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Bible Study
See other Bible Study Articles

Title: The Economics of God
Source: KJV Bible
URL Source: [None]
Published: Jun 16, 2017
Author: God, collected and commented on by Vicom
Post Date: 2017-06-16 08:23:53 by Vicomte13
Keywords: None
Views: 268
Comments: 26

Nearly everythigng in Scriptrue has an economic component, and God has used economic realities to shape the world since the beginning.

Indeed, at irs origin "economics" is a composite word, consisting of the Greek "oikos", meaning "house", and "nomes", meaning "law". So, economics is "the law of the household", Of course the aggregate of a hundred million households makes for some mighty numbers, but the same fundamental needs drive each household, and each person, and each animal, and this is by design.

When God made the world, as described in Genesis, he first created the physical structures of its existence. The first biologically living things (as we define it) were created on the third "day", when the plants and trees were made. Plants anchor on soil, whence they get the elements that form their structure, they live on water and light. God provided the light directly, and the water sprang up from the ground. On the fourth day God created the sun as the source of natural light for the world, that the plants would use as their energy source.

On the fifth and sixth days God created the animals, whose economics are more complicated, for while the still require a habitat of solid ground or sea in which to live, and they still require water, they cannot eat light to make food, like the trees. They have to eat the products of plants, or the products of animals (originally just milk, later, meat).

And to collect those things, animals generally cannot fix themselves to the ground, like plants. They have to move around.

Air is a special case, because it is the spirit that God breathes into the nostrils of animals, not plants, to make them breathers (a word we translate as "living souls"). In Scripture animals die but plants fade and wither, and the life is given by breath and taken back by the withdrawal of breath, by God. The blood carries the breath to the body, and so the blood is the life.

The basic natural economy of creation is straightforward. Light and water feed the plants, the animals eat the plants, and man also eats the plants and, through his dominion, may eat the milk of animals as well. The land was fertile and self watering, there was light and abundance. There was the destruction of plant cells through digestion, and plants competed for space and light (which is why Adam and Eve had the task of tending the Garden, but there was no Biblical death, as the breathers were not being killed and eaten. There was superabundance of food, so the economics were the economics of the lack of scarcity and, therefore, leisure. There was no need for clothing, and no energy spent in such activity. Man was made to live an economy of leisure in nudity, with a focus on esthetics: tending the Garden.

That's a summary of the Economics of Eden. I'll tie it to Genesis text when I come back and have a Bible in hand.

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#1. To: All (#0)

A typo correction: "nomos" is law, not "nomes".

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-06-16   8:54:20 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Vicomte13 (#0)

I'll tie it to Genesis text when I come back and have a Bible in hand.

Please don't. I'm tired of being bombarded with stupid mythology from stupid people.

rlk  posted on  2017-06-16   10:32:16 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: rlk (#2)

Then be an intelligent person and don't click open the thread.

Otherwise you will get tired.

See how simple it is to keep up your energy? Don't like the subject, don't look. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-06-16   10:52:17 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: Vicomte13 (#1)

Thank you much. I am certainly interested.

Anthem  posted on  2017-06-16   11:11:45 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: All (#0) (Edited)

What I wrote before (on an i-Phone) is here re-posted with grammatical, orthographic and punctuation errors corrected. I have also edited a few words for clarity. As it all begins "In the beginning...", it is important that the beginning be clean and clear.

Nearly everything in Scripture has an economic component, and God has used economic realities to shape the world since the beginning.

Indeed, at its origin "economics" is a composite word, consisting of the Greek "oikos", meaning "house", and "nomos", meaning "law" or "rule". So, economics is "the rule of the household". Of course the aggregate of a hundred million households makes for some mighty numbers, but the same fundamental needs drive each household, and each person, and each animal, and this is by design.

When God made the world, as described in Genesis, he first created the physical structures of its existence. The first biologically living things (as we define "living") were created on the third "day", when the plants and trees were made. Plants anchor on soil, and they live on water, light and air. God provided the light directly, and the water sprang up from the ground. On the fourth day God created the sun as the source of natural light for the world, that the plants would use as their energy source to convert air and water into living tissue.

