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Bryan Bissell

THE NECESSITY OF BIBLICAL ECONOMICS (from Biblical, Jewish, Ellen White and political history sources) by Bryan Bissell, available online at: www.eslmission.org/resources (click Bible Programs section)

THE PROBLEM OF POVERTY
DEFINITION OF POVERY
IS ELIMINATION OF POVERTY BIBLICALLY POSSIBLE
ECONOMIC PRINCIPLES FROM THE BIBLE
HOW DID JEWISH RABBIS IMPLEMENT THESE LAWS
WHAT CAN THE CHURCH DO
WEBSITES TO READ FURTHER ON
4 REAL EXAMPLES OF POVERTY BEING REDUCED/ELIMINATED(from Confucius to California)


=============unfinished sections=================
INTRODUCTION TO BIBLICAL ECONOMICS
EXEGESIS OF BIBLICAL POVERTY
OPPRESSIVE DEBT CAUSES WAR AND VIOLENCE
WHAT DOES ELLEN WHITE SAY ABOUT ECONOMIC JUSTICE AND THE CHURCH?
BIBLE VERSES ON ECONOMIC OPPRESSION

THE PROBLEM OF POVERTY 

With the saying in the Bible that the love of money is the root of all evil…and many strong words against the rich and powerful, it may seem strange to some that God would be concerned about economics. 

But the evil is not in the money or wealth itself. As with many other things, it is the way that money is used that causes it to be productive or destructive.  One writer said it this way:

When we choose the Lord as our sole master, He does not remove our money. In fact, He takes the money and transforms it into an ally. The same dollar that places a bet, pays a prostitute, or purchases "crack" cocaine also buys a Bible, digs a well, or supports a missionary. The same dollar the shrewd manager uses to pave his way into a golden future, a shrewd disciple uses to invest in eternal friendships. But the difference is the product of a choice of masters.

I have written in my e-mail list some about the extreme unfair trade policies among nations currently and issues that are similar.  I said economic principles are an integral part of the Bible.  This article shows in some detail some of the Biblical principals of economics and why they are critically relevant for us here and now today.  They are NOT just ancient ideas that were a nice idea at one time.  They are the ONLY way to solve many of the serious problems that our world has today!! 

Unfortunately, many people and even some Christians and Christian leaders don’t think that these principles can work today. To answer this doubt, I have collected quotes and thoughts from philosophers and thinkers of many persuasions ranging from the Bible and Christians, to atheists to people like Confucius to show as clearly as possible why the Bible’s economic principles are part of the most basic human rights that each person on this planet deserves and why they will resolve the problems that we face.  There are very few other concepts that have such wide acceptance among people of such differing philosophies. This makes it all the more critical to understand and implement these principles. 

When God’s principles are ignored the serious problems that we have today such as terrorism, crime, starvation and others are inevitable.  After you read these, you will no longer be ignorant about the main cause (but by no means the only cause) of some of the most serious problems in our world. 

Today, poverty is at one of the worst points in history.  There are a very few extremely rich people and millions of extremely poor. And some of us who are the privileged wrongly in a way live in a “matrix” of our own way of life and we cannot or do not wish to see the extreme suffering that is going on worldwide to the majority of the world’s people.  This little thought is illuminating:

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If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep ... you are richer than 75% of this world.

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f you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish some place ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

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If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation... you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

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If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death ... you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.  

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If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing that someone was thinking of you, and furthermore ... you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.

It is doubtful if the gap between the rich and poor in the world has ever been larger than it is now on a world wide scale. And this is not at all by accident.  It is inevitable because of the rejection of God’s economic principles outlined in the Bible and practiced to some extant by many ancient cultures which did not have the destitute poverty like we see so commonly today. 

 You may have played the game monopoly.  In that game, even though everyone starts out equal, inevitably one person will get all the property and money.  That game was based directly on capitalism and we can see in real life that the exact same thing is happening these days (see statistic #1). 

These are just a few statistics that show what is happening because our world has rejected God’s economic wisdom: 

1)      Research done by Susan Willett for the Trust for Research and Education on the Arms Trade (TREAT) highlights the inextricable links between war and conflict on the one hand, and high levels of debt on the other. Germany's high levels of First World War debt degraded her economy and provided a breeding ground for militarism and fascism. Today a similar pattern is repeated in the poorest countries. There is a strong correlation between highly indebted countries and countries which have descended into civil war and militarism. During the 1990s alone there have been 39 major conflicts with more than 4 million people killed. Nine out of ten casualties are civilians. There are over 200,000 child soldiers in the world - a corruption of childhood which threatens all of our futures.

2)      About a sixth of the world's population -- nearly 1 billion people -- live in slums. "In some developing country cities, slums are so pervasive that it is the rich who have to segregate themselves behind small gated enclaves," the report said. The report describes slums as poor areas that lack basic services or access to clean water, where housing is poorly built and overcrowded. Developed nations are not immune: According to the report, 54 million people who live in cities in richer nations live in slum-like conditions. The report says that the worldwide number of slum dwellers increased by 36 percent in the 1990s to 923 million people. At its current pace, the number could double to 2 billion by 2030. U.N. officials said that's a clear sign the world is not meeting a goal it set in 2000 to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020, and said even that goal is far too narrow in scope. The promise was laid out in a declaration adopted by 189 countries at the U.N. Millennium Summit in September 2000. (from a CNN report about the U.N. Human Settlements Program and a report entitled "The Challenge of Slums"

3)      An analysis of long-term trends shows the distance between the richest and poorest countries was about :
3 to 1 in 1820
11 to 1 in 1913
35 to 1 in 1950
44 to 1 in 1973
72 to 1 in 1992
--1999 Human Development Report, United Nations Development Programme

4)      In 1976, the wealthiest 1% of Americans owned 19% of all private material wealth in the US. Today, they own over 40% of all wealth. Their share now exceeds the wealth owned by the bottom 92% of the US population.

5)      “The combined wealth of the world's 200 richest people hit $1 trillion in 1999; the combined incomes of the 582 million people living in the 43 least developed countries is $146 billion."
--Human Development Report 2000, p. 82, United Nations Development Programme

6)      Debt relief for the poorest 20 countries would cost only US$5.5 billion- the cost of building one Disneyland/Paris.

7)      The world's seven richest men could wipe out poverty. Their combined wealth is more than enough to provide the basic needs for the poorest of the world's population.

8)      The world population's basic need for food, drinking water, education and medical care could be covered by a levy of less than 4% of the accumulated wealth of the 225 richest individuals.

9)      The New York Times in one of their email updates, in their Quote of the Day section, for July 18, 2001 provided the following quote: "A world where some live in comfort and plenty, while half of the human race lives on less than $2 a day, is neither just, nor stable." -- President Bush

10)  U.N. Secretary General said, "Almost half the world's population lives on less than two dollars a day, yet even this statistic fails to capture the humiliation, powerlessness and brutal hardship that is the daily lot of the world's poor." 

Nearly 2 billion can’t even read or write and they live in constant hopelessness!  Why are these drastic inequalities happening? When people are suffering so terribly, is it possible that the church has nothing to say about economics problems that cause violence, war, sickness and disease and much tragedy for billions of people? Is it possible that God would be silent and have no answer for these tragedies that we face?  Is he concerned only that we pray and go to church while ignoring the destitution of 2 billion people?   NO! It cannot be possible. And it is not a fact.  As you will see from the texts below, in the Bible God many times spoke through his prophets about principles of economics which would eliminate destitution and oppression. 

The Bible is very vocal on the issue of economic justice and it is something that Christians should take seriously because if something hurts God’s children, then it hurts God himself as well.  And very little is so destructive and affects so many areas of life as economic injustice.

It is clear that in the Bible and the world money is not the most important thing. But, it is the value of our work and effort and is necessary for our physical needs.  In some ways, it’s like water. You need a certain amount to sustain life and stay in good health.  But, after that certain amount, it’s not very useful.  Hoarding water doesn’t make much more sense than hoarding money.

God recognized money was important for everyone and gave many principles for its use.  He also sent his prophets to condemn the actions of people who abused it and went against His principles.  It is obviously something that was a serious concern to him and it should be too Christians today as well.

One pastor wrote that: “Jesus used 16 of 38 parables to teach His disciples about money and possessions. Did you know that one out of ten or 288 verses in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John deal with money? In the Bible, there are 500 verses on prayer, 500 verses about faith and 2,000 on money and possessions.” This doesn’t obviously doesn’t mean that money is more important than these things. But, it does show that God has concern about it.

God does have very clear and important principles that address and solve these problems that we are experiencing.  It is because the natural God given rights of billions of people have been stolen in very sophisticated ways from them that these abuses and injustices are happening.  Whenever these rights are restored, the extreme inequalities above will be eliminated in a fairly short amount of time.

Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, “An intelligent approach to the problems of poverty and racism will cause us to see the words of the Psalmist, "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" -- are still a judgment upon our use and abuse of the wealth and resources with which we have been endowed.”

A great Christian writer, Ellen White, said, “There are not many, even among educators and statesmen, who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are not able to solve the problem of moral corruption, poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis. If men would give more heed to the teaching of God's Word, they would find a solution of the problems that perplex them.--Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 12, 13. {WM 173.3} 

The early Christian church was actually able to find that solution and they eliminated poverty among them. It was one of the few groups to experience the fulfillment of the Deuteronomy 15 promise that when people followed God’s laws, there would be “no poverty”. The major reason was because they recognized that they were stewards of God’s goodness and had a duty to share with any who were in definite need.  

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Acts 4:32 “All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had…34There was no poverty among them, because people who owned land or houses sold them 35and brought the money to the apostles to give to others in need.”

I hope that you will read the things below carefully so that you can participate in freeing the slaves of capitalism gone wrong and bring them to freedom and usefulness for God.

DEFINITION OF POVERTY

First of all, we should define poverty.  There will always be a difference in the amount of money have.  And making $100 a month would be poverty level in the US, but in Haiti, it would be quite a good salary.  SO, there needs to be a definition of what poverty is:

Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd ed. says:

poor: describing one who is "lacking material possessions; having little or no means to support oneself; needy," and

poverty:  "indigence, lack of means of subsistence."

The Encyclopedia Brittanica defines poverty as "an insufficiency of the material necessities of life."

So, we will take poorness and poverty to mean

Being so destitute that you are unable to provide for yourself the most basic needs of life such as food, water, housing, clothes, etc.

IS ELIMINATION OF POVERTY BIBLICALLY POSSIBLE

Many people refer to Jesus quote that you will always have the poor with you and use this as a reason that we shouldn’t be concerned about economics.  It won’t do any good anyway.   But, they ignore the fact that in Acts 4, the Christian church eliminated poverty.

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       Acts 4:32 “All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had…34There was no poverty among them, because people who owned land or houses sold them 35and brought the money to the apostles to give to others in need.”

In Deuteronomy, God wrote these words:

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 Deuteronomy 15:4 There should be no poor among you, for the LORD your God will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you as a special possession. 5You will receive this blessing if you carefully obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today.  (NLT)
11There will always be some among you who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share your resources freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.

Verses 4 and 11 seem contradictory…but the answer is in verse 5.  Whoever follows God’s principles will be able to eliminate poverty as has been done in several places in history.  The below quotes from Ellen White explain this in more detail.

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 Although God had promised greatly to bless His people, it was not His design that poverty should be wholly unknown among them. He declared that the poor should never cease out of the land. There would ever be those among His people who would call into exercise their sympathy, tenderness, and benevolence. Then, as now, persons were subject to misfortune, sickness, and loss of property; yet so long as they followed the instruction given by God, there were no beggars among them, neither any who suffered for food. {PP 530.3}
 

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 There are not many, even among educators and statesmen, who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are not able to solve the problem of moral corruption, poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis. If men would give more heed to the teaching of God's Word, they would find a solution of the problems that perplex them.--Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 12, 13. {WM 173.3}
 

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 If men would do their duty as faithful stewards of their Lord's goods, there would be no cry for bread, none suffering in destitution, none naked and in want. It is the unfaithfulness of men that brings about the state of suffering in which humanity is plunged.{WM 16.3}
 

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 God has made men His stewards, and He is not to be charged with the sufferings, the misery, the nakedness, and the want of humanity. The Lord has made ample provision for all. {WM 16.1}

So, from these verses and thoughts from the Bible and Ellen White, it is clear that it is possible to largely if not completely eliminate starvation, homelessness and extreme destitution IF AND ONLY IF we follow God’s principles outlined in the Bible.

ECONOMIC PRINCIPLES FROM THE BIBLE 

Here is a summary of some of the economic principles from the Bible with some explanations by me and some quotes by famous thinkers which can solve the problems that perplex the world in a short time (maybe even as little as 10 years according to some).  

This is NOT proposing socialism or communism or capitalism.  It does not at all demand that all people have equal wealth or equal compensation by the state.  It does demand that each person has a somewhat similar amount of God’s resources to work with and then what they do from that point is up to them.  They are not coddled and enabled to be lazy. Neither are they made into slaves of the super rich.  This is something very different that is not being done by any current economic theory (The only one that comes close is “Land Rent” and cooperative democratic capitalism which I will explain in future messages.). 

As you read this, remember this quote from Gandhi:  “There is enough in this world for everyone’s need, but NOT everyone’s greed.”  His quote could not be more accurate.  It is directly because of greed and theft of natural rights that billions are suffering today. 

GOD’S ECONOMIC PRINCIPLES SUMMARIZED

1)      GOD OWNS EVERYTHING, PEOPLE ARE CARETAKERS & STEWARDS OF GOD’S RESOURCES

2)      EVERY PERSON HAS A RIGHT TO LAND (and/or natural resources)

3)      JUBILEE SYSTEM (land can’t be permanently sold. It returns to original owners after 49 years, except if it’s in a city. Land and property in cities can be sold permanently.)

4)      CHARGING INTEREST IS EVIL (especially to the poor or relatives)

5)      CANCEL DEBTS EVERY 7 YEARS

6)      TRADE FAIRLY

7)      PAY FAIR WAGES

8)      CHARGE FAIR TAXES AND RENT

9)      SHARE & BE GENEROUS TO THE POOR

10)  BE INDEPENDENT—DON’T SUPPORT DEPENDENCY

11)  Give tithes and offerings 

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GOD OWNS EVERYTHING, PEOPLE ARE CARETAKERS & STEWARDS OF GOD’S RESOURCES

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Psalms 24:1 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.2 For he laid the earth's foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.

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 Psalms 50:10   For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

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 Haggai 2:8 states "The silver is mine, the gold is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts." 

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 Gen 1:28 God blessed them: "Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth."

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 Ecclesiastes 5:9 “the profit of the earth is for all."

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?:  Since God made everything and all people, everything in the world belongs to him.  Since we are all God’s children, every person has a natural right to possess at least some part of God’s land and/or resources.  This will provide them a way to make their livelihood and to be economically self-sufficient. It will also give each person the chance to use their talents and skills to their full potential.  Now many can’t even go to school even though they may be very smart.  The skills and talents of millions are wasted and will never benefit others. But, if their natural right was given to them, most people’s natural abilities and usefulness could be maximized. 

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), said, "You are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to no one."

"The earth, therefore, and all things therein, are the general property of all mankind from the immediate gift of the Creator." - William Blackstone (1732-1780), British judge. 

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish historian who christened economics he dismal science� asked, "Who can or who could sell us the earth? Actually the earth belongs to these two: the almighty God and all his children who have ever worked on it or who will ever have worked on it or who will ever have to work on it. No generation of men can or could with even the highest solemnity and exertion sell the earth according to any other principle." 

Herbert Spencer (1820-1910), British philosopher and more famous than Marx at the time, said, "Equity does not permit property in land... The world is God's bequest to mankind. All men are joint heirs to it." 

Max Hirsch (1877-1968), banker, investor, and author, said, "Abolish special privileges and Government interference in industry. Give to all equal natural opportunities, equal rights to the inexhaustible storehouse of Nature and wealth will distribute itself in exact accordance with justice.”

Tom Paine (1737-1809), who authored Common Sense which catalyzed the American Revolution and coined the phrase "the United States of America", wrote, "Men did not make the earth ... it is the value of the improvement only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property... Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds... from this ground-rent ... I ... propose ... to create a National Fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person ... (a) sum." (Agrarian Justice, 1795-6) 

Voltaire (1694-1778), more than a millennium later in the Age of Enlightenment, had his character Candide say, "The fruits of the earth are a common heritage of all, to which each man has equal right." His colleague, (19)  

The Mennonite church has a very good approach to this idea of stewardship.  It’s at: http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/about/cof/art.21.htm (The Jubilee system mentioned is not at all out of date. Ignoring its principle is a huge factor in poverty today as you will see below):

We acknowledge that God as Creator is owner of all things. In the Old Testament, the Sabbath year and the Jubilee year were practical expressions of the belief that the land is God's and the people of Israel belong to God (Leviticus 25:23, 42, 55). Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry, announced the year of the Lord's favor, often identified with Jubilee. Through Jesus, the poor heard good news, captives were released, the blind saw, and the oppressed went free(Luke 4:16-21). The first church in Jerusalem put Jubilee into practice by preaching the gospel, healing the sick, and sharing possessions. Other early churches shared financially with those in need.( Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15)

As stewards of God's earth, we are called to care for the earth and to bring rest and renewal to the land and everything that lives on it (Psalms 24:1; Genesis 1:26-28). As stewards of money and possessions, we are to live simply, practice mutual aid within the church, uphold economic justice, and give generously and cheerfully (Phillipians 4:11-12; 2 Corinthians 8:13-14; James 5:4; 2 Corinthians 9:7). As persons dependent on God's providence, we are not to be anxious about the necessities of life, but to seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:24-33). We cannot be true servants of God and let our lives be ruled by desire for wealth. 

We are called to be stewards in the household of God, set apart for the service of God. We live out now the rest and justice which God has promised (Matthew 11:28-29; Revelation 7:15-17).  The church does this while looking forward to the coming of our Master and the restoration of all things in the new heaven and new earth.
 

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EVERY PERSON HAS A RIGHT TO LAND (and/or natural resources)

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 Leviticus 25:23 "The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me.” (NKJV)  

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 Ezekiel 45:9 “For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Enough, you princes of Israel! Stop all your violence and oppression and do what is just and right. Quit robbing and cheating my people out of their land! Stop expelling them from their homes! 

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 Isaiah 5:8 Destruction is certain for you who buy up property so others have no place to live. Your homes are built on great estates so you can be alone in the land.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?: As Karl Marx said and many economists agree, almost all wealth comes from land.  There may be a few exceptions, but almost everyway to make money depends on land for its operation.  Farms need land to grow crops.  Supermarkets need land to show their products.  Businesses need land for their stores.  Schools and institutes need land to give them a place to teach.  Doctors need land for their hospitals and etc.  Internet is a new phenomenon, but even internet stores need land to store their inventory (such as computers and software), to do research and development, processing and other similar things.  These days, land could be expanded to include oil, coal, airwaves (worth billions), space, atoms/nanotechnology and many other parts of our natural world that were originally created by God and so belong to his children.

QUOTES

Adam Smith (1720-1790), the father of economics, wrote in his classic, The Wealth of Nations, that "Both ground rents and the ordinary rent of land are a species of revenue which the owner, in many cases, enjoys without any care or attention of his own... Ground rents seem, in this respect, a more proper subject of peculiar taxation... Nothing can be more reasonable than that a fund which owes its existence to the good government of the state should be taxed peculiarly." 

"Whenever the ownership of the soil is so engrossed by a small part of the community that the far larger part are compelled to pay whatever the few may see fit to exact for the privilege of occupying and cultivating the Earth, there is something very much like slavery." - Horace Greeley

“I slowly came to realize that political democracy cannot flourish under all economic conditions.  Democracy requires an economic system which supports the political ideals of liberty and equality for all.  Men cannot exercise freedom in the political sphere when they are deprived of it in the economic sphere.”  --M Mortimer Adler, a philosopher of politics and economics.

“The land, the earth, God gave to man for his home, sustenance and support, should never be the possession of any man, corporation, society or unfriendly government, any more than the air or water -- if as much. An individual or company, or enterprise, acquiring land should hold no more than is required for their home and sustenance…, and never more than they have in actual use in the prudent management of their legitimate business, and this much should not be permitted when it creates an exclusive monopoly. All that is not so used should be held for the free use of every family to make homesteads and to hold them so long as they are so occupied….But when slavery is over and settled, men should never rest content while oppression, wrongs and iniquities are enforced against them.”  Abraham Lincoln 

“Take the question of over-crowding; the land question in the towns bears on that. It is all very well to produce "Housing of Working class" bills; they will never be effective until you tackle the taxation of land values.” David Lloyd-George 

“It is in vain in a country whose great fund is land to hope to lay the public charge on anything else; there at last it will terminate. The merchant (do what you can) will not bear it, the labourer cannot, and therefore the landholder must: and whether he were best to do it by laying it directly where it will at last settle, or by letting it come to him by the sinking of his rents, which when they are fallen, everyone knows they are not easily raised again, let him consider.”  John Locke

“No nation can avoid land reform. All it can do is determine the course it will take: bloody revolution or taxation.”  (meaning taxation of the land)  General Douglas McArthur 

Clarence Darrow (1859-1938), lawyer of Scopes Monkey Trial fame, said, "Henry George was one of the real prophets of the world; one of the seers of the world... His was a wonderful mind; he saw a question from every side... When we learn that the value of land belongs to all of us, then we will be free men �no need to legislate to keep men and women from working themselves to death; no need to legislate against the white slave traffic." 

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JUBILEE SYSTEM (land can’t be permanently sold. It returns to original owners after 49 years, except if it’s in a city. Land and property in cities can be sold permanently.)

