"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES" When God Gets Angry At The Rich (5:1-6) INTRODUCTION 1. Compared to many people in the world, we are indeed blessed; in fact, in comparison with most people who live now and who have lived in the past, we are VERY RICH! 2. Now, it is important to stress that God does not condemn the rich for being rich... a. Some of the godliest people in the Bible were rich b. E.g., Job, Abraham, Joseph, David, Solomon, Barnabas, Philemon Lydia 3. However, Christ does speak of the difficulty of the rich being saved - cf. Mt 19:23-26 4. And there are times when God is very angry at the rich, as in our text: 1 Go to now, [ye] rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon [you]. 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. 4 Behold, the hire of the labourers 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. 5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. 6 Ye have condemned [and] killed the just; [and] he doth not resist you. (James 5) 5. As we consider this passage more carefully, we shall do so by trying to answer four questions: a. Who is James addressing in this passage? b. What is in store for these rich people? c. Why is God so angry at them? d. What applications can we draw from this passage? [We begin, then, with the first question...] I. WHO IS JAMES ADDRESSING IN THIS PASSAGE? A. ARE THEY CHRISTIANS? 1. Are these rich Christians who had been guilty of oppressing their brethren? 2. Possibly, but unlikely for several reasons... a. They are not addressed as "brethren" as is often done in this epistle - Jm 1:2,19; 2:1,14; 3:1,10; 4:11 b. There is no call to repentance in this passage 1) As there is throughout this epistle in those passages in which it is clear brethren are being addressed 2) Here there is only condemnation! c. The brethren are not addressed until verse 7, in which THEY are told to be patient in light of what has just been said B. MORE LIKELY, THOSE ADDRESSED ARE RICH UNBELIEVERS... 1. Who had been oppressing the Christians - cf. Jm 2:6 2. This tirade of judgment upon them appears to serve the purpose of comforting the brethren who were being oppressed by them - cf. Jm 5:7 a. The Lord has heard their cries - Jm 5:4b b. Judgment is coming upon these rich oppressors c. Therefore the Christians are told to be patient [But even if this passage does not have direct reference to rich Christians, there are still things to which we should give careful heed. And so, we ask...] II. WHAT IS IN STORE FOR THESE RICH OPPRESSORS? A. MISERIES THAT WILL CAUSE THEM TO "WEEP AND HOWL"! (1-3a) 1. So certain are these miseries to come, that James speaks of them already occuring! a. Riches are corrupted b. Garments are moth-eaten c. Gold and silver are corroded 2. When this "corrosion" of their riches occurs... a. It will serve as a witness against them (that they were guilty of the things to be mentioned shortly b. It will eat their flesh like fire 1) The anguish and misery of poverty usually affects the hardest those who were once rich! 2) Thus, when poverty strikes, it will make them "weep and howl" as though they were on fire! B. THE MISERIES SPOKEN HERE MAY HAVE REFERENCE TO WHAT LATER OCCURED IN THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM IN 70 A.D. 1. Not long after this epistle was written, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans 2. Many of the rich Jews who had oppressed their Christian brethren literally "weeped and howled" 3. What they had failed to realize was that they had heaped up treasure "in the last days" (Jm 5:3b) a. Like the man in the parable of the rich fool (Lk 12:16-21), they thought they were laying up riches for their latter days b. When in fact, it was the "last days" of the Jewish economy when they were so busy storing up wealth! c. Like some today, who store up for retirement and then die before they retire! [The miseries that came upon these rich people were terrible indeed (as described by Flavius Josephus, an eyewitness of the destruction of Jerusalem). Even if it did not come in the destruction of Jerusalem, it certainly came upon them when they died, as it did upon the rich man in the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31)! This leads us to the third question...] III. WHY IS GOD SO ANGRY AT THESE RICH PEOPLE? A. BECAUSE OF HOW THEY GOT THEIR WEALTH... 1. It was through wicked means - 4 2. Specifically, by withholding wages from those who had worked for them 3. Just as some people today get rich through dishonest schemes or unjust labor practices! B. BECAUSE OF HOW THEY USED THEIR WEALTH... 1. They hoarded their wealth - 3b 2. They spent it on themselves with pleasures and luxury - 5 (fattening themselves like cows for the slaughter!) 3. They used the power that comes with wealth to oppress "the just" - 6 a. Possibly a reference to Christ b. Or the Christian whom they also oppressed [The manner in which they got their wealth and used it caused those who were oppressed to cry out, and the Lord heard their prayers (4). Now, God who is just is about to bring judgment upon these rich oppressors! Having examined this passage more closely...] IV. WHAT APPLICATIONS CAN WE DRAW? A. WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL HOW WE OBTAIN OUR WEALTH... 