Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Isaiah 23 - Wealth and fornication

This chapter contains prophecies of the decline and destruction of Tyre, a rich and important Phoenician trading city on the coast of Israel.   I’d like to center my comments on verse 17:

17 ¶ And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth.

What is interesting to me is that Tyre is described as “fornicating” with all the kingdoms of the world.   I don’t know exactly what is implied by Isaiah here, but it is clear that as a consequence of the free trade and exchange of wealth happening in that city, it has given up something that should be pure and holy.    Likening this to myself, I think about the transactions I have with others and how often it can be tempting to lower a standard in the name of business, as if somehow I could separate business from spirituality.    For, if I can make that separation in my mind, I can justify all kinds of immoral activity on the grounds of what is good for the survival of the creature. 

I don’t think the Lord is tolerant of this kind of separation.  Temporal or spiritual, for the saints of God, it is all as one.   Our gifts, both of the material world and the spiritual world are to used for the same purpose and we cannot separate them out without incurring the displeasure of God.    As we consider the law of consecration and the law of sacrifice, every penny of our riches are to be considered Holy.  Imagine how differently we would live if we could all seriously imagine our money as sacred as the tithes and offerings given to the church and to the needy.    How would we feel if a church leader took sacred funds destined for the poor to purchase extravagances for himself?   Can we not imagine the Lord feeling the same way about us when we take what we has given us and squander it on luxuries and distractions?   

This is not to say that God wants us to live in poverty.  (Though some have interpreted the scriptures this way.)   I believe the key is to always seek for divine guidance in the use of what the Lord has given us.    It may very well be that God would like us to have a 127-inch plasma TV with theater surround-sound, but shouldn’t we get on our knees and talk to the Lord about it before we blow thousands of dollars of the sacred funds he has given us?   If we do that, what might happen?  To be sure, it will be something glorious!

Consider the sacrifices of the early Latter-Day Saints who were commanded, in their poverty and distress, to build a temple.    It was extremely hard for them.  Were the blessings worth it?  Judge for yourself:

D&C 124:55 And again, verily I say unto you, I command you again to build a house to my name, even in this place, that you may prove yourselves unto me that ye are faithful in all things whatsoever I command you, that I may bless you, and crown you with honor, immortality, and eternal life.




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