Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 11 December 2008


By Jim Jordal

Continuing from the past two weeks our discussion of Isa. 3:13-15, we next ponder what Isaiah meant when he accused the leaders of his people of amassing " The plunder of the poor in their houses…"

The plunder of the poor translates into financial fleecing of the poor through widespread accumulation of capital at the expense of workers, consumers, and the general population. Archaeological discoveries elaborating upon life at the time of Isaiah reveal that this "plunder" consisted of larger, opulent houses filled with gold, silver, and idols, coupled with the amassing of large estates gotten through foreclosure on unpaid loans due to crop failure and mismanagement. The society was small and simple, but the methods of plundering the people to gain wealth were already well developed.

Today this plundered wealth finds its way into gated communities, mega-mansions, vast Western ranches, Park Avenue apartments, mountaintop retreats, and oceanside villas, not to mention incredibly extravagant objects of art and other doodads like the infamous $6,000 shower curtain and personal luxury submarines for those who have everything.

So nothing has really changed over the 2800 years since Isaiah crusaded for economic justice. Yes, there have been revolutionary periods when popular hopes for justice found expression. But the domination system, slightly changed but never transformed, comes roaring back, based upon the same old principles of wealth disparity, survival of the fittest, accumulation of capital, economic manipulation, wage slavery, scarcity, usury, and above all, value for money over human lives and souls.

If you think of Isaiah’s phrase "the plunder of the poor is in your houses" as including not merely houses used as dwellings, but also "houses" of business and finance (House of Morgan, etc), then the phrase gains much new meaning and application. How much of the scores of trillions in wealth residing as computer entries in world financial houses has arisen from plunder of the poor? Only God knows.

If you wish to see perhaps the world’s most atrocious example of plunder gained by exploiting the poor, tour the former Czar’s Winter Palace, now a museum known as The Hermitage, in Leningrad, Russia. The palace is gigantic, covering several square blocks. Inside are treasures beyond measure—hundred of rooms filled with thousands of priceless paintings by scores of Masters; tapestries, thrones and carriages plated with gold; crowns and jewelry encrusted with diamonds and other precious stones; and practically every other form of treasure you can imagine. But the real shocker is the thought that all this was paid for by the blood, tears, and sweat of peasants during the hundreds of years of feudalistic oppression under Russian rulers.

And where was the church during this awful period of oppression? Right where it always was—in compliant cooperation with evil. In our trip to the headwaters of the Volga River (1995) we came across a small village literally at the end of the road. It consisted of a single rutted dirt road with dreary rows of long-unpainted houses (really shacks) along each side, surrounded by a few fruit trees, a garden, and several cows, goats, and many chickens. And guess what was a little way out of town at the end of the road—a soaring spire atop an ornate cathedral—now used as a curio shop to raise money for restoration. During the days of Communism (ended five years earlier) it had been a granary and storehouse for the government.

Do you imagine that the clergy of this hundreds-of-years-old church stood against Czarist oppression when they had the chance, before the advent of Communism in 1919? Not likely. I suppose we could defend them by saying that if they had stood against oppression they would have been turned into a rubbish heap. But what if the entire Russian Orthodox establishment had stood against the Czars? Things might have been different. But churches did then what many churches continue to do now—offer the faithful solace in the sweet-by-and-by while the rulers continue their oppressions.

And what does God say? God offered an alternative society to His people in the Jubilee provisions we have referred to at other times. Had we accepted that God knew better than we what was needed for economic stability and financial release, we would now live in a vastly different world characterized by deliverance rather than oppression, plenty over scarcity, and cooperation over conflict. That we did not accept God’s terms is our loss. But Jubilee is not dead—it merely sleeps until resurrected by current reformers now, and later by Christ Himself as He initiates his millennial kingdom.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 December 2008 )