The Bible and Economics (5)

Biblical Liberty

Having been lured into sin and death by the serpent, Adam had subordinated himself and his posterity to Satan in what Satan intended as a new covenant. It was in fact the original covenant, but with the sanction of judicial death applied. The sentence of death against the serpent was a sentence of death against Satan and therefore all those in covenantal bondage to him. But Adam’s heir, the promised seed, would turn the tables on the enemy and re-establish man’s uncontested authority over nature under God. Covenant-breaking man’s subordination to an evil master can be overcome in history through grace. A truly new covenant delivers those in bondage to Adam’s old covenant.[1]

People in bondage need deliverance, and there are many aspects of deliverance. At the Exodus, God delivered Israel from a tyrant, who drowned in the Red Sea. Pharoah was a representative of Satan; a practical atheist who despised God and His people, and had enslaved them. He said to Moses,

Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go (Ex.5:2).

Were there economic, political and social aspects to Israel’s deliverance? Absolutely. Israel’s situation had radically changed when they passed through the Red Sea, and they now had the freedom to exercise godly responsibility, as never before. Paul in the New Testament refers to how Jesus has delivered us from this life of slavery:

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham (Heb.2:14-16).

Liberty affects economics, as it does all other fields of human action. So, it is incumbent upon believers to understand the applications of the Bible to economics, and to promote this. Now that the promised seed Jesus Christ has come, we are responsible to “study the works of the Lord…” (Ps.111:2), and to take hold of all of the promises of God to His people.

This means we have to stop thinking like slaves. This means we are to be people of initiative and responsibility, under God. This means we are to be “…taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor.10:5). This means we are to understand that traps and snares  have been laid before the people of God over history that must be avoided, if the liberty of the people of God is to be maintained and expanded.

We would be foolish to think that our progress will be uncontested, for the church has always had its enemies, both within and without. If 10 of the 12 spies who entered the land under Moses came back with an evil report, will this be symptomatic of our future, too? If Nehemiah’s progress, when he returned to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls that had been broken down, was consistently opposed from either within or without, should this not be a lesson for us?

Jesus had Judas with him for so long, doing his evil work (Jn. 12:1-6), and Paul warned the church that “…after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29).

So the advance of the gospel has always had its opponents. Tragically, it’s a fact of history that these have always been both in and out of the church. What we can and must do is be both faithful and vigilant in all aspects of our faith, including a Biblical approach to economics, understanding that this will be opposed.

For Paul wrote to the Galatians, warning them that

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (Gal. 5:1).

Of course he was referring to the Galatian tendency to slip back into the heresy of Judaism, but the principle has application everywhere.

Would our Christian brethren who were oppressed in the Soviet Union for seventy years, have regretted the fact that their own Orthodox Church had been silent on Christian economics, before the communist takeover? Would they have wanted to hear expositions on economics from the Ten Commandments, and other parts of God’s law? The fact is, Christian leadership on economics (and other things) in the decades before 1917 could have steered their nation away from a godless, sterile, poverty inducing tyranny.

Conclusion:

Christians have obligations today (as always) to be faithful, vigorous, confident and out-spoken about all matters of the gospel. The future of the church and the world (which is always affected by the state of the church) depends on the faithfulness of God’s people to His Word.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (I Cor.15:58).

 

 

[1] Gary North, “Christian Economics in one Lesson,” Part 2, 2016, ‘Sanctions and Ownership,’

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