We have a responsibility to consider God’s ways and His instructions versus man’s ways. God created all things and in that creation He installed two trees in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9,16-17). He explained the situation. He provided context and information for the people that He created and put in the Garden of Eden and gave them free moral agency. And He wants us to choose: “. . . I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life . . .” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
In asking His creation to choose life, He also gave them the alternatives before them. Most rejected God and decided to go their own way. God could have managed that in any number of ways. But He wants beings like Him. He wants children who are strong, good, capable, creative beings of equivalent character to His own. He’s not doing that by fiat; He’s not waving a magic wand to create perfect, righteous character. He’s also not doing it by coercion; He’s not standing there with a big stick making us behave according to His will. He requires that we choose.
Because of the decision to reject Him, God put in existence a plan which includes our doing whatever we want, our government, our economic system, how we manage resources, what constitutes morality, and how we behave in our relationships. We’re creating our own solutions because we chose that path.
God is making His case about His ways. In a sense, He’s giving us time to judge Him, asking ourselves the questions, “Is God trustworthy, is He reliable, is He working in our best interests? Is God right?” It’s shocking that despite the incomprehensible disparity between His intellect and power, and ours that God wants to reason with us.
He’s not condescending. He’s given us ample brains, lots of information, and He’s turned us loose. He’s entreating. He’s generous. He’s liberal and open with us (Malachi 3:10; Ezekiel 18:25; Psalms 34:8; Isaiah 1:18).
So, how are our “ways’ working out? What greater body of evidence could there be to support God’s superiority than human history? God will leave us with no excuse if we continue to reject Him.
One example of the monetary policy of the 21st century has been a grand experiment in something called Keynesian Economic Theory. It’s the idea that we need a flexible currency that expands and contracts and that the government should control that throttle of the currency. And it’s their job to always stimulate demand and to expand money when things look painful. The government’s job is to always defer pain.
In 2008, we went through a mortgage crisis. That was the result of government policies that subsidized home mortgages and promoted the use of credit to create better home ownership ratios which led to an abuse of debt dropping the GDP by 5%. The Federal Reserve dropped the federal funds rate to 0%, and started bailing out banks, buying bad debt, and sending out stimulus checks to the general population. It was three times bigger in today’s dollars than FDR’s “New Deal”.
Then the Covid crisis hit. This was different from the debt collapse we had. This was driven by the decision to shut down the markets which cut off demand for the economy and created a 19% decline in GDP. This time the government and the banks jumped in with $5 trillion in direct stimulus spending. The liquidity that a bank was required to hold relative to their other assets, namely loans, was cut to 0%.
What happens when that reserve goes to 0%? It’s infinite. The only limit on the creation of money supply in the system is demand for that money. That gives the banks the ability to expand the money supply radically. Between the year 2000 and 2022 our money supply in the United States went from $5 trillion in 2000 to $22 trillion in 2022. That means that every dollar today is worth less than $.25 of what it was worth in 2000 just because of the basic economics of our money supply.
On paper the whole policy of expanding the money supply has been a success. But ask yourselves, as individuals living in this economy, has your experience matched what we hear about in the economic reports of why this policy has worked? Most people would tell you stories that the last seven to fourteen years have been quite painful economically.
In 2008 we solved a debt problem by printing money. In 2022 we solved a consumption problem by printing more money. That created artificial growth. It was a solution of cheap debt and handouts propping up asset values that weren’t really inherently there and stimulating consumption that wasn’t fundamentally there. There’s no real productivity in this system and there’s no real abundance. These policies inverted the incentives for managing you own personal or business finances. We created price growth first, before there was income growth. Everything got more expensive and then people demanded higher wages. All this has made a very fragile and tenuous economy with wildly unfair outcomes.
The “Leading Economic Index” indicators suggest we are already in a recession. The Federal Reserve can’t really raise rates any further to control inflation because they are imperiling the banking system.
The results of economic policies that we have enacted for the last fifteen/twenty years is that the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. We have a housing crisis. It’s too expensive to build. Prices are unaffordable. We’ve had very weak wage growth and poor career mobility. We have old people who are working longer. We have jaded, disaffected young people.
