The World Has It's Capital and God Has His
"Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and taunting proverb against him and say, 'Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! How long? And to him that ladeth himself with thick clay! 7 Shall they not rise up suddenly that bite thee, and awake that shall vx thee, and thous shall be for booties unto them." Habakkuk2,6-7."
Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. 9 The Lord almighty has declared in my hearing: 'Surely the great house will become desolate, and fine mansions left without occupants. 10 A ten acre vineyard will produce only a bath of wine, a homer of seed only an ephah of grain." Isaiah5,8-10
"At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done: everey creditor shall cancel the loan he has made to his fellow Israelite. He shall not require payment from his fellow Israelite or brother, because the Lord's time for cancelling debt has been proclaimed. 3 You may require payment from a foreigner but you must cancel any debt your brother owes you." Deuteronomy15,1-3.
"To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group give a smaller one: each is to receive its inheritance according to the number of those listed. 55 Be sure that the land is distributed by lot. What each group inherits will be according to the names [those individual families enrolled in the tribes] for the ancestral tribes. 56 Each inheritance is to be distributed by lot among the larger and smaller groups." Numbers26,54-56
"This is what the sovereign Lord says: 'These are the boundaries by which you are to divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel, with two portions for Joseph. 14 You are to divide it equally among them. Because I swore with uplifted hand to give it to your forefathers, this land will become your inheritance." Ezekiel47,13-14.
"Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures , sayong "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!" Revelation6,6.
Wealth For Some Or All?
I'm preaching Captial For Some, Or All? today.
The 1963 World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary defines capital in several ways: " a source of power or advantage." Or, "national or individual wealth as produced by industry and available for reinvestment in the production of goods." In accounting terms, capital is "net worth ... after the deduction of taxes and other liabilities."
It also defines capitalism as the economic system "that favors the existance of capitalists or the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few."
But the God of Israel wants capital in the hands of all his people. This is proven by God's equal division of land, among the tribes, family by family. Simply put, the land of Israel was given in perpetuity to the family, not to the government, not to the priests, not to the tribes, but to individual families within the tribes Numbers26,54-56.
The Temple Was Becoming The Wall Street Of Its Day
This is also proven by Jesus claiming that the Temple priests, the bosses of the money changers, had made his Father's house a "den of thieves." Elsewhere he also called them "a brood of vipers." Vipers are especially known for their bite and the Hebrew word for interest, "neshekh," means bite. Jesus knew and spoke Hebrew in that at age 12 he was found sitting in the discussing Torah with the Temple priests (Luke2,39). He later read the Torah in Hebrew in the synagogue (Luke 4,16). (John Parsons "Disputiung the Aramaic Primacy." (hebrew4christians.com)
The money changers put an interest bite of between 4 and 8% on pilgrim Jews who had to exchange their foreign money into the shekel when they came back to Jerusalem three times a year to buy and make the required sacrifices (cf Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, "Money," 1997, p. 699). The rate was supposedly set by the amount of precious metal in the foreign money the priests took in (cf progressive-economy.org/trade_facts/currency-trading-is-the-largest-market-in-human-history/).
But it also could have been just based on whatever the market would bear prior to the point where pilgrims would avoid coming back to Jerusalem to make the sacrifices in the first place, thus the "den of theives" and the "brood of viper's" comment.
Moreover, in addition to the three required sacrifices for which the Jewish pilgrim needed shekels, any sacrifice for sins of his kith and kin, and living expenses while back in Judah, would garner more exchange fees on top of that. These are some signifignant "bites." Currency trading is the oldest money making game in the history of civilzation.
Thus, at John10,7-13 Jesus also refers to "thieves" and "robbers," "hired hands," serving their money and their wealth, who only come to rob and destroy. He is referring again to the high priesthood in charge of the whole money system of his people and in this region of the world.
This interest bite was also applied to the annual Temple tax assessed against all Jewish men, a tax applied at Passover time, the same time Jesus went onto the temple and overturned the tables. It was a tax that either had to be paid in a particular foreign currency, or the shekel, likely depending on which exchange, and which metal was most advantageous to the Temple priesthood. The Harpers Collins Bible Dictionay "Money" explains:
"When Jesus 'cleansed the Temple' (Mt.21:12-13; Mark11:15; Luke19:45-46), money changers may have been collecting this tax for the public welfare [as employed by Temple priests]. Jesus' action would have been disruptive to the public order and to the authorities managing the religious affairs of the Temple, including the chief priest and the Saduccees. Money changers sometimes cheated when assisting on transactions selling sacrificial animals." (ibid)
These interest "bites" and cheating all added up, and made the Temple and it's priests rich, politically powerful and untouchable. But then came Jesus, the more powerful prophet promised by Moses, who came along and judged it and them by overturning their business and prohesying the temple's destruction (Mt.24,1ff, Mk.13,1ff; Lk21,5-36). This came in 70 AD, at the hands of the Roman General Titus. There has yet to be a Temple in Jerusalem since then. This is judgement on the priesthood for making His Father's house into a bank too big to fail, and for the priestly orchestration, by Judas and the High priest, and Pilate, of Jesus crucifiction at the hands of occupier Rome.
Jesus was well aware that the Temple was becoming the Wall Street of its day in terms of political influence, wealth, and corruption of the cult.
The Bible And Private Land Property
There is no absolute biblical right to buy and own forever private property in the land of Israel, neither in days of the Hebrew Scriptures or today (Leviticus25,23 citing Stephen Mott and Ronald J. Sider, Oxford Center For Mission Studies, "Economic justice: a biblical paradigm," ocms.ac.uk/transformation/ I'm indebted to this study for highlighting the logic of biblical capital and for its comprehensive biblical citations). In bible times neither did land belong to "the government," like in communism, or absolutely to the private family. No, the promised land belongs to the actual people of God, which, as we will see, is a much better way to parcel it out.
Neither did not belong to the Temple or "church" like so much land in historical Christianity, where the wealth of the world was appropriated by the church, one way or another.
This idea of land as God's provision of capital was so strong and lasting in Israel's biblical faith that the prophet Ezekiel, at 47,13-14, prophesying about the time after Babylonian exile, makes sure to remind that this land provision for God's people survives into the kingdom of God and forever: "You are to divide it equally among them. Because I swore with uplifted hand to give it to your forefathers, this land will become your inheritance."
The land of Israel according to the word of God is the eternal inheritance of God's people.
Homestead Capital Was God's Wisdom For His First People
The promised land of Israel was God's gift of a capital asset to each and every family of his people. God doesn't play favorites and only bless a few, as in capitalism. In contrast, in our Christian salvation by faith, and faith in the Name, He gives Spiritual capital equally to all. This "Spiritual" capital will be a later part of this message Capital For Some, or All?. God gives Spiritual capital to all who appropriate it, seize it, by faith in Jesus.
As to actual economic capital, think about it, God could have given every Israelite family a sack of gold and silver and said "no more, no less." (Or, a Chevy Tracker.) But as we know, money and many other forms of wealth, like cars and houses, often slip through the hands of families, generation after generation.
Many families in the good old USA live one payday or government check at a time. They have no lasting capital, nothing to re-invest. But the God of Israel set up a system whereby His capital asset, the one He alone secured for his people, would always stay with them. A perpetual right to land would always give them a fresh start, right up and through eternity, when the new Jersualem comes down from heaven and takes the place of the old.
Land was the essential capital in the time Israel was settled about 1000 years before Jesus. Why? Because Israel was almost exclusively an agricultural economy. And our shared God was keen on each family keeping the land He gave them. This was their ability to eat, and sell crops, a means of production, a way to both produce food for themselves and sell it to their neighbors (again Mott and Sider make this teachably clear).
So Vermonters and rural and urban hipsters are onto something when they exhort folks to plant a family garden. The world's population is growing fast, and arable land use per capita is going down in developed and un developed countries (Jelle Bruinsma, 2009). Another study (Ausubel, Wernick, & Waggoner, 2013) says farmland has peaked and by 2050 will be off 0.02% from 1960 levels. The Guardian reported back in December of 2015 that a University of Sheffield (Granthem Centre For Sustainable Studies) study concluded that in the last 40 years a third of the highest quality arable land has been lost due to overuse, over fertlization, and subsequent erosion.
But God always had this land distributution and farming thing figured out long before these eyebrow raisng studies. He was so keen on His provision of land capital for every Israelite family that He devised three key ways each family would keep it's plot of land, and so its ability to survive and thrive. This provision also kept his people out of slavery to debtors and foreigners.
