Volume 12, Number 2, September-October 2008

Biblical Economy!

Also In this Issue

Understanding Unnatural
Divergence in the Financial Markets

Port Austin Bible Campus Update: Continuing Via Your Work and Ours

President Who?


Books Worth a Look: The Fungus Link

by Norman Edwards

In these days of electronic cash and billion-dollar bailouts, does the Bible have anything to say about what we should use for money?

Yes! In one word!


In the Hebrew language, there is only one word that means both “silver” and “money”: keceph (Strong’s # 3701). This word is translated “silver” about 2/3 of the time and “money” about “1/3” of the time in most English Bibles.

Similarly, in the New Testament, the Greek word arguron (Strong’s #694) is nearly always used for “money” and its close brother arguros (Strong’s #696) is nearly always used for “silver”—though there is some interchange between the two. The New Testament also contains words for specific coins that were made of brass, silver or gold.

One of the first uses of money in the Scriptures is Abraham’s purchase of Ephron’s field in Machpelah to bury his wife Sarah:

Abraham agreed to Ephron’s terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants (Gen 23:17, NIV).

Abraham weighed out silver to Ephron to complete the purchase. Silver was money. Now that does not mean that every time we go to a store, we will need to pull scraps of silver out of our pockets and weigh them to make a purchase. The Bible teaches the making of silver coins of a known weight and therefore known value. The “Shekel of the Sanctuary” was exactly that (Lev 5:15; 27:3; Num 3:50; etc.).

But in Abraham’s case, he had to come up with a lot of money on short notice—he needed to bury Sarah right away. He may have had to use silver coins—even coins from multiple nations, as well as silver jewelry and maybe even bullion silver—bars or blocks. The transaction was easily completed by simply weighing the silver of any form. That is why there is such an emphasis on just weights in the scriptures—so that the amount paid would be accurate and known to the parties involved. Coins of known weight are a just measure!

“But that is not practical”, some might argue. “We cannot run our modern economy carrying around heavy coins to pay for everything—especially for big transactions.”

Oh really?

Silver and Gold Coins Would Work for Us

Today a pound of silver is worth about $140. One or two pounds would be sufficient for the average family shopping trip. But for those bigger jobs, silver’s big brother, gold, is always available.

Gold is included as an important resource when man was created (Gen 2:11). Both Abraham’s gold and silver were used to measure his wealth (Gen 13:2). When he sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac, the weight—the monetary value—of the gold jewelry given to Rebekah is specifically recorded (Gen 24:22). When David bought some real estate from Ornan the Jebusite, he paid in gold:

Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price,”… So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place (1Chr 21:24-25).

Suppose you wanted to “pay cash” for a $40,000 car today. It would take 400 $100 bills which would be a couple of inches thick and weigh about 1 pound. (In practice, nobody uses bills larger than $100 because the danger of counterfeiting is just too great.) At $730 per ounce for gold, you could buy the car with 55 troy-ounce gold coins, which occupy about the same space, and weigh about 4 pounds.

The disadvantage of gold is its four-fold increase in weight. What are gold and silver’s advantages?

           They do not wear out.

           They are not destroyed by fire or water.

           They cannot be tracked by serial numbers or RFID chips.

           They cannot be counterfeited.

           They are not subject to manipulation and inflation by bankers and governments.

Just Weights and Measures

The last point is important—extremely important. The whole reason that our nation, and ultimately the world, is in such financial trouble is because paper currency can be manipulated and inflated—and virtually always is.

A quarter minted in the 1960’s contained 90% silver and was some thing of real value. It would buy about a gallon of gas. Today, that same silver quarter is worth about $3.50—and will still buy about a gallon of gas. (With our advances in technology, it should buy a lot more than a gallon of gas, but government and business corruption have prevented that.) As it is, silver’s lasting value is obvious. By comparison, a paper dollar in the 1960’s would buy about four gallons of gas—but how much gas would that paper dollar buy today?

