sermon: Lacking Nothing (Part Three)
Owe No Man Anything
Martin G. Collins
Given 17-Sep-11; 70 minutes
In my last sermon, I focused on the actual process of debasing a precious metal currency.
I discussed Isaiah’s accusation against the rulers that they were not enforcing God’s law, and this was reflected in the corruption of the nation’s gold and silver.
Isaiah used this to point out the spiritual rebellion of all the people, from the highest to the lowest. The corruption had spread from top to bottom, and back again.
Where we find morally debased people, we also find debased money. The people of Judah could see the debased money, but they did not realize that their society was totally corrupt. So God inspired Isaiah to call their attention to the source of the problem. He used this to call their attention to their corrupt hearts—their sinful ways of life—their immorality.
Moral corruption is contagious, almost like a virus, which causes disease. But it is not a disease; it is a moral condition of the heart and mind. It may be accompanied by disease—sexually transmitted diseases, for example—but it is not itself a disease.
Moral corruption is sometimes spread by passive acceptance, sharing in the blame are those claiming to be God’s representatives, the priests of society, who are silent in warning the people about their moral obligation to condemn such practices by plainspoken, active resistance.
Also, such passive, ill-informed acceptance of somewhat obscure sins (for example, monetary debasement) is always accompanied by practices that are recognized by even the simplest minded person as dishonest and obviously wrong, but which they actively pursue anyway. Pornography is one common example in our day as well as abortion.
So even though God gives people many blessings, a morally debased people are cursed because they do not use those blessings righteously, the result is that God withholds the power to those people to use and keep those blessings. Eventually, morally debased people lose those God-given blessings to foreigners.
Ecclesiastes 6:1-2 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.
Sadly, this is what is happening today to the descendants of ancient Israel—the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and much of Europe. Foreigners are devouring the tremendous blessings God has given us.
We tend to want to believe that our leaders are solely to blame for this, but as Isaiah pointed out to ancient Judah, everyone down to the poorest person shares in the blame as morally debased people. The whole of society is sinfully sick.
In this third and final sermon in this series, we are going to look at the effects of debt bondage and what happens when a society is forced to deal with its debt. What does the other side of a currency crisis look like?
Also, we are going to see that a distrustful, debt-ridden society produces far less than a society that is based on trust and where one’s efforts are rewarded. Trust is essential to a society in order for it to function properly, for it to prosper and develop right relationships. Should we owe anyone anything? And, what does God say about lending to others?
To begin, let us look at some historical background.
There is a raging debate going on today about fiat currency and the gold and silver standard that our nation was on from its inception until the 20th century. Did you realize that the American colonies did not start out with a gold and silver currency? The reason was that they had little or no gold or silver to trade in. None had been discovered. There were expeditions sent out to find silver and gold, but in the beginning there was no coined money in the colonies. However, that lack of currency did not make the colonists any less prosperous.
In fact, they were very prosperous! And the foundation of that prosperity was due to God’s providence and to their faith and liberty. How were these applications made in early colonial America?
Bill Heid of Off the Grid Radio interviewed Bojidar Marinov, a resident of Texas who is a Reformed Missionary to his native Bulgaria, he is also co-founder of the Bulgarian Society for Individual Liberty. Bojidar has done a tremendous amount of study into the American monetary system—its history and its impact on society.
Bill’s emphasis in this part of his interview with Boljidar focused on the lack of currency and the high level of prosperity in the American colonies. By 1776 the American colonies had the highest level of wealth per person of anywhere in the world. God blessed these descendants of the ancient Israelites with tremendous wealth even before the American Revolution.
Here is what Bojidar told Bill he had learned about the American Colonies of the 17th and 18th centuries:
(This interview is quite long, but it is important historical background material.)
The American colonies, at the beginning, were different from what the Spanish colonies had in Mexico or the Portuguese had in Brazil, because there was no gold and silver here. Some of them did come to find gold and silver but they could not find any gold and silver in the Appalachian Mountains.
