This week we are continuing our study of Zechariah, and specifically to a crystal in this book that is not that well known: The Evil and Wickedness of Commerce versus a Divine Sense of Value concerning Christ and the Church.
In Zechariah 5:5-11 we see the ephah vessel – which is a container holding one measure of ephah, used for buying and selling in business. Inside the ephah vessel there’s a woman, whose name is wickedness.
Today many people (if not most of the world) is engaged in business, in commerce. We need to see a vision of the evil and wicked nature of pure commerce. Commerce seems to have a good appearance, with set rules, etc, but actually, commerce is evil, full of wickedness. The most evil thing on earth today is not politics or crimes, but commerce.
There is a line in brother Watchman Nee‘s ministry – which was also developed in brother Witness Lee‘s ministry – concerning “Pure Commerce”, which is in contrast with two proper ways of Christians to earn their living.
First of all, as human beings we live under God’s government and His rule, and for us to eat we need to work. We need to earn our living by working – this is a law ordained by God!
Two Proper Ways of Earning our Living vs. Pure Commerce
There are at least two ways we can earn our living in a proper way:
1. We work on nature directly, by farming or agriculture, we produce fruit, there’s a labor involved, and we sell the produce. This is JUST, it is a divinely-approved way of earning our living, and it is right for us to sell something that is the fruit of our labor on the earth. Someone gives us money, but we have produced something of value for them through our labor.
2. We have a trade, a skill, which we acquired through training, and we use that skill to render a service and a help to others. We may be an electrician, a mechanic, a plumber, a physician, a nurse, etc – we have a certain set of skills that offer a useful service to others, we labor, and we are compensated for it. This is good.
But there is yet another way of earning our living, which brother Nee calls, Pure Commerce. For instance, the Apostle Paul was a tent maker – when it was necessary, he made tents and sold them to support himself and his co-workers. This is a proper line of work, a good way to make a living.
But pure commerce is someone who is shrewd and cunning and he buys a large quantity of tents, holds on to them for a while, because he speculates that in a little while there will be a market for these and thus he can sell them at 3-4 times their price. He doesn’t work for them, he just buys them, and then sells them later according to his speculation.
There’s no work involved. He just buys and sells merchandise earning money for its own sake, with the only intention of extracting money from others as much as possible. He is just “playing the market”, using money to get more money for its own sake. Brother Nee has some striking quotes regarding pure commerce. He says,
God doesn’t want His children to make money just for the sake of making money….. A Christian cannot make money – he can only work to maintain his living.
We don’t work to make more money, but we work so that we may maintain our living, to live a life for God’s economy. According to the entire Bible, God has no intention for a Christian to engage in commerce. It is evil to simply use money to get more money while not producing anything, not providing any valuable service to others.
The Origin and the End of Commerce
The origin of commerce, as we see it in the Bible, is Satan himself. Satan is a businessman, a trader, a merchant, and he trades especially with the souls of men (see Job 1:9-11; Ezek. 28:16, 18; cf. Rev. 18:2-5, 9-19).
In the Bible, the origin of commerce is Satan, the beginning of commerce is in Babylon (see Ezek. 28), and the end of commerce is Babylon the Great in Rev. 18. These two visions in Ezek. 28 and Rev. 18 show us that in God’s eyes the wickedness contained in commerce is a form of idolatry and fornication.
Satan as the ruler of this world manipulates things from behind in commerce, and pure commerce is evil and wicked in God’s eyes.
In Rev. 18 we see that the most severe judgement from God will be brought against Babylon because it will be the consummation of aggrandizement by trade and the epitome of sin! Here God says, Come out of her, My people! – and this refers to coming out of commerce, out of trading and “buying and selling”. Do not participate in the sins of the wicked pure commerce, and you will not receive her plagues.
The Antichrist himself will have a political domain, a religious domain, and a commercial domain, located most likely in the city of Rome, with unlimited financial resources, and he will become the full development of the prince of Tyre!
The merchants will weep and lament when God will judge Babylon the Great, but the saints will rejoice that God judges the great harlot! Kings, presidents, leaders of nations – all “sleep with her” – they do what it is good for commerce!
Seeing Commerce the Way God Sees It
Some brothers and sisters may be forced by situations and environment to engage in pure commerce, and we cannot and should not judge them. We simply need to ask the Lord to shine on us all and expose what pure commerce is, that we may stay away from it.
If our soul is entangled with commerce, if we live according to its principle, if we love making money for the sake of making money, if we love to buy and sell to make more money, we will be judged by God together with Babylon the Great.
But if we are those who have a divine sense of value, those who are satisfied to have the daily bread – the necessities of life, those who treasure the all-inclusive Christ and love the church, we will rejoice over God’s judgement on Babylon the Great. We refuse to be a part of the lamentation at the end, and we choose to be part of the Hallelujah!
Nehemiah was a pattern in this respect – he was a pure aggressive leader, never taking advantage of others or of his position and things he was entitled to have. He only took as much as he needed to take care of himself and the ones with him.
Commerce is the field in which – more than in any other field – “the corruption which is in the world by lust” (2 Pet. 1:3) relentlessly pursues even the most highly principled of Christians, and it can easy overtake them and put them down (see Neh. 5:1-3; 13:10-14).
It may be that the Lord enlightens you and strengthens you within to navigate these perilous waters, but we need to see commerce the way God seeks it: wicked and evil! Commerce is the most evil thing on earth, and God will judge it!
Lord, enlighten us to see what pure commerce is. Save us from being involved in pure commerce. Grant us a vision, Lord, of the evil and wickedness of commerce. May we have a divine sense of value that we may treasure Christ much more than money. Lord, we want to be satisfied with having the necessities of life. We treasure the all-inclusive Christ, and we love the church with the church-loving Christ! We just want to follow You wherever You go. Expose commerce, Lord, and remove the commercial mind from us!
References and Further Reading
- This sharing is inspired from brother Ron Kangas’ sharing in this message and portions in, Life-study of Zechariah (msg. 6), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on Crystallization-Study of Daniel and Zechariah, week 11 (entitled, The Evil and Wickedness of Commerce versus a Divine Sense of Value concerning Christ and the Church).
- Buy this morning revival book online via Living Stream Ministry.
- Further reading: recommending, The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 57, ch. 16; vol. 49, ch. 28.
- Hymns on this topic:
# My treasure is my God. / My treasure is His Word. / My treasure is the Lord’s people. / These three have worth to me.
# God is man’s treasure. / He is man’s joy and pleasure. / God is man’s treasure.
# Oh, may Thy living light, Lord, / Scatter all my night, Lord, / And everything make bright, Lord, / For this I pray to Thee.
- Pictures credit: Commerce and buy and sell (via google).