According to Scripture, God has appointed a day when He will transfer the wealth of the wicked to the righteous. In fact, this is the primary theme and promise of the Bible.
Here are three passages in Daniel that point to this transference of wealth:
But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.Daniel 7:18
I [Daniel] was watching; and the same horn [the antichrist] was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came [God the Father], and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.Daniel 7:21-22
Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.Daniel 7:27
The topic of biblical end-times is one of those that generates all kinds of interpretations and conclusions. Surprisingly, however, I don’t know of any school of thought that tries to make the above Scriptures say anything other than what they obviously say.
That is that there is a literal and physical kingdom of God coming at the end of the age that replaces the present kingdoms of the world.
And that eternal kingdom will be given to the saints!
When the Wealth of the Wicked Doctrine Becomes False
Christians often say, “The wealth of the wicked is laid up for the just.”
This true statement becomes a false doctrine when Christians try to use this end-time prophecy as justification to chase money or to covet someone else’s stuff today.
They are like the youngest son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. He had an inheritance coming, but was driven by his lusts to demand it before the appointed time.
The father gave it to him and the young man went out and squandered it on parties and women and foolish purchases (Luke 15:11-32).
That story is not going to be repeated in us. For our wise Father is not going to transfer our inheritance to us until He eternally obliterates our ability to spoil it.
This is done through the resurrection of our body:
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we all shall be changed–
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.1 Corinthians 15:50-53
It is no more wise of us to demand distribution of our inheritance before the time than it was of the prodigal son. He wasn’t prepared and neither are we.
Demanding the Wealth of the Wicked Before the Time
Here is the Scripture that errant Christians use to covet the wealth of the wicked:
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.Proverbs 13:22
We immediately notice that the Scripture says the sinners’ wealth is presently “stored up” for the righteous. It does not say anything about its distribution.
Why doesn’t it? Because it’s a proverb.
A proverb is an extremely short summation of a truth that may be otherwise exceedingly complicated and nuanced.
Its purpose is not to give a balanced, in-depth teaching. It’s to give a memorable one-liner or short passage that highlights a “part” of a truth.
Let me demonstrate to you what I mean by looking at another Bible proverb:
The righteous is delivered from trouble, and it comes to the wicked instead.Proverbs 11:8
Whew! Aren’t you glad troubles bounce right off the righteous and go to the wicked instead? Hasn’t that been your experience? Don’t you dare say no. I showed you half a proverb that said it’s so.
Or what about this one?
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.Proverbs 15:1
Do you believe that true one-liner was meant by the Holy Spirit to be true in every single case? Was He telling the abused woman that the reason her hell-bound boyfriend or husband regularly beats her is because she doesn’t answer softly enough?
Was he telling the black man who is pulled over by a racist white cop that if he answers softly, he won’t be brutalized or murdered?
You see, the Lord had a context in His mind when He inspired each proverb. Actually, this is true of every Scripture. And we don’t have to guess at what was in His mind when He did it.
All we have to do is to read the entirety of His word to gain the wisdom necessary to know when one or the other Scriptures should be applied to a particular situation.
I admit that this takes time, effort, study, prayer, and thoughtfulness–and courage. But it’s worth it to know the truth.
As the Holy Spirit inspired in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.“
The problem with prosperity preachers and their disciples’ interpretation of Proverbs 13:22 is they read it in isolation from the rest of the Bible and without the tiniest bit of logic or common sense.
They want money and stuff. That’s the priority, not truth.
So half a proverb interpreted in such a way that it conflicts with godliness and the Bible is acceptable to them if it gets them what they want. This practice has always been acceptable to money and stuff chasers.
Distribution of the Wealth of the Wicked to the Righteous
I remind you again that Proverbs 13:22 doesn’t say the wealth of the wicked is “distributed” to the righteous; it says it’s “stored up” for the righteous.
Hopefully, no one reading this would dare argue that storing a thing and distributing that thing is the same thing. That would mean saving a hundred dollars and spending a hundred dollars is the same thing.
Hahaha, now you know why you’re broke! Just kidding (smile).
Okay, back to business.
As I pointed out earlier with the Scriptures from Daniel, God has appointed a day of judgment when sinful humanity will be stripped of its freedom and kingdoms.
