Ecclesiastes 5:19: “Every man also to whom God has given riches and wealth and hath given power to eat thereof and to take his portion and to rejoice in his labor, this is the gift of God.”
Ecclesiastes 6:2: “A man to whom God has given riches, wealth and honor so that he wants nothing for his soul of all that he desires but God gives him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eats it this is vanity it is an evil disease.”
God may allow his servant to succeed when he has disciplined him to the point where he does not need to succeed to be happy.” A.W. Tozer
“Money a curse? Might I be afflicted and never recover.” Tevye – Fiddler on the Roof
They say the odds of winning the lottery are 18 million to 1. Even if you beat those odds you face another obstacle. God has to empower you to enjoy it. The word empower is shalat which has the idea of dominion, or mastery. You often hear the stories of people who came into sudden riches and they say their lives were worse off when they were rich than when they were poor. There reason is that their riches dominated them or shalat them rather than they dominating their riches. Yet, we learn that is the gift from God. The gift from God is not the riches it is the power to enjoy the riches or to dominate their riches. The word gift in Hebrew comes from the word nathan which is the word for giving. The word is spelled Nun, Taw, Final Nun. It is the same spelled backward or forward. The picture is circular, what you give will come back to you to give out again.
To the person who is not empowered or shalat by God, and is not given nathan he will not enjoy his riches, it will be vanity. It is the word vanity that intrigues me. The word is havel which means worthless or of no value. Actually a more definitive meaning is illusion. Without the gift of God his wealth is all an illusion.
I remember when I took an economics class, I was really struggling to understand the whole concept until my professor put it in terms I could understand, it is all an illusion. It is all havel. You take all the United States currency that is in existence today and it will come to only about 500 Billion dollars. So where are the trillions of dollars we hear so much about? Where did the $800 Billion in bailout money come from? The Federal Reserve created it. They don’t even need to print it, they type in an amount and there it is. People have a problem believing in a God who created a world out of nothing, but they have no problem believing in a Federal Reserve to create $800 Billion dollars out of nothing. It takes just as much faith to believe you have a certain amount of money in your 401K as it does to believe in a God who will take care of you. Sure there are all sorts of laws the Federal Reserve must follow before it plunges new money into our economy, just as God controls our universe with certain laws.
I remember in my philosophy classes where we were studying the search for an absolute. In other words finding something we could be absolutely sure of or was our whole existence just an illusion. About the time the Pilgrims were landing on Plymouth rock a French philosopher name Rene Descartes sat at his desk pondering the idea of an absolute. He looked at his desk and ask: “How can I be sure this desk exist. How do I know I am not just imagining this desk.” He wanted to find something he could be absolutely sure of. Finally he realized that the only thing he could be sure of was that he could not be sure of anything. Well, actually the only thing he could be sure of is that he was thinking about finding something he could be sure of. This resulted in his famous quote which is the fundamental element of Western Philosophy: “Cogito Ero Sum” I think there I am. The very fact you are thinking proves that at least there is one existence, you. We cannot be sure that anything else exist, that everything else is an illusion.
As I studied the various philosophers of the empiricist thinkers such as Locke, Spinoza, Leibniz, Berkley, Rousseau, and Albright, I found it drove me closer to a belief in God rather than away from it. If this world is an illusion, I cannot control that illusion, I can not make myself rich or healthy. Some believe, like Christian Science, that you can. I believe that if this world is indeed an illusion, then there must be someone who can control that illusion. I believe that the master who is in control is God. He can create any illusion. He can give you wealth or make you poor. If you are rich and find happiness in that wealth, it is only an illusion of happiness.
That brings me back to Ecclesiastes and verses 5:19 and 6:2 where Solomon addresses the concept of wealth. He seems to be saying that wealth is only an illusion, it is vanity. God may choose to give you joy in that illusion, but the joy ultimately comes from Him, not through the wealth which can disappear and will disappear overnight. You may step in front of a bus, hopefully not mine, tonight and suddenly find yourself in the presence of true reality, the presence of God. Your wealth will be gone at that point and you will have a new wealth in a new existence.
Some will say that my belief in God is just an illusion. But from my study of the worldly philosophers, then they are living in an illusion just like me. So to them I will say: “May your illusion which you consider reality bring you as much joy and peace as my reality.