What Does the Old Testament Say About Poverty and Riches?

It is time that the believing community reconsider what scripture has to say about the poor, the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, and about poverty itself.

A poor or hungry person must do all that he can to care for his needs, but the believing body is not given a pass and excused from sharing the hurts and needs of these living, wounded souls. We see this from the Torah scripture.

 

According to the count of Rick Warren, a well-known pastor and author of The Purpose Driven Life, two thousand verses deal with the issue of the poor in scripture, even though the actual use of the term “poor” appears just over two hundred times in the Authorized King James translation.

Warren was surprised when he first discovered these two thousand references to the “poor” and their parallel terms. Up to that point in time, no one had brought to his attention this huge number of verses, despite the fact that he is seminary-trained and holds a Doctor of Ministry degree.

A point is to be garnered from these two thousand references to the poor: it is time that the believing community reconsider what scripture has to say about the poor, the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, and about poverty itself.

The Torah on Poverty and Riches

The basic thought of the Torah is that Yahweh is the protector and defender of the poor (Ex. 22:25; 23:3; Lev. 19:10; 23:22). God does not want his kingdom to have poverty, though he knows that because of sin this goal will not be accomplished until he returns.

However, while on this earth, the Bible has express commands for Christians to follow that can help the plight of the poor. Such commands span the Torah.

In Exodus, God strictly forbids exploitation of the poor, stating,

Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan (Ex. 22:21-22).

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