Land Is About Stewarding What Only God Owns
The first was called the 'year of Jubilee.' What a beautiful word, "jubilee," Hebrew for "yovel," ram's horn, as in the trumpet carved out of a ram's horn, annoucing the liberty of God's people when they could have their land back from any creditor, foreign or domestic. This is Leviticus 25,8ff whereby every fifty years the land was to return to the tribe-family that it was assigned to originally. The idea here is that God owns all that He created, and we human beings are just stewards of the land, of His ownership. So, the land like any other of God's gifts, like the gifts of the Spirit, always remains subject to His will. And His will is that land remains in the possession of His people.
Deuteronomy10,14: "To the Lord your God belongs the heavens, even the highest heaven, the earth and everything it." Psalm24,1 and 1Corinthians10,26 also say the same.
No matter that rich or foreign bankers or landowners foreclose on it because you didn't pay back a loan, and and then sold it at a profit. Every fifty years your family got it back. This land is our land! It belongs to the people of God. Because God gave it. Because He said so. That's a fair deal. Your creditor might have taken it and sold it, but you get it back in fifty years. There's a way to keep land speculation prices down. There's a nice pay raise for those still dependant on wages for wealth. There's a remedy for $200,000 dollar Connecticut and Vermont houses being sold to families who can't afford lunch at McDonalds, families now asking the ruling political class in Washington if they will ever again have any upward mobility.
The second way to keep capital for every family is found at Deuteronomy15,1ff. Every seven years a man was released from all his debts. Women could not make deals back in bible times, so they couldn't make debts. So if a lender lent money to a farmer at year three of the seven year period, and four years later that debt still wasn't paid, it was erased. Wow,if we did this, think how short debts terms would be. You could tell your debtor to go pound sand. Nowadays creditor's pound debtors, who can't even afford attornies to stand up and defend them.
Every seven years your debts were cancelled. Don't even have to file for bankruptcy. Don't have pay off a ten year student loan after the seventh year. My goodness we have folks still paying student loans as grandparents. But the God of Israel knew to put a time limit on the duration of debts. The bible is telling us why make a debt- for such a long period- its just going to enslave you if your life situation or the economy changes.
And this is a good answer in our day too, when banks are forever coming up with different ways to tie up folks for longer and longer debt terms until we become slaves to them, selling a $15,000 loan on a six year term on a used car not even worth that $15,000.
Hey, no problem, you can't pay, we'll repossess it, sell another loan and the car again, churn, churn church that debt. The value of the car is not so much in the car itself, or the creditor getting paid off, but selling an overpriced loan and an overpriced car again and again. Debt becomes a commodity in and of itself.
Say in bible times you needed a donkey and borrowed on a six year term, but you defaulted. Your Israelite creditor could take the donkey, but think about how much less credit dependant our world would be if our debts only lived for seven years or less? More people would be able to see and understand the value of saving, and see the cost of borrowed money. There would be more barter, and lower prices for all the goods we hold dear.
Nowadays all the big boy and girls of capitalism, the banks, make their money on complex long term debt instruments, and bundling and selling or securitizing them and then selling shares in them. This keeps people, and our whole economic system, tied up in costly debt. And then the debt based economy requires that the government ensures inflation by printing more money so that the debts the banks and investors all at least make their money back, even if it requires inflated dollars. The modern economy game now is all about how something is financed. People, even rich people, create businesses built on elaborate credit schemes, for archane tax benefits, tying up their wealth and power in the hands of bankers and financiers, when they could have just paid cash.
But God keps it simple. No debt between Israelites lasts more than seven years. God's people don't pay interest to the devil. We should try something like that. What's better than a 15 yr. mortgage at 3%? How about a seven year mortgage at 3%. But Wall Street and the Chamber Of Low Wages might not like that, got to keep the price of houses up, can't sell mortgage debt when house prices are going down, got to keep inflation so the creditors all get paid.
Are God's ways "pie in the sky" and "impossible" for you? Well, it's time to imagine the possibilities of God word, or you can argue with it, and the Lord himself, who will be our judge.
God's third plan to guarantee that all families have a fair shot at keeping their own capital is the right of Levirite marriage. That is, a man's male relatives keep his land in the family by marrying his widow. You remember from the 'The Preaching Hour,' a while back, we devoted four hours to the book of Ruth. Ruth was a Moabitess, an Arab lass, who became a part of God's chosen people first by marriage, and then by faith, when her first husband died and by choice to marry Boaz, one of her dead husband's kinfolk.
By marrying Ruth old Boaz not only got the girl in the end, he also kept God's provision of capital in the family. And thus, both Naomi and Ruth were provided for by that ancestral land. Ruth4,3. This right to redeem the land and the wife of one's dead kinsman was a win for everyone involved. It preserved the capital in the family that no man, or goverment, or Temple had the right to take away.
So, God gave his people three ways to keep his provision of land capital in the family. This isn't communism, or a socialist nanny state, or a-low-wage-crony-capitalism-cage -match. It was God's way of taking care of His people forever.
A Quart Of Wheat For A Days Wages
Now we fast forward to Revelation6,6 and we see what will be the plight of many in prior famines and in the last days: "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and wine." Most folks will have no capital at all. 90% of American folks only save about 4% of their annual income. (Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, The Distribution of U.S. Wealth And Capital ; financial samurai.com) The wealth of the world, in the end, is primarily going to be in the hands of the few. Most of the world will be living hand to mouth. The rich will get relatively richer and the poor will be borrowing for a new TV or a phone.
Most folks have no God guaranteed land to provide for themselves, save in the coming kingdom of God, when and where Jews will share their promised land with us Gentiles, their messianic kingdom with us. Perhaps they will rent us a room at the Motel Seven, the Motel Perfect, so we have a place to wash up before we Gentiles stream into the kingdom Temple with our brother and sister Jews to worship our one Jesus with all the rest of faithful humanity (Isaiah66,19-24).
And I'm thinking Jesus will put us to work as priests and worshippers like it says at Isaiah66,21.
But before that beautiful day comes, the word of God says that less and less of God's people will be having high paying jobs or the ability to buy and sell their own sustenance. Highly productive land and water, given steady population increases and arable land per capita decreases, will become become hot commodities, to be traded, like everything else, by the rich and powerful. CNBC reported on January 15, 2016 that Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf Countries and corporations based there are buying up valuable farmlands in Arizona and California, about 12,000 acres. They use our water and land and export alfalfa hay back to Saudi Arabia for their milk cows. Many Midwest states like Iowa have laws against this type of thing.
Oxfam International and Mother Jones ("Charts: The Top 5 Land Grabbing Countries, Feb. 6, 2016") cite land grabs in Africa, whereby rich investors, Wall Street clients, are targetting land in unstable and corrupt countries for land aquisition and agricultural commodity investment. This is to profit from the poorest peoples in the world.
According to a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study, as digested by Ryan Jacobs of Mother Jones, "the land grabbing phenomenon has already claimed some 203 million acres, or about .7 to 1.75 percent of the world's total farmland, since 2002, with the majority of the acquisitions after 2008 [after the mortgage speculations trough ran dry]. Out of 41 land grabbing speculators, the US ranks second, with 9.4 million grabbed, an area larger than the country of Qatar. And according to another report by the Oakland Institute, highlighted by my colleague Jaeah Lee, many purchases are carried out by private equity funds, university endowments, pension funds and hedge funds looking to strenghten their portfolios by capitalizing on declining natural resources."
We're staying on point here, trust me. Revelation6,6. The Word of God, shows us seal by seal, historical epoch by epoch, whereby prior religious evils all repeat themselves and accumulate, and recur, and all come to a head in the endtime. First there was deeds of Nicolaitans (dominators of the laity, Revelation2,6), deeds of hiearchy (territorial "Bishops") when bible faith is conciliar per Ephesians 4,10, and then doctrines of Nicolaitans (Revelation2,15, infant baptism, priestly ordination). These deeds and doctrines of the Nicolaitans also became the religious taxes of the dark ages (6th-16th centuries) that left people in Spiritual and actual poverty, while the church learned its wealth by taxing all things religious (Branham, "The Third Seal" paragraph 270-1/297).
The same domination of laity will recur and persist into the endtime by world's secular powers who have learned political and economic Nicolaitanism, domination, from their religious exemplars, with material proverty of God's people while the institutional church is still rich with the wealth of the world: Revelation17-18: "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a days wages, and do not damage the oil and wine."
