James is speaking prophetically when he is describing the wealth they sold their souls for.
“Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.” James 5:1-3 (KJV)
In the Bible, there are 3 books that we understand to be “transitional books”, and they are Matthew, Acts and Hebrews. Matthew bridges the transition from the Old to New Testament, Acts transitions from the Kingdom age to Church Age, and Hebrews from the Church Age to the time of Jacob’s trouble otherwise known as the Great Tribulation. For the born again Christian in the Church Age, our doctrine is found in the Pauline epistles. But for the Tribulation saints, their doctrine will be found in Hebrews, James, Peter, Jude and Revelation. These books deal extensively with people, namely the Jews, in the time of Jacob’s trouble.
The book of James has a lot to say about rich people, and it’s not good.
James, throughout his book, takes rich people to task and shows them no mercy as you can see here:
- “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.” James 1:9,10 (KJV)
- “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?” James 2:5,6 (KJV)
- “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:13,14 (KJV)
- “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.” James 5:1-3 (KJV)
No sir, the Holy Spirit speaking through James is not happy with rich people one little bit, as you can obviously see. He shows them no mercy, and uses them as an example of how not to live your life. Why would He do that? There are lots of people in the Bible God made wealthy. It was a Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, who provided the brand new, unused tomb for Jesus after the crucifixion. So why be so hard on rich people here?
A quick application of 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) reveals the prophetical weight of what James is really trying to draw our attention to.
The Mark of the Beast in the time of Jacob’s trouble.
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:16,17 (KJV)
The Internet is filled with various thoughts and opinion on what the Mark of the Beast will be when the Antichrist arrives. But Bible believes don’t waste time on speculating of what it is, we already know what it is. It is a mark, inserted in the back of the right hand or in the forehead, that will control all buying and selling. Case closed. We live in a cyber world run by massive computers connected by the Internet, so it stands to reason it will be a digital chip of some kind. But whatever form it finally takes it will control all financial transactions. Every, single one of them.
Take a quick look in the mirror, has the little lightbulb of revelation suddenly popped up over your head? Do you see now why James, a book written primarily to Jews in the Tribulation (James 1:1), is soooooooo against rich people? Has it dawned on you yet?
“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:7 (KJV)
Because in the time of Jacob’s trouble, Israel’s trouble, the only people who will be counted among the rich people will be the ones who agree to worship the Antichrist and receive his mark. Every person in that time who refuses the Mark will be poor. Guaranteed. Why? Because they will have no access to any bank accounts, credit or debit cards, or anything else that will allow them to make a financial transaction. Cash undoubtedly will have been done away with by that time.
James is speaking prophetically when he is describing the wealth they sold their souls for. He refers to their money, obtained by the Mark of the Beast, as wealth that is “cankered”, “corrupted”, and “moth eaten”. He further says that their money has now become a “witness against them”. Wow, that’s really harsh language right? Wrong. It’s a factual description because in the time of Jacob’s trouble there is no eternal security, you are saved by faith + works and not by faith alone. It is the Church Age that has that promise (Ephesians 1:12-14 KJV), no other dispensation has it. And taking the Mark of the Beast – for any reason – is a sin that God will not forgive at all. Read it for yourselves:
“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:9-11 (KJV)
You take that Mark, you are eternally done. No forgiveness. James is not giving a few lines on “rich versus poor” and all that nonsense. James is warning the people who find themselves in the time of Jacob’s trouble that you will be a whole lot better off letting your babies starve to death than taking the Mark in order to have money to buy your family food.
Do you see it now?
This is also another one of our many Bible proofs for the Pretribulation Rapture of the Church. The Church cannot be in the Tribulation because we have eternal security. If a Christian took the Mark, what would happen? Answer, a Christian cannot take the Mark (though undoubtedly many weak, baby Christians would) because we are removed in the Rapture before the start of the time of Jacob’s trouble.
But scripture will never contradict itself. Christians will never be faced with taking the Mark because we are taken out before the time of Israel’s trial and trouble. People in that time will have to “endure to the end” to be saved. Endure poverty, hunger, watching their kids starve, homelessness and so much more. You can miss all that by getting saved now, and then you will have the Blessed Hope of the Pretrib Rapture!
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13 (KJV)