When Jesus told the rich young ruler to give all his stuff away, the disciples were stunned. Jesus went on to say, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
The disciples responded with, “Who then can be saved?”
The underlying assumption is that rich people must be righteous. Where did the disciples come up with this idea?
My guess is they got it from a book called Deuteronomy! Deuteronomy says if Israel obeyed the law they would be blessed with abundant crops, fertile animals, prosperity and good times a rollin. If they disobeyed they’d get judgment, famine, illness, dead animals and struggle.
Therefore, they concluded that rich people must be obeying God. When Jesus says rich people won’t make it, the disciples are stunned.
Israel reached the peak of their prosperity under Solomon.
Allow me to point out a thing: Ecclesiastes, the most depressing (in many people’s opinions) book of the OT that concluded that all is vanity, was written by Solomon.
In the end, Israel tanked themselves and never returned to Solomonic prosperity again. Once they had riches, they figured they didn’t need God.
Hezekiah, a king whose life is repeated three times for us in the Old Testament (perhaps for a reason), was given riches and he bragged about how he caused it and ended up driving Israel into captivity.
Riches weren’t the point. Stuff wasn’t the point.
God wanted them to seek Him; not riches.
Jesus came along and tried to set this straight. Many Israelites were stuck on the notion that prosperity equaled righteousness. It didn’t.
Jesus, one who had no place to lay His head, pointed this out and totally blew people away.
Time and time again the OT shows us the problem of lust and coveting. Israel’s forays into idolatry were for materialistic reasons–they thought foreign gods could provide for them and make them win battles.
When materialism is the reward, people fall to pieces. The OT makes this so amazingly clear. Yet we miss it. We mainly miss it because we don’t read it. But there is a reason these things were written back then, and they weren’t written for Israel.
Materialism is lust, covetousness, idolatry, fornication, and complaining. Israel showed this and got judgment. We assume we are exceptions to this. I do believe we will be surprised when it doesn’t work out for us either. You don’t have to be surprised; you can go ahead and read it and learn it yourself.
“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”
(Notice the tempting they did in the OT was tempting Christ! Yesterday, today and forever, folks.)