That There May Be No Poor Among You
Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 03, Oct 2014
KEY TEXT: Deuteronomy 15:4
‘Moreover, there will be no poor person among you, for the LORD will surely bless you in the land that he is about to give you to possess.’
Exodus 1:7 says ‘And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.’
The growth of the nation was phenomenal. It grew from 70 to 603,000 males thus allowing a total population of 2 million. Every time I read about the people of Israel, they are fruitful and always increased abundantly and wax exceedingly mighty.
But actually if you study this phenomena, this blessing they experienced was placed originally upon humankind. Genesis 1:27-28 says ‘So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Humankind was “blessed” by His Maker, bidden to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. They were given a large inheritance, and that is earth, a numerous lasting family, to enjoy his inheritance. Fruitfulness and increase depend upon the blessing of God: for God blessed him.
But because humankind chose to go against God in every teachings and statutes, God chose to work on one group of people. And today God is truly at work in this small segment of humanity; the Jews. Of course since the arrival of Jesus Christ, God is truly at work in another small segment of humanity; the Christian. God’s intentions in creation are being realized in this family. This is a microcosmic fulfilment of God macrocosmic design on the world. Israel is God’s starting point for realizing the divine (God’s) intentions for all. Likewise the believer is God’s starting point for realizing the divine intentions for all, and that is blessing.
That there may be no poor among you. What are the reasons?
1. They are God’s children
Their spiritual and moral conditions is beside the point. Let me give you an example. I believe many of you who are NBA fans knows about the case of Donald Sterling, once the owner of the LA Clipper team. He is known to be a racist, a womaniser, a foul mouth individual (so spiritually and morally he is a failure). In 2009, Sports Illustrated named him the worst owner in the NBA, citing the team’s woeful record and calling him notoriously cheap (he is not willing to spend to acquire good players). For the better part of three decades (30 years), his NBA team has been a punch line (punching bag), making the playoffs just seven times since 1981 and losing in the first round in four of those runs. He has one of the least enviable arena deals in major sports. But few know that he is a Jew. In 1981 he bought the LA Clipper team for $12.5 million. The LA Clippers was sold recently for $ 2 Billion (2 thousand millions). The Times newspaper did its math. It would be a 15,900 percent return on investment. Investment analyst computed that his investment returns for a 30 year span beats any Investment guru including Warren Buffet. Please don’t get me wrong. Of course he is wrong spiritually and morally. But he is still blessed financially. Because He is a Jew. Of course if he failed to fulfil his function and understand he was blessed because he is a Jew, sin will finally catch up with him. Which in a case it has. He lost the LA Clipper. All the blacks hate him. His relationship with his wife is just show. They don’t sleep together. He has Parkinson’s disease, which was the reason that prevented him for fighting from losing his team. He is dying soon.
Last week Pastor Guna said something very powerful. Your influence is in the Palace (marketplace) and not the temple. Your career glorifies God. Your work is important. It is a ministry by itself. God wants you to work hard in your career. God elevates your position in the marketplace for God’s kingdom, not for self-promotion. Something will die in your soul (like Donald Sterling) because you are not making a stand or contributing to the Kingdom of God. Do you know why Warren Buffer is so rich? He has been giving so much to the communities in Israel that people thought he is a Jew. He is not a Jew but he gave so much financially to the people of God and God blessed him. Wherever you are, you are in that place by God’s design and you have a role to play in God’s purposes. He is your hope for the future and not your condemnation for the past.
I know most of you came from a poor background. I also came from a poor background. I know it is very difficult to understand what I am trying to share because everything around you; your background, your educational qualification, your loved ones, your social standing only puts you down. But I will show you a verse in the bible that that is not God’s DNA. Deuteronomy 14:2 says ‘For thou art a holy people unto Jehovah thy God, and Jehovah hath chosen thee to be a people for his own possession, above all peoples that are upon the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 15:4 says ‘Howbeit there shall be no poor with thee; (for Jehovah will surely bless thee in the land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it.’ What can be clearer than this? There shall be no poor among the people of God. Who are the people of God here this morning? Raise your hand. There shall be no poor among the people of God. Deuteronomy 15:5-6 says ‘if only thou diligently hearken unto the voice of Jehovah thy God, to observe to do all this commandment which I command thee this day. For Jehovah thy God will bless thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over thee.’
Every 7 years, God commanded the cancellation of debts and freeing of slaves among the people of God. Once every seven years, all debts are to be cancelled. Ideally, there will be no poor people at all. If God provides and his people are generous, the causes of poverty will be removed. In the same way as debts are cancelled, so is slavery. A slave must be released after six years of service, unless he or she wishes to stay in the owner’s employment. I remember when I first became a Christian, the first 7 years of my Christian life, I don’t see definite removal of poverty and slavery to debt in my family. But I came to the Philippines on my 7th year. Immediately I see the cancellation of debts and freeing of slaves among my brothers and sister and my parents. My brother bought a big executive apartment that became the pride of the Lim’s family. Then slowly my brothers and sisters all got married and everyone without exception have their own house. They have children and I see financially, spiritual and socially blessings starting to flow among my family members.