On that day, the great transference will take place. The lowly saint will be exalted to great honor, and the sinner shall be cursed with everlasting shame and contempt:
For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.Psalm 37:9
Or in other words, the wealth of the wicked will be distributed to the righteous.
Is It Godly to Covet the Wealth of the Wicked?
This false doctrine encourages covetousness as long as the victims of our covetousness are not Christians.
Basically, the doctrine is if Christians believe God and use their faith, they can get the rich person’s wealth. My question is, Is this “…the doctrine which is according to godliness?” (1 Timothy 6:3; KJV).
I hijacked part of 1 Timothy 6:3 where Paul was instructing and warning his pupil, Timothy, to examine every doctrine to see if it led to godliness. If it did, it was godly; if it didn’t, it was ungodly.
Let’s apply this filter to the doctrine of “the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the righteous.”
Is the end of this doctrine Christ-like behavior? Since we know a tree by its fruit, what kind of fruit does this tree produce? Is it the fruit of loving our enemies? Or denying ourselves? Or some other Christ-like behavior?
The Fruit of Covetousness
The tenth commandment says the following:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shalt not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor any thing that is your neighbor’s.Exodus 20:17
And only the most uninformed would seek to hide behind the already tried-and-failed retort of “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). So don’t even think about it.
How does God feel about your desire and effort to get someone else’s wealth? If this is not covetousness, what is?
And how exactly do you reconcile God’s command to love your brother with your lust for his property? Do you seize the property of someone you love?
I know, I know, you’re not actually seizing it. You’re using your faith to get it. Okay, I guess it’s alright to take someone’s stuff if you use your faith to take it instead of your gun.
But tell me, how does that look? Do you just come right out and say, “God, give me Harold’s house”? No, that’s probably too honest a request.
What about this: Harold’s house is going into foreclosure. You can loan or give enough money to Harold to save his home. But you don’t do it because you want Harold’s house. And if he loses it, you can get it on the cheap—for the kingdom of God, of course.
Now that’s one we can put God’s name on, right? Wrong.
I think part of the reason we find it easy to desire the property of the “wicked” is we see them as objects rather than people. Sort of like coveting the land of the “savage” Indians or the free labor and sex of the “heathen” Africans.
They’re not really people–at least not like us–so it’s not really wrong to covet their stuff. Besides, we’re going to use their stuff for the kingdom of God.
The problem, though, that won’t go away with any amount of rationalizing is these are people–made in God’s image. And you want to rip them off!
Do you understand that God loves sinners just as He loves you? If this is true (and it is), how do you justify lusting after their property?
Do you think that a single Scripture, “the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous,” is to be interpreted in a way that conflicts with the character of Christ and the commands of God to love one another?
If this is what you believe, you may want to dig up your receipt and return your salvation to the flea market for a full refund. It’s not genuine.
The Fruit of Hypocrisy
The official reason for desiring/coveting the wealth of the wicked is to establish the kingdom of God.
But can it be that while these covetous people quote Scriptures such as Deuteronomy 8:18:
And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant…
that they are ignorant of Romans 3:7?
For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner?
Romans 3:7 records that it is possible to make God look good through dishonesty. Preachers do it all the time with inflated reports of salvation, false healings, exaggerated miracles, manipulated moves of God, etc.
The minister’s lie causes people to worship God. Yet, the minister is judged by God as a liar. For God doesn’t need or desire lies to make Him look good.
With this in mind, how can a so-called Christian covet another person’s property for the kingdom of God? Is this not flexible morality? Bent to fit the shape of our wickedness?
Though we rationalize our greed with select Scriptures, and though we pretend to have a great desire for the kingdom of God, will the Lord who “searches all hearts and understands all the intents of the thoughts….” (1 Chronicles. 28:9) not judge us as hypocrites?
If we adopt such hypocritical behavior are we not in danger of hearing these dreadful words on Judgment Day? “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness,” (Matthew 7:23).
What’s Really Driving Us to Covet the Wealth of the Wicked?
The proper understanding of Proverbs 13:22 begins with acknowledging that it is a promise of a future time that is totally governed by God’s timetable and not our so-called faith.
Now within the boundaries of God’s will for a specific individual, God can sovereignly transfer wealth from one person to another. But this is God’s business and not ours.
You can be certain that if God is behind the transference of wealth from one person to another it will not have the marks of greed or covetousness on it.
