Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Wealth of God

My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
In a very real sense, the glory of God is the wealth of God. The Hebrew word for “glory” is kabod and literally refers to weightiness, as in the weight of gold or the measure of wealth. It is the value of every good thing one possesses. The glory of God is the manifestation, the substance of His goodness. It is His treasury, His wealth.

The substance of glory manifests even as financial wealth. Just after the Exodus, when they tired of waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain, the children of Israel gave Aaron some of their gold and told him to form it into an idol, a calf of gold (Exodus 32). Speaking of this, the Bible says,
They made a calf in Horeb,
  And worshiped the molded image.
Thus they changed their glory
  Into the image of an ox that eats grass.
(Psalm 106:19-20)
What irony! The gold they had received from the Egyptians as part of God’s restoration plan was the very gold they used to dishonor the One who delivered them and made them wealthy. They changed their “glory,” their wealth, into an idol.

Now, God is not stingy with what belongs to Him. He always desires to share it with His people:
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
  The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
  From those who walk uprightly.
(Psalm 84:11)
The NIV has, “The LORD bestows favor and honor.” Favor corresponds to grace; the grace of God is the favor He has toward us. Honor corresponds to glory. Honor does not come empty-handed, but brings with it the substance of wealth. The glory God gives to the righteous includes every good thing. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Paul said that God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). We are not to trust in riches, of course, but in God, who blesses us.

The glory of God’s wealth belongs to those who belong to Him, who are made righteous in Him. It is for those who walk uprightly, who fear the LORD and delight in His ways.
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD;
  Who delights greatly in His commandments …
Wealth and riches will be I his house,
  And his righteousness endures forever.
(Psalm 112:1, 3)
The only righteousness that endures forever is that which belongs to God. But He freely gives that to us, also. That is why Jesus came. “For [God] made [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We receive this righteousness by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, wealth is not necessarily the sign of God’s favor in your life. There are many wicked men who prosper in finances and material things—but they will not endure, for they are not well-founded. Their wealth will inevitably end up in the hands of the just. The Bible says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children; but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22).

That is what happened to the wealth of Egypt — it went out with the children of Israel in the Exodus. God said:
So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed. But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house, articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians. (Exodus 3:20-22)

He also brought them out with silver and gold,
And there was none feeble among His tribes.
(Psalm 105:37)
God plundered Egypt, stripping it of all its wealth, and gave it to His people—for their children, and their children’s children. That is also what He would do for them in the Promised Land; the wicked inhabitants would be routed, and God would distribute the spoils to His people.

Just before He lead His people across the river Jordan into Canaan land, God renewed His covenant with them. The book of Deuteronomy is the document of that renewal. God said,
And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (Deuteronomy 8:18)
And God made this wonderful promise:
The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways. Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you.

And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore to you fathers to give you. The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. (Deuteronomy 28:8-13)
God has a covenant to establish, a promise to fulfill. His purpose is to fill the earth with the knowledge of His glory — and He intends to do it through His people. Just as the surrounding nations trembled at the manifestation of God’s wealth to Israel, so shall the world stand in awe of His provision to His people today. For His provision is the revelation of His glory — His greatness, His goodness, His wealth. As Paul said, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).