Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.
Here James continues his condemnation of how the rich have amassed their riches and how they have also mistreated their fellow man in the process. His language here takes a real leap in terms of its descriptiveness of what is happening.
This description of living in wanton pleasure is more than simply men enjoying a lavish, pleasurable lifestyle. What we see here is a description of men diving head first into a driven pursuit of pleasure. Not only does this describe a wanton pursuit of pleasure, but it describes the wanton pursuit of pleasure derived at the expense of others. This is serious business.
Ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Anyone who has any experience or knowledge of animal husbandry should easily see the connection which is being made here. What is done with animals destined to be slaughtered? They are always fed well and fattened up prior to that slaughter. Only in this case, the ones headed to slaughter are fattening themselves for their own slaughter!
Again, this speaks of the impending judgment coming to those to misuse their wealth. This seems to make the seriousness of this clear, as this is not a divine slap on the wrist which is coming; it is a slaughter in fact. God’s Word compares the slaughter of animals with the judgment of man on other places in His Word.
Isaiah 34:5-8 For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.
Jeremiah 50:26,27 Come against her from the utmost border, open her storehouses: cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly: let nothing of her be left. Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter: woe unto them! for their day is come, the time of their visitation.
Ezekiel 39:17-19 And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.
As in past lessons. we could be looking at two different scenarios here. There is substantial discussion as to who exactly the wicked rich are James is addressing. Are they Godless non believers or are they believers seriously in rebellion against their God? It seems that the above language might strongly indicate these are non believers doing these things. They have been warned, admonished, and warned yet more again. Despite these warning, they continue their lifestyle choices and judgment is imminent and will be harsh.
What about us? If we are believers, do we listen to God’s Word? Do we listen to the chastisement He may deliver for our transgressions? Are we listening to God’s fair and repeated warnings to turn from these things and return to Him?
If non believers the same question applies. Are we heeding God’s repeated and earnest warnings to us concerning our lives? Are we answering God’s call to repent and believe, or face the judgement?