The Prince of this World, Money, and the Rapture

The Prince of This World, Money, and the Rapture

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There is a sobering connection between how one views money and where one will spend eternity. To see this connection, simply ask yourself, “What was it that led Judas to betray Jesus and thus lose his soul?” Scripture itself answers this question for us: It was his love of money.

“He was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (Jn. 12:6 NIV).

“Then one of the Twelve–the one called Judas Iscariot–went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty silver coins” (Mt. 26:14-15 NIV).

A person governs his or her life by what that person’s heart desires (Mt. 6:19-21). Therefore, when the people of this world seek after money, they thereby reveal the secrets of their heart.

“But God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight” (Lk. 16:15 NIV).

Jesus put it plainly and simply: “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Lk. 16:13 NIV).

How foolish to devote one’s life to seeking that which God detests and which prevents one from serving God. Money may provide pleasure for a while on this earth, but both this earth and its money will be shown to be worthless on that great Day when God judges the hearts of all (Rom. 2:16) and all secrets are thus revealed (Lk. 2:34-35).

“They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the Lord’s wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin” (Ezk. 7:19 NIV).

How utterly foolish to rely upon money or wealth to avert the disasters which will attend the end of this world. Why would anyone even think such a thing? Because many are totally engrossed in this world, never stopping to think that it will end one day and with it their wealth also and their way of living for this world only. It is the only world they know. And in that world which they know so well, money does give a form of security.

“A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything” (Eccl. 10:19 NIV).

Everything? Not quite. Only in this world does money have power, a power that ends when this world does. It is true that we all must have money to buy needed things in this life, but there is a huge difference between that and living to get all the world has to offer. We should be all the more careful to avoid this because of what is soon to befall this world.

“What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:29-31 NIV).

So strong is the hold which money has on many in this world that they cannot see or even imagine another way of living than trying to attain all they can, never considering where it will all end, what their ultimate destiny will be, a destiny which Scripture plainly declares:

“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things” (Ph. 3:19 NIV).

The enemy of God, the devil, likes to keep human beings occupied with this world and the things of this world, for then they become oblivious to the more important things of the other world, the unseen spiritual world. And his strategy works all too well. This is seen by any observant person, even as was evident long ago, in the days before the great Flood of Noah’s time. What was true then holds true today as well, as we quickly approach that final flood that will destroy this world (2 Ptr. 3:6-7). Jesus himself compared this coming day of destruction to that one of long ago:

“For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Mt. 24:38-39 NIV).

They knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” They knew nothing because their whole world was this world, the world they could see, the world that runs on money. And they and their modern offspring are very adept at utilizing that world, more so than those who are children of the light.

“For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light” (Lk. 16:8 NIV).

Why is this? Is it not because the people of the light care nothing for the money of this world, because they have found something far more precious?

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (Mt. 13:45-46 NIV).

“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (Rev. 3:18 NIV).

What is the salve which Jesus counsels us to “buy” from him so that we can see? And what can we then see that we could not see before? The salve is Jesus himself. When we come by faith to him for salvation, he opens our eyes to see things we could not see before, things like the true nature of ourselves as sinners and his unsurpassable greatness in holiness, along with the utter worthlessness of the money of this world. He counsels us to buy real money, gold, that is refined in the fire for purity, that is, our souls, tried by the trials of this life. When we allow him to rule over those lives and mold us through the many trials of this life, we emerge in him as tested and purified: gold that reflects the One who purifies us.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (Js. 4:12-13 KJV).

“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Tim. 2:20-21 NIV).

The fiery trials of this life are one cost that must be paid by believers to be molded by God into the image of his Son. This is the gold refined by fire, which we receive in Jesus, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3 RSV).

But to many in this world, the price to be paid to receive this gold from God is too high. They do not understand that the human soul is worth the highest price to be paid for it. Instead, they trust in mere worldly wealth that soon disappears. These are they “who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches. (But) no man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him–the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough–that he should live on forever and not see decay” (Ps. 49:6-9 NIV).

They do not understand that only by giving up all in this life for Christ (Mk. 8:35-36) can they obtain “the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:2-3 NIV).

These are the riches of which the world knows nothing, riches for which the wise person will gladly surrender his or her very soul to the safekeeping of the only One who can offer something even greater than living for one’s self: union with God in Christ (1 Cor. 6:17). This is the great riches for which Jesus prayed so fervently for his followers his last night on this earth before his death (Jn. 17:11)

After his resurrection and ascension, Jesus showed to his disciple, John, a vision, referenced previously (Rev. 3:18), in which he counsels us to buy the true riches and to anoint our eyes with his salve so that we may see. It is interesting that the Greek word in this passage for this eyesalve has as its base or root a word that implies “to cleave, join (self), keep company.” That is what an eyesalve does; it cleaves to the eyelids so that it can effect its healing to the eyes, that is, allow the person to see. If there is no clinging, no holding onto, it cannot do its work.

