Where does one start a discussion of humanity’s earliest economies? If you are Christian or Jewish, the logical place to start is the Book of Genesis. That is where it all began, and where we find a very useful description of mankind’s earliest development.
Moreover, this account is also confirmed by a tremendous number of archeological discoveries (some of which we will highlight throughout the Organic Economics™ chapters). Therefore, even people of other religions can be confident that the Bible’s account provides us all a firm foundation upon which we can build an understanding of humanity’s earliest development—even within the specific topics of money, trade, and finance.
So whether you are Christian or Jewish—or neither—you will likely be amazed at what insights we cover throughout this and the subsequent articles of this series. And within this particular article, we will begin our studies by laying a few Christian theological foundations for this series before we progress into the economic points thereafter. Namely:
- We will see from the Bible that God really likes gold.
- We will then take note of the fact that He seemed to have put that same attitude within mankind.
- However, we will then take special notice of the effects of sin upon humanity’s desire for the yellow metal—and why we all need to keep a sober head about such issues by esteeming eternal things more highly.
Taken together, the points of this chapter will offer my readers some godly and profitable wisdom about precious metals upon which we can then build.
In the Beginning…
We read in the Genesis account from chapters one through three about the creation of the earth and its systems by God over the course of six literal days. And in chapter two, we get a special glimpse of how marvelous God’s provision originally was for humanity:
Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.)
(Genesis 2:8-12, NIV, emphasis added)
So we see that “abundance” was the initial condition that God created for mankind. Everything man needed was within his environment—abundant food ready for “picking,” the perfect temperature, and etc. It would seem that He even made the precious things that He created, such as the gold, silver, and precious stones, to simply lie upon the ground or within easy access, for Adam’s enjoyment.
Also included within this passage above is the statement that God considered the gold in the land of Havilah as “good.” The Hebrew adjective translated as “good” here (Strong’s #2896) not only means “good, pleasant, agreeable” to the senses, but also “good, rich, valuable in estimation” economically, and “good, right” morally. In short, God made gold by His own design and then defined it as:
- Attractive in appearance
- Precious in value
- Morally “right” for possession
Of course, this fact should not be a surprise to any Christian who has read the Book of Revelation. Therein, we find out that God likes gold so much, that He made the City of New Jerusalem out of an exceptionally pure form of the yellow metal—a form so pure, it is clear:
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…
The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
(An excerpt from Revelation chapter 21, NKJV, emphasis added)
The Lord certainly likes gold. He not only created it here on the Earth and defined it as “attractive in appearance, precious in value, and morally ‘right’ for possession” as we mentioned above, but He also demonstrated for us at the end of the Bible how much He personally enjoys it in Heaven.
Furthermore, even when God gave instructions to build the earthly Temple at Jerusalem, He included therein instructions for adorning the inner sanctum with abundant gold (see 1 Chronicles chapters 22, 28, and 29; and 1 Kings chapters 6 and 7). So it would be nearly impossible to conclude anything other than that the Lord really likes this stuff.
A Built-In Understanding
Given gold’s conspicuous place throughout human history—with regards to both good and evil activity—it would seem that the Lord also built into humans a latent knowledge about gold’s intrinsically valuable nature. After all, the Creator made everything for the man who He created on the sixth day, including the gold in the Land of Havilah. Thus, humanity was originally “pre-programmed” with a divine understanding about the things the Lord had made for them.
We can also see this fact indicated within the Bible. Let us take a look at the positive side of this latent knowledge within mankind about gold. Consider for a moment how King Solomon, endowed by God with exceptional wisdom, regarded gold within his own earthly kingdom very similarly to how the Lord regards it within His city of New Jerusalem:
The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold [in weight, that would be about 5,000 pounds or 2,250 kilograms, today], besides that from the traveling merchants, from the income of traders, from all the kings of Arabia, and from the governors of the country.
And King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred shekels of gold went into each shield [in today’s weights, that would be about 15.2 pounds or 6.9 kilograms per shield]. He also made three hundred shields of hammered gold; three minas of gold went into each shield [about 3.75 pounds or 1.7 kilograms per smaller shield]. The king put them in the House of the Forest of Lebanon.
Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round at the back; there were armrests on either side of the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the armrests. Twelve lions stood there, one on each side of the six steps; nothing like this had been made for any other kingdom.
All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon. For the king had merchant ships at sea with the fleet of Hiram. Once every three years the merchant ships came bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys. So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.
Now all the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.
