Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Wednesday, 22 November 2006


By Jim Jordal

"If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him, but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God."

Leviticus 25:35-38 (NKJV)

"Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy."

Prov. 31:8-9 (NKJV)

Recent news reports indicate that Bill Gates, the world's richest individual, will soon transfer his attentions from day-to-day operations of Microsoft to running the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the best-endowed charitable organization on earth. The Gates Foundation aims at improving educational opportunities, providing better public health, and alleviating poverty in underdeveloped nations; and has been very active in fighting AIDS in Africa. The Foundation has also contributed billions to improved education in poor areas of the United States

Now comes news that Warren Buffet, the world's second richest man, will give $37 billion, or 85 percent of his wealth to the Gates Foundation and several other charities. In announcing his gift, Buffet quoted the comment once made by Andrew Carnegie that "huge fortunes that flow in large part from society should in large part be returned to society."

With Buffet's contribution, the Gates Foundation will have an endowment of over $60 billion, dwarfing the next largest Ford Foundation with some $11 billion.

The awakening of some of the world's richest people to the desperate plight of billions of poor people is without doubt one of the more significant philanthropic events of the past generation. It indicates growing awareness that, as Thomas Friedman explains in his best-seller, The World is Flat, modern transportation and communication improvements have created a world no longer separate and isolated, but one in which no wealthy gated community is more than a few hours removed from any place or any problem on earth.

One hopes that these massive gifts by Gates and Buffet will draw increased world attention to charitable efforts and spur more wealthy people to awaken to their responsibilities to people less fortunate. But, although both laudatory and significant, generous charitable contributions are but a good beginning in the struggle to create justice for the earth's poor, marginalized masses.

We must also work diligently to change those world economic, political, and social structures that create poverty in the first place. This we call advocacy. But as we know from history, no privileged group ever surrenders power easily. So, if we do not want armed revolution in the streets, then we need a peaceful, but no less revolutionary, change in the hearts and minds of those people with enough power to make a difference. This is what seems to have happened to Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new paradigm in which justice replaces oppression, sharing overcomes hoarding, love triumphs over hate, mercy subdues cruelty; and truth no longer is trampled in the streets of power.

Christians pray incessantly that "Thy will be done on Earth." And what is this will of God? It's the spirit and content of Jubilee, under which the earth will finally return to the principles for which it was created. Then, as Isaiah prophesied, "For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands" (Isa. 55:12). This blessed state arises when Jubilee justice becomes the driving spirit of the land. Under this new spirit powerful people will use their influence and wealth, not to enslave and abuse, but to liberate and enrich all the world's people. Charitable efforts will be supplemented by creation of new laws and institutions aimed at undoing economic and political policies that down through the centuries have defied God and created awful human suffering. And the utopian society touted by generations of philosophers and activists will finally occur, not by the will and power of man, but under immutable and eternal laws of God.

Meanwhile, what can you do? You can begin by studying Jubilee justice as found in Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 15. You can also awaken to the truth that Scripture contains much more than eternal salvation for individuals. You can rejoice when you see justice done. You can advocate against injustice. You can make sure that you do not join the oppressors as you invest and spend money. And you can support those political parties and candidates who stand for economic justice and the God-given rights of all humans to share in the world's bounty.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1980 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.