Volume 13, Number 2, July-August 2009

Cities and Plowshares in the Kingdom of God

Letter:      August 8, 2008

Greetings Norm,

This is in response to John E. Robinson’s article, “treasures in Heaven”, in the July-Aug ‘08’ SN. I enjoyed his article, and agree with most of his conclusions. So my following comments are intended to perhaps build on what John presented.

Scripture clearly shows that the future will definitely see an increased emphasis on more earth-related activities: farming, ranching, and like way of life. “each man will live under his own fig tree!” [Mic 4:4; Zech 3:10]. Yet, those same Scriptures seem to teach a large emphasis on a capitalistic society!

“Cities will be rebuilt”! [Ezk 36:10, 33]. People will live in those cities. And, it is very unlikely they will have farms and ranches in those cities. Thus, what purpose do the cities hold? The weapons of war will be made into “plowshares”! (Isa 2:4; Mic 4:3). Yet, “plowshares”, while picturing nature activities, do not seem to point to “other” activities.

Ask yourselves. In the future, are wives and mothers going to hand make all of the clothes for their families? Will they take the clothes they make, and wash them in a homemade tub, made by their husbands? Or will they take them to the nearest stream and beat the dirt out of them with rocks?

Or, will their husbands manufacture modern “washing machines” and “sewing machines”? And everything else that are very acceptable necessities? Electricity, furniture, toilets, windows, mirrors, shoes, etc and et al. Will the ranchers only raise animals for their own needs, or will they raise animals to feed and clothe the “bigger” multitude that live in the cities?

Does it not make sense that the produce of the land will find its way into the cities, meaning more than food and clothing? How about lumberjacks? Miners? Fishermen? Yes, the acts of those who deal with and in nature, will be “sold” to those in the cities, who will manufacture and process for all men. They will make the washing machines, refrigerators, etc. They will process food for the masses! And they will sell much of it back to the farmers and ranchers!

And if the above is true, then there will be banking institutions, that can finance people who desire to enter into the capitalist ventures. Manufacturing, hotels, motels and restaurants! And, they must charge interest!

Only, it will be done the righteous way!

     —Ray E. Daly, North Dakota

Response: I agree with all of your letter, except some of the second to last paragraph. The prophecies of cities indicate the kind of industry and trade that one finds in cities. Who will beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks? Where will the hammers come from that they use to beat these things? Does every farmer need to do his own metallurgy? I have seen people who know the trade use a hot fire and a few tools to accomplish in minutes what an untrained person, pounding away with a hammer, might take days to accomplish. Will the use of metal tools in the Kingdom end once all the old swords and spearheads are used up? Probably not.

Many Christians see all the evil done with technology and conclude that we cannot have technology in the coming Kingdom of God. Consider that great evil has also been done with music, writing and sex. The answer is not to eliminate these four things, but to eliminate the evil use of them.

Sure, there are many technological things that should never have been created, and there are many good things that have been greatly misused. The computer fits this category big time! Computers are used for evil games, pornography, spying on people and placing all manner of complex, nearly-unfathomable fin­ ancial, tax and other burdens on people that would never have been implemented without computers. On the other hand, the nice layout of this magazine would have taken hundreds of hours for someone to manually typeset by using the old method of pulling letters one at a time out of a huge bin and placing them on a frame for printing.

The ability to instantly see writing and pictures of one’s own choosing from around the world is truly wonderful. Computers now make it possible for the average child to compose music for an entire symphony orchestra and have it played by very good sounding digital instruments. This was something available only to children of kings and the very wealthy for most of mankind’s existence.

I disagree with the need for banking institutions, loans and interest payments to bring about worthwhile businesses and technology. We do not need banks for money, as the scripture teaches the use of silver and gold for money (see Sept/Oct ‘08 SN). We do not need banks for business loans:

Wealth hastily gotten will dwindle, but those who gather little by little will increase it (Prov 13:11).

This writer has a degree in business administration and has been through the math taught in college showing why businesses should borrow money: If a man has $100,000 to invest and a good idea that will grow a business at 20% per year, in five years his business will be worth $100,000 × 1.25 or about $250,000. However, supposed the man were to borrow $900,000 so he could start with a million, and still grow his business at the same rate. It would be worth ten times as much, $2,500,000 at the end of five years. If he paid back the $900,000 loan and $300,000 simple interest at 6.7% per year, the business would still be worth $1,300,000—a 13-fold return on the man’s $100,000 investment. The interest paid to the bank seems worthwhile for such a big gain.