(An excerpt from 1 Kings chapter 10, NKJV, bracketed notes and emphasis added)
So it is obvious from the Bible that King Solomon really liked this stuff too. Just like the One Who gave him his wisdom, Solomon decided to surround himself with gold. Note also from the passage above how God’s Word ties “wisdom” to the ownership of “gold” within this story about Solomon. Thus we can see an Organic Economic™ principle at hand:
The Wisdom of Gold: The Lord God of the Bible, Creator of both Heaven and Earth, has clearly demonstrated for us throughout Scripture that He has defined gold as: (1) Attractive in appearance, (2) Precious in value, and (3) Morally “right” for people to possess through honest means. Thus, wise people throughout the Bible and history have owned gold (and silver).
(Therefore, you can understand somewhat why TheWisdomOfGold.com has been designed to convey that same insight to the wider Christian public.)
So literally from Genesis to Revelation, we find that God is the Creator of gold—and that He really likes it. With just this small sampling of the applicable Scripture, we also can clearly see that men tend to have an innate understanding “built” into them about gold’s precious nature.
However, we also see throughout the Bible—and human history—that sin has distorted that innate knowledge into covetousness. Humans are too-often willing to sin to get gold and silver (e.g. murder, theft, fraud, etc.). They have also used these metals for purposes detestable in God’s eyes—such as when they have made them into objects for idolatrous worship. (And we will discuss these things throughout this series from time to time also.)
Of course, the sin problem is why Jesus came to redeem mankind with His sacrifice upon the Cross. Looking ahead past His Cross and into the redemption of humanity, the Messiah also taught His disciples important truths about how to keep money (i.e. gold and silver) and material things in the right perspective. So He took the time to explain quite frankly:
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
(Mark 8:36-37; Luke 12:15, NKJV, emphasis added)
So we can see another important theological principle evident from just these two verses above (out of the many that could be cited):
The Limitations of Wealth: Gold and silver—and ALL other material things upon the earth—have temporal limitations in both their value and usefulness. Therefore, they should be esteemed lightly in comparison with eternal things.
The English word “temporal,” as I used it above, means to be subject to time, or to be limited by time. In other words, temporal things are time and space dependent, and thus, only temporary. Solomon again wisely observed:
Weary not yourself to be rich; cease from your own [human] wisdom. Will you set your eyes upon wealth, when [suddenly] it is gone? For riches certainly make themselves wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.
(Proverbs 23:4-5, The Amplified Bible)
We already observed above how fabulously rich Solomon was during his “time” here on earth. So when would it be “gone” for him? When he stepped out of time, and into eternity. His statement above tells us that true wisdom realizes that the English proverb, “You can’t take it with you,” is correct. All material wealth has temporal limitations, while we humans are eternal beings (i.e. spiritually eternal, physically temporal) and we all have an eternal destiny to soberly consider:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV 2010, emphasis added)
So as Jesus asked further above, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” That is one of the major reasons that I hope ALL of my readers will take the time to study The Supreme Value of Righteousness to ensure that your priorities are truly straight—and that your soul is truly secure.
Neither Poverty Nor Gain, Equals Godliness
Another point to briefly address before we dive into the fuller discussion of economics and finance is the error that some have regarding the connection between “godliness” and material prosperity. Some have the errant belief that poverty is a measure of “holiness,” while others think that prosperity is a key to one’s acceptance before God. Since I will touch on the first group within chapter six more specifically, let me briefly address this latter “gain-is-godliness” group here.
The Bible foretold that within these Last Days, such ideas would become quite popular:
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
(1 Timothy 6:3-8, NKJV, emphasis added)
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
(2 Timothy 3:1-5, NKJV, emphasis added)
This attitude is quite common within both the so-called “prosperity message” and “prosperity gospel” circles today, as I alluded to already within the Introduction. Though few of those who propagate this error come out and state such openly (as that would be too obvious, and expose their true wolfish nature), it is the very clear intent of many of their statements and actions. It is openly implied by both word and deed that a truly “anointed” or “successful” minister is one who is raking in the money from their “ministry.”
In fact, those who have not yet attained such ill-gotten “success” are often motivated to “fake it, until they make it” by running up credit card debt in order to put on the facade of “prosperity” despite their true financial condition. In short, they lie in order to appear “approved” so as to gain speaking engagements or to sell their errant products.
ALL such beliefs, and actions, are blatantly ungodly.
In fact, Jesus directly confronted this same error when He walked the earth, with regard to the Pharisees:
“No servant is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches, or anything in which you trust and on which you rely).”
Now the Pharisees, who were covetous and lovers of money, heard all these things [taken together], and they began to sneer at and ridicule and scoff at Him.
But He said to them, “You are the ones who declare yourselves just and upright before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted and highly thought of among men is detestable and abhorrent (an abomination) in the sight of God.”
