– Richard Sibbes
The Rich Fool
Jesus was giving the parable about the folly of acquiring riches here on earth as opposed to sending them on to heaven by being generous (Luke 12:15), and He mentioned a man who had so many crops, he had to tear down his old barns in order to build a bigger one (Luke 12:16-18). He thought he had it made, so the temptation of having riches was too much for him. He decided to live a life of ease (like 12:19). Unfortunately, God required his very soul that night (Luke 12:20), and he ended up in eternal separation from God. Just as Satan tempted Eve with food from the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil and then Adam later taking and eating from it, so too will the Devil tempt us to hoard all we have to keep it for only ourselves. He will also tempt us to seek instant gratification of the flesh as opposed to waiting on God for long-term satisfaction. The rich man had so much that he should have shared it with the poor, and he wouldn’t have needed to build a larger barn. Rather, he decided to keep it all for himself. But his wealth, like in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, was useless after his death (Luke 16:19-31), and from that day he faced an eternal separation from God with no chance of ever bridging that gap to God.
If anyone had a chance at the good life, it was Moses, who could have taken over for Pharaoh and had all the riches and luxury that was then available in the known world, but Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter (Heb. 11:24), passed up the “fleeting pleasures of sin,” and instead “chose to be mistreated along with the children of God” (Heb. 11:25). Moses considered the riches of Christ to be far superior to all the “treasures of Egypt because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Heb. 11:26). I wonder if I could have resisted that temptation. For Moses, it was a fleeting paradise today or an eternal paradise later. We know he chose the latter, and today he is in paradise with the Lord.
When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he offered him the kingdoms of the world without having to go to the cross (Matt. 4:8), so Jesus could have had all the kingdoms of the world without ever having to suffer on the cross. Jesus knew that there was no plan B in the mission that He came for. If He had accepted the kingdoms of the world, the only stipulation was that Jesus would have to fall down and worship Satan, which, of course, was never going to happen since Jesus knew the command: “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only” (Matt 4:10). Jesus could have taken the forbidden fruit and a shortcut to ruling the kingdoms, but He knew this was sin and that paradise and heaven would be lost for all of us. He knew that there was no shortcut around the cross.
Like Moses, Jesus knew that what the Devil offered would end up as the greatest loss in all of human history, so we have choices to make, too. Will we risk Paradise for a short stay in the luxury that the world has to offer, knowing full well that it’s fleeting? Let’s, you and I, think about that the next time the enemy tempts us to take shortcuts and sacrifice short-term gains for eternal bliss in the kingdom of heaven. When we compare the two, there really is no choice at all is there? Will it be delayed satisfaction in obedience to God or instant gratification and long-term loss?