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 Leviticus 25:8"In addition, you must count off seven Sabbath years, seven years times seven, adding up to forty-nine years in all. 9Then on the Day of Atonement of the fiftieth year,[1] blow the trumpets loud and long throughout the land. 13In the Year of Jubilee each of you must return to the lands that belonged to your ancestors.  14"When you make an agreement with a neighbor to buy or sell property, you must never take advantage of each other. 18"If you want to live securely in the land, keep my laws and obey my regulations. 23And remember, the land must never be sold on a permanent basis because it really belongs to me. You are only foreigners and tenants living with me.  24"With every sale of land there must be a stipulation that the land can be redeemed at any time. 28But if the original owner cannot afford to redeem it, then it will belong to the new owner until the next Year of Jubilee. In the jubilee year, the land will be returned to the original owner. 29"Anyone who sells a house inside a walled city has the right to redeem it for a full year after its sale. During that time, the seller retains the right to buy it back. 30But if it is not redeemed within a year, then the house within the walled city will become the permanent property of the buyer. It will not be returned to the original owner in the Year of Jubilee.
 

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 1 Kings 21:  When Ahab demanded that Naboth give him his land, Naboth replied, "The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors!" Under the laws of Omri/Baal, this was blasphemy against Baal and the king. Naboth and his heirs were executed and Ahab then took possession of it.  But there was an immediate and severe denunciation of this by the fierce prophet Elijah.  Elijah pronounced God's sentence of death on Ahab, Jezebel and his whole dynasty for this crime:
1 Kings 21:19 “Say to him, 'This is what the LORD says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?' Then say to him, 'This is what the LORD says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, dogs will lick up your blood-yes, yours!'"

        In I Kg 22 and 2 Kg 9.7-10, the prophecy was fulfilled and Ahab’s dynasty was completely destroyed. Land seems to have been quite an important issue to God in this case. So important that through his prophet he pronounced a sentence of death because the King was violating the system of land and property that God had set up.
 

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 2 Kg 8.6. A Shunamite woman whose son had been raised from the dead had been warned by Elisha of a famine and advised to leave the country. She was gone seven years, and when she returned she found that her land had been confiscated. We are not told by whom or on what pretext. It may be that the influence of the laws of Omri made it impossible for her to receive justice in the lower courts. She appealed to the king and the king, influenced by the prophet Elisha, ordered her land to be restored to her together with the revenues for the time she was away. This would indicate that she had not, as Naomi and Elimelich had done, leased her land, but had intended that it should lie fallow. The king's order that she should be given the revenue from the land indicates that this was not a case of someone refusing the right of redemption (a right unique to the laws of the Lord). Had this been a case of redemption, the revenues up to the time of redemption would have belonged to the lease-holder The land had been seized illegally.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?:  As above, land is the source of wealth.  The extreme poverty systems of today are largely due to monopolies on land.  This Jubilee system would make land monopolies impossible and this would eliminate the majority of poverty.  Pliny the Elder (23-79) wrote that “Land monopoly ruined Rome.” Tiberius Gracchus, a Roman statesman complained: “The private soldiers fight and die to advance the wealth and luxury of the great and they are called masters of the world, while they have not a foot of ground in their possession.”

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), author of the Declaration of Independence and with Ben Franklin the most inventive and intellectual of the Founding Fathers, wrote, "The earth is given as a common stock for men to labor and to live on... Wherever in any country there are idle lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. Everyone may have land to labor for himself, if he chooses; or, preferring the exercise of any other industry, may exact for it such compensation as not only to afford a comfortable subsistence, but wherewith to provide for a cessation from labor in old age." (Notes on Virginia, 1791)

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), the steel magnate, noted, "The most comfortable, but also the most unproductive way for a capitalist to increase his fortune, is to put all monies in sites and await that point in time when a society, hungering for land, has to pay his price."  

“No human being can live without using land. As long as some people must pay others for the right to use land, there will be poverty. Once all persons have an equal right to use land, poverty cannot exist. Nature is generous, she is the author of love and life, but her gifts must be allowed to flow freely throughout all of society; they must not be held for ransom. If they are, what will flow throughout society will be the opposite of life: pollution, anger, violence, hatred, suffering, confusion, war and death.” Adam Jon Monroe, Jr. Editor of “The Georgist News”

MacArthur,Douglas(1880-1964)

Inspired by Henry George's reform proposals, MacArthur saw to it that during his military governorship of Japan following the Second World War that land rent reform was incorporated in the writing of the Japanese Constitution. The new constitution reversed the portion of agricultural commodities collected as rent between owners (whose portion dropped to one-third of the total), and the tenants farmers who actually did the work (who were then able to retain two-thirds of what they produced). 

Read more on this topic at: http://www.landreform.org/reading0.htm and especialy on the Jubilee at:

http://www.landreform.org/wp9.htm 

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CHARGING INTEREST IS EVIL (to poor or relatives)

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 Psalm 15:5 Those who do not charge interest on the money they lend, and who refuse to accept bribes to testify against the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.

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 Leviticus 25:35 If any of your Israelite relatives fall into poverty and cannot support themselves, support them as you would a resident foreigner and allow them to live with you. 36Do not demand an advance or charge interest on the money you lend them. Instead, show your fear of God by letting them live with you as your relatives. 37Remember, do not charge your relatives interest on anything you lend them, whether money or food.

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 Nehemiah 5:7 "You are oppressing your own relatives by charging them interest when they borrow money!" …You are selling them back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?" And they had nothing to say in their defense. 9Then I pressed further, "What you are doing is not right!

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 Exodus 22:21"Do not oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.  22"Do not exploit widows or orphans. 23If you do and they cry out to me, then I will surely help them. 24My anger will blaze forth against you, and I will kill you with the sword. Your wives will become widows, and your children will become fatherless. 25"If you lend money to a fellow Hebrew in need, do not be like a money lender, charging interest.
 

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?:  The charging of interest is the major way that the rich become richer and the poor become poorer.  It also enables a person to make money by doing nothing which is very likely the reason that the Bible prohibits it. Below are 2 sections:

1)      An article from an Islamic source showing why interest is destructive and

2)      An economics professor showing why interest destroys nations and citizen’s futures and is equivalent to slavery. 

From: www.islamvision.org/EvilsofInterest.asp

“The collection of an extra amount by the lender at a fixed rate on a loan given by him from the debtor is called Interest. There is a big great deal of difference between business and interest. In a business the individual invests money and gains profit in return. But merely investing his capital is not sufficient. 

The person involved in the business venture, be it agriculture or industry, has to work hard day and night even after investing huge sums of money in it. Finally, even after all this monetary risks and hard work there always exists a fear of loss in this venture. 

Contrary to this, in interest dealings, the lender lends his money at a fixed rate of interest and collects a regular profit from the borrower in the form of interest without any physical effort or fear of loss and also irrespective of the economical condition of the borrower. “ 

In a business transaction the entrepreneur gets a profit only once out of a particular deal, whereas in interest dealing, the lender goes on receiving profit for the money that he had once lent, with an increase in it as time goes by. Islam very strictly prohibits all kinds of interest dealings. The impact of interest on the lender as well as the debtor is highly disastrous. The lender becomes extremely materialistic and wild after his greed for money. 

He does not bother about the consequences of the system of interest on the society. He forgets human relationships and kindness. He becomes wealthy by pushing innumerable people into the darkness of poverty. That is why the Holy Qur'an has compared them to mad and foolish people in Chapter 2, Verse 275. The borrower on the other hand loses whatever goods he possessed with him in the process of repaying the loan and finally ends up paying an amount that is many times more than what was actually loaned to him. 

It is also observed that often, even after the death of the borrower many successive generations come to pass but are still unable to repay the loan taken by their ancestors due this concept of Interest. Interest Free Banking Countering the unjust and unharmonious financial systems, Islam laid down its own economic and financial principals with greater emphasis on interest free banking. 

Islamic banking is not merely a business but also a mission for attaining economic equity. This system will not allow concentration of wealth to take root at any cost. The most prominent feature of the Islamic financial system is that, it forbids the charging of Riba (Interest) on money lent. 

Islamic banking, based on the Qur'anic prohibition of charging interest, has moved from a theoretical concept to embrace more than 100 banks operating in 40 countries with multi-billion dollar deposits worldwide. Islamic banking is widely regarded as the fastest growing sector in the Middle Eastern financial services market. 

Exploding onto the financial scene barely thirty years ago, an estimated $US 70 billion worth of funds are now managed according to Shari'ah (Islamic Law). Deposit and Principles assets held by Islamic banks grew to a whopping 60 billion dollars in 1994 as compared to a meagre 5 billion dollars in 1985. 

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From: http://www.ied.info/books/ed/debt.html#_Toc35644544

Third World development has not had serious consideration. Instead, vastly underpriced developing world natural resource commodities and underpaid labor (essentially dictated by IMF/World Bank/GATT/NAFTA/WTO/ MAI/GATS/FTAA structural adjustment policies and unequal currency values) and overpriced developed world manufactures created excessive accumulations of capital in the already wealthy world, which were lent wastefully back to the developing world for purchase of developed world exports (a major share being for arms). This forced the developing world to harvest ever more of their natural resources to pay that debt, which further increased surplus production, which lowered natural resource commodity prices still further, and the process keeps repeating itself. This is the little understood debt trap. Sooner or later the crunch of debt incurred under the massive assault of financial warfare will become unpayable:

A debtor who repeatedly borrows more than the surplus his labor or business enterprise produces will fall further and further behind in his obligations until, sooner or later, the inexorable pressures of compound interest defeat him ... interest [is] usurious when the borrower's rightful share of profit [is] confiscated by the lender.... The creative power of capital [is] reversed and the compounding interest [becomes] destructive. (Greider, Secrets of the Temple , pp. 707, 581-82; Susan George, Fabrizio Sabelli, Faith and Credit (San Francisco: Westview Press, 1994), pp. 80-84, 215.) 

Professor Lester Thurow explains:

The fundamental mathematics is clear. To run a trade deficit, a country must borrow from the rest of the world and accumulate international debt. Each year interest must be paid on this accumulated debt. Unless a country is running a trade surplus, it must borrow the funds necessary to make interest payments. Thus the annual amount that must be borrowed gets larger and larger, even if the trade deficit itself does not expand. As debts grow, interest payments grow. As interest payments grow, debt grows. As time passes the rate of debt accumulation speeds up, even if the basic trade deficit remains constant.( Lester Thurow, Head to Head: The Coming Economic Battle Among Japan , Europe , and America (New York: William Morrow, 1992), p. 232.). 

The size of a financial warfare debt trap can be controlled to claim all the surplus production of a society and the magic of compound interest assures those unjust debts are unsustainable. developing world debt climbed from $100-billion in 1973 to $1.7-trillion in 1999, to $2.5-trillion by 2003. With resource prices having dropped 60% the past 40 years and still dropping, obviously that debt cannot be paid. 

Most of these debts are incurred without the recipient country receiving any lasting benefits. In fact, only about $500-billion of that $2.5-trillion debt was borrowed finance capital; the rest was runaway compound interest (Michael Barratt Brown, Fair Trade (London: Zed Books, 1993), pp. 43, 113.) The situation is comparable to the loathsome form of slavery known as peonage.

In classic peonage, workers, though nominally free and legally free, are held in servitude by the terms of their indenture to their masters. Because their wages are set too low to buy the necessities, the master grants credit but restricts the worker to buying overpriced goods from the master's own store. As a result, each month the peon goes deeper and deeper into debt. For as long as the arrangement lasts, the peon cannot pay off the mounting debt and leave, and must keep on working for the master. Nigeria [and most other Third World countries] shares three crucial characteristics with a heroin-addicted debt-trap peon. First, both debts are unsecured consumer debts, made up of subsistence and spending-spree expenses, and with future income as the only collateral. Second, both loans are pure peonage loans, that is loans made not because of the potential of the project the loan is to be used for, but simply in order to secure legal control over the economic and political behavior of the debtor. Third, the only way made available for getting out of both debts is by getting into more debt.( Chinweiezu, Debt Trap Peonage, Monthly Review (November 1985): pp. 21-36.) 

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CANCEL DEBTS EVERY 7 YEARS

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 Deuteronomy 15:1 “1At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 2 This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel the loan he has made to his fellow Israelite. He shall not require payment from his fellow Israelite or brother, because the LORD's time for canceling debts has been proclaimed.3 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin.” (NIV)

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?:  Debts and especially interest cause the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer very fast.  These extremes cause much instability in society.  Especially since our societies are not giving people their natural economic rights, debts should be cancelled.  In many places burdensome debts destroy people’s futures and they have to spend all their time and energy just in paying off debts.  This severely limits the contributions they can make to society and makes it very difficult or impossible for them to follow their passions and dreams and become a useful and creative contributing citizen. This is why debts should be cancelled every 7 years. 

From: http://www.ied.info/books/ed/debt.html#_Toc35644544 

There are compelling reasons for paying attention to this potential for catastrophe as, every debt crisis in history since Solon of Athens has ended in inflation, bankruptcy or war, and there is no cause to believe we've solved this one, even if it has been postponed.(George, Fate Worse Than Debt, p. 196.) 

As much of this imposed debt can never be paid back, most developing world debt is severely discounted. As of June 1990, Argentina's debt traded at a low of 14.75-cents on the $1 while the average price of all developing world debt was 28-cents on the $1.( CNN News (June 28, 1990); David Felix, “Latin America 's Debt Crisis”, World Policy Journal (Fall 1990): p. 734.) Although it is being traded at a 72% discount, the indebted countries must still pay full price. After the financial collapse on the periphery of empire seven years later, discounts for those debts can only trade at a sharply higher discount. 

In the 1800s, the United States defaulted on much of its development debt, as did Latin America and others during the crisis of the Great Depression. American managers-of-state knew their nation became wealthy due to avoiding the monopolization of their economy, and their European cousins eventual sharing their industrial capital and markets. America returned that favor by sharing its wealth after WWII to rebuild the ancestral home of their culture. 

There was no expectation of that shared wealth being repaid. The rational decision, and one that Professor Lester Thurow and others consider the developed world's only choice, would be to also forgive the developing world's unjustly incurred and unpayable debts. (Thurow, Head to Head , p. 215. See also, Gowan, The Global Gamble; Gray, False Dawn (New York: The Free Press, 1998), and Longworth, Global Squeeze.)  The precedent has been set by earlier defaults, by the quickness of decisions to protect trading allies, and an honest accounting would find the developed world owing the developing world for the destruction of their social wealth, the earlier enslavement of their labor, and the long term underpayment for their labor and resources. 

Rutherford B. Hayes (19th U.S. President), from his personal diary, year not provided (between 1881-1891) December 4 Sunday. In church it occurred to me that it is time for the public to hear that the giant evil and danger in this country, the danger which transcends all others, is the vast wealth owned or controlled by a few persons. Money is power. In Congress, in state legislatures, in city councils, in the courts, in the political conventions, in the press, in the pulpit, in the circles of the educated and the talented, its influence is growing greater and greater. Excessive wealth in the hands of the few means extreme poverty, ignorance, vice, and wretchedness as the lot of the many 

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TRADE FAIRLY

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Leviticus 19:35 "Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. 36Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt.

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Micah 6:11And how can I tolerate all your merchants who use dishonest scales and weights.

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Amos 8:4 Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land… skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, 6 buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?:  This should be obvious on an individual level.  Cheating is not right and neither is price gouging and taking advantage of others.  But, consider that it may also apply on an international level (we’ve talked about this before in previous messages).  Unfair trades are a kind of economic warfare that destroys people’s abilities to provide for their basic needs. The tenets of capitalism as practiced now are largely opposed to Biblical economic principles. They emphasize greed and selfishness and getting whatever you can no matter who gets hurt or cheated out of their natural rights.  They work great for those who want to control others and want to legally confiscate the profits of others work for themselves.

From: http://www.ied.info/books/ed/externaltrade.html
The secret to siphoning away others' wealth is the low-paid labor in the poor nations and high profits and high wages in the rich societies that have dominated global trade for centuries. Arjun Makhijani calculates that, through an imbalance of currency values, equally-productive labor in the world's defeated, dependent nations were paid 20% that of the developed world, a 5-to-1 differential.(Arjun Makhijani, From Global Capitalism to Economic Justice (New York: Apex Press, 1992).)  Later currency collapses in the developing world may have doubled that differential to 10-to-1.

Wealth accumulation advantage from unequally-paid but equally-productive labor is not a linear progression, it is exponential. Consider how long the underpaid nation must work to buy one unit of wealth from the high-paid nation and then consider how many units of wealth the high-paid nation can purchase from the underpaid nation with the wages of their equally-productive labor working that same number of hours. 

The equally-productive worker in the poorly-paid nation produces a unique widget, is paid $1 an hour, and is producing one widget an hour. The equally-productive worker in the well-paid nation produces another unique widget, is paid $10 an hour, and also produces one widget per hour. Each equally-productive nation likes, and purchases, the other's widgets…The $1 an hour country must work 10 hours to buy one of the widgets of the $10 an hour country but, with the money earned in the same 10 hours, the $10 an hour country can buy 100 of the widgets of the $1 an hour nation. At that 10-times wage differential…there is an exponential 100-times differential in capital accumulation or buying power. 

http://www.ied.info/books/ed/freedom.html

Three tenets of capitalism are: pay the lowest possible price, charge all the market will bear, and give nothing to anybody. That is great philosophy for powerbrokers with a subtle monopoly on capital, technology, markets, and military might. It takes no deep thought to realize that these tenets of classical economic philosophy were implanted by an earlier power-structure to maximize its claims to the wealth of others (that feudal residue in our philosophy, laws, and customs). 

…French economic students understood that economic theory as taught had no relation to reality and in the fall of 2000 they protested and academic administrators agreed to address what heretofore had been “controversial” subjects. Twenty-seven Ph.D. economic students at the University of Cambridge, UK, signed a similar, but milder, letter of protest in 2001. 

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PAY FAIR WAGES

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 James 5:4 “For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.”  (see also Malachi 3:5)
 

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 Jeremiah 21:13 "Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice,  making his countrymen work for nothing,  not paying them for their labor….17 "your eyes and your heart  are set only on dishonest gain,  on shedding innocent blood  and on oppression and extortion."

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?: Remember the above quotes on the widgets.  If fair wages are paid, then extreme inequalities will end and so will poverty because everyone will have enough to pay for what they need.  There are several kinds of slavery…and one of them is economic.  If a person doesn’t have economic freedom, then it is very likely that he will be forced or oppressed by someone else. 

Leo Tolstoy wrote, “The essence of all slavery consists in taking the produce of another's labor by force. It is immaterial whether this force be founded upon ownership of the slave or ownership of the money that he must get to live.”  

From: http://www.ied.info/books/ed/externaltrade.html#_Toc35644427

As we have learned, in direct trades between countries, wealth accumulation advantage compounds in step with the pay differential for equally-productive labor. If the pay differential is 5, the difference in wealth accumulation advantage is 25-to-1. If the pay differential is 10, the wealth accumulation advantage is 100-to-1…If the pay differential is 60 (the pay differential between Russia and the victorious America [23-cents an hour against $14 an hour]), the wealth accumulation advantage is 3,600-to-1…Place a trader between those two unequally-paid nations to claim all surplus value both through outright underpaying in hard currency or through paying in soft currency and selling in hard currency, capitalize those profits by 10-to-20 times, and you have accumulated capital through capitalized value.11�  

Inequality in pay creates invisible borders that guide the world's wealth to imperial-centers-of-capital. Equal pay for equally-productive labor instantly eliminates those borders and alleviates world poverty. If unequal pay for equally-productive work were reduced to a 50% pay differential (an equally-productive $5-an-hour nation trading with a $10-an-hour nation), the wealth accumulation advantage of the high-paid nation in direct trades with low-paid nations would be reduced to a 4-times advantage. A $3-an-hour labor nation trading with a $4-an-hour labor nation incurs a doubling (1.77 times) of wealth potentially accumulated (or consumed) for the better-paid nation. When all have access to technology and markets and pay is equal for equally-productive work, the wealth retained (and available for accumulation or consumption) by each nation is equal. 

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CHARGE FAIR TAXES AND RENT

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 Amos 5:11 “You trample the poor and steal what little they have through taxes and unfair rent…14Do what is good and run from evil--that you may live! ”

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Ezekiel 45:13"This is the tax you must give to the prince: one bushel of wheat or barley for every sixty[8] you harvest, 14one percent of your olive oil,[9] 15and one sheep for every two hundred in your flocks in Israel. These will be the grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings that will make atonement for the people who bring them, says the Sovereign LORD. 16All the people of Israel must join the prince in bringing their offerings. 17The prince will be required to provide offerings that are given at the religious festivals, the new moon celebrations, the Sabbath days, and all other similar occasions. He will provide the sin offerings, burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink offerings, and peace offerings to make reconciliation for the people of Israel.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?: Unfair taxes can be another way for the rich to oppress the poor and siphon off their wealth.  We often talk about the “pork” in politics. And many taxes go to pay for “pork” political decisions.  Unfair taxation was done in Israel several times.   It was also one reason why America rebelled against Britain and fought for her independence. 

Charging rent that is unfair also is a kind of theft and makes people unable to pay for their basic necessities.  These 2 ideas can be combined in an idea called “land rent”.  More on this in a future e-mail, but here are a couple quotes to make you curious. 

Henry George (1839-1897), author of Progress and Poverty (1879) which outsold every book of its era but the Bible, distinguished between creation and production and urged us to "abolish all taxation save on the value of land." 

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), who kept a photo of George on his desk and whose dying words to passengers on a train were to tax land alone, told the Russian Czar and the world that "people do not argue with the teachings of George, they simply do not know it. And it is impossible to do otherwise with his teaching, for he who becomes acquainted with it cannot but agree." 

