DIGEST....OF DIVINE LAW
by Howard Rand (1942)
No question is so important and vital to humanity in the establishment of an orderly and peaceful social system than a proper and equitable definition of property rights. Who owns what and why? Unless there is vested in the human race a right to own and have possessions there can be no such thing as stealing or covetousness. Any laws against such would be ridiculous; for a man cannot steal that which belongs to no one, nor can he covet that which is not another's. Without ownership, a man can take and use anything he sees — until one stronger than he undertakes to possess it. Without property rights, properly defined and enforced, the world would be afflicted with chaos and violence.
By their very prohibitions the ten commandments presuppose definite inherent property rights vested in mankind as exemplified in the clauses "Thou shalt not steal" and "Thou shalt not covet." Those who advocate the abolition of property rights seem not to realize that to attain such a state of affairs would abolish stealing and covetousness and reduce men to the level of animals, with the weak in fear of the strong.
Basis of Property Rights
Primarily, ownership and property rights begins with the family. No one can study the Bible without realizing the importance of family life in the perfect economy. Any plan that displaces the family or fails to accept it as the very center and life of an orderly system is destined to fail.
In accord with the original plan of God concerning man He said, "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him an help meet for him." (Gen. 2:18.) That is, He would make a comforter to live with him. It is not popular in this day of so-called social equality to speak of property rights in the family relationship and yet when God is the head of the household and righteousness is the basis of all relationships, no wife will object to the expression of ownership in the statement "my wife " nor will the offspring find fault when of them their parents say "our children". Because of the right of ownership — one in the other — the Lord declared, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Gen. 2:24.)
The law of the Lord abounds with safeguards placed around the family, protecting the family, keeping it pure from pollution and punishing those who violate the sanctity of the home. No property rights are more rigidly guarded and protected than the rights of man and wife, with the death penalty pronounced upon adulterers.
(YET THE DEATH PENALTY FOR ADULTERY COULD BE MERCIFULLY NOT ENACTED UPON DEEP AND REAL REPENTANCE.....KING DAVID AND BATHSHEBA AS OUR EXAMPLE, THOUGH PUNISHMENT WAS GIVEN TO DAVID AS THE ACCOUNT SHOWS - Keith Hunt)
Importance of Inheritance
In order that the family may have sustenance there must be an inheritance or possession in the land. Because we have failed to recognize this or to act upon God's laws regarding the land, millions of people today are dispossessed of their possessions and are able to exist only by the sufferance of the nation. The loss of a job means starvation, for without a vested right in land the right to live and produce the needs of life is denied.
But the Bible declares the land is the Lord's and all the people were to have an inheritance therein.
(AND SO THE BANKERS AND WALL STREET GUYS/GALS COULD NEVER HAVE DONE WHAT THEY DID THAT LED TO THE 2008 DISASTER FOR MOST OF THE WESTERN WORLD - Keith Hunt)
An Israelite could not sell his possessions so that his family would not have an inheritance in the land. Now an inheritance is the right by law to receive possessions or property which is one's heritage or birthright. The Lord gave His people such an inheritance in the land and declared "The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine." (Lev. 25:23.) They could lease that land, but a definite time period was set after which the land must revert to the original family. The land could not be taken through tax levies for no tax was allowed to be levied against a man's inheritance.
When Israel came into the land of Palestine to possess it that land was divided among the Tribes of Israel and each family received his inheritance under his father's house and Tribe. The land being the Lord's, the tithe of its increase was holy unto God.
Law of the Land
Moses had instructed the Children of Israel in accordance with the law of the Lord that they were to sow their fields and prune their vineyards and gather their fruit for six years. The seventh year was to be a Sabbath of rest in which year they were not to sow the land nor prune their vines or gather their fruit. That which grew of itself was not to be reaped nor were they to eat of it for it was to be a year of rest for the land. "And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety."
In this statement the Lord has promised that if His people would keep the law regarding the land there would be no insect devastation nor crop disease. Instead, there would be an abundant yield of all kinds from the land.