On the fifth and sixth days God created the animals, whose economics are more complicated, for while they still require a habitat of solid ground or sea in which to live, and they still require water, they cannot eat light to make food, like the trees. They have to eat the products of plants, or the products of animals (originally just milk, later, meat).

And to collect those things, animals generally cannot fix themselves to the ground, like plants. They have to move around.

Air is a special case, because it is the spirit that God breathes into the nostrils of animals, not plants, to make them breathers (a word we translate as "living souls"). In Scripture animals die, but plants fade and wither, and the life is given to animals by breath and taken back by the withdrawal of breath, by God. The blood carries the breath to the body, and so the blood is the life.

The basic natural economy of creation is straightforward. Light and water feed the plants, the animals eat the plants. Man also eats the plants and, through his dominion, may eat the milk of animals as well. The land was fertile and self watering, there was light and warmth from the sun, and everything grew in abundance. There was the destruction of plant cells through digestion, and plants competed for space and light (which is why Adam and Eve had the task of tending the Garden), but there was no Biblical death (God's withdrawal of breath from a breather), as the breathers were not being killed and eaten. There was superabundance of food, so the economics were the economics of the lack of scarcity and, therefore, leisure. There was no need for clothing, and no energy spent in making clothes. Man was made to live an economy of leisure in nudity, with a focus on aesthetics: tending the Garden.

That's a summary of the Economics of Eden. I'll tie it to Genesis text when I come back tonight with a Bible in hand.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-06-16   11:18:16 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#6. To: Anthem (#4) (Edited)

I am looking forward to it.

If Stone and I are to make peace - which I hope we do because peace is a good thing, and Christians shouldn't be hating on each other - it will have to come through this.

I'm going to have to go through a LOT of Scripture, because that's the only authority that Protestants will ever accept. Instead of screaming across the gap of different realities, I prefer to simply take The Book in hand, and read it. This way the Protestant is hearing the only source he will accept as authoritative...and since it says what I believe anyway, why not make it easy on myself and just use what I know my interlocutor will treat as authoritative. I am not personally a "Scripture Alone" (or necessarily a "Scripture at ALL" kind of guy, but given that the Scripture says what I think, there's no reason for me to RESIST using it, especially when my interlocutors believe that it is the Only Inspired Word of God or something similar.

Now, because certain words are fundamental to meaning, once the overall sense is presented, we will have to delve into specific Hebrew (later Greek) words and their components, to make sure that we are very precisely using the words as they were originally meant, and that we are not building up important doctrines on translation.

But rather than starting granularly and trying to build up from the atoms - and getting lost in the weeds of endless bickering on the way (my past experience), I will start with the 100,000 foot view, and then go down and focus on details.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-06-16   11:25:23 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#7. To: Vicomte13 (#0)

ndeed, at irs origin "economics" is a composite word, consisting of the Greek "oikos", meaning "house", and "nomes", meaning "law". So, economics is "the law of the household",

What verse in genesis are you referring to? Or what in the Bible are you specifically referring to?

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-06-16   18:54:20 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#8. To: Vicomte13 (#0)

The first biologically living things (as we define it) were created on the third "day", when the plants and trees were made. Plants anchor on soil, whence they get the elements that form their structure, they live on water and light. God provided the light directly, and the water sprang up from the ground. On the fourth day God created the sun as the source of natural light for the world, that the plants would use as their energy source.

Ok i'm with you here.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-06-16   18:56:04 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#9. To: Vicomte13 (#5)

animals, whose economics are more complicated,

Not to nit pick. But i've never heard of the concept of animals having economics.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-06-16   18:57:23 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#10. To: Vicomte13 (#5)

Air is a special case, because it is the spirit that God breathes into the nostrils of animals, not plants, to make them breathers (a word we translate as "living souls"). In Scripture animals die, but plants fade and wither, and the life is given to animals by breath and taken back by the withdrawal of breath, by God. The blood carries the breath to the body, and so the blood is the life.

