Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bible Study, Economics, and Stress

Economics and Bible Study: A Way to Calm Economic Stress

 Dinner Topics for Monday

Elijah and the Widow
Unemployment continues to rise; people despair of finding jobs. We all see the gloomy forecast before us continually. It is not easy to keep from being oppressed by fear. But this is not the first economic depression in history. How did people handle it in the past?

As always, we can look to history and gain understanding for our present circumstances. In this case, Biblical history is very enlightening. The first example is the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. Because of Israel’s wickedness, God had sent a great drought upon the land.

When Elijah entered Zarephath, he saw a woman gathering sticks and asked her to bring him water. While she was at it, he asked her to bring him bread.

Sadly she told him that all she had was a handful of meal in a barrel and a little oil in a cruse. She was preparing a small fire that she might make one small cake. She and her son would then eat that last cake, and die of starvation.

Elijah told her not to fear, and to go ahead and make him a cake first. He promised her that God would bless her, so that the barrel of meal would not waste, and the cruse of oil would not fail until rain came again upon the land. She did so, and as promised, the meal and oil were sufficient, and she and her son were sustained.

The widow acted in faith, and she was blessed, miraculously.

When I read this story recently, it reminded me of a time several years ago when a leader in my church made us a promise: if we would faithfully pay our tithings and offerings (generous offerings to the poor), we would always have enough. I have always found that to be true. But that leader’s words were not his alone; rather they are a promise from God, as seen in the next example, where the Lord is speaking to the people through His prophet, Malachi.

Malachi told the people they had robbed God. How? They had robbed God in tithes and offerings; therefore the whole nation was cursed. Note that when the people withheld their tithes and offerings, their whole nation was condemned.

Dallin H. Oaks observed, on the other hand, that when many citizens of a nation faithfully pay their tithes, they “summon the blessings of heaven upon their entire nation.”

Note the marvelous promises God gave to Israel if they would but give Him the mere tenth that is His. He challenged the people to bring their tithes to the church, and watch his promise be fulfilled. Just watch me, God said, and see how I will “open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes.”

What can we learn from these moments in history? Has this nation robbed God? How much of this economic downturn is due to consequences of unwise choices made by many people? Blessings are the result of obedience to the laws upon which they are predicated.

“Return unto me, and I will return unto you,” God told the people. When the people of a nation turn from selfishness and entitlement, and once again honor the Giver of the blessings they seek, He “returns” unto them, abundantly. Moses told the nation to “Look to God and live.”

Generations, now, have not been taught these epic stories, so the nation as a whole is being forced to learn things the hard way. The wrongs will not be righted quickly.

In the meantime, we as individuals can do something about it. Tithes and offerings will protect us and the fruits of our labors from the devourer. If we look to God, we need not fear, for we will be blessed.

Copyright © 2010 by Christine Davidson

No comments:

Post a Comment