Beit Gamaliel

The confluence of knowledge and faith

The Root of All Evil is as divisive as money! Just listen to the political wrangling going on around us. Everyone wants to know how our elected officials are going to restore wealth to us. Looking back over election-year history, economy has always factored into election platforms, but only since 1980 has it been the major platform. Before that, Americans were more interested in foreign policy and discrimination.

In a recent class I was in, the discussion of the Biblical view of economics was the topic of discussion. Money is a funny thing. Nothing gets people worked up like money, or that lack thereof. Ironically, it is the number one cause of divorce in our country. The following teaching from the Jewish Mishna (Avot 5:10) was an interesting point of discussion:

“There are four types of people:
One who says, “What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine” is a simpleton.
One who says, “What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is yours” is a righteous man.
One who says “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine” is evil.
One who says “What is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours” — this is the sin of Sodom.”

I asked the class what the sin of Sodom. With one voice they exclaimed, “Homosexuality.” Indeed that is certainly the end result, but, if the LOVE OF MONEY is the root of all evil, then how does a community move from greed, to violent homosexuality, an ultimately rape?

The true sin of Sodom is revealed to us by the prophet Ezekiel, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.” The Talmud conveys a story where a young girl gave a piece of bread to the poor. The Sodomites punished her by covering her in honey and tying her on a roof to die at the hands of beasts. The love of money causes mankind to fulfill all selfish impulses to their logical end, including negating any moral responsibility.

This mentality is not only prevalent in our court system today, but the worst of it can be observed in the divorce court where each party makes its demands on “what’s mine is mine.” It can be observed in the lawyers office as he reads the Last Will and Testament of the deceased and the surviving clamor over “what’s mine is mine.” I personally know a family that was so impacted by not getting “what’s mine” that the adult siblings never spoke for over thirty years. Mankind will rape, kill, murder, abuse, lie, cheat, steal, and wage war in an effort to secure “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours.” Read it for yourself. How many of the parables of the Messiah were aimed dead at this mentality? The wicked servant, the faithful servant, the Good Samaritan, the parable of the talents. The list goes on and on and on.

When sending out the seventy messengers, Yeshua gives guidance on how to enter a city and speak to a house. If the owner of the house shows hospitality, “eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ However, if the town does not share its wealth, then “go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off as a curse against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city. Yeshua makes it crystal clear! The message of the Gospel is for those who are hospitable and willing to receive strangers. Not to the selfish and greedy that will not share of their wealth.

When I hear people complain that “all the church does it take up offerings” I realize that this is the sin of Sodom. When I begin to demand the government provide me money, or a job, or complain that someone has more than me, or feel that the rich should be taxed more harshly than I, or I begin to believe that I have some sense of entitlement to money or some other benefit, then I am becoming a Sodomite.

Unfortunately, not only is the mindset of Sodom alive and well in the world today, it will be the ultimate demise of mankind. The Christian Bible ends with a harrowing tale of two messengers sent by God to declare his judgment for 1,260 days. At the end of these days, they will be slain and “their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which…is called Sodom…, where also their Lord was crucified [Jerusalem]. Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.”

May God forgive me for my unbridled selfishness.

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