1. To do so at the expense of others will bring God's wrath upon us! - cf. Deut 24:14,15 2. It is wrong to think that success can only come by stepping on others 3. This might be an appropriate place to add what we learn from Paul in 1Ti 6:9-10 a. It is not riches that are wrong, but the DESIRE TO BE RICH that is wrought with many dangers! b. Riches are not wrong if they are the BY-PRODUCT of our endeavors, not the GOAL of those endeavors! 1) I.e., one may desire to be a doctor to help the sick, or a plumber because of one's skill or interest in such matters, and receive riches as a by-product because of the value society might place on such services 2) But to enter such professions solely because one's goal is to get rich thereby, then we are ensnared by the love of money! 4. So how do we obtain our wealth? a. If we do it honestly and in compensation for a job well done, then God is not displeased b. But if we do it by hurting others and by making wealth our primary object, then we are in danger of God's wrath! B. WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL HOW WE USE OUR WEALTH... 1. To spend it on luxurious living when others are suffering... a. Is exactly what James has described in this passage b. Is an indication of the lack of the love of God - 1Jn 3:17 2. According to the New Testament, the purpose of working is not to obtain wealth for our own gratification, but to help those less fortunate! a. As commanded by Paul - Ep 4:28; 1Ti 6:17-19 b. As exemplified by Paul - Ac 20:34-35 CONCLUSION 1. Living in the country and society in which we do, we have much for which to be thankful 2. But we also have much of which we need to beware: a. We live in a society where it is quite easy to become wealthy b. We live in a society where covetousness or the desire to be rich are not considered sins c. We live in a society where heaping up treasures for our own gratification is considered an inalienable right! -- It is easy to be influenced by these values! 3. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves constantly: Are we laying up treasure in heaven, or on earth? a. Those who lay up treasure in heaven are those who use their wealth to do good and help the poor and less fortunate - cf. Mt 19:21;1Ti 6:18-19 b. Those who lay up treasure on earth are actually storing up for themselves miseries and wrath! 1) Miseries...when their wealth fails them in their time of true need 2) Wrath...from God in the Day of wrath that is yet to come These are sobering thoughts worthy of our careful consideration...Have you even begun to lay up treasure in heaven by obeying the gospel of Christ?
God's Electrical Heavens
|by||Branyon May, Ph.D.|
According to atmospheric scientists, the Earth has a functioning dynamic global electric circuit. “In the conventional picture, the main components of Earth’s global electric circuit include thunderstorms, the conducting ionosphere, the downward fair-weather currents and the conducting Earth” (Su, et al., p. 974). [The ionosphere is a portion of the upper atmosphere composed of ionized particles formed by the x-ray and ultraviolet irradiative effects of the Sun.] In a greatly simplified picture, the global electric circuit can be viewed as a large spherical capacitor (i.e., a device for the storage of electrical charge). In this model, the ionosphere serves as the upper boundary, and the ground serves as the lower boundary. Between these two boundaries, scientists have measured an existing potential difference of 300,000 volts (Pasko, 2003, 423:927). The electric potential that exists due to this natural capacitor is vital to the global electric circuit. The balance of this potential is vital to the proper functioning of the atmospheric system. Victor Pasko, professor of electrical engineering at Penn State University, commented: “There are many components contributing to the balance of potential between the plates, but two are critical: thunderstorms, of which there are about 2,000 globally at any given time and which act as batteries charging the capacitor; and fair-weather regions, in which the capacitor can discharge continuously through the weakly conducting atmosphere” (p. 927). During fair weather, there is a continual discharge occurring in the global electric circuit. This discharge has been estimated to account for a leakage of approximately one kiloampere, on the global scale.
The traditional view held that the role of thunderstorms was to counteract the continual fair-weather discharge, by acting as a generator driving current into the Earth’s capacitor, both recharging and maintaining the potential difference found between the ionosphere and ground. However, the discovery by Su and his colleagues has introduced another aspect to thunderstorm activity. As Pasko remarked, there is “a new factor in the model of the Earth’s electrical and chemical environment” (p. 927). These “gigantic optical jets” have acted against the commonly held view of thunderstorms as recharging mechanisms; rather, the measurements support the view that they serve to discharge the global capacitor, removing approximately 30 Coulombs each, from the ionosphere. The researchers stated that this would account for only a fraction of one percent of the total charge in the atmosphere, but does “account for a substantial fraction of charges residing in the lower ionosphere” (Su, et al., p. 976). With the new data, Su and his colleagues concluded: “[T]he conventional picture of the global electric circuit needs to be modified to include the contributions of gigantic jets and possibly sprites” (p. 974).
