Day 66: A Very Rich Man

Genesis 13:1-2

Abram went up out of Egypt: he, his wife, all that he had, and Lot with him, into the South. Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.

God claims to be a consistent and reasonable God. He says that He can never lie and will always keep His word. He also says that He never changes. I bring this up because God can say two things that seem contradictory to us but cannot possibly be because God will never lie.

Even though Abram was not always faithful, God blessed him and made him a rich man. Not everyone that God loves is made rich, but it is obvious that some people that God considers righteous are “very rich.” Now, consider what God says later in the Bible:

James 5:1-3a, 5-6 :

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming on you. Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be for a testimony against you, and will eat your flesh like fire… You have lived delicately on the earth, and taken your pleasure. You have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the righteous one. He doesn’t resist you.

If God loved Abraham and he was a “very rich” man, why did God also say that the “rich” should “weep and howl for your miseries that are coming on you?”
If God promised blessings to Abraham, how could he be planning miseries for him because he was rich?

It is because God is consistent that we must not take James’ words as a condemnation of all rich people. An unchanging and truthful God would not say one thing and do the opposite. The appropriate interpretation is that James was talking to certain rich people. This is not uncommon in the Bible. Perhaps this shows a difference between English and Jewish writers. There are places in Hebrew writings where two opposite statements are made in different senses (for a very obvious one, see Proverbs 26:4-5). The burden is placed on the reader to separate the sense and understand the truth being expressed. It is assumed that God would not lie in these writings and that we must first believe what God has already said before we attempt to understand what is written.

It is so very important to understand the Book of Genesis because it is the first book of the Bible. It will help us to interpret the rest of what God says. So we can rest assured that rich people like Abraham are blessed while rich people who have “condemned” and murdered” the “righteous,” will become miserable.