The Chinese philosopher Mencius said (in 2A:5):

"Respect the worthy and employ the capable; put talented people in key positions, then all the shih of the realm will be pleased and will want to be members of your court."

"In the market-places, charge land-rent, but don't tax the goods; or make concise regulations and don't even charge rent. Do this, and all the merchants in the realm will be pleased, and will want to set up shop in your markets."

"At the borders, make inspections but don't charge tariffs, then all the travelers in the realm will be pleased and will want to traverse your highways.

"If the farmers merely have to help each other with the government fields, and do not have to pay an additional tax, then all the farmers in the realm will be pleased, and will want to till your fields.

"If you do not charge fines to the unemployed in your marketplaces, then all the people in the realm will be pleased, and will want to become your subjects."

"If you are really able to put these five points into practice, then the people from the neighboring states will look up to you as a parent. Now, there has never been a case of someone being able to consistently succeed in making children attack their own parents. This being the case, you will have no enemies in the realm. The one who has no enemies in the realm is the vicegerent of Heaven. There is no case of one who attained to this level, and who did not attain to true kingship." 

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SHARE & BE GENEROUS TO THE POOR

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 Deut. 15:7"But if there are any poor people in your towns…, do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward them. 8Instead, be generous and lend them whatever they need. If you refuse to make the loan and the needy person cries out to the LORD, you will be considered guilty of sin. 10Give freely without begrudging it, and the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.

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 Leviticus 19:9 ”When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?:  Emergencies and disasters happen.  People need 2nd chances at becoming independent and self-sufficient.  If they do become self-sufficient, this will benefit the whole community, not just those who are helped.  Sharing with each other, especially the land and it’s resources with everyone working diligently will create something similar to the Age of Great Harmony that Confucius and Mencius in China talked about.

http://www.noogenesis.com/Confucius/harmony.html

When Confucius was sad about the state of the world he said in reply to a question as to why he was "overcome with sighs": 

Confucius' Great Harmony
When the Great Way prevailed, the world community was equally shared by all. The worthy and able were chosen as office-holders. Mutual confidence was fostered and good neighborliness cultivated. Therefore people did not regard as parents only their own parents, nor did they treat children only their own children. Provision was made for the aged till their death, the adults were given employment, and the young enabled to grow up. Old widows and widowers, the orphaned, the old and childless, as well as the sick and the disabled were all well taken care of. Men had their proper roles and women their homes. While they hated to see wealth lying about on the ground, they did not necessarily keep it for their own use. While they hated not to exert their effort, they did not necessarily devote it to their own ends. Thus evil schemings were repressed, and robbers, thieves and other lawless elements failed to arise, so that outer doors did not have to be shut. This was called the age of Great Harmony (Ta Tung)

...Now the Great Way has fallen into obscurity, . . . Each one separately loves his own parents; each looks upon his own children only as his children. People take the wealth of natural resources and the fruits of their own labors as their own. . . . Castle walls and outer defenses, moats and ditches, are made strong and secure. . . ."

Excerpt only of his full reply. Hsiao, Kung-chuan (trans. F. W. Mote). A History of Chinese Political Thought. Vol. 1: From the Beginnings to the Sixth Century A.D. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1979, p. 125.

Noted Confucius: "To implement my principle is nothing more than being honest and just."

Another Chinese philospher Mencius went to see King Hui of Liang:

The King said: "My good man, since you haven't thought one thousand li too far to come and see me, may I presume that you have something with which I can profit my kingdom?" 

Mencius said: "Why must you speak of profit? What I have for you is Humanity and Righteousness, and that's all. If you always say 'how can I profit my kingdom?' your top officers will ask, 'how can we profit our clans?' The shih1 and the common people will ask: 'how can we profit ourselves?' Superiors and inferiors will struggle against each other for profit, and the country will be in chaos." 

"In a kingdom of ten thousand chariots, the murderer of the sovereign is usually from a clan of one thousand chariots. In a thousand-chariot kingdom, the murderer of the sovereign is usually from a clan of one hundred chariots. Now, to have a thousand in ten thousand, or one hundred in a thousand is not really all that much. But if you put Righteousness last and profit first, no one will be satisfied unless they can grab something." 

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BE INDEPENDENT—DON’T SUPPORT DEPENDENCY

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 2 Thes. 3:10 “Even while we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘Whoever does not work should not eat.’”

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 1 Thessalonians 4:11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?:  When you create dependency in people, you are making them able to avoid the use of their skills and talents and you are causing them to be a drain on others and very likely the church.  If there are emergencies or unusual situations like orphans or widows or natural disasters, then help in any way possible is critical and necessary.  But, enabling someone to be lazy by getting handouts for free is directly against the Bible principles listed above.  A person who refuses to work should not be given food by those who work diligently.  We are to assist people to become independent and self-sufficient, NEVER dependent on us and our money. 

A missionary in Africa, pastor David Wilkinson, stresses self-reliance this way:
“The Bible teaches that the person who is not willing to work should not eat, he says: ‘If you have 150 people who you feed on a daily basis, and you don't have them lift a finger, you are disobedient to the Bible.’” 

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GIVE TITHES AND OFFERINGS

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 Malachi 3:8-12 “10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?:  This is the recognition that God created everything and is the due that he asks of those who believe in Him and honor Him.  Many great businessmen were and are faithful tithe payers.  Some include: Woolworth, J.C. Penny, Hershey, Rockefeller, Colgate and many others. 

New York Times best selling author Robert Allen shared his insights on money live on a radio show, The Mike Litman Show.  There were 7 skills (see them at: http://www.joshhinds.com/mlitman_articles/litman_rallen.html). 

The final skill was “SHARE YOUR MONEY”.  He said, “You've got to share your money. Frankly, for me, I pay my sharing first. Out of every dollar I get in, and out of every net profit that I get in, I pay 10% right off the top. It's the first money that I spend and then I live on the rest and I save the next 10%, then I spend the rest on taxes and shelter and cars and whatever else.” 

In Israel, tithe was used mostly for 4 things (the tithe in Israel may have been larger than 10%…with offerings it may have reached up to 25% of their income…but God promised that he would bless them if they followed this): 

TITHES USES

1)      TO SUPPORT PASTORS & BIBLE WORKERS (and by association evangelistic ministries)
Numbers 18:21: "I give to the Levites all the tithes in
Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.
"The tithe should go to those who labor in word and doctrine, be they men or women."EGW (MS 149, 1899).
"The tithe is sacred, reserved by God for Himself.  It is to be brought into His treasury to be used to sustain the gospel laborers in their work." (GW 226).

2)      TITHE IS TO BE EATEN WITH JOY IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD with family and friends and co-workers. (this one surprised me actually)
Deuteronomy 12:17 You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts. 18Instead, you are to eat them in the presence of the LORD your God at the place the LORD your God will choose-you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites from your towns-and you are to rejoice before the LORD your God in everything you put your hand to. 19 Be careful not to neglect the Levites as long as you live in your land.

Deuteronomy 14 (note: the wine here is most likely fresh grape juice since that was the best wine of the ancient peoples)

22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. 24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), 25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. 26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice. 27 And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.

3)      1/3 OF TITHE IS TO BE USED FOR THE POOR & DISADVANTAGED
Deuteronomy 22:28 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

12 When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. 13 Then say to the LORD your God: "I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them. 14 I have not eaten any of the sacred portion while I was in mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor have I offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the LORD my God; I have done everything you commanded me. 15 Look down from heaven, your holy dwelling place, and bless your people Israel and the land you have given us as you promised on oath to our forefathers, a land flowing with milk and honey."

4)      FESTIVALS ARE SUPPORTED BY THE OFFERINGS TO THE CHURCH AS GOD HAS BLESSED US
Deuteronomy 16
Feast of Weeks
9 Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. 10 Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you. 11 And rejoice before the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name-you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, the Levites in your towns, and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows living among you. 12 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees.

Feast of Tabernacles
13 Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 Be joyful at your Feast-you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. 15 For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.
16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed: 17 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you. 

So, tithe and offerings are another way to alleviate poverty as well as help people enjoy and celebrate the worship of our creator God who made us. 

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CONCLUSION

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On the surface, it may appear that this will make people a lot poorer.  But, in reality, when you have everyone’s opportunities and abilities maximized as they would be when everyone has all of their natural and God given economic rights, the benefit to the nation and eventually to each individual in the nation will be exponentially increased. 

There is no cause for concern if we follow these principles. 

I recently read these things from Ellen White and they are quite eloquent as a conclusion to this topic. Prayerfully read and consider these ideas!

No one can give place in his own heart and life for the stream of God's blessing to flow to others, without receiving in himself a rich reward. The hillsides and plains that furnish a channel for the mountain streams to reach the sea suffer no loss thereby. That which they give is repaid a hundredfold. For the stream that goes singing on its way leaves behind its gift of verdure and fruitfulness. The grass on its banks is a fresher green, the trees have a richer verdure, the flowers are more abundant. When the earth lies bare and brown under the summer's parching heat, a line of verdure marks the river's course; and the plain that opened her bosom to bear the mountain's treasure to the sea is clothed with freshness and beauty, a witness to the recompense that God's grace imparts to all who give themselves as a channel for its outflow to the world. {MB 81.3}

This is the blessing of those who show mercy to the poor. The prophet Isaiah says, "Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily. . . . And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought: . . . and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." Isaiah 58:7-11. {MB 82.1}

The work of beneficence is twice blessed. While he that gives to the needy blesses others, he himself is blessed in a still greater degree. The grace of Christ in the soul is developing traits of character that are the opposite of selfishness,--traits that will refine, ennoble, and enrich the life. Acts of kindness performed in secret will bind hearts together, and will draw them closer to the heart of Him from whom every generous impulse springs. The little attentions, the small acts of love and self-sacrifice, that flow out from the life as quietly as the fragrance from a flower--these constitute no small share of the blessings and happiness of life. And it will be found at last that the denial of self for the good and happiness of others, however humble and uncommended here, is recognized in heaven as the token of our union with Him, the King of glory, who was rich, yet for our sake became poor. {MB 82.2} 

HOW DID JEWISH RABBIS IMPLEMENT THESE LAWS

This is a list of questions and answers that I received from expert orthodox rabbis in answer to questions about the Jubilee economic system of the Old Testament.  I have been reading and comparing from several sources:

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The Old Testament Jubilee economic system

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A new political theory called “Cooperative Democratic Capitalism” which seems to have many similarities to the Jubilee system (canceling debts, “land rent” which is similar to the Jubilee system in it’s understanding that land belongs to all people, etc.).  A good book on this is at: http://www.ied.info/books/ed/synopsis.html

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3 orthodox Jewish rabbis
--Rabbi P. Waldman from Aish.com <Pwaldman@aish.com> &
--Rabbi N. Silberberg from AskMoses.com mailman@askmoses.com
--Rabbi Lewis Littman
--
RABBIS OF ERETZ HEMDAH (the premier Post-Graduate Institute for training young rabbis)

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Books by Ellen White that explain some how the Jewish system worked and the church in Acts where there was no poverty. Especially Ministry of Healing and quotes like this: “None need fear that their liberality would bring them to want. Obedience to God's commandments would surely result in prosperity. "For this thing," God said, "the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto." "Thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee." Deuteronomy 15:10, 6. {MH 187.1}” Some of her writings are start on page 3 of this file.

Hi,

I’ve been reading a lot on the Old Testament laws on economics that G-d gave to Israel and also have a Jewish friend.  From what I’ve read, I’m wondering a couple things.  First, I know that these were the economics principles that G-d gave Israel in order for there to be no poor in the land…as he says in Deuteronomy 15:4-5, “However, there should be no poor among you…if only you fully obey the LORD your G-d…”  I’m interested in learning how to apply these principles in our personal or temple/church lives today.  Here are the principles as I understand them with my connected questions:

1)      LAND: Since G-d said, “The land is Mine” and people were just stewards (Leviticus 25:23), all land was supposed to be divided equally and never sold permanently…only sold for a maximum of 49 years (Leviticus 25).

QUESTION:  What happened to all the improvements and buildings and additions that were made to the land.  Were they just all given back to the original owners with the land or was there some kind of compensation given to the one who built everything up.

ASK MOSES ANSWER: The seller would have to compensate the buyer for any improvements made on the lot…. It isn't difficult for the courts to find a professional appraiser who can estimate the value of any improvements done on the lot. (by seller, the rabbi is meaning the man who has taken ownership of the land from the permanent owner…more accurately, this would be the leasee from my understanding of the Bible...the one who has leased it from the original owner would be paid for any improvements that he has made on the land and this would be appraised by an independent appraiser and assessed.)

AISH RABBI ANSWER: It all depended on the original sale agreement.  If there were (common acceptable) improvements that were not agreed upon in the beginning, and the land is worth more, they would come to some agreement whereby expenses or improveme
nts would be paid, whichever is less - (source: Talmud Baba Metzia 101a).

RABBI LEWIS LITTMAN ANSWER: Regarding the Jubilee year, the Torah itself indicates that land could only be sold for a price related to the value of crops in the years remaining to the next Jubilee. In essence, a seller was being compensated for produce which had not yet grown. The text refers only to agricultural land. According to the Torah, land or property in a walled city could be sold in perpetuity. After a year, the seller had no right of redemption. Whether the rules of the Jubilee year were ever actually practiced is unknown.

For a useful discussion of the Jubilee year, you might want to see if there is available to you a copy of "The Torah - A Modern Commentary," edited by W, Gunther Plaut and published by the UAHC. Check pages 940 ff.

RABBIS OF ERETZ HEMDAH: Land that was sold in perpetuity or with no return date reverted to its original owner in the Jubilee year.  The value of whatever improvements were made by the buyer’s remain with the buyers. Code of Maimonides, Laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years, ch. 11, para. 2,7-8

2)      INTEREST:  Israel was not supposed to charge interest to other Israelis.

QUESTION: If an Israeli lent money to another person to start a business or to make profit, would the lender be able to make some profit…like an investment…or was that banned.

ASK MOSES ANSWER: Yes, you write a document which states that the lender is actually a silent partner in the borrowers business venture, and therefore can take part of the profit.

AISH RABBI ANSWER: As special contract has to be drawn up, stating that they are partners in a business deal, which has chances of loss as well - (source: "Code of Jewish Law" Y.D. 177:2).

RABBIS OF ERETZ HEMDAH: Jews are permitted to loan money, to invest in a business, whether one’s own or another’s, and to receive dividends.  In fact, Jewish law provides a method by which a loan may be converted into an investment under certain circumstances so that the repayment becomes a return of capital and/or dividends.  (All Israeli banks have such specific agreements with their customers.)

3)      CANCELLING DEBTS/ LENDING:  Every 7 years debts were supposed to be cancelled (Deut. 15:1-4). People were supposed to lend freely to any who had needs even if it was near the time for canceling debts (Deut. 15:7-11).

QUESTION:  How did they avoid abuses of people asking for money who really didn’t need it and then never paying it back?

ASK MOSES ANSWER: People had to lend wisely. You had to know and trust the borrower. Incidentally, the prohibition is only for the lender to demand the money, but the borrower is still allowed to repay the debt (as a gift...). This was certainly common practice amongst decent people.

AISH RABBI ANSWER: A special contract (called "Pruzbal") was formulated to give all the loan repayment obligations to the rabbinical court, who would in turn repay such last minute loans - (source: Talmud Gittin 34b).

RABBI LEWIS LITTMAN ANSWER: Just a couple of additions. Regarding loans, I did not note in the materials you forwarded to me a discussion of the "prosbul." This was a procedure initiated by Hillel (first century C.E.), which enabled a creditor to assign his claim to the court prior to the Sabbatical year. The court would secure the loan with real property of the borrower, which continued to be surety for a loan after the Sabbatical year. In this way, a claim did not end with the Sabbatical year, debtors were still obligated, and creditors were still protected.

RABBIS OF ERETZ HEMDAH: Although debts were cancelled during the Sabbatical year, Jewish law found a way to prevent abuses by borrowers who refused or delayed payment of their loans.  The Torah prohibits an individual lender from collecting payment after the Sabbatical year.  Provision is made, however, for turning over one’s debts to the court for collection thereby avoiding the prohibition on individual lenders collecting monies owed them.

4)      NEW BUSINESSES: A Jewish friend of mine has said that for centuries, Jews have lent money to creative people with ideas for new businesses in their communities.  If the business succeeded, they tried to hire other Jews in the business.  If the business failed the person didn’t have to repay the loan.  He said that they would even lend money a 2nd time if the first business failed. 

QUESTIONS:  Did the investors make a profit if the business succeeded? Did the person repay their debt if the business succeeded? How did the leaders decide who received money?  How were the leaders chosen who decided who got the money?  How was the money received from the community and managed until distributed?  Did they give training/advice to the new business?  What kinds? 

ASK MOSES ANSWER: I've never heard of something of this sort. No normal person would lend hard-earned money without a guarantee that he would receive the money in return.

AISH RABBI ANSWER:  See #2 above.

RABBI LEWIS LITTMAN ANSWER:  Finally, in regard to loans for a business. I can't cite examples, but I can tell you that this relationship falls under the general heading of "Iska," or "limited partnership," where one person provides the capital to another who will actually run the business. The rabbis considered half of the capital thus provided to be a loan, from which the capitalist could derive no benefit. The remaining half was not a loan, and from that the provider shared in any profits or losses. Authorities in various times and places adjusted the percentages, but the principle remained the same - such a source of funding could benefit to at least some degree. The Talmud, Rashi's commentaries, and Maimonides Mishne Torah all deal with this subject.

An excellent text on all such matters, though I suspect it is out of print, is "The Spirit of Jewish Law," by George Horowitz, New York, Central Book Company, 1963.

RABBIS OF ERETZ HEMDAH: Since throughout history Jews have been discriminated against and denied access to the larger society’s commercial institutions, Jews have established their own business networks, using the provisions for investment described above.  Many communities maintained an interest free loan fund, and some still do.  Such funds are generally overseen by a committee selected from the community itself.  Since Jews were denied entry to medieval guilds and subsequently discriminated against in employment, Jews tended to employ other Jews, both as a means of support for each other and the unavailability of non-Jewish employees.

5)      SHARING POSSESSIONS:  Did Jews ever share possessions like the early Christian church?  If so, how?  Was it by putting all possessions in a common place? By chance?  By listing all members possessions?  Was anything excluded from community ownership? 

ASK MOSES ANSWER: Other than the various tithes and gifts to the poor, Judaism never sanctioned universally shared property.

AISH RABBI ANSWER:  Land was divided by tribes, and partnerships were common - (source: Joshua).

RABBIS OF ERETZ HEMDAH: Jews never had a system of communal sharing of property as did the
Early Church.  In modern times the kibbutzim (communal farms) in pre- and post-statehood Israel did adopt a system of shared property.  As time goes on more and more kibbutzim are limiting which property is shared and are moving to private ownership of many items previously held by the kibbutz.

6)      Also, what are the best ways that we could apply these to a community setting such as a synogogue, church, etc.

ASK MOSES ANSWER: I don't see how any of the above laws can be applied to a house of worship – other than perhaps establishing a fund which would lend money to people in need interest-free.

others didn’t answer…

WHAT CAN THE CHURCH DO

The church is already doing a lot to help the poor and hungry around the world…so this will focus more on what the church itself can do to increase its financial power and ability to make an even greater difference in the lives of the poor.

1)      PRINCIPLE: Adopt as a church something like the principle that the Mennonite church has at: http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/about/cof/art.21.htm) I don’t agree of course with their idea of stewardship of time on Sunday instead of Saturday in the first part, but this part is very Biblical):

We acknowledge that God as Creator is owner of all things. In the Old Testament, the Sabbath year and the Jubilee year were practical expressions of the belief that the land is God's and the people of
Israel belong to God(Leviticus 25:23, 42, 55). Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry, announced the year of the Lord's favor, often identified with Jubilee. Through Jesus, the poor heard good news, captives were released, the blind saw, and the oppressed went free(Luke 4:16-21). The first church in Jerusalem put Jubilee into practice by preaching the gospel, healing the sick, and sharing possessions. Other early churches shared financially with those in need.( Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15)

As stewards of God's earth, we are called to care for the earth and to bring rest and renewal to the land and everything that lives on it(Psalms 24:1; Genesis 1:26-28). As stewards of money and possessions, we are to live simply, practice mutual aid within the church, uphold economic justice, and give generously and cheerfully(Phillipians 4:11-12; 2 Corinthians 8:13-14; James 5:4; 2 Corinthians 9:7). As persons dependent on God's providence, we are not to be anxious about the necessities of life, but to seek first the kingdom of God(Matthew 6:24-33). We cannot be true servants of God and let our lives be ruled by desire for wealth. 

We are called to be stewards in the household of God, set apart for the service of God. We live out now the rest and justice which God has promised(Matthew 11:28-29; Revelation 7:15-17).  The church does this while looking forward to the coming of our Master and the restoration of all things in the new heaven and new earth.

2)      STEWARDSHIP TRAINING: Help believers understand principles of Christian stewardship, sacrifice, budgeting, etc.  Teach people how to think about what they want vs. what they really need...This should be part of the core classes taught to all new believers (see "Purpose Driven Church" for other aspects of the core classes).  Teach people the fact that ALL wealth comes from land and the resources of nature.  Therefore all wealth derives from God and should be used for his glory and purposes.  We are just stewards.

3)      PRO-INDEPENDENCE Through ADRA, education, health ministries, and other agencies of the church continue and increase our emphasis on helping people to become independent under the Lordship of Jesus.

