12/23/Th – True Happiness in the Lord

Zechariah 11:1-17; Revelation 18:11-24; Psalms 146:3-10; Proverbs 30:21-23

NT: “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargo any longer —  cargo of gold, silver, jewels, and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet; all kinds of fragrant wood products; objects of ivory; objects of expensive wood, brass, iron, and marble; cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, and frankincense; wine, olive oil, fine flour, and grain; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and slaves — human lives. The fruit you craved has left you. All your splendid and glamorous things are gone; they will never find them again. The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand far off in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, dressed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, adorned with gold, jewels, and pearls; for in a single hour such fabulous wealth was destroyed! And every shipmaster, seafarer, the sailors, and all who do business by sea, stood far off as they watched the smoke from her burning and kept crying out, “Who was like the great city?” They threw dust on their heads and kept crying out, weeping, and mourning, Woe, woe, the great city, where all those who have ships on the sea became rich from her wealth; for in a single hour she was destroyed. Rejoice over her, heaven, and you saints, apostles, and prophets, because God has pronounced on her the judgment she passed on you! Then a mighty angel picked up a stone like a large millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, In this way, Babylon the great city will be thrown down violently and never be found again. The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters will never be heard in you again; no craftsman of any trade will ever be found in you again; the sound of a mill will never be heard in you again; the light of a lamp will never shine in you again; and the voice of a groom and bride will never be heard in you again. All this will happen because your merchants were the nobility of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery. In her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all those slaughtered on the earth.” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭18:11-24‬ ‭CSB)

In John’s revelatory vision, as Babylon fell, the merchants, shipmasters and sailors of the world wept loudly and mourned over her demise. They didn’t mourn because they cared that much for Babylon. They wept and mourned for their own material loss. It didn’t matter to them that Babylon was a hot bed of illicit, immoral and downright evil activity. All that mattered to them was the money that lined their pockets as they did business with the city.

In the early 1990s, the US was experiencing an economic recession under the leadership of President George H W Bush. A young and unknown Governor from the state of Arkansas, named Bill Clinton, was running for President. One of his advisors made a quip, “It’s the economy, stupid,” that became the mantra for the Clinton campaign. Clinton won the presidency, and his first year in office was fraught with scandals and blatant immorality. However, Clinton won a second term because that phrase ended up being true. The American people didn’t care that Clinton had acted disrespectfully in office. All they cared about was that the economy was good and they were doing well financially. That unfortunate truth about American society became evident during the Trump presidency as well. People who normally stood for morally impeccable character in a president, looked the other way when Trump came on the scene because he promised and delivered a bustling economy.

Desiring a good economy is not wrong. In fact, God promises a good and fruitful economy to those who trust in Him and walk in His ways. However, when you make prosperity and financial gain your top priority, and compromise righteousness for wealth – that is selfish and evil at its core. If your hope, joy, and satisfaction is found in a bustling economy, then ultimately you will find yourself weeping and mourning over the loss of all that brought happiness to your life. James 1:17 states that every good and perfect gift comes from above and originates from the Father of Lights. The only reason we have anything good in this worldly life to enjoy is because God provided it. If we end up worshipping the gifts and reject the Giver, then eventually the Giver will sever us from His presence and the gifts will be lost. That is what John saw occurring over the face of the earth as Babylon met its ultimate demise. However, if we seek first the Giver and grow to be content in Him, then the glorious gifts that He gives will never be taken away.

Psalms: “Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. He remains faithful forever, executing justice for the exploited and giving food to the hungry. The Lord frees prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord raises up those who are oppressed. The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord protects resident aliens and helps the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever; Zion, your God reigns for all generations. Hallelujah!” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭146:5-10‬ ‭CSB)

True and lasting happiness and blessing does not come from a vibrant economy. True and lasting happiness and blessing comes to those whose hope is in the Lord. He remains faithful forever, and His economy never fails. Instead of exploiting the weak, needy and outcast of the world, He executes justice for them and raises them up from their oppression. He ultimately frustrates the ways of the wicked and eternally blesses those who follow His word, will and ways. God is the Maker of heaven and earth. His resources and ability to create and produce never come to an end. Don’t place your hope and trust in the economy. Place your hope and trust in the Lord God. Content yourself in what He gives and provides – and you will live in true and lasting happiness.

Prayer: Lord, You are the source and giver of all good things. You are never in lack and Your economy is never in danger of failing. I thank You that You provide everlasting blessing and happiness to me as I place and keep my faith and hope in You. Help me to not become more enamored by the gifts You give than I am enamored and full of love for You. Help me to not take my prosperity, well-being and satisfaction into my own hands – but to always satisfy myself in You and the blessings You provide. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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