Remember that all those kings in Europe would send out expeditions to find gold and silver. Now, most of the people that led the expeditions had other ideas in mind, like Columbus was an evangelist before he was anything else, but he knew that the king and the queen wanted gold. He did not find any gold but later in the Spanish colonies they found a lot of gold and silver.
We know that the Mexican silver peso became the first global currency. But the American colonies did not have that. In fact, there was no species [coined money] here in the colonies….
You look at Paul Revere, who was the most famous silversmith—after the revolution he went from silver to copper and iron because…I do not know all the reasons, but one of the reasons may have been there was no silver in the colonies. There was no gold in the colonies. There was no business for him.
The question is, that lack of money, that lack of silver and gold…there was not a lot of British currency on this side of the Atlantic because they had to pay taxes, and it all went to England. Later on they did not pay the taxes but there still was no gold and silver.
How did they make a living? The interesting thing is that there was no government regulation of any kind of money, any kind of currency [in the American colonies]. Nothing! And yet, people prospered. How did they do that?
They were free to decide what they wanted to use as currency. Some of them had never seen gold and silver. Maybe some silver, but some of them had never seen gold. That is why we have today the name of one of our coins is, what, the Nickel. That is what they used. They used nickel. And they used copper as currency. But they started creating currencies out of nothing.
They used tobacco notes; they used the Indian wampums—do you know what the wampum is? It is that clam shell found on the Chesapeake Bay that the Indians made into some kind of, well they looked like rosaries. They used those. In fact, there were cities and townships in Virginia that established their taxes in wampums.
Later on they found out that tobacco had a cash value, so they paid with tobacco. The Episcopal Church and Anglican Church preachers got paid in tobacco notes. In fact, tobacco notes were used as late as 1860 down in Brazil, and on the Caribbean islands. They were leftovers from the American tobacco notes. They were used down there in the Caribbean and in Brazil as legitimate money.
Bill: If you have a culture that lives and breathes fraudulently, and everybody’s out to cheat each other, can you just start writing IOUs on a piece of tobacco; and will that work as a currency?
Bojidar: No. Of course it will not. I have seen that happening in Eastern Europe and it just does not work. In fact, we’ve seen it happening here with subprime loans and so on. People go to the bank, and the bank gives them loans for pretty much nothing, and no collateral.
Later on, the banks find out that these people cannot pay. The same thing would have happened in the American colonies if [it was not for] the underlying Christian faith of those colonists at the very beginning.
People will tell you that you can have this similar trust with other religions. Well, no, we do not see the same thing in the Muslim world, we do not see the same thing in India, or in any pagan cultures. It is only in a thoroughly Christian culture that you can have this trust between people, and know that people are not going to abuse that trust by having this free money like tobacco notes, and wampums, and so on.
That is what we had in the American colonies. That is what nobody else in the world had. Maybe Europe did during the Middle Ages, but there was still a lot of gold there, and not a lot of fiat currency. In America it was able to work only because of the underlying Christian faith of the colonists.
One thing you need to understand about America that most Americans do not realize is that anybody who comes to America is shocked at the beginning by one thing that you guys take for granted—writing personal checks.
I was so surprised. My first reaction was, “They just write a number on a piece of paper, and sign it, and everybody takes that for money?” You’ve got to understand, it is a leftover of that Christian faith, and the underlying Christian foundations of this society. There are no checks in Europe.
Bill: The other thing that is important is, what happens when that Christian culture breaks down? And then what happens? … You have gone through an inflationary collapse, and currency destruction, what did that look like when people do not trust each other? Give us a little historical narrative about your own life—how did this happen?
Bojidar: What happens is that eventually people get to a point where nobody wants to produce because a producer works for a profit. Let us face it. There is NO socialist producer in the world, not even Michael Moore. Michael Moore works for a profit, believe it or not. And everybody who produces something…I am not saying that Michael Moore’s productions are worth anything but he works for a profit too.
Bill: He produces, yes, but what does he produce, though? He produces anti-profit products; he produces profitable anti-profit products, right?
