Summary: To encourage the congregation to avoid materialism and the love of money
God Cleanses His People
Primary Purpose: To encourage the congregation to guard against
materialism and the love of money.
Before the Israelites had gone into exile, they were primarily a agriculture based society. They lived off the land and farming. During their
stay in Babylon, this began to change to a more commerical way of life. The Jews saw the wealth of the people of Babylon and desired it. They in fact
aren’t above dishonest gain. It causes God to say through Malachi that the people are robbing God of the tithe and the offering. It caused Haggai to
declare that they have little and received little because they were treating God with contempt (Read Haggai 2:15-19) It reminds me of a poem
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray my Cuisinart to keep
I pray my stocks are on the rise
And that my analyst is wise
That all the wine I sip is white
And that my hot tubs watertight
That racquetball won’t get too tough
That all my sushi’s fresh enough
I pray my cordless phone still works
That my career won’t lose it perks
My microwave won’t radiate
My condo won’t depreciate
I pray my health club doesn’t close
And that my money market grows
If I go broke before I wake
I pray my Volvo they won’t take
This was the problem of the Israelites. This is what God is trying to say to them in this vision of Zechariah in Zechariah 5:5-11. Here are what
some of the symbols mean:
Ephah- a dry measure equal to a bushel. it was used to measure flour and barley. It symbolizes trade or commerce.
Babylon- symbol the world and the marketplace. In Revelations 18 we see God judging babylon at the setting up of His kingdom.
The woman in the basket represents Israel’s sin.
Materialism is bad for a number of reasons. Clearly, God felt that He had to cleanse His people before they could move on and be used greatly of
Him. We see that in Zechariah 3 when God removes the filth from Joshua and clothes him with rich garments.
The principle behind this is that
1. Repentance comes before usefulness. We see this when God reveals himself to Isaiah in Isaiah 6:7 and with Peter when he falls before Christ and asks Christ to depart for he is a sinful man. Revival also must start with repentance. For repentance means cleansing and cleansing is always for a
2. Materialism reflects misplaced priorities. We are to be seeking His kingdom and righteousness first.
Geoge W. Truett, a well known pastor was once invited to a home of a wealthy man in Texas. After dinner, the host led him outside where they had a commanding view of the area.
Pointing to the oil wells that punctuated the landscape, he boasted: 25 years ago I had nothing. Now, as far as you can see it’s all mine. Turning east toward a herd of cattle, he bragged, “They’re al mine.” Turning west to a forest he said “That’s also mine.” and so on.
Truett placed his hand on the man’s shoulder and pointed heavenward and said “How much do you have in that direction.” The man hung his head and confessed, “I never thought of that.”
If all these things are going to be burned up eventually, then shouldn’t we be placing more value on what will last eternally. That’s a good question for us to consider “How much do you have in that direction.”
Martin Luther once said “I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”
3. Materialism reflects misplaced loyalty. The person who loves money cannot love God. You cannot love this world and money also. 1 Timothy 6:10 says that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
Christopher Winans, in his book, Malcolm Forbes: The Man Who Had Everything”, tells of a motorcycle tour Forbes took through Egypt in 1984 with his capitalist Tool motorcycle team. After viewing the burial tomb of King Tut, Forbes seemed reflective. He asked one of his associates. Do you think I’ll be remembered after I die? Forbes use to say, “He who dies with
the most toys wins.” He collected motorcycles, castles and countless other toys he now can’t use.
The Lord Jesus once said “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul.” Matt 16:26.
So, what about you. Where are you placing your treasure? How much do you have up there? Where are your investments? This Scripture encourages us to hold on to lightly the things of this earth and to place our priority and loyalty on the things of heaven.