The Old Testament teachings about Interest Taking are relevant for a number of reasons for the Christian today. Let us summarize the values gained by obedience to our heavenly Father before presenting the Scriptural basis for these.
* First the Scriptures are in agreement with Christ's New Testament teaching. We remain under his protection by our obedience.
* Second, these scriptures still serve as instruction in righteousness for the Christian enabling the Christian to mature. * Third, a clear conscience is an inner freedom of spirit toward God that comes from knowing that God's holiness is not offended. A correct attitude toward interest may clear up a hidden barrier blocking that inner peace with God.
* Fourth, the rejection of God's standard quenches the Spirit, results in inner tension, and loss of spiritual direction. To follow God means to promote our health.
The moral law is unchanged and is established by true faith. Rm 3:31. Reading Mt 5:17-19 it can be observed that no one has a right to make void one small command of the O.T. except Christ, who was special in his own right. Because these guidelines are solid, we have a firm foundation that we can depend upon, this is ancient wisdom of the best kind. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in the paths of righteousness" 2 Tm 3:16
But some will ask is the law given against Interest in Ex 22:25, Deut 23:19-20, Lev 25:36-37 part of the moral law?
In view of the liberty the Israelites had to lend on interest to strangers, at first it seems that if it were morally wrong to take interest, why would this liberty be allowed? After all it isn't morally right to commit adultery or to be drunk with strangers.
It is important to clear up exactly what strangers are meant here—for the Israelite's heathen friends and their converts were to be exempt from interest (Deut 23:20); it was to the Israelites enemies, who they could kill—or at times were commanded to kill, that they could charge interest to. Interest appears to have been considered a kind of punishment, and other scriptures bear this out.
"If thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I commend thee this day, that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. He (the stranger) shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail."
Again we read, "And all these blessings shall come on thee and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in its season, and to bless all the work of thine hand; and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow."
It seems likely the blessing of lending and the curse of borrowing of these passages refers to loaning with interest. If it was or wasn't doesn't alter the fact, that God commanded them not to charge interest to his chosen people, converts to the faith, friends of the faith, but allowed them to loan with interest to those heathen enemies.
In regards to what kind of law this was, note that the first three books of Moses are considered to give the law, and Deut. is considered by some to repeat those laws.
These three books mention twice about loaning to the poor, and once about to poor strangers. Why does the Holy Spirit twice say, "If thy brother be poor, thou shalt not lend on usury" ? (Usury in the King James Translation meant all interest.) Some will say that means the law was not universal, but limited to loaning to the poor, but that for business ventures it was O.K.
But in Deut. it forbids usury (interest) to poor and rich alike. This is where an objection by some develops who see Deut. as only a repetition of the law. Some would claim that we must ignore any additions the prophets gave to Ex 20 because they were not law givers, but law interpreters; therefore, they assert these laws are intended for kindness to the poor, just as Deut 15: 1,2,3 and Deut 24:19,20,21.
First, this ignores the tradition that Moses wrote Deut. Second, there is much more morally wrong with interest than just that it is unkind. However, kindness is a moral law and should be practiced too. If we have a chance to be kind in the manner of Deut 15 and 25, then let us do this. Bear in mind that interest is contrary to both the moral teachings of Christ and forbidden by the moral teachings of the law.
"At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor who lendeth anything unto his neighbor shall release it, he shall not exact it of his neighbor, or of his brother, because it is called the Lord's release. Of a foreignor thou mayest exact it again; but that which is thine with thy brother, thine hand shall release."
"When thou cuttest down thine harvest in the field, and hast forgotten a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it, it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow, that the Lord God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand." (verses 20-22 forbid beating the olive tree over again, and gleaning grapes for a second time.)—No wonder the Jewish International Financiers will go to great lengths to destroy those who would hold the Bible's teachings dear.
Can a Christian go after a forgotten sheaf in the field? May those who take clothes as a pledge for money lent, wait until the sun goes down to return them (Ex 22:26)? Can a Christian hold a debtor 8 years to a debt? Can a Christian obey one law of kindness and not another? Can we deny Christians the liberty of breaking Deut 15:1,2,3 and Deut 24:19,20,21? Are we guilty of forbidding interest, a law of kindness, and ignoring the other laws of kindness? Have "Christians"
been playing church, or have they been learning to walk in God's spirit, and not after the lust of the flesh? (cf. Gal 5:16)
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