(WE TODAY ARE OUT OF HARMONY WITH THE LAND, AND SO WE ARE REAPING THE RESULTS. GOD HAS TAKEN AWAY ANY PROTECTION AND REAL BLESSINGS; HENCE OFTEN NATURE IS OUR ENEMY - Keith Hunt)
Use of the Surplus
But what shall the people do for the seventh year for food? This is also answered, for the Lord said, "And if ye shall say, What shall we eat on the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow, the eighth year, and eat yet of the old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store."
Here, then, is God's method for caring for the abundance in production by giving rest to the land and a year's vacation to His people with their living provided from the over-production of the six years. Thus God's abundance, in the keeping of the law, contributes to prosperity and blessing and does not impoverish a people. Instead of curtailing planting and instituting crop destruction, God shows how that over-production is to be used for the benefit of all.
(THE LAND REST DID NOT MEAN THE FARMERS COULD JUST TAKE OFF TO HAWAII ON HOLIDAY ETC. THERE ARE STILL MANY THINGS TO DO ON A FARM, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE LIVESTOCK - Keith Hunt)
The Year of Restoration
Seven sabbaths, or forty-nine years, were to be numbered and the fiftieth year was to be a Jubilee. This fiftieth year was to be hallowed or sanctified, that is, set apart. During this fiftieth year a proclamation should go out. In this year every man was to return unto his own possessions and to his own family while every man's inheritance was restored unto him.
Cast in the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is a part of the Jubilee call: "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." On July 8th, 1776, this bell rang out: summoning the people to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence. What a different story might have been told in the history of our country: a story of peace, liberty and real prosperity — had we but kept the law of the Jubilee!
Instead, we have had periodic depressions and financial difficulties — with a deeper dip in those depressions every fifty years. Our nation could have led the way by keeping the letter as well as the spirit of that law inscribed on our Liberty Bell and in so doing would have demonstrated to the whole world the blessing of keeping the Divine Commandments.
But instead of doing this, we elected to follow in the steps of the nations around us and fifty years after the critical days that followed the War of Independence the Liberty Bell, which had been rung every year on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, cracked and has not been rung since.
Leases and Redemption
Property sold during the fifty years preceding each Jubilee returned in the year of Jubilee to the family of inheritance. Because this was so the sale of property, or the possession of it by other than the family of inheritance, amounted to a lease. The longest term would be fifty years, with all leases expiring in the Jubilee year. The price of the lease would be in accord with the number of years left to run before the Jubilee or proclamation of liberty and restoration.
In the observance of this law the people would not oppress one another yet there was liberty of trade and even the sale of property within these set bounds. If a man was poor and sold his inheritance it could be redeemed before the Jubilee, either by a relative or by himself, by paying to the purchaser the value of the use of the property for the years yet remaining to the Jubilee. If the owner or his relatives were unable to thus redeem the land it reverted to him or his family as a matter of law at the Jubilee.
God has thus assured continued possession of the land by His people and through the operation of the law prevented a man from squandering his inheritance so that the family could not redeem it, or finally come into possession of it in the year of rejoicing.
Land Free from Taxation
It was impossible to dispossess men of their inheritance under the law of the Lord as no taxes were levied against land. Regardless of a man's personal commitments he could not disinherit his family by being dispossessed of his land forever. Millions of people today have no inheritance in the land and are pauperized in a country where hundreds of thousands of acres of land lie idle and unused. Because taxes are levied against the land, instead of being levied against the increase from that land, men cannot afford to possess land. Through a system of debt that impoverishes the many and enriches the few the tendency has been to dispossess the many in our refusal to keep the law which states that "ye shall not therefore oppress one another " and we penalize, through taxation, those who should inherit the land!
God placed a high value upon country property. It was from the land that the support of the family really came and in the protection of the family He assured them a continued possession or inheritance in the land. This fact will become evidenced as industry turns more and more to the products of the farm for furnishing raw material for manufacturing purposes. Land marks were forbidden to be removed so there might not be any confusion as to a man's possessions.
