v1, This impending wrathful judgment coming upon greedy rich “christians” is certain because they are guilty of cheating their laborers and at the very least, they are guilty of harboring hate in their hearts towards righteous people, v5. This was real in the first century and very real in our nation’s history. Many scholars believe that our Civil War 1861-1865 was a direct result of so-called christians abusing the “righteous” in slavery. God’s judgment is not limited to only the judgment day, as in the “coming of the Lord”. Remember the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple took place decades after the birth of the Church, (AD33-70) and it has never recovered to this day. The Temple will never be reconstructed and the city will always be under threat of wars and rumors of war, Jerusalem is still a divided city and since 1949 Israel’s Knesset struggles to remain united, today it’s currently dissolved. This fact might cause us to question why systemic racism and hate crimes still plague our own nation, even after we have had a civil war, several amendments to the constitution and differing social movements of protest necessitating change. Why are we still plagued with violence & all kinds of crime from the mere issue of race? Because many of our citizens make up a greedy nation of cheaters that claim to be christian and yet have hate in our hearts towards the righteous! The timing of God’s judgment is perfect and far beyond our complete understanding, but it is real. See Romans 11:33 & Daniel 4:35. Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is like asking God to help me win the lottery that I don’t play.
v2-3, From God’s perspective, His judgment against them is already a foregone conclusion and He sees the riches they trust in, as rotten & rusted. They are as good as already burning in hell and James wants them to know that The Lord’s anger is kindled against them in the same way that Jesus pronounced wrathful judgement in the parable of the lazy servant, Matthew 18:34.
v4, Remember Christian, when the Spirit teaches us to do nothing “complaining”, we have a LORD of Hosts (Ex. 6:26 & 1Sam. 17:45 & Isa. 54:5) that is attentive and reacts to the injustices in your life. Peaceful protest has a good place in our society, but Christians should pray to our Lord who will see to our needs, and in perfect timing, his justice will be meted out to any cheater or blasphemer that becomes our enemy. This is the very reason Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. It is not because we need to inform God of who our enemy is, but it is to ensure we are aware of God’s concern for our needs. How God treats our enemy will be perfect justice or sweet mercy, depending on how our enemy reacts to God’s message & Son.
v5-6, One of the reasons Christians who enjoy the righteousness of the Righteous One, are able to rejoice under persecution is because we know our victory is certain. Whereas the demise of the greedy self-indulgent haters seem to be ignorant of our established victory in Christ by his resurrection, ascension and shared glory, 2nd Corinthians 4:6-18.