Most OpEdNews readers won't be surprised when I tell you that most Christians have never read the Bible. They all own bibles. They tell their children bible stories and they go to church every Sunday and get preached at. But most sermons are based on the four gospels, Psalms, Pauls' letters, the ten commandments, and a few scary topics in Revelation. But they've never read the whole Bible as a book. It's a shame because when read in its entirety, a whole new picture of God emerges.
You see the strict father god's continuing concern for the poor, exalting his followers time after time to care for them. In fact, most of the strictness in the laws were probably written in Leviticus by the Levy priests, and the rest are out of the mouths of his prophets who constantly express God's frustration, disappointment and punishments with/on those naughty Israelites who, despite all the blessings he has given them, continue to disobey his commandments.
Jehovah/Yahweh was concerned with every facet of his people's lives. What they ate, how they dressed, the crops they grew, and how they treated their animals. And economics. He was very concerned with economics. I had two cousins, brothers, who were financial planners with way too much time on their hands in front of their computers. After exhaustive research they decided that the Bible was more concerned with finances than anything else. Using search terms like: Money, Gold, Silver, trade, Borrow, Debt, Lend, Buy, Sell, Tithe, Wage, Wealth, Riches, Greed, Poor, slaves, land, orchards, grapevines, herds, and talents, their conclusions were that finances/money and what to do with it and how to think about it is mentioned more than 2,000 times in the Bible, more than any other subject. In the New Testament, money is mentioned more times than heaven and hell combined and Jesus spoke about money more than any other subject. After all when God commands "not to covet your neighbors' wife, his maid servants or his ox or his ass", He's talking about property and how to relate to it. Research it yourself, I'm taking their word on it.
Moreover in the Old Testament when God was setting up his righteous society he was very much a share the wealth kind of deity. Besides his numerous commandments to give money to the poor, he set up practices to protect the poor. Four of these stand out. The Agricultural laws. Besides the Bible these many laws are found in: Farming By The Book: Food, Farming and the Environment in the Bible and the Qur-an by Gary Flick, Professor of Agronomy. According to Biblical commandment when harvesting the crops in the field the poor must be allowed to follow the reapers and to glean the spears of grain they let fall to the ground.
"And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and the stranger" (Lev. xix. 9, 10). "When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow" (Deut. xxiv. 20, 21). These provisions belong to the agricultural poor-laws of the Bible, the transgression of which was punishable with fines and beatings.
Clearly this strict father did not want his children, any of his children, to go hungry. He never discusses whether the poor deserve this, He just says "feed them!" So how can Ron Paul be against SNAP that feeds lunch to hungry children in the schools and gives food stamps to the poor? Will somebody please ask him?
The second law protecting the poor is called Usury, the charging of interest for a loan. God forbids it, Allah forbids it. To profit from the misfortune of another is a sin!!!!! Tell that to the banks! It is mentioned many times in the Bible; here are just a few quotes.
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." 26 "If you ever take your neighbor's
garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down." 27 "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." (Exodus 22:25-27) 35 "If one of your brethren becomes poor,
and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a
sojourner, that he may live with you." 36
"Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may
live with you." 37 "You shall not lend
him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit." (Leviticus
The third law is the Tithe, which no matter what the priests or ministers say today is not mentioned at all in the New Testament. In the OT when the tribes were still together, after the harvest ten percent of the harvest was tithed. According to scripture, a third of that was for the Levites--the priestly class--since they did not farm. The second third was for a huge harvesting, Thanksgiving feast that was thrown for everyone and lasted a week. The last 3rd was for the poor! They are listed as the feast tithe, Deuteronomy 14: 22-23, the Levitical tithe, Numbers 18:24, and the poor tithe, Deuteronomy 26:12: "When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase... give it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled." Not to build great houses of worship! Not for incense burners of made of gold! Not to pay for TV time! TO THE POOR! Tell that to the evangelists who drive caddies, live in huge houses, and enrich themselves from the offerings of their followers.
The last and best of the commandments to share the wealth is known as the Sabbath Year, the Year of Release. Every seventh year the land is to lie fallow, the beasts of the field get to roam free. ALL SLAVES MUST BE FREED AND ALL DEBTS MUST BE CANCELLED!!!! Wow! How's that for leveling the playing field? Benjamin Franklin who had seen the debtors' prisons in London is credited with putting the bankruptcy laws into the constitution. He felt it was only good business. If a person gets into debt and can't get out--since it becomes like a prison--every seven years they get a GET-OUT-OF-DEBT-FREE CARD. Doesn't ask if they were foolish or not. Doesn't judge whether it's deserved or not. They are free and they get to start over. How dare they exclude school loans and income taxes from bankruptcy? Let's be a good Christian nation and do as the Bible commands.
In Deuteronomy 15:1-18, the seventh year is called the LORD'S release, and all debts are to be forgiven. The reason for this law is to relieve the poor. Exodus 21:1-6 describes how Hebrew servants were to be released in the seventh year, unless they voluntarily desired to be lifelong servants. Ezekiel 46:16-18 states that even the prince of Israel is not to dispossess people of their inheritance. Gifts given to the prince shall revert back to the family of the giver at the year of liberty.
Every fifty years is the Jubilee year and at this time even the wars have to stop and the nations must return land and riches taken during the wars to the original owners and let their armies rest. This law proved to be too much for the greedy kings of Israel and for disobeying this law, supposedly, Israel was conquered and enslaved in the land of Babylon!!! No comment.
These laws and thousands of other verses show God's commandments to care for the poor. Yet Ron Paul and others misquote Matthew 26:11 as "The poor are always going to be with us." This is their excuse for doing nothing because there is no cure. It's taken out of context for the full quote is: "For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always." This was in answer to a charge that Jesus should have sold a gift and given the money to the poor, but Jesus felt this would have disrespected the gift and he knew he was going to sacrifice Himself shortly. Another quote about the continuing existence of the poor is found in Deuteronomy 15:11: "For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land."
So that's the beginning and we haven't even finished with the OT prophets and with the preaching of Jesus or how to use these arguments to convince Christians that they are wrong. That's for another article in this thread.