【Bible Study】Exodus 22: The Spiritual Principle behind Prosperity and Poverty

Pastor Samuel Sharing

Bible Study: Exodus


Today I'm going to lead the Bible study for Exodus chapter 22. My aim is to try to figure out what the author is trying to tell us. Are you with me? When we read something and we do not have an idea of what the author is trying to tell us then we are going to be in trouble. So we try so hard to figure out what the author is trying to tell us and how we get to the point. How do we get to the point? What is the approach that I have been taking?

I always figure out what the repetitive word is. Is that right now? And that's all. Are you taking the same approach? And let me ask you, what is the repeated word in this chapter? The highly repeated word. Can you type something? What is the highly repeated word? That's great, someone says "Restitution". Do you know what restitution is? Restitution is a legal word. We are common people and we hardly use restitution. What is the word's meaning? Restitution means you pay someone, you suffer a loss, you give people money or give people something that has value.

So what is this chapter trying to tell us? You know you spend so much effort you accumulate a lot of money, but after that something has happened. For example, you are riding a bicycle on the road, you knock someone down and the fellow is sent to the hospital and you have to pay money for the hospital bill. And you cannot claim it through insurance. Some people are doing business, then the business somehow did not pick up and all the money's gone.

Restitution is like paying money for something. Somehow if you steal the property or steal the things from others, then you have to pay back five times or four times. How much can you pay back? You know if you steal cattle, you pay back five cattle, which could cost $1000 each, or probably more than that. That’s the problem. And you got to pay back four times, double or five times. How much can you pay back? Sadly, you will get poorer and poorer.

In modern society, the property and the money you own in the bank are your private property and are protected by law. This is recorded in the Constitution and it is the so-called private property. So if you are in the US and you somehow jump over the fence and get into other people's property, the owner of the private property has the right to shoot you down. If they shoot you and you die because you jump over the fence and land on the private property, then you die for nothing because it’s legal to protect one's private property. Now you see, this is how the Constitution works.

So private property has become one of the major things that govern modern society. There are a huge amount of problems associated with it. Because if you own the property, you are free to do anything with the property. But if you do not own it, you can't do anything with the property. It is private property, so you cannot trespass. You just cannot get into it. There is a legal system that provides protection for private property.

There's a new system with issues related to private property, which is about making money. They call it Capitalism. Capitalism also causes a huge amount of other problems. When people get rich, then they want to be richer and richer. They keep pursuing to accumulate property. And after accumulating, some people become poorer, some become richer; some people become poorer and poorer, and some people become richer and richer. That’s modern society.

There is a formula that tries to establish a mathematical model for modern society. This model works out that in the end, some people will surely become poorer and some people surely become richer.

Coveting is the cause of poverty

So when the Israelites came out of Egypt in the old days, they were slaves under the Egyptians. So they did not have the right to own anything, not even their own life. Then they were set free. When they were set free, they suddenly had the right to own property. Some people became rich. Some people became poor.

So this chapter is really talking about money, talking about how people become poor. Do you want to know how people become poor? No, I want to learn how people become rich. No one wants to know how people become poor. Because it is also important for us to understand the spiritual principle which governs property and poverty.

If you were rich before but later you became poor, you would know how you feel. If you were poor but later on you started to accumulate money and became rich, then you would know how you feel, right? You would know how you feel.

Why do people become poor? Poverty has never been a plan for God in us. God has never planned for us to become poor. God tells us that we are holy people, we are the people of God. But why do people of God become poorer and poorer until they have to sell themselves? God had set the rule long ago. In Exodus chapter 20:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
(Exodus 20:17)

Do not covet other people's property. Though the rule was set, selfishness and greed are still driving people to covet. It's just like COVID -19, people get viruses in their minds and start to become selfish and greedy and start to covet other people. They covet other people's cows, sheep, property, their wives, or other people's male and female servants. That's the problem.

A lot of families have this kind of bad habit. When we talk about their son, their attitude towards their son is always cold, but they always praise other people's sons. "You see, my colleague has a son who always gets number one in the school performance, how can you be the last one?" The parents feel like they lose their face. They always compare with one another. Once they start to compare, they start to have all these kinds of bad habits that are already quoted in the Bible.