Fleshly, covetous manipulations to get someone’s wealth, property, or position will identify the manipulator as a hypocrite full of lust and not a disciple full of faith.
Bible Characters Who Received the Wealth of the Wicked Properly
A careful examination of biblical personalities who did receive the wealth of the wicked reveal they were not greedy. They did not seek wealth. Nor were they manipulators.
Abraham, Daniel, and David all received the wealth of the wicked. Yet they didn’t pursue wealth. Furthermore, all three men proved their lack of greed by rejecting wealth when they felt it necessary.
Since Abraham is the father of our faith and his name is used a lot from those who with a covetous heart claim “the blessings of Abraham,” we’ll look at how he handled the pursuit of money and stuff.
Abraham Rejected The Wealth of the Wicked is Laid Up for the Righteous Trap
Abraham and his nephew, Lot, were both in the land that God had promised to Abraham. When a contention arose between Abraham’s and Lot’s herdsmen over the land, Abraham showed his character and trust in God.
So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.Genesis 13:8-9
Do you see the spiritual maturity of Abraham? God had promised him all of the land. He owed Lot nothing. Nonetheless, He allowed Lot to choose whatever land he felt was best.
Only a man with extreme trust in God would allow such a thing.
We see the same spiritual character when later the king of Sodom offered Abraham riches after Abraham rescued Lot and Sodom from invading armies:
But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I made Abram rich.’Genesis 14:22-23
This is nasty Sodom we’re talking about here. The same Sodom that would be destroyed by God shortly thereafter by fire from heaven (Genesis 19:1-29). If anyone qualified as being wicked, it was Sodom and its king.
Yet, Abram didn’t do “the wealth of the wicked laid up for the righteous” scam. He was more concerned with providing a good witness to the world than filling his pockets.
This is something today’s money preachers couldn’t care less about.
There was another money preacher who did care about what people might think about his covetousness. So he did his dirt in the dark. His name is Gehazi.
His story is tragic.
A Bible Character Who Received the Wealth of the Wicked Improperly
Elisha is one of the Bible’s greatest prophets. He had little interest in money and stuff and didn’t tolerate covetousness. Unfortunately, Gehazi, a guy he was training to be his replacement, didn’t share his opinion of money and stuff.
Gehazi was a disciple of “the wealth of the wicked should be distributed to the righteous NOW” doctrine.
Similar to our covetous Charismatic brothers and sisters, he wasn’t content to wait for God’s appointed time at the end of the age. He was going to make it happen now.
The story begins with a great military officer named Naaman coming to Elisha to be healed of leprosy. God instructed Elisha to tell the guy to dip in the Jordan river seven times and he’d be healed.
The guy did it and was healed. Understandably, he was overjoyed and offered the great prophet a reward.
And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant.2 Kings 5:15
Never, never, never, NEVER!!! forget Elisha’s response below:
But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused.2 Kings 5:16
Undercover Prosperity Preacher Goes After the Cash!
Gehazi watched this in silent, masked horror. Didn’t Elisha know he had a right to this wicked man’s stuff? Didn’t he know he was the seed of Abraham, and as such was entitled to the blessings of Abraham–which included cash?
Didn’t he know Deuteronomy 8:18, which said God had given them power to get wealth? Why was the prophet saying no to the blessings of the Lord?
I want to share with you something fascinating. You know how Jesus said on judgment day everything done in the dark will come to light, and that which we have spoken in darkness will be shouted from the rooftop (Luke 12:2-4)?
Here’s a preview of what that’s going to look like.
It’s the Holy Spirit revealing to us the private conversation Gehazi had with himself just before he made an excuse to leave the house so he could chase down Naaman and get that blessed cash!
But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him.2 Kings 5:20
Don’t miss the similarity of this Old Testament money chaser and our own money chasers. Notice how he talked himself into sinning.
- “My master has spared Naaman this Syrian.” This is him labeling the man an enemy of the Lord. It’s always easier to take something from someone when we label them an enemy of the Lord.
Prosperity preachers and their disciples aren’t the only ones guilty of this ruse. We see this practice among “Christian” nationalists all the time as they label as enemies those whom they hate (i.e., Liberals, minorities, the press, etc.).
- “…While not receiving what he brought.” This is the deception that if something is there for the taking, it should be taken. I mean, why else would God make it available. He must want me to take it!