Not really disagreeing with you here. Just one question. I can't seem to remember if or where there is something from the scriptures that talks about god breathing life into animals as you put it. Or as I paraphrased it.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-06-16   18:59:42 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#11. To: Vicomte13 (#0)

There was no need for clothing,

I have to take issue with that. Go made clothing for Adam. Clothing is necessary. It is one thing that separates us from animals.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-06-16   19:01:25 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#12. To: Vicomte13 (#0)

Man was made to live an economy of leisure in nudity, with a focus on esthetics: tending the Garden.

Ok I see the last comment I made did not take into account life before the fall. So I withdraw the previous question.

But I do have one comment. The way you use the word economy and define it is not sounding right. Let me think on it.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-06-16   19:04:06 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#13. To: Vicomte13 (#6)

I'm going to have to go through a LOT of Scripture, because that's the only authority that Protestants will ever accept.

That is a good thing.

It is what Jesus used and told us to use and trust in.

What would you use outside of scripture to make your case about scripture?

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-06-16   19:06:07 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#14. To: Vicomte13 (#6)

interlocutor

a person who takes part in a dialogue or conversation.

You can teach me some new words.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-06-16   19:07:43 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#15. To: Vicomte13 (#6)

I am not personally a "Scripture Alone" (or necessarily a "Scripture at ALL" kind of guy, but given that the Scripture says what I think, there's no reason for me to RESIST using it, especially when my interlocutors believe that it is the Only Inspired Word of God or something similar.

Ok Vic. I don't get you.

How can you not be a scripture guy and claim to have authority from God for what you say?

You hint that there is some other inspired from God from a source outside the Bible. Do you care to share? Here or a separate thread. Your choice.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-06-16   19:09:58 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#16. To: Vicomte13, Antham (#6)

Now, because certain words are fundamental to meaning, once the overall sense is presented, we will have to delve into specific Hebrew (later Greek) words and their components, to make sure that we are very precisely using the words as they were originally meant, and that we are not building up important doctrines on translation.

Didn't god in the Bible promise to preserve his word and make it available to all tongues?

If God promised to do that then why do people of today need to "re interpret" what God already said he would provide for us?

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-06-16   19:13:23 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#17. To: Vicomte13 (#6)

But rather than starting granularly and trying to build up from the atoms - and getting lost in the weeds of endless bickering on the way (my past experience), I will start with the 100,000 foot view, and then go down and focus on details.

That is reasonable.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-06-16   19:14:06 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#18. To: A K A Stone (#7)

What verse in genesis are you referring to? Or what in the Bible are you specifically referring to?

In the line you quoted, the breaking down of the word "economics", I was merely giving the etymology of the word: "Oikos+nomia" - House-rule - the "rule of the house" or "the ordering of the house" - that is what economics is, at root.

Ultimately, several thousand years later, God's economics get pretty sophisticated as he lays out a general structure for Israel, including poverty relief. But poverty is the result of scarcity, and in the world of the Garden of Eden, where God originally placed Adam and Eve, there was no scarcity at all, of anything needful. They needed nothing. They didn't need clothes - no effort there. They didn't need to grow crops - they simply stretched forth their hand and ate whatever they wanted, without fear, and without harm. They did not have to store away for winter, or plan. Their activity consisted of walking with God and talking (in the breezy part of the day), being with one another, ruling the animals, and keeping God's garden - an aesthetic mission, not something required for life like farming is.

But as to the word economics itself, it doesn't occur in the Bible at all. The bible is full of economics, but the word and concept of "economics" as the ordering of things based on needs and wants, supply and demand, is a science of the late 1700s, 1800s and onward, not a concept expressed by ancient man. Economics is THERE, of course, but not described by that word.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-06-16   20:21:05 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#19. To: A K A Stone (#9)

Economics being the science of needs and need fulfillment, of supply, demand and substitution.

Every living thing has economics, though only humans have a word for that.