But the little flock, not denominations, not institutional religions, not secular political and economic powers will prevail so long as the true church, wherever found, keeps the oil of the Holy Ghost Spirit, and the wine of the our joy of salvation.
Are you getting this, or would you like to just go back to your third grade catechism and Sunday school?
But No Shortage Of Salvation Capital For the Faithful
Praise Jesus right to the end we faithers will have no shortage of oil and wine, the stuff of Holy Ghost salvation, the joy of having a messiah and the mercy of God, and our true Spiritual capital. That will be third part of this message, God's provison of Spiritual capital, not just for some, but for all.
The end times will be lean times for the faithful, and unfaithful too. In desperation, there will be the buying and selling of men's souls, as has always been the case in false and deceptive Babylonian religion and its economic system that favors the luxury and wealth of the rich (cf Ryrie Study Bible notes the "luxury items will still will be available in spite of the upheavals of the tribulation years").
Revelation18,10-13: "Woe! Woe, O Great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come! 11 The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys her cargoes any more- 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, incense and myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men."
The historic business of Nicolaitan religion, and expoitative economics, like back in the Temple that turned on Jesus, up to our present day of pastorianity-churchianity, makes men's souls into just another tradeable commodity.
And now with livable wages being in such short supply, it may come to the point that men and women will have to sell their souls to a corporation just to have a job, perhaps even sign a poltically correct values statement, have to take some ideological or physcial mark of beast just to trade, just to eat (Revelation13,17).
Water to grow food will be scarcer. And worldy coprorations and financiers will buy it up, and fields, and seeds given and created by God alone: "A days wage for a loaf of bread."
Global Warming In The Endtime
And there's also the very curious unfulfilled endtime promise of Malachi4,1: "For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven..."
Sounds to me like global warming is less about man's mistreatment of the environment, although that is patent, and more about God's coming judgment on how we have so badly stewarded the gifts on this earth that only He could, and did, give us (Isaiah24,5-6a; Revelation16,1ff).
In our late and modern day will any government on earth hand out a parcel of land to its citizens, a parcel of productive capital to those who have none, like God did for His people in the land of Israel? Our federal government parcelled out land before in Oklahoma in 1889, and then I think in New Mexico too. The folks from the south who came for that promised land were called "Sooners" because they got to the Oklahoma territory before the land grants began. They were "Sooners," folks who arrive so early when something good is about to happen. We Christians are "Sooners" for the kingdom.
Praise God, why don't our modern governments around the world give their citizens an asset that no one can take away? Rather than all that which just flies through people's hands. Will that ever happen again? Well, we'll wait in faith for the kingdom to get our land if we have to.
Russia is a big place, lots of productive land. Does monsignor Putin give land to his Russia's citizenry? Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote a beautiful short story, Matryona's House about what happens when a kind and poor old lady loses most everything she has to an soul-less state who couldn't care less about her. Governments often don't care about people- they care about power and getting bigger and more powerful. This story is worth reading to see what happens when the state is made into a false god, and Jesus is taken out of public life, and relgion is handed over to state propaganda churches and churches cede the voice of their savior to the voices of mere men.
I doubt the world's leaders will ever again adopt the Israelite biblical model of giving land to their citizens. The Panama Papers suggest that wealthy leaders worldwide are into their own self dealing, and set up offshore accounts to protect their own wealth, rather than provide opportunity for their people who toil for a day's wage. Folks without capital are required to live by one set of local and national rules, that the powerful will enforce with all their power and might, while crony "capitalists" and the world's political and economic oligarchs live by their own global rules, making them up as they go along.
What have the world's premier leaders giving their peoples, their nations, of late? A lot of wars by transnational "coalition" forces (not in my name, or His Name, please) with marketable names.They have given us "regime change," "nation building," extraordinary renditions and extraordinary leadership changes, and think tank foolishness, and disfigured U.S. soldier sons, and PTSD sufferers. What else? Free Trade agreements that have voided out US manufacturing, and Americans left with part time work. They have given us a system that ensures part time jobs, food stamps, bread and circuses, and the endless promises that our benevolent government will not only save us but the whole world too, all without God, mind you, just here to help.
Seven Facts About Modern Day Capital In The Good Old USA
Now that we have glimpsed at God's central remedy for capital for all, land for all his people, I'd like to contrast this with seven facts about capital in the present day good old USA. This will give us some perspective as to how badly God's people have been disserved by the globalist domestic political and economic class, and the ruling wordly economic elite that are now using our nation (which are also gifts of God) as their staging ground.
And as we talk about capital and capitalism, let's be honest. Pure capitalism died in 1929. Pure finacial capitalism collapsed our economic system a long time ago. And thank God, it was patched up after that. The ideology and illusion of pure capitalism rose again in the 1990's, but then it died again in 2008 when it brought our entire economy to near collapse, when the Wall Street banks and their insurers had to be bailed out with government money. That sounds like socialism to me.
There no such thing as pure capitalism in the USA. We need to get over that idea that we are ever going back to pure capitalism. We have crony capitalism, managed care capitalism, capitalism that smoozes the government, and government that smoozes the "capitalists." Our economic system, is headed by an unaudited Federal Reserve Bank which gives it's profits back tothe government that allows it to exists. We have Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guaranteeing almost every residential mortgage. We have corporate welfare for multinational corporations, pork barrel ethanol and dairy subsidies for rich farmers, and soaring food costs. We have health care markets with crushingly high premiums, that still don't compete across state borders. GM's auto rebound came after it's own goverment bailout.
There's nothing wrong with capital. We all want capital and most people will work hard for it, if given a fair chance. The issue about capital is who wins and loses under managed capitalism that we have. But even managed capitalism is now prone to failure and injustice, and a declining standard of living for the majority of our people.
Anyway, our talk of seven capital facts in the good old USA will also prime our spirits to turn us more fully to God's word as our guide in all things.
These seven facts will also provide contrast for our third part of this sermon Capital For Some Or All? when we address seven aspects of our precious Spiritual faith capital, the true power and wealth that we Christians enjoy. This faith capital is like an Israelites' family's plot of land. It cannot ever be taken away, or ever owned by any other man, or government, or wild eyed capitalist, or communist, or terrorist, or the devil himself. No faither in the grasp of Jesus' hand will ever lose His Spiritual capital, his personal salvation unto eternal life, his or her part in the reign with Jesus and His brothers and sister Faithful Israel, and the angels too. Praise His holy Name.
But first we need to take a look at how out of balance and unfair the distribution of capital, of wealth, for folks here in the good old USA:
1. Wage Decline in Terms of Gross Domestic Product since 1970.
Wages have fallen from 51% of GDP in 1970 to 43% of GDP in 2013 (en.wikipedia/wiki/household_income_in_the_united_states citing FRED graphs) This translates to an average $7000 annual loss for each of the 120 million U.S. Households, or $600 a month (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/middle-class_squeeze, citing Lawrence Summers "Harness Market Forces To Share Prosperity," June24, 2007).
$600 a month for most of the folks I know is real signifignant decrease in income.
There are many reasons for this decrease: globalization, skill based technological change, superstars of technology take down other's pay, immigration, and policy and politics whereby DC listens to the rich and powerful (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/income_inequality_in_the_United_States).
Paul Krugman explains: "Competition from emerging economy exports has surely been a factor depressing wages in wealtheir nations, although probably not the dominant force. More important soaring incomes at the top were achieved, in large part by squeezing those below: by cutting wages, slashing benefits, crushing unions, and diverting a rising share of national resources to financial wheeling and dealing... Perhaps more important still, the wealthy exert a vastly disproportionate effect on policy." (Ibid)
Another reason wages have been declining is fact n. 2.
2. Financialization Link Between Corporations And The Stock Market
Less Capital Comes From Wages and Salaries
This fact may take a bit to sink in for us Christians. We may not always be so quick on the uptake when it comes to high finance. In these modern days individual wealth, disposable capital, comes not so much from wages and salaries, but from investing in the stock market.
Simply put, wages for work isn't the best way to get rich, or have capital, anymore. It comes from investing in the stock market. Who knew?
Since 1989 stock market capitalization, the money in the market, rose from just 55% of Gross Domestic Product to 155% of GDP, almost tripled (Ibid). So as less and less money goes to pay wages and salaries, and building physical things and manufacturing things, more and more money flows into stocks as the pre-eminant means to gain wealth. Who is that going to benefit? Not folks who depend on wages and salaries to create any wealth, not folks who do not have the disposable income to get into the market in the first place.
