April 11, 1999, posted, April 15, 1999.


Proverbs 28:19-22

I do not know that I have preached a message against the scourge of modern society, gambling. It is about time to do so. Within the past decade, we have seen gambling go from a social stigma to a socially accepted way of gaining wealth. The state has seen a way of passing an hidden tax, a tax which the people enjoy, so the state promotes this evil in the lottery and with gambling cassinos.

There is probably no one in here who has not had to stand in line and wait for someone to purchase their lottery ticked. I have noticed that on many check out counters, there are piles of printouts from the lottery machines. I heard the other day of the millions of dollars being placed into the Illinois' government school fund because of the 170 million jackpot being offered in the multi state lottery. It was won the other day, but the person has not come forward yet.

We get a true picture of the seriousness of the problem from the fact that Christians are just as anxious for a fast buck as are the pagans, if not more so. Scam artists are raking in the millions from Christians and from Christian ministries. In fact, just a few years ago, there were several very several will known and respected Christian ministries that got involved in a scam, and they lost many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What Has Happened? Why are people, both Christian and non Christian, caught up in the gambling fever? The Lord tells us why:

Proverbs 28:19 He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough. 20 A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent. 21 To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress. 22 He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.

God's ordained way of gaining wealth is lawful, wise use of the skills and abilities he provides, hard work and self-control. His way of gaining wealth is wise use of what God has provided for him; it is not looking for ways to gain wealth at others' expense. At times, God may see fit to leave someone an inheritance, and that also is to be wisely used for his glory.

Those who look for and jump at a "short-cut" to be rich have an evil eye -- that is, the have a covetous eye.

Proverbs 28:22 tells us that those who are looking for the "quick, easy buck" cannot see nor understand God's warning that many sorrows accompany that "quick, easy buck." The Lord gives us the answer to avoid being fleeced by the lure of easy money:

1 Timothy 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich (THAT IS, desire to be rich, or seek riches outside of God's ordained way to wealth) fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (Read the whole passage, 1 Tim. 6:1-12.)

Desiring to be rich rather than willing to be rich not only leaves people exposed to temptation, but those who desire to be rich are already in the snare of the devil. (1 Tim. 3:7.) The next step past the desire to be rich is following after many foolish and hurtful lusts. Foolish here means irrational. In other words, the desire to be rich leads to irrational decisions and actions that make no sense. The desire to be rich leads to irrational decisions and actions that promise riches, despite what God's word says.

The desire to be rich leads people to spend their life savings on lottery tickets though their chances of wining are one in a hundred million. The desire to be rich leads people to refuse to consider God's view of an offer of easy money. The desire to be rich is a sin. It is the sin of covetousness, or the love of money. And one means of God judging covetousness is to raise up people who will tell the covetous what they want to hear.


Ahab was a very wicked king over Israel. In God's providence, he saw that it was time to judge King Ahab for his sins. We read in 1 Kings 22, how God was going to use the pagan King Benhadad of Syria to judge Ahab. Ahab wanted to know before he went into war if he would win or not. The prophets who were on the king's payroll assured him he would win. But there was a man of God named, Micaiah, who told him the truth:

1 Kings 22:19 And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. 20 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. 21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. 22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so. 23 Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee. (2 Chron. 18)

God himself raises up deceivers to entice those whom he intends to judge for their covetousness, whether Christians or non-Christians. Those who refuse to turn from their wicked ways will fall victim of their own wicked ways. Those caught in the trap of covetousness are easy prey for any offer of big easy bucks from anyone, even from the state through the lottery.

Just as sure as God raised up Babylon to judge his idolatrous people in the Old Testament, God has raised up the wicked state lottery system to judge a modern idolatrous people that worships money. The Lord God also raises up fast talk artists even among Christians to judge his idolatrous people who worship the god of mammon.

For the past couple years, I have "shocked" over the irrational behavior among Christians over the offers of easy money. But I should not have been shocked, for covetousness and the love of money and power rules from the top down. (It is public record that the president himself sold secrets to the enemies of America for his own profit, primarily to stay in his place of power. Religious leaders also "sell their soul and integrity" for money and power.)

Psalms 50:16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? 17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. 18 When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. 19 Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. 20 Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son. 21 These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. 22 Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. 23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.

Strong words from the Lord, but he has never been known to "compromise" his words to avoid hurting feelings. Just as Ahab did, many today cast God's words behind themselves because of the lure of easy money. And we can safely say that the Lord himself sends deceivers to lead astray those who though taking his covenant in their mouths (claim to be Christians), cast his words behind them.

Who's to Blame

According to Paul's words to Timothy, because of their love of money --- that is, their desire to be rich --- they pierce themselves through with many sorrows.

James tells us to be doers of the word, and not hearers only. In other words, those who do not the word and deal with sin, e.g., covetousness and the love of money, have already deceived themselves. They think they can obtain the "impossible dream" of quick, easy riches, which is the obvious root of gambling. The next step is to pierce themselves through with many sorrows. (James 1:22, 23.)

Those who do not deal with the sin of covetousness, the desire to be rich or the desire for easy money, are easy prey to the sweet words of con artists and of the state lottery. But neither the fast talker nor the state can be blamed for the many sorrows that come upon the person. God clearly states that the covetous pierced themselves through with many sorrows. No one forced them to sell all they had and "invest" in the plan of easy money. No one forced them to take their pay checks and buy lottery tickets for the 170 million jackpot.

The "victim" is already in the snare, waiting for someone, even the state, to come along with an appealing offer of easy money and shear him. Though Wisdom cries out warnings, the simple are enticed by fair speech to his own destruction. (Pro. 7:7-23.) Those who reject the Word of God were caught in their own trap. (Ps 69:22/Rom. 11:8-10.) David was delivered from the snare laid for him by the wicked by properly applying the law-word of God. It will do the same today for the humble. (Ps. 119:110, 2 Tim. 2:25, 26. See also, Ecc. 9:12, Hosea 9:7-10, &c. )

Covetousness Rules

The problem is covetousness, even in the "house of the Lord" -- the love of money. Until the god of mammon is cast out of the "house of the Lord" by the religious leaders (preached hard against), swindlers (including the "official" lotteries and gambling dens) will continue to reap huge rewards from people who should be investing in God's kingdom work on earth. (See Jer. 25:29, Ezk. 8. Malachi 3:5, note God's promise to those who take advantage of the helpless. See also Heb. 12:24ff., 1 Pet. 4:17.)

One last point

Those who do make a "fast buck" from ponzi schemes or from wining big in gambling cannot use it for the Lord's work. (See Pro. 14:15, Rom. 16:18.) The Lord hates robbery for burnt offering, i.e., things acquired dishonestly cannot be used for the Lord. (Isa. 61:8. See also, Deut. 23:18, Hab. 1:13, Mal. 1:14.)

Hence, the Lord is not pleased with the "tithe" from gambling winnings, for gambling is based in covetousness.