Bojidar: Yeah. And he keeps the profits.
Bill: Only in America can there be a market for that. Only in America can you sell that product.
Bojidar: Exactly! People in Europe are laughing at him, or laughing at us here that we allowed Michael Moore to actually make $14 million on only one of his movies. Anyway, the producers produce for a profit. The profit can be calculated in some kind of currency.
If the population is forced to use a certain kind of currency, but that kind of currency cannot give you the ability to calculate your profits or losses, then a producer does not want to produce because it is not worth the effort, it is not worth the hassle to produce and to put goods on the market when you do not know if you are going to make a profit on it, when actually, to keep the profits sometimes requires more effort and more expenses than the profit itself.
You get to a point where the government debases the currency, and I have seen that happen, and producers just do not want to produce anymore. They say, “We will wait till this madness is over,” but there is less and less goods on the market, and more and more money poured into the market.
Guess what happens? People eventually end up with a lot of money in their pockets, number-wise, but they cannot buy anything in the market. I have seen that too. And I have seen when people go wait in long lines just to buy simple, basic necessities of life.
They start blaming the capitalists and they start blaming the companies and the corporations. But the truth is, nobody produces if they are not sure they are going to make a profit, and you cannot blame the producers for not working when they are not sure of profits.
Bill: So what happens? Let us look at a grocery store, for example, it just does not pay to produce this anymore. What happens to the shelves? You have this inflationary currency, but do the shelves start to become empty after a certain period of time because everyone has this joint idea?
Bojidar: They do. They do start to become empty. And America has not seen that yet because of the momentum. I would say it is not even the momentum, it is an inertia of the past. We can start to see it happen, even in this country. Even in this country, you can see in many situations where the choice is not that big, especially where you have government regulations.
For example, it can easily be seen in medical care. It can easily be seen in medicine and drugs, and the reason is because the government controls it. Because the government controls it, the producers are not sure they are going to make enough profit on it.
People ask me, “Why are the doctors so expensive?” It is because there are less and less of them. That is the same thing. If you are not sure you are going to make profit as a doctor, you do not become a doctor. Therefore the few remaining doctors are more and more expensive. That is what we’re going to see.
That is what is happening in Britain, and I think we are going to see it here as well. It is the profit that drives those people to offer their goods and services.
Bill: Bojidar, just so the folks listening understand how important it is not to say, “that can never happen here,” the price of oil goes up, and what’s the first thing Obama does? He wants to investigate the buyers and sellers of oil. The first impulse that this administration has is to attack the producers, right?
Bojidar: That is what the first impulse of ALL socialist governments in Europe is too.
Bill: When we see rising food prices, my guess, Bojidar, is that he will attack the food producers, right? In Bulgaria, after the food producers get attacked, do they just go away then?
Bojidar: Every food producer produces only enough to feed his own family.
Bill: And that is a prescription for rising prices and empty shelves, is it not?
Bojidar: I am not exactly sure if that is going to be a prescription. That is a prescription to protect yourself from putting effort and money into something that is not going to produce anything back. But I would say extreme individualism in this case probably is not the solution.
I would say what is much better is to have communities that are organized along these lines of helping each other. Sometimes even having their own currency within the community where people will have different gifts and, in fact, reproduce a bigger society on a smaller level where people can take advantage of each other’s gifts, and skills, and ideas.
In the examples in this dialogue we see that human nature tends toward individualism and self-centeredness, sometimes to the extreme.
Extreme individualism is the resulting action of people whose values are debased. Their debased morals are the effect of a hardened heart; they care about no one else and see absolutely no reason to produce for the benefit of someone else. Sadly, this is the temperament of society today.
In the world that was just described by Bojidar Marinov, you certainly do not want to find yourself in debt. And the reason not to become a debtor is that it puts you into the condition of servitude, or even worse slavery. You would become like a slave—a poor, oppressed person if your loan has come from a person with a morally debased heart, or a company with ruthless standards.
Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
The man who mortgages his future has in principle become a slave. He has publicly announced some version of the following statement: “I know the future. The future for me will bring more wealth. With this wealth I will pay off my debts. I can therefore increase my lifestyle today by assuming debt. I know the future so well, that I can say that for X number of years, I will not make a mistake that will bankrupt me.”
This is a form of arrogance. The apostle Paul describes the ignorance of a person from child to adult. We just do not know what the details of our future physical lives.
I Corinthians 13:11-12 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly.
In other words, we do not see things very clearly, and the future is unknown to us. It is much wiser to say, “If the Lord wills.” Or, “If it is according to God’s will.”
Psalm 37:37-39 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; for the future of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; the future of the wicked shall be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble.
What if a person living in Old Testament Israel could not pay his debt? He could be sold into slavery. Only in the seventh year could he get free, unless he could somehow work off his debt earlier. The Israelites were commanded by God to take debt very seriously. In principle, the debtor was a servant (slave) to the lender.
Emergency debt was tolerated in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, God sets forth a standard of personal indebtedness, which is designed to keep His people out of bondage.
God wants us to be able to exercise dominion. If we are given an opportunity to start a new business, or get a better education, how can we do this if we are tied to debt? We would serve the lender primarily, rather than God.
It is always wise to reduce your expenditures today, in order to have a greater income and responsibility tomorrow.
Lending, Debt and Dominion
The apostle Paul was very good at being direct; and although he was a very deep thinker, he knew how to get to the point. In line with that characteristic he wrote,
Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
“Owe no man anything,” is how the Bible regards debt as a form of servitude.
No monetary system, which is based on debt, is biblically legitimate. Such a system enslaves the economy and the people to those who set the monetary rules of the game. If money were not debt money, the Federal Reserve System and other central banks could not exist.
Today, but especially in any of the ancient empires, full sovereignty is demanded and they centralized power. Anciently, the claim was that it was a divine order. Powerful governments have historically claimed a monopoly over the issuing of money.
The government that claims the authority to issue money, and especially the sole right to issue money, is claiming the right to misuse the people’s trust. Furthermore, throughout history, few governments have been able to maintain this right without defrauding their citizens.
Central bankers eventually replace the government as the dominant influence over money. The politicians are too busy buying votes with tax money to pay much attention to the subtleties of central banking. So, government money eventually becomes bankers’ money.
The Bible says to owe no man anything. This is the best biblical financial advice in the world, next to the biblical statute of tithing and offerings. But it also says that the sign of a God-prospered nation is that God-fearing people will loan to foreigners, thereby bringing them under some degree of submission.
The Israelites were allowed to loan money to non-Israelites in the land and foreigners and still collect payment beyond the seventh year. Why? It is because debt is a means of bringing outsiders under your authority.
The Bible teaches that evil people should be under the authority of God’s law, as administered by God’s people. Extending loans to others was a means of dominion. In times of God’s blessings, Israel was to lend abroad.
Deuteronomy 28:12-13 The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.
The fact that the U.S. is a debtor nation is a major proof that the nation as a whole does NOT fear God. In times of God’s cursings, Israel would fall into debt to foreigners.
Deuteronomy 28:43-44 "The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.
This explains WHY this nation is in the desperate financial condition it is in today. The pattern is clear. Extending credit is a tool of oppression in the hands of evil men, but extending credit is a tool of dominion in the hands of God’s people. Ethical rebels are snared by means of debt.
Human nature often has to learn the hard way and debt bondage teaches what the misery of slavery is like. Like apprentices, debt-burdened people learn what it means to work hard for a demanding taskmaster. People who have had to file bankruptcy understand what it is like to have bad credit and usually never want to be in debt again.
The Biblical case for freedom in money is the same as the Biblical case for freedom in general. A benevolent government is to prohibit fraud and protect its citizens from violence. The rest is up to the individuals.
