(You can listen to this study on audio, and pause the audio to follow page links for important details, then, resume the audio when you are ready. Please note that I use page links in lieu of references and footnotes.)
Matthew3:4 Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
Verse 5. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan;
Verse 6. and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
The Bible can be easier to read with all the ‘new versions’ floating around. And, assuming they are correctly written, you can begin to think you understand what the Bible is saying.
But, even that is not enough. Unless you have the Holy Spirit and you see the Word in the correct context, you are still “seeing through a glass darkly”. In the case of these verses, context is everything to understanding and to doing.
We are told that John is living in the wilderness, dressing in garments of camel’s hair, eating locusts and wild honey. This is a description of first century poverty. In reality, John is beyond being financially poor, he is destitute of any earthly possessions.
So, why so much talk about poverty and the seeming conflict between wealth and poverty in the Bible? Should we embrace poverty also?
Matthew 5:3, will give you understanding of the meaning of true poverty, its purpose and insights through context.
We learn that, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Again, Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
And again in Mark10:17 “As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Verse 18. And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
Verse 19. “You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’”
Verse 20. And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
Verse 21. Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Verse 22. But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
Verse 23. And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”
Verse 24. The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus *answered again and *said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
Verse 25. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Verse 26. They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?”
Verse 27. Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
Verse 28. Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”
Verse 29. Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,
Verse 30. but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.
John the Baptist is an example to us that it is possible to live and walk in the power, in the provision and in the presence of The Kingdom of God, while on earth.
Setting your mind, your focus, on Earthly possessions effectively blocks access to Kingdom life. If you dispute this, look at Jesus’ life and example and hear His Words again: “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Everything you have is the result of how you think. Very few come by their possessions by accident or happenstance. People toil, day and night to earn and possess. And this is what God is saying to you, “Think on Me. Toil, day and night to possess Me and my Greatest of all Gifts to you.”
Jeremiah 29:13 ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.’
Matthew13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
It is not wealth or possessions, in and of themselves, which blocks access to Kingdom life and walking in His Authority. IT IS THAT YOUR MIND IS SET ON THINGS OF THIS WORLD which blocks access.
Romans 7:6 says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, Verse 7, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, Verse 8, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
And finally, Matthew 6:19 cautions us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. Verse 20. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; Verse 21. for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Verse 22. “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23“But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
Verse 24. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve, (douleuo, Greek = be a slave to), God and wealth.
Poverty, difficulties, stress, lack, need and want are the trip wires at the doorway into the Kingdom of Heaven, placed there by God to assist us, to strip us of the obstacles preventing us access to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus has already said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that you will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.
1. Let go of your possessions of wealth, intellect, position, status or anything you treasure on earth and you will receive a hundred times as much NOW! (If you cannot let go on your own, God will aid you, just don’t resist Him)
2. You will also receive persecution.
3. And, you will inherit Eternal life.
These are some of the greatest secrets contained in the Word of God.
Please, brothers and sisters in Christ, do not turn the Bible into a text book. It is a portal into the Kingdom of God. It contains all the mysteries of God, the earth and the entire cosmos, and it unlocks those mysteries.
You have the opportunity to know by experience that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them! This is WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU, NOW!
More to come.
Your Brother and Friend,
The Next Teaching from Matthew 3:7
A Brood of Vipers