In addition to the electrical environment, Pasko also mentioned that these jets present a new factor in the chemical environment. Oxygen is one of the primary constituents of Earth’s atmosphere, accounting for approximately 21%. Oxygen is considered a diatomic element, meaning that it has an affinity for being paired with itself, as in atmospheric oxygen (O2 ). The explosion of thunder that can be heard is the result of a rapid expansion of air. The expansion of air is caused by the intense heating of atmospheric molecules by the electrical discharge. As it extends, lightning scorches the air, reaching temperatures more than four times hotter than the surface of the Sun—nearly 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. According to John Roach, writer for National Geographic, lightning produces “enough energy to keep a 100-watt light bulb lit for three months” (2003). Through its electrical nature, lightning also has the capacity to ionize particles. It has been documented that lightning has the capacity of initiating chain reactions, whereby atmospheric oxygen molecules are dissociated, leading to the formation of ozone. This process has been duplicated in the production of industrial ozone for the past century (see van Veldhuizen, 2000). Concerning their chemical effects, Pasko commented: “The ionization created by a gigantic jet is likely to have a significant chemical effect on that volume of atmosphere” (p. 928). He went on to correlate the known surface effects with the high-altitude conditions that would be present in TLEs. He commented that in high altitude situations, streamers would “have the ability to produce highly active chemical species and can effectively ‘treat’ thousands of cubic kilometers of atmosphere” (p. 928). Finally, Pasko concluded: “So the known chemical impact of streamers may be a good indication that TLEs noticeably affect the chemistry of the atmosphere” (p. 929).
EVOLUTION VS. DESIGN
The atmosphere is of vital importance to all life on Earth. It contributes to more aspects of life than we are able to quantify, or that could be qualified. For the evolutionist, the changing, early atmosphere of the Earth accounts for the chance emergence of life and the subsequent organic evolutionary process. However, scientists constantly are being confounded by their observations. Although men have been viewing the natural world since the dawn of time, there continues to be an unending stream of intricacies to discover.
Concerning the atmospheric discoveries mentioned, scientists have declared: “It has not been clear, however, whether all the important components of the global circuit have even been identified” (Su, et al., p. 974). They also have commented: “This field is in its infancy, and it remains to be seen how important the electrical and chemical effects of the gigantic jets and other TLEs are for our planet” (Pasko, p. 929). The design of the Earth’s atmosphere continues to impress humanity’s combined intellectual prowess. When discussing the driving forces behind the formation of lightning, Roach described the particle collisions that are needed to produce a separation of electrical charge, which results in the imbalance between cloud and ground. Senior meteorologist Stephen Hodanish of the National Weather Service concluded that a correction (i.e., lightning) for this imbalance results because, “Mother Nature doesn’t like to see that” (as quoted in Raoch, 2003). By ascribing the ultimate cause to an ethereal Mother Nature, Hodanish unknowingly proved the presence of design. Whether it was his intention or not, Hodanish’s comments illustrate the extent of naturalism that now pervades science, and the extent to which that naturalism has reached even into the common aspects of everyday life. Yet, by the scientists’ own admission, it is known that with the brilliantly obvious effect of lightning, there also is a brilliantly obvious Cause.
In the book of Job, the inspired writer penned the words of Elihu, as he declared God’s majesty: “He spreadeth abroad the cloud of his lightning: and it is turned round about by his guidance” (Job 37:11). And to Job, the questions were asked: “O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God. Dost thou know how God layeth his charge upon them, and causeth the lightning of his cloud to shine? Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge?” (Job 37:14-16). Job was chastened for placing honor upon himself, neglecting to acknowledge The Most Honorable. For that, Job was reproved—by God Himself.
“Suffer me a little, and I will show thee; for I have yet somewhat to say on God's behalf ” (Job 36:2). In discussing such wonderful design, we also must pay tribute to the Designer; in standing in awe of such an incredible effect, we also must stand in awe of the far greater Cause. As Elihu boldly proclaimed in the verse above as he rebuked Job for self-righteously questioning God’s majesty, we, too, ask, “on God’s behalf,” that time be taken to behold the extraordinary design that is present in the world around us. We must not ascribe it to some mystic, ethereal force; rather, we must acknowledge the ever-so-loving and familiar Father Who can be clearly seen and perceived (Romans 1:20), and Who is “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).