What bees do: protect the queen, cool or heat the hive, bring back pollen and make honey, royal jelly, propolis for comb and housing - this is all economic activity - the law of the hive so that it can eat and survive, though the bees themselves don't know it.

The squirrel storing nuts for the winter is engaging in natural economic activity, again, without knowing it.

We humans, with dominion over it all, can look at it and describe the activity and its purpose in scientific terms. "Economics" is one such term.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-06-16   20:24:42 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#20. To: A K A Stone (#10)

Not really disagreeing with you here. Just one question. I can't seem to remember if or where there is something from the scriptures that talks about god breathing life into animals as you put it. Or as I paraphrased it.

I wanted to present the 100,000 foot view first, and then provide the Scripture for the various parts.

In the past, when I've focused on the parts first, the forest gets lost for the trees, so this time I charted out the forest first, and now will get down into the trees tonight.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-06-16   20:26:15 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#21. To: A K A Stone (#11)

There was no need for clothing,

I have to take issue with that. Go made clothing for Adam. Clothing is necessary. It is one thing that separates us from animals.

Only AFTER the Fall. The need for clothing, because of shame, occurred BECAUSE the man and the woman ate the forbidden fruit.

They were not originally made to need clothing, or to miss it - they did not originally feel shame, and so were naked and without shame.

At this point in the narrative, I am describing the economic status of Eden. It was in Eden where there was no scarcity, and no need for work. Tending the garden - their job - was an esthetic exercise. They could eat any of the plants - there was nothing to fear, nothing poisonous. The animals were under their command and not afraid of them, but also not aggressive to them, obedient. Eve was not surprised at the speech of the serpent.

With the Fall, all of that was lost, and a consequence of the Fall, and being driven out of Eden, was now the need to work in order to eat, now the cursing of the land, to produce thistles and inedible things, forcing Adam to work and sweat. And with the Fall, shame came, and man and woman realized they were naked and needed clothes. They made their first clothes, which God replaced with animal skins - but that was only after the Fall. Just the need for cloithing itself imposes a staggering burden of labor on mankind. As does the need to eat. Before industrialization, well over 90% of all human activity was devoted to agriculture, for food and fiber to make clothes. The other major activity required was to make housing against the brutality of the elements.

There was no need to work in Eden - we were not actually MADE to work. The fact we have to in order to survive, to "live by the sweat of our brow", is a PUNISHMENT imposed on us, as a consequence of the Fall. We were DESIGNED to live naked and eat freely of the plants, and to tend a garden for aesthetic purposes, not out of the necessity to eat.

Because I am telling the story sequentially, as the Bible does, I had not in the main narrative gotten to the point of the Fall yet. I was describing the original conditions of man, as God made us and intended for us to be. The esthetic element of it, and peaceful dominion over the animals without bloodshed, are hallmarks of it. So was the fundamental equality of man and woman. That Eve would be subject to Adam was another one of the punishments of the Fall, not the original condition.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-06-16   20:34:11 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#22. To: A K A Stone (#13)

What would you use outside of scripture to make your case about scripture?

Science.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-06-16   20:34:53 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#23. To: A K A Stone (#15)

You hint that there is some other inspired from God from a source outside the Bible. Do you care to share? Here or a separate thread. Your choice.

Mostly science. My only personal revelations have been miracles of my own survival in ridiculous circumstances or with fatal injuries, where God simply reached in and said "No, not yet" and set me back up again intact. That is how I KNOW that God exists as a sentient, intelligent, conscious being - a HE rather than an IT.

Before all of that, through the careful scientific study of nature, through physics and chemistry and biology and astronomy, mathematics and zoology and genetics and the application of logic, I discovered the God of Genesis, the God of Nature who created and who held things up with his mighty hand. Natural Law and Divine Law are the same thing. I realized that when I spoke of the immutable, invincible, omnipotent, omnipresent and apparently eternal laws of Nature, I was speaking of something that was God, albeit not a conscious God.

