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Warning to Rich Oppressors October 18, 2015

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on James 5:1-6.

Summary: James calls those who abuse their wealth and those who abuse their greatness to the throne of God’s judgment; he threatens them by asserting that:

  • they will show great grief when they are greatly afflicted in this life and experience hell-torment in the life to come
  • their goods rot and are eaten by moths
  • their money rusts – serving as a witness against them and causing their ruin
  • they have heaped up wealth in the time when the Jewish nation will be scattered and destroyed
  • they have oppressed poor laborers – provoking the Lord of hosts to take notice of this sin
  • they have indulged their senses in food, drink and clothing – placing all their happiness in this earthly life
  • they breed lust by making every day a festival and giving to their desires what should only be given to religion on special occasions
  • they have corrupted judgment and executed Jesus Christ – who did not resist them.

Thoughts: In this passage, James denounces non-believers who use their wealth and/or position to oppress poor believers. Manton offers some interesting thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 5:

Pleasures nourish the heart and fatten it into a senseless stupidity. Nothing brings dullness to it like pleasures. Plutarch observes that the ass, the dullest of all creatures, has the fattest heart…There is a fish called the ass-fish, which has its heart in its belly – a fit emblem of a sensual epicure.

When I read Manton’s commentary on this verse, I was intrigued by the notion of a fish with “its heart in its belly” and I Googled this phrase. After some sleuthing, I determined that Manton was referring to the hake. Now I assume that Manton was not asserting that the heart of a hake literally resides in its belly; instead, he was probably referencing its prodigious appetite, which is described in A History of British Fishes by William Yarrell. Perhaps the gluttony of the hake – which gorges itself on pilchards – should spur us as believers to avoid submitting to the pleasures of the world. By shunning certain worldly pleasures (e.g. pornography) and only enjoying other worldly pleasures in moderation (e.g. alcohol) we can avoid the afflictions that are described in this passage. Moreover, daily self-denial reminds us as believers that this planet is not our final destination; it also frees us to spend more time in preparation for an eternal existence in our final destination.

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Comments»

1. PrayThroughHistory - October 22, 2015

I agree with J Piper on this; we need to be “hedonists” for Godly pleasures, and stay satisfied.


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