One of the saddest things unfolding within the Christian Church is a reduction of the Glorious Gospel. Transformed from a message about how God has liberated us from sin, into little more than another method of achieving the American dream. The Prosperity Gospel has always played into this transformation and diminishing of the Gospel. The newest method is in the so-called last day transfer of wealth.
One thing making these teachings so popular isn’t just the charisma of the teachers who seem to have found their wealth. The concept appeals to our baser appetites for material indulgence. The Bible counsels us to embrace moderation and contentment precisely because it’s not in our nature to do so. Also, many people fall for these teachings because the proponents claim to have Scripture and every believer knows that the Bible is true.
How True Becomes False
What most people fail to see is that a verse of Scripture is only true in its proper and intended context. Once lifted out of the greater narrative of God’s redemptive plan, true does become false. Snatched away from the cultural implications of the text or wrested from the proper definition of the particular word. In other words, people are banking on the belief that this transfer of wealth will occur because the true Bible purportedly says it will happen. In this sense they are betting on falsehood. What the Bible says is not true when misused and twisted. From then on, the belief we are espousing despite a “supporting” verse of Scripture, is false. Let’s look closer at the claim of a last day transfer of wealth. How is this true verse being used to support a deluding belief?
“The wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.”(NKJV)
The verse in question of course is Proverbs 13:22 “The wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.”(NKJV) There are several interesting points that illustrate that the truth of this verse is being turned into a falsehood.
- This is the only passage in the entire Bible which offers this point of view.1
- There is nothing in this verse specifying that this happens in the last days.
- Even if it said something about the last days this period of time began on the day of Pentecost and its duration is uncertain. In other words, we would have to know that we were in the last of the last days in order to assure people the transfer is about to happen. That’s something even Jesus (in His humanity) didn’t claim to know.
We see so far how the truth is being turned into a falsehood. First by insisting a solitary verse gives us this promise; second by inserting it into an end times scenario we cannot guarantee. What else can we learn from this verse that shows us that truth is being turned into a falsehood?
Context of the passage:
We must look not only at the verse on its own, but in its context within the passage in Proverbs; in its context within Biblical expectations, and finally in the verse itself and the usage of the word translated “wealth”.
He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.
Evil pursues sinners, But to the righteous, good shall be repaid. A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. Proverbs 13:20-22
Read in the light of surrounding verses the overall point becomes clear. The wicked lose all while the righteous inherit everything. The question is when does this happen? As noted, the verse says nothing about transfer. The wealth is stored up. Implication? They do not get it now. The Hebrew words that are used for wealth, riches, and abundance give us insight into when this happens.
Context of the Bible:
Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:2-10
These are known as the Beatitudes. There is no question that the blessings mentioned here parallel the verses in Proverbs 13. Another thing beyond question? Many of these are things which will only happen in their fullness in the future when Christ reigns over all the earth. Verse five’s reference to the meek inheriting the earth especially makes this point. Note the passage from which Jesus is quoting.
“For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Psalms 37:9-11
The meek will inherit the earth when the wicked are no more. It will be taken from them and given to the righteous at the consummation of all things and not until then; a point that even proponents acknowledge.2
So, the context of Proverbs assures us that we will get what the wicked have, but the context of the Bible informs us that this will not happen in the immediate future. Note the importance. The things the wicked have will not be given to us until they are no more. We will then be inhabiting a perfect world where the idea of material abundance as it is thrown about today will not matter. It is a metaphor then for total and complete unending supply, not a guarantee of endless wealth now.
What’s in a word?
Finally, the Hebrew words themselves can provide insight into how the teachers of this popular belief are turning truth into falsehood. The Hebrew word “chayil” translated wealth in Proverbs 13:22 appears 243 times in the Old Testament but only 29 times in reference to financial wealth. Another 13 Hebrew words are or can be translated wealth or riches. In some cases that is all they mean. If the writer meant the money of the wicked, then clearly there were other words available. Take into account the point above. Wealth as we now know it will not matter in the new eternal realm, we can see this is the appropriate word. “Army, host, strength and might also translate “Chayil”. Clearly it is a word covering all of life and not just the monetary realm.
One other Hebrew word provides insight into this discussion. The Hebrew word translated riches found in Psalms 37:16. Used only 4 times those verses actually contradict wealth transfer teachings. What a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked. Psalms 37:16
He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. Ecclesiastes 5:10
Why would God say what is already ours better than what many wicked people then give us what they have?
Why insist on material monetary riches when we know that in and of themselves, they cannot satisfy?
Looking at end time wealth transfer in detail, beyond the solitary verse proponents use as foundational, we see it’s a delusional false doctrine.
1A similar thought appears in Ecclesiastes 2:26. For God gives… to a man who is good in His sight. To the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to him who is good before God.
Think about it and let me know what you think.
For more on the wealth transfer fallacy, see Pastor Shifflett’s book “Beware the Wolves.” The book is available in both paperback and e-book format at Amazon.com.