Fundamentals of Economics

Essay #29 Deuternonomy

There are 959 verses in Deuteronomy. By my count there are over 125 verses, plus the entire 13th chapter, that warn the nation of Israel not be like the nations in Canaan.

Deuteronomy can be broken into distinct sets of ideas:  What God has done for Israel, how Israel responded (both good and bad), how other nations have behaved and God’s warning Israel not to be like them.

God desires that humans obey Him.  We obey Him when we listen, read, understand and do what His Word says. We act in accordance with what God has said.  Human action is the data of economics.  There is a specific manner in which we are to act, consequently, there is a specific set of data to study.  Following God’s principles, humans act.  Those actions are a set of economic data.  Because there is a set of data (the actions of obedient man) there is a correct understanding of economics.  Abhorrent behavior gives us a false set of data, which gives us and incorrect understanding of economics.

Consequently, postulating economic theory, ideas or applications comes from either a correct set of economic data, or and incorrect set.  The propositions set forth by God’s Word are the basis for proper behavior and thusly are the correct set of data.  Anything else is wrong.

Biblical Background of Human Action

God’s command to Adam and Eve was straight forward.  “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” (Genesis 1:28). God’s command to mankind is to “be fruitful, multiply, replenish the earth and subdue it”.  The success of which is proven in man’s ability to produce the stuff necessary for life.

Being created in God’s image, man possess an intellect that can observe the world around him and understanding a way to bring about its potential to meet man’s needs and God’s glory.  God commanded man to work (Genesis 2:5) and it is through the principle of labor that man uses his physical abilities.  Using material resources, man produces things that meet the needs of humanity by use of intellect and labor.

For example: Abel the agriculturalist and Cain the animal husbandman used their intellect to observe the world that God had created.  Observing patterns and developing means, they maximized the utility of the property (plants and animals) by applying their knowledge through labor.  God blessed their obedience and provided materially for both of these men.

When sin entered the world man’s nature became perverted, but it did not change God’s command.  Cain kills Abel out of envy, furthermore the “sons of God” took themselves wives  “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5).  Cain envied Abel because Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God and took Abel’s life (life being the highest expression of property). The sons of God lusted after the daughters of man; they forcibly took wives (the life of the women being the women’s property).  The world was wicked because the actions of men were wicked.  “Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”.  So evil that God destroyed the world and gave an additional commandment.

The commandment to Noah did not change when he and his family left the ark.  “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” (Genesis 9:1).  But God did give them a new commandment in Genesis 9:5-7 that is His directive for human action in civil authority,  “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.”  God has given to civil authority the highest responsibility in society, to take the life of those who steal life. 

The charge to mankind, through the nation of Israel, is expanded in Exodus 20, and subsequent chapters, with the giving of the Law. The Law being all inclusive of God’s direction to the nation of Israel in order to build an orderly civilization for man’s good and God’s glory. Fidelity to the living God, the principles of life, property, fidelity in marriage and contentment are the operational principles (Exodus 20:1-17) for building a people that would glorify God. Fidelity to Jehovah makes the relationship that brings obedience to the mandatory earthly principles (life, property, fidelity in marriage and contentment) possible.

The law being fulfilled in Christ gives us the freedom to obey God (Romans 8:1-8). God desires humanity to have life abundantly.  Life first in Christ and then in obedience to God’s revelation brings blessing.  Disobedience brings condemnation. In pursuing “fruitfulness” man voluntarily produces things necessary for life.  Perverting that pursuit by wrongfully representing the teaching of God’s Word is heresy.     

God gave to humanity the necessary qualities (intelligence, labor, property) and a framework (Exodus 20:1-17) to fulfill the commandment to “be fruitful”.  This is the basis for human action.

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