The Golden Calf
In 2 Kings we read about the king who ruled Israel after Ahab. Jehu killed all the relatives of Ahab; afterwards he gave a festival for Baal and invited all those who wanted to worship Baal. Then his solders were instructed to close the doors and kill everyone inside. The reason he killed all the worshipers of Baal is because he had great “zeal for the Lord” (10:16). Yet, he did something that seems very strange:
Thus Jehu destroyed Baal from Israel. 29 However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan. (2 Kings 10:28-29) (NKJV)
Now, why is it that a king who had so much zeal for Yahweh that he would kill probably over a thousand people that worshiped Baal, yet he did not remove the golden calves from Israel.
The Bible does not give us any clues to this but I greatly suspect that when the people were worshiping the golden calf that they thought they were worshiping Yahweh. So the golden calves became idols of God, even though the Law of Moses speaks against such a thing. This could have been one of the reasons that God sent the Assyrian army to destroy Israel. He had to wipe out those people who had corrupted his true worship, and his holy name.
What does this have to do with the prosperity gospel and Word of Faith, you ask? Paul said that the desire for wealth is idolatry, which was a major violation against the Law of Moses. So it was a serious crime against God. Today, prosperity preachers believe that they are worshiping the true God, but because of their desire for wealth, they are guilty of idolatry; in other words, they are worshiping the golden calf. Like the golden calf, the prosperity gospel has become associated with Yahweh, even though it is idolatry.
Another reason greed is associated with idolatry, is because in paganism the adherent gives offerings and says prayers designed to get specific things from the god. Do a rain dance and you will get rain; so you are trying to manipulate or force a god to give you what you want. So also the prosperity gospel; just give money and you will get more money back. But God does what he has determined is best for us, according to his sovereign will. Also, you become greedy because your desire for material goods grows when you believe that God will grant your desires.
In Ephesians, Paul spoke against the prosperity teachers of his day:
5 . . . no sexually immoral or impure person, or one who is greedy, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. . . . 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:5-6) (MEV)
Since greed is idolatry, it means the desire for wealth is the same as worshiping a pagan idol. Whether it is desire for wealth, or desire to keep for yourself the wealth you already have, both are major sins.
Paul said those who teach the prosperity gospel use many “empty words.” Today, we would say they are full of nothing but hot air; in other words, their teaching is useless.
Paul goes on to say in the next verse, “Therefore do not become partners with them” (5:7) (ESV). The Greek word summetochos (4830) means “partaking with . . . a joint partaker” (CWD). So Paul even tells us not to become ministry partners with them! I guess there really is nothing new under the sun. When you send money to these false prophets you become “partakers” with them, so you become guilty of their sin of teaching false doctrine. In another place Paul once again likened greed to idolatry:
Therefore put to death the parts of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Col. 3:5) (MEV)
If you doubt just how greedy the prosperity preachers are, then you probably do not realize how they spend their money. In 1999 Leroy Thompson said he recently bought a dog for $15,000 and a ring for $32,000. He said,
“I live in a 8,000 square foot house. I am going to build a bigger one now. One that King Solomon would be proud of. . . . I want you [to] know that when the people in my town come past my mansion and they see my Rolls Royce sitting in the driveway, they know there is a God in heaven.” (The Reproach of the Solemn Assembly, sermon by David Wilkerson)
According to articles in the Saint Lewis Dispatch, prosperity preacher Joyce Myers and her husband in Missouri earn over $1.5 million a year and live in a 10,000 sq. foot home. They have an 8-car garage with heat and air conditioning, and a yacht worth over $100,000. Her ministry headquarters is built like a king’s palace at a cost of $20 million. It has a pair of Dresden vases worth $19,000, “six French crystal vases bought for $18,500, an $8,000 Dresden porcelain depicting the Nativity, two $5,800 curio cabinets, a $5,700 porcelain of the Crucifixion…” The list goes on for some length and includes: a $30,000 malachite round table, a $23,000 marble-topped antique commode (chest of drawers), and a conference table and 18 chairs worth $49,000. The icing on the cake is a $10,000,000 ministry jet.
Another, Juanita Bynum, owns a $5,000 ink pen she uses to sign her multi-million-dollar deals. She spent over one million dollars on her wedding. I suspected that, her being a preacher, she had put her marriage under a curse by spending that much money for her wedding, and sure enough, it only lasted a few years.
Some of you may say that I am not being fair, because most of those prosperity preachers give 10% of their income to orphanages or the homeless, but I believe their claims of giving 10% more likely refers to their ministry income. Either way, look what they do with the rest of the money. The tax collector Jesus ate with was likely not a millionaire, yet he gave 50% of his net worth to the poor (Luke 19:8-9). These millionaire preachers could give 90% and still live well. But then they would not be able to buy a Bentley or a diamond studded Rolex watch.
If Jesus came today, do you think he would live like the ministers listed above? No! He would set an example by not living in opulence. How many people have gone hungry because these ministers spent money on luxury? You would never see Elijah living in a palace. He did not run away to his summer home, he slept under a tree. Are these prosperity preachers greater than Elijah? Isaiah said:
They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain. (Isaiah 56:11) (NIV)
You will never see a true apostle driving a Jaguar or a Bentley unless it was given to him as a gift. But he would probably turn it down or sell it because it is hard to be humble when you live in extravagant wealth, and it does not set a good example. No, true apostles care too much about the poor, and they understand what the Bible teaches on this subject. In other countries true apostles are usually poor.
In 2005 Forbes Magazine reported that Paul and Jan Crouch earned over $770,000, a year. They lived in a 9,500 sq. foot home by the ocean in Newport Beach, CA. worth 12.5 million dollars. The home had nine bathrooms, an elevator, a six-car garage, a tennis court, a swimming pool, and a fountain. They have since both died; he died in 2013 at age 79, she died in 2016 at 78. They were the founders of TBN.
Kenneth Copeland has a lakeside home in Texas with 18,000 square feet that cost 4.1 million dollars, according to the Trinity Foundation (see photo below), and he does not pay any tax on it because it is considered a parsonage. This means his ministry owns it, so it was likely paid for by donations, not his personal money. He owns about 2 dozen vehicles, several boats including a racing boat, and several airplanes including a 20 million-dollar ministry jet that cost $5,000 per hour to fly, when fuel prices are low. And he even has a private airport near by.
I think the TV preachers are trying to see who can build the biggest home.
This is NOT TBN headquarters, the above palace is the personal home of Jesse Duplantis, owned by his ministry so he doesn’t have to pay any taxes on it. It is almost as deep as it is wide. According to Justin Peters, the house has 35,000 square feet. He is just too blessed to be bothered by the extreme needs of his poor brothers and sisters.