Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
One time I saw an article floating around CNN’s website which claimed that you actually could buy happiness- in seven ways if I recall correctly. I decided to forgo reading the article, but I suppose that in some ways you may be able to keep yourself happy by expending money (depending on what brings you joy). There is, however, at least one thing that you can’t buy; and that’s what the Holy Spirit pressed me to write about today.
Ezekiel was a prophet during the exile of Israel and God used him to send strong messages to the scattered Israelites. His messages frequently dealt with judgment, and so that’s where we’ll start today:
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says to the land of Israel: ‘The end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land. The end is now upon you and I will unleash my anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and will repay you for all your detestable practices. I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will surely repay you for your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that I am the Lord (Ezekiel 1:1-4).
What he’s saying (if it isn’t clear) is that the end will come, and when it comes the Lord will judge everyone. And what happens at that judgment? In Ezekiel 18:4 he explains, “For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son- both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). For those who sin there is only one punishment: death- and not just physical death, but spiritual death too. That’s a problem; because as Solomon explained, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Just as much as everyone poops, everyone sins (though probably not in the same frequencies/volumes). And nobody gets a free pass for ignorance. Paul explains,
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Romans 1:20).
What he’s saying is that evidence of the Lord is everywhere, his fingerprints cover the landscape; therefore nobody gets to say, “Oh, I didn’t know there was a God.” Actually, he cranks it up a notch in the next verse, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21). By making this statement, Paul is saying that people who say they don’t know if God exists (lookin’ at you, agnostics) or people who firmly believe there is no God (or worship some man-made god) are actually denying the obvious and digging themselves a deeper hole. He then ratchets it up one more slot in the last verse of the chapter, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). Since those who deny God feel as though they have no one to call them to account, they do whatever they want; God sees it all and they are without excuse in his eyes. And so the Word has made clear that if you sin (which everyone does), you will die and go to hell.
Ah, but there is an answer! For it is written,
A feast is made for laughter,
And wine makes life merry,
But money is the answer for everything (Ecclesiastes 10:19).
Money can save me! Well, perhaps it can save you from all worldly ills, but there’s a problem. Paul explains,
For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live (1 Corinthians 8:5-6).
If all things come from God and Christ (including money), that means that they supersede everything else; therefore an issue with the Lord is an issue that money cannot rectify (lookin’ at you, medieval church). Ezekiel also weighs in on how useful money is when judgment comes:
They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the Lord’s wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin (Ezekiel 7:19).
The Lord goes on (through Ezekiel), “They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols and vile images. Therefore I will turn these into an unclean thing for them” (Ezekiel 7:20). So not only is money a false hope people put trust into, but it actually leads them into sin and further bad blood with the Lord. He continues, “I will hand it all over as plunder to foreigners and as loot to the wicked of the earth, and they will defile it” (Ezekiel 7:21). A lot of people put their security into how much is cash they have, but one shouldn’t do that, because money is easily lost at the Lord’s whims. There’s a great description of Egypt in the Bible that also applies well to money,
Look now, you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces a man’s hand and wounds him if he leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him (Isaiah 36:6).
That’s basically the Lord’s depiction of money in Ezekiel.
“Phew,” you sigh, “Luckily, money isn’t my problem; I’m in debt up to my eyes!” Well, unfortunately, lack of money won’t save you either. God doesn’t discriminate based on wealth, the poor are held to the same accounts as the rich. Actually, the Bible does a good job pointing this out. We all know one shouldn’t favor the rich:
Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing the fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there “ or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:2-4)
But did you know that the Bible, which is very in favor of charity, also says we shouldn’t show preference to the poor? Check it out: “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit” (Exodus 23:2-3). Be you in a gated community or on the outside looking in, your end will come; and it is the same end for all: “Outside is the sword, inside are plague and famine; those in the country will die by the sword, and those in the city will be devoured by famine and plague” (Ezekiel 7:15). Those who survive today are marked and only are awaiting their final (very hot) destination, “All who survive and escape will be in the mountains, moaning like doves of the valleys, each because of his sins” (Ezekiel 7:16). I told you Ezekiel relates strong messages. God takes this sin thing pretty seriously, and unfortunately due to our sinful nature we all stand condemned.
And so, with our sorry state in mind, Paul cried out in Romans 7:24, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” The answer is Jesus Christ. Paul explains about the Lord Jesus, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus, through his death on a cross, purchased you from hell and allows you to be redeemed and given an everlasting life in heaven upon your physical passing. Paul writes,
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
With his blood, the Lord Jesus paid your sin debt to the Lord that you might be free from condemnation. And this was a one-time deal that lasts eternally; as it is written, “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).
The Lord has a message for us all: “Doom has come upon you- you who dwell in the land. The time has come, the day is near; there is panic, not joy, upon the mountains” (Ezekiel 7:7). We’re all on borrowed time, and nobody knows when their number will be called. Don’t waste time; accept Christ’s sacrifice and salvation now! Paul spells out how to do it in Romans 10:9-10,
…That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
That’s all it takes: belief and a declaration of that belief in Christ and his death for you and his Lordship. If you have any other questions, check out the Emergency Salvation Kit for details and an actual prayer that can assist you in embracing God as your savior. Money can buy everything on earth, but only Jesus could afford your everlasting redemption- it’s the one thing money truly can’t buy.