Every day, our financial news media will carry some story about what the Federal Reserve, the World Bank or some other major financial institution is doing to affect the money supply or to “prop up” some sagging currency. In most cases, it means that they are making accounting entries to “create” additional money for some specific currency. Governments also borrow big chunks of money (like $700 billion at a time) to finance their latest project.

Nothing new of value is created in these money operations—there is just more paper (or electronic) money in circulation. So the net effect is that the ratio of the total money in a nation divided by its total real value gets bigger. But that also means that the real value behind each dollar gets smaller. This is why inflation is referred to as a “hidden tax”. As banks and governments create more money from nowhere, the value of paper and electronic dollars that people have shrinks. As an example, if a man receives a dollar for working on a certain day, he could buy a loaf of bread with it; but if he saves that dollar for a year and then decides to buy a loaf of bread, he finds that it now costs $1.10—not because the bread requires more work or materials to produce—but because the value of his dollar has shrunk. Sure, the man could have put his money in a bank and received interest—and might have $1.03 at the end of a year. But he would still be $.07 short to buy the loaf of bread—and he might have nothing at all if his bank failed—or used his dollar to pay an obscure fee that was explained on page 27 of the fine print of his bank account agreement.

The paper dollars we have, produced by the Federal Reserve, are an unjust standard of value. The Bible commands:

“Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity” (Lev 19:35, NIV).

“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Deut 25:13-15).

Diverse weights and diverse measures, They are both alike, an abomination to the LORD (Prov 20:10).

The inflation in the USA is probably much higher than reported by the Consumer Price Index. This index is complex with many variations—but some do not even include food or energy costs because they are “too volatile”. Yet the CPI does include things like computers, televisions and electronics which continually drop in price due to technology advances. They offset the cost of other basic necessities whose prices are rising. One can find all sorts of opinions among economists in regard to the actual amount of inflation of each currency. Our paper money is not merely unjust—it is also impossible to determine exactly how unjust it is.

Christians must not become so desirous of earning and spending this unjust Federal Reserve “money” that they lose sight of its flaws. We should teach our children that this valueless “money” is not biblical and that we are sorry that they have to grow up in a nation that uses this kind of currency. This writer can no longer find the quote, but he once read that a Christian group made an effort to overturn the Federal Reserve Act shortly after it was passed—but they stopped when Dwight Moody, upon seeing World War I on the horizon, told them that Christ would return before the Act would have any effect. Yes, we probably have sins of omission, but the greatest judgment will be on those who knowingly created and profited from this unjust “money”:

Am I still to forget, O wicked house, your ill-gotten treasures and the short ephah, which is accursed? 11 Shall I acquit a man with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights? 12 Her rich men are violent; her people are liars and their tongues speak deceitfully. 13therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins. 14 You will eat but not be satisfied; your stomach will still be empty. You will store up but save nothing, because what you save I will give to the sword (Micah 6:10-14, NIV).

Our “Money” Is Not Money

When I was a child, I actually remember my father showing me a $5 “Silver Certificate” like the one, below. The major writing on the bill from top to bottom says:



Many years before that, our nation actually produced gold and silver notes—paper which was redeemable for gold and silver. Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy were both proponents of these substance-backed bills. But the idea died in 1963, along with President Kennedy, and that story is well beyond the scope of this article.

The paper that we now call money is not really money. It does not even claim to be money. People in the USA carry “Federal Reserve Notes” in their wallets and purses. While the words “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” appear on the paper, the words “FEDERAL RESERVE NOTE” always appear first on the front. That is the title of the piece of paper and exactly what it is.

The bills contain no claim that they are redeemable for anything of value. They contain the old sentence: “THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE”. If you are in debt to someone, they have to accept these bills as payment. If someone is in debt to you, you have to accept them. What if you are working hard and want to save to have something of value for the future? These bills do not promise to have any future value. If people lose confidence in them some day and refuse to accept them, the Federal Reserve has not promised to help. All the Federal Reserve is responsible for doing is accepting them if you are in debt to them.

