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A long-lost passion for economic justice is rekindled in many main-line American churches as world conditions and new prophetic voices call for Christ-centered Jubilee deliverance for billions of persons long oppressed by unjust economic, social and political structures.
Most Americans today express concern about poverty, but seem overwhelmed by the immensity and complexity of the problem. Some view the issue as too big and too expensive to ever be solved, while others think the problem belongs to someone else---in this case the poor themselves. Many carry a simplistic, single causation view that assigns the problem to a single factor, such as poor education, single parenthood, or poor personal decision-making.
But Scripture identifies poverty mainly with oppression by persons and human systems having power to control and manipulate what happens in world economies. Therefore we should be interested in poverty because we all bear some responibility for its existence and hold a major stake in efforts to eradicate or at least lessen its incidence.
You can't open a media publication or view a TV news program without being faced by some issue of economic justice, although it may at first glance appear to be political or social in nature. America cannot afford to ignore these issues, since they tear at the fabric of our society and crush ever-increasing numbers of our people.
Jesus taught much more than personal salvation. His message, as expressed in what many call The Nazareth Manifesto (Luke 4:16-19), concerns nothing less than gospel (good news) to the poor, healing to the brokenhearted, liberty to captives and those oppressed, recovery of sight to the blind, and the proclamation of Jubilee justice to the suffering earth. Some Christians attempt to spiritualize this powerful message by claiming that this promised deliverance will be either in heaven at some later time, or, if on earth, than only symbolic and spiritual in nature. But the life of Jesus illustrates His identification with the poor and marginalized of society, and His clear declaration that He came, not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it, indicates the physical earthiness and reality of His message.
Income inequality increases rapidly over the earth as the rich use their control over the laws and productive resources of the earth to enhance their social, political, and economic power.
A famous world financier once said that he "didn't care who made the laws as long as I control the money." Control of the money supply and laws relating to finance remain the chief method used by the few to maintain power over the masses.
Jubilee deliverance as found in Scripture carries a strong component of restorative justice. Contrasted to retribution or revenge, restorative justice concerns itself with restoring what has been lost to victims and dignity and restored productive citizenship to offenders.
Wonderful as it is, charity alone cannot adequately deal with poverty and destitution. Advocacy against the systems and structures contributing to poverty is also needed, as is political action in support of economic and social justice for all.
Babylon is the name given by Scripture to historical world economic, political, and social structures in opposition to God. Today we experience a great shaking as these unjust world systems of oppression and tyranny come under Divine judgment.
There is nothing inherently wrong with being rich. What is wrong is that so much wealth is gained through oppression and manipulation, and is then used to perpetuate power and control over society.
Globalization could be a great blessing to the earth were it not controlled by greedy persons and institutions using it as an instrument of global aggrandizement and control.
The historical books of the Bible contain scores of examples of economic justice and injustice practiced by various national leaders and their cohorts. These accounts appear for our learning and admonition in these last days (Rom. 15:4 and I Cor. 10:11).
Jubilee justice is a main component of the Law of Moses. God's requirement for justice among people and nations remains in effect regardless of the attempts by many to discount it as mere legalism.