Weep and Howl!

Scripture: Matthew 6:21, James 5:1-6, Psalm 73:3-19
Date: 12/06/2014 
Lesson: 10
"How do we work, as Christians, to help alleviate the problem of extreme poverty? What things should we do to help, and what things shouldn't we do?"
When you post, you agree to the terms and conditions of our comments policy.
If you have a Bible question for Pastor Doug Batchelor or the Amazing Facts Bible answer team, please submit it by clicking here. Due to staff size, we are unable to answer Bible questions posted in the comments.
To help maintain a Christian environment, we closely moderate all comments.

  1. Please be patient. We strive to approve comments the day they are made, but please allow at least 24 hours for your comment to appear. Comments made on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday may not be approved until the following Monday.

  2. Comments that include name-calling, profanity, harassment, ridicule, etc. will be automatically deleted and the invitation to participate revoked.

  3. Comments containing URLs outside the family of Amazing Facts websites will not be approved.

  4. Comments containing telephone numbers or email addresses will not be approved.

  5. Comments off topic may be deleted.

  6. Please do not comment in languages other than English.

Please note: Approved comments do not constitute an endorsement by the ministry of Amazing Facts or by Pastor Doug Batchelor. This website allows dissenting comments and beliefs, but our comment sections are not a forum for ongoing debate.

Hello friends, I want to welcome you to Amazing Facts Sabbath School Study Hour. And this is going to be a unique presentation. We'll be studying our regular lesson but we're on the road right now. The Amazing Facts team is in albuquerque, New Mexico and we're recording a special evangelistic series called 'landmarks of prophecy' but we didn't want to fall behind in studying our lesson with you folks so during one of our morning sessions, we sort of gathered our afcoe students and some visitors and we're going to go ahead and do our study as we always do. We have a free offer with our lesson today.

Our lesson is lesson #10 in our study on the book of James and it's dealing with 'weep and howl, you rich men.' And so we thought it would be appropriate to give away the book by dennis crews called 'the rich man and Lazarus.' If you'd like a free copy of this, just call the number: 866-788-3966 - that translates into 866-study-more - and we'll send you a free copy. And not only will we send this to you; you've got to read it and then share it with somebody else. If you want to get it sooner, you can simply go to the amazing facts website - it's just 'amazingfacts.org' - and under our free library you can download it, read it, and then send the link to someone. It really is a good book about a chapter in the Bible that's often misunderstood. Now today, we're going to begin in lesson #10, studying the book of James.

We've been going sequentially through the chapters of James. I really like the way this lesson was written because you - by the time you're done, you've read every verse in the book of James and broken it down. This is just a great Bible study. We have a memory verse and I invite the class here to say it out loud with me. That verse is Matthew 6, verse - Matthew 6:21 - if you have a quarterly, of course, it's right there in the lesson with you - and a very important central point on treasure.

Are you ready? Say it together. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Now this lesson is, specifically, dealing with where is our treasure? And it says 'weep and howl' because in the book of James he makes some very powerful statements speaking to the rich and how that's often abused. This lesson is dealing, principally with the rich who abuse their authority, power and money. Now, you know what I thought would be a good idea? If you have your Bibles, and I know you do, go to the book of James and let's just read the verses that we're going to consider today in our study. I'm going to start with James chapter 5 and we'll probably read right up through verse 7 here.

James chapter 5:1 through 7, "come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.

You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you. Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain." So I added that verse in because it talks about the abuse that comes often from those in positions of wealth and power, but it ends with a word of encouragement. If you suffer these things it's not going to last forever. What comes as a judgment on the people of power that abuse the power, will also come as a refreshing and relief on the others.

So we're going to go ahead and take this lesson apart piece by piece. We're going to find ourselves bouncing around in the Bible a little bit and, just to set the stage, I thought it would be interesting to remind you of something that happened not too long ago. Do we all know who bernie madoff is? Have you heard that name? People often tease and they say, 'madoff, made off with a lot of people's money.' Bernie madoff is now a convicted fraud, former stock broker, investment advisor and financier. He had confessed to operating a ponzi scheme that is considered to be the largest financial fraud in u.s. History.

The court-appointed trustee estimate actually says, 'losses to investors are approximately billion dollars.' That he took - he's sentenced to 150 years. I heard he had a heart attack this week and he's suffering from kidney failure but he doesn't want dialysis. Probably just would assume - check out, as they say. He's in a prison in north carolina the last I heard. That was abusing your power.

And he didn't care how many people he hurt. Some of the investments and the money that he took were charities that were supposed to help a lot of people. And he took the money and he bought boats and he bought mansions and he traveled and bought fancy cars and houses and lands and lived the high life and gave gifts to his friends with other people's money that was for poor and suffering people for their charities. He was supposed to be investing these funds and he squandered. How'd you like to face the judgment for something like that over your head? But maybe on a smaller scale, some people still do the same things.

You know, you don't have to be a millionaire to be greedy. And you don't have to be rich to also take advantage of others. And that's what this lesson is really dealing with. Alright, James 5:1 - we're going to break it down verse by verse. "Come now" - here's the verse - the lesson is based on this - "come now you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!" Now the Greek word translated as 'miseries' in James 5:1, comes from the same root word used to describe laodicea as wretched in Revelation 3:17.