So this chapter is talking about the curse. The curse actually starts to make people become poor. Are you living under a curse or you are living under a blessing? If you live under blessing, then you'll know. If you live under a curse, I'm sure you will also know.

Now, if you haven't started your career, if you are at the age of 10, 20, or 30, even at the age of 40, 50, 60, or even older, no matter how old you are, you have to understand the spiritual law governing all these things related to money. If you keep making restitution, how can you not become poor? Surely you will become poorer.

Changing your mind will reverse poverty

God already foresees what is coming, so it's stated in the Bible. In the Exodus, it states that this is for us to be alert about all these curses. We need to be alert about the signs of the curses, the signs of the property. I tell you that I have started to change the approach to ministering to people: I change their minds. I change the method and change what they perceive to be the right principle. I got to plant what God has spoken to us and what God is telling us into our minds.

I don't mind telling you that poverty starts in your mind. Changing our minds is one of the most rewarding things we need to do. So poverty is worthwhile for us to study. So we need to know that poverty all starts with the habit of coveting. If you have the habit of coveting other people's property then you will become poor and the devil will come and steal. The devil will come and steal your things. You will somehow get into the case that you have to make restitution. If another case happens, then you will pay restitution again. And many other things will follow.

Signs of Poverty (1): Stealing

This chapter is talking about signs of poverty. I list a whole set of things about what they are.

One of the things is to never steal. Why do people steal? They want to own it, but they do not have it and they do not want to use the right approach. The more they see, the more they would like to covet it. Their yearning of possessing the belonging of others caused them to think of the illegal approach of stealing other people’s cows, other people's cattle, and other people's sheep. After they had stolen other people’s possession they got to pay them back. These people would make a huge loss.

Sings of Poverty (2): Unfortunate Things

Number one was stealing and it led to number two: unfortunate things which happened to them. There are two types of people. One type of people had the guts to steal. I mean they are very "brave", right? After stealing, they are discovered and they would have to pay it back. The other type of people did not have the guts to steal but they keep on thinking of stealing. After thinking about stealing so much, though they did not really do it, unfortunate things will also happen to them. Even the neighbors entrusting their things in your house for safekeeping and if something happens to their things, you are also responsible to pay them back. If the cattle which you were looking after had died, you had to pay it back. You got to pay back. It was so horrible, right?

Signs of Poverty (3): Sexual Immorality

Oh my God, do you know what is happening? **What was happening to you outside started from what was happening in your mind. In another word, what was in your mind had caused the result of what was happening to you from outside. ** Many unfortunate things happened. Looking at verse 16 told us if you have an inner drive for sexual desire, you would start to seduce and sleep with a girl. If you were discovered sleeping with the girl, you had to pay the bride price and take her as your wife. If the other party or her father did not agree with the marriage, you must still pay the bride price.

“If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins. (Exodus22:16-17 NIV)

Poverty Starts with What Is in Your Mind

If you are living in poverty, let me tell you, it is not a plan but it is something that started in your mind. Do you know when I arrived in Singapore, I did not bring a single cent with me? At that time, I was a poor man from China and did not bring any money to Singapore. Do you know God made me rich? Do you know how I started getting wealthy? Of course, if you are rich is better than if you are poor. Right? I am sure you agree with me. I do not think poverty is a good thing.

When I came to Singapore empty-handed and after a year, I discovered that if I kept on living this way, I would never, never get rich. At that time, many unfortunate things happened to me. Not one unfortunate event happened but plenty of unfortunate events happened to me. I had no money and had many misfortunate things falling upon me. One problem after another problem. I lost money here and there. Do you know $100 was a big thing to me at that time? I lost $100 here and lost a few hundred dollars there.

I started to realize that the spiritual forces in this place were very strong and I need to find a God. I walked into the church and I found our Lord Jesus Christ and from that moment onwards I accepted our Lord Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. The first lesson that the teacher taught me was tithing. I was struggling to decide if I should tithe or not tithe. At that moment, I said to God, I was going to give it a try and I would bring the full amount of tithing.

Some people calculated their tithing based on before tax, after-tax or before the CPF contribution, or after the CPF contribution. Did you know what did I do? I counted them all by including the amount before tax & before CPF contribution. I brought the full amount of tithing. God is so wonderful and after a short time, my salary increased like a rocket shooting up. Thank you, Lord. The problem was when you are getting rich, what was in your mind was an important matter. We would see some people who were getting rich and after a while, they became poorer and poorer. Then they got rich again and became poor again. They kept on going like a roller coaster.

