Gold Rush and Gold Fever

By Johnie Paul Edwards

In late January 1848 gold was discovered by James Mar-shall as he worked on John Sutter’s sawmill at Coloma, California. The news of gold in California began to spread across the nation and as the word leaked out, a “gold rush” erupted in northern California.

“Gold fever” raged eastward and by 1849 crowds of gold seekers were headed west on the trails, others by sea, making helter-skelter marches for California.

These “forty-niners” turned California into a land of untamed mining camps and boom towns. Boom-town California soon became a land of violence. Gold fever led to claim jumping, ambusing and murder! American miners looked on each other with dislike and distrust.

Now here we are, nearly a century and a half later and things really have not changed very much. (Have you noticed the lines at the supermarket to buy lottery tickets?) Man continues to eagerly pursue that which is to be shunned, to the eternal loss of his own soul.

The Love of Money Is the Root of All Evil

This “gold fever” that has been afflicting mankind for generations is nothing more than the “love of money” (1 Tim. 6:10). The assertion is not concerning money, which, is neither good nor bad in itself, but concerning the love of money. It is really a root-sin, for it leads to care, fear, malice, deceit, oppression, envy, bribery, perjury, and contentiousness. Surely men today need no proof of the fact that men and women will commit any sin or crime for money.

Louisa Clapp produced what historians now consider to be the best accounts of gold-rush life ever writtern. In her “Gold-Rush Chronicler” she described the violence. “In a short space of twenty-four days,” she wrote in July of 1852, “We have had murders, fearful accidents, bloody deaths, a mob, whippings, a hanging, an attempt at suicide and a fatal duel.”

A root of all evil lies in one with the love of money. There is no kind of evil to which a man may not be led through an absorbing greed for money. This passion, this covetousness, is to be “put to death” (Col. 3:5).

They That Will be Rich

Fall Into Temptation and a Snare

Paul said, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Tim. 6:9). The idea is that some desire to be rich; will to be rich at any cost and in haste (Prov. 28:20). The money-lover, by putting a false value upon money, makes it a snare and an instrument of hurt to himself and others. Jesus spoke of those who “trust in riches” (Mk. 10:24). The love of money often leads one into impiety and crime, and through them to sorrows and perdition. Greed for the wages of unrighteousness urged Balaam on to his destruction (2 Pet. 2:15). Greed for money made Judas a thief, a traitor, and a murderer of the Lord. This desire to be rich is only a snare, set by the devil (1 Tim. 3:7) to entrap us in sin.

Godliness and Contentment Is Great Gain

Paul wrote, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. . . And having food and rainment let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:6,8). The godly man is rich indeed, for he has acquired riches, which, unlike the riches of this world, he can take away with him (compare Lk. 12:31-34). We have good reason to be content. We brought nothing into this world and can carry nothing out! Instead of reaching after worldly riches, procure the true wealth, and become rich in righteousness, godliness, fatih, love, patience, and meekness (1 Tim. 6:11).

Avoid the “fever” that leads to “helter-skelter” marches to the supermarket for lottery tickets by putting your trust in the living God “who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17).

Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 12, p. 15
June 17, 1993