It says, "because you say I am rich and I have become wealthy and I have need of nothing, and you do not know that you are wretched, poor, miserable, blind, and naked." Can a person think that they are rich and increased with goods and not really have very much? Yeah, absolutely. Matter of fact, that really describes the condition of the church of laodicea. In fact, I'm going to have somebody read for me Luke 17:27. Who has that? Alright - and let me read another verse and we're going to have you do that. This is from James 1:9.

Now we're going back in the book of James. We started with chapter 5. In James 1, verses 9 and 10 it says, "let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away." Now with what James says in this book about the rich, is he talking to just those that are oppressing the church members or are some of them in the church? Is it possible that the early church had some rich people in it? Paul talks about those that are rich, make sure and share generously with what the needs might be. Some of those who were rich when they started out as Christians, basically liquidated in the interest of sharing the message. I know in the early days of the Seventh-day Adventist movement, one of the founders - probably one of the real figureheads that founded the church was a sea captain named Joseph bates.

And he had made so much money he actually retired, but he loved the message so much that when he died, he had very little left because he invested all that he had - he could have easily lived off his retirement the rest of his life - he invested all that he had in publishing and spreading and underwriting the spreading of the message. Nicodemus was very wealthy. From the time of the death of Christ he began investing in helping to sustain and support the church. Barnabas had some lands and he sold them - laid the money at the apostles' feet. I mean, they were really making sacrificial gifts.

So, is it a sin for you to have any property? You know, there's - it takes divine wisdom and the holy spirit to guide each person - that may be a little different too. How much should you give? How much should you keep? How much should you earn? I think it was John wesley that said the secret for Christian and finances is 'earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.' He doesn't specify what that is, but Christians ought to be industrious. We ought to be good stewards.

How many parables does Jesus tell about he gives us talents, he wants us to invest them and increase them, right? The Bible says a lot about that. Proverbs - a number of things tells about God blessing and increasing. God blessed and increased Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - but they were also generous. And then Jesus gives us those warnings that fly in the face of prosperity preaching, which is 'it's harder for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. And the idea for a Christian, when it comes to riches - if you could know exactly when the Lord's coming, you'd want to make sure you have nothing left when he comes, right? The idea is that before the Lord comes you want to invest your last dollar before probation closes, actually, in spreading the Gospel.

Did Noah have any regrets that he invested all that he had in building the ark? Well he might have, while he was building it. He had no regrets when the door was shut and the thing began to float, right? Because he had put everything he had into staying alive and saving his family. No regrets at that point. What profit is it if you gain the whole world and lose your soul? Alright, I've got you queued up. Now you're going to read, I think, Revelation 17:27, please.

I'm sorry, Luke, thank you. You're going to read Luke 17:27. "They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all." Yeah, speaking of the time just before Jesus comes back, I think a lot of Christians believe that the second coming of Jesus is preceded by world-wide economic collapse. The Bible doesn't teach that. The Bible says, 'in such an hour as you think not The Son of man comes.

' Up until the end they marry, they plant, they build, they eat, they drink, and it comes as an overwhelming surprise. And so the world's still going. Yes, there's going to be trials and there'll be spots in the world where there's going to be great disasters, but life is going to continue to go on just like it did before sodom was destroyed, just like it did before the time of Noah. The sun was shining the day before the rain came and people were involved in business and planning their weddings and their futures and 'I'm going to go to this town and buy and sell and get gain and I'm going to build bigger barns and put all my proceeds in those barns.' I mean, they were moving on with their plans. So that's why we need to be really in tune with the Holy Spirit, because God does not want that day to overtake us as a thief.

Alright, still under the section 'justice will be done,' 2 Timothy 3:1 through 5 - talk a little bit about what Paul says regarding money. "But know this, in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving," - a lot of 'uns' there - "unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God," - and you know what makes this whole verse especially scary? - "Having a form of Godliness but denying its power." - These people will have an outward religion but they don't have the Holy Spirit. Can that be people like the ones described in Revelation, who are outwardly rich and increased with goods and think they need nothing, but inwardly they are poor and wretched and miserable and blind and naked? And so this is a condition of not just the world before Jesus comes, but many who are professing to be the church. So what James says when he talks about weeping and howling is not just meant for the wicked out in the world. He's warning those in the church who are becoming distracted with - or at least they're professing to be Christians, but they're distracted with the blessings of God instead of God.

They're distracted with worldly treasure instead of heavenly wealth. Alright, we're going to move on to the section 'when wealth becomes worthless.' And our verses we're going to consider here - James chapter 5, verses 2 and 3. It says, "your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and" - does gold ever corrode? Not normally. Some of you may have heard me share that amazing fact - happened in northern California last year.

A couple walking in el dorado county on their property - they had some land up there - walking a trail they walked many times before. Under an oak tree, the husband saw what he thought was a glint - he saw the edge of a can and he thought, 'what is that?' And his wife and him leaned over and they took a stick and they dug around a little bit and this can was there and it was full of gold coins. And they found eight cans. They got a metal detector there and they found eight cans. As far as they know it was black bart's treasure.

