A Righteousness Unto Thee - RR187AT84
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|This transcript is unedited. It was:|
|Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library|
|Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules|
|Posted by with permission|
Let us worship God. The hour cometh and now is when the true worshipper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in Truth. Let us pray.
Oh Lord our God we give thanks unto Thee that indeed the ends of the earth shall praise Thee. That Thy triumphs shall be from pole to pole, that all things shall serve Thy holy will. Give us grace therefore in the time of adversity, to be mindful of Thy greatness, of the certainty of Thy triumph. And to keep in mind that our times are in Thy hands and not in the hands of men. How great and marvelous Thou art oh Lord and we praise Thee. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Our scripture this morning is Deuteronomy 24:10-13. Our subject: A Righteousness unto Thee.
“When thou dost lend thy brother any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge.
11 Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee.
12 And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge:
13 In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee: and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the Lord thy God.”
This is a very important law with a long history. It is related to Deuteronomy 24:6 the prohibition against taking as security or collateral on a loan anything that is essential to life. In this instance on loans to the poor, whether business loans or charity loans, certain rules are established. First the lender cannot determine the specific pledge or collateral to be given. He cannot go into the house to pick and choose what he wants as his collateral. He cannot inventory the house. [00:03:06]
This would humiliate the borrower
This would humiliate the borrower. As long as an adequate security be given the lender must be satisfied. This stipulation applies to any kind of loan, a charitable non-interest loan, or a business loan at interest. Being a lender gives no man privileges over another. In those days a man who loaned money often went to the borrower’s house to pick and choose his collateral. This is still done in many places. Second, a common pledge was a man’s outer tunic. This protected him against the cold or heat or with the very poor it was commonly used as a sleeping blanket or cover. To demand this garment as a pledge against debt was to limit his ability to live. The vestures in debt is a man’s character. This outer garment provided protection against both cold and rain. Money lenders not only took this garment in pledge but they also used it in contempt of the owners, in ways that a man normally would not use it. The prophet Amos tells us that such money lenders, fathers and sons together, would go to a pagan fertility cult altar and use the garments taken in pledge as a pad to lie on while using a prostitute. This law sets down a premise which has had a major impact in Christendom. When in colonial America Judge James Odis decreed that a man’s house is his castle. He had reference to this law and people knew what he meant. Intrusion into a man’s house is a violation of his freedom. God’s law protects a man from the malice and interference of powerful men. To protect men’s houses and properties is to uphold God’s order because God has established the legitimate boundaries of the family’s jurisdiction and freedom. [00:05:50]
A little thinking tells us what this law prevents when
A little thinking tells us what this law prevents when it is obeyed. When a money lender can enter a house to choose his collateral he can with a practiced eye inventory the contents of the house. It is then possible for him to urge the borrower to ask for more than he can repay. By this means he can at times seize various valuable assets. Now this is something that was very much used in the past twenty years when banks sent loan agents from farm to farm persuading the young heirs of farms to take out a massive loan against a debt free place in order to improve it with all kinds of new equipment. And they subsequently lost valuable properties because they had borrowed a hundred or two hundred thousand against them for new equipment. But even worse, for its own purposes in various countries now inventories of a man’s house are required by the tax collector or by the census bureaus. By this means the state knows more than it has a legitimate right to know and it can plan to use that knowledge lawlessly. We have undone a century’s old development of this law which came to a succinct expression in Otis’s statement ‘a man’s house is his castle’. To use Peter C. Craigie’s excellent term, this law means that a man can borrow with honor. If a man is deserving of a loan he is a man to be respected, not humiliated. Anthony Philips commented ‘the Israelites attitude towards their neighbors was a direct result of their understanding of the character of their God’. Having received the grace of God we must manifest grace towards other men. The realities of what prevailed when this law was not obeyed we have in a letter written about 625 B.C. which makes clear the practice of seizure at will of collaterals by money lenders was in those days, the letter reads: [00:09:14]
“May my lord, the commander, hear the word of his servant
“May my lord, the commander, hear the word of his servant. As for your servant, your servant was harvesting in [unknown], and your servant harvested, took measure, and arranged its storage according to custom before the Sabbath. When your servant had measured the harvest and stored it up according to custom [unknown], son of [unknown] came and took the garment of your servant. When I had harvested this harvest of mine according to custom he took the garment of your servant and all of my brothers can testify for me those who were with me in the heat of the sun. My brothers can testify for me, truly I am innocent of guilt, return please the garment of mine, and if it is not for the commander to return the garment of your servant, show mercy unto your servant and do not drive him away.” Unquote.
