Worship as Commerce

or The Crash of AD70


Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.  (Genesis 2:10-14)

After the Herod and Shylock post, I had one complaint that the Worship as Commerce tag didn’t really do what it said on the tin, so I hope to capture it (briefly?) here. Now, where to start? As James Jordan explains, the idea begins in Eden.

“Eden is the land of food, and the outlying lands are lands of other raw materials. The Bible conceives of commerce between these lands, so that those of Adam’s descendants who lived in Eden would have to engage in trade with those who had moved downstream to Havilah. In this way, precious stones would be brought from Havilah back to Eden to adorn the sanctuary. When Israel came out of Egypt, she sojourned in the land of Havilah while the Tabernacle and the High Priest’s garments were made (Genesis 25:18). Here in this land of rocks were made many items of gold and onyx. Indeed, the only reference in the Bible to the onyx stone, outside of Genesis 2, is in connection with the High Priest’s garments. The shoulder stones of the “ephod” were made of onyx, and had the names of the twelve tribes put upon them (Exodus 25:7; 28:9-12).” [1]

When the worship of God is both central and elevated, the priests of God carry the Spirit to the nations. In return, the nations bring to Eden the gold and precious stones of the surrounding lands. Because of Solomon’s request for wisdom instead of wealth, the Lord honoured his selflessness, his godly rule, with wealth from the surrounding nations. The kings of the world brought their glory into the Temple. As Israel’s kings continually disobeyed the Lord, the wealth was stolen away. The Lord was like a thief in the night. The gold shields stolen by Egyptian invaders were replaced with bronze ones. Nebuchadnezzar made Judah a vassal kingdom and taxed it the way Solomon and Rehoboam had taxed the tribes. Finally he took everything.

But this “wealth for wisdom” is not only typological. God is not against wealth per se. He wants a church that is glorious both inwardly and outwardly. It is when the church becomes a shell, as Judah did, a false witness with false whiteness, that God cuts it back to Adams in animal skins. [2] The letters to the Asian churches in Revelation 2-3 recapitulate Old Testament history, [3] which makes Herod’s Judah parallel with Laodicea. Well, not so much a parallel as the same sin but fully grown.

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realising that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

First century Adam pretended that he was independent of God, that he had life in himself and did not need Jesus, the Tree of Life. Eating from the “Greek” Tree of Wisdom had left him wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked—the state of first century Jewish worship. What does Jesus say?

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich…

In Revelation, worship is symbolised as a commercial transaction. Jesus’ advice here echoes His words in Isaiah 55:1-3, calling on Israel to buy from Him kingdom wine and milk without money.

The Black Horse

This also explains the rider on the Black Horse, who starves the Old Covenant worship but leaves the New apostolic worship unharmed. Moses brought manna, Alpha food, but this old priesthood would be starved to the point of cannibalisation and then death (Zechariah 11:7-9). John would decrease while Jesus increased. The Old Covenant worship, pictured as a commercial transaction in grains, became an expensive exercise. Like the half-ephahs of grain in the hands of the woman suspected of adultery, (Numbers 5) it would be weighed in the balances, offered on the altar and become lean and barren. Jesus made wine. The oil (Spirit) and the wine (blood), the Omega food of the New Covenant, would be given “without price”.

The Beast

In Ezekiel, the King of Tyre is a compromised High Priest, an Adam covered in gemstones. In Daniel 6, the kingdom of Belshazzar is weighed in the balances. The handwriting on the wall is commercial language. In Zechariah 5, the wicked woman in the ephah basket is a counterfeit of the Ark of the Covenant, a box covered in lead instead of gold. Finally, it explains the mark of the beast. Summarising Jordan’s interpretation:

“…no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.”

Worship again is signified as commerce. Those without the mark were excluded from the Temple. Acts shows a progression from saints meeting in the Temple to Paul being arrested and the doors being shut (Acts 21:30; Acts 26:21). Christians became outsiders. The Temple was a house of prayer for the Gentiles. The Gentiles were supposed to bring their glory into it willingly, but the Jewish leaders were ripping them off. Their role was supposed to be priestly but they were lording it over the sheep. The money wasn’t the problem. It was the manner of the commerce being conducted. The Jews condemned the harlots and tax collectors, but Herod’s Judah was the biggest harlot and tax collector of all, and an unrepentant one. A godly economy is a shepherd. A beastly economy oppresses and devours like a wolf. It settles for bread.