They were unminted gold coins. I forget, they just sold it for like 25 million dollars at an auction. Their value of the coins was worth more than the value of the gold because they were perfectly preserved - no corrosion on them. Gold doesn't corrode. So when he's talking about your gold corroding, that's gold basically being turned back into the elements of the earth and mixed with other things because of heat.

So God is saying that, you know, the elements melt with fervent heat, your gold then, at that point, is not worth anything, right? It says it "...will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days." These things can stand as a judgment. You know, there's a statement here that's in the lesson from 'the Spirit of prophecy.' This is from 'testimonies volume 2, page 682, "riches bring with them great responsibility. To obtain wealth by unjust dealing, by overreaching in trade, by oppressing the widow and The Fatherless, or by hoarding up riches and neglecting the wants of the needy, will eventually bring the retribution described by the inspired apostle" - verses we just read - "go now you rich men, weep and howl, for your misery shall come upon you." And so, you know, with influence comes responsibility and accountability. Money gives you influence and power.

And as a Christian, when he gives you that, you want to use your money and that influence and that power, to tell for good. If it's just for selfish pleasure, instead of helping you, it can hurt you. I think it was Benjamin franklin that said, 'more people are destroyed by abundance than want." More people are destroyed - I know it's not in the Bible, but it's worth remembering - more people are destroyed by abundance than want. A lot of people think, 'aw man, if I could just win the lottery, you know? I wouldn't have all these worries and stress. I can pay off my bills and I'd - I'd go around and just do good.

I'd just help people. I'd give to charities.' People think that - and they may have good hearts when they say that, but you know what the record shows? The typical person that wins the lottery, within a few years they've made bad investments. They've lost it. And in some cases they are more in debt than before they won. In some cases they get involved in court disputes and battles with their family.

Some have been murdered by family members who won the lottery because their spouses wanted the money. I mean, someone went and did research of people that won the lottery and the vast majority of them, their lives just spiraled into misery. Very few of them knew how to handle it. I remember one fellow that he did okay. He won the lottery - 25 million dollars - they don't give it to you all at once, it's like, you know, $10,000 a month for the rest of your life or something like that, but he drove a truck and they said, 'well, what are you going to do?' He said, 'I'm going to go to work tomorrow.

' 'Aren't you going to quit?' 'No, I like my job. I don't want to do nothing.' He said, 'well, you know, I'm going to probably get a better house and then going to share some with my family and share some with my church.' And he said, 'it's been a blessing and I'm going to just try and improve my quality of life.' But he kept right on working. Now that kind of person, they know how to handle it. But a lot of people are destroyed by abundance. That's why Jesus said, 'hardly shall a rich man enter the kingdom.

' Because we get where we start trusting the money for our peace and happiness instead of trusting God. So, here's an example, in Luke :16, it talks - the heading here is 'when wealth becomes worthless.' Luke 12:16, "then he spoke a parable to them, saying: 'the ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'what shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?''" - It never crosses his mind, 'well, maybe you should share some.' - "And he said, 'this will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.' But God said unto him, 'thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?' So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.'" There's a warning there. Jesus is giving this to the church - to the disciples.

We have to be careful. You know, the Bible doesn't say a lot about retirement. I'm not saying it's wrong to retire. It actually sounds very attractive to me some days, but God wants - the reason is, I think, God wants his people to remain useful. Even if they should retire from their regular work, I think as long as God gives us health and strength, Christians should be productive.

It doesn't mean you might not retire from your job, but I know a lot of very happy retirees, they retire, they get their pension or their income, then they go on maranatha church- building trips or they go on Amazing Facts mission trips or whatever it might be. Because they say, 'I want to continue to be useful for God. I remember an old preacher that said, 'make sure you stay useful in the Kingdom because God has shown, historically, he tends to keep people around if they make themselves useful.' Have you ever known an old couple, married for many years, and then one of the spouses dies, as usually is the case, and it just seems like within a few months the other dies. It's like their lives were involved in helping take care of each other and when their purpose was gone, their meaning for life was gone. You need to have a purpose and you need to be involved in serving God.

And he's inclined to keep you around when that happens. Alright, here, I'm going to do another story and this is from the book of 1 Samuel 25, verse . Anyone know what that's about? You heard of someone named nabal? We're still talking about when wealth becomes worthless - nabal. Let me give you the background for this illustration in the Bible. It illustrates exactly what James was talking about.

Nabal was a very wealthy landowner that lived up in the area of Carmel - not Carmel, California, Carmel in Israel - and he had a beautiful wife named abigail. And David had been running from Saul and he was living in the northern part of the Kingdom at this time - living out in the wilderness. His - the woods - the hills where David and his soldiers were hiding were right next to the property of nabal. And nabal's shepherds and his cowboys were all out there and they became friends with David's soldiers and David protected them against the assyrians and the raiding armies from the north and so, David, finally, when the time came for sheep shearing, he said to some of his soldiers, 'go down' - typically this is a time of giving gifts and generosity. When they rejoiced in the sheep shearing they also usually slaughtered some animals and there was abundance and there were some things that were being harvested during this time.