4)      SHARE BIBLICAL ECONOMICS PRINCIPLES WITH GOVT. LEADERS:  Try to show the leaders the source of their economic problems so they can do something that will recognize the rights of all to the land and it’s natural resources…

5)      ENCOURAGE CHRISTIAN BUSINESSES & GIVE NO INTEREST LOANS: Follow the Jewish principle of believers setting up diligent young Christian men (and women) in their own businesses without the risk of huge debts if they failed.  The community can give no-interest loans to members with ideas that have potential.  In the Jewish system it seems that if a person failed, he was not required to repay the loan. But, if it succeeded, then the debt would be repaid and fellow believers would be hired and some profits would be invested in the community fund to help other businesses get a start. Christians could follow a similar pattern (This of course would have to be done with proposals that have a good chance of success and with business advice from experienced people in the church and probably wise to do it with lawyers since even in the church some people lack integrity).  This would provide more jobs and finances for God's work to progress.

6)      BUSINESS TRAINING & PROFIT-SHARING:  People would be taught to run their businesses according to Christian principles and utilize ideas like profit sharing and workers making many decisions like Robert Owen and the Mondragon co-ops and a number of the largest and most successful companies in the world.

7)      LAND RENT: Try to encourage the ideas of land rent tax in our cities (land rent is something that is very similar to the Jubilee land system and has worked in places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, California to name just a few)...more on this later...but it really improves the economy whereever it's tried.  Show that other forms of tax are unjust and a form of robbery (which we should submit to, but we can still try to change since it is against the laws of nature for someone to take a part of that which is produced.  Only things of nature that people borrow from society should be taxed for the good of the community...things like land, forests, oil, etc.)  I'll send you an explanation of this later...but it's a principles that hundreds of philosophers and politicians east and west, christian and atheist, ancient and modern support as the only logical tax system and it has striking similarities to the Bible's Jubilee system and accomplishes nearly the same principle of fairly equal distribution of land and wealth, but not by force...rather by choice.

8)      JOBS FOR NEW BELIEVERS:  Ellen White writes that the Church should support new believers who sacrifice their jobs to follow Christ.  The church needs to do its best to make sure these people can support themselves as they decide to follow God’s truth.

Help for New Converts out of Employment.--In our benevolent work special help should be given to those who, through the presentation of the truth, are convicted and converted. We must have a care for those who have the moral courage to accept the truth, who lose their situations in consequence, and are refused work by which to support their families. Provision should be made to aid the worthy poor and to furnish employment for those who love God and keep His commandments. They should not be left without help, to feel that they are forced to work on the Sabbath or starve. Those who take their position on the Lord's side are to see in Seventh-day Adventists a warmhearted, self-denying, self-sacrificing people, who cheerfully and gladly minister to their brethren in need. It is of this class especially that the Lord speaks when He says: "Bring the poor that are cast out to thy house." Isaiah 58:7.--Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 85. {WM 184.1}

9)      DON’T ENCOURAGE LAZINESS
Some know nothing of denying self and economizing to keep out of debt and to get a little ahead for a time of need. If the church should help such individuals instead of leaving them to rely upon their own resources, it would injure them in the end, for they look to the church and expect to receive help from them and do not practice self-denial and economy when they are well provided for. And if they do not receive help every time, Satan tempts them, and they become jealous and very conscientious for their brethren, fearing they will fail to do all their duty to them. The mistake is on their own part. They are deceived. They are not the Lord's poor. {WM 185.3}

When you expend money consider, "Am I encouraging prodigality?" When you give to the poor and wretched consider, "Am I helping them, or hurting them?" . . . {WM 187.3}

10)  SHARING AGENCIES:  Make ministries in local churches and nationally where people can share their needs with other believers and those who can fill them can be matched together.  They may be in tools or training or whatever... This would save believers HUGE amounts of money.

11)  SUSTAIN THE POOR:  Use money wisely to help widows, orphans, the hungry and others who are destitute to take care of their basic needs and give them opportunities to improve their lives by diligent effort.

12)  SELLING EXTRA LAND AND POSSESSIONS:  Encourage Christians who are wealthy to sell lands and extra houses that are not productive or to let church members use them until they make them productive or sell them.

13)  PAY OFF BELIEVERS DEBTS:  This one is questionable…but I think it has a lot of value.  I don’t know if this should be limited or not…but there was no poverty among the early believers.  Maybe we as a church should help pay off the debts of other believers? Not any debts probably..but need debts such as education and housing… If we can help everyone to be independent economically it would be a great burden off of those who are in the church…it would require unselfishness…etc.  but over a longer period of time it might make everyone independent financially and able to pursue their dreams of how to serve God without the terrible pressure of debt.  Again, those who participate this would have to be meeting the Bible principle of working diligently or not eating.  But, I think this has potential if done wisely and accurately.  If we as believers are part of the same family…then like blood families that support the weakest and the young, we also should do that and maybe this extends to freeing people from the bondage of debt through teaching them principles of stewardship and financial help as well.  Freeing everyone to follow God’s dreams for them would seem to have an almost inevitable positive effect on the church…

14)  USE CHURCH LANDS/RESOURCES TO HELP PEOPLE BECOME INDEPENDENT:  Tony Campolo says that most churches are some of the most wasteful buildings that are used mostly once or twice a week for a few hours.  Why not make them places to help people start on the road to independence.  In his church they have started several small businesses for poor church members: moving van services and copier replacement services among others.

15)  CANCEL DEBTS: If a person is working and diligent, but has debts, all should help to pay them off (But, if a person is lazy and doesn't work, not even food should be donated to help him according to the Bible). If it is to a Christian who doesn't have urgent need for money, cancelling the debt should be considered so as to help the person be free and independent economically as soon as possible.

16)  BUY FROM EACH OTHER: Encourage people to buy from believer's businesses if possible.

17)  PROVIDE LAND FOR POOR FAMILIES
Where the school is established [in Australia] there must be land for orchards and gardens, that students may have physical exercise combined with mental taxation, and half and some wholly pay their way at school. Also ground must be purchased, that families that cannot obtain work in the cities because of the observance of the Sabbath may buy small farms and make their own living. This is a positive necessity in this country. Education must be given in regard to tilling the soil, and we must expect that the Lord will bless this effort. --Manuscript 23, 1894. {WM 184.2}

These are some practical things I think that could be done to implement the acts or principles of the Bible in OT and Acts times.  I'm still looking for more examples of churches who are practicing this, but think that the ones that began doing it will experience great blessings...

WEBSITES TO READ FURTHER ON

1) the biblical in this file and http://www.landreform.org/reading0.htm will help you get an idea of the Biblical economic concepts.

2) The land rent remedy (similar but not the same as the Jubilee system) is outlined briefly at: http://www.henrygeorge.org/rem0.htm (fairly short explanation of the issue with illustrations and answers to most questions...could get through it in 20 minutes or less I think...)

3) Many famous thinkers throughout history from all spectrums have recommended this approach http://www.progress.org/geonomy/thinkers.html (a few quotes) and http://www.cooperativeindividualism.org/georgism_01.html (a long list of quotes on the subject) and 27 famous examples past and present where poverty was mostly or wholly eliminated (read especially the ones listed below) are at: http://www.progress.org/geonomy/geono05.htm

4) read http://www.ied.info/books/ed/synopsis.html (esp. chapter 24 which is on the land problem). This book is an amazing outline of how we can eliminate poverty worldwide in a few years…very practical! 

4 REAL EXAMPLES OF POVERTY BEING REDUCED/ELIMINATED(from Confucius to California) 

  1. EARLY AMERICA
    In early America, destitution and hunger was almost unknown.  Benjamin Franklin wrote:

"In every part of North America," wrote Franklin in 1788, while President of the Supreme Council, virtually Governor, of Pennsylvania, "necessaries of life are cheaper than in England. Scarcity is unknown there. . . . The price of labor in money being higher than in England, and provisions cheaper, the actual wages, that is, the amount of necessary articles which the day laborer can buy, is so much the greater." ("Reflections on the Augmentation of Wages which will be occasioned in Europe by the American Revolution," Franklin's Writings, Bigelow Edition, Vol. X, p. 53.)

"The truth is," said Franklin, "that though there are in that country few people so miserable as the poor of Europe, there are also very few that in Europe would be called very rich; it is rather a happy mediocrity that prevails. There are few great proprietors of the soil and few tenants. Most people cultivate their own lands, or follow some handicraft or merchandise, and few are rich enough to live idly upon their rents and incomes." (Franklin's Writings, Bigelow Edition, Vol. VIII, p. 172.)

Benjamin Franklin wrote that "land being cheap in that country (the US), from the vast forests still void of inhabitants, and not likely to be occupied in an age to come, in so much that the property of a hundred acres of fertile soil full of wood may he obtained near the frontiers (in many places, for eight or ten guineas) hearty young laboring men who understand the husbandry of corn and cattle, which is nearly the same in that country as in Europe, may easily establish themselves there. A little money saved of the good wages they receive there while they work for others enables them to buy the land and begin the plantation, in which they are assisted by the good will of their neighbors and some credit.  Multitudes of poor people from England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany have by this means in a few years become [relatively] wealthy farmers, who, in their own countries, where all the lands were fully occupied and the wages of labor low, could never have emerged from the poor condition wherein they were born."

  1.  TAIWAN: Taiwan, 1940s. Old Formosa was mired in poverty and fast breeding. Hunger afflicted the majority of people who were landless peasants. Less than 20 families monopolized the entire island. Then the Nationalist Army, led by Chiang Kai-shek, retreated to Taiwan. General Chiang figured he lost mainland China in part by not reforming land-holding. Chiang did not want to risk losing his last refuge east of that isle lay nothing but open ocean.

    A follower of Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China and an adherent of Henry George, Chiang knew of the Single Tax. Borrowing a page from George via Sun, the new Nationalist Government of Taiwan instituted its "land to the tiller program" which taxed farmland according to its value. Soon the large plantation owners found themselves paying out about as much in taxes as they were getting back as Rent. Being a middleman was no longer worth the bother, so they sold off their excess to farmers at prices the peasants could afford.

    Working their own land with newly marketed fertilizers, new owners worked harder. They produced more, and after years of paying taxes to cover the onerous public debt, at last kept more and lived better. From 1950 to 1970 population growth dropped 40%, and hunger was ended. (Altho' Taiwan did receive a billion dollars from the US, it was mostly military aid, spread out over eight years.) Taiwan began to set world records with growth rates of 10% per annum in their GDP and 20% in their industry. (Fred Harrison, Power in the Land, 1983)
     

  2. CALIFORNIA: 1890s. Back then, many farmers and miners went without water because cattlemen like Henry Miller owned 1,000,000 acres of land. Miller could drive his herds from Mexico to Oregon and spend every night on his own land. In 1886 Miller won full rights to the water of the Kern River.

    Some people concerned with justice figured the cattlemen had gone far enough. The state government passed the 1887 Wright Act, which allowed communities to create by popular vote irrigation districts to build dams and canals and pay for them by taxing the resultant rise in land value. Once irrigated, land was too valuable to use for grazing, and the tax made it too costly for hoarding. So cattlemen sold off fields to farmers and at prices the farmers could afford.

    In ten years, the Central Valley was transformed into over 7,000 independent farms. Over the next few decades, those tree-less, semi-arid plains became the "bread basket of America", one of the most productive areas on the planet. (magazine of the Historical Society of California)
     

  3. CHINA
    Confucius' Great Harmony
    Calligraphy by Dr. Ernest Chu Yen
    http://www.noogenesis.com/Confucius/harmony.html 

    Translation:
    When the Great Way prevailed, the world community was equally shared by all. The worthy and able were chosen as office-holders. Mutual confidence was fostered and good neighborliness cultivated. Therefore people did not regard as parents only their own parents, nor did they treat children only their own children. Provision was made for the aged till their death, the adults were given employment, and the young enabled to grow up. Old widows and widowers, the orphaned, the old and childless, as well as the sick and the disabled were all well taken care of. Men had their proper roles and women their homes. While they hated to see wealth lying about on the ground, they did not necessarily keep it for their own use. While they hated not to exert their effort, they did not necessarily devote it to their own ends. Thus evil schemings were repressed, and robbers, thieves and other lawless elements failed to arise, so that outer doors did not have to be shut. This was called the age of Great Harmony (Ta Tung)

another translation is here:

When Confucius was sad about the state of the world he said in reply to a question as to why he was "overcome with sighs": 
"When the Great Way [Dao] was in practice, a public and common spirit ruled everything under Heaven; men of talent, virtue, and ability were selected; sincerity was emphasised and harmonious relationships were cultivated. Thus men did not love only their parents, nor did they treat as children only their own children. A competent provision was secured for the aged till their death, employment was given to the able-bodied, and a means was provided for the upbringing of the young. Kindness and compassion were shown to widows, orphans, childless men, and those who were disabled by disease, so that they were sufficiently maintained. . . . selfish schemings were thwarted and did not develop. Bandits and thieves, rebels and trouble-makers did not show themselves. Hence the outer doors of houses never had to be closed. This was call the Great Community [datong].
...Now the Great Way has fallen into obscurity, . . . Each one separately loves his own parents; each looks upon his own children only as his children. People take the wealth of natural resources and the fruits of their own labors as their own. . . . Castle walls and outer defenses, moats and ditches, are made strong and secure. . . ."

Excerpt only of his full reply. Hsiao, Kung-chuan (trans. F. W. Mote). A History of Chinese Political Thought. Vol. 1: From the Beginnings to the Sixth Century A.D. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1979, p. 125.

Noted Confucius: "To implement my principle is nothing more than being honest and just."

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INTRODUCTION TO BIBLICAL ECONOMICS

My interest in this topic was first piqued when I started reading on a new theory called “Cooperative Democratic Capitalism” which advocates fair trade, debt cancellation, the single tax (taxation only of land value and nothing else) and many other things that ensure that fair economic treatment of all…no special privileges to any class and the rights to self-determination.  Their theory is quite impressive and more importantly has proved effective in history and in some countries and cities currently at greatly reducing or eliminating poverty and hunger and destitution. You can read the book on this concept at: http://www.ied.info/books.html   (esp. read chapters 14, 24 & 25)

Until that time, I had thought that eliminating poverty was something that could not be accomplished in this world.  It was something that must wait until heaven.  But, this book showed that it might be possible to eliminate the worst excesses of poverty in the here and now.  Also interesting were that many of its solutions were extremely similar to Bible principles that I had read and it talked of places where they had been implemented.   This pushed me to investigate more carefully the ancient economic wisdom of the Bible.  I knew the prophets often protested against economic oppression and I knew some about the Jubilee system.  I also knew that the 1st Christian church succeeded in eliminating poverty among their members (Acts 4).  But, I wanted to know how all these things could work in practice.  I have always been interested in things that work in practice, and when some of these ideas that have been followed in history (there are at least 30 cases of societies benefiting greatly from the “land rent” idea for example…) they have created far better societies and more equal rights and opportunities than any other system in history including capitalism. They have been able to eliminate hunger and poverty in several cases and that is exciting.

The below sections will outline some principles from the Bible and Jewish sources and Ellen Whtie and compare them with some of the cooperative democratic capitalism ideas and suggest ways we can implement them in the church. 

Ellen White writes strongly about how important it is to make people self-sufficient, starting with the church members in our own church and then those outside the church who are in difficulties.  But there are very specific ways that it should be done which she outlines.  Unfortunately, not many people are aware of this and while there are many agencies to help the hungry and starving…there are far fewer that are helping people support themselves…and few of these are in local churches.  There is a great improvement needed in this area and Ellen White writes that if we engage in this work it will enliven the churches.  It is obvious that this would be very attractive to people who have very pressing financial needs.  If they saw that the church could answer these problems in wise ways…they and the communities around them would see much more practical benefit to following God’s principles and converts to God’s truth would be multiplied. This is also what Ellen White predicts will happen and I think it is very true.

Below are several sections outlining the ideas and some beginning suggestions on how to implement them.

Our modern world is experiencing drastic extremes in economic power.  Some peoples are very advanced and educated with much technology.  Millions of others can’t even read or write and go through privation on a daily basis.  There is a good case to be made that our present society has some of the worst extremes in poverty and wealth that have existed in history.  Here are some statistics 

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“The combined wealth of the world's 200 richest people hit $1 trillion in 1999; the combined incomes of the 582 million people living in the 43 least developed countries is $146 billion."--Human Development Report 2000, p. 82, United Nations Development Programme

When people are suffering so terribly, is it possible that the church has nothing to say to these facts that cause sickness, AIDS, war and uncountable deaths?  Is it possible that God would be silent and have no answer for these tragedies that we face?  NO! It cannot be possible. And it is not a fact.  As you will see from the texts below, in the Bible God many times spoke through his prophets about principles of economics which would eliminate destitution and oppression.  Here are a few examples:

1) In Ezekiel 18 the characteristics of a righteous man are listed.  They include:

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 being a merciful creditor

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 one who does not rob the poor but instead gives food to the hungry and provides clothes for people in need.

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 one who does not exploit the poor, but instead is fair to debtors and does not rob them.

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 one who does not lend money at interest, and obeys all God’s regulations and laws

2) Jeremiah 21:13 "Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice,  making his countrymen work for nothing,  not paying them for their labor….17 "your eyes and your heart  are set only on dishonest gain,  on shedding innocent blood  and on oppression and extortion."

3) Psalm 15:5 “Those who do not charge interest on the money they lend, and who refuse to accept bribes to testify against the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.”

4) Nehemiah 5:7 "You are oppressing your own relatives by charging them interest when they borrow money!" …You are selling them (our Jewish relatives) back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?" And they had nothing to say in their defense. 9Then I pressed further, "What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God in order to avoid being mocked by enemy nations? …but now let us stop this business of loans…Repay the interest you charged…12Then they replied, "We will give back everything and demand nothing more from the people. We will do as you say." Then I called the priests and made the nobles and officials formally vow to do what they had promised. 13I said, "If you fail to keep your promise, may God shake you from your homes and from your property!"

Christians who believe in God’s good news, also have much good news to share with God’s people in economics.  It cannot be that the church that follows God should be silent on something that He is obviously concerned about and that has such a big effect on human life!

EXEGESIS OF BIBLICAL POVERTY

What is the Biblical definition of poverty? E. Carl Beisner writes this:

Interestingly enough, an exhaustive study of the Biblical vocabulary of poverty and its usage shows that this is precisely what the Bible means by poverty, when it speaks of material poverty.[12] In the New Testament, for instance, we find reference to three economic classes: 

1. The first group is the rich, for whom the word is ploúsios, need not work to survive, or even to thrive, but can live entirely on the earnings of their investments in others' labor. (This does not mean that the Bible assumes that the rich never work. They may work, and many work very hard.) 

2. The second group consists of those who lack none of their daily necessities, but who do not have sufficient wealth to hire others to do their work for them. These people, the pén s, may be identified with those today who must work for a living rather than living on the interest and dividends of savings and investments. It is common to translate pén s "poor." If this is understood simply to mean "not rich," it may be unobjectionable. But if it implies destitution or need for charitable support, it is certainly wrong. The noun comes from the verb pénamai, "to work for one's living." As such it might better be translated, in its only occurrence in the New Testament (2 Cor. 9:9), "laborer."[13] 

3. The third group consists of people who are so destitute that they must depend on charity for survival. They cannot sustain themselves, usually because they are too old or young or handicapped to work. These, for whom the Greek word is pt chós, are the truly poor.[14] They have nothing and can get nothing by their own labor. They and they alone, in the New Testament, are presented as proper recipients of systematic charitable giving simply because they are poor.[15] 

Some finer distinctions may be made between the second and third classes, and there are several other words sometimes used in the New Testament, as well as several in the Old, to designate the poor and the laboring classes, in addition to words and usages having to do not with economic but with social, legal, or spiritual status.

OPPRESSIVE DEBT CAUSES WAR AND VIOLENCE

Full report at: http://www.caat.org.uk/information/publications/economics/debt-and-development-0599.php

Written by Susan Willett, May 1999
Funding for the research was provided by the Trust for Research
and Education on the Arms Trade (TREAT)

Preface

This report highlights the inextricable links between war and conflict on the one hand, and high levels of debt on the other. Germany's high levels of First World War debt degraded her economy and provided a breeding ground for militarism and fascism. Today a similar pattern is repeated in the poorest countries. There is a strong correlation between highly indebted countries and countries which have descended into civil war and militarism.

High levels of indebtedness come about, in part, because political elites in the poorest countries borrow recklessly for war. Powerful creditors are equally reckless and compulsive in providing loans to finance the purchase of weapons.

Just as Germany needed both debt relief and a Marshall Plan after World War II, so do the poorest countries. Without debt relief these countries cannot escape from the vicious cycle. The facts are frightening. During the 1990s alone there have been 39 major conflicts with more than 4 million people killed. Nine out of ten casualties are civilians. There are over 200,000 child soldiers in the world - a corruption of childhood which threatens all of our futures.

In sub-Saharan Africa there are fourteen heavily indebted poor countries involved in either a regional war or a civil conflict. The cycle of debt and conflict has not been broken, and the role of the west has frequently been to pour fuel on the flames of regional and ethnic violence and instability. This report shows how major arms exporters like the UK (in 1997 the second largest arms exporter in the world) have supplied arms to oppressive regimes, and through the Export Credits Guarantee Department (of the DTI) guaranteed the loans used to buy them. It supports the Jubilee 2000 position that loans made to corrupt dictators, such as those in Nigeria and Indonesia, were made in the knowledge they would be misused or corruptly diverted. Finally, it shows the meanness and short-sightedness of creditors, whether they be the governments of the G8 or the multilateral lenders of the IMF and World Bank, in failing to provide the debt relief necessary to rebuild post-conflict societies.

Jubilee 2000 is a global grass-roots movement calling for a debt-free start to the millennium for over a billion of the world's poorest people. Economic prosperity for all, not just the few, is the best insurance against war and conflict. We call for a fair, and transparent process to assess the debts. We want to ensure that liability for bad loans and bad debts does not only rest with the debtor. And we insist that organisations representing ordinary people in the indebted nation should play a part in ensuring that resources released by debt relief reach the poor. There are some signs of progress on debt, and western governments are at last beginning to look at codes of conduct for their export credit departments, to place checks on taxpayer subsidies for arms dealers and exporters. This is a start, but it needs to go much further. Only then can we be sure of providing a more certain and secure future for the millions suffering from the twin tragedies of debt and war.

