“The rich ruleth over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). On display in the Louvre museum in Paris is the earliest known legal proclamation in antiquity written in cuneiform on a foundation brick for a local temple. It wasn’t until 1972 that Maurice Lambert was able to translate its inscription. The text says that in 2400 BC Babylonian King Enmetena made a decree. The translation reads, “Enmetena instituted liberty in Lagash. He restored the child to its mother and the mother to her child; he cancelled interest.”
Enemetena was the ruler of the Sumerian territory and resided in the city of Lagash. Lagash is modern al-Hiba, Iraq. I first read of this document after listening to an interview with economist Michael Hudson. As an economist his perspective of biblical antiquity carries a different perspective than many biblical scholars today. What Hudson discovered was that Babylonian mathematicians understood both the positive and negative power of compounding interest. He also discovered the importance of obeying “the Lord’s release.”
THE DARK SIDE OF COMPOUNDING INTEREST
Compound interest is the concept of adding accumulated interest back to the principal so that “interest is earned on interest” from that moment on. You deposit a sum of money, for example, of $1,000 in a bank or other financial institution that earns interest at the rate of 5 percent payable annually. At the end of the first year you have earned $50 and have the right to get your $1,000 back plus interest earned. Now you have the choice of spending the $50 earned or adding it to your new balance equaling $1,050 and compounding interest on the new amount. When you do this then you have “interest earning on interest.”
Warren Buffet, the most successful investor in modern history, said that understanding compound interest was the key to his success. When asked to nominate the most powerful force on earth Albert Einstein is reputed to have answered “compound interest.”
Globally trillions have been made using the power of compounding interest. There is, however, a very real dark side to compounding interest. The dark side is that compounding interest can bankrupt a person, a nation and the world.
In 2008 there were 1.117,771 personal and business bankruptcies. Up 42 percent from 2007 according to Administrative Office of the Courts. 2010 is far worse and projections into 2012 outpace that.
- The average bankruptcy age was 38
- Two out of three lost their jobs
- Tennessee, Utah, Georgia and Alabama had the highest bankruptcy filings
- The typical family filing for bankruptcy in 1997 owed more than one and a half times its annual income (150 percent) in short-term, high-interest debt. A family earning $24,000 had an average of $36,000 in credit card and similar debt.
THE LORD’S RELEASE
According to Hudson, the Babylonian and Judeo mathematicians understood that compounding interest would overcome the ability of any nation to repay its debts. Their solution was debt cancellation. Hudson points out in his book “The Lost Tradition of Biblical Debt Cancellations” that newly crowned kings throughout antiquity would forgive debts and start the production and debt cycle anew.
In biblical history this debt forgiveness was called the year of Jubilee. As radical as it may sound today cancellation of debts and restoring the working man’s ability to produce, thus freeing his “means of production,” it was, in fact, done for thousands of years. Hudson has well documented that in his book. Debt reduction was historically important because the ability to produce is fundamental and determines the level of prosperity for any nation.
Babylonian kings used the term “simdat” meaning “royal decree.” The intent of a royal decree throughout antiquity was to offer a “clean slate” regarding debts. This same royal decree is also found within the biblical laws of God. God told Moses, for example, to teach the people regarding economical slavery. He said, “Land must not be sold in perpetuity (uninterrupted or indefinitely) for the land belongs to me and you are only strangers and guests. You will allow a right of redemption” (Leviticus 25:23-28).
God required this law read in public as a reminder to all.
“And Moses commanded them saying, ‘At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release (shemittah), in the feast of tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it’” (Deuteronomy 31:10-13).
The Lord’s release was a royal decree for forgiveness of debt.
“At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought 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” (Deuteronomy 15:1-2).
LIBERTY TO THE CAPTIVES
The English word “liberty” has lots of different meanings. To some it means freedom from rules and to others freedom from sin. According to the Oxford Thesaurus “liberty” means freedom, independence, self-determination and sovereignty. It also means free, uninhibited, unfettered, unconstrained, unrestricted, unrestrained and liberated.
The Liberty Bell is one of the most well known American images. When people look to it they are reminded of those that fought for liberty from unrighteous oppression. Tradition holds that the bell was rung to announce the opening of the First Continental Congress in 1774 and after the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775. Residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the Liberty Bell has over 2 million tourists come to see it annually. Inscribed on the bell is this text.
“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and to all the inhabitants thereof.” The bell’s inscription is taken from the Word of God. The full biblical text reads, “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you and ye shall return every man unto his possession and ye shall return every man unto his family” (Leviticus 25:10).
Liberty in this scripture is the Hebrew word deror clearly meaning freedom from the bondage of debt and debt service. Its root meaning is to “move freely” as in unrestrained and unfettered. Those formerly enslaved because of debt bondage after having been liberated (deror) were restored the freedom to rejoin their families debt free. In this sense liberty produced restoration and economic freedom.
Could it be possible that the world is waiting for the deror (restoration) of all things as mentioned in Acts 3:21? According to Hudson the word liberty was not to be taken vaguely or abstractly but with an economic “clean slate” definition. He writes,
“The type of economic freedom being referred to was the royal act of cancelling back taxes and other personal debts, restoring traditional family landholding rights and freeing citizens who had been enslaved for debt.”