He said, 'go down and say, 'we're your servants with David. If there's anything you'd like to share with us during this time, we'd appreciate it. We've been kind of guarding your flocks and everything.' And nabal, the Bible says, was - he was just such a churlish man - selfish, greedy - and when the soldiers came with this message from David he said, 'oh, there's a lot of servants running away from their masters these days' - he's calling David a runaway slave because he was running from Saul. He said, 'why am I supposed to take the food I'm supposed to give my slaves and give it to a runaway slave?' And he was very rude. Well, David had 600 soldiers with him at that time, later known as 'the mighty men.

' And this fellow had just terribly insulted them. And so when abigail heard what her husband had said to David's messengers, she said, 'oh, that was not good.' And the shepherds said, 'David's soldiers have been a wall for us. Day and night, protecting our flocks - they have not molested us, they've been friends with us, they've taken care of us. We should have helped them.' And so she got these provisions together and met - David was on his way to attack nabal for his insult - and she met them on the way and said, 'please forgive your servant. Just like his name he is foolish.

' That's what the name meant and she gave him something. He said okay. Well, you know what? Nabal had a stroke that day. When abigail told him the next morning that he had nearly been killed and everything he had taken by David, he almost had a stroke that day and - or he did have a stroke that next morning and he died ten days later. Kind of - this is what Jesus is referring to in the parable of the foolish man that said, 'I'm going to keep it all.

' He lost it all. He wouldn't share a little bit and he lost it all. Not only did he lose his houses and his lands, guess who ended up marrying his wife? David. So it doesn't pay to be stingy. Alright, you know there's - I'm looking at the clock and trying to pace myself here.

What about hezekiah? You remember when the messengers were sent - you find this in Kings 20, verse 12, "at that time berodachbaladan, The Son of baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto hezekiah: for he had heard that hezekiah had been sick." And they just wanted to hear about God. But you know what hezekiah showed them? Hezekiah said, 'wow, Babylon. That's the center of sophistication in this part of the world. They've come to me. Wow.

' He felt a little insecure. He said, 'i'd better impress them with what I have.' And so hezekiah said, 'here, let me show you my house.' And he took them on a tour of the rich and famous. He said, 'here's my armory. Look at all the gold that I've got. Here's my treasury.

Here's all my jewels and look at all the weapons that we have and look at all the marble.' And they wanted to find out about the God that made the sun go backwards. He didn't say anything about God - just showed them all his stuff, and then they left. And Isaiah came to hezekiah and he said, 'these men came to you, where'd they come from? What did they see in your house?' He said, 'oh, they came from Babylon.' 'And what'd they see?' 'Oh, I showed them everything in my house. There was nothing among my things I didn't show them.' And Isaiah said, 'hear the word of the Lord. These people from Babylon are going to go back and they're going to tell their leaders about all the treasures and they're going to come and they're going to take it all and they're going to take all of your treasure and they're going to take your grandchildren and they are going to be eunuchs in the palace of Babylon because you didn't exalt God.

You showed them your treasure and they're going to want your treasure. Your treasure was your stuff and not your God. Jesus said, 'lay not up for yourself treasure on earth where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break through and steal.' Last 24 hours I had two friends told me someone broke into their house. Actually, Karen told me one of our neighbors broke into a friend's house. And it's just always - it's happened to us.

You always feel kind of violated when that happens. Nothing in this world is going to last. The only thing that's going to get out of this world that's worth anything is people who have been transformed by the power of God. Hezekiah - everything was taken by king Nebuchadnezzar a little while later and Daniel, shadrach, meshach and abednego - some of the royal line - they were made eunuchs in the palace of Babylon. The exact same thing that Isaiah said would happen.

But then you get to the apostles - and this is acts chapter 3 - and their attitude is a little different at that point. You remember the story about the beautiful gate? And I think one of you is going to be reading for me, in just a moment, Proverbs 3:27 and 28 - who has - you'll be doing that in just a moment, okay? You remember when Peter and John, they go into the temple - people are there begging. There's a man crippled - begging at the temple gate and he's wanting some money - wanting a hand out. Peter stops and looks at him because his heart, you know, goes out to the man. When you've got the heart of Jesus, you care about suffering.

And he sees this man who's suffering, not only because he's poor, but the reason he's poor is because he's crippled. So what's the best thing to do? If you can help a person who's poor because they're crippled, and you can save them from being crippled, what would they rather have? A hand out for one more sandwich or would they rather have legs so they could work and feed themselves? So he stops and he looks at him and the man says, 'oh good, I've got a live one here. He's going to give me something.' And Peter said, 'lest you misunderstand, silver and gold I do not have. But such that I have I'm going to give you.' I'm going to give you something, but it's not silver or gold. Sometimes I've stopped where, you know, you have people at the intersections and they're holding out the sign and they're asking for handouts and I pause and, you know, sometimes, if they look like they're not going to use it the wrong way - and it's hard to tell - I used to panhandle.

I did it quite a bit. And so I know, a lot of times when I've panhandled, sometimes I bought food. Sometimes I bought beer. And so, you don't want to help a person get drunk and hurt themselves. That just kind of enables their prodigal living.