And as the stock market has been ginned up for wealth creation, corporate executives are now more interested in the price of their companies stock because this is how they now make 50% of their income. (This stock income is presently taxed at half the top rate by the IRS.)
Stock valuations are how companies gets valued, and then bought out, and this also makes management rich (Ibid). In other words, financialization of the stock market has incentivized our whole economic system toward taking care of corporate executives, shareholders, and people who are already capitalists, at the expense of workers, who didn't know they had to become investor capitalists just to survive in this emerging neoliberal 'can't-lose-a-deal, world based money system.
Between 2000 and 2007 75% of increased stock growrth has been at the cost of wages and salaries (Ibid).
Again Paul Krugman, NYT Jan.1, 2015: "soaring incomes at the top were achieved, in larger part by sqeezing those below by cutting wages, slashing benefits, crushing unions, and diverting a rising share of national resources toward financial wheeling and dealing."
Wealth creation has become about gaming the financial system, not about paying people fair wages and salaries. No wonder over ninety million working age people in the good old USA have stopped looking for wage work. It's not that 90 million people are lazy, or arn't fond of capital or capitalism. The Americans I know like to work. It's that 90 million people quite clearly realize that there's no capital creation for them in working a low wage job for corporations that have no intention of sharing their wealth with them.
No wonder that the only capital 50 million citizens can put their hands is food stamps! And other forms of welfare. This is where crony capitalism has left them. But they are going to even have to pay some of that back. Simply put, with wages going down since 1970 there's less capital to be found in work, and more to be found in the wheeling and dealing of the stock market and in the other investments.
3. Changing Three Important Fairness Rules And Letting Wall Street Rule The Political Roost
The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 separated commercial banks and investment banks. That is, your local bank which mostly dealt with local individuals and small businesses was separated from the investment banks of Wall Street. Wall Street banks helped, and still help, larger companies issue stocks and trade securities, which is part of the way they help businesses start up.
Glass Steagall protected individuals, common folks who lost money in the market crash of 1929. Now we have the FDIC Insurance for up to $200,000 of your deposits in a such a commercial or local bank. Praise God.
We fast forward to late 20th century, the world is getting smaller and banking more competitive and Wall Street banks are comepeting against foreign banks that have no laws seprating commercial from investment banking, meaning they can make risky investments with money derived from depositors, not just with their own bank's profits. So great political pressure was brought to bear on the Washington political establishment.
By President Bill Clinton's signature in 1999 the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was passed. It overturned it the Glass-Steagall Act that had served the country well for about 70 years. Better a modern gold rush, better a financial casino America, better ideology than prudence. This repeal may not have been the proximate cause of the economic meltdown of 2008 but it certainly extended the credit bubble of the mid 2000's and made banks way more complex and prone to failure (Oct. 14, 2015, NYT, Neil Irwin article, citing investment manager Barry Ritholzer).
The second major rule change came in 2000 "The Commodities Futures Modernization Act.' Since1994 two new found financial instruments were making great profits for Wall Street banks and bankers. These were mortgage derivatives and credit default swaps, which is also a derivative. A derivative is a type of tradeable financial asset that derives it's value from the value of another financial instrument or commodity. So when big banks bought up over rated mortgages in the heat of the housing bubble in the late 90's to mid 2000s, bundled and securitized them, and then sold these overated derivatives, there was a great risk to the financial markets and the banks that created these instruments. There was great risk because there was no clearing house or other wise insured and open exchange for them like say the Chicago mercantile exchange.
When the mortgage backed securities business softened the same banks heavily bought credit default swaps (CDSs) to protect themselves from losses. A credit default swap is a type of insurance sold to any buyer of it, usually to a creditor seeking insurance on a loan. If the debtor defaults, or suffers any "credit event," the buyer of the CDS, the big bank, swaps the note in exchange for the money owed on it by a debtor.
There was no exchange for these new non agricultural paper commodities. Nor was there any governmental reporting for these new instruments. Thus, Chairwoman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, "CFTC," Brooksley Born in 1998 realized that these unregulated, but increasingly popular, derivative instruments were potentially destabilizing to the financial markets. They were traded over the counter, that is they are opaque, not traded through a clearing house or exchange. So she wisely reasoned that since they were actually futures contracts that the commission she headed up should regulate. (cf wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooksley_Born).
The politically charged financial and financial regulatory community, as epitomized by President Clinton's "Working Group on Financial Reform" didn't agree. Born's fears were confirmed when a large hedge fund (LTCM) was going belly up in 1998 and was unsuccessfully bailed out by Wall Street creditors with coordination of the Fed and NY Fed that feared systemic risk. Apparently, it's largest losses were in derivative swaps (wikipedia.org/wiki/long_term_capital_management citing Lowenstein, 2000). LTCM's failure was a glimpse of the 2008 bailout. Born realized this.
Yet, the Presidents Working Group and Fed Chairman Greenspan still recommended no regulations of these emerging derivative markets. Meanwhile, Congress, no doubt enjoying the largesse of the financial world in the late 1990s, and its ascendant ideology of occasional pure capitalism, drafted and passed the Act that fully recognized, but then exempted the mortgage derivative and credit default swaps markets from regulation and exchanges.
The Times of London reported that by September 15, 2008 there were 62.2 trillion dollars worth of outstanding Credit Default swaps (Wikipedia "Credit derivative"). So when the real estate mortgage backed derivatives sold by Wall Street banks around the world began to fall, there was never going to be enough insurance assets from AIG and others to pay back the losses.
These two rulings, the repeal of Glass Steagall in 1999 and the acceptance of unregulated derivatives in the Commodities Futures Modernization Act in 2000 were sort of like the cool mom and dad letting their high school children hang out with kids they never met, and go without a curfew, and party at home: "They are good kids. We trust them. And my kid knows better. What could possibly go wrong?"
Well, even "good kids" get caught up in some pretty complicated messes!
Kids and financial derivative markets (that Born estimates have $700 trillion in notional value, wallstreetonparade.com/brooksley-born-still-still-telling-uncomfortable truths-about-wall-street) are not self regulating.
What are your and our "good kids" often also really good at?
At wheedling and controlling you, and other regulatory adults, who sometimes need help with their smartphones. And then things come to light and who knew- even the 'good kids" have to be bailed out, showered with affection, and interest free money too, and grow stronger too. PBS's "Frontline" documentary Series in 2009 aired "Warned." This work champions Brooksley Born warning that the derivatives market was hidden from public view and regulation.
The third major rule change was on July 6 2007. It served as regulatory strike out in favor of ideology over economic common sense and fairness. On that day it became OK to short sell a stock without an uptick on that stocks price. This is the coup de gras of the ever ascendant financial community. It even swept up the SEC. In 1937 Congress passed a law prohibiting the short selling of stock because such selling had brought the market to a crashing halt. Short selling is when someone sells a stock that he doesn't own, that is borrowed, hoping it will keep declining in price, so when he actually buys it, or "covers it," the cost per share will be less, and he has made money. In other words, the short seller is betting against the stock's price increase.
So in 1938 the SEC adopted the "uptick rule" whereby a short seller, planning to make money if the stock tanks, may sell it only at an uptick price, a price above the last price, the last tick of the ticker tape I suppose. Short sales were not permitted on minus ticks, because "It was not unusual [prior to 1934] to discover groups of speculators pooling their capital and selling short for the sole purpose of driving down the price of a particular security to a level where stockholders would panic and unload their fully owned shares. This, in turn caused even greater declines in value." (Alfred Pessin Fundamentals Of The Securities Industry, NY Institute of Finance, 1978).
Well the rule worked well for 66 years but the SEC did a year long pilot program in 2004 to determine if "the uptick rule" was worth keeping. And lo and behold, it was deemed unecessary. And the Wall Street again tail wagged the whole American dog. The SEC concluded it was no big deal to get rid of it. So on July 6, 2007 they did. Just before that they concluded: "The general consensus from these analyses and the roundtable was that the commission should remove price test restriction because they modestly reduce liquidity and do not appear necessary to prevent manipulation." (en.wikipedia.org/uptick_rule, "SEC votes on Regulation SHO Amendment and Proposal: Also Votes To Elimate "Tick" Test." SEC 2007-6-13)
By August 27, about a month and a half later, Muriel Siebert, former NY state banking superintendant published an article in the NYT that said in part: "We've never seen volatility like this. ... The SEC took away the short sale rule and when the markets were falling, institutional investors [banks selling shorts, on their own behalf and on behalf of clients, with all the capital in the world] just pounded the stocks because they didn't need an uptick." (Ibid)
Then comes "naked short sellers." These are folks so brazen they don't even bother to borrow the shares they are selling, or making sure the shares could be borrowed, or couldn't buy them because none were available for sale.