So, I was a monotheistic pagan pantheist, very much like the ancient Lucretius (circa 76 BC), but with a strong foundation in modern science to PROVE my God, before God reached out of the air, grabbed me by the face and spoke. It was the direct revelation that changed God from an IT, of which I was certain through scientific examination and the application of my God- given reason, to a HE, because of revelation.

I didn't read the Bible until long after I knew God through science and revelation. Because I didn't go in seeking faith, but with the certitude of the EXISTENCE of God, what I was looking for was to see if the God of the Bible had anything to do with the REAL God that I knew directly and had reached through reason.

I discovered them to be the same. It was through the Scriptures that I discovered the emotional character and the economics of God - I was always content to contemplate the universe with a tranquil mind as my form of worship, and still am. That God did more than set it all up and rule it through the physics is what is revealed in Scripture, and what his opinions are about everything important is there. Really, the Scriptures are the way that man can read about God's answers to those things that trouble MAN. In them, he doesn't reveal much of anything about his deal with, say, the birds, whom he also gave life to, but who did not fall the way man did (as far as we know).

Who knows what God's deal is with the birds of the air? He didn't tell us, either by present word or in Scripture. So we don't know. And that's ok. We have not been revealed everything. But the Scripture DOES reveal a great deal. And because, when the Hebrew is read carefully, punctiliously, down in the pictographs and without forcing meanings onto the words, it gives a clear, clean and accurate portrait of the development of the cosmos as science reveals it, it is the most powerful testimony to the inspiration of Scripture by God, for there is no way at all that the ancient bedouins of Israel could have possibly simply INTUITED that which was all unseen until the 19th and 20th Centuries. The fact that Scripture is so stunningly accurate in its scientific minutia, albeit written in very ancient bedouin language, is proof that it was inspired by God. The people who wrote those texts could not have possibly known any of those things, and could not have accurately guessed so many hidden things.

It's an amazing piece of work, Genesis 1 - a true miracle - once it is seen in all of its scientific glory.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-06-16   20:48:28 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#24. To: All (#21) (Edited)

I promised I would give the Scriptural quotations to follow along with the narrative of the Economics of God.

Because Scripture can so easily be taken out of context, I've decided to go sequentially through the Bible, beginning to end, as the later parts were written later than the earlier parts, so that we can see the economic doctrine of God unveil itself progressively through successive books of the Bible.

The rlk's of the world completely reject religion as having any reality, so this is of no use to his closed mind. But even those who style themselves atheists should find it useful to know what these Judaeo-Christian Scriptures, that the majority of the society in which he lives holds as holy, say, if only to know what to expect.

I've thought about how to present the points. I already said I will be going in order, starting with Genesis 1:1, but I could present the texts a few ways. I could just give the reference numbers, so that people can take the numbers and go look at whatever Bible they have to see

That would be easiest for me and require the least typing, but it would not be the most effective pedagogy. People are inclined to be skeptical of anything at first, and imposing a big homework assignment before persuading them is a waste of time. (I see this technique used on the boards all the time. Somebody won't summarize an argument, but will instead insist that somebody needs to read a book. Often this is done in a heated tone. The obvious response is that if the guy insisting I read a book cannot clearly summarize what I will find in the book, then he himself doesn't really understand what he's talking about, so why should I waste my own precious time going and doing the homework to help him prove his point to me? I won't, and it's foolish to think that anybody would.)

Everything in the Scriptures is somewhat interrelated (if only insofar as it all relates back to God), but completely retyping the Bible doesn't make sense either.

So what I've settled on is that I will generally cite to the sections of Scripture that we're talking about, but I will specifically cite the language that forms the basis for the economics of God.

I am using the King James Version (KIV) language, because the audience is mostly Protestant, and nobody will reject it as a good text, while some will only accept it as the source text. There is little need to go below the English to the underlying Hebrew, and I will seek to avoid that as much as possible. There are a hundred-thousand ancillary issues that pop up in Scripture that we COULD discuss, but I am going to try to stay disciplined and just focus on the divine economics.

So, then, the first text we are looking at is Genesis 1. Economics is essentially the matter of fulfilling the needs of living things, but it doesn't get interesting for us until we get to mankind.