Pasko, Victor P. (2003), “Atmospheric Physics: Electric Jets,” Nature, 423:927-929. June 26.
Pickrell, John (2003), “Huge Mystery Flashes Seen In Outer Atmosphere,” National Geographic News, [On-line], URL: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/06/0625_030625_atmospherethunder.html, June 25.
Roach, John (2003), “Key to Lightning Deaths: Location, Location, Location,” National Geographic News, [On-line], URL: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/05/0522_030522_lightning.html, May 22.
Su, Han-Tzong, Rue-Ron Hsu, A.B. Chen, Y.C. Wang, W.S. Hsiao, W.C. Lai, L.C. Lee, M. Sato, and H. Fukunishi (2003), “Gigantic Jets Between a Thundercloud and the Ionosphere,” Nature, 423:974-976. June 26.
Van Veldhuizen, E.M. ed. (2000), Electrical Discharges for Environment Purposes: Fundamentals and Applications (Nova Science: New York).
God’s Original Superhydrophobic Material
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
One cannot help but be amazed at ever-increasing technology that continues to offer better, more efficient products and services. Hardly a week goes by that a new discovery does not find its way into the headlines. Interestingly, many of the most advanced, beneficial discoveries are occurring in the field of study known as biomimicry—the copying or mimicking of the natural, biological world.
For instance, on February 23, 2006, the on-line version of Technology Review featured an article titled “Super-Repellent Plastic.” Admittedly, the title of the article itself does not indicate that biomimicry is involved. Yet, knowing that many new discoveries derive from mimicking nature, I could not help but think that this new plastic might be the result of some phenomenon that God had already designed. As I suspected, about three-fourths of the way through the article, the reader is informed that the scientists who are working on this new plastic “took their inspiration from the leaves of the lotus plant, which is naturally superhydrophobic.... GE set out to mimic this pattern on the surface of its polycarbonate materials” (Talbot, 2006).
This amazing new superhydrophobic (“extremely repellent of water”) plastic will “shed” liquids at a much more efficient rate than many current materials, and it will be more inexpensive to manufacture than current substances—like Teflon. Multiple uses for this plastic have been suggested, including ketchup bottles in which the ketchup will not adhere to the sides of the container, and building panels that would be virtually self-cleaning because rain would wash away dirt (Talbot, 2006).
The technology is not supposed to be on the consumer market for another five years, but its potential is excitedly anticipated. In the midst of the excitement, do not lose sight of an important aspect of this technological wonder. Very intelligent, well-educated scientists have spent hundreds (or thousands) of hours on this advancement. And yet, the prototype for it, the lotus plant, has contained the superhydrophobic capacity for the entirety of its existence. What Intelligent Designer is responsible for endowing this amazing plant with such efficient water-shedding abilities? Those who believe in evolution would say that it acquired this ability over millions of years due to random, chance processes at work in nature. But with the same breath they would laud the creative abilities of the GEscientists. Why is it that evolutionists miss the implication that to recognize design in human invention, while attributing the more efficient design in nature to non-intelligent processes, is logically irrational. It is high time that the Creator of nature’s design be given the plaudits He deserves as the Ultimate Engineer.
Talbot, David (2006), “Super-Repellent Plastic,” Technology Review, [On-line], URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/BizTech/wtr_16415,295,p1.html.
|by||Caleb Colley, Ph.D.|
French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself have founded empires, but upon what do these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love: and to this very day millions would die for Him” (as quoted in Ankerberg and Weldon, 1997, p. 29). If every one of God’s characteristics was to be summarized in a single English word, only one word could suffice: love. Of course, the idea of love does not encompass all of God’s characteristics, but it is a fitting summation of God’s personality. In fact, John wrote simply that “God is love” (1 John 4:8-9,16)—perhaps the most powerful statement ever made about God’s love (we do not, as some do, charge that God’s justice is inconsistent with his love and mercy [see Colley, 2004a]).
When Paul listed the fruits of the Spirit—characteristics that appear in the lives of Christ's followers (Galatians 5:22-23)—the first fruit he mentioned was love. Jesus said that all the law and the prophets hang upon love (Matthew 22:40; Mark 12:28). God is not merely a loving God, but God is love, and love defines His very essence. Every action of God has been carried out, ultimately, because of His magnificent love.