A paper by the New England Systems Institute claims the 2008 financial crisis was triggered by "bear raid" short sellers against Citicporp late in November of 2007, within about four months of the July 6, repeal of the "Uptick Rule.
Anyway, is it really that surprising that we became a "bailout nation" right after the the uptick rule was scrapped after 66 years of service, and after Glass Steagall was repealed, and after DC and Wall Street said "no" to derivatives regulations?
Everybody who was anybody in the financial and political world after the fall of 2008 wanted the uptick rule brought back. By November 18, 2008 the Wall Street Journal, per Robert Pozen and Yaneer Bar-Yam, reported that twice as many stocks had greater than 40% drops in the corresponding 12 month periods before and after the repeal of the uptick rule on July 6,2007. In other words, the larger institutions, the institutional short sellers, were primed to make as much money as possible both before and after the uptick rule was changed. So what if companies went under. This was the money game at the time.
Robert Shapiro, former undersecretary of Commerce for Economic affairs for President Clinton said that $100 billion of stock value were lost from naked short selling and estimates that it drove 1,000 companies into the ground. Daniel Kadlec, "Watch Out They Bite" Time, November 9, 2005.
On February 24, 2010, an alternative uptick rule (Rule201) was instituted by the SEC, whereby a stock that has sufferred a 10% decline in value in one day, triggers a circuit breaker on short sellers (long sellers that day can get out) who can only buy on that day and the next day on an uptick of national best bid (sec.com)
The Dodd-Frank financial reorganization Act passed in 2010 also brought reform to the financial derivatives market. It required derivative instruments to have exchanges, insured clearing houses. This minimizes systemic risk, and keeps it between the parties to a derivatives deal, where it belongs. But it exempted derivatives used for hedging and foreign exchange swaps (ibid wallstreetonparade.com).
Dodd-Frank was a first step toward financial reform, but it still allows investment banks free reign to trade on their own account, with their own money, Per a watered down "Volker rule," recently implemented, banks cannot run internal hedge funds on their own behalf (Ibid Irwin). Now they have to outsource their "proprietary" trading to outside firms, so as to avoid a conflict of interest with their ordinary clients.
The jury is still out if any of these watered down regulations will work, and be strickly enforced.
Why don't we end to all proprietary trading by the largest top ten banks? It has no public purpose at all. This would place our largest and most powerful banks back to where they belong- making markets, issuing securities, and helping businesses get started. This is the proper purpose of capital and investment banking. Proprietary trading just makes the biggest banks and those who run them richer and richer, but does not serve any public purpose.
If banks have all this extra money- then let them pay dividends to stockholders- rather than spin the casino wheel of proprietary trading that to this day presents sytemic failure and risk to the whole U.S. financial sector.
4. Wall Street Wealth Dwarfs Wealth of US Economy Especially After Bailout
David Lynch from Bloomberg News on 4.16.12, using figures from the Federal Reserve, reports that five Wall Street banks held $8.5 trillion dollars in assets at the end of 2011, which equals 56 of the US economy. Just five years earlier, before the crisis of 2008, these banks owned assets amounting to 43% of US output.
What? The bailout of these banks made them bigger and more risky, and more powerful, and harder to regulate.
Yet the bigger they get, the more their wealth and their decisions effect the value of everybody's capital and money.
5. "Monster-Mega Banks" Mostly Serve Their Own Purposes Not Public Purposes
11% of Goldman Sachs 2009 business income was received pursuant to their purpose of lending money and underwriting and issuing stocks of investment banking. p. 5 SEC yearly report.
76% was made by "Trading And Principal investments" (Trulaske College of Business, "GS report" business.missouri.edu from SEC filings).
In other words, the banks legitimate public purpose of lending money and issuing stocks has been almost completely subsumed by it's hedge fund type activity, ie making money for itself and those who run the banks.
As Matt Taibbi of RollingStone puts it in his April 5, 2010 article The Great American Bubble Machine:
"The first thing you need to know is that Goldman Sachs is everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is everywhere a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact the recent history of the financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled American Empire reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs Graduates."
Later in the same article he writes:
"The banks unprecedented reach and power have enabled it to turn all of America into a giant pump and dump scam, manipulating economic sectors for years at a time, moving the dice game as this or that market collapses, and all the while gorging itself on the unseen costs that are breaking up families everywhere- high gas prices, rising consumer credit rates, half-eaten pension funds, mass layoffs, future taxes to pay off bailouts. All that money your losing, it's going some where, and in both a literal and figurative sense Goldman Sachs is where it's going: The bank is a huge, highly sophisticated engine for converting the deployed wealth of society [like paying workers a living wage] into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on earth- pure profit for rich individuals."
Why is it that we hear nothing very specific about these issues in the Christian church? We hear nothing sustained or reform minded from the mainstream media, but establishment pablum and 'that's the way it is attitude."
Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, following up, writes six years later in February 2016: "Now The Vampire Squid Tells Us How To Vote! He's referring to the media chum Goldman Sachs CEO telling CNBC's Squawk Box host Becky Quick about the national presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders:
"This has the potential to be a dangerous moment."
No, Mr. CEO, as you know, politicians are relatively docile and well attuned to the insatiable aptitudes of the mega banks. No it is banks that are too big to fail, yet did, and are even bigger now, that are "dangerous."
For Taibbi's latest: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-the-banks-should-be-broken-up-20160408
The list of those who want to break up the banks does not include just Senator Sanders, but also John McCain, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio and David Vitter of Lousiana. And former Texas governor Rick Perry even put out a plan, but not Hilary or the Donald?
6. Overstock Fights Back And Survives
Now the five prior sets of facts might seem like the fight against crony capitalism of Wall Street is always a losing proposition. Here is a set of happy capital facts about Overstock.com, one company who fought the Wall Street banks and won. It started with a lawsuit in 2005 against a certain hedge fund, and its research affiliate, and another in 2007 against 11 Wall Street prime brokers. Overstock alleged that they all were involved in impermissable short selling which seemed bent on running the company into the ground. (Overstock.com vs. Goldman Sachs: A True David & Gliath Story" CEO Patrick M. Byrne, www.overstock.com/50257/static.html)
The core allegations of the suits were "naked short selling" from 2004-07. As you recall naked short sellers don't bother to borrow the shares they are shorting, and then sell-lend them for high fees to other investors betting short. As the Economist points out on November 10, 2015 this can circumvent the actual number of stock shares outstanding, and piles "downward pressure" on a share's price, whereas the proper use of shorting is for hedging purposes and market making.
Naked short selling can lead to a weird situation of more allegedly borrowed shorts of a stock than actual issued shares, sort of like there were more value in Credit Default Swaps than the loan(s) from which they derive in 2008.
Naked short selling, and none of the Wall Street or other defendants in these suits admitted this, is about gaming the system by not settling past transactions and creating "phantom shares."
Naked shorting is believed by some to be part of the crash and bailout of 2007-08.
Overstock's CEO' CEO Patrick M. Byrne is a real hero here. He wouldn't give up. He fought without let up for pover ten years. His stewardship of Overstock is truly a David v. Goliath story whereby David wins. We hear that phrase all the time- 'David and Goliath story,' but it's not such a story until David, with his little slingshot wins over the big Philistine.
Here are the facts of their triumph:
Overstock settled its 2005 suit against the hedge fund and its research affiliate for over $5 million, and also received an apology and a retraction.
Overstock netted $4.4 million from various defendants in the second suit who paid to be let out (Kurt Orzeck, law360.com ,1.28.2016 from SEC filings).
It continued and collected $20 million from Goldman-Sachs in June of 2015 (Ibid). Mr Byrne played hardball. After it's RICO count against Goldman was attempted to be added in 2010, a California federal appeals court found that California did not have jursisdiction over Goldman's activities. But the court hinted, as courts sometimes do, that New Jersey might have such jurisdiction, so Overstock promptly brought a RICO claim there in June of 2015 which Goldman promptly settled.