What happens if the business does not grow at 20% per year as planned? The table below shows what will happen at various rates of business growth. If the man simply invests only his own money, his money increases as long as the business grows. Even if it shrinks 5% or 10% a year, he would still have enough to end that venture and begin a different one. Whereas with the loan, if the business only grows at 5%, the man’s $100,000 investment shrinks to $80,000. With a loan, if  the business shrinks, the man will loose everything he had and much more. He will not be able to pay the bank back interest or the entire principle. He will be forced to either sell his other businesses or personal possessions, or the bank will go unpaid, requiring some kind of bailout.

Results of $100,000 investment with or without a $900,000 loan

Actual Percent Annual Growth

Net Worth after 5 Years

No Loan

Net Worth after 5 Years

With Loan

20%

$250,000

$1,300,000

15%

$201,000

$810,000

10%

$161,000

$410,000

5%

$128.000

$80,000

0%

$100,000

– $200,000

– 5%

$77,000

– $430,000

– 10$

$59,000

– $610,000

I can still hear my business teachers saying, “Of course, you would want to form a corporation to run this business, so that the liability would be limited to the corporation, protecting the owners personal assets.”

And today, we are reaping the results of centuries of these practices. Trillions of dollars are managed and mismanaged by high-paid heads of banks, corporations and governments. When huge sums are lost, the taxpayers have to bail them out, and nobody is punished because these leaders are not personally liable for loss of corporate money.

When the corporations make billions of dollars, they get to keep it, and often put it into tax exempt foundations and other entities whereby they can exert great control over government and education but pay little or no tax. All of this is very far away from the Bible teaching of personal responsibility for actions.

One thing business school did not teach: when nearly every business is trying to  grow quickly through borrowing money taking over market share, some of them—maybe most of them—are not going grow as fast as they planned. When corporations spend billions on ad campaigns trying to cajole people into buying more fancy cars and other items that they do not need, there comes a day of reckoning when people realize they have more than they need and sales dry up for a good long while.

The Bible recognizes the need to borrow money for emergencies—when one’s crops or business fails. Suppose that the man in the example was making plowshares, he made them incorrectly, and they broke, causing injury to the farmers who bought them. That would be the time to borrow money, so that he could make the farmers whole and possibly recover his business. Loans are a safety net. If people start their business by borrowing as much as they can, where is their safety net?

Borrowing to try to make lots of money quickly is not a biblical principle. It is much less stressful to manage the $100,000 business with no debt rather than the $1,000,000 business with lots of debt. People should only make and sell what is good for everybody, not just themselves. People should not try to buy out or drive out the competition to their business to keep their profits high, but they should welcome it “as iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Prov 27:17).

—NSE

Biblical Economy & Christian Involvement

Letter:      Dec 31, 2008

Dear Norman,

Well, I opened an icon on my desktop the other day that showed me I hadn’t read Sept/Oct SN yet (no doubt due to the rush of pre- and post-Feast) so I read it—all last night. It was a great essay you did on biblical economy! I think you’re the only person who has tried to put together a macro-economic model better than I did. I took a different approach in [my book] Blueprints of the Kingdom. You have some great theories:

    Factories/businesses [are to be] no bigger than family land.

    You are the only one I ever heard who equated business revenue forecasts with population growth and personal disposable income. That is ingenious and realistic!

Response: I realize that most people today—even many professing Christians—think that the Old Testament principles are terribly insufficient to run a modern economy. Similarly, in the 1700s the European kings and clerics said that the “American experiment” would never work—that people need a civil and ecclesiastical hierarchy to tell them what to do. The truth was that an unbelievable amount of innovation and progress was made in the USA during the 1700s and 1800s, through free people who largely believed in the God of the Bible. Land was available to all and people were free to grow, mine, hunt or build what they wanted on it.

Today, most land is in the hands of a comparatively small group of wealthy people, and innovation is squashed by endless regulations and taxes. Today, much of the creativity of the people is not used to figure out how to produce the most from their crops or shops, but on how to get on the most government and charity hand-out programs at once. I’ve heard young people, barely out of high school say things like:

“You can apply for a scholarship and sign up for a full load of classes. Then on the third week, you drop all of the classes but one and you get most of the money back and put it in your pocket—the scholarship people never complain.”

“You work the real job during the summer, then collect unemployment in the winter while working a cash-job at the same time. You have more money in your pocket and pay less taxes than if your real job lasted all year.”

Similarly, the creativity of the wealthy is used to write deceptive ads, contracts loans, credit card agreements, etc. to fool the poor into paying more than they realize for things they do not need.

We do not need to simply tweak our present system, but we need a Jubilee year (Lev 25), redistribute the land and to set people free from slavery and debt.

