Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
It is said that “you can’t take it with you.” This is actually not true. Obviously your stuff won’t follow you to heaven or hell, but you can have your coffin stuffed with your things. However, like the Pharaohs before you, you may be quickly at the mercy of grave robbers. Stuff and money flows, it is the nature of our world because, as the Holy Spirit explained to me, it’s not yours.
The Year of Jubilee is one of my favorite laws. The most basic part of the law reads,
Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields (Leviticus 25:10-12).
Property is returned and slaves are freed in the Year of Jubilee. This would have a huge impact on the Israelite economy; as major purchases are priced based on when the Year of Jubilee is. Check out what happens to real estate,
If you sell land to one of your countrymen or buy any from him, do not take advantage of each other. You are to buy from your countryman on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And he is to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what he is really selling you is the number of crops (Leviticus 25:14-16).
Through this law, the Lord was trying to teach the Israelites a special lesson, one so important he outright explains it:
The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land (Leviticus 25:23-24).
The land isn’t yours. Our nations fight over plots of ground and try to lay claim to land, but none of it is ours. Think of the wars that could have been avoided if we actually believed this.
But it goes further than land. This principle applies to our property and wealth as well. Solomon noted,
I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on men: God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil (Ecclesiastes 6:1-2).
You save and collect, but one day someone else will receive what you worked for. And so we read,
So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune (Ecclesiastes 2:17-21).
All that you work for, strive for, and toil for will one day be in another person’s hands. And there’s nothing you can do about it; because you’ll be dead. That’s why instead of clawing and fighting, Solomon advises you to relax and enjoy what God gives you,
Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him – for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19).
Enjoy what you have, but don’t hold it too tightly; for you may not always have it.
This is where tithing comes in. God says in Psalms 50:12, “If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.” And since everything is the Lord’s, we are called to acknowledge God’s place as the great provider; for “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). We acknowledge God’s supremacy by giving the tithe, returning 10% of God’s money to the Lord (through his church). The Lord writes,
Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
But you ask, “How do we rob you?”
In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse – the whole nation of you – because you are robbing me (Malachi 3:8-9).
By not tithing you are trying to fight the Lord’s system and not acknowledging his claim over everything. God says this is robbing him – but really you’re just robbing yourself. If God is the source of all things and you deny him what he asks, then what do you expect to happen? The Bible can tell you what will happen:
“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops (Haggai 1:9-10).
The huge economic decline? It’s because we forgot how universal economics worked and tried to fill our own pockets. It was never yours in the first place, so why do you hold so tightly to it?
There is one piece of real estate that you can own, though – and for free – forever. Your name can be written in Jesus’ book of life. Okay, so it’s only a plot of property about as big as your name, but it’s yours when you accept Jesus Christ as your savior and your Lord. It is also the most valuable thing for you to lay claim to, because at the end of the age, when all are judged, “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). Don’t fight and kick for things that aren’t yours, rather seek the one thing that can be and will have the most lasting impact on your life; this life and the life to come.