Here's CEO Byrne, commenting and crowing on the $20 million settlement with Goldman:
"Over the last few years the federal government has fined Wall Street firms such as Goldman billions of dollars for their participation in all manner of market-rigging activities. We fought to hold Goldman to account in California for the substantial damage Goldman perpetrated aginst this firm, its shareholdeers and participants in the capital markets in general. Goldman's market destroying activities conduct is now widely known and universally acknowledged. While we would have preferred getting Goldman in front of a Clifornai jury, Goldman wormed off the hook. That said, we are confident suing Goldman had a sanitizing effect on capital markets. ..." http://investors.overstock.com June 25, 2015.
And, to end all the litigation, Overstock also finally collected $20 million from Merrill Professional Clearing Corporation on or about June 28, 2016 (Ibid Orzeck, and Overstock.com, Inc Press Release 1.28.2016).
The facts show that it sometimes pays for U.S. based companies to fight internationalist Wall Street banks.
7. Income Inequality
The top 1% of income holders in the good old USA controlled 23.9 of of earned in income in 1928 just before the crash of 1929. And 23.5% in 2007 before the bailout of 2008.
Whereas in 1980 the top 1% controlled only 10% of income (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/causes_of_icome_inequality_in_the_United_States, chart made using data from Piketty and Saez, 2003, Quarterly Journal of Economics Data 2003 and Updates).
But the 1% also owned 40% of wealth, of all capital, and the top .1% owned 22% of wealth in 2012, compared with 23% and 7% respectively in 1978 (Ibid Wikipedia noting Saez' 'Income and Wealth Inequality: Evidence And Policy Implications,' October 2014; and Stiglitz, 'Of The 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%;' Vanity Fair, May 2011.
Furthermore, while economic productivity in the USA has gone up about 325% between 1947 and 2012,` real median family income has only increased about 125%. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Productivity- Major Sector Productivity and Costs database, 2012)
70% of countries have a more equal income distribution than the USA (Ibid, Wikipedia, "Income Inequality...").
Worldly Capital Standards Or The Godlen Rule Applied to High Finance?
Those are just some seven facts, standards about the way the world sees capital.
What ever happened to the "Golden Rule," treat others as you would want to be treated? What happens on Wall Street effects the bottom line of everybody. I don't want to be too dramatic here, but I remember Dylan Ratigan appropriately fulminating about the unfairness of the bailouts. And his indignation and outrage has just been squetched at every turn? I think that the golden rule died in the good old USA in 2008, with the bailout whereby Wall Street banks got bigger and stronger, while they were never held to full account. Something hasn't been put right in our country yet, and the golden rule needs to come back in it.
What worse, I think too many of us Christians have been asleep or fallen to the world's idea of capital, of gouging and grabbing, and finagling, and cutting off our neighbor in financial traffic, and then going into church as if God has nothing to say about societal fairness.
Jesus called the the Temple priesthood of His day "a brood" of biting snakes. And so are many folks in our modern globalist business and political climate have joined a brood, that pays only passing, and occasional attention, to the public good.
What Does Jesus Have To Say?
Jesus has a lot to say about access to capital for his people. As Jesus was strictly observant to His word, He would not have any problem going back to His word when it comes to the provision of land capital.
Here are seven aspects of how God sees equality and fairness when it comes to capital. Are all these easily translatable to today's modern information based economy? Of course not.
But just because the word of God is not easily translatable is not a good enough reason to divorce our faith, our fairness and democratic values, our politics, and relgion from economics. And to merely take comfort in either the exhausted platitudes of the Protestant work ethic- when our modern economic system has and now assumes high unemployment and often requires merketable skills- is a cop out. Nor are the exhausted platitudes of European socialism more than passing fad, we don't have the cultural unity and social cohesion to pull it off. But to worship a God that doesn't inform our economic, political and social values is to worship a god of our own making.
But we do know this- God is not a 21st century crony capitalist picking winners and losers in the hidden recesses of the political and economic powers that be. Nor is he a godless socialist that trusts Caesar with very much of His people's wealth and capital.
Anyway, and again, here seven quick examples of the God of Israel looking out for fairness in the distribution of capital for all his people:
1. Our God said every seven years land is to remain fallow and unharvested and the poor allowed to farm it, Exodus23,10-11;
2. As they walked through someone else's field or orchard an Israelite was entitled to eat its grain or fruit, Deuteronomy22,24. Jesus, our God, cares about everybody.
3. A farmer was not to harvest so efficiently, for more than one pass, so that the poor could provide for themselves by gleaning, Deuteronomy24,19-22; Leviticus19,9-10.
4. Interest on loans to a fellow Israelite were prohibited, Leviticus25,36f. This suggests that the God of the bible allows some differential treatment between citizens and non citizens as it protects the basic rights of all.
5. Profiterring on sale of food to the poor was prohibited, Leviticus25,36. Why is it that our poorest people, often with least mobility, have to go out of town to get cheaper food?
6. No matter how poor you were, a man's means of production, like a millstone, could not be taken as collateral, Deuteronomy24,6.
Likewise in U.S. bankruptcy court exempts one's tools of trade or profession from liquidation, up to a certain value. And one's motor vehicle up to a certain value, pensions, some jewlery, and personal injury awards and appliances (findlaw.com).
7. If a key article of clothing was taken as collateral, it had to be returned before nightfall, Exodus22,26.
Stephen Mott explains these rules as upholding the common good of the community:
"All these provisions are restrictions on individual economic freedom that go well beyond preventing fraud, theft and violence. The law did, of course support the rights of owners to benefit from their property, but the law placed limits on the owners control of property and on the quest for profit. The common good of the community outweighed unrestricted economic freedom." (Ibid, p.57)
God of Hebrew Scriptures Assured Some Land Capital For All- Jesus Also Gives Spiritual Capital For All
As we have seen, the chief provision of capital for God's first people was a physical homestead for every Israelite. In the Hebrew scriptures God provided a promised land, and delivered actual land capital to His people tribe by tribe, family by family.
And today according the the Israel Land Law of 1960 Jewish folks from all around the world have not only the right to return to Israel, as millions have done since 1948, they also have the right to lease property for either 48 or 98 years from the Isreali Land Administration (ILA). This leasing is the closest most everybody in Israel comes to owning property in absolute terms (Wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_land_and_property_laws).
I'm no expert in Israeli land law but it cannot be sold or leased to foreigners. Having said that, I understand there has been some compensation for Arab owners prior to 1948, when Israel became a nation again. Many Arab owners fled in fear and abandoned the land on which they lived prior.
I mention modern Israel property law to demonstrate that, as a people, Israel, as custodian of the land, still operates on the biblical stewardship model, whereby God ultimately owns the land, though in secular terms it is the state of Israel that now "owns' it. But we note that in both biblical Israel 1000 years before Jesus, and today, there is no absolute right to private property. It was given to the people, the tribes, broken down by families. This is built not on socialism or communism, but on the biblical idea that the land was a gift by God, Genesis12,1-3.
Having said that, we see that while Jesus was king of the Jews, and tailored his own mission to the physical land of biblical Israel, He deferred the provision of a final and permament homeland for all faithful Jews and gentiles, until after the final seven year tribulation, until his second coming and His millenial rule (Revelation20) at which time Israel will see it's messiah, Ezekiel36,28; Zechariah12,10, and rule with Him from Jersualem.
The literal kingdom of God, from literal Zion, for an actual 1000 years, will fulfill that land priovision of land capital for His people, the Jews, and even us faithful gentiles grafted into their tree.
So What Is Our Capital As Christians Short of Inheriting The Earth?
So if our capital from God is not yet the actual inheritance of the kingdom, what is our capital as faithers, but non Jews, in the interim before the just inherit the earth, in the kingdom, with our faitlful Jewish brothers and sisters? Yes in some instances God does bless Christians and Jews with great material wealth, but that's not our shared inheritance.
We follow our Lord who told his missionaries "sell what you have and give it to the poor and you will have great treasure in heaven."
A Lord who also said "take nothing with you as you go" throughout the world spreading the gospel. A lord who said not to build bigger barns for our surplus, but to be ready to meet him this very night (Luke12,16-21). And said "look at he birds of the air they neither toil or spin, yet God feeds them."
So our capital as gentile Christians is primarily a Spiritual brand of capital, a salvation capital if you will, an eternally true wealth, an eternally true power and true advantage. This type of capital is not just given to Jews in the land of Israel, but to us Christians too. It is a wealth above worldy capital, a capital that no thief can steal or moth eat, that reaches beyond the physical necessities of a sinful world, a faith capital that ushers us into the millenial kingdom of God and makes us a resident, a citizen of the eternal Jerusalem, praise Jesus.
This Spiritual capital, multifold, is the true treasure of our heart, Matthew13,44.
