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07.07.24 "The First Principle of the Kingdom Economy" (천국 경제의 제 1 법칙)

Ecclesiastes 11:1 (ESV)


11. Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days



There are two interpretations of Ecclesiastes 11:1. The first is literally about investment and profit.

“If you have money, invest it in trade. After many days, you will gain a profit.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1, New Korean Revised Version)

“Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you” (NLT).


However, the Bible is not a book about making a lot of money. While it talks about diligent labor, it does not speak of speculation. A brother in the church once hit the jackpot with Bitcoin. Hearing his story, someone else bought Dogecoin late, but the value plummeted when Elon Musk spoke negatively about Dogecoin in an interview.


The second interpretation, the traditional Jewish and Christian interpretation, refers to giving charity to the poor. It talks about investing in relationships.


“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1, New Korean Revised Version).

“Be generous. Invest in acts of charity. Charity yields high returns.” (MSG).


What is the purpose of Ecclesiastes? Solomon was a king. He was a naturally blessed man and wise. Wisdom was an innate gift to him. He flexed throughout his life and was the ultimate owner. Moreover, during his reign, there were no wars. Yet his conclusion was vanity.

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).


Ecclesiastes was written at the end of Solomon’s life. What he ultimately realized at the end of his life was that we must live fearing God and keeping His commandments. Success and possessions without God are vanity. Obsession with possessions without God is endless. The same goes for hobbies. Everyone has a hobby and a passion for something. But if God is not the center of those passions and hobbies, eventually, they will consume us.


Let’s consider the purpose of Ecclesiastes in light of 11:1.


“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1, New Korean Revised Version).


This verse is not just about investment. It is not about changing times. This verse is about investing in relationships. It is about helping those in need. Pastor Seo In-ae explained it to me like this: “If you throw bread that should be given to people into the water, it dissolves. Then the fish eat it. The thrown bread disappears. It seems like a foolish investment. Yet, the verse says you will find it after many days. When we do good to someone, even if those people only seek their benefit and sometimes even become our enemies, God will surely provide for us through others even if the good seeds we planted in them do not bear fruit.”


This is the first principle of the kingdom economy. The kingdom economy is not about earning; it is simply about sowing. We do not sow to earn. We sow what is in our hands today into the souls. It is not ours, but what God has entrusted to us for the eternal kingdom of God, which is sowing into those God cares for. We do not obey to be blessed; we obey because we are blessed. It seems like a foolish investment, but when we sow, it grows. This is an eternal investment.


“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:10).


God provides more seeds to the sower and supplies bread for food. Those who sow into God’s kingdom will never run dry. Jesus said we should not fear our empty hands after helping and serving those God cares for because God will fill them with better things. God’s people do not fear sowing.

“I tell you, that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Luke 19:26).


Does this mean Jesus favors the rich? Does it mean He favors diligent people? No. The context of this saying is the parable of the minas, which we know well. A nobleman went to a distant country to become king and summoned ten servants, giving each one mina to manage. After becoming king, he returned and had each servant report on how they managed the mina. The first servant turned one mina into ten and was praised. The second servant turned one mina into five. The third servant wrapped one mina in a cloth and kept it. This servant was judged as wicked. The one mina was taken from him and given to the one who earned ten minas. The wicked servant sowed the one mina for himself, not for God’s kingdom.

“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” (Psalm 126:6).


In the kingdom economy, what is sown will surely return. Church offerings are necessary for the church’s ministries to function. Why do church ministries exist? They exist for people. Who are these people? Are they not the ones who will change their citizenship from the kingdom of the world to the kingdom of God? We know that the sacrifices and efforts we make for people may not bear fruit immediately. Therefore, the Bible compares investment in eternity to sowing seeds. The farmer walks while sowing seeds in hand, waters, and fertilizes them. The seed goes through a time of rotting and breaking unseen in the dark soil. In time, a fragile sprout pierces through the thick soil.


Jesus said to make friends with unrighteous wealth.


“I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9).


Unrighteous wealth does not mean corrupted money. Money is not inherently good or evil. It depends on the owner’s values and purpose of use. Unrighteous wealth refers to the finite possessions we have during our earthly life. Wise people invest these temporary possessions in relationships. Some people politicize with money, drawing people to themselves. Interestingly, people with a leech-like nature stick well to those with money. They coexist like this. This is not the biblical meaning of sharing. Such parasitic people turn away anytime after consuming all the resources. This is wrong. The relationship investment Jesus speaks of is to sow what God has put in our hands for those God loves and cares for. Such people will enjoy eternal pleasure in eternal dwellings.


Do not expect to reap from the person you sowed into. Trust that God will bear fruit in unexpected places.


“Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.” (Luke 10:4-6).


The world’s stock value is determined by market prices. But do you believe that eternal value is determined by the Bible? We should sow without doubt because He commanded us to sow. We should bless because He commanded us to bless. We should forgive because He commanded us to forgive, and seek forgiveness because He commanded us to seek forgiveness. When we obey according to God’s will, God keeps His promises. The kingdom economy works where people live according to these principles.

“He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste because of the wickedness of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. By his blessing, they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.” (Psalm 107:33-38).


God has promised that the land of our immigration will become the land of the kingdom of heaven through our church. Los Angeles is currently in a famine economically and spiritually. In fact, this is the case for every country and city. But we hold onto this promise by faith. God will start new work in this land, which has become a wilderness due to sin. It is time to sow the seeds of faith, hope, and love that God has given us.


God warns us not to live only according to our ability. God warns us not to live by looking at the world’s market trends and selling our lusts. The world’s business looks at good land, evaluates the environment, gathers investors, and assesses market value. But the kingdom business starts with standing in faith in the wilderness, sowing what is in our hands for those God cares for, and lifting our empty hands back to the Lord. It is receiving again, filling, and sowing again. The seeds we sow in faith become eternal rewards in the kingdom of heaven and bear fruit as a legacy of faith on earth.


If God’s test asks for what He has given us back, remember Abraham and Isaac. God gave the promised child, Isaac. He was born when Abraham was 100 years old. But God commanded that Isaac be offered as a sacrifice for worship. Abraham obeyed this seemingly ruthless command of God. We cannot say this obedience was easy. But Abraham trusted the examiner more than the test question. He knew the examiner’s intention. Knowing the examiner’s intention reveals the answer.


“By faith, Abraham, when tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” (Hebrews 11:17-19).


Isaac before the test and Isaac after the test are different. Isaac after the test is a son received back to Abraham. He is a son born again. He is a reborn son. Before, he was a son of the flesh. But Isaac, given to God, is a son reborn in Abraham’s faith. He is God’s possession. He is God’s value.


Sow. Do not sow to reap, but sow. Sow generously where God’s heart is. Live not by your ability but by God’s ability. Study and utilize the world’s success principles. But a Christian is one who lives with the kingdom economy principles above them. Believe that while the world’s value is determined by market prices, eternal value is determined by the Bible. Only the fruits of success according to God’s will become assets in the kingdom of heaven. Offering a cup of cold water to a child is done unto God, is it not?


“And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6).

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