COMPARING ECONOMIC PRINCIPLES

TORAH & ACTS church

ELLEN WHITE

CDC economics

REASONING

LAND USE

God said, “The land is Mine” and the people were stewards (Leviticus 25:23). The land was divided equally and could only be leased up to 49 years.

Explains that ownership of land helped people to be self-sufficient and if they were willing to work, none would go hungry.

 

“It was to be impressed upon the minds of all that the poor have as much right to a place in God's world as have the more wealthy.” {PP 534.1}

 

Promotes the “single tax” or land rent which in China, Taiwan, California, Inuit, Java and many other places has greatly reduced poverty and made most citizens economically independent.

Almost all wealth comes from land/nature or the powers God has created.  So, it should be used for the benefit of all people, not just a privileged class.  If a person uses these things for his own profit, he must pay a charge to society for removing it from society’s common use.

DEBT CANCELLATION

Cancel debts after 7 years (Jews had several exceptions to this…see below)

Says that this helped lessen the gap between rich and poor and give hope to those who had bad fortune.

Says that debt is a killer of hope in the 3rd world where corrupt dictators borrowed tons of money and now the countries have to pay huge interest loans.  It is a killer of hope and keeps them in grinding poverty.  Jubilee 2000 was an initiative to cancel debts to the US…but it didn’t succeed unfortunately.

This helps give 2nd chances to those who have had bad luck.  They have more chances to become useful and productive members of society who can contribute.

DONATE MONEY (this is most helpful if it helps people become independent…it can be destructive if it creates dependency)

Jews gave nearly 25% of their money and goods to the church or the poor.  God promised that they would thrive if they did this. Jews believed the best charity was to help a person find work that would make him independent.  They would loan money to people with ideas and give counsel and assistance to the new business for the benefit of the community. 

Ellen White says that church members should give even more since they have a bigger worldwide mission and she promises that God will bless those who do this.

Says that just 5% of US annual military budget could eliminate poverty, hunger and provide basic education and medical care.

 

And if we did for the 3rd world what we did for Europe under the Marshall plan, we could build up their infrastructure and in a few decades they could easily be independent and productive and self-supporting and we would not need to pay taxes to support the world.  Unfortunately our policies toward 3rd world countries are the complete opposite of what worked in Europe with the Marshall Plan.

When done rightly, this will maximize the number of people being productive in a society…the more productive people there are, the better it will be…and if people who work hard don’t lack the basic necessities of life, you will eliminate a lot of the crime that goes with that kind of hopelessness. But, money should not be give randomly or without thought.  It must be given to create independence or to help in short term emergencies.

FAIR TRADE

Prophets often talk about evils of unfair trade and corrupt balances as well as economic oppression of the poor by the rich.

Same as the Bible

Unfair trade laws create massive human rights problems and drive many diligent workers out of business.

Unfair trade laws destroy independence and self-determination.  The US rebelled when Britain did it. But, now the US and EU force other countries into unfair trade laws (for example other countries can’t subsidize their farmers, but the US and EU can and do massively).

INTEREST

Interest is evil

Interest is wrong

Interest siphons money from the poor to the rich.

Simple…interest is income that is not worked for.  It should never be charged.  Interest is a tax on the poor since the rich don’t usually have to borrow money.  Investing is acceptable and profits can be made that way.  But, interest is very destructive.

WHAT DOES ELLEN WHITE SAY ABOUT ECONOMIC JUSTICE AND THE CHURCH?

Ellen White had quite a lot to say about Jewish and Christian Economics.  Here are a few of the more relevant quotes that I have found.

IDEAS ARE ESPECIALLY FROM:

ACTS OF THE APOSTLES (AA): Chapters 7, 32

PATRIARCHS & PROPHETS (PP): Chapters 50, 51, 58

PROPHETS AND KINGS (PK): Chapters 54

WELFARE MINISTRY (WM):  The Whole Book!

All online at: http://www.whiteestate.org/search/search.asp 

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 I have been instructed to refer our people to the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. Read this chapter carefully and understand the kind of ministry that will bring life into the churches….When you meet suffering souls who need help, give it to them. When you find those who are hungry, feed them. In doing this you will be working in lines of Christ's ministry…This is the special work now before us. All our praying and abstinence from food will avail nothing unless we resolutely lay hold of this work. Sacred obligations are resting upon us.  {WM 29,30}
 

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I cannot too strongly urge all our church members, all who are true missionaries, all who believe the third angel's message, all who turn away their feet from the Sabbath, to consider the message of the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. The work of beneficence enjoined in this chapter is the work that God requires His people to do at this time…God's people have a special work to do in repairing the breach that has been made in His law; and the nearer we approach the end, the more urgent this work becomes. All who love God will show that they bear His sign by keeping His commandments. . . . {WM 33.2}
 

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 The record declares, "Neither was there any among them that lacked," and it tells how the need was filled. Those among the believers who had money and possessions cheerfully sacrificed them to meet the emergency. Selling their houses or their lands, they brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet, "and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need…Thus it will ever be when the Spirit of God takes possession of the life. Those whose hearts are filled with the love of Christ, will follow the example of Him who for our sake became poor, that through His poverty we might be made rich. " {AA 70.2}
 

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 There is no question in regard to the Lord's poor. They are to be helped in every case where it will be for their benefit. God wants His people to reveal to a sinful world that He has not left them to perish. Special pains should be taken to help those who for the truth's sake are cast out from their homes and are obliged to suffer. More and more there will be need of large, open, generous hearts, those who will deny self and will take hold of the cases of these very ones whom the Lord loves. The poor among God's people must not be left without provision for their wants. Some way must be found whereby they may obtain a livelihood. Some will need to be taught to work. Others who work hard, and are taxed to the utmost of their ability to support their families, will need special assistance. We should take an interest in these cases and help them to secure employment. There should be a fund to aid such worthy poor families who love God and keep His commandments. {WM 179.1} 
 

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 None need fear that their liberality would bring them to want. Obedience to God's commandments would surely result in prosperity. "Thou shalt lend unto many nations," He said, "but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee." Deuteronomy 15:6. {PP 533.1}
 

REFERENCE

COMMENT

(from Bryan)

REASON FOR BIBLICAL ECONOMIC PRINCIPLES

The Lord would place a check upon the inordinate love of property and power. Great evils would result from the continued accumulation of wealth by one class, and the poverty and degradation of another. Without some restraint the power of the wealthy would become a monopoly, and the poor, though in every respect fully as worthy in God's sight, would be regarded and treated as inferior to their more prosperous brethren. The sense of this oppression would arouse the passions of the poorer class. There would be a feeling of despair and desperation which would tend to demoralize society and open the door to crimes of every description. The regulations that God established were designed to promote social equality. The provisions of the sabbatical year and the jubilee would, in a great measure, set right that which during the interval had gone wrong in the social and political economy of the nation. {PP 534.3}

 

     These regulations were designed to bless the rich no less than the poor. They would restrain avarice and a disposition for self-exaltation, and would cultivate a noble spirit of benevolence; and by fostering good will and confidence between all classes, they would promote social order, the stability of government. We are all woven together in the great web of humanity, and whatever we can do to benefit and uplift others will reflect in blessing upon ourselves. The law of mutual dependence runs through all classes of society. The poor are not more dependent upon the rich than are the rich upon the poor. While the one class ask a share in the blessings which God has bestowed upon their wealthier neighbors, the other need the faithful service, the strength of brain and bone and muscle, that are the capital of the poor. {PP 534.4}

 

     Great blessings were promised to Israel on condition of obedience to the Lord's directions. "I will give you rain in due season," He declared, "and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. . . . I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be My people. . . . But if ye will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments; and . . . ye break My covenant: . . . ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set My face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you." Leviticus 26:4-17. {PP 535.1}

 

There are many who urge with great enthusiasm that all men should have an equal share in the temporal blessings of God. But this was not the purpose of the Creator. A diversity of condition is one of the means by which God designs to prove and develop character. Yet He intends that those who have worldly possessions shall regard themselves merely as stewards of His goods, as entrusted with means to be employed for the benefit of the suffering and the needy. {PP 535.2}

 

Christ has said that we shall have the poor always with us, and He unites His interest with that of His suffering people. The heart of our Redeemer sympathizes with the poorest and lowliest of His earthly children. He tells us that they are His representatives on earth. He has placed them among us to awaken in our hearts the love that He feels toward the suffering and oppressed. Pity and benevolence shown to them are accepted by Christ as if shown to Himself. An act of cruelty or neglect toward them is regarded as though done to Him. {PP 535.3}

 

     If the law given by God for the benefit of the poor had continued to be carried out, how different would be the present condition of the world, morally, spiritually, and temporally! Selfishness and self-importance would not be manifested as now, but each would cherish a kind regard for the happiness and welfare of others; and such widespread destitution as is now seen in many lands would not exist. {PP 536.1}

 

     The principles which God has enjoined, would prevent the terrible evils that in all ages have resulted from the oppression of the rich toward the poor and the suspicion and hatred of the poor toward the rich. While they might hinder the amassing of great wealth and the indulgence of unbounded luxury, they would prevent the consequent ignorance and degradation of tens of thousands whose ill-paid servitude is required to build up these colossal fortunes. They would bring a peaceful solution of those problems that now threaten to fill the world with anarchy and bloodshed. {PP 536.2}

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World's Great Men Cannot Solve the Problem.-- In the great cities there are multitudes living in poverty and wretchedness, well-nigh destitute of food, shelter, and clothing; while in the same cities are those who have more than heart could wish, who live luxuriously, spending their money on richly furnished houses, on personal adornment, or worse still, upon the gratification of sensual appetites, upon liquor, tobacco, and other things that destroy the powers of the brain, unbalance the mind, and debase the soul. The cries of starving humanity are coming up before God. . . . {WM 173.2}

 

     There are not many, even among educators and statesmen, who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are not able to solve the problem of moral corruption, poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis. If men would give more heed to the teaching of God's Word, they would find a solution of the problems that perplex them.--Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 12, 13. {WM 173.3}

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If Poverty Were Removed From the Earth.--Want and poverty there will always be. However high the standard of knowledge and morality may be, whatever heights we may reach in civilization, poverty will always continue, as a display of the riches of the grace of God, a standing memorial to the truth of the words, "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." It would not be for the benefit of Christianity for the Lord to remove poverty from the earth. Thus a door would be closed that is now open for the exercise of faith--a means whereby the hearts of the afflicted can be reached by the gospel of goodness. By Christian liberality souls are reached that could be reached in no other way. It is the helping hand of the gospel.--Letter 83, 1902. {WM 177.1}

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God's Word Reveals the Solution to the Problem. --There are largehearted men and women who are anxiously considering the condition of the poor and what means can be found for their relief. How the unemployed and the homeless can be helped to secure the common blessings of God's providence and to live the life He intended man to live, is a question to which many are earnestly endeavoring to find an answer. . . . {WM 195.2}

 

     If men would give more heed to the teaching of God's Word, they would find a solution of these problems that perplex them. Much might be learned from the Old Testament in regard to the labor question and the relief of the poor. In God's plan for Israel every family had a home on the land, with sufficient ground for tilling. Thus were provided both the means and the incentive for a useful, industrious, and self-supporting life. And no devising of men has ever improved upon that plan. To the world's departure from it is owing, to a large degree, the poverty and wretchedness that exist today. . . . {WM 195.3}

 

     In Israel industrial training was regarded as a duty. Every father was required to teach his sons some useful trade. The greatest men in Israel were trained to industrial pursuits. A knowledge of the duties pertaining to housewifery was considered essential for every woman. And skill in these duties was regarded as an honor to women of the highest station. {WM 196.1}

 

     Various industries were taught in the schools of the prophets, and many of the students sustained themselves by manual labor. . . . {WM 196.2}

 

     The plan of life that God gave to Israel was intended as an object lesson for all mankind. If these principles were carried out today, what a different place this world would be!--Ministry of Healing, pp. 183-188. {WM 196.3}

We can see the results currently of unequal distribution in the world.  Debt and poverty are a major cause of crime and terrorism both within nations and between nations.

 

BUT, communism is NOT the answer either.  God’s way is balanced between communism and capitalism. It’s an alternate, but far better way.

THERE’S ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE’S NEED, BUT NOT EVERYONE’S GREED—Gandhi

There are many who complain of God because the world is so full of want and suffering, but God never meant that this misery should exist. He never meant that one man should have an abundance of the luxuries of life while the children of others cry for bread. The Lord is a God of benevolence.--Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 273. {WM 15.3}

 

     God has made men His stewards, and He is not to be charged with the sufferings, the misery, the nakedness, and the want of humanity. The Lord has made ample provision for all. He has given to thousands of men large supplies with which to alleviate the want of their fellows; but those whom God has made stewards have not stood the test, for they have failed to relieve the suffering and the needy. {WM 16.1}

 

     When men who have been abundantly blessed of Heaven with large wealth fail to carry out God's design, and do not relieve the poor and the oppressed, the Lord is displeased and will surely visit them. They have no excuse for withholding from their neighbors the help that God has put it into their power to provide; and God is dishonored, His character is misinterpreted by Satan, and He is represented as a stern judge who causes suffering to come upon the creatures He has made. This misrepresentation of God's character is made to appear as truth, and thus through the temptation of the enemy men's hearts are hardened against God. Satan charges upon God the very evil he himself has caused men to commit by withholding their means from the suffering. He attributes to God his own characteristics.--Review and Herald, June 26, 1894. {WM 16.2}

 

     There Need Be No Suffering, No Destitution.-- If men would do their duty as faithful stewards of their Lord's goods, there would be no cry for bread, none suffering in destitution, none naked and in want. It is the unfaithfulness of men that brings about the state of suffering in which humanity is plunged. If those whom God has made stewards would but appropriate their Lord's goods to the object for which He gave to them, this state of suffering would not exist. The Lord tests men by giving them an

abundance of good things, just as He tested the rich man of the parable. If we prove ourselves unfaithful in the righteous mammon, who shall entrust to us the true riches? It will be those who have stood the test on the earth, who have been found faithful, who have obeyed the words of the Lord in being merciful, in using their means for the advancement of His kingdom, that will hear from the lips of the Master, "Well done, good and faithful servant."--Ibid. {WM 16.3}

 

     Some Rich--Some Poor.--The reason why God has permitted some of the human family to be so rich and some so poor will remain a mystery to men till eternity, unless they enter into right relations with God and carry out His plans instead of acting on their own selfish ideas.--Testimonies to Ministers, p. 280. {WM 17.1}

 

 

IS ISRAEL’S SYSTEM FOR OUR TIME?

The whole of the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah is to be regarded as a message for this time, to be given over and over again.--Special Testimonies, series B, no. 2, p. 5. {WM 29.1}

 

     What saith the Lord in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah? The whole chapter is of the highest importance.--Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 159. {WM 29.2}

 

     I have been instructed to refer our people to the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. Read this chapter carefully and understand the kind of ministry that will bring life into the churches. The work of the gospel is to be carried by means of our liberality as well as by our labors. When you meet suffering souls who need help, give it to them. When you find those who are hungry, feed them. In doing this you will be working in lines of Christ's ministry. The Master's holy work was a benevolent work. Let our people everywhere be encouraged to have a part in it.--Manuscript 7, 1908. {WM 29.3}

 

GOD’S SPECIAL WORK NOW FOR THE CHURCH IS BEING GENEROUS

This is the special work now before us. All our praying and abstinence from food will avail nothing unless we resolutely lay hold of this work. Sacred obligations are resting upon us. Our duty is plainly stated. The Lord has spoken to us by His prophet. The thoughts of the Lord and His ways are not what blind, selfish mortals believe they are or wish them to be. The Lord looks on the heart. If selfishness dwells there, He knows it. We may seek to conceal our true character from our brethren and sisters, but God knows. Nothing can be hid from Him. {WM 30.1}

 

     The fast which God can accept is described. It is to deal thy bread to the hungry and to bring the poor which are cast out to thy house. Wait not for them to come to you. The labor rests not on them to hunt you

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up and entreat of you a home for themselves. You are to search for them and bring them to your house. You are to draw out your soul after them. You are with one hand to reach up and by faith take hold of the mighty arm which brings salvation, while with the other hand of love you reach the oppressed and relieve them. It is impossible for you to fasten upon the arm of God with one hand while the other is employed in ministering to your own pleasure. {WM 30.2}

 

     If you engage in this work of mercy and love, will the work prove too hard for you? Will you fail and be crushed under the burden, and your family be deprived of your assistance and influence? Oh, no; God has carefully removed all doubts upon this question, by a pledge to you on condition of your obedience. This promise covers all that the most exacting, the most hesitating, could crave. "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily." Only believe that He is faithful that hath promised. God can renew the physical strength. And more, He says He will do it. And the promise does not end here. "Thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward." God will build a fortification around thee. The promise does not stop even here. "Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am." If ye put down oppression and remove the speaking of vanity, if ye draw out your soul to the hungry, "then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought [famine], and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not."--Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 33-35. {WM 31.1}

 

Our God-appointed Work.--I cannot too strongly urge all our church members, all who are true missionaries, all who believe the third angel's message, all who turn away their feet from the Sabbath, to consider the message of the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. The work of beneficence enjoined in this chapter is the work that God requires His people to do at this time. It is a work of His own appointment. We are not left in doubt as to where the message applies, and the time of its marked fulfillment, for we read: "They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in." Verse 12. God's memorial, the seventh-day Sabbath, the sign of His

                                                                            34

work in creating the world, has been displaced by the man of sin. God's people have a special work to do in repairing the breach that has been made in His law; and the nearer we approach the end, the more urgent this work becomes. All who love God will show that they bear His sign by keeping His commandments. . . . {WM 33.2}

 

     When the church accepts its God-given work, the promise is: "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward."--Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 265-267. {WM 34.1}

 

Pure Religion Is Doing Deeds of Mercy and Love. --True godliness is measured by the work done. Profession is nothing; position is nothing; a character like the character of Christ is the evidence we are to bear that God has sent His Son into the world. Those

who profess to be Christians, yet do not act as Christ would were He in their place, greatly injure the cause of God. They misrepresent their Saviour, and are standing under false colors. . . . {WM 37.3}

 

     Pure and undefiled religion is not a sentiment, but the doing of works of mercy and love. This religion is necessary to health and happiness. It enters the polluted soul temple, and with a scourge drives out the sinful intruders. Taking the throne, it consecrates all by its presence, illuminating the heart with the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. It opens the windows of the soul heavenward, letting in the sunshine of God's love. With it comes serenity and composure. Physical, mental, and moral strength increase, because the atmosphere of heaven as a living, active agency fills the soul. Christ is formed within, the hope of glory.--Review and Herald, Oct. 15, 1901. {WM 38.1}

 

     To become a toiler, to continue patiently in well-doing which calls for self-denying labor, is a glorious work, which Heaven smiles upon. Faithful work is more acceptable to God than the most zealous and thought-to-be holiest worship. It is working together with Christ that is true worship. Prayers, exhortation, and talk are cheap fruits, which are frequently tied on; but fruits that are manifested in good works, in caring for the needy, the fatherless, and widows, are genuine fruits, and grow naturally upon a good tree. --Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 24. {WM 38.2}

 

ACTS OF THE APOSTLES CH. 7
As the disciples proclaimed the truths of the gospel in Jerusalem, God bore witness to their word, and a multitude believed. Many of these early believers were immediately cut off from family and friends by the zealous bigotry of the Jews, and it was necessary to provide them with food and shelter. {AA 70.1}

 

     The record declares, "Neither was there any among them that lacked," and it tells how the need was filled. Those among the believers who had money and possessions cheerfully sacrificed them to meet the emergency. Selling their houses or their lands, they brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet, "and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need." {AA 70.2}

 

     This liberality on the part of the believers was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit. The converts to the gospel were "of one heart and of one soul." One common interest controlled them--the success of the mission entrusted to them; and covetousness had no place in their lives. Their love for their brethren and the cause they had espoused, was greater than their love of money and possessions. Their works testified that they accounted the souls of men of higher value them earthly wealth. {AA 70.3}

 

     Thus it will ever be when the Spirit of God takes possession of the life. Those whose hearts are filled with the love of Christ, will follow the example of Him who for our sake became poor, that through His poverty we might be made rich. Money, time, influence--all the gifts they have received from God's hand, they will value only as a means of advancing the work of the gospel. Thus it was in the early church; and when in the church of today it is seen that by the power of the Spirit the members have taken their affections from the things of the world, and that they are willing to make sacrifices in order that their fellow men may hear the gospel, the truths proclaimed will have a powerful influence upon the hearers. {AA 71.1}


 

 

Economics is important for Christians too!

They saw, however, that those who parted with their possessions to supply the needs of their poorer brethren, were held in high esteem among the believers; and ashamed to have their brethren know that their selfish souls grudged that which they had solemnly dedicated to God, they deliberately decided to sell their property and pretend to give all the proceeds into the general fund, but really to keep a large share for themselves. Thus they would secure their living from the common store and at the same time gain the high esteem of their brethren. {AA 72.1}

This shows that only those who contributed to the general fund could secure their living from it.  This could be applied today for example…a fund that people agree to give 10% of their income (after tithe) to for the support of other Christians.  Then a committee of varied church members decides who is most needy.

