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Riches Do not Deliver You
Proverbs 11:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath: In short, riches (הוֹן hon) are exactly as you might think, an abundance of material possessions. Do not profit (יַעַל yaal) means that these material possessions will have absolutely no value in the day of wrath. There will be no advantage for the rich for their riches will do them no good. This verse should not be used to suggest that riches or having many material possessions is a bad thing. Money is not the root of all evil, it is the love of money. This verse is making the simple statement that money will not help you on judgment day. The day of wrath (עֶבְרָה ebrah), as was used by the prophets, was not the end times as we might think. For it usually applied to the nation of Israel as a whole, the northern and southern kingdoms when it split, and other nations, which was a time when God was to bring famine, pestilence, or exile. These words fit in their utmost meaning of a future “day of wrath,” applying to any day of Jehovah where man is judged for their sins. You cannot use riches to bargain with God. – See Ezekiel 7:9; Isaiah 10:3.
but righteousness delivers from death: Here, the Hebrew rendered righteousness (צְדָקָה tsedaqah) is when someone adheres to the moral standard set out in God’s Word. (Prov. 2:9) The other contrast here is that if you are adhering to the moral standard set out in God’s Word, living a good life, and being just, fair, and honest; your life will be more meaningful, healthier, and potentially longer. You will be on the path (way) to eternal life. On the other hand, if you are unjust, unfair, or dishonest, ignoring wisdom, you are heading toward unexpected tragedies in this life. Moreover, you will be on the path (way) to death, that is, eternal destruction.
We cannot extend our lives in any substantial way by means of money; it is only by righteousness, adhering to the moral standard set out in God’s Word (Prov. 2:9), that we can be delivered from eternal death. Yes, modern technology and a healthy lifestyle, which cost money, can extend human life for a few decades. However, the context here is being delivered from death permanently. Whether we die of old age or on the judgment day of God, money will be meaningless.
It would be very foolish on our part if we were to be enslaved people for riches or material gain. Yet, we fail to make room for personal Bible study, prayer, Christian meeting attendance, and the sharing of God’s Word with others, the very actions that deepen and grow our love for God and strengthen our devotion to him. Just as was true of the northern tribes of Israel when Assyria took them into captivity or the southern Kingdom of Judah when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and took the people into captivity, so too will it be with the great tribulation. (Matthew 24:21) No amount of money will deliver us on judgment day. Instead, as we await judgment day, we should seek to honor God by using our material gain wisely. We are very wise to heed the words of Zephaniah,
Zephaniah 1:15-18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 That day will be a day of wrath,
17 I will bring distress on mankind,
Zephaniah 2:2-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 before the decree gives birth
God demands exclusive devotion and that his people worship with spirit and truth instead of false gods. They must humble themselves before God and take every opportunity to repent. They should prove their genuineness by abandoning their sin and seeking righteousness and humility. They may then be one of the survivors when Babylon invades. Indeed, they would avoid the final judgment – Revelation 20:11–15.
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