Letter: The letters section showed (to me) why the Sabbatarian Christian people never succeed in this life. I will be keeping this issue close at hand. I do like reading hardcopy, but I have gotten used to reading SN  electronically, if you want to send future ones by PDF.

Response: I would not say that Sabbatarian people never succeed in this life, but we certainly have our difficulties—some unique to us and some the same as everyone else—though we often do not recognize it. We sometimes suffer because of persecution by others, but we also suffer from our own foolishness. Because we have an understanding of parts of the Bible that most other Christians do not have, it is way too easy to begin thinking that we understand all of the Bible better than others. Others believers need to learn from us, and we need to learn from them.

Servants News’ readers my be interested in John Qavah’s short, 2-3 times-per-year publication called Voice of Reconciliation, which encourages peace among the various Church of God groups and also accepts paid advertising for business among brethren.

Also, John encourages brethren interested in good government to look at the following website:

www.progressive-conservative.com

Letter: I have a new point of contact for PABC for you. The reason I’m going to be struggling again this year (& maybe in future years) is because I’m stepping out to do more and more non-paid work. I refuse to waste anymore of my life. I am a regular contributor/blogger for Christian Exodus and I am planning on doing more political work from now on.

More on those when I have more time and can write on my computer.

Your servant in Messiah Y’shua,

     John Qavah, Oregon

Response: Thank you for your encouraging letter. I hope other’s listen to your message about not “wasting our lives”. We often spend too much time or entertainment or trying to better our economic circumstances. The day-to-day practice of Christianity for so many people is going to church, giving money and praying for Godly solutions for one’s problems in life. While these things should be done, the focus of the New Testament seems to be on a powerful method of Christian life that was radically different from the people around them. They formed separate communities (Acts 2 & 4), they publicly healed people, they taught in the synagogues and public places, they declared their message to the leaders of their nations, they got jailed and driven out of town for their teaching, they collected money and distributed it to the poor themselves in the name of Messiah (not just giving to some other group’s charity).

Even if we don’t have miraculous gifts of healing, we can still do the rest. May our father in heaven help more of us to do it.!

—NSE

A Look Into The Identity of Galatians

Letter:      Jan 22, 2009

I have come to the conclusion from my personal studies of the Scriptures that the Galatians were not Gentiles as is commonly taught by many teachers of the Bible, but rather, they were Israelites, possibly from the so-called “lost ten tribes.” Please allow me to illustrate.

I did a Strong’s Concordance search under the words “Gentiles” and “heathen”. In the King James Version of the Scriptures the term “Gentiles” (Strong’s Greek #1484 ethnos) is used in the Epistle of the Galatians only seven times: 2:2,8,12,14(twice),15; 3:14; and the term “heathen” (Strong’s Greek #1484 ethnos) is only used three times in the Epistle to the Galatians: 1:16; 2:9; 3:8. If you notice, Paul never addresses the Galatians as “gentile” or “heathen” as he commonly does in some of his other epistles to Gentile Assemblies (Rom 1:13; 11:13; 15:10,11; 1Cor 12:2; Eph 2:11; 3:1; 4:7), but rather, it seems like he is addressing fellow Israelites discussing his ministry to the Gentiles.

The Gentiles were exclusively committed for Paul to minister unto as the “circumcision” was committed unto Peter’s ministry (Gal 2:7-8); but Paul wasn’t exclusive only to the Gentiles; “But the Master said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:...” (Acts 9:15, WOY, emphasis mine). So, we shouldn’t assume that all of Paul’s epistles were addressed to just Gentiles. On the other hand, even though we do see some interaction between Peter and Gentiles (Acts 10; Gal 2:11-14), it really isn’t established that his apostleship is to any other but the circumcision (Gal 2:8). So, now, notice in Peter’s first epistle the locations of the “circumcision” he is writing to: “Peter, an apostle of [Yahshua Messiah], To the pilgrims of the Dispersion )Strong’s Greek #1920 diaspora) in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,...” (1Pet 1:1, NKJV, Sacred name restored). Notice in the New King James Version that the word “dispersion” is capitalized, I believe indicating that Peter was addressing either those of the “house of Judah” that were taken into Babylonian captivity, or those of the “house of Israel” that were taken into Assyrian captivity. I like to think that it was to both when you take James opening greeting in his epistle into consideration: “James, a servant of [Yahweh] and of the [Master Yahshua Messiah], to the twelve tribes which are scattered (Strong’s Greek #1290 diaspora) abroad, greeting” (Jms 1:1, KJV, Sacred Names and titles restored).