Blessings Come from Obeying Word of God

Let me tell you that is not the plan of God, their mind is dirty and that is my job to clean up their mind to have faith in God. Let me share with all of you in my church that if you trust what I said and what the Lord said, you will surely get two things. Number one is money-related blessings. You will not get poorer but get richer because our God is a rich God. You will certainly get financially blessed. Number two is that you will surely get physical health because blessings come from the Lord.

God’s blessings are enabling you to be blessed in financial and physical health. I had heard people telling me that God’s blessings would give you poverty and sicknesses but I could not find anything in the bible about this kind of blessing. There were people stating if I obey the word of God and God will give me sickness. I am telling you that is not true. There are also people saying if I obey the word of God, I will become poorer because I am more spiritual.

No, I had never read anything like this in the bible. This is not the case. I had been seeing people coming into our church and they started to receive the spiritual blessings. They came with financial woes and sicknesses. After coming to our church, they received financial blessings as well as physical health blessings. Are you with me?

Our God wants to put us above and not underneath. Our God wants to set you free and set you above. That is very important as the truth is the truth. If we have no bible verses supporting our view, we have to change our view to be in accordance with what the bible taught us. I am sure you are hungry for spiritual blessing and you need the spiritual blessing. You would see if people were hungry for money, they would consult witchcraft or sorcerer for their future to be foretold if they could make money or not.

My sister always went to the fortune teller in our hometown. I knew this fortune-teller as she was the one who said I was a special boy. I remembered her as a spiritual person with spiritual eyes. My sister always consulted her about her business-related issues. She was making a lot of money running the business and do you know what happened to her? At the age of 60 years old, my sister became poor and was heavily in debt. I had to help her to pay some of her debts. She had all sorts of issues. When you were rich and you started to mistreat others and one day you would become poor because God cursed you. You had no mercy and no compassion. All these are the signs of poverty.

Signs of Poverty (4): Cursing Government Or God

Another sign is blasphemy to God and cursing rulers. Have you ever cursed a ruler? I know many Christians cursed the government. In Singapore, I came across many people cursing the government and I felt unfair to the Singapore ruler. The Singapore ruler had done a wonderful job for the country. Do you know when I was taking a cab and the cab driver was always murmuring? They were complaining the government about this and that. I ask them: "What are you complaining? If you are a cab driver in China, it would be a lot more competitive." But they did not know because they thought that money is easy money. So they liked to complain and they became poor. This is why we should never curse the ruler and never curse God.

Signs of Poverty (5): Holding Back the Offerings for God

The worst of all was holding back the offering that was meant for God. The biggest problem was holding back what was supposed to belong to God.

One day, a brother came to me and said “ Pastor, if I have only one sheep left in the family, should I cut the leg, of one-tenth of the sheep and offer it to God? Or shall I offer the whole sheep to God?” Can you see what kind of thinking was that? It was so dirty. He did not understand the spiritual law. There is a lot of confusion about tithing and offering.

I told him: "My brother, you are living under the curse for so long and that you have only one sheep left. Is that the plan God has for you? No! You are living under the curse!" It sounded like a difficult question but it was really not as I could answer it. I said to him honestly that he was living in a curse and if he wanted to live in a blessing, he had to bring the full amount of tithing and offering. It is a blessing! It is not that you are giving away something but you are supposed to get something!

But many people do not know. When they see that the sheep gives birth to the firstborn, they don't know what they are supposed to do. You are supposed to offer that to God because the firstborn belongs to God. But they think in this way: the second sheep had not been born yet. If the sheep had born ten then I will give the first one to God. They say: "I'm not sure if the second sheep, third sheep, or fourth sheep are going to be born so how could I offer the firstborn?" Can you see how dirty their mind can be? They are not sure about giving the firstborn but they will be very sure that they are living in a curse.

I had a friend who was also a Christian. In the past years, when I was in a challenging situation, she was transferring money every month to the church account. She did a good job! Do you know what happened? Over the years, she saw her blessings and her business grew into a successful business.

