Day 75 reading: Deuteronomy, chapters 14-16
Let’s just jump in to this one!!!
First of all, let me acknowledge the obvious, that I am not an Israelite and that these rules were directed straight at the Israelites…however, what if we interpreted these governing rules to our lives just as the Israelites were called to do. Let’s focus on Deuteronomy 15:1-11.
1. At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.
This first verse of chapter 15 gets my mind reeling! At almost 35 years old, I am reaching the end of my 5th 7-year cycle. The mere thought of having all debt erased every seven years is unimaginable…and short of college loans, I’ve avoided most debt, but even just that one type of debt would be a HUGE relief!
In the MUCH bigger picture, as of this millisecond that I am writing the actual amount, the U.S. National Debt stands at $16,530,855,700,032 (according to usdebtclock.org). The furthest back I could find doing some quick research this morning, it appears that in 1791, under the presidency of George Washington, our country was somewhere around $100,000,000 in debt. Our country’s debt then took a nose-dive under the care of Andrew Jackson around 1835, with only approximately $50,000 U.S. debt.
Allowing for inflation, I have calculated that the country’s $100,000,000 debt from 1791 would equal about $1,329,336,052 today. I can almost wrap my head around that number. It’s still unbelievably high, but I am honest enough with myself to know that I know very little of the detail and difficulty that goes into running the greatest country in the world.
That being said, however–and I want this to really stick–if the George Washington number is our “norm” or “control” in this calculation, our current national debt is OVER 12,435 times that amount!
Our country was built on biblical standards and beliefs. Imagine, not only on a personal level, but on a world-wide level, what could be done with being freed from debt every seven years as God originally intended.
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 cancelling debts has been proclaimed.
Do you ever find yourself still holding a grudge from something that happened a decade or more ago? This doesn’t even have to be a money- or debt-based question, just one of reality.
Imagine if someone borrowed money from you but weeks and months went by without being repaid. I’m sure that’s not too difficult to imagine; we’ve all been there. You either stop hearing from that person all together–usually out of guilt for not being able to repay you–or you do still hear from them but it’s just awkward. It makes you mad, it likely makes your spouse mad (because he told you not to lend that money out in the first place, right???), and it puts a strain on a relationship that was pretty good up to that point.
Now, imagine all the stress that would be left behind, and the relief that would be felt if you honored God’s Word and cancelled that debt all together?
Are there some people in your life who could use some debt cancelling? Someone you having forgiven? Someone who you have hurt or been the victim of hurt that may be 10, 20, even 30 or more years old? We carry around these emotional debts like badges of honor, sometimes, and allow them to take over what could be a very contented life.
3. You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your brother owes you.
This is where things get really juicy…especially in reference to our current national debt issue. According to the sources I’m looking at, $5,584,380,790,150 of our U.S. National Debt is held by foreign countries. That’s right, a third of our debt is held outside of our own country. I realize this isn’t news to many people, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking when we look at the grand scheme of things.
At the end of that seven-year cycle, when all other debt is cancelled, according to today’s reading of God’s Word, $5 Trillion of that debt is still very much on the table and due. God did not ever intend for this to be the way we operated as a people or a society.
4-5. However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.
In a time where the average tax payer has $146,194 in personal debt, we likely can’t fathom letting go of our debt. We carry it around with us like a security blanket. We nurse it along, adding to it all along the journey. Instead of living at or below our means, we live above our means…by an average of $146,194!
Yet, if our world had continued along the path God laid out for us through Moses, not only would our accumulated debt have evaporated every seven years, but there would be super-poor or super-rich, because we would all be in the same boat. The rich wouldn’t be able to just keep getting richer by charging the borrower interest for an eternity, because that debt would be relieved after seven years. The poor wouldn’t continue getting poorer just because, unlike today’s culture, that poor man wouldn’t have been set off into a rapid downward spiral because he lost his job or he made a bad investment.
6. For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.
Lend to others but borrow from no other nations???? Certainly the U.S. isn’t hearing that right. Surely, God didn’t really mean that????
When we owe money to others, they have the power and we have given that power up. Period.
7-8. If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.
This joy that would have come from living these rules God laid out would allow us to reciprocate giving with happy hearts. In our obedience, the Lord richly blesses you and I, so even the poor are blessed by our generosity and are no longer poor.
9. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year of cancelling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill 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.
If we were living in a world that lived by these rules, imagine the freedom of living the cycle of debt-free living. Knowing that every seven years not only are your personal debts relieved, but those who owe you are also forgotten. Just like Jesus dying for our sins so that every time we ask for forgiveness, God completely forgets what we ever did to sin in the first place, such would be our mindset about money and borrowing and accumulation of wealth and of debt.
10. Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
To give freely of ourselves, our time, and our resources, and never hold a grudge or count that as debt–Wow! As God blesses you, you in turn bless others!! And, furthermore, in your obedience, the Lord sees and is pleased with you!!!
11. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.
Whew! That hits HOME!
This is one of those days that REQUIRED research and digging into some of the truths about the situation our U.S. economy is in. So, although my normal goal is to read and share my own feelings on any given section of biblical reading, today my feelings required some back up!
Make it a great day,
Day 76 reading: Deuteronomy, chapters 17-20
**Debt calculations derived from a shocking real time website: USDebtClock.org. I encourage you to check it out! It also offers world debt calculations, and state by state breakdowns, as well.