God loves His Son. The relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ is one of great love. God’s eternal love has an eternal object, and that eternal object is Christ. Consider a sampling of the passages that bear the special relationship the Father and Son share:
- Isaiah 42:1: “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, my Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice.”
- Matthew 3:17: “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’ ” (cf. Matthew 17:5).
- John 1:18: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
- John 5:20: “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does” (cf. John 3:30).
- John 17:24: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.”
God loves His Son’s followers. Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). The Greek verb translated “poured out” in Romans 5:5, ekcheo, is the same verb used to describe the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17ff.). This suggests that, through Christ, God has blessed His spiritual children with an abundant amount of love. The tense of the verb is perfect, indicating a settled state or a completed action. The idea, then, is that the love of God has filled our hearts, and, like a valley remains full of flood water, our hearts remain full of Christ’s love (see Packer, 1975, pp. 129-130). Those who are in Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27) are in a covenant relationship with God, a relationship in which both God and the Christian are pledged to each other.
Again, Paul wrote: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Although Christians can (and, sadly, sometimes do) cease to love Christ (Acts 8:12-13; Galatians 5:4; James 5:19-20; see Jackson, 2003), Christ will never cease to love them, for God is unchanging (James 1:17; see Colley, 2004b). Packer wrote concerning the unchanging quality of God’s love:
…[T]his does not mean that He is unfeeling (impassive), or that there is nothing in Him that corresponds to emotions and affections in us, but that whereas human passions—specifically the painful ones, fear, grief, regret, despair—are in a sense passive and involuntary, being called forth and constrained by circumstances not under our control, the corresponding attitudes in God have the nature of deliberate voluntary choices, and therefore are not of the same order as human passions at all. So the love of the God who is spirit is no fitful, fluctuating thing, as the love of man is, nor is it a mere impotent longing for things that may never be…. There are no inconstancies or vicissitudes in the love of the almighty God who is spirit (1975, pp. 133-134, parenthetical item in orig.).
God loves the world. That is, God cares even for people who disregard Him. Paul wrote: “But God demonstrates His own love toward use, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emp. added). The Greek word translated love in Romans 5:8 is agape, which appears abundantly (82 times) in the Greek New Testament. Agape is a selfless love that motivates one to sacrifice on the behalf of others, so it has come to be known by many as “Christian” love. This purest form of love is the agape under consideration when Paul wrote: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). It was that love that made Christ willing to “taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).
God despises sin, but loves sinners. He does not approve or overlook sin; rather, He wants each sinner to repent of his wrongdoing and change his life (Acts 17:30). Peter wrote: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emp. added). God delays the Second Coming of Christ, not because He is undependable or incapable of fulfilling the promise of judgment (1 Peter 4:17; 2 Peter 3:7-9; 1 John 4:17; Jude 6,15; Revelation 14:7), but because His love motivates Him to give sinners more opportunities to repent. Instead of admiring or imitating the wrong actions of sinners, we should abhor sin (Romans 12:9), and share God’s concern for lost souls—a concern that should motivate us to share the Gospel (Mark 16:15-16; John 14:6).
Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34, emp. added). In stating that the commandment was new, Jesus obviously intended to draw a distinction between His commandment and everything else that would have been familiar to His disciples concerning the topic they were discussing. Though the command to love one’s neighbor was not new (Leviticus 19:18), Christ’s command was new in that it demanded that we love, not as we love ourselves, but as God loves us. This would be the sign to non-Christians that the first-century disciples really were followers of Christ (John 13:35; see Pack, 1977, 5:54-55), and it serves the same purpose today.
William Evans wrote: “As love is the highest expression of God and His relation to mankind, so it must be the highest expression of man’s relation to his Maker and to his fellow-man” (1994, 3:1932). God’s love should motivate us to express our love for Him by obeying His commands. Jesus could not have put it any clearer than He did when He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Let us pray that as we obey Christ, we will be able to “comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height” of His love, which “passes knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19).
Ankerberg, John, and John Weldon (1997), Ready With an Answer (Eugene, OR: Harvest House).
Colley, Caleb (2004a), “God’s Mercy and Justice,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1860.
Colley, Caleb (2004b), “The Immutability of God,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2567.
Evans, William (1994), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Jackson, Wayne (2003), “Galatians 5:4—Fallen from Grace,” [On-line], URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/notes/fallenFromGrace.htm.
Pack, Frank (1977), The Living Word Commentary, ed. Everett Ferguson (Austin, TX: Sweet).
Packer, J.I. (1975), Knowing God (London: Hodder and Stoughton), second edition.