Here's seven aspects of our Spiritual capital:
1. By faith, confidently acting on the promises of God again and again, we hold the cup of salvation. And we don't let it go. And the author and first holder of that cup doesn't let us go! We hold the our 'copa de oro,' the cup of our eternal life. He has shared that cup, like a hockey team shares the cup, and then with all their fans.
Psalm11612: "What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? 13 I shall lift the cup of salvation. And call on the Name of the Lord."
By his grace, that gave us faith, we have been delivered from the state of sin to the state of salvation, a higher place, a place of his peace and blessings. We sit at a table with better provisions, and not just physical ones either. We raise a cup that delivers every human being, a cup that is worth raising again and again.
The wordly will raise a cup to themselves, and boast, to their own prowess and cunning. But we lift the cup of salvation, the cup of His glory over the physical, the cup of His victory over death, the cup of our eternal life with Him.
More specifically Psalm16,5 says :"Lord you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."
David remembers that every Israelite family, got a homestead, got a lot, a table and a cup of one's own. And by faith in Jesus we each have an allotted kingdom portion, an alotted kingdom cup. These are dear and capital provisions from God, and represent our inheritance of eternal savation with Him.
Oh praise Jesus, these two cups denote our lasting capital as Christians. My Psalm16,5 cup, my individual cup at his kingdom table, is part His big cup of salvation, of the Psalm116,12 salvation cup, for everyone. Don't tell him you're too weak to lift the cups of salvation, and your kingdom portion! Ask Him for the strength- he'll help you.
We faithers don't just toast ourselves with our own cups. We toast Him, with His ONE cup of salvation for all men. With the cup that He drank, the cup that changed our lot, our portion, our physical capital, to include a Spiritual inheritance and a place in the kingdom of God. We lift up that Cup and that Name that freed all of us from sin and death, and gave us his presence and salvation by faith and by baptism.
2. We have the abundant capital of having a savior and a permanent friend.
Some of us have the real blessing of a good friend. Worship maestro Israel Haughton had a hit song about 10-15 years ago- 'He's Calls Me Friend."
If Jesus calls us friend, what some folks call us isn't so important.
And sometimes friends help us a little, or sometimes a lot. They might help, and then Lord it over us. Well Jesus is different. He saves us again and again, not just once. I couldn't rightly count the number of times he has saved me. The nature of salvation is not 'once saved, always saved.' It is once saved, and again and again, and again saved!
Salvation and friendship go together like that. Not once a friend, but a friend again and again again, that saves. Somebody say Amen.
Friends tell each other everything, John15,15. Jesus said this was one of his four reasons that he calls us friend. So He tells us "everything my father tells me." As savior-friend Jesus doesn't hold back anything that we need to hear. Some friends don't have much good to say, until you are long gone, and they miss you. But God doesn't hold back anything we need to hear as His friend. He's timely. He's a friend that says what we need to hear right now and today. He's a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He's timely and doesn't keep His distance, even when we might embarress him.
Jesus is savior and friend, that sticks close, no matter what. He won't fall off his throne if he has to save us again and again. Having this savior-friend is real good capital, a supreme wealth the way I see it. You can have all this world has to offer, and buy up the rest if you have the money. But there are times when nothing else wilI do, but a savior and a friend, and Jesus is all this at once. Oh that's real wealth.
Oh my, "what wondrous love is this?" As the song says.. "Oh my soul, what wondrous love is this?"
3. God is rich in mercy and, therefore, so are we.
Psalm51,8: "Let the bones you have crushed rejoice." We rejoice because He chose us for mercy, chose that His blood and grace wash us and clean us up, and thereby mend the bones that sin has crushed.
There's no rest in this physical life, there's no Sabbath enjoyment of God's provision and creation, until we accept and experience his mercy. Matthew11,28: "Come to me all who are tired and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
One of the reasons folks are so tired and heavy laden these days is because nothing in our lives overflows like the richness of God's mercy. Not even the richest man's money flows like God's mercy. There is nothing like experiencing God's mercy to put some overflowing life back into us. Not everybody accepts God's mercy easily. We think we have to earn it, or buy it, or work it out for ourslves. Well it's free, merely by faith:
"Come all you who are thirsty; and you who have no money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on that is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy. Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare." Isaiah551-2ff
God is rich in mercy and His mercy is the richest capital we could have and, better yet, we all have received so much of it, some might even get inspired enough to give some away.
God is rich in mercy and would that all our souls delighted in this Spiritual richness. Mercy is our real supernatural capital. It's wealth in our Spiritual bank every morning. Oh this is the capital that might keep a marathoner going at the 20 mile mark, a married couple married after 20 years.
Oh yes he is rich in mercy, and so He showers his mercy on us.
So why don't we spread his mercy around on other folk, so that we all don't forget how rich we truly are. Some rich people like to throw their money around. It makes them feel important. We're rich in mercy, why don't we throw some mercy around.
I make a point of telling nosy folks "I'm rich!" And of course I mean in the things of God's Spiritual capital, but they are sort of hoping that I mean literally, like so rich I'd be really intresting, or I'd give them something.
But if we Christians bank our lives on being rich, on the world's capital, what miserable sorts most of us are going to be. But if we bank our lives on His faith and mercy, we are going to be rich in faith and mercy!
We often say "don't let anyone steal your joy," Joy is so important! It's our strength. I think we also should say: "don't let anyone steal your mercy." For mercy determines the measure we measure to others, and the measure we get back.
And mercy often measures the reach of our faith.
And, in case you hadn't noticed, even wordly civilization, even a safe trip to Wal-mart, depends not so much on justice, justice being at best intermittant, but on the mercy of other folks at Wal-mart, all them narrow aisles and big honking carts. Have mercy on me- don't run me over, please. Likewise, driving our cars with folks texting, our safety depends on the mercy of everybody driving that day. If mere wordly civilization depends so much on mercy, how much more the life of God's called out ones: "blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy." Matthew5,7. James2,13: "For he shall have judgment without mercy that hath showed no mercy..."
Love is the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit, but before His loves flows in and out of us, His mercy has to light the fire of His love in us.
4. A Prophet's Reward of Understanding And Closeness To Jesus
Matthew10,40: "He who receives me receives the one who sent me. 41 Anyone who receives a prophet because he us a prophet receives a prophet's reward. 41 And anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will reecive a righteous man's reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."
These three verses are challenging- they depict people really close to God. A prophet, a righteous person, and a disciple are all really close to God. And if these are welcomed and heard by others who are less close to God, the less close folks will receive the same blessings as those closest to God. That seems unfair, that seems like a short cut, and there are very few shortcuts in God's word. But this is one of them!
Have you ever seen a married couple and one of them is, or at one time was, way out in front of the other one? But because the less close spouse fully receives the prophet spouse, disciple spouse and or righteous spouse, the less up to speed spouse gets totally up to the speed of the other, just because the two of them receive each other.
Or sometimes a pastor who is prophet, a righteous man, or a disciple has this ability to impart wisdom to other folks, that it took him decades to acquire, impart that wisdom in the shortest span, in one sermon, because he loves his people and they receive him to the fullest. Just like that.
This is some real capital, the ability through the Holy Spirit of God to impart the Spirit God placed in you to another human being. Moses imparted some of his prophetic Spirit, some of his righteousness, some of discipline. And those who received Him got a prophet's reward of understanding and drawing close to God. Moses imparted wisdom and strength that took him decades in the desert to acquire. Doesn't seem fair does it?
We faithers and prophet welcomers have quite a capital here. Sort of like free money, or at least interest free money.
And there are times when we don't cast our pearls before "swine," before people who really aren't interested in serving Jesus. But then there are times when even a stranger here, or there, or anywhere receives us in great love. And sure enough, there is like great Spiritual wealth and capital that gets immediatly imparted, to that stranger. We might see him or her one time, right then and there in an instant, there's an impartation of Spiritual capital, a big bank roll of Spiritual capital.
So we faithers bear great spiritual wealth, and can impart. We don't lend this capital, expecting to get paid back but just impart it. We hold this wealth in mere earthen vessles and give it away to earthen vessels.
5. Humility And Meekness Inform Our Spiritual Strength
We know the parable of the two men who enter the Temple, Luke18,10ff: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and and prayed this prayer: 'I thank you God that I am not like the rest of mankind- greedy, dishonest, adulterous- or for that matter like this tax collector."
