Summary: Sermon #3 in the series: Untold Stories of the Old Testament, Text: Deuteronomy 15 dealing with the Sabbath years and the Year of Jubilee when debts are forgiven and slaves are set free.
Series: Untold Stories of the Old Testament #3
Date: CHCC: June 3, 2012
Title: “In God We Trust”
Text: Deuteronomy 15
The "In God We Trust" Motto has been on our US Currency for over 50 years. Almost all Americans support using “In God We Trust” on currency and as the national motto. A 2003 Gallup poll found that 90 percent of respondents approved of the use of the motto on coins.
We have a great motto printed on our dollars, but does our national finance system follow Biblical principles? For that matter, do we follow God’s wisdom in our personal finances?
As part of our series about Untold Stories of the Old Testament, we’re going to look at the financial laws God gave the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy. God gave many laws to his Old Testament people. The laws were of different kinds with different purposes.
• Some laws pointed the Jews towards Jesus --- they got the Jewish people ready to accept the Messiah when he came. Examples of such laws were the ones about sacrificing animals in the temple. These are laws whose purpose has ended.
• Other laws were more generic --- laws such as “do not murder.” These laws apply to all humanity and can be applied directly to us today.
• Finally, some laws were related to the running of the Nation of Israel. They had laws about how many horses the king should have and about the importance of city walls in a land sale. These laws can’t be applied directly to modern nations (we don’t have kings, if we did they wouldn’t ride horses, and we don’t have city walls). But the principles behind these laws can give us God’s wisdom.
The laws we are going to look at today fall in that third category. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses was giving a series of final sermons before he died. In those sermons he reviewed the laws that God had given to the nation of Israel.
The financial laws in Deuteronomy 15 might seem kind of crazy. Cancel all debts every 7 years. Lend a lot but borrow nothing. No final land sales --- all property is returned to the original owner every 50 years. The wisdom of God often seems like foolishness … until you look closer. Today we’ll look at just 3 principles we can learn from the financial laws God gave to Israel.
1. Limit debt
Deuteronomy 15:1 "At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 2 This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed."
Verse 12 adds some information to this law about debt: 12" If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free."
God didn’t forbid debt, but debts were cancelled, and indentured servants were freed every 7 years. Add to that the law that every 50th year was declared a year of jubilee. In that year the land was all to lie fallow, and all property reverted to its original owner.
If you were to lend money, you’d limit it to an amount that could reasonably be repaid within a few years. (no 30-year mortgages here.)
If you were a borrower, you would not borrow money you could not repay because indentured servant-hood was the alternative for someone who couldn’t repay a debt.
And no greedy person could buy up all the property of his poorer neighbors.
In practical terms, debt was strictly limited, and clear parameters were set up front. Anyone borrowing knew they needed to be able to repay or they would go into servant-hood. Anyone lending knew better than to loan more than could reasonably be repaid in a few years. And everyone had the stability of knowing their property would be passed down to future generations in their family.
God gave a promise to the Nation if they followed His financial plan: 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."
God’s goal for His Nation was that they would lend to many but borrow from none. If our nation followed that policy, the graph that’s on screen wouldn’t look the way it does. (Graph of our growing national debt) God told his nation if they would lend but not borrow then they would rule over many nations but none will rule over you. That promise contains a warning to people and to nations. The one you owe money to will be able to rule over you.