In the same, intimate sharing that Jesus had with his disciples the night of the Garden of Gethsemane, he emphasized this need for them and all his followers to cling to him.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:4-5 ESV).

This works both ways, however. That is, not only is a believer’s clinging to Jesus necessary for the Spirit of God to do his work in that believer (Jn. 15:4-6), so too must the devil have those he controls (1 Jn. 5:19) cling to him and this world in which he now wields power. It is all about that to which we cling. Lot’s wife lost her life for clinging to this world and looking back at it (Gen. 19:26). Lucifer lost heaven for clinging to his own beauty and desire to rule in place of God (Ezk. 28:13-17). He has never lost this desire for riches and glory; he still clings to it and will to the day Jesus comes and forces him to relinquish his hold on this world.

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” (2 Ths. 2:7 KJV).

The Greek word for letteth in this passage, κατέχω katecho (kat-ekh’-o), means to hold down (hold fast). The devil will hold fast to that which he has in this world until he is made to release it at the coming of the One to whom it really belongs (Ezk. 21:27). In this, the devil also must obey the law of attraction that holds sway over all created beings, that whatever holds first place in the heart is that to which one clings. Believers in Jesus cling and hold fast to their Lord and Savior; the devil and those who follow him in this world, whether they know it or not, hold fast to this world and what they have in it. They will not give it up until forced to do so.

“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils” (Lk. 11:21-22 NIV).

“I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (Lk. 12:19-21 NIV).

Notice the mention once again of the extreme danger of coveting the riches of this world and ignoring the much greater riches of God. Many are they who do not see how much a grip the devil has upon them through their desire for riches.

The devil has a secure grip on many in this world–many, but not all. When he came with the crowd to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said of him, “The prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me” (Jn. 14:30 NIV).

No hold. No power. Nothing. What was true of Jesus is true of all who follow him (1 Jn. 4:17). This world and its prince have no hold on us–unless we let them. Money is one of the chief holds that our enemy uses to entrap us and hold us down in this world. And money is just one form of all that we would desire besides the Lord himself; it is whatever we cling to besides Him. That is what has a hold on us and will lead us to destruction unless we break free from whatever it is that has such a hold on us.

Once again, we see Scripture’s continual reference to what we cling to as being all important. Those who cling to this world stumble around in darkness, not knowing even over what they stumble (Prov. 4:19). They will not even know that their world is about to end until that very day surprises them (Mt. 24:38-39).

But there are others who will see it coming because they are no longer in the darkness but have had the salve of Jesus applied to their eyes, and they see that which the world cannot see (Mk. 13:23). And lest we think that we believers are immune to these dazzling temptations of the world and its money, listen to Paul’s sad comment about one of his co-workers: “Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me” (2 Tim. 4:10 NIV).

The love of money is a great danger that is warned against often in Scripture (Js. 4:4, 1 Jn. 2:15-17). Knowing of this danger, then, what should we do? How can a child of God avoid falling victim to the temptation of going after the transitory things of this world? The secret is found in Romans 12: 1-2:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV).

The transformation of a person from darkness to light comes about only through Jesus Christ. He is the light that shines in the darkness of the world and the darkness of one’s heart. “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (Jn. 1:5 NIV).

But why can the world not understand this light? The Light himself, Jesus Christ, asked this very question of those who opposed him in the world–and also answered the question he posed.

“Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say” (Jn. 8:43 NIV).

And why were they unable to hear what he says, not see the light his words bring to the heart? Because that heart has no love for God and therefore does not want to hear him speak to that heart.

“And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form” (Jn. 5:37 NIV).

The ability both to hear and to see God in Jesus Christ comes from having the love of God in one’s heart. And if that love is not there (Jn. 5:42), then that heart will not believe (Jn. 5:44). But, lest we who do have the love of God in our heart think that somehow it is to our credit, that we had anything to do with that, God’s Word says no, that “we love because he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19 NIV). There is no commendation due the person drowning in the sea for having clung to the lifesaver thrown to him from above. He did only what he should have done to save himself, which was to accept the offer of that lifesaver.

“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ” (Lk. 17:10 NIV).

As one unworthy servant to another, I say to you fellow believers who read this, do not let money or anything else of this world draw you away from that most precious pearl of all, Jesus Christ. Nothing can compare to him who is the bright and morning star who has risen in our hearts (2 Ptr. 1:19).

The prince of this world came for Jesus, to try to destroy him, in the time of Jesus’ testing in the Garden. He is coming for you as well. Therefore, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Ptr. 5:8 NIV).

Be alert, but do not fear. Though the strong enemy is coming, someone stronger than he is also coming for you.

“I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (Jn. 14:3 NIV).

Let these words of Jesus bring comfort and assurance to you whenever the evil one and his cohorts appear and threaten you. Remember that “you, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4 NIV).

“The prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me” (Jn. 14:30 NIV).

Remember the words of Jesus:

“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown” (Rev. 3:11 NIV).

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