Our last reading this week: James 5:1-8
What does the Bible say about those who are wealthy? This depends on two things:
1. How did they acquire their wealth? (through unjust or through righteous behaviour?)
2. How are they managing that wealth? Are they being obedient to Biblical principles?
v1: Come now – this is a type of invitation. James is wanting to lead these people to have a proper perspective.
· We are going to learn that James is not speaking to all wealthy people in this verse – he is speaking to those who have acquired their wealth through ungodly means.
· Weep and howl (wailing in agony or pain) – this is not a joyful invitation, and nor is it one that brings pleasure to these people. They are going to experience great sorrow, which is going to be brought on by their wealth.
v2: Corrupted – a word that speaks of decay, rottenness. It doesn’t last or endure.
· Garments – their fine, luxurious clothes.
v3: Corroded – rusted, therefore worthless.
· A witness against you – the worthless wealth that people have stored up for themselves (many times through not utilising the principles of Scripture) is going to act as a testimony against them.
· Fire, Biblically, is often a reference to a source of judgement. It reveals G-ds displeasure.
· In the last days G-d is going to annihilate all of the things which these wealthy individuals have stored up and treasured. Their wealth is going to be a source that devours their flesh in the last days – it is going to cause them a great deal of torment and pain.
v4: It is in this verse that we now see that we are indeed talking about people who have acquired their wealth through unjust means – through the suffering and hard work of others.
Note: Those who put Biblical principles into practice and those who manage whatever they receive properly (under G-dly instruction) have wealth as a resource that they can utilise for the glory of G-d.
· L-rd of Sabaoth = L-rd of hosts, L-rd of the armies. It is a name of G-d that speaks about Him being all powerful and He is able to bring about any change that He wants to. Many times, change (and vindication – setting things into their proper order) is brought about through judgement.
v5: Instead of being concerned about the welfare of others they lined their own pockets and feathered their own nests – making sure that they were comfortable and living well.
· Pleasure and luxury – self-indulgence and self-gratification.
· Fattened your hearts – the image here reminds us of how the calf was fattened for the day of slaughter. The calf was made nice and fat because its fatness was going to provide nourishment to others in the day of slaughter.
v6: These wealthy ones live in such a way as to condemn others.
· Murdered the just – these wealthy ones use their power and their resources (wealth) in such a way that they persecute those who are righteous.
· Does not resist you – meaning: These righteous ones are not standing against you, they’re not your enemy. They are hated simply because they live lives of righteousness – seeking first the Kingdom of G-d.
v7: “Therefore: – ie in light of what we read yesterday. James is speaking to true believers (“brethren”).
· Patient = long suffering.
· L-rd – James is talking about Yeshua but chooses to use this phrase in relation to Him. “The L-rd” reminds us that we are to submit to Him.
· “The coming of the L-rd” speaks of the rapture (1 Thess 4:17). G-d could keep us safe in the midst of His wrath but for true believers this is not going to happen. We will be removed before the wrath of G-d falls, as we are not subject to His wrath (1 Thess 5:9). Unbelieving Israel, however, are going to go through this time of G-d’s wrath (like they
did in Egypt before Passover). G-d will sustain and look after them through this time as He brings them to redemption.
· Planting and reaping do not happen overnight. Time passes. Just like a farmer waits expectantly for his crop so to do we wait eagerly for Yeshua’s return.
v8: Patience again emphasised. The implication is that this long suffering, this patient waiting with expectation, is going to strengthen us! It is going to strengthen/establish our hearts.
Note: G-d has given us a prophetic sign which point to His soon coming – when we see the wealthy ones defrauding, cheating etc and there is an overwhelming desire among most people to live luxuriously (to live in a way that indulges their flesh) then we know His coming is near. This characterises the world we live in today.