But I'll pause and I'll have like a magazine or a book or something like that - it happened last week here in town - and you give them something - it's like they go, 'oh, thanks.' And so you say to them, 'well, silver and gold I don't have, but I've got this tract.' 'Oh, thanks a lot.' Right? And so when he says to this man - Peter says, 'silver and gold I don't have.' He said, 'oh, what's he going to preach to me?' 'But I've got something better.' Now that man had come - we read some of the background material - that man had come to Jerusalem because he had heard about Jesus. He had come a long way because he had wanted to be healed. He got there and found out that about 50 days earlier Jesus had been crucified. Can you imagine how devastated he was? Because Christ healed just about everybody around the temple. And so this man was someone new and he said, 'in the name of Jesus, stand up and walk.

' And Peter took him by the hand and gave him the ability to walk. What would you rather have? What kind of riches should we desire? If God says, 'I'm going to give you silver and gold or I'm going to give you the ability to walk the Christian walk.' What would be worth more? You know that song - it's kind of an interesting story. Have you all heard of george beverly shay? He was a famous singing evangelist with billy graham for 60 years. Karen and I saw him once when billy graham came to northern California - oh, 25 years ago or years ago, anyway and, well, when george beverly shay was in his late 20s - may have been early 30s, he was an insurance salesman. Loved to sing - sang in church.

Father was a methodist minister and his singing was becoming more recognized. He'd sing on the radio - usually hymns. He'd do this program called 'songs in the night' or something. He'd sing - beautiful bass baritone voice - and he was a good musician too. He could play piano.

He was offered the opportunity, with a big contract, to sing on nbc on this radio program but it would involve him singing secular songs. And he said, 'you know, I just - I really believe that God wants me to sing for him and I don't think this is what he wants me to do.' And people said, 'oh, man, this is the opportunity - you've always wanted to sing full time. This is your opportunity to sing full time.' He said, 'yeah, but I'm not comfortable singing worldly music. I want to sing for God.' So he turned it down. And it wasn't long - and they said, 'you're going to miss it.

No one will ever hear from you again.' His friends told him. 'This is your chance at fame.' They said, 'no one will ever hear from you.' And then, a young evangelist called and said, 'i'd like you to' - he'd heard him sing and he said, 'I want you to sing for some meetings I'm doing.' That was billy graham. And so he went and began to sing for billy graham. Well, you know, since then - he lived to 104 - he died last year. They estimate that george beverly shay sang - his voice was heard live by more people than any other voice in history.

Because he sang for these billy graham crusades live that were broadcast around the world. And so when you give your gifts to God, he will multiply them and he'll take care of you. Anyways, so what would you rather have? Earthly silver and gold? You know, george beverly shay sang The Song - that's what made me think of the whole story - 'i'd rather have Jesus than silver and gold.' Right? And that worked out that way for him. Alright, let's go down - 'cries of the poor.' And read for us, please, Proverbs 3, verses 27 and 28. "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.

Say not unto thy neighbor, go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee." If you have someone working for you or they do a job for you and you're able to pay them, don't say to them, 'oh yeah, check's in the mail. I'll get back to you. Yeah, I don't have it right now. It's not with me right now,' when someone has done work for you - now, I know, if you work for a company and you get your paycheck every two weeks, you shouldn't ask for it every day. They didn't have those kind of pay systems in the Bible.

You had to trust the person to pay you. You know the parable Jesus tells about the workers in the vineyard? It says at the end of the day the steward brought everyone there - paid them right then. Because they might need that that day to be fed. And so a good man did that back then. They wanted to make sure that people were fed and they didn't have to wait a long time to get their paycheck.

And so this is a principle. James talks about this in chapter 5, verse 4, "behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth." Now that word sabaoth, first time I read that I thought that meant 'Lord of Sabbath.' No, sabaoth means hosts or the Lord of armies. It's a different word and it means the Lord of the armies of the angels of heaven he sees what you're doing and there'll be judgment for that. So when you owe somebody and you're a Christian, you should pay them. I remember when I first started reading the Bible, but I wasn't really converted yet, I used to steal.

And I started saying, 'well, I'm not going to steal from people anymore because, you know, it hurts folks, but I have no problem shoplifting because they're rich companies and they charge too much anyway.' And I would justify it. Never did occur to me the reason they charge so much is because - there's so much shoplifting that the prices go up for everybody else. You know why insurance is so high? Because of insurance fraud. You know one reason medical expenses are so high? Because people often abuse the system. And so when people take advantage of those things, they end up driving up the cost for everybody else.

Leviticus 19:13 - that same principle you were just reading here, 'you shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning." That's pretty clear that you're to pay people right on time. And back then it was at the end of the day. As I said, you know, if you're in a typical system where it's a computerized - usually biweekly - there are some companies that still do it monthly, but usually bi-weekly people get their paycheck because it all has to be processed with taxes and things like that. But, you know, there's a lot of places in the world still - someone does some work for you, you pay them right then.

And whenever you're able to, you need to do that because it's a principle: you have something that belongs to somebody else. I don't know about you, but whenever I have to borrow and I owe somebody, I am uncomfortable until I pay them back. I don't like owing anybody anything. I like to be - because I feel like I've got something that belongs to someone else. I feel like it's almost temporary theft or something and I want to get it back to them.

And then as soon as you borrow it, it breaks. You ever had - notice that? The pastor who baptized me, I borrowed his rototiller and he said, 'oh, no problem, I've had this merry tiller for 20 years. It starts full time and first time you crank it and it just goes and goes.' Well, the first time I used it - I probably didn't know what I was doing, but I broke it. And I felt so bad. I never could get that thing running again.