But don’t panic too much, nearly everyone in our nation is in debt to someone—who is ultimately in debt to the Federal Reserve banking system. So most people will accept Federal Reserve Notes for the immediate future. On the other hand, the debt system is a house of cards that will some day fall. A solid trust in the Creator of the Universe is the only true answer.

Debt-Based Economies Fail

But is a debt-based economy good? Is that what the Bible teaches? When the Eternal gave this list of blessing for obedience to Him in Deuteronomy 28, He said:

The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none (Deut 28:12).

The Federal Reserve is not part of our government, but a private corporation that works in a very complex system through its member banks to loan money to the US government. It has never had an independent audit. The Federal Reserve Act was passed in December of 1913 when many congressmen were not even there. It was many years before it had the massive effect on the economy that it has today. Now, in conjunction with its member banks, it prints all of our currency, sets interest rates, and creates money from nothing to loan at interest. One can learn all about how that happened in a book entitled The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve, by G. Edward Griffin.

But the Federal Reserve is only half the problem. The other half is the governments, businesses and people who want to borrow from it. This writer earned a degree in business administration in the 1970s and was taught then—just like they teach now—about the advantages of businesses borrowing money. Even high school economics classes will go through a scenario something like this, though we are leaving out the precise calculations:

A business has revenues that exceed expenses by 20% every year. If that 20% surplus is reinvested into the business, it can grow at 20% every year. On the other hand, if that business were to take out a loan at 10% interest every year, it could double its size each year, using half of that 20% growth to pay the interest and the other half to repay the principle. Yes, we have added the cost of interest to the equation, but the business is now growing by 100% every year, rather than just 20% and its owners now control so much more money. The math is absolutely correct here. So most young businessmen borrow money and try to make a fortune quickly.

What they either skip in business class—or greatly underemphasize—is what happens when there is a bad year of no growth? In the first instance, the business doesn’t expand for next year, but just keeps on going, hoping for a better year. In the case of the borrowing business, it does not have enough money to make its interest payments—and most downsize or take out another loan to keep going.

What happens if there are several bad years in a row with no growth or negative growth? The non-borrowing business survives—even though it will be smaller in scope. The heavily borrowing business still has all of its big loans to repay. It will either need a bailout, or default on its loans so its bank needs a bailout.

The world simply cannot support nearly every business growing at 100% per year. The population grows at nowhere near that rate. If the population is growing at a healthy 5% per year, and existing people—due to increased productivity—are able to consume 5% more each year, an average 10% growth among businesses is fine. The 20% natural growth without borrowing cited above is more than enough. In order for even a significant number of businesses to grow at 100% per year, there must be a large number of other businesses either declining or failing. In most cases, it is simply not sensible economics for businesses to borrow money and expect very high growth rates. But our schools and financial institutions still push it.

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

The difficulties of a completely debt-based economy can be easily illustrated by this greatly simplified example. Suppose Fairly Raunchy Bank owns an empty town far away from the rest of the world that has farms, shops, energy production and everything a small community needs to survive. A group of 100 people want to move there to be completely self-sufficient. They are amazed when the Bank offers to give them the town for free, provided that they will perpetually use Fairly Raunchy Bank Notes for all their commerce, and provided that each person takes out a $1000 loan at 10% to get the economy started (a total of $100,000 of loans to the village). Things go marvelously well for the first year or so and most people have little trouble each paying their $100 annual interest—for a total of $10,000 per year to the bank. But after three years, there is now only $70,000 total currency in the community and some people are very short. So the Bank makes $30,000 in loans to the poor people secured against their property. There is again $100,000 of currency in the system, but the loans to the community now total $130,000 and the annual interest due is $13,000. As the years go by, more and more of the community currency is depleted by interest paid to the Bank each year, and the community is continually short. So Fairly Raunchy Bank makes more and more loans secured by the peoples’ property. In another few years, the people have more debt than their property is worth and the Bank demands that they leave the village and move to one of its forced labor camps in another country in order to work off their debt.

Who owns all our debt?

