I read this headline on Reuters the other day and it reminded me of something from the bible.
“Pile of debt would stretch beyond stratosphere“
“President Ronald Reagan once famously said that a stack of $1,000 bills equivalent to the U.S. government’s debt would be about 67 miles high. That was 1981. Since then, the national debt has climbed to $14.3 trillion. In $1,000 bills, it would now be more than 900 miles tall. In $1 bills, the pile would reach to the moon and back twice.”
|last update: 2008|
On an earthly level, this news depresses me. The national debt is an issue that is pervasive and very negative on the US and the world, but it is so nebulous that most Americans don’t, won’t, or can’t wrap their minds around it. The numbers become meaningless, after all, who can understand a trillion? But the profligate spending of the last generations has brought us to this. Though Bill Clinton made significant progress toward reducing the debt, the US government budget has actually not been balanced since 1957. That would be Eisenhower.
What does the bible have to say about living beyond our means?
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.” (Luke 16:13-15).
It is plain to see that US citizens have served either one master alone (mammon) or have tried to serve two (Mammon and God of the Prosperity Gospel). The attitude of ‘more-more-more,’ of getting a bigger boat, wanton spending, shop till you drop, greed is good, Me generation has gone away from biblical principles of handling money. And our leaders (The Pharisees, metaphorically) love money even more and that is bad because they have control of the budget. Paul said that at the time of the end, we would be lovers of money:
“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy” (2 Timothy 3:2).
But we are also told that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
|As of 2008|
America is pierced with many sorrows. When we see homosexual marriage legalized, abortion increasing, pornography becoming accepted and ubiquitous, we recognize these social ills as sins. But the money problem…it is more invisible simply because it is so nebulous. You can’t see a debt. You can’t hold a debt. Who does debt really harm, we wonder.
Money issues, unpaid debt, borrowing, lending at usury (credit card companies who charge 30% or more) and interest are all addressed in the bible. In certain circumstances, they are sins. Here is a good study on the monetary system that includes lending and debt that God initially set up.
In biblical times the Hebrews failed to obey the monetary laws God instituted, and today we are failing in the same way. We are failing so badly that the debt has piled up to the moon. This headline reminded me of several bible verses:
“I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.” (Revelation 18:5). The Lord said in the next verse that they shall be paid back double. They did not know that they were borrowing against their sins at double interest rate!
Lest we tend to say that we ourselves, individually, have not piled up debt, nor lent, nor borrowed, nor spent, Prophet Ezra had a holy shame for the state of sin his nation was in. He prayed: “O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.” (Ezra 9:6). Gill’s Exposition of the bible explains “our trespass is grown up unto the heavens; being done in an open, public, and insolent manner, and in such numbers, that they were, as it were, piled up in heaps, reaching to heaven, and calling down vengeance from thence. Ezra includes himself as being one of the same nation; and these sins being so common were become national ones, which involved all the individuals, and exposed them to the divine resentment.”
If our debt is piled up as high as the moon, our national sin must surely crumble down upon our heads at double portion! Do you have a holy shame for the misuse of the wonderful assets the Lord gave us? His grace is such that in God’s economy, debt is forgiven- sin debt that is, and His love extends even farther than from the moon and back: it extends to us and through us and for all eternity. Be wise in your financial dealings, pray to the Lord for our nation that the Pharisitical leaders who run things would have wisdom, and that we repent of individual and national fiscal abuse. Our gracious Lord hears our prayers. “O God of hosts, turn again now, we beseech You; Look down from heaven and see, and take care of this vine, ” (Psalm 80:14)