LAND/NATURE & OUR TALENTS COME FROM GOD & MUST BE SHARED

It is God who blesses men with property, and He does this that they may be able to give toward the advancement of His cause. He sends the sunshine and the rain. He causes vegetation to flourish. He gives health and the ability to acquire means. All our blessings come from His bountiful hand. In turn, He would have men and women show their gratitude by returning Him a portion in tithes and offerings--in thank offerings, in freewill offerings, in trespass offerings. Should means flow into the treasury in accordance with this divinely appointed plan,--a tenth of all the increase, and liberal offerings,--there would be an abundance for the advancement of the Lord's work. {AA 75.1}

 

     But the hearts of men become hardened through selfishness, and, like Ananias and Sapphira, they are tempted to withhold part of the price, while pretending to fulfill God's requirements. Many spend money lavishly in self-gratification. Men and women consult their pleasure and gratify their taste, while they bring to God, almost unwillingly, a stinted offering. They forget that God will one day demand a strict account of how His goods have been used, and that He will no more accept the pittance they hand into the treasury than He accepted the offering of Ananias and Sapphira. {AA 75.2}

 

The Lord declared to Israel: "The land shall not be sold forever: for the land is Mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with Me." Leviticus 25:23. The people were to be impressed with the fact that it was God's land which they were permitted to possess for a time; that He was the rightful owner, the original proprietor, and that He would have special consideration made for the poor and unfortunate. It was to be impressed upon the minds of all that the poor have as much right to a place in God's world as have the more wealthy. {PP 534.1}

 

Those who have acquired riches have acquired them through the exercise of the talents that were given them of God, but these talents for the acquiring of property were given to them that they might relieve those who are in poverty. These gifts were bestowed upon men by Him who maketh His sun to shine and His rain to fall upon the just and the unjust, that by the fruitfulness of the earth men might have abundant supplies for all their need. The fields have been blessed of God, and "of His goodness He hath prepared for the poor."--Signs of the Times, June 13, 1892. {WM 15.2}

This is in unity with the land rent idea that land and nature belongs to ALL people.  Those who use it exclusively owe some of their profit to society (and Christians would add God).

TITHE/OFFERINGS

The contributions required of the Hebrews for religious and charitable purposes amounted to fully one fourth of their income. So heavy a tax upon the resources of the people might be expected to reduce them to poverty; but, on the contrary, the faithful observance of these regulations was one of the conditions of their prosperity. On condition of their obedience God made them this promise: "I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field. . . . And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts." Malachi 3:11. {PP 527.1}

 

     A striking illustration of the results of selfishly withholding even freewill offerings from the cause of God was given in the days of the prophet Haggai. After their return from the captivity in Babylon, the Jews undertook to rebuild the temple of the Lord; but meeting determined opposition from their enemies, they discontinued the work; and a severe drought, by which they were reduced to actual want, convinced them that it was impossible to complete the building of the temple. "The time is not come," they said, "the time that the Lord's house should be built." But a message was sent them by the Lord's prophet: "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages, earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes." Haggai 1:2-6. And then the reason is given: "Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of Mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labor of the hands." Verses 9-11. "When one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labors of your hands." Haggai 2:16, 17. {PP 527.2}

 

In the days of Israel the tithe and freewill offerings were needed to maintain the ordinances of divine service. Should the people of God give less in this age? The principle laid down by Christ is that our offerings to God should be in proportion to the light and privileges enjoyed. "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." Luke 12:48. Said the Saviour to His disciples as He sent them forth, "Freely ye have received, freely give." Matthew 10:8. As our blessings and privileges are

increased--above all, as we have before us the unparalleled sacrifice of the glorious Son of God--should not our gratitude find expression in more abundant gifts to extend to others the message of salvation? The work of the gospel, as it widens, requires greater provision to sustain it than was called for anciently; and this makes the law of tithes and offerings of even more urgent necessity now than under the Hebrew economy. If His people were liberally to sustain His cause by their voluntary gifts, instead of resorting to unchristian and unhallowed methods to fill the treasury, God would be honored, and many more souls would be won to Christ. {PP 528.4}

The more we give the more we are blessed…even in financial ways

The Lord had commanded Israel, through Moses, that every third year a tithe be raised for the benefit of the poor; and a further provision had been made in the suspension of agricultural labor every seventh year, the land lying fallow, its spontaneous products being left to those in need. Faithfulness in devoting these offerings to the relief of the poor and to other benevolent uses would have tended to keep fresh before the people the truth of God's ownership of all, and their opportunity to be channels of blessing. It was Jehovah's purpose that the Israelites should have a training that would eradicate selfishness, and develop breadth and nobility of character. {PK 646.3}

 

INTEREST/DEBTS

To the poor, the seventh year was a year of release from debt. The Hebrews were enjoined at all times to assist their needy brethren by lending them money without interest. To take usury from a poor man was expressly forbidden: "If thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase." Leviticus 25:35-37. If the debt remained unpaid until the year of release, the principal itself could not be recovered. The people were expressly warned against withholding from their brethren needed assistance on account of this: "If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren, . . . thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother. . . . Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee." "The poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land," "and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth." Deuteronomy 15:7-9, 11, 8. {PP 532.5}

 

     None need fear that their liberality would bring them to want. Obedience to God's commandments would surely result in prosperity. "Thou shalt lend unto many nations," He said, "but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee." Deuteronomy 15:6. {PP 533.1}

Following God’s plans will NOT make us lack for any of our needs

OPPRESSION

"The love of money is the root of all evil." 1 Timothy 6:10. In this generation the desire for gain is the absorbing passion. Wealth is often obtained by fraud. There are multitudes struggling with poverty, compelled to labor hard for small wages, unable to secure even the barest necessities of life. Toil and deprivation, with no hope of better things, make their burden heavy. Careworn and oppressed, they know not where to turn for relief. And all this that the rich may support their extravagance or indulge their desire to hoard! {PK 650.3}

Even among those who profess to be walking in the fear of the Lord, there are some who are acting over again the course pursued by the nobles of Israel. Because it is in their power to do so, they exact more than is just, and thus become oppressors. And because avarice and treachery are seen in the lives of those who have named the name of Christ, because the church retains on her books the names of those who have gained their possessions by injustice, the religion of Christ is held in contempt. Extravagance, overreaching, extortion, are corrupting the faith of many and destroying their spirituality. The church is in a great degree responsible for the sins of her members. She gives countenance to evil if she fails to lift her voice against it. {PK 651.2}

 

     The customs of the world are no criterion for the Christian. He is not to imitate its sharp practices, its overreaching, its extortion. Every unjust act toward a fellow being is a violation of the golden rule. Every wrong done to the children of God is done to Christ Himself in the person of His saints. Every attempt to take advantage of the ignorance, weakness, or misfortune of another is registered as fraud in the ledger of heaven. He who truly fears God, would rather toil day and night, and eat the bread of poverty, than to indulge the passion for gain that oppresses the widow and fatherless or turns the stranger from his right. {PK 651.3}

 

WHAT SHOULD THE CHURCH DO?

There is no question in regard to the Lord's poor. They are to be helped in every case where it will be for their benefit. God wants His people to reveal to a sinful world that He has not left them to perish. Special pains should be taken to help those who for the truth's sake are cast out from their homes and are obliged to suffer. More and more there will be need of large, open, generous hearts, those who will deny self and will take hold of the cases of these very ones whom the Lord loves. The poor among God's people must not be left without provision for their wants. Some way must be found whereby they may obtain a livelihood. Some will need to be taught to work. Others who work hard, and are taxed to the utmost of their ability to support their families, will need special assistance. We should take an interest in these cases and help them to secure employment. There should be a fund to aid such worthy poor families who love God and keep His commandments. {WM 179.1}

 

Wherever a church is established its members are to do a faithful work for the needy believers. But they are not to stop here. They are also to aid others, irrespective of their faith. As the result of such effort some of these will receive the special truths for this time. {WM 180.1}

 

"If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land." Deuteronomy 15:7-11. {WM 180.2}

 

     Through circumstances some who love and obey God become poor. Some are not careful; they do not know how to manage. Others are poor through sickness and misfortune. Whatever the cause they are in need, and to help them is an important line of missionary work.--Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 269-271. {WM 180.3}

Poverty May Result From Adverse Circumstance. --It has not always been regarded as a mark of inefficiency when through adverse circumstances pinching want has made it necessity for a brother to incur debts or suffer for food and clothing even though he was unable to lift these debts, struggle as hard as he might. A helping hand has been reached out to such ones, to place them upon their feet, free from embarrassment, that they might do their work in the vineyard of the Lord and not be oppressed with the thought that a cloud of debt was hanging over them.-- Manuscript 34, 1894. {WM 180.4}

 

The Responsibility of the Church or Churches.-- It is the duty of each church to make careful, judicious arrangements for the care of its poor and sick.--Letter 169, 1901. {WM 181.1}

 

     God suffers His poor to be in the borders of every church. They are always to be among us, and the Lord places upon the members of every church a personal responsibility to care for them. We are not to lay our responsibility upon others. Toward those within our own borders we are to manifest the same love and sympathy that Christ would manifest were He in our place. Thus we are to be disciplined, that we may be prepared to work in Christ's lines. {WM 181.2}

 

     The minister should educate the various families and strengthen the church to care for its own sick and poor. He should set at work the God-given faculties of the people, and if one church is overtaxed in this line, other churches should come to its assistance. Let the church members exercise tact and ingenuity in caring for these, the Lord's people. Let them deny themselves luxuries and needless ornaments, that they may make the suffering needy ones comfortable. In doing this they practice the instruction given in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah, and the blessing there pronounced will be theirs.--Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 272. {WM 181.3}

 

The poor and the needy are to be cared for. These must not be neglected, at whatever cost or sacrifice to ourselves.--Youth's Instructor, Aug. 26, 1897. {WM 182.3}

Do Not Wait for Them to Come to Us.--Poverty and distress in families will come to our knowledge, and afflicted and suffering ones will have to be relieved. . . . Do not wait for them to come to you. Examine their wearing apparel and help them if they need help. We should invest means to help young men and young women to obtain an education in sending the gospel to the poor, in aiding those who have ventured by faith to take their position upon the platform of eternal truth, when by so doing they have placed themselves in an embarrassing situation. Where there are cases of special need the minister must be prepared to relieve those who are in poverty for the truth's sake.--Manuscript 25, 1894. {WM 183.3}

 

     Help for New Converts out of Employment.--In our benevolent work special help should be given to those who, through the presentation of the truth, are convicted and converted. We must have a care for those who have the moral courage to accept the truth, who lose their situations in consequence, and are refused work by which to support their families. Provision should be made to aid the worthy poor and to furnish employment for those who love God and keep His commandments. They should not be left without help, to feel that they are forced to work on the Sabbath or starve. Those who take their position on the Lord's side are to see in Seventh-day Adventists a warmhearted, self-denying, self-sacrificing people, who cheerfully and gladly minister to their brethren in need. It is of this class especially that the Lord speaks when He says: "Bring the poor that are cast out to thy house." Isaiah 58:7.--Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 85. {WM 184.1}

 

     Provide Land for Poor Families.--Where the school is established [in Australia] there must be land for orchards and gardens, that students may have physical exercise combined with mental taxation, and half and some wholly pay their way at school. Also ground must be purchased, that families that cannot obtain work in the cities because of the observance of the Sabbath may buy small farms and make their own living. This is a positive necessity in this country.

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Education must be given in regard to tilling the soil, and we must expect that the Lord will bless this effort. --Manuscript 23, 1894. {WM 184.2}

 

     Our Duty to Poor Families.--Inquiries are often made in regard to our duty to the poor who embrace the third message; and we ourselves have long been anxious to know how to manage with discretion the cases of poor families who embrace the Sabbath. But while at Roosevelt, New York, August 3, 1861, I was shown some things in regard to the poor. God does not require our brethren to take charge of every poor family that shall embrace this message. If they should do this, the ministers must cease to enter new fields, for the funds would be exhausted. Many are poor from their own lack of diligence and economy; they know not how to use means aright. If they should be helped, it would hurt them. Some will always be poor. If they should have the very best advantages, their cases would not be helped. They have not good calculation, and would use all the means they could obtain, were it much or little. {WM 185.1-2}

 

     Some know nothing of denying self and economizing to keep out of debt and to get a little ahead for a time of need. If the church should help such individuals instead of leaving them to rely upon their own resources, it would injure them in the end, for they look to the church and expect to receive help from them and do not practice self-denial and economy when they are well provided for. And if they do not receive help every time, Satan tempts them, and they become jealous and very conscientious for their brethren, fearing they will fail to do all their duty to them. The mistake is on their own part. They are deceived. They are not the Lord's poor. {WM 185.3}

 

     The instructions given in the Word of God in regard to helping the poor do not touch such cases, but are for the unfortunate and afflicted. God in His providence has afflicted individuals to test and prove others. Widows and invalids are in the church to prove a blessing to the church. They are a part of the means which God has chosen to develop the true character of Christ's professed followers and to call into exercise the precious traits of character manifested by our compassionate Redeemer. {WM 186.1}

 

     Many who can but barely live when they are single choose to marry and raise a family when they know they have nothing with which to support them. And worse than this, they have no family government. Their whole course in their family is marked with their loose, slack habits. They have but little control over themselves, and are passionate, impatient, and fretful. When such embrace the message they feel that they are entitled to assistance from their more wealthy brethren; and if their expectations are not met, they complain of the church and accuse them of not living out their faith? Who must be the sufferers in this case? Must the cause of God be sapped, and the treasury in different places exhausted, to take care of these large families of poor? No. The parents must be the sufferers. They will not, as a general thing, suffer any greater lack after they embrace the Sabbath than they did before. {WM 186.2}

 

     There is an evil among some of the poor which will certainly prove their ruin unless they overcome it. They have embraced the truth with their coarse, rough, uncultivated habits, and it takes some time for them to see and realize their coarseness, and that it is not in accordance with the character of Christ. They look upon others who are more orderly and refined as being proud, and you may hear them say: "The truth brings us all down upon a level." But it is an entire mistake to think that the truth brings the receiver down. It brings him up, refines his taste, sanctifies his judgment, and, if lived out, is continually fitting him for the society of holy angels in the city of God. The truth is designed to bring us all up upon a level. {WM 186.3}

 

     The more able should ever act a noble, generous part in their deal with their poorer brethren, and should also give them good advice, and then leave them to fight life's battles through. But I was shown that a most solemn duty rests upon the church to have an especial care for the destitute widows, orphans, and invalids.--Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 272-274. {WM 187.1}

 

     Counsel Regarding a Balanced Work.--Christ has not bidden us bestow all our labor and all our gifts upon the poor. We have a work to do in behalf of those who are fulfilling His commission, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." The increase of the ministry will require an increase of means. . . . {WM 187.2}

 

     When you expend money consider, "Am I encouraging prodigality?" When you give to the poor and wretched consider, "Am I helping them, or hurting them?" . . . {WM 187.3}

 

A liberal Providence has placed in the hands of His human agents an abundance to supply the necessities of all, but the stewards of God are unfaithful. In the professed Christian world there is enough expended in extravagant display to supply the wants of all the hungry and to clothe the naked. Many who have taken upon themselves the name of Christ are spending His money for selfish pleasure, for the gratification of appetite, for strong drink and rich dainties, for extravagant houses and furniture and dress, while to suffering human beings they give scarcely a look of pity or a word of sympathy. {WM 188.2}

 

By our churches there is a work to be done of which many have little idea, a work as yet almost untouched. "I was an hungered," Christ says, "and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me." Matthew 25:35, 36. Some think that if they give money to this work, it is all they are required to do, but this is an error. Donations of money cannot take the place of personal ministry. It is right to give our means, and many more should do this; but according to their strength and opportunities, personal service is required of all. {WM 189.1}

 

     The work of gathering in the needy, the oppressed, the suffering, the destitute, is the very work which every church that believes the truth for this time should long since have been doing. We are to show the tender sympathy of the Samaritan in supplying physical necessities, feeding the hungry, bringing the poor that are cast out to our homes, gathering from God every day grace and strength that will enable us to reach to the very depths of human misery and help those who cannot possibly help themselves. In doing this work we have a favorable opportunity to set forth Christ the crucified One.--Ibid., pp. 274-276. {WM 189.2}

 

     Begin by Helping Your Neighbors.--Every church member should feel it his special duty to labor for those living in his neighborhood. Study how you can best help those who take no interest in religious things. As you visit your friends and neighbors show an interest in their spiritual as well as in their temporal welfare. Present Christ as a sin-pardoning Saviour. Invite your neighbors to your home, and read with them from the precious Bible and from books that explain its truths. This, united with simple songs and fervent prayers, will touch their hearts. Let church members educate themselves to do this work. This is just as essential as to save the benighted souls in foreign countries. While some feel the burden of souls afar off, let the many who are at home feel the burden of precious souls around them and work just as diligently for their salvation. {WM 190.1}

 

Give the Right Kind of Help.--Methods of helping the needy should be carefully and prayerfully considered. We are to seek God for wisdom, for He knows better than shortsighted mortals how to care for the creatures He has made. There are some who give indiscriminately to everyone who solicits their aid. In this they err. In trying to help the needy we should be careful to give them the right kind of help. There are those who when helped will continue to make themselves special objects of need. They will be dependent as long as they see anything on which to depend. By giving undue time and attention to these we may encourage idleness, helplessness, extravagance, and intemperance. {WM 191.2}

 

The proverb, "The world owes me a living," has in it the essence of falsehood, fraud, and robbery. The world owes no man a living who is able to work and gain a living for himself. But if one comes to our door and asks for food, we should not turn him away hungry. His poverty may be the result of misfortune. {WM 192.1}

Educate the Poor to Be Self-reliant.--Men and women of God, persons of discernment and wisdom, should be appointed to look after the poor and needy, the household of faith first. These should report to the church and counsel as to what should be done. {WM 194.1}

 

     Instead of encouraging the poor to think that they can have their eating and drinking provided free, or nearly so, we should place them where they can help themselves. We should endeavor to provide them with work, and if necessary, teach them how to work. Let the members of poor households be taught how to cook, how to make and mend their own clothing, how to care properly for the home. Let boys and girls be thoroughly taught some useful trade or occupation. We are to educate the poor to become self-reliant. This will be true help, for it will not only make them self-sustaining but will enable them to help others.-- Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 278, 279. {WM 194.2}

 

Real charity helps men to help themselves. . . . True beneficence means more than mere gifts. It means a genuine interest in the welfare of others. We should seek to understand the needs of the poor and distressed, and to give them the help that will benefit them most. To give thought and time and personal effort costs far more than merely to give money. But it is the truest charity.--Ibid., pp. 194, 195. {WM 199.2}

 

Unwittingly Injured.--We may err in making gifts to the poor which are not a blessing to them, leading them to feel that they need not exert themselves and practice economy, for others will not permit them to suffer. We should not give countenance to indolence or encourage habits of self-gratification by affording means for indulgence.--Historical Sketches, p. 293. {WM 199.4}

 

     You may give to the poor, and injure them, because you teach them to be dependent. Instead, teach them to support themselves. This will be true help. The needy must be placed in positions where they can help themselves.--Manuscript 46, 1898. {WM 199.5}

 

To Be Willing to Receive Advice.--Many lack wise management and economy. They do not weigh matters well and move cautiously. Such should not trust to their own poor judgment, but counsel with their brethren who have experience. Those who lack good judgment and economy are often unwilling to seek counsel. They generally think that they understand how to conduct their temporal business, and are unwilling to follow advice. They make bad moves and suffer in consequence. Their brethren are grieved to see them suffer, and they help them out of difficulty. Their unwise management affects the church. It takes means from the treasury of God which should have been used to advance the cause of present truth. {WM 201.2}

 

     If these poor brethren would take a humble course and be willing to be advised and counseled by their brethren, and then are brought into straitened places, their brethren should feel it their duty to cheerfully help them out of difficulty. But if they choose their own course and rely upon their judgment, they should be left to feel the full consequences of their unwise course, and learn by dear experience that "in a multitude of counselors there is safety." God's people should be subject one to another. They should counsel with each other, that the lack of one be supplied by the sufficiency of the other.--Review and Herald, April 18, 1871. {WM 201.3}

 

Most Poor Could Help Themselves.--There are very few in our land of plenty who are really so poor as to need help. If they would pursue a right course, they could in almost every case be above want. My appeal to the rich is, Deal liberally with your poor brethren, and use your means to advance the cause of God. The worthy poor, those who are made poor by misfortune and sickness, deserve your special care and help. "Finally be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous."--Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 481. {WM 202.1}

 

     Observe the Golden Rule.--God often raises up someone who will shield the poor from being placed in positions that will be loss to them, even if it be given to their disadvantage. This is the duty of man toward his fellow man. To take advantage of a man's ignorance because he cannot discern the outcome of a course of action is not right. It is the duty of his brother to personally set the matter plainly and faithfully before him, in all its bearings, lest he shall act blindly, and cripple the resources justly his. When men observe the golden rule, Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you, many difficulties now existing would be quickly adjusted.--Letter 85, 1896. {WM 202.2}

A Thank Offering for the Poor.--In every church there should be established a treasury for the poor. Then let each member present a thank offering to God once a week or once a month, as is most convenient. This offering will express our gratitude for the gifts of health, of food, and of comfortable clothing. And according as God has blessed us with these comforts will we lay by for the poor, the suffering, and the distressed. I would call the attention of our brethren specially to this point. Remember the poor. Forgo some of your luxuries, yea, even comforts, and help those who can obtain only the most meager food and clothing. In doing for them you are doing for Jesus in the person of His saints. He identifies Himself with suffering humanity. Do not wait until your imaginary wants are all satisfied. Do not trust to your feelings and give when you feel like it and withhold when you do not feel like it. Give regularly, either ten, twenty, or fifty cents a week, as you would like to see upon the heavenly  record in the day of God.--Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 150, 151. {WM 272.2}

 