Trying to determine the entire amount of debt in the U.S.A. is like trying to hit a multitude of moving targets hidden in the bushes: one cannot be sure how much the various figures overlap, and all of them keep changing all of the time. We have found the following items from the following sources. All items are in trillions of dollars:

  10.0  The Public Debt of the United States treasury

  49.1  Additional unfunded obligations of the United States government. Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt

   2.3  State and local government debt in 2006. Source:


   2.6  Consumer short term debt (mostly credit card). This is small compared to everything else! Source:


  36.0  Total home mortgage debt in 2001. This was census data which is probably more accurate than other estimates. It is probably a lot higher now. Source:


   2.8  Commercial mortgage debt. Source:



102.8  Trillion Total U.S.A. debt! This does not include commercial non-mortgage debt and certain other types of debt, etc. This writer has seen other total USA debt estimates approaching 200 trillion. The highest estimate this writer has seen of the amount of this debt owned by foreigners only 12 trillion.

          Who is this debt owed to? Are there some rich guys in our country whom we could go to and just ask them to forgive all of this debt so we could all be on a positive footing again? Hmmm!

          A very recent issue of Forbes magazine contained an article on the wealth of the 400 richest people in the U.S.A. Could they help the problem? No! Even though they are all billionaires, with a few possessing 50 billion dollars, the total net worth of these 400 people is only 1.57 trillion dollars. All they could do is pay a few months interest on the above debt and all 400 of them would be living day-to-day like the rest of us. Source:


While the situation is complex with verifiable information difficult to obtain. The bottom line is that a large amount of this 102 trillion in debt is to banks that created the money from nothing. We cannot assemble a room of people who are owed this 102 trillion dollars and ask to make a deal with them. In reality, there are individuals who are on the boards of banks and other entities, that control other banks and other entities that that are ultimately the ones trying to collect on this outstanding debt of 100 to 200 trillion dollars—or whatever it really is. President Andrew Jackson once said: "If the people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking system, there would be a revolution in the morning." Revolutions can be messy—often bloody. We do need an electorate who will refuse tweaks and bailouts as solutions, and insist on the elimination of the Federal Reserve, and the Constitutional coining and use of precious metal money.     —NSE

The point of this example is that when a bank collects interest on “money” it creates from nothing, there will never be enough money to pay the interest—because the bank only created the original principle. It never created any “money” to pay the interest, so the people will never be able to pay it. The borrowing cycle will continue with ever-increasing loans until all the people are in debt to the bank. This happens even if the people started out owning their own land; the bank will still eventually own everything.

While the reality of our modern day economics is many times more complicated than this, the effect is exactly the same. The US treasury is now directly 10 trillion dollars in debt, with interest payments of half a trillion per year. This writer has seen projections showing that within 20 to 30 years, the entire Federal budget will be consumed to pay the annual interest on our national debt. But actually, the 10 trillion debt figure is too low. If one includes unfunded liabilities—amounts the government has promised to spend but for which it does not have money, the figure is closer to 59.1 trillion dollars (see box on previous page). Some kind of financial restructuring must occur long before 20 years.

“Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take it [the power to create money] away from them, and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money

      —Josiah Stamp (1880-1941, English Banker, reputedly the 2nd richest man in England).

Bible Teaches Against Long-Term Debt

When banks are allowed to lend “money” that they create from nothing, history shows that they will virtually beg financially stable corporations and individuals to take out loans: “expand your plant” “build a fancy office building”, “buy a new car”, “take a vacation’. You have probably received credit card ads encouraging you to consume money now, and pay for it later. Internet rates for such loans often are very low to begin with. The bankers know that eventually, some of those financially stable entities will become less stable and be forced to come back for another loan. This time the bank can charge these “risky clients” a much higher interest rate—and maybe even take their property as collateral. This is how a bank turns the ability to create money into real wealth.

So there we have it. Today, the well-off pay the lowest interest rates, and the poor pay the highest rates. But what does the Bible teach? The opposite!

“If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest. If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious (Ex 22:25-27).