This letter vividly illustrates the helplessness of men under lawless rulers. This law was against the oppression of the poor. When such oppression occurs in time the circle of the oppressed grows to include the non-poor. If the immunity of any group in society from tyranny be breached in time the tyranny will reach all. When the poor are oppressed Exodus 22:27 says of them that God says when he crieth unto me I will hear for I am gracious. God repeatedly declares Himself to be the God of widows, orphans and the helpless. Calvin held that gifts to God of funds received in violation of this law were not acceptable. He said:
“For if we think to pay God by offering Him this or that which we have spoiled from our neighbors He will detest both us and our offerings also. For why? God will not change His nature according unto our lusts and there is nothing more properly belonging unto Him than kindness and goodness. For He indeed is the very fountain and root of it and therefore seeing it as so must He not either transfigure himself or detest us. When He shall see us as cruel as wild beasts so every other of us endevoureth not else but to devour the substance and goods of his brother.” Unquote. [00:12:30]
It is important to remember that in word and in deed
It is important to remember that in word and in deed Calvin was very mindful of the poor in society. Over the centuries money lending has been a major form of oppression. There is no culture in which the money lender is not resented and hated. God’s law however requires that mercy and charity be exercised in this sphere. Very plainly the law does not expect either the borrower or the lender to be victimized. The purpose of the law is mercy and justice. A Scottish commentator said of the outer garment cited in this text that the ordinary size of them is six yards long and five or six feet broad, bearing a close resemblance to the plaid of the highlander. At one time both kilt and tunic served a common purpose. Verse thirteen tells us two things in the latter half: first, if the lender is Godly and honest the borrower will bless him. This is a somewhat startling statement for us. We’re not used to thinking of anyone blessing a money lender, but in a godly society it would be an act of justice and of charity, of kindliness, of mercy. Profit would not be denied but extortion would be. What the law requires is that a money lender, whether making a charitable loan to a fellow believer, or a business loan to an unbelieving foreigner be a godly and honest man. God does not expect the money lender to lose money but to be honest and just. The result will be a furthering of God’s holy order and the borrower will bless the helpful and honest money lender. God does not want a conflict society but a harmonious one. [00:15:21]
Then second, to obey God in this respect as in others
Then second, to obey God in this respect as in others shall be righteousness unto thee before the Lord thy God, verse thirteen tells us. In Deuteronomy 6:25 we are told and it shall be righteousness unto us if we observe to do all this commandment before the Lord our God as He hath commanded us. According to Sir George Adam Smith this means and I quote:
“That righteousness here does not mean goodness, uprightness, but rather justification, vindication, the right to live and by consequence their life itself.” Unquote.
In other words life is a privilege and we can live it only on God’s terms, His law. The rabbis of old held that righteousness means alms. This meaning also prevailed in medieval Europe and in the reformation. The privilege of life is validated by our faithfulness to justice, mercy and community. Thus this law deals not only with money lending and very, very carefully with that, but also with regard to the power of any agency, money lending or civil authorities to enter into the home of a man. It is at this point today that we have very serious problems in that we have today a trend beginning whereby the state is beginning to ask in some parts of the country a total inventory of all a man’s possessions and of everything within his house as the prelude to setting the tax rate. This is a clear violation of this law. It claims a right over the man and his life that only God has. When we neglect God’s law we neglect our own freedom. Let us pray. [00:18:06]
Our Lord and our God Thy word is truth and Thy word
Our Lord and our God Thy word is truth and Thy word enables us to have light whereby to see the character the world around us. Grant that the light of Thy word enable us to awaken men to the darkness which has surrounded them and is overwhelming them. Grant us this we beseech Thee in Christ’s name, Amen.
Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes?
[Question] I think we have more money lenders today in the United States than any other country has ever had and we also have over two hundred regulations, the violations of which will cause you to lose your home and all your property including your bank accounts anywhere in the world.
[Rushdoony] Yes that’s a very important point, since World War Two money lending has skyrocketed. Prior to that time it was something reserved basically to the poor, pawn shops, and the very rich. And it was, and apart from purchasing a business, a farm or a house, people did not borrow money. And this made a difference; moreover it was a short term loan only in most states, five years. Since then money lending for a vast variety of things is routine and we have the installment plan which only existed for the very wealthy and they were people who normally did not carry cash because their spending was so great. So we’ve had a changed world and the money lender has never been more prevalent then he is today and I question whether more people have been more deeply in debt previously as now. That’s where most of the wealth of the American people, for example, comes from. Borrowed money. Any other questions or comments? Yes? [00:21:35]
[Question] Well when some people in society buy homes
[Question] Well when some people in society buy homes they plan on having their sons and daughters pay off the mortgage anyway.
[Rushdoony] Well that’s possible in some cases but in most cases they only buy the home when they are newlyweds in anticipation of selling it for a better home a few years later, ten fifteen years later, when their economic status improves a bit. So that you rarely have people who’ve been in the same place for generations as once was the case.
Any other questions or comments? If not let us conclude with prayer.
Our Father, we thank Thee for the correcting, the healing, the enlightening power of Thy word. Thy word is truth and Thy word speaks to our generation as to all generations and directs us in the way that we should go. Give us hearing ears and obedient feet that we may serve Thee with all our heart mind and being. . And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.