold and silver have cancer and rust!  He points out that these impossible conditions of their fortunes, symbolic of their miserable misuse, are “A WITNESS AGAINST” THEM ―  a testimony all can see and none can deny!  He summarizes the ultimate result:

It “shall eat your flesh as it were fire”  (a symbol of the DISSOLUTION OF THEIR LIFESTYLE  AND FUNCTIONING).

As James continues, the arraignment only intensifies and worsens.  He accuses the selfish-wealthy of being HOARDERS.  He accuses them of the insane thinking that the amassing of wealth will actually be their PROTECTION when things fall apart ―  when ACTUALLY it will be the CAUSE of the collapse.

James accuses them of unfair labor practices ― holding back “by fraud” what was actually DUE to their employees!

Then James delivers the inescapable sentence  ―  the words which should invoke fear in anyone with an ounce of conscience or belief in a higher power:  “The cries (of the oppressed)…have entered into the ears of the Lord!”  The Creator of the universe now will finally fight on behalf of the common man!  On which side of that battle would one want to be!

James continues:  He tells the rich that they have luxuriated, have been wasteful, and have fulfilled all the excesses of their hearts ― as in one big past history of orgies.  They have dealt out INJUSTICES to those “below them” who had no recourse. 

But at this point (verse 7), James gives advice to true Christians as to their proper reactions to all of these horrors.  He says, in paraphrase, “You, brethren, cannot correct this.  Just  be  PATIENT until the presence of the returned Jesus will correct the matter.”

We are NOW at the time of that promised “presence of the Lord.”  He’ll be “trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.”  A part of that trampling will be the total collapse of our financial world ― along with our political, social, and religious institutions.  It will be painful.  It already is!  But the results will be GLORIOUS!

 

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