I felt so bad. And so I think we ended up getting him another rototiller or something. James 5:5 - still on that section - "you have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter." This is talking about the cries of the poor, but it really fits under the section 'fat and happy' because it says, 'you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.' Now, you know, just before thanksgiving the turkey gets cooped up and he's just fed the very best and he thinks, 'wow, I'm in paradise.' But what's happening? He's being fattened for the slaughter, right? And a calf might get penned up and the other cows are just getting hay. He's getting grain. He thinks, 'wow, look at me, you guys, you're just getting the straw, I'm getting grain.

' But he doesn't realize he's being fattened up for the slaughter. And here James is using that terminology and he's saying, 'do not think because you're living in luxury in this life that is going to translate to the favor of God in the next life.' How many of you remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus? You've got the poor man - and this is in Luke chapter 16 - it starts with verse 19 - you've got the poor man - by the way, that's our book - the free offer that we've got for this program. The poor man is struggling. He's desiring the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table. The rich man is feasting.

He's in a palace. The poor man's at his gates. That means that he's got a house with gates. He's clothed with purple, you know, the picture is that he's got great abundance and luxury and he's probably thinking to himself, obviously God loves me more than poor Lazarus at my gate because look at how I'm blessed and look at how he suffers.' That is not biblically true - that because a person is prospering doesn't always mean they're prospering spiritually. I think we all know people that may be rich and they're very cold to others and they're abusive and they're uncaring.

Who was it? Leona helmsley. They called her the - what was it? The witch of wall street - owned these hotels and left like one dollar to her children and grandchildren. Left millions of dollars to her maltese dog. I mean, just not everybody that has money really loves their neighbor. And what happened? In the judgment, the rich man, he goes to torment and the poor man, he goes to glory and he's in Abraham's bosom.

And so James is saying, 'do not think, because you have an abundance in this life, that somehow God loves you more than others. Keep in mind, God and the devil can send prosperity. Jesus said, 'God is love. He will send rain and sunshine on the good and on the evil.' And there are certain laws of life that God respects. There are some people who work very hard.

They use the wisdom that God's given them to get very rich and they live very selfish lives. He won't stop them from ever making money or being rich, but they might be getting fat for the day of slaughter. Alright, someone, I think, has Jeremiah :13 - is that you? Alright, I think we're ready for that if they're ready for you. Jeremiah 22:13, "woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness and his chambers by injustice, who uses his neighbor's service without wages and gives him nothing for his work." Here are just a few more verses that talk about that principle that we need to be fair. I was traveling with a friend who was a Christian - a very successful businessman and we were in a hotel room together and - in india - somebody brought his bag to his room and he took out and handed the fellow a twenty-dollar tip.

And first the young man, he took the money, he put it in his hand and he walked out, then when he got in the hall, evidently, he opened it up and saw what it was. Well, you know, in india, a twenty American-dollar tip is like giving a hundred dollar tip in the states. He actually walked back in the room and said, 'sir, I think you may have mistakenly given me the wrong bill.' And my friend said, 'no, that's for you.' And he went out and I thought, 'wow, that's really generous.' Instead of giving, you know, you might tip a person for bringing your bag to the room but, instead of giving maybe what would have been normal, he said, 'I want to make his day. I'm going to bless him above what's normal.' And wow, it's - I thought to myself, 'he just wants to go above and beyond with everybody.' I had someone tell me, 'doug, do you realize you paid that person too much for that?' I said, 'I know,' but I said, 'maybe they need it too.' I mean, you know, sometimes we always try and, when we deal and negotiate with people, get the very best price. Christians shouldn't always necessarily be stingy that way.

I think we should be economical, but sometimes you might even pay a person a little more than you know it's worth because you're wanting to be generous. You ever think of it that way? Alright, let me give you another example. We're talking about - under the section 'fat and happy' - now, but it doesn't stay that way. James 5:5, "you have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter." Now we read that already, but how many remember the story of gehazi? When you think of the word 'gehazi,' you could actually think of the word 'greed.' Elisha the prophet - he was the attendant of Elisha the prophet - gehazi. Just like Elisha was the personal attendant of Elijah.

Elijah didn't want an earthly inheritance. When God said to Elisha - Elisha, rather, didn't want an earthly inheritance. When Elijah said to him, 'what do you want before I go to heaven?' He didn't say, 'I want a million dollars.' Like, you know, a genie or something. He said, 'let me have a double portion of your spirit.' Well, Elijah goes to heaven in a fiery chariot. Elisha gets a double portion of Elijah's spirit.

Now Elisha is training his apprentice, who could be the next prophet of Israel - gehazi. But gehazi didn't want the spirit, he wanted the stuff. And gehazi sort of resented that when naaman the prophet came to be cleansed of his leprosy - naaman the leper, rather, came to be cleansed - he was assyrian - from his leprosy, he brought all this money with him. You know, millions of dollars by today's standard - to pay for his healing. And he tried to pay when he was cleansed from leprosy and Elisha the prophet said, 'I won't take anything.