In part, Commentator Matthew Henry agrees with me as he writes: “1. By their external condition—Strangers dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, etc. They were chiefly jews, descended (as Dr. Prideaux thinks) from those jews who were translated from Babylon, by order of Antiochus king of Syria, about two hundred years before the coming of [Messiah], and placed in the cities of Asia Minor. It is very likely that our apostle had been among them, and converted them, being the apostle of the circumcision, and that he afterwards wrote this epistle to them from Babylon, where multitudes of the Jewish nation then resided” (Mather Henry’s Commentary on the WHOLEBIBLECOMPLETE and UNABRIDGED, p. 2421, Sacred title restored ,emphasis mine).

Another Commentator, Dr. Henry H. Halley disagrees with this as he writes on 1Peter 1:1: “Strangers” (1:1), seems to mean Scattered Jewish Christians. But 2:10 [1 Peter] indicates they were mainly, Gentiles” (Halley’s Bible Handbook, p 663). This can easily be proven otherwise, as 1Peter 2:10 is quoting Hosea 1:6,9; 2:23 which is addressing Israel! So now, who exactly were the Galatians? Dr. Henry H. Halley writes: “Galatians were a branch of Gauls, originally from north of the Black Sea, split off from the main migration westward to France, and settled in Asia Minor, 3rd century B.C.” (Halley’s Bible Handbook, p 608). In the American Heritage College Dictionary, Third Ed., under the word “Gaul” we find: Gaul1 (gôl) n. 1. A Celt of ancient Gaul. 2. A French person. Gaul 2 (gôl) Formerly Gallia (gäl 'e-ä). An ancient region of W EuropeS and W of the Rhine R., W of the Alps, and N of the Pyrenees, corresponding roughly to modern-day France and Belgium; conquered by Julius Caesar in the Gallic Wars (58-51 B.C.).

Now I have ready many books and booklets that have been put out by the various “Church of God” splinter groups on this subject of the identity of the so-called “lost ten tribes” of Israel. I am an un-educated prisoner with limited resources and study aids; my question to those of you that I send this treatise to is this: Is this possible that the Galatians were of the lost ten tribes of Israel? And if so, what significance would this revelation have? Thanking you in advance for your time and consideration in this matter.

In Yahweh’s service,

John Joseph Adkins #B-23557; Kinross Correctional Facility, 16770 Water Tower Dr, Kincheloe, MI  49788

Response: I have seen literature claiming that Paul’s letter to the Galatians was written to Gentiles, Israelites, Jews, and even a certain sect of apostate Jews. Many of these views were developed by someone who felt Paul’s writing would better agree with their doctrine if it was understood as written to a very specific group of people. This is not the best way to approach Biblical research.

We should believe what Paul said: the letter was to “the churches of Galatia” (1:2), to the “brethren” there (1:11; 2:4; 3:15; 4:12,28,31; 5:11,13; 6:1,18). It is not as the book of James, written to scattered Israelites (Jms 1:1) who meet in synagogues (Jms 2:2, Greek sunagoge is everywhere else translated “synagogue”, and so should be here, rather than “assembly”). Nor is it as the book of Colossians, to non-Israelites, which contains no significant Old Testament quotes.

The book of Galatians contains many Old Testament quotes and much debate about whether salvation is by grace or works of the law. Gentiles would not normally be seeking salvation by the works of the law. On the other hand, it talks about a time when the Galatians did not know God (4:8), and when they observed “days and months and seasons and years”—a description of pagan practices as opposed to the Sabbaths and Feast days of God.

There were obviously people from both Jewish (or Israelite) and Gentile (nations) background in Galatia, and Paul was trying to bring peace between them:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal 3:28 ).

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (Gal 5;14-15).

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal 6:1-2).

And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God (Gal 6:16).

I believe that Paul does not specifically call them “Jewish brethren” and “Gentile brethren” because he wants them to think of themselves as just “brethren”. But he certainly addresses problems that each had.

Finally, when we ask the question “who were the Galatians?” we need to realize that the answer may be every bit as complex as the question, “who are the Americans?”. We are a combination of Jews, Israelites, and many other nations. Some people know who they are descended from, and some have forgotten. Some people diligently practice their religion, others in a token fashion, and others no longer remember what they were. The Galatians were probably a very similar mixture.

I believe that some and maybe a majority of Galatians were Israelites, and your research bears that out. I see value in historical research. But as Paul says, we are all one in Messiah, so all believers can learn the many spiritual lessons from the book of Galatians. We do not need to know the ethnic composition of Galatia or the churches in it for this book to be a great blessing to us.

Keep on studying!

—NSE  &

 

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