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About-Him.Com Devotional 01-07-2012
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Warning About Covetousness and Oppressing Others
An expository study on the Book of James 

 Text: James 5:1 ¶  Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Go to now, is James’ way of saying, “Listen up, I’ve got something to say.” He proceeds to give them his message with all of the thunder and vigor of an Old Testament prophet. It appears that in the first 6 verses of chapter 5, he is speaking prophetically to the Jewish nation as a whole. Not too far in the future, the Roman armies would besiege Jerusalem and conduct a mass slaughter. The city would be leveled and burnt with fire, just as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24. 

In these verses, James is speaking to rich men who have grown wealthy by oppressing the poor. I suppose that at another time, he could denounce the poor for their own particular vices. Rich and poor alike will spend eternity together in a devil’s hell, unless they have knelt at the cross and been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. 

One commentator (Weston) places the writing of the book of James as A.D. 62, making it the first epistle written to the church. In the next year, Rome conquered Judea and made it a province. Unrest and rebellion ensued against the Romans until they totally destroyed the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. That explains the urgency of James’ message, “Weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.” 

Are things any different today? Those in power still manipulate markets and take advantage of the weak. The whole world has put their trust in the U.S. dollar which is steadily declining. Just like the folks to whom James is writing, they are laying up gold and silver for the last days. Well, it didn’t work in that time and it won’t work in ours either. 

Revelation 6:6 gives us a picture of the coming tribulation as a time when  a day’s wages (a penny) will buy a day’s  food (a measure of wheat), while the rich will live in luxury enjoying the oil and the wine. Do you think that perhaps we are getting close to that time? 

Revelation 6:6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and [see] thou hurt not the oil and the wine. 

Text: James 5:2  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.
 

Jesus told us where to store our treasures. 

Matthew 6:19 ¶  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
 

Text: James 5:4  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.
 

According to the  law of Moses (De 24:15), a laborer was supposed to receive his wages daily. Here the rich employers not only ignored this, but they cheated the poor worker of his meager wages. 

Through the centuries, slavery has been commonplace through the world, not being abolished until 1840-1865. In the United States, abolition of slavery came only at the cost of a bloody civil war. Many slave holders were quiet pious and attended church regularly while having their fields reaped under the threat of a whip. Of course that doesn’t mean that those who opposed slavery were necessarily righteous and holy. 

Scripture gives us several examples of God’s judgment falling upon sinful societies while they were wallowing in luxury and debauchery: Sodom and Gomorrah, Balshazzar’s feast and of course the flood in the days of Noah.  Noah had preached for many years to no avail. Jesus told us that the days prior to His coming would be similar to the days of Noah.  Men would be eating and drinking and having a good times while being totally unaware of coming destruction. 

Matthew 24:38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39  And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
 

Text: James 5:6  Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. 

This perhaps refers to the crucifixion of Christ, and the martyrdom of Stephen and James the brother of John. However in all ages, powerful countries have conquered and slain foreign races and cultures and hauled away their riches.  Today, nations are very quick to go to war where oil is involved, but slow to get involved where poor countries who have no oil are subjected to genocide.   

In this text today, James rightly condemns the rich for covetousness and greed. However covetousness and greed are not exclusive to the rich. The employee who withholds his labor is just as guilty as the employer who holds back wages. 

Luke 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 

Hebrews 13:5 [Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
 
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Don and Marie Spooner
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