Coveting Works for Gain
History records that craftsmen, artists and musicians have been consistently targeted by their enemies. They are often taken into captivity since those who carry a Babylonian spirit desire to make merchandise of their creative gifts. Multiple stories of coveting works for gain are documented repeatedly throughout the Bible.
“Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house, That he may set his nest on high, That he may be delivered from the power of disaster!” (Habakkuk 2:9)
They Only Want to Worship
Moses was called to bring deliverance to his people the Israelites, who were slaves to Pharaoh (Exodus 5). Pharaoh became furious when he discovered the Israelites wanted to go into the desert and sacrifice to the most High God. Ever consider that it was a Jewish workforce who helped build the Egyptian Pyramids?
Today that Egyptian spirit still runs rampant. Have you wondered why anointed musicians and artists who only want to exalt the most high God are targeted in our modern age? It all has to do with Worship!
Even as the Egyptians didn’t want to lose the productivity of Jews in Moses’ day, so the Egyptian thinking of modern man fears there will be loss of income if worshipers take time to sacrifice.
King Nebuchadnezzar realized that craftsmen could be useful in the building of Babylon. When it came to taking prisoners of war, craftsmen were considered in the same category as Judah’s army.
“Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land”. (II Kings 24:14)
Prophet to the Craftsman
Ezekiel was taken into captivity at the same time the Babylonians took the craftsman from Jerusalem. Gifted in the areas of music, art and drama it is probable that the Babylonian Army Captains were unaware the young artist-priest in their midst was actually a prophet called of the LORD.
Ezekiel’s writings begin in Tel-abib at the river Chebar, on a Euphrates canal near Nippur, where archives of a great business house have been discovered. There Ezekiel was anointed to be a ‘sign’ and ‘prophet’ of the Most High God to the craftsmen held in captivity.
He communicated with song, musical instruments, sculpture, pottery and baked bread in attempt to put God’s warnings across. But when his fellow Jewish craftsmen rejected the word of the LORD, Ezekiel remained mute and used mime to speak prophetically.
The great Apostle Paul as a tentmaker was also a craftsman. “So, because he (Paul) was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers” (Acts 18:3)
Paul too, understood what it was like to abound and abase. “I know how to be abased, and I now how to abound…” (Phil 4:12a).
Modern Day Taskmasters
Artists today face modern day taskmasters and can be kept in captivity in different ways:
- Debt. It takes deep concentration to remain creative when one is encumbered with debt.“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).
- Exhaustion. It is hard to be creative when you are exhausted from serving others. Work with the Holy Spirit to find a balance in your life. Learn to enter into HIS rest and let creativity flow from the river of God.“For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:10)
- Mammon. Serving Mammon rather than the Master causes people to take on artistic jobs just to make money. Now there is nothing wrong with earning your livelihood from your craft but if an artist prostitutes their gift, it is a sin.“No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24)
- Praise of Man. Wanting the praise of man can bring many distractions and we will find ourselves worshiping the creature and not the creator.“..and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man…” (Romans 1:23a)
- New Age. While ever developing creative works are sometimes erroneously classified as ‘new age’, Christian artists must be alert not to become deceived and influenced by “doctrines of demons” (I Tim. 4:1b).
Guard Your Heart
Artists need to guard their hearts so they do not become enslaved by:
- Bitterness. Since most artists are sensitive in nature, there is a tendency to become bitter when misunderstood by those with different giftings.“Looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” (Hebrews 12:15)
- Discontentment. When an artist has given his/her life to Christ, it can be difficult to be ‘content’ when creative doors are slammed shut.“…for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:” (Phil 4:11)
- Envy. It can be difficult to watch other artists succeed in creative ventures when it feels like you’ve been shelved.”For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there”. (James 3:16)
- Comparisons. Since all gifts are given by our Heavenly Father, it is foolish to compare ones own creative works to that of others.“For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12).