The fractional reserve banking causing havoc on the economies of the world is a fraudulent banking system. It is a violation of the biblical principle of honest weights and measures. This means that debasing metal coinage or paper and electronic currency is fraudulent, and is a violation of the principle of honest weights and measures.
Proverbs 20:23 Diverse weights are an abomination to the Lord, and dishonest scales are not good.
The issue of honest money is really an issue of the necessary conditions for human freedom. Honest money is the product of honest people who live and act within the framework of a public law and order that punishes fraud and violence. Honest money requires honest law and people who are self-disciplined.
In the past, we have seen brief periods in which relatively honest money has existed. The period of the classic gold standard, from about 1814 until the outbreak of World War I in 1914, is the best example. The wholesale price level in England was about the same in 1914 as it was in 1815. This was a remarkable period of price stability.
While monetary systems were more honest during earlier periods of history than today, they still were not entirely stable. But at least the bad money—the artificially overvalued money—was either gold or silver, and it was not easy to mine either one.
Geological limits were therefore placed on the rate of monetary expansion. And, geological limits were placed on monetary fraud. Governments and banks tampered with monetary weights and measures on a minor scale only compared with today.
When the Government, as the enforcer, gets into the business of stamping its mark on “certified money,” it is not long before the process soon becomes money creation, then a monopoly of money creation, then debasing the money, and finally elitist private control over government money by central bankers.
The control over government money by private central bankers is a universal feature of modern economies. So is unstable money.
The Other Side
Let us shift gears here at this point and answer the question, “What is the other side of a currency crisis look like?”
Now I want to get back to Bill Heid’s interview with Bojidar Marinov, co-founder of the Bulgarian Society for Individual Liberty. Bill’s emphasis in this part of his interview with Boljidar focused on what the other side of a currency crisis looks like.
Bill: What do we do? What did you do? What happened in Bulgaria? And maybe you will want to delineate between the mindset of the average Bulgarian and the mindset of the average American. But what got you by in Bulgaria when they inflated your currency out of existence? And what is going to get us by?”
Bojidar: The good thing about the crisis in Bulgaria is that it really brought many families together. I would say it bridged that generational gap. In some places, people were forced to go back to their parents and grandparents, and so on, to survive economically, because only in a small community where somebody’s producing one thing, and another person is producing another thing, that the trade is really based on the worth of what a person is producing, not on what the government is telling you that the money is worth. People can survive.
You can see the same thing in Russia. In fact, in Russia some villages and some local communities survive without having any interaction with the world outside—there is huge distances there—only because they have local people help each other to survive in situations like economic crisis and depression and currency crisis. I think that it can happen to America too.
Now, is there something different between Bulgaria and Americans? I tell you what, everybody’s pretty much the same mentality, down to the same mentality in times of crisis. They try to find solutions. People go to gold and they do not trust dollars anymore. But they will start trusting their communities more and more when they see that the government cannot give them any solution. That is what happened in Bulgaria. That is what happened in Eastern Europe.
People would go back to local. People would go back to their extended family. People would rely on their extended family for getting what the grid does not give them, what the system does not give them. This crisis of trust in the system necessarily translates in trying to find solutions in the smaller community.
I think Americans are, even with all the atomization of the family here and of the community, Americans are going to start looking for solutions here. Do you know what is even better? It is that it is the Christians who are in a better position than everybody else because we can trust each other.
Bill: As long as the word Christian means the same thing and we do not have Isaiah’s situation where the idea of even the word Christian becomes debased in and of itself. You have got a corrupt society, and now I think what you are going to hear is cries at some point, when this thing really hits full bore, cries to back the currency that we now do have with gold. But why should I trust a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats who basically are ripping off widows and orphans, as well as everyone else? Will not they do [the same thing] through that dross thing all over on a new cycle after they get our attention, and then say, “We are going to back the currency with gold,” and then will not they just cheat us again?
Bojidar: You remember the Continentals? The War for Independence? They were officially backed by gold and silver.
Bill: I know the phrase, “Not worth a continental,” was part of the joke that is becoming similar to what our dollar is worth, but I did not know that was backed. That is a great example.
