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David Hagni

This paper was written by David Hagni.

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Dave graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center and Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. He holds master's degrees in both divinity and business administration from Regent University.

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Articles > Charismatic Theology > Wealth according to Jesus

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Footnotes

  We have seen that throughout the Old Testament God reveals Himself as protector and provider of the poor and needy. It has also been suggested above that the poor and needy are people experiencing social, material, and religious oppression. The primary concern in the Old Testament is for innocent people who unjustly and unwillingly have been subjected to the dominating wealthy and powerful. Yet, those who have inflicted poverty upon themselves are given their ticket out in Proverbs through faithful giving, diligent work and thrifty saving.

 

  Here is one final, but crucial, comment concerning the Old Testament perception of wealth and poverty before Jesus’ teachings are examined. There is a concurring theme running throughout the Old Testament that is important to understand in order to appreciate what Jesus taught about wealth. Proverbs speaks of a reversal of fortunes between poor and rich (24:19,20). The Psalms also echo this theme as David, for example, informs that the wealthy wicked will be brought down and the poor and needy will be blessed and inherit the land (Ps. 37).

 

  Isaiah the prophet prophesied about the oppression over the people due to injustice (Is. 58:6-9). In chapter 61 Isaiah declares freedom to the oppressed and good news to the poor (vs. 1). Freedom and good news is made possible because the Lord saw that there was no justice (59:15) and displayed His wrath to the enemies (vs. 18). With God’s intervention there is an absolute inversion of power and wealth. This inversion is to occur between the wicked wealthy and the pious poor. God is not interested in decimating wealth that is fairly accumulated. However, those who oppress with wealth will certainly answer to God’s wrath.

 

  In relation to this, those who abuse wise principle and suffer poverty as a consequence are not the “poor” for whom freedom is declared. Freedom is already available for those poor by following the precepts of Proverbs. And, of course, consideration for the needs of these poor is obligated as previously noted. But, it is for the unjustly oppressed poor that freedom is announced in Isaiah. An inversion of wealth and power is declared and takes place between the wicked wealthy and the righteous poor. With these concepts in mind from the Old Testament, the focus now turns toward the New Testament and specifically the life example and teachings of Jesus Christ concerning wealth and poverty.

 

The Life Example and Teachings of Jesus

Jesus’ first formal public address was drawn from the very passage in Isaiah just examined. The passage applied equally to the context of Isaiah’s time and to the historical circumstances of Jesus’ day. Jesus employed Isaiah’s words to address an oppressive social and economic situation in which exploitative urbanism and powerful redistributive central institutions such as the Roman state and the Jewish hierarchy helped to keep property and power in the hands of the few[11].

 

  This context is important to the interpretation of the passage in Luke 4:18. By declaring that he was anointed to “preach good news to the poor” Jesus was not inferring that the poor would automatically become rich. Jesus also said he had come to “release the oppressed.” In the dismantling of oppressive strongholds of social and religious powers, Jesus removed the obstacles to religious and economic growth. (It still remained for the poor to prosper through their own faith and industry.) Now, because of the presence of Jesus, the oppressed had the opportunity for spiritual and economic betterment.

 

  This account of Jesus reading Isaiah also seems to be related to His words at the closing of Luke 4. In Nazareth, Jesus said he had come to preach good news to the poor “ . . . to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (vs. 18, 19). Subsequently, in Capernaum Jesus said that He needed to go other places to “preach the good news of the kingdom of God” (vs. 43). The year of the Lord’s favor probably refers to the Year of Jubilee in which debts were cancelled, slaves released, and lands returned.

 

  The jubilee year was legally and historically an aspect of military conquest of the land of Canaan[12].As an incentive to fight, families that participated in the war would inherit specific pieces of land. Every 50 years, each parcel of land had to be returned to the lawful heir of the original family. The jubilee year was the year that restored the family’s lost inheritance. It symbolized the restoration of all things. It is evident why Jesus chose this particular passage for His opening address to commence His ministry. Jesus linked the temporal concept of the Year of Jubilee with the physical arrival of the eternal kingdom of God. In doing so, He proclaimed much more than just the opportunity for material acquisition – though economic gain was definitely included in the proclamation. Jesus proclaimed the realized eschatological event of all time. This is the kingdom of God overtaking Satan’s oppressive authority on earth, through Jesus Christ – a complete inversion of power. This is good news!

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Footnotes

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