Still, when one considers animals in the state of nature, there is a natural economy at work - they must eat, reproduce, protect their young, resist disease, and either make or find shelter, migrate, or rely on their natural adaptations against the climate. The lot of wild animals is not different from the lot of wild humans. Humans merely have the brain power to be able to far more broadly modify their environment than animals do. This is biblical: man is made in God's image, and is given dominion over the animals.

So then we can pick up our direct quotiations with the making of mankind at Genesis 1:26-27:

"And God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

A few things to note. This was translated into English in 1611, before modern biological science, even before the whaling industry was anything more than coastal. The English language in the age of biological science has become very precise, and we learn it with those precisions. In 1611, there was no biological science to speak of, and modern naming conventions had not yet been devised.

So, when we read "the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air", we must understand that what this translation is meant to say is "the animals in the sea and the animals that fly". "Fish" in modern English would exclude sea mammals, dolphins, whales and other sea invertebrates, but the Bible doesn't exclude them. The Hebrew word translated as "fishes" isn't really perfectly translated as "swimmers" - the "swimmers in the waters". Likewise, in modern English, the word "fowl" means the order Aves - feathered birds. Bats and flying squirrels are not "fowls" in modern English, Nor are flying insects. In the English of 1611, though, a bat was a form of fowl. And in the actual Hebrew, the word translated as "fowls" is really "flyers". The Hebrew, literally translated is "swimmers in the waters and flyers in the skies". The English "fishes of the sea and fowls of the air" is very poetic, as we would expect English from the time of Shakespeare to be, but it must not be read as human dominion extending to only certain types of sea animals and flying animals. That would be a modern anachronism, and it would be reading metaphoric language too literally. The Hebrew is much broader - man has dominion over all of the air and sea animals, not just fish and birds.

That shouldn't be controversial, and to make the point I did need to go to the Hebrew, which I just said above I'd avoid doing. I thought that the point was important enough to depart from my general rule.

The nature of the dominion is not yet spelled out.

Moving forward, God gives the very first commandments to the newly created mankind, in Genesis 1:28:

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

The word translated into English as "earth" is the Hebrew word "land".

Reproduction establishes the first economic act, as the young must be provided for and protected and nutured, and human offspring are not immediately capable, the way that newly hatched crocodiles are (for example).

Then finally God gives the first economic directions to man and the land animals, instructing them as to what they may eat.

Genesis 1:29-30:

"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat; and it was so"

So, there you have the initial diet of man and land animals (God doesn't say in the Scripture what he gave the sea animals to eat): fruits and plants. Milk is not mentioned here, but then, it's never mentioned later either, and God created animals with teats so it is assumed.

Genesis 1 has given the basic economy: plant eating animals and men whose task is to reproduce and fill the land. These are the "Initial Conditions", from which things then devolve.

In Genesis 2, God will give man more specific instructions.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-06-18   12:23:20 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#25. To: Vicomte13 (#24)

Perhaps someday you an turn this thread into a book. If you have the time to go through everything you ,mentioned.

I'll keep reading.

A K A Stone  posted on  2017-06-18   12:37:00 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#26. To: A K A Stone, Anthem (#25) (Edited)

Continuing with the Scriptural citations regarding the original economics of man, we move to Genesis 2.

Genesis 2 begins with a reference to something God did which would later become the basis for the Sabbath Law of Israel, and open the debate with Seventh Day Adventists as to whether or not Christians are required to abstain from work on Saturday, and with other Christians as to whether Sunday is the new Sabbath, on which Christians should refrain from work.

None of this is answered by Genesis 2 (or anywhere else in the Bible for that matter, though people will strain to make such text as there is support their viewpoint). What Genesis 2 says is that God finished creation on the seventh day and then rested. Whether or not that means WE should is an open and interesting question - one we will explore later when we get into God's economics of rest in the Mosaic Law.

To begin - Genesis 2:1-3:

"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."