All that feeds dramatically into the overall cultural phenomenon of political extremism, social unrest, and a general sense of national decline. What we are experiencing is a loss of hope that is more a result of our economic policy than it is the result of social media, which usually gets blamed. And this is all predicated on the economic theories that were proposed by a gentleman by the name of John Maynard Keynes. Keynes’ economic theories were premised on one of his primary convictions which is a very strongly held belief in the concept of atheism.
God was irrelevant to Keynes. To him the best guide is your own brain. Morality was to be self-determined. His most famous quote concerning economics was “In the long run, we are all dead.” He was focused on short-term, hedonistic, and Godless understanding of how to operate in life. Roll it forward another hundred/hundred and twenty years, we’ve bet the global economy on his big ideas of shunning God and casting-off restraint.
God recommended an alternative. God’s idea revolved around the land sabbath and the Jubilee. He provided some very simple economic rules. If implemented, they would shatter everything in our economy. So some say that the Jubilee is a nice idea for a farming village, that the Jubilee is just a physical precursor to God’s New Testament grace. That is not what God says:
“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).
God’s way is very tangible. It’s practical. It’s appliable. And it is important that we don’t spiritualize away what He gives us. We need to dive in and figure some of this out. It’s appropriate that we consider what God would have us do relative to what’s actually happening in the world. This is a fundamental and a complete economic system that is absolutely transformative (Leviticus 25:4-6,10). This is a basic system of economic leveling and repatriation. Each is to return to his family property and each to his own clan.
Regarding the land sabbath, they were to cultivate their land for six years and rest on the seventh. It was no hardship for them because they were free to eat whatever grew and to take animals as they needed. So, they didn’t run out of food. They just were not to take a commercial harvest. God would provide 3 years’ worth of bounty in that sixth year.
At the end of the seventh year, all debt was cancelled. Lenders in this environment would be incredibly disciplined about what sort of loans they would make. The use of debt would be very limited. You would only lend what you were quite confident you could be repaid in seven years because at the end of that there was nothing left to collect on. You would have no debt-fueled asset bubbles, which is what we principally struggle with now. And no financial crises. It would be a completely different system.
After seven sabbath years (or forty-nine years) there would be a Jubilee. The forty-ninth year was a land sabbath. Then you add in a second sabbath in that fiftieth year. Now you have two sabbath years back-to-back. During this 50th year, those who were destitute, those who didn’t have the resources to support themselves, who had sold themselves into slavery would be set free. They would have been provided for in some way by selling their services to labor but then in the Jubilee year they would be released.
Families who had fallen into hardship and had sold their family land would have that land restored. They were to regard land as inheritance from God, which was to be stewarded by families as “aliens and tenants”. God does not support the land being a tradable commodity (Leviticus 25:23,24,15-17).
If they were going to sell land or needed to sell it, they were only selling the harvests that that land could produce for the remaining time until the next Jubilee. That’s how the price would be set.
God’s system is so elegant, stable, and dynamic. It’s egalitarian and it’s free. It’s productive. There would be very limited wealth aggregation in this system. The idea of inequality and social instability changes. Every generation gets a fresh chance. There would be no systemic poverty. There would be poverty. There would be the poor. It’s a merit-based system. But it’s not systemic. Groups or people are not crushed and oppressed into eternal poverty (Isaiah 61:1-3).
This is God’s system. This is what God wants. God is not standing over us with a big stick, looking for blind subservience. He’s giving us room to think, and to decide. We have total agency over what we do. There’s no force requiring us to obey God. We’re invited to “try Him”, to “test and see” that His way is good. And recognize that His way is fair, and our way is unfair.
God’s commands make life good now. Temperance and morality lead to health, good relationships, and a strong community. Tithing helps us practice gratitude, and experience abundance. The Sabbath gives us rest, recenters us, and reconnects us. The Holy Days are an anchor of purpose and hope.
We all have to decide how we are going to pattern our lives. Should we use our own reasoning? Should we operate by popular opinion? Is general consensus the way to decide how to behave? Or should we attach ourselves to the transcendent wisdom of the Creator? (Psalms 19:7-11).
God has set before us life and death. Choose life.