[Master to his servant] ‘So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest (Matt 25:27).

The Bible condemns lending to the poor at interest in many places, though Jesus seems to accept lending at interest for business investment in Matthew 25. The servant in this parable who hid his masters money [silver] rather than using it to earn by trading was admonished to place the money with the bankers who would have given him a fixed return and use the money themselves to earn by trading. No borrower is poor in this latter scenario.

Today, the vast majority of individuals and businesses are in debt—and a great many of them are poor—barely receiving enough to continue to function. Some are poor due to their own mismanagement or sins, but others are poor due to circumstances beyond their control, or more likely, the greed, corruption and sins of others.

The Bible has a very clear solution to avoid long-term debt and to prevent bankers from gradually owning a nation (or the world) by lending money they create.

At 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 You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your brother owes you. 4 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, 5 if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. 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 (Deut 15:1-6).

There it is: debts are to be cancelled every seven years. God promises that our nations will be blessed if we do this. He knows what He is talking about. With this law in place, bankers would never try to lend money to someone so they could spend it on entertainment. They would never loan money to gain control of someone’s possessions over many years—because their loans would go away in seven years. People would only lend to the poor when they really needed it and only just as much as they needed.

Nobody should not lend what they cannot afford to lose. One major  reason why our financial system is in such a mess is that most financial institutions and businesses have a lot of debt to one set of parties, and another set of parties (often their customers) that are in debt to them. If one party fails to pay, it creates a whole chain reaction of other entities that cannot pay their loans because they did not receive payments due to them.

Fortunately, many of our founding fathers were Bible readers, and they made provision for individuals to “file bankruptcy”—as often as once every seven years! The bankruptcy laws are complex, but they essentially provide a way for a poor person to keep a certain basic level of assets, use the rest of his assets to partially pay his creditors, and then discharge all of his debts and get a fresh start. Even though these bankruptcy laws are better than nothing, they are no where near as good as the teaching of the Bible.

The Bible is so plain: everyone knows when the year of debt release comes, and debt release is automatic to everyone. Today, filing bankruptcy is a very complex task beyond the ability of many poor people. Those who are using every spare dollar to try to pay their debts usually will not have the $500 to $1000 needed to pay a bankruptcy attorney. This writer has seen estimates that as many as 28 million people in the USA would benefit by filing bankruptcy, but that most of them don’t even know about it—or how to do it.

Return of Debtor’s Prisons?

While the USA technically no longer has debtor’s prisons, it can work out that way if a debtor misses a court date. Judges can sentence a debtor to jail for not appearing in court—but then suspend the sentence provided that he/she makes timely payments. If a payment is not on time, the suspension is removed and the person can be arrested and jailed. In the examples I saw, I think the judge was reasonable. But it is easy to see how these laws could be abused. The judge can set the payments at whatever level he wants. The judge can let them out early provided that they keep on paying. A judge who lays down a sentence for the maximum number of days for missing a court date can get a lot of payments—even exorbitant payments—out of a debtor this way. The system can be further abused if the debtor is homeless or if the creditor/court does not make a sincere effort to inform the debtor of their court dates. I have not seen, but have read about cases where this has happened.

This writer remembers sitting in a small claims court where various creditors were trying to collect against their debtors. Some debtors appeared irresponsible—either misspending the funds they had, or not doing what it takes to keep a job. Other debtors seemed to be genuine victims of job loss, health problems, or other adverse circumstances. They were struggling to pay as much as they could to their creditors, even selling many of their personal possessions. I felt sorry for them. When a judge called a particular case, I remember one creditor walking up to the clerk’s desk and both immediately began to speak in hushed tones. I was close enough to hear a few words of the conversation and the creditor was explaining that she would get very little because the debtor had filed bankruptcy. It was very obvious that the creditor and the clerk did not want the rest of the debtors in the court to find out anything more about bankruptcy.

If the scripture above was not enough, the Bible continues to extol the benefits God will grant if those who have money lend to the poor.