Understanding the Hebrew word deror is fundamental in understanding liberty within the biblical context.
THE ROSETTA STONE
Let’s see another example of liberty from debt. The Rosetta Stone was unearthed in 1799 by Napoleon’s soldiers in the Nile Delta. Our modern understanding of hieroglyphics comes because of the trilingual text of Greek, hieroglyphic and Egyptian scripts written on the stone. The text written on the stone is a royal decree of debt cancellation by Ptolemy V. The inscription reads “he has remitted the debts to the crown which were owned by the people in Egypt and those in the rest of his kingdom, which were considerable, and he has freed those who were in the prisons and who were under accusation for a long time from the charges against them,” including various taxes and duties, including “the debts of the temples to the royal treasury up to the 8th year” of his rule.
ANOINTING AND LIBERTY
The prophet Isaiah used the term deror when speaking about the anointing. He wrote, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty (deror) to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1). The Hebrew word deror therefore is a clear reference to freedom from economic bondage and debt servitude.
THE WORLD’S DEBT MONSTER
There is little doubt that the world has created a debt monster. The numbers are staggering indeed.
- The top ten bankers currently hold over $175 trillion in exotic debt instruments all tied to compounding interest.
- The US annual deficit spending is over $1.8 trillion.
- In the United States 17.6% of all homes are now upside-down on their mortgages, according to Zillow, as are 41.2% of all mortgages for homes bought in the past five years.
- The U.S. Federal Government has incurred $59.1 trillion in debt liabilities or roughly $516,000 per U.S. household.
- According to the Federal Reserve, the total outstanding credit card debt carried by Americans reached a record $951 billion.
NATIONAL PRODUCTION OF GOODS
As already said the power of compounding interest has a dark side. Classical economics declares that a nation’s consumption can never exceed a nation’s production. This makes sense to those with common sense. You know, for example, that you can not spend more than you make. If you do consume more than you make then you must put that excess consumption on your credit card then the compounding interest on that credit card can exceed your ability to repay.
Likewise nations have the same problem. They can not spend more than they produce. If they put their excess consumption on credit cards the ultimate end is that compounding interest will exceed their ability to repay and the system will collapse.
Let’s take a look at the production rates of several nations. Contrary to what you hear on national media – spend, spend and spend – prosperity comes from production, savings, thrift and investing – not unfettered consumption. In other words, producing more than you consume is the road to prosperity. Only when you produce more than you consume can you ever hope to prosper. That law applies to your personal life, your city, state and nation.
According to “The Telegraph” manufacturing, production of goods, is collapsing all over the world. By monitoring production we can get a glimpse of future economic trends. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote of the declining production in various countries:
“Factory output is collapsing at the fastest pace everywhere. The figures for the most recent month available are, year-on-year: Taiwan: -43pc; Ukraine: -34pc; Japan: -30pc; Singapore: -29pc; Hungary: -23pc; Sweden: -20pc; Korea: -19pc; Turkey: -18pc; Russia: -16pc; Spain: -15pc; Poland: -15pc; Brazil: -15pc; Italy: -14pc; Germany: -12pc; France: -11pc; US: -10pc and Britain: -9pc.”
He continues, “This terrifying fall has been concentrated in the last five months. The job slaughter has barely begun. Social mayhem comes with a 12-month lag.”
Pritchard didn’t stop there when presenting the figures. He compared those statistics with those of the Great Depression. “By comparison, industrial output in core-Europe fell 2.8pc in 1930, 5.1pc in 1931 and 3.9pc in 1932, according to RBS [Royal Bank of Scotland]. Trade and output are contracting at rates that outstrip the leisurely depression of the 1930s.”
What we learn is that compounding interest is exceeding the ability of nations to produce enough to repay their debts. Like the Titanic, the global economic ship has hit an iceberg and is sinking. To overcome the lack of production governments are seeking creative ways to tax, fee and fine their citizens. They are also debasing their currencies by printing the money they need thus causing the destructive power of inflation.
A BANKER BAILOUT?
Could it be possible the only solution to the destructive powers of compounding interest is a global year of Jubilee?
Governments have a choice. They can bailout the economy or failed banks and Wall Street corporations. Apparently they have already made their choice. They have determined to bailout the bankers and firms but not the people. How will these bailouts be paid for? The answer is excessive taxation and currency devaluation through inflation.
Again, a nation’s prosperity is found in the ability of that nation to produce real products, not consumption and compounding debt and deficits. The ability to produce is within the people. Without them a nation has nothing, including tax revenue.
Banks produce nothing and do not represent the real economy. They only extract interest from the real economy. The fact remains that debts must be written down to the people’s ability to pay them back otherwise they are not going to be paid. Government bailouts of banks and failed Wall Street institutions will not work.
In free market economies bankruptcy – clean slate debt forgiveness – is the means of clearing the system. To continue to bail out failed companies and banks and funding those bailouts by raising taxes on the people will only compound the problem until the people revolt and refuse to pay. God said, “Thou shalt not steal,” even by majority vote.
Will countries see a year of Jubilee as the final answer to a global economic meltdown in the years to come? Without a biblical solution the negative power of compounding interest and the lack of national production will eventually bring down the entire global financial system until the people finally cry out to God for debt deliverance. Let freedom ring!
(c) Apostle Jonas Clark