Not a - nothing, because your healing is a symbol for salvation and it's free. God wants you to know it's a gift.' And he flatly refused even though naaman urged him to take something. But gehazi was watching. He was thinking, 'are you crazy? Man, look at the house we're living in. Look at the pews in the church.

We could use a little bit. He doesn't need it, we need it.' But there was a principle involved. It represented salvation and he wasn't going to take anything. So after naaman leaves and Elisha settles down in the house, gehazi said, 'I'm not letting the guy get away with all that money. He's assyrian.

They don't deserve it, we deserve it.' Who knows what he said? Ran after him. Chased him down and pretty soon he caught up with the chariot. He's huffing and puffing and naaman stopped and said, 'what can I do for you? Is something wrong?' He says, 'you know, Elisha said we don't need anything, but right after you left we have two poor sons of the prophets that came from another place and they could really use some help.' And he said, 'happy to help.' I mean, naaman's so happy. He's just been healed of leprosy. He's got life.

He'd give it all. He didn't care, right? Because, for him, life was worth more than the means. He said, 'well, if we could have some silver...' He said, 'take two!' And he loads him down with all this silver. Elisha - I'm sorry, gehazi tries to sneak back to Elisha's house without him knowing and he comes in to check on his master and Elisha said, 'so, where were you gehazi? You disappeared for a little while.' 'I didn't go anywhere.' And Elisha said, 'did not my heart go with you when you turned back after the man?' He said, 'is this a time to get houses and vineyards, olive yards, male and female servants?' He said, 'because you've done this thing, the leprosy of naaman is going to cling to you and your descendants forever.' And it says he went out of the presence of Elisha 'a leper white as snow.' So he, because of his greed - was he happy then? When he got those earthly riches? Can you think of somebody else in the Bible that was preoccupied with earthly riches and it backfired on them? What about Judas? He was willing to sell the Savior for silver. And you think, 'what in the world came over him? Here he's got a friend who's offering him eternal life - golden streets - and all Judas could think about was thirty pieces of silver right now.

The price of a slave. And, by the way, the Bible foretold - isn't that an amazing prophecy? The Bible foretold how much Jesus would be betrayed for - thirty pieces of silver - that it would be cast to the potter in the house of the Lord. Judas came with that thirty pieces of silver. He was overwhelmed with guilt when he realized Jesus was going to be executed. He threw down the money.

He said, 'I betrayed innocent blood.' He threw it down in the house of the Lord they didn't know what to do with the money because it was blood money and so they said, 'let's use it to buy the potter's field - the field that a potter had, nothing would grow there - the potter got his clay out of this field because it was a clay field - to bury people in. So the money that was used to betray Jesus ended up becoming graveyard money to buy up a worthless field for burying criminals and strangers in. I mean, how perfectly that prophecy was fulfilled. How happy was Judas? Did that money make him happy? What profit is it if you gain the whole world and you lose your soul? And this is what James is saying in this whole section. He's talking about this kind of increase doesn't bring lasting joy.

Alright, let's talk about another character. Who has the book of Jude, verse ? Okay, you're going to read that next. But before you do, I'm going to read Genesis 14, verses 22 through 23. Some of you remember when Abraham rescued lot. Lot had been carried away.

There was a battle where these five Kings of the north, led by a man named chedorlaomer from up by damascus, they came down and they attacked the four Kings of sodom, gomorrah, zoar and another city. And sodom and gomorrah and those cities of the plain fell. They were captured. They were being carried off to the north. Abraham, with mamre and heshcol - eshcol - they got together and they formed an alliance and they went and attacked the invading army and rescued every one that had been captured including lot.

Well, by rights, Abraham had the rights of all of the bounty of the war because they were all lost. They were all dying. They said, 'you keep - you can keep it all, just give us our lives.' And you know what Abraham said? 'I'm not going to take any of it.' Abraham said to the King of sodom, 'I have lifted up my hand to the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth' - he owns everything - 'that I will not take a thread, even a shoelace, from the things that were taken from this war, lest thou should say 'I have made Abraham rich.' He said, 'if I am blessed, it's going to be God that makes me rich. I'm not going to take anything from sodom.' Now there's a principle there that I think we all understand. Sodom, even back then, was known as a wicked place.

It says it before this story. He said, 'I'm not taking anything from sodom. I don't want you folks saying, 'yeah, Abraham's rich because he took everything from us.'' So God wants his people - when the blessings come, let it be by integrity. Alright, read for us Jude, verse 11. Woe to them for they have gone in the way of cain, have run greedily in the error of balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of korah.

" Alright, so he talks about cain and he talks about korah, but the main one there in the middle, he uses the example of greedily running after gain like who? Balaam. What was balaam's occupation? He was a prophet of God. But what went wrong? He was being offered a substantial raise and a lot of benefits in order to compromise his gifts. And I remember hearing a story about a man who was a missionary in indonesia years ago, at an oil company. I don't know if it was chevron or exxon - one of these oil companies was doing work there and they said, 'we need somebody who knows the culture, knows the people, that can speak the language, that can be a liaison among these tribes where we're going to be doing some drilling.

And they said, 'the best person is this missionary. He's been there for years. He's very bright. He knows the people. He knows the customs.