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. 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. 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. 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 (Deut 15:7-11).

Bible Teaches Owner-Based Economy

If the Bible teaches that loans should not last longer than seven years, how can people obtain loans to buy a house? The answer is that most people should not need loans to buy a house.

To which you may reply, “You’re dreaming, that’s not going to happen in this world.”

It is true that most nations are indeed very far away from the biblical teaching on the point we are about to discuss. But some of the USA’s founding fathers understood it—so well that they chose part of the central biblical text to inscribe upon the  “Liberty Bell”:

“Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof Lev. XXV X”

When ancient Israel entered the promised land, the land was divided by lot, evenly apportioned among the people (Num 26:55-56; 33:54). The land was large enough to divide and pass on to sons or other family members (Num 27:1-11) so that young families did not have to take out a 30-year loan to buy a place to live. People were also free to sell their land and use the money to buy land elsewhere, or to start a business with it. They were also to free to make mistakes—to lose all of their money, and have to work for wages or even become servants. But in every fiftieth year, a Jubilee year was declared and each person received their family inheritance back. The history books contain much debate about when our Liberty Bell cracked—but I have wondered if it was not cracked in the year that our nation failed to proclaim a Jubilee year.

“And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years. Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family (Lev 25:8-10)

Our initial reaction might be: “That cannot possibly work. My entire family could not go back to my parents house—or my grandparents house. We could not all live in their little place.” And that is true in most cases. Most of our parents of 50 or 100 years ago did not have enough land to allow approximately half of their descendants to live on today. (“Half is used because the female descendants who had at least one brother would be living on the land of their husbands’ families, not their parents.) The reason is that we have been living without Jubilee years for hundreds of years. But if the population had retained the hundreds of acre tracts that they received by homesteading in the 1700s and 1800s, there would still be enough land for many  of their descendants to live—though most would now be urban in character rather than rural. When population in an area becomes too dense, the scriptures allow for expanding one’s inheritance (Ex 23:31; Deut 19:8). The USA’s westward expansion would have worked ideally for eastern families who had divided their inheritance so much that there was no longer room. The more adventurous family members could have moved west and staked out a new family inheritance.

The book of Leviticus goes on to explain the details of how the Jubilee year should be implemented:

“That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field. In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession. And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another. According to the number of years after the Jubilee you shall buy from your neighbor, and according to the number of years of crops he shall sell to you. According to the multitude of years you shall increase its price, and according to the fewer number of years you shall diminish its price; for he sells to you according to the number of the years of the crops” (Lev 25:11-16).

Even with this requirement for land to go back to each family in the Jubilee year, people were free to “sell” or rent their land, houses, factories, mines or whatever they had as long as that sale was prorated till the next Jubilee year. In today’s terminology, land was owned only by families, but the family could lease it to another for up to 49 years. This provides enough flexibility to do almost everything we do today.

Supposing a man inherits a large inland farm, but he really wants to make his living fishing on the coast. He is free to sell/lease his farm—maybe to a nearby farmer—until the next Jubilee, and use that money to lease/buy a fishery on the coast until the next Jubilee. When the Jubilee comes, if that man likes the arrangement and wants to continue to lease/sell his farm to the same farmer for another 49 years, he can. He can also continue to lease and operate the fishery from the family that owns it. But if the fishery fails, or if economic trouble hits the family, or if his children spend the money foolishly and lose the fishery—at some time in their adult lives, at the next Jubilee year, they will get a chance to own land and to start a life where they own some means of producing wealth.

Today, the average young person in America graduates from college and enters the work force not with assets with which he/she can work to produce wealth, but having to work for a wage and then often to borrow money to buy a car, household furnishings and other things necessary to live. Even worse, many young people enter the workforce in debt with a student loan, which will stay with them for the rest of their lives and cannot be eliminated via bankruptcy. Many people spend most of their working lives paying on a home loan, only to borrow against that home to pay medical bills when they are old. Our advertising media is saturated with false messages telling us that to be happy we need things—and we should borrow and spend now to get them. Most people live paycheck-to-paycheck. Slavery is alive and well in America—it is just in a different, complicated form, and we would rather not call it that.

