What is Poverty? Wikipedia defines it this way: “the scarcity or the lack of a certain (variant) amount of material possessions or money.” I think it’s more than that, and I’m in good company.
Take a look at Genesis 3:1-19 –
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
Isn’t it interesting that we never take our sin as seriously as God does? They tried using fig leaves, but we see later that sin actually led to death; and that first death was the animals whose skin from which God made garments for them to wear (see verse 21).
“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”
Spiritual Poverty – a lacking of relationship with God. This is the first and most devastating face of poverty. In this case, evidenced through physically hiding from Him, accompanied by fear.
“But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Poverty of Self/Personal – he either didn’t know or wasn’t willing to admit the truth about himself now. This is a significant part of our new impoverishment. God wasn’t unaware of Adam’s location. He wanted Adam to see what he’d done, and who he now was.
“Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (More blame and evidence of the poverty of self).
“The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
Communal Poverty – this isn’t the only lateral relationship that was broken, but it was the first one, and now communal strife is present in every human being.
“And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Physical Poverty – finding resources, which previously were plentiful, are now scarce. Work isn’t the curse, but are the pain and frustration now added to it.
It’d be great to go back to the garden, where no poverty of any kind exists. Fortunately, we have that opportunity in Jesus. In Revelation 21:5 he lovingly declares, “Behold, I am making all things new”! Come, Lord Jesus.
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