We will later see, in the law of Moses, that God commands the Israelites to not work at all on the Sabbath. He is particularly punctilious about it, laying out the law in detail to forbid any work at all, and to make it clear that the burden of work cannot be transferred to others: slaves could not be made to work on the Sabbath, neither could animals. And women could not light a fire or cook on the Sabbath, so even in the home the patriarchal structure of women serving men was cut off by God on the Sabbath - the women were forbidden from cooking or serving the men - ALL work, direct or indirect, was prohibited, on pain of death.

Now, the Law does not go so far as to spell out what happens if a slave is FORCED to work on the Sabbath - is the slave killed or the master. Reasoning from analogy in other cases in the Torah, where the owner or the person issuing the order or in power is held accountable, the probable answer to that question (by analogy to other situations in the Mosaic Law where the master is held liable for the acts of his property, or where the slave is not held fully accountable because she is not free to make decisions) is that if an owner forces a slave to work on the Sabbath, the owner is put to death.

So what is the PURPOSE of the Sabbath? When God took his rest on the 7th day, that was the purpose: a rest. Indeed the WORD "Sabbath" in Hebrew means "rest" or "pause".

With the Israelites, God was serious about it, making the breaking of it a death penalty offense.

But WHY? The economic effect of the Sabbath on the ancient Israelites and practicing Jews to this day is that 14.28571% of the year is idle in Jewish lands and businesses. One out of every seven days is a day of enforced absolute rest from work. One cannot sit quietly and do the books, one cannot "tidy up the office" - one is strictly, categorically and absolutely barred from doing ANYTHING that has ANYTHING TO DO WITH earning money, or manufacture, or profit-bearing activities. One cannot sell meals, for example - or even prepare them. Even housework, to tidy up, is prohibited.

So, within the Jewish Law, God made a hard, fast and completely absolute - on pain of DEATH - rule that everybody MUST have a FULL day off from work every week, when one is prohibited from even doing the books. NOTHING can be done regarding work, labor. Economic activity may be undertaken 85.7% of the year, but for 14.3% of the year absolutely no economic activity of any kind can be done. That is to say, God's law for Israel imposed a mandatory 52 day vacation period for every employee (including slaves), with a mandatory death penalty on any employer or slave owner who either worked himself during that mandatory vacation period, or who required an employee or a slave to work during it.

What is more, God gave absolutely no flexibility to any employer, even for "necessity". Saving animals from drowning, or giving them water and food, yes, but only this. No work, at all, even by subterfuge. And no "flexible time off" that could override that absolute fixed and rigid requirement that nobody (except priests doing the sacrifices) can do ANYTHING economic on the Sabbath.

It's an extraordinary rule - and one that runs very contrary to our view of the necessity of work. God's law for Israel denied that business need - or even have the right to voluntarily - work year round. 52 days per year of hard stop, with no exceptions, on pain of death, on a regular every-seventh- day schedule.

WHY?

We're getting way ahead of ourselves, but let's follow the theme to the end, Jesus said why: "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath".

God Himself rested on the Seventh Day. Note: he did not pause to worship. And at no point did God tell the Israelites that the purpose of the Sabbath rest was to worship. He always said that it was a rest, a pause, not just for people, but even for their animals.

What is more, in ancient Israel God imposed an agricultural sabbath every seven years - the land had to lie fallow every seventh year, and there was a double sabbath, two years with no harvest, in the 50th Jubilee year.

So, that's not just one day of every seven off, it's one YEAR of every seven off in addition to that, plus an extra year every 50th year.

Under God's law for Israel, all businesses had to give their employees 52 days off every year. Additionally all agricultural businesses (which was at least 80% of the economy) took a full year off of cultivation every seventh year.

Furthermore, every male had to present himself before the Temple for three mandatory feasts every year: Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Booths). The farther parts of Israel are several days distance from Israel. Capernaum in Galilee, for example, is 79 miles from Jerusalem. At a pace on foot of 26 miles per day, it took three days to get to Jerusalem, three days to get back, plus the feast itself. That's at least seven days, but note: no travel can be done on the Sabbath. So the mandatory pilgrimages to Jerusalem meant that employers in the outer provinces of Israel had to give at least 7 days off three times per year, an additional 21 days.

