Dream word – FAIR
“A great protest was mounted by the people, including the wives, against their fellow Jews. Some said, ‘We have big families, and we need food just to survive.’ Others said, ‘We're having to mortgage our fields and vineyards and homes to get enough grain to keep from starving.’ And others said, ‘We're having to borrow money to pay the royal tax on our fields and vineyards. Look: We're the same flesh and blood as our brothers here; our children are just as good as theirs. Yet here we are having to sell our children off as slaves — some of our daughters have already been sold — and we can't do anything about it because our fields and vineyards are owned by somebody else.’ I got really angry when I heard their protest and complaints. After thinking it over, I called the nobles and officials on the carpet. I said, ‘Each one of you is gouging his brother.’” (from THE MESSAGE: by Eugene H. Peterson.)
The prophets and the profiteers
Having weathered several hurricanes in South Florida and lived through their aftermath, it was there as a Brit, that I first heard and of the term “gauging” and saw it put into unscrupulous practice.
Price gauging is the pricing of products, often way above the market price, when no alternative retailing source is available. In England we call this profiteering. Governments of course and especially local authorities, frown on this practice and are very much against it, even bringing the full weight of the law against the practicing profiteers. That is, unless they or their often larger and more powerful corporate buddies are doing it themselves. All of us seek succour, safety, satisfaction and power in having more than enough. However, if you are government or big business, then a “much, much more than enough” position is a seeming very safe and powerful place to be in, even if it is at the expense of others. Yes, I am afraid to say that often the very worst offenders in price gauging and profiteering in times of peace especially, are our very own Governments and large national corporate bodies.
It was no different in Nehemiah’s days. The exiles had returned from Babylon to physically rebuild the capital city and all its supportive economic infrastructure. This redemption of land, this redemption of society, this redemption of people, was a massive, a costly and most sacrificial job. Guess what? The rich Israelites were price gauging the poor workers. Guess what? The rich rulers were profiteering from the plight of the poor workers. By their self-indulgent pocket lining, the rich and ruling classes, were keeping themselves economically safe and economically powerful to ensure their continued economic selfishness into the future and all at the terrible expense of their poorer brethren, who were hungry, mortgaged up to the hilt and selling their children into economic slavery. If we think about it, most of us in the world are in the same poor position even today.
The answer to this in Nehemiah’s day was not so much a fair trade policy, but rather a merciful policy. The answer was not communism, neither was it consumerism, no, the beginning of the answer to this disgusting usury, this plundering profiteering, this pernicious price gauging, was naming, shaming, shocking, and the shaking and all of whom were involved! This was done in terms of a very powerful and prophetic, condemnation, comparison, command and cursing! We need the same today. Shame on us the church, for it would appear that Fleet street has more courageous folks with the spirit of prophecy upon them, than we do. We have a long way to go to try and reclaim our prophetic voice. No wonder the world I not listening to us, for in our silence, we are grossly compliant with the sins of our nation.
Listen: “What you're doing is wrong. Is there no fear of God left in you? Don't you care what the nations around here, our enemies, think of you? ‘I and my brothers and the people working for me have also loaned them money. But this gouging them with interest has to stop. Give them back their foreclosed fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes right now. And forgive your claims on their money, grain, new wine, and olive oil.’ They said, ‘We'll give it all back. We won't make any more demands on them. We'll do everything you say.’ Then I called the priests together and made them promise to keep their word. Then I emptied my pockets, turning them inside out, and said, ‘So may God empty the pockets and house of everyone who doesn't keep this promise — turned inside out and emptied.’ Everyone gave a wholehearted ‘Yes, we'll do it!’ and praised God. And the people did what they promised.” - (from THE MESSAGE by Eugene H. Peterson. Nehemiah 5:9-13)
Pray: Lord, send us some politicians anointed with the powerfully prophetic and then Lord, send them into the board rooms and the cabinet rooms, send them into the wine cellars and the dinner parties, send them into the gated and armed communities, send them with commands and cursings, that people may be most thoroughly delivered from economic bondage. In Jesus name we ask it, amen.
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