The True Purpose of Wealth
Yael Eckstein | April 12, 2022
Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians. — Exodus 3:22
This week, my family and I will join Jews around the world in celebrating the most important event in Jewish history — the Exodus and redemption of the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt. These devotions were prepared for you in advance to help you discover the many lessons in faith Passover has for you.
There is a powerful story told about a member of the famous wealthy Rothschild family. Someone asked him: “Exactly how much wealth do you have?” In response, Lord Rothschild answered, “Let me show you.”
He led the man to a room and showed him many documents. They were receipts from charities that he had contributed to. “These,” said Lord Rothschild, “are my only true possessions. Only the money that I have given away will accompany me to the grave.”
Lord Rothschild was obviously a very wealthy man who devoted a great deal of time and energy to accumulating his great wealth. But he understood that the real value and true purpose of wealth was not to be found in acquiring it, but in using it for good in the world.
This lesson about the true purpose of wealth plays an important role in the Exodus story that we commemorate on Passover.
The True Purpose of Wealth
At the beginning of the Exodus story, when God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, He told him that when the time would come to leave Egypt, the people of Israel should leave with great wealth. God instructed Moses that “Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”
What’s more, this instruction was first mentioned by God when He told Abraham about the redemption from Egypt more than 400 years earlier. God told Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land, but would eventually “come out with great possessions” (Genesis 15:14).
Why was great wealth so important to the Exodus story? Isn’t it enough to be freed from slavery?
But God did not only want to free the Jews from slavery. He gave them a mission to influence the entire world, to bring knowledge of Him to all humanity. Wealth is one of the greatest tools of influence, making it possible to change the world. God wanted Israel to have wealth so they would have what they need to fulfil their mission.
God didn’t give Israel wealth only as a blessing to her people. He gave Israel wealth so that Israel could be a blessing to others. And that is why God has blessed us with our possessions and wealth!