This past weekend we covered Hebrews 13:5-6, where we are called to "make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have…"
According to the text, the reason for why we can be content is because of two wonderful realities - (1) GOD WILL NEVER FORSAKE US, and (2) GOD IS OUR HELPER! The author reminds us of these by quoting two passages from the Old Testament. What is noteworthy, and somewhat surprising, about these Old Testament references is the context in which they appear.
The reminder that God will never leave us or forsake us is from Deuteronomy 31:1-6. This is when Israel is getting ready to enter the promised land, where they will have to conquer armies that are bigger and mightier than they. Moses tells Israel to not be afraid as they get ready to head into the battle zone, and reminds them that God "will not fail you or forsake you." (vs. 6)
The reminder that God is our helper comes from Psalm 118. In this Psalm, the writer is rejoicing in God's deliverance from unbeatable odds. In vs. 7-11 he describes being "surrounded" by nations, and distressed by those who are his enemies. Yet he confidently says "The Lord is with me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" (vs. 6)
Both of these passages have the context of warfare. The promises made concerning God's character are given to those who are facing their physical enemies. So, here is the key question: Why is the writer of Hebrews applying these same promises to the context of money and contentment?
In battle, when outnumbered, one is tempted to call out for reinforcements, more troops, more chariots & horses, more weaponry. Why? Because those bring the force necessary to overpower the enemy and lead to victory and safety. Yet, time and time again in the Old Testament, God said to His people that they didn't need more horses & chariots, more fighters, or more weaponry. Why? Because they had Him, and He would not forsake them!
So what is the connection between weapons and money? The writer of Hebrews is implying something significant. When in distressing situations, just like outnumbered warriors cry for weapons, you and I are tempted to cry for money! We may not cry for money directly, but we cry out for those things that, at least in our culture, we assume money can buy - security, safety, comfort, reprieve, rest, stability, peace.
To the outnumbered Israelite army, and to the unemployed individual, God boldly promises "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you." To the surrounded Israelite warrior, and to family wondering how they will ever get ahead (or even get caught up), God reminds them "I am your helper, do not be afraid. What will man do to you?"
Once again, at the bottom of behavior (be content, do not love money), is a proper view of God, and of ourselves in relation to Him. Thank you Hebrews, for helping us "fix our eyes on Jesus" and for calling us to a daily walk of trust (faith) in Him!