In Part One and Two of this series, 666 and The Love of Money, we looked at the character of Solomon. Usually we listen to stories about King Solomon and his great wisdom, but few preach on his tyranny and his love of money. In those previous posts we saw how he became more like a Pharaoh of Egypt, worshiped idols and used his own Jewish people as forced labour, beating them with whips while perusing his own personal wealth through unlawful tax coercion and as a result broke the Mosaic covenant. This is why John tied the number 666 and the love of money to the demise of Solomon’s Kingdom. It symbolized the type of abusive oppressive society the 1st century Jewish believers were living under.
Solomon gained his excessive wealth through the breaking of the Mosaic covenant, and so too were Judah’s rulers through the High Priesthood and Pharisees as Jesus constantly called out the leaders and teachers of Israel for their corruption and oppression. But in this 3rd post we will look at how the prophets had constantly warned the rulers of Israel about their love of money and their injustice to the poor and needy.
The old testament prophets continually called the religious leaders out for their lawlessness and below are just a few examples from Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Micah …
Ezekiel wrote “The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice” ~ Ezekiel 22:29.
Jeremiah condemned the religious leaders of Solomon’s Temple (the 1st temple) for their oppression of the poor and prophesied that the Lord would destroy their temple just like the way He had destroyed Shiloh (where the tabernacle had resided). On 9th Av Yahweh used the Babylonian army to destroy Solomon’s temple.
“‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
“‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord.
“‘Go now to the place in Shiloh where I first made a dwelling for my Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of my people Israel. While you were doing all these things, declares the Lord, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer. Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your ancestors. I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your fellow Israelites, the people of Ephraim.’ ~ Jer 7: 2-15
The prophet Micah prophesied against the religious leaders including the priesthood, saying that one day the 2nd temple, Herod’s temple would also be destroyed because of the corrupt actions of their rulers, their priests, and their prophets over money.
You rulers make decisions based on bribes; you priests teach God’s laws only for a price; you prophets won’t prophesy unless you are paid. Yet all of you claim to depend on the LORD. “No harm can come to us,” you say, “for the LORD is here among us.”, BECAUSE OF YOU, Mount Zion be plowed like an open field; Jerusalem will be reduced to ruins! A thicket will on the heights where the Temple now stands. ~ Micah 3: 11-12
In the next post we will look at one particular corrupt Sadducee family – the Ananus dynasty who were in charge of the Temple and its priesthood for most of the time that the apostles were alive.