I ask you, how long have you become a Christian? If today you are still under poverty, after being a child of God for 7 years, you have to take authority and command poverty and slavery to leave your life and your family’s life. Actually if you study verse 4 properly a commentator puts it this way, ‘to the end, in order that there may be no poor among you.’ That is, that none be reduced to inconvenient straits and poverty by unseasonable exaction of debts at a time when there was no labor and no produce, and that all may enjoy comfort and prosperity, which will be the case through the special blessing of God on the land, provided they are obedient.
Verse 11 says ‘If there be among you a poor man … thou shalt not harden thine heart—Lest the foregoing law should prevent the Israelites lending to the poor, Moses here admonishes them against so mean and selfish a spirit and exhorts them to give in a liberal spirit of charity and kindness, which will secure the divine blessing for themselves.
Poverty is more just a physical condition. It is a spiritual bondage. On July 18, around 4.00 a.m., I went to a park in Singapore to pray. It was quiet and you can really express yourself to God. But when I reached that regular place of prayer which is a bench, I saw an owl. Please understand that it was dark all around except for the street lights. This owl with its big eyes was looking directly at me. I mean an owl is quite a scary creature, especially with its gigantic eyes watching you. But honestly I was not afraid, and was kind of challenging it to an eye stare. Then suddenly the owl flew down towards the grass and I realized it spotted a prey. Honestly I do not know what the prey is. It could be a frog, or a beetle or another creature. But it was quite a big creature. On its first swoop down, it missed the creature, which escaped through the grass, but on its second attempt, it managed to catch the prey, ate it up and flew back to its original branch and continued the eye stare challenge with me again. Later it flew off. I was troubled in the sense that I knew God was trying to tell me something. 9 days later. I got my answer from the LORD. It is so interesting that if you don’t understand something, God can give you the answer. The owl is an unclean animal. It represents the devil. He is prowling and ready to eat me up. I am his prey and he wants to eat me up. He is watching over me. Its stare represents it want to put me in a hole like Jeremiah was put in a hole by an evil King. The devil wanted to put me in a hole like David when he was put in the Cave of Adullam. He doesn’t want me to come out. David was meant for the palace but what is he doing in the Cave of Adullam. It speaks so much of us. They are people that are trapped by witchcraft and sorcery and cannot come out. Then God showed me to take authority. God, the WORD, have decreed that he will give me breakthrough. God and His WORD has clearly decreed but the devil didn’t want to let go of me. The enemy is invisible – demonic forces in the air. Luke 11:20-22 says ‘But if by the finger of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you. When the strong man fully armed guardeth his own courts, his good are in place, but when a strong than he shall come upon him and overcome him, he taketh from him his whole armour wherein he trusted and divideth his spoil. I prayed ‘In the Name of Jesus, I take authority and I plead the blood of Jesus upon the doorposts of my household. The people in my household are: Pastor Lily, Ben and Joy and Jan, my parents, my brothers and sisters and myself. I sprinkle the blood of Jesus upon the two sides of the doorpost of my family’s and the lintel, the top of the doorpost of my family. God has decreed that He will give me breakthroughs. Distinguish and know your enemies. Be brutally honest with yourself. If there is sin, confess your sin. Know your God and where you stand as a child of God. Have faith and confidence in God. Be fearless and have the tenacity to lay hold on what God has for you. What God has for me is blessings, not poverty and slavery.
Israel had the opportunity to be the richest and most prosperous nation on the face of the earth because verse 4 says ‘He will richly bless you’.
2. God blessed them
And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. (Genesis 1:22 KJV)
Notice the four words that was used here.
The word strong means strong in number. It refers to corporate strength of a large group of people rather than the physical strength of an individual. An alternative translation says ‘They grew so large in numbers that they became a threat (or dangerous) to the Egyptian’. Exodus 1:12 says ‘The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.’ The land was filled with them. They seem to be everywhere. The country was overrun with them. They were so many of them that ancient Egyptian inscription mentioned the Jews responsible for the building of their society. They were so needed that without them, the Egypt as a nation will collapse, which it actually did. I believe the Jews are responsible for the economy of United States and Europe. I personally believe that Singapore is blessed because of the Christians that are there. They broke forth and expanded themselves with impetuosity, like a river swollen with the rains, whose waters increase and gain strength by being confined, Here we see how vain and fruitless the devices of men are against the designs of God: and how easily he, in his providence, can turn their counsels against themselves, and cause the very means which they employ to oppress his people, to become the greatest helps and advantages to them. Times of persecution and affliction have often been the church’s growing times: Christianity spread most when it was most persecuted.