They went and offered him a job. And he turned it down. And they sent another group back to him and they said, 'we'll give you more.' And he turned it down. And they went back to him the third time and they said, 'you name your price.' And he said, 'it's not that the price isn't enough, the price is more than high enough.' He said, 'the job isn't big enough.' He says, 'I'm working for God. You're asking me to work for an oil company.

' He said, 'that's not a big enough job for me.' And so balaam, though, he wanted the honors and he did everything he could to take his gift that God have given him - of prophecy - and he tried to use it to curse God's people. And he knew that was wrong, but he wanted the money. And you know what happened? Balaam ended up losing his life. He may have gotten some of the rewards of balak, but it didn't last. It didn't bring him any happiness.

So moving on, then you've got the section called, 'fat and happy for now.' Amos 4:1, "hear tHis Word, you cows of bashan, who are on the mountain of samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, 'bring wine, let us drink!'" Now the fact that they're saying to their husbands means - are these men or women? Women. Boy, you just get in a lot of trouble if you're teaching a class and you talk about fat women. But what does a woman represent in prophecy? A church. A church. This is spiritual language that is talking about the religions of the people that were drunk - does Revelation talk about a woman who is drunk? Does it say she's rich, wearing pearls and gold, persecuting the prophets and the poor? Are there religious institutions that take advantage of the poor? Matter of fact, one of the worst things - false representations that happens to the Christian church is when people, in the name of God, take advantage of others and they rob the poor and the widows.

I mean, we've all heard stories about unscrupulous preachers that say, you know, 'just send your last check to me and God is going to consider it a seed of faith and he'll open the windows of heaven for you.' And people are destitute because they're being led to give and to give. Jesus said to the pharisees, 'you rob widow's houses and for a pretense you make long prayers.' So even in the religious world that James is talking about, there were some who were very rich. Was nicodemus religious? And was nicodemus rich? You know, so even in the early church back then, many of the priests converted and many of them had a lot of resources and they were taking advantage of others. Under the last section here it says, 'blame the victim.' James , verse 6, "you have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you." It's talking, here, about taking advantage of people because of the position of power. Have we seen, in history, that sometimes people with money and influence, they're not held to the same standard? They can hire better lawyers.

It seems like their jail term is not as long as others maybe. And when politicians are caught in corruption, have you ever noticed that they kind of get put in these jails that are like a country club? Not always, but several times. If your average person did some of the extortion and corruption that they do, they'd be locked up in a common jail. But because of their money and their influence, it seems like they get special favors and they take advantage of people. Who has James 2, verse 5? Okay, you got the microphone? I think I'm going to go ahead and have you read that for us now.

James 2, verse 5, "listen my beloved brethren: has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom which he promised to those who love him?" Now God wants us to be rich. In heaven we'll be the richest of all because we will live in the greatest most glorious kingdom, walking on golden streets, wearing crowns, but he wants us to first - before we can enjoy and handle riches like that, we must be rich in faith. And that's why he says - Jesus says - Matthew 5:3, "blessed are the poor" - is God saying that there's some virtue in being poor? He says, "blessed are the poor in spirit" - that means the humble - "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Now we need to be careful not to trust in uncertain riches. The Bible's very clear about that. What Jesus said to the rich young ruler he didn't say to everybody - 'go sell all that you have.

Give it to the poor - you'll have treasure in heaven.' I think that everybody, when they become a Christian, in their heart, needs to make that decision. 'Lord, everything I have belongs to you and I will use it the way you direct.' And be willing, as God presents needs and his will, to freely distribute. And, at the same time, Christians need to know how to work. They know how to save. They need to be open to the holy spirit and know how to give and witness for Jesus.

I know one wealthy fellow. He wanted to witness for the Lord. He had money, but he was always very shy talking to people. And so what he did is he took a cab to this evangelistic meeting in the city and he said to the cab driver - the guy had lots of money - he said, 'I'm going to go to this meeting. It's really good and I don't want to look for a cab when I get out.

' He says, 'you leave the meter running. You come in with me.' And so he paid for the cab driver to leave his meter running and come in and sit and listen and hear the Gospel. And I understand the guy was ultimately converted. I mean, he just felt - that's something not all of us could afford, but he could and that was his way of witnessing. And so all of us can do something to share our faith and we want to make sure that we don't become distracted with - 'a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things that he possesses.

' Important for us to remember because we live in a generation where we have more things that we can buy now than any other time in the history of man. It's easy for us to be distracted with things and forget about what really matters, which is eternal life. Amen? I want to remind our friends that are watching with us, we're coming to you from albuquerque right now, but we do have a free offer. It's called 'the rich man and Lazarus' by dennis crews. Offer #118 when you call -788-3966 - That's 866-study-more.

God bless you until we get to study God's Word together again next week. Did you know that Noah was present at the birth of Abraham? Okay, maybe he wasn't in the room, but he was alive and probably telling stories about his floating zoo. From the creation of the world to the last day events of Revelation, 'Biblehistory.com' is a free resource where you can explore major Bible events and characters. Enhance your knowledge of the Bible and draw closer to God's Word. Go deeper.

Visit 'Biblehistory.com'.

Share a Prayer Request
Ask a Bible Question



Prayer Request:

Share a Prayer Request


Bible Question:

Ask a Bible Question