[taken from my current work: Isaiah and the Six Woes: A Cautionary Tale of Pity.]
Whether a nation or an individual, the biblical message of Isaiah is the same. And if there is a sequence or order to the 6 woes, it is reasonable to caution, “Stay free from the first woe, the first temptation, and the rest cannot follow.” The first one, greed, covetousness, or avarice is a desire to obtain money above what is needed whether just to hoard it as wealth or to become the quintessential consumer because there are so many expensive toys to buy. Sunday, the Pastor, shared this maxim with his congregation: “Life isn’t about money.”
A man named Agur is credited with compiling chapter 30 of the Proverbs. Mr. Agur is a self-acclaimed stupid man not to be classed as a scribe because he confessed he knew so little about God. He only knew that his faith was in God [Proverbs 30:5]. Notwithstanding his self-abasement, no wiser prayer were ever prayed, nor ever more relevant: “Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches—Feed me with the food allotted to me” [Proverbs 30:8].
If we believe this and can find purpose in life that does not occupy our time and energy in the sole quest for money, we should find ourselves on a good path to avoiding the other woes.
The Path To Destruction
Paul taught that “avarice is the root of all evil” [1 Timothy 6:10]. Every English translation calls it love which can not be far from what Paul meant since Jesus reminded us that no one is able to make money their master and still claim to love God [Matthew 6:24]. Is it possible to have a romantic attraction to money? I love my wife of 54 years (as of this writing) and I would miss her if she were not here with me.
When the market crashed in 2008, due to subprime rates ballooning, I lost a chunk of my investments but I did not miss the money in the same way. Most investments are virtual funds (capital we didn’t need to live on that could be risked) and any increase was just on ledger paper or in a computer’s database. I didn’t miss the loss. But some people did! Their investments were watched like a child playing in a busy street and those investors worried as if a Stock Market crash was the end of life. Some lost retirement money, and some of those were now too old to make it up through further investing. If they were believers in Christ, they hopefully remembered that God is over all aspects of our lives. But should God be jealous of our interest in money?
And what about persons in government? Leadership or government officials that focus more on personal wealth, and not the well-being of the country—and especially the poor—are feeding their own passion for riches which Isaiah warned has God’s undivided attention.