Bojidar: Look at it. It is politicians saying it is backed by gold and silver and then you can trust politicians to be politicians. What did they do? They started printing more and more of them and eventually the farmers said, “Enough of it. We do not want any of this. You pay in gold and silver. Real gold and silver.” And George Washington was wondering, “What’s going on?” Until he found out the fact that those continentals (said to be) backed by gold and silver were not backed by gold and silver because somebody in Philadelphia was tampering with it, was playing with it.
We can see the same thing in Virginia and any other state that decides to go to currency. The solution is not to go to a currency that is backed by gold and silver officially by a government, whether it is federal government or state government. The solution is to let people decide what they want as a currency. Sometimes they will go barter, sometimes they will make their own notes that they trust, sometimes they will use gold and silver.
Bill: But at the end of the day, Bojidar, are not you also talking about the ultimate currency? The ultimate currency is trust, because is not that what all these things are about? You have to find a community where that trust element is mutual. If you start going to communities outside where our trust level is different than your trust level, then you have got some real problems. You can look at somebody in the eye and say, “Here is this piece of gold, I want my quarter calf,” or whatever it is you are going to buy.
Bojidar: Absolutely! We need to go back to local. One thing that we do not know about the United States between 1780 and 1850 was that power was based in the local communities. It was local counties that collected the taxes and taxes trickled up to state level and then to the Federal level. It was a local community.
Switzerland in 1848 basically adopted the American Constitution, making just a few changes. Today, Switzerland is a nation like this. They are a locally based nation. They do not have a strong federal government and they are all local communities-based. That is why Switzerland has been able to prosper all these years.
“The ultimate currency is trust.” That is going to be the ultimate currency is the Millennium under God’s rule—TRUST! We will see people going back to local economic relationships and building relationships on trust. The issue of trust is essential in all relationships including business and financial dealings.
In the higher and permanent spiritual realm because God is completely trustworthy we can walk with Him in eternal confidence, unlike the distrust we have of worldly people.
Psalm 118:5-9 I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The LORD is for me among those who help me; therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.”
In verse 8, putting confidence in man includes desiring what he has to offer in the way of material things. The Psalmist had found people in his day, weak and faithless; but he had never found God untrustworthy.
Here are five reasons that it is better to trust in the LORD:
(1) Because man is weak, but God is Almighty
(2) Because man is selfish, but God is benevolent
(3) Because man is often faithless and deceitful, but God is always trustworthy and honest
(4) Because there are emergencies, such as death, in which man cannot help us, no matter how faithful, kind, and friendly he may be, but there are no circumstances in this life, and none in death, where God cannot intervene on our behalf
(5) Because the ability of man to help us pertains at best only to this present life, while the power of God is sufficient for eternity.
In verse 9, putting confidence in princes includes relying on political leaders to solve our problems and to provide our protection. Politicians are generally proud, self-confident, thoughtless, and impetuous. To trust in them is foolish.
Often they cannot or will not deliver what they promise. However, concerning our salvation and in matters requiring divine intervention, they cannot do anything. Man is nothing more than flesh that is weak and perishing; God is an infinite SPIRIT—almighty and eternal.
Psalm 56:9-11 When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; this I know, because God is for me. In God (I will praise His word), in the LORD (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
In view of the numerous occurrences of the word, "trust," in the Old Testament, it is significant that the term occurs so few times in the New Testament. The reason for this is that the more inclusive term, "faith," which seldom occurs in the Old Testament, is used much more frequently in the New Testament.
Trust is only one component of FAITH, a concept that is developed more deeply in the New Testament. Different New Testament passages emphasize different aspects of faith, including submission to God, belief in the effectiveness and value of Jesus' death for the forgiveness of our sins, and hope for the future, as well as confidence or trust in God.
Like the Old Testament, the New Testament teaches that trust may be ill-placed; that is, the warrior may trust vainly in his armor, while others may have false confidence in their own righteousness. Authentic trust is directed toward God alone, whose word is eternally trust-worthy. “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” There are absolutes in life and this is one of the great ones!