- “But as the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him.” This is the inevitable delusional claim that they are chasing their lust in the name of the Lord and for His glory.
But tacking God’s name onto our lusts will not help us escape the judgment of God.
Judgment of God Catches Up to Prosperity Preacher
Surprisingly, once Gehazi lied to the man and got the cash and stuff, he hid it and dared to go back to Elisha as though everything was cool. This was not only audacious, it was off the charts stupid.
Gehazi knew this prophet’s reputation was well-earned. He had personally witnessed his miracles. And he knew for a fact that God shared people’s secrets with this man (2 Kings 6:8-12).
So what happened to Gehazi to make him think he could trick Elisha? The same thing that happens to all money preachers and their followers.
Sin is a deceiver. The longer you focus your attention on that which is forbidden, the less ability you have to free yourself from its gravitational pull. At some point in the process you go spiritually insane.
You are now in an alternate reality where God no longer sees what you are doing, and your doom is forever postponed.
Here’s how Gehazi got slapped back into reality:
Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, Where did you go, Gehazi? And he said, “Your servant did not go anywhere.” Then he said to him, “Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you?
“Is it a time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.”
And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow.2 Kings 5:25-27
You see how this greedy man made the fatal mistake of trying to speed up God’s timetable for the transference of the wealth of the wicked? Elisha directly asked him about this:
“Is it a time to receive money and…”
Irrespective of whether covetous people go after money and stuff in the name of the Lord or the name of the devil, they will all have similar fates to Gehazi.
Say no to impatience. Say no to covetousness.
Called to Be Rich for God?
There is such a thing as prospering for the kingdom of God. I will go so far as to say there is such a thing as being trusted by God with millions of dollars. Maybe even billions.
But I also need to add that given the great disparity of wealth in the world, and the abject poverty and misery of billions of people, that I don’t see the godliness in earning and sitting on vast wealth.
Yet, from a biblical perspective, I believe there is a place for faithful people who hate materialism and greed and covetousness to handle large amounts of money for the kingdom of God.
I believe the sign that this person is obeying God with the money will be the “fact” that it’s passing through his or her hands and going directly to the furtherance of the gospel and works of compassion.
This doesn’t mean the person won’t himself have more wealth than the average person. But it will mean they are known more for giving away wealth than for accumulating it.
And so you’ll know this is Scripture and not simply the opinion of a jealous non-rich guy, we’ll look at the Scriptures. (Don’t play me cheap, though. You don’t know what I’ll have tomorrow (smile)).
Concerning the rich, Paul told Timothy to instruct rich saints as follows:
Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.1 Timothy 6:18
How much should they give? That’s between them and God. How much should they keep? That’s between them and God, too. That’s why nowhere in the New Testament does God stipulate a certain amount or percentage a person should give.
(Read Does the New Testament Teach Tithing?)
The bottom-line issue is that whatever the rich person does with her money, it should directly and easily be identified as the actions of a person who loves the Lord with all of her heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Similarly, it should directly and easily be seen as the behavior of a person who loves his neighbor as himself.
Do You Really Believe You Are Called to This Dangerous Ministry?
Don’t be so quick to answer yes. Very few people or societies in the Bible or secular history have passed God’s test of prosperity. Prosperity has a way of exposing and fertilizing our sinful tendencies.
What secret seeds of worldliness will burst through the soil of your life once you get enough money to satisfy your lusts?
Now let me ask another question.
What portion of your life is dedicated to sacrificing for others? Are you presently known as a kind, compassionate, and generous person who gives his or her life for the kingdom of God?
Statistically speaking, you probably aren’t. Few of us are described by others in such terms.
Do you have the character of Abraham, Joseph, or Daniel? Don’t answer yes too quickly. It takes decades of suffering intense testing at the hands of God and Satan to achieve such character.
What do you feel about that statement about intense testing before you can be trusted with God’s material riches?
It doesn’t fit your prosperity template? Your formula for a life of leisure and luxury? If not, you’re spiritually immature and not ready for the ministry of abundance. And definitely not super abundance. It would destroy you.
Are money and things important to you? They are? Hmm. Would you be equally as satisfied serving God in great poverty as you would in great prosperity? No?
Now we know you’re not ready for abundance. And you’re definitely not called to abundance. You’re just attracted to it.
Here is a related article: The Greedy Version of Who We Are In Christ
Eric has written a bunch of books. Check them out here.
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