Jubilee Years for Now and the Future

Continuing the scripture from above:

“Therefore you shall not oppress one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the LORD your God. So you shall observe My statutes and keep My judgments, and perform them; and you will dwell in the land in safety. Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in safety” (Lev 25:17-19).

God reemphasizes that implementing a Jubilee year will produce a blessing for everyone involved—it will not be a disaster. Nobody should confuse what the Eternal has said here as some kind of socialist “the state owes me a good living” philosophy. This is a “the state owes me a chance to have the resources to make a good living at least once in my lifetime” philosophy. Beyond that, people are free to work hard and manage their resources well and benefit from that; or, they are free to be lazy and mismanage their resources and to have to work as employees (servants) for others for up to 49 years.

Another important part of the Jubilee year is that no family, corporation, secret society, or other entity is free to accumulate a disproportionate share of wealth over many decades and use that wealth as a means of control over other people. This, unfortunately, is what has happened today. A couple percent of the people own 80% of the land. The same is true for most other valuable assets. The Eternal clearly commands that even kings were not to accumulate such wealth or even military power:

The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold (Deut 17:16-17).

Most of the oppression and even many of the wars that we have today come from these wealthy families, multinational corporations, and other powerful entities that use billions of dollars as a means of controlling others. (If you have trouble believing that people would conspire together like this to do great evil, please see the lead article People of the Passover in the Servants’ News, July-Aug 2008 issue.) This writer has some idea who these people and groups are, but will not get involved with identifying them here because the situation is so complex. Much false and contradictory information has been published on the subject, and there is a great effort to keep the true information secret. And when the truth is discovered, those who wish to remain secret change their plans.

From the Tower of Babel (Hebrew word for Babylon) in Genesis 11:1-9 to “Mystery Babylon”—or better translated “Secret Babylon” that controls world trade (Revelation 17 & 18), the Eternal One has spoken against economic systems that take care of people’s basic needs, but otherwise subject them to the control of some elite group of people. It is His desire for people to learn to be His Children (Heb 2:10; 1Jo 3:1-2). He wants them to have a chance to manage physical things properly so they can learn to manage spiritual things someday (Luke 16:11-12; Matt 25:14-30). The Eternal wants people to learn themselves that there are physical blessings for obeying Him, and curses for disobeying him (Lev 26; Deut 28). He wants us to have the mind of Christ (1Cor 2:16; Phil 2:5). These things do not happen when we are born into a society where most of what we do is work for a subsistence living.

The Earth belongs to the Eternal (Pslm 24:1) and He has decreed that land should be redistributed every 50 years. That may be difficult for some people’s concept of private property—that one ought to be able to keep everything that one ever earns and leave it to one’s children—but that is what the Eternal has decreed. Will the multi-millionaires and billionaires really suffer by having their wealth redistributed? No! It will be a blessing to their souls:

Jesus said to him [the rich man], “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matt 19:21-24)

Both the rich and the poor alike need to learn to trust the Eternal and His ways. That is why the Earth is here. The poor need to be given the resources to earn a good living at least once in their life—and they need to learn the effects of diligence versus sloth. They need to trust the Eternal when there is not enough. The rich need to learn to give to the poor, knowing that they may not be paid back, and they need to have faith that they will be taken care of when the Jubilee year comes and they have to again exist on an average amount of money.

The Jubilee year does not mean it is impossible to build large industries to make ships, autos, computers and the like. These types of industries can grow on the land of the people who develop them. Factory populations can generally be much denser than agricultural ones, so they allow for a family to stay on a piece of land for many more generations. These businesses could be large extended family businesses—much safer and worker-friendly than the capital vs. labor fights that have plagued our industrial history. In a large family run auto business, the experienced older people would do more of the design and management work, while the younger ones would do the actual assembling. These are their own children working—they will not want the sweat-shops that we had in the 1800s! Sure, some people who have lost their land or who simply want to leave home for a while will come to these factories to work. But they and their families can return to their own land at the next Jubilee.