Without counting the full seventh year farming sabbatical (which was not completely without work), every Israelite had at least 55 mandatory no-work days off every year, and most had at least 83 days off every year - almost 23% of the time.

When one averages in the agricultural sabbaths every seventh and fiftieth years, along with the three annual pilgrimages and the regular sabbaths, the mandatory "time off" in ancient Israel works out to an average of 132 days per year, over 1/3rd of the time.

Compare that to the present day, where Americans generally used to have Saturday and Sunday off each week (104 days per year), 6 major holidays (New Year's Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas) (that may or may not fall on a weekend), plus the traditional 2-week vacation, for an average total of 116 days off. God's work plan for Israel averaged more than two weeks longer of mandatory time off per year for the lowest-class of people, than the American middle class get time off now.

Now, of course, the objection can be raised that we are not "under the Law (of Moses)", and that is true. But the whole point of studying God's economics is to notice that God is more intelligent than any of us, and God designed the work schedule of ancient Israel with a mind towards making this one state he ruled a perpetual success, a beacon to the world of how to be.

So, while it is true that we don't HAVE to follow God's economics - that we CAN force people to work harder and longer and get fewer days off (and we DO that) - we should recognize that our approach, which we consider to be necessary, is in fact economically inferior overall to God's plan: God did not set up Israel for failure.

Most important of all - because nobody has the power to simply change our system - is to recognize very clearly that all of these days off, including the mandatory weekly rest (which was NOT a period where God commanded people to go worship - he never made any such command for the Sabbath in either testament - the Sabbath was for REST, it was NOT time to "go to Church" or synagogue. The synagogue is not a commandment of God but a custom of men) - all of these days off were mandated by God in HIS wisdom. So if you think that the American work schedule, pressing people harder and harder, for fewer and fewer days off, is "right", that more and more work is better, your logic is not that of God, you're wrong and you should rethink.

God imposed work on mankind as a punishment, not as a grace. We will see this soon enough when we get to the Fall in Genesis. Work is not a blessing - the fact we have to do it in order to live, to earn our living "by the sweat of our brow" - is a punishment imposed by God. It is not a GOOD thing, and it was not INTENDED BY GOD to be a good thing. It was intended to devour our time and make us groan and sweat and feel the loss of liberty in our bones.

And we do.

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" is a fine bit of positive thinking, but it is not Biblical. It is fine to take pride in one's work, and if one is fortunate enough to find work one enjoys, it is well. But man's designed PURPOSE was not to work, it was to reproduce, raise children, and tend to the aesthetics of a garden planted by God.

Work was a sentence of punishment imposed on man as the result of the Fall. We were thrown out of the economy of plenty into a world of scarcity, and forced to work or die. God made the work harder too, by cursing the ground that Adam had to work (he removed this curse after the Flood).

My point is that the relentless Germanic "work ethic" that finds great virtue in work and then presses to expand working time to fill more and more hours and remove leisure time from mankind, rolling back the American middle class norm, is not, in fact, godly. It is dressed up as virtue, but it is in FACT oppression of man by man.

When GOD set up an economy, he structured it to give 132 days off per year, on average, to working men and women. We already fall well short of that, in the middle class, and we drive the hours of the working class down even further, just for them to get by. We view vacation as a luxury, a privilege, for which one trades off earnings.

But God's view of it when he set up a state is that you defy him if you work or make your employees work more than about 233 days per year, and that if you open your business to make money 7 days a week or yourself work seven days a week, you are not "industrious", you are a criminal who is to be put to death.

It's quite a contrast in view. God's economics mean more mandatory time off for most people, not as a privilege but as a need.

I have gotten ahead of myself again. Consider this the 100,000 foot view for when we get back to the Sabbath and the mandatory rests in the Torah.

For now, we need to continue on in the language of Genesis 2

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-06-19   10:45:28 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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