(Luke 16:13-15, The Amplified Bible, underline and bold emphasis added)
We know from many historical sources that the Pharisees had a doctrinal belief that a man’s “righteousness” (i.e. acceptance by God as being righteous in His sight) could be measured by the amount of wealth that they accumulated. So those considered the most “holy” among their numbers were those who were the wealthiest. It is not surprising then that they made attainment of wealth a preeminent goal, as it not only afforded them immediate temporal satisfaction but also ecclesiastical rank within their religious community. Consequently, they were rebuked by the Son of God Himself for their error.
Again, this is very same belief system is prevalent within the various “prosperity” circles today.
However, it is important also to point out that Jesus was talking about how many “masters” someone has over them. He is not against people having material wealth, as He would first have to nullify many of His Own Scriptures from the Old Testament in order to propose such a thing (e.g. Deuteronomy chapter 28), which is something He emphatically stated that He had no intention of doing (see Matthew 5:17-18). Rather, He is pointing out that some people are ruled by their money—and the pursuit thereof—and that such people were NOT truly subject to God, despite their religious claims otherwise.
So as I have stated within this chapter before already, it is wise to esteem earthly things lightly in comparison with eternal matters.
The state of one’s material wealth—whether “abounding” or “suffering need” as Paul mentioned in Philippians 4:10-13—has no bearing upon a person’s “godliness” or “righteousness” whatsoever. Both poor and wealthy people alike, die and go to Hell every day. So if you are not sure about whether or not you qualify as “righteous” in God’s eyes, please be sure to review The Supreme Value of Righteousness without delay.
Divine Property Rights
Now, for theological integrity’s sake, it should also be noted briefly that the Lord still considers the entire creation (including all of mankind) to be His Own “private property.” Thus, all of humanity’s possessions are available to us merely on a “loan” basis from God:
Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it.
(Deuteronomy 10:14, NKJV, emphasis added)
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
(Psalm 24:1, NIV, emphasis added)
And these facts are made even more apparent with the next Bible verse:
May you be blessed by the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind.
(Psalm 115:15-16, NIV, emphasis added)
The Hebrew word translated “given” within that last quote from Psalm 115 above is nathan (Strong’s #5414) and can also be translated “grant, permit, lend, commit, entrust,” or even “to be assigned.” In short, the Lord has delegated control of the earth to mankind. The Bible also promises that He will one day return to reclaim full possession of His property (e.g. Acts 17:31; Revelation 11:18).
Of course, the passages above are only a sampling of the many which address these matters. Nevertheless, these are sufficient to attest to the fact that complete ownership of everything is openly claimed by God as the Creator—and even the ownership of the entire human race itself.
(Note: This is why He has both the legal and moral right to judge us all according to His Law and to pass an eternal sentence upon us that will result in either Heaven or Hell. Again, I hope you will take time to carefully study The Supreme Value of Righteousness and then take the steps necessary to ensure that you are ready to meet your Creator when your time comes…even if that time comes unexpectedly.)
So the light of these passages above are sufficient for us to clearly see another theological principle at hand:
Divine Property: In the beginning, God transferred the possession of His Creation to mankind for them to care for as His managers (i.e. as His stewards). He still retains ultimate ownership of it all; and He will eventually require an account from every individual.
Now, within humanity’s interactions with each other, the Bible does recognize the right of individual personal property ownership. In fact, we will be discussing this truth in more detail within a later chapter. Thus, I will refrain from elaborating on that point for now.
So before moving on, let me please encourage my readers to keep in mind some of the theological points of this article while we return our discussion towards Organic Economics™ more specifically.
- Man was created to live in a wonderful world of abundance and provision, and gold was specifically singled out by the Scriptures as attractive in appearance, precious in value, and morally “right” for possession.
- God, as Creator, is the ultimate Owner of all things—including humanity itself. However, He has delegated the control (stewardship) of these things to mankind.
- All material things—including gold and silver—have a very temporal limit in their value and benefit. Thus, we need to keep eternal things first and foremost within our priorities; and to consider the attainment of the salvation of our souls preeminent above everything.
To progress from here into the financial knowledge that this website is designed to convey, we will have to first learn how mankind utilized the resources God created here upon the earth. So within out next chapter about The Biblical Genesis of Trade we will learn what happened economically after the fall of man, and then build upon that foundation throughout the rest of this series from there.
For more information about Rev. Rich Vermillion, please view the brief bio at the bottom of TheWisdomOfGold.com’s Website Introduction page, or visit his public LinkedIn profile page at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/richvermillion
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