The Sabbatical Year and Jubilee Year
A word about God’s gift to the Israelites of the Sabbatical Year; God understands human beings. So, He set forth laws that would cut debt off after a period of time, so that a debtor would not be in debt bondage forever.
He put a seven-year limit on debt. The seventh year in ancient Israel was the Sabbatical Year. There was no planting or harvesting in that year; the land was to receive its rest.
Deuteronomy 15:1-6 "At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord's release. Of a foreigner you may require it; but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother, except when there may be no poor among you; for the Lord will greatly bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance—only if you carefully obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe with care all these commandments which I command you today. For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.
In that same year, the farmer and the vinedresser were to let their fields lie uncultivated to rest the land and to provide for the needy.
Exodus 23:10-11 "Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.
In that same year, all Hebrew indentured servants were to go free, and they were to be given funds to help them get started again.
Deuteronomy 15:12-15 "If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away empty-handed; you shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress. From what the Lord has blessed you with, you shall give to him. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today.
This apparently did not apply to convicted criminals who had been sold into bondage in order to pay restitution to their victims.
Finally, and most important, God’s law was to be read publicly to every inhabitant. The seventh year was a year of release from debt, agricultural work, bondage, and sinful ignorance of God’s law.
Deuteronomy 31:10-12 And Moses commanded them, saying: "At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law,
Every fiftieth year was the Jubilee Year when all land reverted back to its original owner and people returned to their families; and all who were slaves were set free, and all debts were remitted. It lasted a year.
Leviticus 25:9-12 Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family. That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field.
There were numerous advantages to society of the Jubilee.
1. It would prevent the accumulation of land on the part of a few to the detriment of the community at large.
2. It would render it impossible for anyone to be born to absolute poverty, since everyone had his hereditary land.
3. It would preclude those inequalities which are produced by extremes of riches and poverty, and which make one man domineer over another.
4. It would utterly do away with slavery.
5. It would provide a fresh opportunity to those who were reduced by adverse circumstances to begin again their career of industry in the heritage, which they had temporarily forfeited.
6. It would periodically rectify the disorders which crept into the state in the course of time, preclude the division of the people into nobles and commoners, and preserve God’s government unaltered.
7. It helped the nation as a whole and as individuals to see the supreme & benevolent hand of God working in their lives.
It is important at this point that I mention something about how necessary tithing is, especially when it comes to the issue of being in debt. God does not need our tithes. He could have established a different system for carrying on His Work. But to have done so would have robbed us of the blessing that flows back to us if we are faithful in giving tithes and offerings.
The tither is invariably a prosperous person. I do not mean necessarily wealthy, but one whose actual needs are always supplied. People who tithe and are faithful and obedient to the Eternal God, are not often found in need of the necessities of life.
God promises that His children will always have something to give. It is only when they withhold and misappropriate their tithe and offerings that He does not prosper them spiritually, if not physically.
III John 2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
Proverbs 3:9-10 Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.
God challenges us to prove that what He tells us is true, because He knows that His promises sound too good to be true!
Malachi 3:10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.
He promises financial blessings, but more importantly than that are the spiritual blessings in abundance that come to the tither. The opposite comes to the unfaithful person, who is always behind financially, always in excessive debt.
What about tithing when in debt? Does God give us a pass on tithing because our debt is too high? The human tendency is to say, “I do not think it would be right for me to tithe while I’m in debt.” But, oh yes! It is right, and the other way is wrong. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
God’s inspired written word tells us what is right, and God tells us to give Him back His tithes.
Regarding our material and financial needs, even paying off our debts, God says,
The tithe is the debt that you owe God. This debt is first in time and principle. Pay your debts to God, make Him your partner in your finances and receive His blessing in earthly affairs. This will enable you to pay your debts, or to get a job, or to have your needs supplied more quickly than if you evade His debt.
Deuteronomy 10:14 “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it.”