A Self-denial Box at Home.--Let everyone have a self-denial box in his home, and when he would spend pennies and shillings in self-gratification let him remember the needy and starving in Africa and India and those close by his own door. There are poor among us. Practice economy, and in every line present your case to God. Ask Him to give you the spirit of Christ, that you may be in every sense of the word Christ's disciples and receive His blessing. As you turn from the worship of self and try to relieve suffering humanity, pray that God will give you a true missionary work to do for souls. Then those who come to worship in the house of God will see a people clothed in modest apparel in harmony with the faith and Word of God. It is these things that steal away the love and trust and confidence of God's people in Him, that mar the religious experience and develop a selfishness that God cannot look upon.--Manuscript 52, 1898. {WM 273.1}

 

     The Second Tithe.--To promote the assembling of the people for religious service, as well as to provide for the poor, a second tithe of all the increase was required. Concerning the first tithe, the Lord had declared, "I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel," But in regard to the second He commanded, "Thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which He shall choose to place His name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always." This tithe, or its equivalent in money, they were for two years to bring to the place where the sanctuary was established. After presenting a thank offering to God and a specified portion to the priest, the offerers were to use the remainder for a religious feast, in which the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow should participate. . . . {WM 273.2}

 

     Every third year, however, this second tithe was to be used at home, in entertaining the Levite and the poor, as Moses said, "That they may eat within thy gates, and be filled." This tithe would provide a fund for the uses of charity and hospitality.--Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 530. {WM 274.1}

 

     The consecration to God of a tithe of all increase, whether of the orchard and harvest field, the flocks and herds, or the labor of brain or hand; the devotion of a second tithe for the relief of the poor and for other benevolent uses, tended to keep fresh before the people the truth of God's ownership of all and of their opportunity to be channels of His blessings. It was a training adapted to kill out all narrowing selfishness and to cultivate breadth and nobility of character.--Education, p. 44. {WM 274.2}

 

Medical missionaries can find a field in which to relieve the distress of those who are failing under bodily ailments. They should have means so that they may clothe the naked and feed the hungry. Christian help work will do more than the preaching of sermons. --Review and Herald, Dec. 24, 1895. {WM 274.4}

 

It will be necessary that a fund shall be created so that the workers may have means with which to help those who are in poverty and distress, and this practical ministry will open their hearts to respond to the truth.--Ibid., Jan. 28, 1896. {WM 274.5}

 

     Men are appointed to proclaim the truth in new places. These men must have funds for their support. And they must have a fund to draw upon for the help of the poor and needy whom they meet in their work. The benevolence that they show toward the poor gives influence to their efforts to proclaim the truth. Their willingness to help those in need gains for them the gratitude of those they help and the approval of Heaven.--Letter 32, 1903. {WM 275.1}

 

Aided From Special Contributions, Not Regular Church Income.--In the sixth chapter of Acts we are shown how when men were to be selected to fill positions in the church, the matter was brought before the Lord, and most earnest prayer was offered for guidance. The widows and fatherless were to be supported by contributions from the church. Their wants were not to be relieved by the church but by special donations. The tithe was to be consecrated to the Lord, and was always to be used for the support of the ministry. Men must be chosen to oversee the work of caring for the poor, to look after the proper distribution of the means in hand, that none among the believers should suffer for the necessaries of life.-- Letter 9, 1899. {WM 275.2}

 

The Law of Action and Reaction.--Divine wisdom has appointed in the plan of salvation the law of action and reaction, making the work of beneficence, in all its branches, twice blessed. He that gives to the needy blesses others, and is blessed himself in a still greater degree. God could have reached His object in saving sinners without the aid of man, but He knew that man could not be happy without acting a part in the great work in which he would be cultivating self-denial and benevolence. That man might not lose the blessed results of benevolence, our Redeemer formed the plan of enlisting him as His co-worker.-- Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 382. {WM 301.1}

 

     It is as we give ourselves to God for the service of humanity that He gives Himself to us. No one can give place in his own heart and life for the stream of God's blessings to flow to others without receiving in himself a rich reward.--Mount of Blessing, p. 122. {WM 301.2}

 

 

 

 

  1.  

MINISTRY OF HEALING, Chapter 12

Chap. 12 - Help for the Unemployed and the Homeless

There are largehearted men and women who are anxiously considering the condition of the poor and what means can be found for their relief. How the unemployed and the homeless can be helped to secure the common blessings of God's providence and to live the life He intended man to live, is a question to which many are earnestly endeavoring to find an answer. But there are not many, even among educators and statesmen, who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are unable to solve the problem of poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis. {MH 183.1}

If men would give more heed to the teaching of God's word, they would find a solution of these problems that perplex them. Much might be learned from the Old Testament in regard to the labor question and the relief of the poor. {MH 183.2}

God's Plan for Israel

In God's plan for Israel every family had a home on the land, with sufficient ground for tilling. Thus were provided

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both the means and the incentive for a useful, industrious, and self-supporting life. And no devising of men has ever improved upon that plan. To the world's departure from it is owing, to a large degree, the poverty and wretchedness that exist today. {MH 183.3}

At the settlement of Israel in Canaan, the land was divided among the whole people, the Levites only, as ministers of the sanctuary, being excepted from the equal distribution. The tribes were numbered by families, and to each family, according to its numbers, was apportioned an inheritance. {MH 184.1}

And although one might for a time dispose of his possession, he could not permanently barter away the inheritance of his children. When able to redeem his land, he was at liberty at any time to do so. Debts were remitted every seventh year, and in the fiftieth, or year of jubilee, all landed property reverted to the original owner. {MH 184.2}

"The land shall not be sold forever," was the Lord's direction; "for the land is Mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with Me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land. If thy brother be waxen poor,

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and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. And if the man . . . himself be able to redeem it; . . . he may return unto his possession. But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubilee." Leviticus 25:23-28. {MH 184.3}

"Ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family." Verse 10. {MH 185.1}

Thus every family was secured in its possession, and a safeguard was afforded against the extremes of either wealth or want. {MH 185.2}

 Industrial Training

In Israel, industrial training was regarded as a duty. Every father was required to teach his sons some useful trade. The

                                                                            186

greatest men in Israel were trained to industrial pursuits. A knowledge of the duties pertaining to housewifery was considered essential for every woman. And skill in these duties was regarded as an honor to women of the highest station. {MH 185.3}

Various industries were taught in the schools of the prophets, and many of the students sustained themselves by manual labor. {MH 186.1}

Consideration for the Poor

These arrangements did not, however, wholly do away with poverty. It was not God's purpose that poverty should wholly cease. It is one of His means for the development of character. "The poor," He says, "shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land." Deuteronomy 15:11. {MH 186.2}

 "If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother. But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth." Verses 7, 8. {MH 186.3}

"If thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee." Leviticus 25:35. {MH 186.4}

"When ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field." "When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it. . . . When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again. . . . When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow." Leviticus 19:9; Deuteronomy 24:19-21.

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{MH 186.5}

None need fear that their liberality would bring them to want. Obedience to God's commandments would surely result in prosperity. "For this thing," God said, "the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto." "Thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee." Deuteronomy 15:10, 6. {MH 187.1}

Business Principles

God's word sanctions no policy that will enrich one class by the oppression and suffering of another. In all our business transactions it teaches us to put ourselves in the place of those with whom we are dealing, to look not only on our own things, but also on the things of others. He who would take advantage of another's misfortunes in order to benefit himself, or who seeks to profit himself through another's weakness or incompetence, is a transgressor both of the principles and of the precepts of the word of God. {MH 187.2}

"Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow's raiment to pledge." "When thou dost lend thy brother anything, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge. Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee. And if the man be poor, thou

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shalt not sleep with his pledge." "If thou at all take thy neighbor's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: for that is his covering only: . . . wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto Me, that I will hear; for I am gracious." "If thou sell aught unto thy neighbor, or buyest aught of thy neighbor's hand, ye shall not oppress one another" Deuteronomy 24:17, 10-12; Exodus 22;26, 27; Leviticus 25:14. {MH 187.3}

"Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in measures of length, of weight, or of quantity." "Thou shalt not have in thy bag diverse weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thy house diverse measures, a great and a small." "Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have." Leviticus 19:35, A.R.V.; Deuteronomy 25:13, 14, A.R.V.; Leviticus 19:36, A.R.V. {MH 188.1}

"Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away." "The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous showeth mercy, and giveth." Matthew 5:42; Psalm 37:21. {MH 188.2}

"Give counsel, execute justice; make thy shade as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; betray not the fugitive." "Let Mine outcasts dwell with thee; . . . be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler." Isaiah 16:3 (A.R.V.), 4. {MH 188.3}

The plan of life that God gave to Israel was intended as an object lesson for all mankind. If these principles were carried out today, what a different place this world would be! {MH 188.4}

Within the vast boundaries of nature there is still room for the suffering and needy to find a home. Within her bosom there are resources sufficient to provide them with food. Hidden in the depths of the earth are blessings for all who have courage and will and perseverance to gather her treasures.

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{MH 188.5}

The tilling of the soil, the employment that God appointed to man in Eden, opens a field in which there is opportunity for multitudes to gain a subsistence.

"Trust in the Lord, and do good; So shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." Psalm 37:3. {MH 189.1}

Thousands and tens of thousands might be working upon the soil who are crowded into the cities, watching for a chance to earn a trifle. In many cases this trifle is not spent for bread, but is put into the till of the liquor seller, to obtain that which destroys soul and body. {MH 189.2}

Many look upon labor as drudgery, and they try to obtain a livelihood by scheming rather than by honest toil. This desire to get a living without work opens the door to wretchedness and vice and crime almost without limit. {MH 189.3}

The City Slums

In the great cities are multitudes who receive less care and consideration than are given to dumb animals. Think of the families herded together in miserable tenements, many of them dark basements, reeking with dampness and filth. In

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these wretched places children are born and grow up and die. They see nothing of the beauty of natural things that God has created to delight the senses and uplift the soul. Ragged and half-starved, they live amid vice and depravity, molded in character by the wretchedness and sin that surround them. Children hear the name of God only in profanity. Foul speech, imprecations, and revilings fill their ears. The fumes of liquor and tobacco, sickening stenches, moral degradation, pervert their senses. Thus multitudes are trained to become criminals, foes to society that has abandoned them to misery and degradation. {MH 189.4}

Not all the poor in the city slums are of this class. God-fearing men and women have been brought to the depths of poverty by illness or misfortune, often through the dishonest scheming of those who live by preying upon their fellows. Many who are upright and well-meaning become poor through lack of industrial training. Through ignorance they are unfitted to wrestle with the difficulties of life. Drifting into the cities, they are often unable to find employment. Surrounded by the sights and sounds of vice, they are subjected to terrible temptation. Herded and often classed with the vicious and degraded, it is only by a superhuman struggle, a more than finite power, that they can be preserved from sinking to the same depths. Many hold fast their integrity, choosing to suffer rather than to sin. This class especially demand help, sympathy, and encouragement. {MH 190.1}

If the poor now crowded into the cities could find homes upon the land, they might not only earn a livelihood, but find health and happiness now unknown to them. Hard work, simple fare, close economy, often hardship and privation, would be their lot. But what a blessing would be theirs in leaving the city, with its enticements to evil, its turmoil and

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crime, misery and foulness, for the country's quiet and peace and purity. {MH 190.2}

To many of those living in the cities who have not a spot of green grass to set their feet upon, who year after year have

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looked out upon filthy courts and narrow alleys, brick walls and pavements, and skies clouded with dust and smoke--if these could be taken to some farming district, surrounded with the green fields, the woods and hills and brooks, the clear skies and the fresh, pure air of the country, it would seem almost like heaven. {MH 191.1}

Cut off to a great degree from contact with and dependence upon men, and separated from the world's corrupting maxims and customs and excitements, they would come nearer to the heart of nature. God's presence would be more real to them. Many would learn the lesson of dependence upon Him. Through nature they would hear His voice speaking to their hearts of His peace and love, and mind and soul and body would respond to the healing, life-giving power. {MH 192.1}

If they ever become industrious and self-supporting, very many must have assistance, encouragement, and instruction. There are multitudes of poor families for whom no better missionary work could be done than to assist them in settling on the land and in learning how to make it yield them a livelihood. {MH 192.2}

The need for such help and instruction is not confined to the cities. Even in the country, with all its possibilities for a better life, multitudes of the poor are in great need. Whole communities are devoid of education in industrial and sanitary lines. Families live in hovels, with scant furniture and clothing, without tools, without books, destitute both of comforts and conveniences and of means of culture. Imbruted souls, bodies weak and ill-formed, reveal the results of evil heredity and of wrong habits. These people must be educated from the very foundation. They have led shiftless, idle, corrupt lives, and they need to be trained to correct habits.

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{MH 192.3}

How can they be awakened to the necessity of improvement? How can they be directed to a higher ideal of life? How can they be helped to rise? What can be done where poverty prevails and is to be contended with at every step? Certainly the work is difficult. The necessary reformation will never be made unless men and women are assisted by a power outside of themselves. It is God's purpose that the rich and the poor shall be closely bound together by the ties of sympathy and helpfulness. Those who have means, talents, and capabilities are to use these gifts in blessing their fellow men. {MH 193.1}

Christian farmers can do real missionary work in helping the poor to find homes on the land and in teaching them how to till the soil and make it productive. Teach them how to use the implements of agriculture, how to cultivate various crops, how to plant and care for orchards. {MH 193.2}

Many who till the soil fail to secure adequate returns because of their neglect. Their orchards are not properly cared for, the crops are not put in at the right time, and a mere surface work is done in cultivating the soil. Their ill success they charge to the unproductiveness of the land. False witness is often borne in condemning land that, if properly worked, would yield rich returns. The narrow plans, the little strength put forth, the little study as to the best methods, call loudly for reform. {MH 193.3}

Let proper methods be taught to all who are willing to learn. If any do not wish you to speak to them of advanced ideas, let the lessons be given silently. Keep up the culture of your own land. Drop a word to your neighbors when you can, and let the harvest be eloquent in favor of right methods. Demonstrate what can be done with the land when properly worked.

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{MH 193.4}

 Attention should be given to the establishment of various industries so that poor families can find employment. Carpenters, blacksmiths, and indeed everyone who understands some line of useful labor, should feel a responsibility to teach and help the ignorant and the unemployed. {MH 194.1}

 In ministry to the poor there is a wide field of service for women as well as for men. The efficient cook, the housekeeper, the seamstress, the nurse--the help of all is needed. Let the members of poor households be taught how to cook, how to make and mend their own clothing, how to nurse the sick, how to care properly for the home. Let boys and girls be thoroughly taught some useful trade or occupation. {MH 194.2}

Missionary Families

Missionary families are needed to settle in the waste places. Let farmers, financiers, builders, and those who are skilled in various arts and crafts, go to neglected fields, to improve the land, to establish industries, to prepare humble homes for themselves, and to help their neighbors. {MH 194.3}

The rough places of nature, the wild places, God has made attractive by placing beautiful things among the most unsightly. This is the work we are called to do. Even the desert places of the earth, where the outlook appears to be forbidding, may become as the garden of God.

"In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, And the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel."  Isaiah 29:18, 19. {MH 194.4}

By instruction in practical lines we can often help the poor most effectively. As a rule, those who have not been trained to work do not have habits of industry, perseverance, economy,

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and self-denial. They do not know how to manage. Often through lack of carefulness and right judgment there is wasted that which would maintain their families in decency and comfort if it were carefully and economically used. "Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment." Proverbs 13:23. {MH 194.5}

We may give to the poor, and harm them, by teaching them to be dependent. Such giving encourages selfishness and helplessness. Often it leads to idleness, extravagance, and intemperance. No man who can earn his own livelihood has a right to depend on others. The proverb "The world owes me a living" has in it the essence of falsehood, fraud, and robbery. The world owes no man a living who is able to work and gain a living for himself. {MH 195.1}

Real charity helps men to help themselves. If one comes to our door and asks for food, we should not turn him away hungry; his poverty may be the result of misfortune. But true beneficence means more than mere gifts. It means a genuine interest in the welfare of others. We should seek to understand the needs of the poor and distressed, and to give them the help that will benefit them most. To give thought and time and personal effort costs far more than merely to give money. But it is the truest charity. {MH 195.2}

Those who are taught to earn what they receive will more readily learn to make the most of it. And in learning to be self-reliant, they are acquiring that which will not only make them self-sustaining, but will enable them to help others. Teach the importance of life's duties to those who are wasting their opportunities. Show them that Bible religion never makes men idlers. Christ always encouraged industry. "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" He said to the indolent. "I must work . . . while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." Matthew 20:6; John 9:4.

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{MH 195.3}

It is the privilege of all to give to the world in their home life, in their customs and practices and order, an evidence of what the gospel can do for those who obey it. Christ came to our world to give us an example of what we may become. He expects His followers to be models of correctness in all the relations of life. He desires the divine touch to be seen upon outward things. {MH 196.1}

Our own homes and surroundings should be object lessons, teaching ways of improvement, so that industry, cleanliness, taste, and refinement may take the place of idleness, uncleanness, coarseness, and disorder. By our lives and example we can help others to discern that which is repulsive in their character or their surroundings, and with Christian courtesy we may encourage improvement. As we manifest an interest in them, we shall find opportunity to teach them how to put their energies to the best use. {MH 196.2}

Hope and Courage

We can do nothing without courage and perseverance. Speak words of hope and courage to the poor and the disheartened. If need be, give tangible proof of your interest by helping them when they come into strait places. Those who have had many advantages should remember that they themselves still err in many things, and that it is painful to them when their errors are pointed out and there is held up before them a comely pattern of what they should be. Remember that kindness will accomplish more than censure. As you try to teach others, let them see that you wish them to reach the highest standard, and that you are ready to give them help. If in some things they fail, be not quick to condemn them. {MH 196.3}

Simplicity, self-denial, economy, lessons so essential for the poor to learn, often seem to them difficult and unwelcome.

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The example and spirit of the world is constantly exciting and fostering pride, love of display, self-indulgence, prodigality, and idleness. These evils bring thousands to penury and prevent thousands more from rising out of degradation and wretchedness. Christians are to encourage the poor to resist these influences. {MH 196.4}

Jesus came to this world in humility. He was of lowly birth. The Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, the Commander of all the angel host, He humbled Himself to accept humanity, and then He chose a life of poverty and humiliation. He had no opportunities that the poor do not have. Toil, hardship, and privation were a part of every day's experience. "Foxes have holes," He said, "and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." Luke 9:58. {MH 197.1}

Jesus did not seek the admiration or the applause of men. He commanded no army. He ruled no earthly kingdom. He did not court the favor of the wealthy and honored of the world. He did not claim a position among the leaders of the nation. He dwelt among the lowly. He set at nought the artificial distinctions of society. The aristocracy of birth, wealth, talent, learning, rank, He ignored. {MH 197.2}

He was the Prince of heaven, yet He did not choose His disciples from among the learned lawyers, the rulers, the scribes, or the Pharisees. He passed these by, because they prided themselves on their learning and position. They were fixed in their traditions and superstitions. He who could read all hearts chose humble fishermen who were willing to be taught. He ate with publicans and sinners, and mingled with the common people, not to become low and earthly with them, but in order by precept and example to present to them right principles, and to uplift them from their earthliness and debasement. {MH 197.3}

Jesus sought to correct the world's false standard of judging the value of men. He took His position with the poor,

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that He might lift from poverty the stigma that the world had attached to it. He has stripped from it forever the reproach of scorn, by blessing the poor, the inheritors of God's kingdom. He points us to the path He trod, saying, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." Verse 23. {MH 197.4}

Christian workers are to meet the people where they are, and educate them, not in pride, but in character building. Teach them how Christ worked and denied Himself. Help them to learn from Him the lessons of self-denial and sacrifice. Teach them to beware of self-indulgence in conforming to fashion. Life is too valuable, too full of solemn, sacred responsibilities, to be wasted in pleasing self. {MH 198.1}

Life's Best Things

Men and women have hardly begun to understand the true object of life. They are attracted by glitter and show. They are ambitious for worldly pre-eminence. To this the true aims of life are sacrificed. Life's best things--simplicity, honesty, truthfulness, purity, integrity--cannot be bought or sold. They are as free to the ignorant as to the educated, to the humble laborer as to the honored statesman. For everyone God has provided pleasure that may be enjoyed by rich and poor alike--the pleasure found in cultivating pureness of thought and unselfishness of action, the pleasure that comes from speaking sympathizing words and doing kindly deeds. From those who perform such service the light of Christ shines to brighten lives darkened by many shadows. {MH 198.2}

While helping the poor in temporal things, keep always in view their spiritual needs. Let your own life testify to the Saviour's keeping power. Let your character reveal the high standard to which all may attain. Teach the gospel in simple

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object lessons. Let everything with which you have to do be a lesson in character building. {MH 198.3}

In the humble round of toil, the very weakest, the most obscure, may be workers together with God and may have the comfort of His presence and sustaining grace. They are not to weary themselves with busy anxieties and needless cares. Let them work on from day to day, accomplishing faithfully the task that God's providence assigns, and He will care for them. He says: {MH 199.1}

"In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6, A.R.V.; 4:7. {MH 199.2}

The Lord's care is over all His creatures. He loves them all and makes no difference, except that He has the most tender pity for those who are called to bear life's heaviest burdens. God's children must meet trials and difficulties. But they should accept their lot with a cheerful spirit, remembering that for all that the world neglects to bestow, God Himself will make up to them in the best of favors. {MH 199.3}

It is when we come into difficult places that He reveals His power and wisdom in answer to humble prayer. Have confidence in Him as a prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God. He will reveal Himself to you as One who can help in every emergency. He who created man, who gave him his wonderful physical, mental, and spiritual faculties, will not withhold that which is necessary to sustain the life He has given. He who has given us His word--the leaves of the tree of life-- will not withhold from us a knowledge of how to provide food for His needy children. {MH 199.4}

