Thursday, September 29, 2011

110929 - Proverbs 28 - Accumulation of wealth and purpose

S: Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit
gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.
(Proverbs 28:8)

O: This is found in a chapter of Proverbs that has a lot to say about how bad it is when the wicked gain power. I understand it therefore to mean that the stingy man who spends all his time multiplying wealth does so for the righteous man who will be godly and generous with it. It is similar to Proverbs 13:22b, "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just."

A: Pr. 13:22 is a favorite of the prosperity gospel preachers. But careful reflection on the meaning of this passage reveals the error of much teaching on that one. To a greedy ear, it sounds as if believers are entitled to accumulate massive wealth, so that their grandchildren will be wealthy (so what's so bad about enjoying the luxuries in the process.) But in reality they form a couplet related by irony. The righteous man is able to leave an inheritance to his grandchildren. (Nothing is said about wealth.) And the sinner only accumulates wealth for the righteous to eventually enjoy. The righteous, in Proverbs 28:8, is defined as someone who is generous to the poor, managing the wealth in a manner that reflects Deut. 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.

By what mechanism does the wealth of the sinner depart? Solomon expounds wryly on this in Ecclesiastes 2:18-26. Ironically, he accumulated incredible wealth, perhaps more than anyone else in history, yet, as he worried, he accumulated it for his son who proved to be a fool.

Even more ironically, verses like this one, leveraged out of contextual Biblical interpretation, are used as a mechanism to manipulate the simple into donating out of an odd form of spiritual avarice. Perhaps the teachers justify it by their own application of the passage - surely, they are the "just," for whom the wealth of sinners is laid up.

In this dispensation, I suspect that the application is in the eschatological sense. The wealth of sinners is ULTIMATELY laid up for the just. In the Millennial Kingdom, all nations will come peacefully to Jerusalem, asking to be taught the Lord's path. (Isaiah 2:1-5) The Lord alone will be exalted in that day, and the pride of men will be brought low. (Isaiah 2:12-22)

P: Father, turn the hearts of your people back to you, repentant from such tactics as the false teachers preach. Christ's Kingdom, His Power and Glory, will have no rivals and no successor.

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