We are in the position of steward handling that which belongs to another. God is our silent partner, and the first tenth, in addition to offerings, is His share. The rest He gives freely to us.
But if you appropriate for yourself His share, you are stealing, and robbing God. That is a tremendously fearful thing!
Malachi 3:8-9 "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.
Would you pay your debts with money another man had left in your trust? If a person working in a bank does that, we call it embezzlement!
The only sure way to know you have God as partner and that He is taking care of your interests is to obey Him in tithing. When God receives His portion of all your income, God becomes your partner, sharing in your profits. The thing is though; God is the one who supplied the profits in the first place.
He causes His partners to prosper; so if you are in debt, take God into partnership first, and watch Him prosper you until finally you are out of debt! Remember, the debt you owe God comes FIRST.
Some will say, “I never tithed, and I know God never frowned on me, because I have the feeling in my heart that I am His child without having to tithe.”
God has blessed you according to how much you have yielded to Him—according to the light He has revealed to you, from His Word. While you have the light, walk in it, lest darkness come upon you!
John 12:35-36 Then Jesus said to them, "A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light."
Be a faithful steward; make God you partner! Receive your material needs, but more importantly receive an abundance of spiritual blessings.
By the act of tithing, we show our worship, respect, love and admiration for our Creator—the One who gives us every breath we breathe. It is an expression of honor and an acknowledgment of God’s supreme lordship and mastery in the universe.
Long-term debt is immoral, and God always brings judgment on those who extend it. The descendants of ancient Israel today have been deliberately subsidizing evil. There has been an orgy of debt for a long time now and this nation and others are about to suffer the severe consequences.
Because people are so far in debt, they think they cannot afford a reduction in monetary income, even to get a small reduction in their monthly expenses. Their debts are fixed in terms of money.
A decrease in their monetary income would lead to personal financial destruction. They fear being evicted from their homes. This feeling and its reality are rapidly increasing across the globe.
Just a little inflation keeps on growing and eventually becomes incredibly large—the so-called exponential growth problem. The money supply is ballooning! Prices are beginning to skyrocket! The writing is on the wall! Get out of debt as fast as you can! Prepare your households!
At the end of the great German hyperinflation in November of 1923 their currency, the Deutsche Mark, fell in the black market to eleven trillion to the dollar. One economist calculated that the entire debt of pre-war Germany—mortgages, retirement obligations, commercial bonds—could have been entirely paid off with the German marks that you could have purchased with one eighth of one American penny.
But people would rather suffer the horrors of mass inflation, shortages, and bankruptcy, than to reduce spending now! They prefer to take the attitude of the wicked, the one that The Preacher considered briefly and abandoned in his search for true wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 8:15 “A man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry.”
The average person lives by the motto: “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die!”
This is the counsel of the bankers; it is the counsel of despair.
But God will not be mocked. There will come an opportunity for a new beginning, after the return of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords! Our responsibility is to obey God’s laws now. A person deeply in debt can be only half-hearted in his commitment to God’s biblical monetary system!
Now is a good time to get your household in order, so you can—in good conscience and full devotion—proclaim by example, as a true witness—God’s bondage-free way of life.
The day of financial reckoning is about to come down on us like a sledgehammer; and those in the most debt will be the most crushed.
Despite what the world under Satan’s rule has done to cheat, steal and deceive because of its greed, coveting and idolatrous practices, we—the saints—have God’s assurance that we will LACK NOTHING!
We can find great encouragement in Nehemiah’s words of encouragement to those who obey and submit to God, and walk in His ways.
Nehemiah 9:19-21 Yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, to lead them on the road; nor the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way they should go. You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.
God’s care of the children of Israel in the wilderness is a type of what the members of God’s Church can expect to receive for the same obedience, submission, repentance, and overcoming.
If God would abundantly supply His carnal children who did not have His Holy Spirit with everything; how much more does He supply members of His church who have His Holy Spirit and are spiritual children of His?
Be of good courage, you will lack nothing you need!