The Jubilee prevents monopolistic conglomerates from developing and taking over an industry. If a successful person builds or buys other factories on other people’s land (as is common in our society today), they will all go back to the owners of that land at the Jubilee year. It will only make sense for people to build these industries on their own land—and any one family only has so much land.

Someone might ask, “What about corporations? What will happen to their land in the Jubilee?” In general, the goals of a corporation are not in keeping with biblical teaching. A corporation can, in theory, last forever. But God gave land and other property to individuals who were commanded to pass it on to their families—corporate ownership of property is contrary to this. Also, corporations are owned by stock-holders, who hire a board of directors who hire a CEO to run the corporation. These individuals have “limited liability”—they are not personally responsible if the corporation harms people or goes in debt for billions of dollars—and they can be paid millions of dollars for doing it. And then our governments spend billions on bailouts. The Bible does not teach any such limited liability. Furthermore, the Jubilee year protects individuals from losing all their family has worked for due to some business accident or false lawsuit. A family will get back what rightfully belongs to it in the Jubilee year anyway.

We must not think that the Jubilee year was something only for ancient Israel, which can now be safely forgotten. Ezekiel 40-48 describes the future world when Christ returns with much physical detail. It specifically states that the land will be divided by lot again (Ezk 45:1; 47:22; 48:29) just as it was anciently. It also states that inheritance will be passed on through families, and that even the wealthy, powerful families will not be able to take land from the others:

“Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘If the prince gives a gift of some of his inheritance to any of his sons, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance. But if he gives a gift of some of his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall be his until the year of liberty, after which it shall return to the prince. But his inheritance shall belong to his sons; it shall become theirs. Moreover the prince shall not take any of the people’s inheritance by evicting them from their property; he shall provide an inheritance for his sons from his own property, so that none of My people may be scattered from his property” (Ezk 46:16-18).

To many people, these biblical commands seem like a good dream that could never really happen. But the truth of the matter is this: if we, as a people, do not strive to make this good dream a reality, we will experience the economic crisis that comes about from living centuries without a Jubilee year. We may wish it was only a bad dream, but it will be real.

Nevertheless, the people of God must not be fearful to live in this present debt-based economic system. If one is poor, it is best to be frugal and stay out of debt; but if one ends up deeply in debt, there is nothing wrong with exercising our nation’s equivalent of Deuteronomy 15:1-6. If one is well off, one must use those assets to help those in need (1Jo 3:17)—helping them to be able to change or take care of themselves if possible. We all must not fear those who are evil, but stand up for what is right and trust the Eternal to take care of us. King David had a good grasp of this type of situation

It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in princes. All nations surrounded me, But in the name of the LORD I will destroy them (Pslm 118:8-10).

While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God (Pslm 146:2-5).

As I finish this article, the Day of Atonement is beginning. I know that some time in the future, at the perfect direction of our Savior and King, a trumpet will blow and the land will be again divided fairly among the people. Individuals cannot implement the Jubilee year on their own—it can only be done within governing units. It is doubtful that today’s politicians would be capable of fairly re-dividing the land among the people—even if they wanted to. But each of us should learn to understand the biblical economy, proclaim it to others as they are willing to hear, and work toward implementing it with whatever limited power is available to us now. As laws and candidates come and go, we can apply the biblical principles covered in this article:

1.     Money should be silver and gold, or something that can be redeemed for it.

2.     Banks should never be permitted to create money from nothing and collect interest on it.

3.     Interest should not be charged to a person who is poor.

4.     All Debts should be forgiven every seven years without the complexity of filing for bankruptcy.

5.     The wealth of each nation should be redistributed after 49 years so that everyone has a chance once in their life to own wealth-producing land.

6.     The Bible clearly teaches against any wealthy class of people who own or control many times the individual average for wealth.

Those who use their wealth and power contrary to this important biblical teaching will be judged.

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev 22:12)       &


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