Jerusalem, not Rome

One of the best arguments against the harlot of Revelation being identified as Jerusalem is the commercial language employed to describe her demise. Jerusalem was certainly at the “navel” of the world, but was she really that rich? Jordan brilliantly observes that the description of her wares in Revelation 18 is simply an expansion of the materials plundered from Egypt, Amalek, and then given willingly by the people of God to build the Tabernacle. Worship is described as commerce. The kings of the “earth” are the Jewish rulers of the Land. The Gentile worshippers are merchants, the proselytes who became twice the children of Gehenna. Jesus turned the Herodian Wall Street into the Wailing Wall.

What is even more crucial is the fact that it follows the seven Tabernacle speeches, which in turn follow the Creation week. The Temple, like Noah’s ark, was the “world-in-a-box”, a new creation. Its destruction removes the “buying and selling” from Judaism forever. [4] The centre of worship was now in Jesus, in heaven. [5] During this current age, all nations are bringing their glory into the kingdom. The strong man is tied up and Jesus, through us, is plundering his house. [6] The nations are His riches for sure, but this is not just their souls. It is also their pocketbooks, their businesses and their economies. All is sacred.

Exchange Rates Today

The idea that amassing wealth destroys the world and oppresses the poor is common in Scripture. It occurs when man seizes kingdom instead of waiting patiently for God’s timing. We look at our resources and think that’s all we have to play with. But based on the Bible, if we have been faithful with them, God has a way of making the cup run over in unforeseen ways. Wealth is not the problem at all. God made Christian nations wealthy. After the Reformation, God made Protestant nations wealthy. But we have followed the path of Solomon, who ended up using oppression to build his kingdom “earlier” than God intended. He turned the kingdom of God into Egypt.

When the Bible says that righteousness exalts a nation, it is talking about the outflow of personal and family government in prosperity and political clout. Europe had it and lost it. Britain had it and lost it. The US has it and is losing it. It seems the nation that faithfully invests by sending out missionaries to serve and die ends up as a world power. The Christian’s refusal to pursue money ends up with greater wealth for all (Matthew 6:32-33). The promise that the meek will inherit the earth (Land) is not just about the hereafter. Like Christ, when we fall into the ground and die to ourselves, there is a greater harvest, and it is not just about winning souls. Jesus died and then the Father gave Him everything, including the cattle on a thousand hills. Dominion follows faith, not coercion. Christians think they have to compromise to gain votes to get into power when all God asks of us is to pray, tithe and wait. The dominion will come, as it always does, when we can be trusted with it.

The gospel is holistic. Saved souls change culture, and history shows that it does not take many souls to do so, usually a few committed, praying people around a table over a few decades. To limit the harvest to pie-in-the-sky is the rankest gnosticism. True worship is directly reflected in economics. Cultus becomes culture. The God who sees worship as a commercial transaction paid our debt, but He still loves and blesses just weights and measures. It is most certainly Jesus in all of life. This project will end when the entire world actually is a Tabernacle for God. [7] This includes our economies.

All this stuff is in JBJordan. You should get into him and put those lesser theologians away for a while. I doubt you’ll want to go back to them after such rich fare.
[1] James B. Jordan, Through New Eyes: Developing a Biblical View of the World, p. 73. [PDF] For more on onyx and the High Priest, see Gold, Onyx and Bdellium.
[2] See Rags to Robes.
[3] Check out Jordan’s Revelation lectures, and there is a summary in Totus Christus).
[4] See Totus Christus for a full outline. The light of the Lampstand is at the centre, of course. Judah’s sun, moon and stars came crashing down as Jesus predicted. See Thief in the Night. But also, the references to musicians and craftsmen corresponds exactly to those of Tubal-Cain, Jubal and Jabal. Herod’s Temple had become inherently Cainite. See The Significance of Tubal-Cain and The Significance of Jabal and Jubal. On craftsmen, see Unashamed Artisans.
[5] For the Roman Catholic readers, the centre of worship is still Jerusalem (the one above) and not Holy Rome. See Schism or Resurrection?
[6] See Under Your Feet.
[7] See A New Heavens and a New Earth and Blood and Soil.

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One Response to “Worship as Commerce”

  • Kojack Says:

    Commerce has its own dynamical laws. It has many aspect, either bad or good; we should study its dynamic first before we impose on it ourselves ethical opinions derived from our religious belief. The religious believers or theologians are often not patient enough to study the dynamical laws of commerce. That’s why many people has a feeling that religions always express anti-commerce attitudes, and theology more often said something negative against commerce world. Hegel’s dialectical thought teaches us that the good dialectical process is always comes from inside, not imposed from outsie