Self-Righteousness Is No Use

Now what I'm saying today is that you are holy people. You are holy people. You are the people of God. Whether you choose to worship money or you worship God, you have a choice: you want to live under the blessing or live under the curse. and some of these things happen to be mentioned in the list of this chapter, and if you do it then you got to make restitution. My brother and sisters, you got to wake up. You got to wake up. We'd better know the signs of curses. We'd better know what is in our minds and what we have gone through. Are you with me? Self-righteousness is no use. That you believe you are doing the right thing is no use at all.

Last night, a cancer patient got her first night of good sleep after her surgery. Her cancer has spread all over her body and she has undergone a horrible surgery that cut her whole body open up. I tell you it looks so scary. The surgery is really horrible. Every night at 1:00 AM, she would hear some sound or some voice calling her. Every night. That's so scary. The kind of sound and the voice calling her is so scary.

I was in the group chat of her cell group as well. So a couple of days ago, the one who shepherds her was praying for her and somehow they added me to the call as well. So I went into the group chat and I talked to them. When ministering to cancer patients, I know the most changing job is to change their minds. Changing the mind is so challenging. This lady got cancer a couple of years ago and after that, she recovered. But recently she got cancer again and it spread all over her body. So I start to change her mind.

Do you know what the cancer patient was telling me? I got really shocked. This patient is at the age of thirty plus and she was telling me that she was so kind-hearted. Oh my God! She has a bad relationship with her father-in-law and mother-in-law, and even with all the relatives. She has a lot of relationship issues and has a lot of hatred in her heart. I asked her: "Why are you seeing yourself as a kind person? Why you are saying this?" She replied: "Oh whenever I saw the old people walking on the street, I would help them a little bit."

Is that called "you are a kind person"? If someone offends you, how do you behave? If someone takes advantage of you, what are you going to do? If someone takes some money from you, then what do you want? What kind of behavior do you have? She would become very emotional, get angry and full of hatred ... All these kinds of things, especially when that happens within the family. I said: "You got cancer. Come on. You already suffered this much and every night the devil comes and looks for you. Come on my sister! And you still think of yourself as a kind person? No, you are evil. You are very evil."

I offended her and she started to change her mind. Last night, that was the first night she didn't hear the devil's voice. We know this because all of us were standing by, waiting for her to call us then we could start to minister to her because her situation is really horrible. She is willing to bring money to the hospital, but not willing to live under the blessing of the Lord. Because she got last-stage cancer then she came to know God. Her niece brought her into the church.

Change Our Mind As We Are The Holy People

You know, changing the mind is very rewarding. What is in your mind? My brother and sisters, what is in your mind? You could really think about that. You got to think about that. If you read Proverbs, you will know how horrible it is if people have no knowledge. They are ignorant and stupid, like idiots. They have a lot of wrong thinking and wrong thoughts: Wickedness, laziness... All that they think is mentioned in the proverb and is something God really cannot bless.

So we got to review. We got to keep on reviewing what we have been doing. I really hope all of us are able to live under the blessing, not under the curse. Do you know why the devil comes every night to disturb that lady, the cancer patient? Because God sent the devil. Because her mind is so dirty. Recently I have been thinking very hard: How am I going to do to minister to all these tough cases.

You are the holy people. Do you know that? You are the holy people. You are supposed to have the image of God. You got to ask yourself: "What kind of image do I have?" Are you half belonging to the devil, half belonging to God? What is in your mind?

I have encountered a lot of these kinds of cases in the past years. There is this kind of people: The first thing they do after they come into the church is to start to bring into the church the MLM. That is, multi-level marketing. They want to take advantage of that. They want to make money out of it. That's horrible. They do not want to contribute. They do not want to edify people. Let me ask you: "Who have you been edifying? What have you contributed? Or are you just playing a lip service singing Hallelujah?" Speaking "Oh, Shalom! Hallelujah!" is easy. This is the easy bit. But people living in poverty is definitely not a blessing. Come on, my brother and sisters!

If you are young, start to have this kind of mentality that God wants us to have: We are holy people. We are holy people. We are not short of food. We do not have to eat the meat of the animal torn by wild beasts. We don't have to eat dog food. Come on, we do not have to eat dog food. We are holy people. We are not poor. We are rich. We are supposed to live above, not underneath. I'm sure you want that.

Follow the word of God. Follow the word of God. You will surely live under the blessing.

May the Lord bless you! See you next week.

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