A modern version of this would be a "Christian" who bases his faith not on the promises of the word and the many miracles of God, but on his own enlightenment. "Thank you Lord for not making me like those loud and bible based Christians who still believe in miracles, and robust public worship, and adult baptism, and baptism in the Spirit, and all the rest."
13 "But the other kept his distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven, but beat upon his breast, saying, 'God have mercy on me, sinner that I am. 14 It was this man, I tell you, and not the other, who went home with his sins forgiven. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and; and whoever exalts himself will be exalted."
The word also says 'the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.' And 'the meek shall inherit the earth." This idea of Spiritual wealth is a peculiar Christian doctrine from a particular Eastern mindset and worldview of one prophetic Jew named Jesus. But it's God's literal truth. We will inherit our lot and portion in the kingdom, and will reign with Jesus, while others will have all they have acquired taken away, and left for last. "It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for rich man to get into heaven, but nothing is impossible for God."
Oh humility is a great wealth. We don't brag about it, "Thank you lord for making me humble not like that other guy." But humility is one of our greatest Spiritual assets and strengths. How long a lesson this lesson can be.
Humility doesn't mean we hardly speak up. It means we speak up when God wants, and hold our peace when He wants, saying what God wants said by each of us, right time, right place. We speak up, not ashamed of the gospel, or holding our peace, not ashamed of the gospel. So whether we speak or stay silent we are humble and obedient to Jesus. Humility and it a secret and hidden Spiritual strength. Humility and repentance was David's second chance. Humility goes to the essence of our Spiritual inheritance of eternal life and our reign with Jesus.
6.The Ability to Please God
I'm always surprised at some of the examples that the Lord gives when I preach, especially this one, about the ability to please God as a key aspect of our Spiritual wealth. I thought, at first, that He was joking. But He was serious. Jesus knows just how hard it is to please men. Calvary proves it. And it also proves just how easy it is to please God.
And make no mistake, having the ability to please God, someone, anyone, is a real capital asset. The Word simply says we please God by faith: "Without faith, it is impossible to please God." It doesn't say without wealth, or without a cool car, or without eternal youth and good looks, it says without faith it is impossible. But with faith it's easy.
With the ability to please God why do we spend so much time and effort trying to please folks for who we have no ability to please? Trying to please folks that unpleasable will only rob us of our Spiritual capital.
You or I may be hard to please, and hard to impress, or sort sort of jerky. My biggest difficulty with my dear brother and sister Christians is not doctrine or lifestyle, or hair cuts, or dress lengths, or fussing and cussing, or what day we worship, but the fact that we sometimes we act a little jerky. Have you noticed? Like we are waitng for other folks to please us. Or, like no one can ever please us.
Why do we waste so much time, and the only gospel energy we have today, trying to please each other and folks who everybody knows are a little afflicted by that fault finding be-like-me-someday-religious-way of doing things, if you know what I mean, when Jesus is so much easier to please, just by faith.
My God is not hard to please at all. Faith and follow. These are nouns and verbs. To be able to please God makes me rich. What a great capital to have know we can please Jesus today, any one of us, and then do the same tommorrow and the day after that. And that's makes us rich.
Any divorced people out there? My heart goes out to you. Anyone divorced from a church. Perhaps you had an unpleasable spouse or church who did not ever repent of being harder to please than Jesus. These are folks who can't please themselves, don't know how to please God, but expect you to please them in some very complex worldy or "religious" sounding way.
But God is simply pleased when we confidently act on His promises again and again.
Compare that unpleasable guy or gal, or church with this word: "anyone who gives even so much as a cup of cold water to a fellow disciple because he is a disciple will not lose his or her eternal reward." He's pleased with someone, anyone, does His will and word. Totally pleased, with anyone. Period end of thought. Not pleased sort of, if they would just come to our church, our many times a week. Not pleased just to make compliments. Not pleased with only such and such a person, just like us. Not pleased, but could have done it better myself, just plain pleased! Are you getting this? To be able to please God is a great asset on our Spiritual balance sheet.
I'm more rich in Spiritual capital pleasing God than I'll ever be pleasing others, and you are more rich in Spiritual capital pleasing God than pleasing me. I've got no silver and gold to give you, but Jesus gives away His Spiritual gold, his pleasure in your faith.
Thank him. Praise him. Forgive and love your neighbor, and he's pleased.
7. The Promise Of The Father
Jesus told his disciples to tarry in Jerusalem and he would send the promise of the Father. Most of us know that when we promise somebody, especially a kid, that we must be true to our word. We must deliver on that promise.
On the day of Pentecost Jesus delivered on His promise to his children. This promise was not just for the Jews living 2000 years ago. Acts 2,39 by the lips of Peter: "The promise [of Holy Ghost baptism] is to you and your children [the Jews for all generations] and to all who are far off [Jews and gentiles not then and there in Jersusalem], to everyone whom the Lord may call [Jews and gentiles long after Pentecost].
"Christians" who have sworn off the infilling and distinct event of Holy Ghost Baptism have a deficit in their Spiritual bank account. They are not Spiritually fully funded for His mission.
Why do we think we can spread the gospel now, 2000 years later, with mere material riches, and ocassional glimpses of grace, if the Lord Jesus said to wait for the power: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and [with that power] you will bear witness for me in Jerusalem, and throughout all Judaea and Samaria, and even to the farthest corner of the earth." Acts1,8
So many Christians avoid the true wealth of Holy Ghost baptism because some of the so called proponents of it are phonies and have given bad testimony. That would be like saying we ought not to believe any witness in any court of law because some are phonies and have lied since courts started taking testimonies.
We don't give up on the whole idea of witness, and actually following our Lord, just because some witnesses don't give good testimony. We don't throw our greatest Spiritual asset after faith itself, because there are and always have been folks who claim it, but either lost it, or never had it, or turned it into witchcraft and mediumship, pastor worship, or something false.
Though every man be untrue, the distinct and experiential Spiritual capital of Holy GHost baptism is as true today as on the day of Pentecost.
Conclusion: He became poor so that we could become rich.
Our true wealth as faithers is not in material possessions, but in a certain Spiritual and material generosity and love for all the brothers and sisters: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." 2Corinthians8,9-10.
See also Revelation2,9 Jesus to the church at Smyrna: "I know your afflictions and your [actual] poverty- yet you are rich!"
The world economic system, as presently constituted, imparts wealth and capital to the few, Revelation 6,6, "a quart of flour for a day's wage." And recent history and the fawning globalist political-media climate tells us that this is not likely to change much. But we Christians and other who still believe in the golden rule should all do whatever is just and necessary to make it better.
God, in contrast, imparts Spiritual capital to all his people. Just as He gave each Isaraelite a parcel of land a 1000 years before he became poor and took on our human flesh, he has made us rich in the Spiritual wealth of His resurrection.
He didn't say we would reign and conquer nations and lands in His Name. Or say we would take out despots ruling under false gods. He said in contrast "we would do even greater faith miracles than he did," greater Spiritual things.
He didn't say we would be great and powerful world leaders, but 'render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar.' Pay your fair share. He didn't say we would all get materially rich in this life, but that all the things of the kingdom would be added unto us if we put Him and his righteousness first.
Has Jesus' mercy been added to your life?
I'll end with this image. There was a three year old under the watchful eye of his Dad at a recent high school softball game. His mom was coaching one of the teams. The ball field grounds were covered in dandelions. And this little guy, who liked my bike, made a point of picking and passing them out to everyone.
He gave one to his Papo, his grandfather. He gave one to the pretty, and not so pretty, the old and the young, to those of this color and that color. To everyone, for as long as His dad would let him anyway.
After he finshed, his Papo said to a fellow fan, "He doesn't know that at home we try and get rid of these things."
I asked Jesus later what did that boy show me from His point of view. In our human eyes, it was obviously about a little kid, not knowing any better, loving everybody. But Jesus said the little boys work was more like mercy.
'How's that Lord?'
He answered: "I'll hand it out to everyone, but it's not something to be taken for granted, or gotten rid of, as if something better is coming along anytime soon."
My friends we wouldn't know any just measure of His love and Shalom salvation, if we havn't first experienced some measure of His mercy.
Friends if we want His Spiritual capital in our lives, if we want to be rich, Jesus says today 'there is nothing that comes before my mercy.'
Today He still hands out the mercy of everflowing blood, a mercy that lets your life and my life, and the world, keep going round. It's undeserved, and it's free, and it is Spiritual capital for all, a cup running over for all, not just a few.
All it will cost you is a yes and amen to your only eternal savior, and your new best friend., Jesus.
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...