How can wisdom be obtained by him who holds the plow and drives the oxen? By seeking her as silver, and searching for her as for hid treasure. "For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him." Isaiah 28:26. "This also

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cometh forth from Jehovah of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom." Verse 29, A.R.V. {MH 199.5}

He who taught Adam and Eve in Eden how to tend the garden, desires to instruct men today. There is wisdom for him who drives the plow and sows the seed. Before those who trust and obey Him, God will open ways of advance. Let them move forward courageously, trusting in Him to supply their needs according to the riches of His goodness. {MH 200.1}

He who fed the multitude with five loaves and two small fishes is able today to give us the fruit of our labor. He who said to the fishers of Galilee, "Let down your nets for a draft," and who, as they obeyed, filled their nets till they broke, desires His people to see in this an evidence of what He will do for them today. The God who in the wilderness gave the children of Israel manna from heaven still lives and reigns. He will guide His people and give skill and understanding in the work they are called to do. He will give wisdom to those who strive to do their duty conscientiously and intelligently. He who owns the world is rich in resources, and will bless everyone who is seeking to bless others. {MH 200.2}

We need to look heavenward in faith. We are not to be discouraged because of apparent failure, nor should we be disheartened by delay. We should work cheerfully, hopefully, gratefully, believing that the earth holds in her bosom rich treasures for the faithful worker to garner, stores richer than gold or silver. The mountains and hills are changing; the earth is waxing old like a garment; but the blessing of God, which spreads for His people a table in the wilderness, will never cease. {MH 200.3}

PATRIARCHS AND PROPHETS, Chapter 51—God’s Care for the Poor

Chap. 51 - God's Care for the Poor

To promote the assembling of the people for religious service, as well as to provide for the poor, a second tithe of all the increase was required. Concerning the first tithe, the Lord had declared, "I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel." Numbers 18:21. But in regard to the second He commanded, "Thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which He shall choose to place His name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always." Deuteronomy 14:23, 29; 16:11-14. This tithe, or its equivalent in money, they were for two years to bring to the place where the sanctuary was established. After presenting a thank offering to God, and a specified portion to the priest, the offerers were to use the remainder for a religious feast, in which the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow should participate. Thus provision was made for the thank offerings and feasts at the yearly festivals, and the people were drawn to the society of the priests and Levites, that they might receive instruction and encouragement in the service of God. {PP 530.1}

Every third year, however, this second tithe was to be used at home, in entertaining the Levite and the poor, as Moses said, "That they may eat within thy gates, and be filled." Deuteronomy 26:12. This tithe would provide a fund for the uses of charity and hospitality. {PP 530.2}

And further provision was made for the poor. There is nothing, after their recognition of the claims of God, that more distinguishes the laws given by Moses than the liberal, tender, and hospitable spirit enjoined toward the poor. Although God had promised greatly to bless His people, it was not His design that poverty should be wholly unknown among them. He declared that the poor should never cease out of the land. There would ever be those among His people who would call into exercise

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their sympathy, tenderness, and benevolence. Then, as now, persons were subject to misfortune, sickness, and loss of property; yet so long as they followed the instruction given by God, there were no beggars among them, neither any who suffered for food. {PP 530.3}

The law of God gave the poor a right to a certain portion of the produce of the soil. When hungry, a man was at liberty to go to his neighbor's field or orchard or vineyard, and eat of the grain or fruit to satisfy his hunger. It was in accordance with this permission that the disciples of Jesus plucked and ate of the standing grain as they passed through a field upon the Sabbath day. {PP 531.1}

All the gleanings of harvest field, orchard, and vineyard, belonged to the poor. "When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field," said Moses, "and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it. . . . When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again. . . . When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt." Deuteronomy 24:19-22; Leviticus 19:9, 10. {PP 531.2}

Every seventh year special provision was made for the poor. The sabbatical year, as it was called, began at the end of the harvest. At the seedtime, which followed the ingathering, the people were not to sow; they should not dress the vineyard in the spring; and they must expect neither harvest nor vintage. Of that which the land produced spontaneously they might eat while fresh, but they were not to lay up any portion of it in their storehouses. The yield of this year was to be free for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and even for the creatures of the field. Exodus 23:10, 11; Leviticus 25:5. {PP 531.3}

But if the land ordinarily produced only enough to supply the wants of the people, how were they to subsist during the year when no crops were gathered? For this the promise of God made ample provision. "I will command My blessing upon you in the sixth year," He said, "and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store." Leviticus 25:21, 22.

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{PP 531.4}

The observance of the sabbatical year was to be a benefit to both the land and the people. The soil, lying untilled for one season, would afterward produce more plentifully. The people were released from the pressing labors of the field; and while there were various branches of work that could be followed during this time, all enjoyed greater leisure, which afforded opportunity for the restoration of their physical powers for the exertions of the following years. They had more time for meditation and prayer, for acquainting themselves with the teachings and requirements of the Lord, and for the instruction of their households. {PP 532.1}

In the sabbatical year the Hebrew slaves were to be set at liberty, and they were not to be sent away portionless. The Lord's direction was: "When thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty. Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him." Deuteronomy 15:13, 14. {PP 532.2}

The hire of a laborer was to be promptly paid: "Thou shalt not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land: . . . at his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it." Deuteronomy 24:14, 15. {PP 532.3}

Special directions were also given concerning the treatment of fugitives from service: "Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee. He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him." Deuteronomy 23:15, 16. {PP 532.4}

To the poor, the seventh year was a year of release from debt. The Hebrews were enjoined at all times to assist their needy brethren by lending them money without interest. To take usury from a poor man was expressly forbidden: "If thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase." Leviticus 25:35-37. If the debt remained unpaid

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until the year of release, the principal itself could not be recovered. The people were expressly warned against withholding from their brethren needed assistance on account of this: "If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren, . . . thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother. . . . Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee." "The poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land," "and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth." Deuteronomy 15:7-9, 11, 8. {PP 532.5}

None need fear that their liberality would bring them to want. Obedience to God's commandments would surely result in prosperity. "Thou shalt lend unto many nations," He said, "but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee." Deuteronomy 15:6. {PP 533.1}

After "seven sabbaths of years," "seven times seven years," came that great year of release--the jubilee. "Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound . . . throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family." Leviticus 25:9, 10. {PP 533.2}

"On the tenth day of the seventh month, in the Day of Atonement," the trumpet of the jubilee was sounded. Throughout the land, wherever the Jewish people dwelt, the sound was heard, calling upon all the children of Jacob to welcome the year of release. On the great Day of Atonement satisfaction was made for the sins of Israel, and with gladness of heart the people would welcome the jubilee. {PP 533.3}

As in the sabbatical year, the land was not to be sown or reaped, and all that it produced was to be regarded as the rightful property of the poor. Certain classes of Hebrew slaves--all who did not receive their liberty in the sabbatical year--were now set free. But that which especially distinguished the year of jubilee was the reversion of all landed property to the family of

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the original possessor. By the special direction of God the land had been divided by lot. After the division was made no one was at liberty to trade his estate. Neither was he to sell his land unless poverty compelled him to do so, and then, whenever he or any of his kindred might desire to redeem it, the purchaser must not refuse to sell it; and if unredeemed, it would revert to its first possessor or his heirs in the year of jubilee. {PP 533.4}

The Lord declared to Israel: "The land shall not be sold forever: for the land is Mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with Me." Leviticus 25:23. The people were to be impressed with the fact that it was God's land which they were permitted to possess for a time; that He was the rightful owner, the original proprietor, and that He would have special consideration made for the poor and unfortunate. It was to be impressed upon the minds of all that the poor have as much right to a place in God's world as have the more wealthy. {PP 534.1}

Such were the provisions made by our merciful Creator, to lessen suffering, to bring some ray of hope, to flash some gleam of sunshine, into the life of the destitute and distressed. {PP 534.2}

The Lord would place a check upon the inordinate love of property and power. Great evils would result from the continued accumulation of wealth by one class, and the poverty and degradation of another. Without some restraint the power of the wealthy would become a monopoly, and the poor, though in every respect fully as worthy in God's sight, would be regarded and treated as inferior to their more prosperous brethren. The sense of this oppression would arouse the passions of the poorer class. There would be a feeling of despair and desperation which would tend to demoralize society and open the door to crimes of every description. The regulations that God established were designed to promote social equality. The provisions of the sabbatical year and the jubilee would, in a great measure, set right that which during the interval had gone wrong in the social and political economy of the nation. {PP 534.3}

These regulations were designed to bless the rich no less than the poor. They would restrain avarice and a disposition for self-exaltation, and would cultivate a noble spirit of benevolence; and by fostering good will and confidence between all classes, they would promote social order, the stability of government. We are all woven together in the great web of humanity,

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and whatever we can do to benefit and uplift others will reflect in blessing upon ourselves. The law of mutual dependence runs through all classes of society. The poor are not more dependent upon the rich than are the rich upon the poor. While the one class ask a share in the blessings which God has bestowed upon their wealthier neighbors, the other need the faithful service, the strength of brain and bone and muscle, that are the capital of the poor. {PP 534.4}

Great blessings were promised to Israel on condition of obedience to the Lord's directions. "I will give you rain in due season," He declared, "and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. . . . I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be My people. . . . But if ye will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments; and . . . ye break My covenant: . . . ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set My face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you." Leviticus 26:4-17. {PP 535.1}

There are many who urge with great enthusiasm that all men should have an equal share in the temporal blessings of God. But this was not the purpose of the Creator. A diversity of condition is one of the means by which God designs to prove and develop character. Yet He intends that those who have worldly possessions shall regard themselves merely as stewards of His goods, as entrusted with means to be employed for the benefit of the suffering and the needy. {PP 535.2}

Christ has said that we shall have the poor always with us, and He unites His interest with that of His suffering people. The heart of our Redeemer sympathizes with the poorest and lowliest of His earthly children. He tells us that they are His representatives on earth. He has placed them among us to awaken in our hearts the love that He feels toward the suffering and oppressed. Pity and benevolence shown to them are accepted by

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Christ as if shown to Himself. An act of cruelty or neglect toward them is regarded as though done to Him. {PP 535.3}

If the law given by God for the benefit of the poor had continued to be carried out, how different would be the present condition of the world, morally, spiritually, and temporally! Selfishness and self-importance would not be manifested as now, but each would cherish a kind regard for the happiness and welfare of others; and such widespread destitution as is now seen in many lands would not exist. {PP 536.1}

The principles which God has enjoined, would prevent the terrible evils that in all ages have resulted from the oppression of the rich toward the poor and the suspicion and hatred of the poor toward the rich. While they might hinder the amassing of great wealth and the indulgence of unbounded luxury, they would prevent the consequent ignorance and degradation of tens of thousands whose ill-paid servitude is required to build up these colossal fortunes. They would bring a peaceful solution of those problems that now threaten to fill the world with anarchy and bloodshed. {PP 536.2}

PATRIARCHS & PROPHETS, “The School of the Prophets” chapter 58

It is a law of the mind that it gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is trained to dwell. If occupied with commonplace matters only, it will become dwarfed and enfeebled. If never required to grapple with difficult problems, it will after a time almost lose the power of growth. As an educating power the Bible is without a rival. In the word of God the mind finds subject for the deepest thought, the loftiest aspiration. The Bible is the most instructive history that men possess. It came fresh from the fountain of eternal truth, and a divine hand has preserved its purity through all the ages. It lights up the far-distant past, where human research seeks vainly to penetrate. In God's word we behold the power that laid the foundation of the earth and that stretched out the heavens. Here only can we find a history of our race unsullied by human prejudice or human pride. Here are recorded the struggles, the defeats, and the victories of the greatest men this world has ever known. Here the great problems of duty and destiny are unfolded. The curtain that separates the visible from the invisible world is lifted, and we behold the conflict of the opposing forces of good and evil, from the first entrance of sin to the final triumph of righteousness and truth; and all is but a revelation of the character of God. In the reverent contemplation of the truths presented in His word the mind of the student is brought into communion with the infinite mind. Such a study will not only refine and ennoble

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the character, but it cannot fail to expand and invigorate the mental powers. {PP 596.2}

The teaching of the Bible has a vital bearing upon man's prosperity in all the relations of this life. It unfolds the principles that are the cornerstone of a nation's prosperity--principles with which is bound up the well-being of society, and which are the safeguard of the family--principles without which no man can attain usefulness, happiness, and honor in this life, or can hope to secure the future, immortal life. There is no position in life, no phase of human experience, for which the teaching of the Bible is not an essential preparation. Studied and obeyed, the word of God would give to the world men of stronger and more active intellect than will the closest application to all the subjects that human philosophy embraces. It would give men of strength and solidity of character, of keen perception and sound judgment--men who would be an honor to God and a blessing to the world. {PP 599.1}

The impress of Deity, manifest in the pages of revelation, is seen upon the lofty mountains, the fruitful valleys, the broad, deep ocean. The things of nature speak to man of his Creator's

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love. He has linked us to Himself by unnumbered tokens in heaven and in earth. This world is not all sorrow and misery. "God is love," is written upon every opening bud, upon the petals of every flower, and upon every spire of grass. Though the curse of sin has caused the earth to bring forth thorns and thistles, there are flowers upon the thistles and the thorns are hidden by roses. All things in nature testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy. His prohibitions and injunctions are not intended merely to display His authority, but in all that He does He has the well-being of His children in view. He does not require them to give up anything that it would be for their best interest to retain. {PP 599.4}

The opinion which prevails in some classes of society, that religion is not conducive to health or to happiness in this life, is one of the most mischievous of errors. The Scripture says: "The fear of the Lord tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied." Proverbs 19:23. "What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it." Psalm 34:12-14. The words of wisdom "are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh." Proverbs 4:22. {PP 600.1}

True religion brings man into harmony with the laws of God, physical, mental, and moral. It teaches self-control, serenity, temperance. Religion ennobles the mind, refines the taste, and sanctifies the judgment. It makes the soul a partaker of the purity of heaven. Faith in God's love and overruling providence lightens the burdens of anxiety and care. It fills the heart with joy and contentment in the highest or the lowliest lot. Religion tends directly to promote health, to lengthen life, and to heighten our enjoyment of all its blessings. It opens to the soul a never-failing fountain of happiness. Would that all who have not chosen Christ might realize that He has something vastly better to offer them that they are seeking for themselves. Man is doing the greatest injury and injustice to his own soul when he thinks and acts contrary to the will of God. No real joy can be found in the path forbidden by Him who knows what is best, and who plans for the good of His creatures. The path of transgression leads to misery and destruction; but wisdom's "ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." Proverbs 3:17.

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{PP 600.2}

The physical as well as the religious training practiced in the schools of the Hebrews may be profitably studied. The worth of such training is not appreciated. There is an intimate relation between the mind and the body, and in order to reach a high standard of moral and intellectual attainment the laws that control our physical being must be heeded. To secure a strong, well-balanced character, both the mental and the physical powers must be exercised and developed. What study can be more important for the young than that which treats of this wonderful organism that God has committed to us, and of the laws by which it may be preserved in health? {PP 601.1}

Let the youth be led to understand the object of their creation, to honor God and bless their fellow men; let them see the tender love which the Father in heaven has manifested toward them, and the high destiny for which the discipline of this life is to prepare them, the dignity and honor to which they are called, even to become the sons of God, and thousands would turn with contempt and loathing from the low and selfish aims and the frivolous pleasures that have hitherto engrossed them. They would learn to hate sin and to shun it, not merely from hope of reward or fear of punishment, but from a sense of its inherent

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baseness, because it would be a degrading of their God-given powers, a stain upon their Godlike manhood. {PP 601.4}

God does not bid the youth to be less aspiring. The elements of character that make a man successful and honored among men--the irrepressible desire for some greater good, the indomitable will, the strenuous exertion, the untiring perseverance--are not to be crushed out. By the grace of God they are to be directed to objects as much higher than mere selfish and temporal interests as the heavens are higher than the earth. And the education begun in this life will be continued in the life to come. Day by day the wonderful works of God, the evidences of His wisdom and power in creating and sustaining the universe, the infinite mystery of love and wisdom in the plan of redemption, will open to the mind in new beauty. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." 1 Corinthians 2:9. Even in this life we may catch glimpses of His presence and may taste the joy of communion with Heaven, but the fullness of its joy and blessing will be reached in the hereafter. Eternity alone can reveal the glorious destiny to which man, restored to God's image, may attain. {PP 602.1}

True religion brings man into harmony with the laws of God, physical, mental, and moral. It teaches self-control, serenity, temperance. Religion ennobles the mind, refines the taste, and sanctifies the judgment. It makes the soul a partaker of the purity of heaven. Faith in God's love and overruling providence lightens the burdens of anxiety and care. It fills the heart with joy and contentment in the highest or the lowliest lot. Religion tends directly to promote health, to lengthen life, and to heighten our enjoyment of all its blessings. It opens to the soul a never-failing fountain of happiness. Would that all who have not chosen Christ might realize that He has something vastly better to offer them that they are seeking for themselves. Man is doing the greatest injury and injustice to his own soul when he thinks and acts contrary to the will of God. No real joy can be found in the path forbidden by Him who knows what is best, and who plans for the good of His creatures. The path of transgression leads to misery and destruction; but wisdom's "ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." Proverbs 3:17.

BIBLE VERSES ON ECONOMIC OPPRESSION

Exodus 22:21. "Do not oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.

22. "Do not exploit widows or orphans. 23If you do and they cry out to me, then I will surely help them. 24My anger will blaze forth against you, and I will kill you with the sword. Your wives will become widows, and your children will become fatherless.

25. "If you lend money to a fellow Hebrew in need, do not be like a money lender, charging interest.

Jeremiah 21:13. "Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice,  making his countrymen work for nothing,  not paying them for their labor….17 "your eyes and your heart  are set only on dishonest gain,  on shedding innocent blood  and on oppression and extortion."

Ezekiel 22:29. The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice.

Micah 6:11. And how can I tolerate all your merchants who use dishonest scales and weights?

Psalm 15:5. Those who do not charge interest on the money they lend, and who refuse to accept bribes to testify against the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.

Ezekiel 18---characteristics of righteous men:

--a merciful creditor

--does not rob the poor but instead gives food to the hungry and provides clothes for people in need.

--does not exploit the poor, but instead is fair to debtors and does not rob them.

--does not lend money at interest, and obeys all my regulations and laws

Proverbs 28:8. A person who makes money by charging interest will lose it. It will end up in the hands of someone who is kind to the poor.

Proverbs 22:16. He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich-both come to poverty.

Micah 6:11. And how can I tolerate all your merchants who use dishonest scales and weights?

Amos 8:4. Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land… skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, 6 buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat.

The Old Testament is very strong on honest weights in marketing: Leviticus 19:35-36; Proverbs 11:1; 16:11; 20:10,23; Hosea 12:7-8; Micah 6:11.

James 5:4. “For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.”
(see also Malachi 3:5)
 

A reasonable profit is profit that gives a fair return to the producer and seller of a product [Leviticus 25:14-17]. When this happens the purchaser also pays a fair price. Boosting the price is very common in modern trade.

Leviticus 25. 14"When you make an agreement with a neighbor to buy or sell property, you must never take advantage of each other.

Proverbs 13:23.  the fields of the poor may produce abundant crops but, injustice sweeps it away.

Ezra 7:24. I also decree that no priest, Levite, singer, gatekeeper, Temple servant, or other worker in this Temple of God will be required to pay taxes of any kind.'

Amos 5:11. You trample the poor and steal what little they have through taxes and unfair rent. Therefore, you will never live in the beautiful stone houses you are building. You will never drink wine from the lush vineyards you are planting.

Nehemiah 5:7. After thinking about the situation, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, "You are oppressing your own relatives by charging them interest when they borrow money!" Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem.

8At the meeting I said to them, "The rest of us are doing all we can to redeem our Jewish relatives who have had to sell themselves to pagan foreigners, but you are selling them back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?" And they had nothing to say in their defense.

9Then I pressed further, "What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God in order to avoid being mocked by enemy nations? 10I myself, as well as my brothers and my workers, have been lending the people money and grain, but now let us stop this business of loans. 11You must restore their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes to them this very day. Repay the interest you charged on their money, grain, wine, and olive oil."

12Then they replied, "We will give back everything and demand nothing more from the people. We will do as you say." Then I called the priests and made the nobles and officials formally vow to do what they had promised.

13I shook out the fold of my robe and said, "If you fail to keep your promise, may God shake you from your homes and from your property!"

The whole assembly responded, "Amen," and they praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised.

Ezekiel 22:29. The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice.

Micah 6:11And how can I tolerate all your merchants who use dishonest scales and weights?

Jeremiah 21:13.  "Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice,  making his countrymen work for nothing,  not paying them for their labor….17 "your eyes and your heart  are set only on dishonest gain,  on shedding innocent blood  and on oppression and extortion."

Psalm 15:5. Those who do not charge interest on the money they lend, and who refuse to accept bribes to testify against the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.

Nehemiah 5:7.  "You are oppressing your own relatives by charging them interest when they borrow money!" …You are selling them (our Jewish relatives) back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?" And they had nothing to say in their defense. 9Then I pressed further, "What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God in order to avoid being mocked by enemy nations? …but now let us stop this business of loans…Repay the interest you charged…12Then they replied, "We will give back everything and demand nothing more from the people. We will do as you say." Then I called the priests and made the nobles and officials formally vow to do what they had promised. 13I said, "If you fail to keep your promise, may God shake you from your homes and from your property!"

Special Offerings and Celebrations

13"This is the tax you must give to the prince: one bushel of wheat or barley for every sixty[8] you harvest, 14one percent of your olive oil,[9] 15and one sheep for every two hundred in your flocks in Israel. These will be the grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings that will make atonement for the people who bring them, says the Sovereign LORD.


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