The four words used to describe the growth indicate a far greater than natural multiplication. When they are being harshly treated, they keep on multiplying. The harsh treatment toughen them. Exodus 2:23-25 ‘During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.’ You signed because of the bondage that you are in. You cry and your cry rose up to God. God hears your groaning. Then God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and of course, in our context, God remembered his covenant with Jesus, and took notice of us. Exodus 2:23-25 is the darkest hour before dawn. Sighing means your heart is stretched to a breaking point and you cannot endure it any longer. The word ‘groan’ can be used interchangeably with the English word ‘sigh’. It is a sigh of oppression, liberties suppressed, free speech forbidden. God is not indifferent. Because Jesus was the greatest sufferer of all. Jesus also sighed. Why? He sighed because of human suffering and human unbelief. He has borne our grief and carried our sorrow.
3. The blessing is because of God’s blessing to Abraham
God had made a covenant with Abraham. It is an eternal, unconditional covenant. Genesis 12:3 says ‘And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.’ This is where I love the King James Version. The New American Standard Version also brings out the truth here. ‘And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” In the first part it was plural, in the second part it was singular. Those refers to many. He refers to a person. I will bless the many who blesses you and he – the one person who curse you that I will curse. Today we have the covenant with Jesus Christ. When God looks at Jesus Christ, he releases the blessings to us. Jesus empowers us to receive the blessings of God. And more than that, anyone who blesses us will be blessed. He who curse us will be cursed. While Pastor Lily and I were in Singapore, we met with the first 5 who came to Evangel Tabernacle first from LSBC. They were the first group who made connection with us last year. We call them the F5. One of them really enjoys and respect two of us. Week after Week he will attempt to bring us out for dinner, along with others. But he was the initiator of the outing. On the second dinner treat, I still clearly remember, we were sitting in a long table in a coffee house, air-conditioned and quite secluded and cosy. In the midst of our fellowship, he received a text and say ‘See, because of you, I just received a cheque of $10,000 from my client. Pastor Lily said to him, ‘Don’t pull our leg.’ Then he showed the text in the cell phone and it was true that he just received a cheque of US$10,000.00. Then Sebastian, one of the F5, who was there at that time responded, ‘Then Daniel, you must invite them more often.’ I am not saying we are special people. I can only say that I know that God is with us. A couple wanted so much for us to stay in their home and constantly was anticipating our arrival. But we keep delaying because we are not that kind of people that loves to stay in people’s house. We dislike the inconveniences, troubling the household. But on the last two weeks of our stay, we decided to take up the offer. They were so excited to receive us and make our stay as comfortable as possible. On the first night or second night of our stay, which I cannot remember, the lady said that she managed to close a deal of $50,000.00. She said it was very unusual for her because normally it takes about a month to close that kind of deal. But on the first and second night of our stay, she brought in $50,000 for her company. In the first few days of our stay with her, her boss called her up and told her that she is promoted to be the manager of a department in that company. Her husband told me that his wife commented that it is because we stayed with them and that is why she is promoted. And she asked us to please always stay with them whenever we are in Singapore. She literally took care of us, provided food for us, and cooked for us and fellowship with us frequently during that 2 weeks of stay. Pastor Lily felt that she was the shunamite woman who made a room for Elisha to stay and provided him a meal day after day. This couple longed for a baby because all her contemporaries already had babies and she was still barren for many years. Pastor Lily felt that we should pray for her to have a baby. On the last day of our stay, which is a Monday (our flight is at 2.40 a.m. Tuesday morning), that evening we sat together with the husband and told them that we are going to pray that she will have a baby. After that prayer, having left the house, I told Pastor Lily that I felt, God will give her a baby. We came back on Tuesday. On Wednesday night, I received a text from the husband which says ‘Pastor Toh nee and Pastor Lily, we’ve great news to share with you. Stacia is pregnant! Tested positive. It is still a secret. Only told our families, cell leaders and you. Thank you so much for praying for us and blessing us.’ Again Pastor Lily and I are not special, but we know that we walked with God and we know that God is with us. God constantly reminded Pastor Lily and I of this Abrahamic covenant and Abrahamic blessings that is rightfully for us.
4. Because God is a God of life and blessing
I want to be straight forward – we are living in the midst of a world that is going to hell. People are perishing daily and need desperately to be reached with the message of Jesus Christ. If you are God (I say if you are God) whom would you send to reach them? Wouldn’t you raise some kind of super saints? Maybe you would ordain a few angels to get the job done. But surely you wouldn’t send a bunch of old sinner saved by grace to tell other about that grace. Why? If you were God, we would want the brightest minds and the most skilled individuals we could get our hands on. Our own government likewise chose the brightest minds to run this country. That is a sound mind making sound decision. Yet when God chose to reach this world for himself, He looked around and decoded that saved sinners made the best candidates for His work. But when that realization dawn on us, we begin to drag out excuses. We try and find every reason under the sun why we can’t be the one God wants for the job. This was Moses problem. There is a wealth of encouragement for the Christian who wants to serve God but doesn’t feel capable.
Brothers and sisters, what I am trying to say is that God is a God of life and blessing. But it is through us that blessings will flows to others. Of course blessings has to come to us first before it flows into other people’s life. First confront the devil that he can no more put us in the hole of poverty and slavery. Second, sprinkle the blood of Jesus upon the doorpost of your household members. This is to be done in the spiritual realm. Thirdly believe that you can have a breakthrough in your financial and social standing.