It is interesting to note that the Lord did not place the same value on city property as he placed on property in the country. If a house in the city was sold, it could be redeemed within a year. After that it was unredeemable and did not return in the Jubilee. It became the property of the new owner forever. But houses in the country and villages were treated as the land, redeemable at any time and to be returned to the original owner at the Jubilee. The only exception to the rule regarding city-property was in the case of property belonging to the Levites. They were the administrators in the nation and could redeem their property in the city at any time and it returned to them in the Jubilee.
(THE LAW OF MOSES WAS THAT THE LEVITE HAD NO INHERITANCE IN COUNTRY LAND; HENCE CITY LAW PROPERTY WAS DIFFERENT FOR THEM THAN FOR OTHERS - Keith Hunt)
Protection of Property Rights
Following are a few of the sundry judgments estabhshing property rights, with compensation to the owner for their violation or for the destruction of his property. "If a man shall cause a field or a vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man's field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution." (Ex. 22:5.) The law of the Lord emphasizes restitution for trespasses and wrongs.
If a man kindle a fire that results in doing damage to his neighbor's possessions he must make full and adequate restitution. If a man dig a pit and fails to cover it and damage results to his neighbor's cattle he must make good the loss and pay full compensation for the animal killed. After paying his neighbor for his loss the dead cattle would be his.
While these judgments specifically apply to an agricultural community yet they are based upon fundamental principles of justice and law that can be applied in any age and to any type of industrial activity. The judgments as given are samples of the way the Law of the Lord is to be applied to specific cases. When this fact is fully recognized and understood we will cease to hear men make fight of the Law of the Lord because some particular judgment under that law in Moses' time has no application today.
Nowhere in the Bible is there any indication that property rights are to ever be abolished. On the contrary, such rights are emphasized and safeguards are placed around that property to protect a man in his possessions. Liberty for the individual is non-existent apart from freedom of possession and the protection of personal holdings and property, with adequate compensation for its loss or destruction.
Land Has No Sale Value
Under the law of the Lord the land had no sale value in itself. The sale value was in the productiveness of the land. Because this was so, nothing could be gained by holding land for profit, for there was no profit in land except one labored and worked that it might bring forth an increase. When a man sold his inheritance, it was not the land which he sold but the right to the increase from that land. The sales value was based upon the yearly return from the land until the next Jubilee. Thus it was the yearly return which he sold and not the land. Thus the thrifty were not penalized while the shiftless were rewarded as is so often the case today. The thrifty paid a tithe from their abundance or increase and while the shiftless paid no tithe yet they also had no increase. Both were assured of their inheritance: free from the fear of losing it or having it taken from them by governmental levies, but the increase from that inheritance could only be secured by individual industry and enterprise. The owner of property and in possession of his heritage, under the law of the Lord, is blessed with security while today the ownership of property is a liability that may tax the resources of men to meet the levies made against his possessions.
Homes for All
God saw to it that provision was made for homes for all His people, forever, in His refusal to allow the land to be sold. It gave security to men and assured the industrious an opportunity to provide for their needs and increase their wealth. Because land is primarily the basis of man's existence, while the inheritance of such sustains his right to property, yet for a government to make tax levies against that land impoverishes a nation and pauperizes its people. Abolition of property rights is not a Scriptural teaching though by our violation of God's system of taxation and with governmental levies against property and land the abolition of property rights with the resulting loss of security, has become a fact in the life of millions of our citizens.
Assurance of Private Ownership
The Bible does not teach the doctrine of community of possession. God did not say that men were to sit under a community vine and fig tree when the perfection of Kingdom administration has been established in the earth, but He did say, "But they shall sit every man under bis own vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid" — not even the tax collector. In that day we are told that the houses will be private property, possessed by those who build them, for "They shall not build, and another inhabit" as so often happens today if not from the result of tax burdens, then from the inability to meet and pay usury charges.
Emphasis is placed upon the fact that in the perfection of the New Order of the Ages every man will enjoy his labor, "And mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands," adding, "They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble," as so often is the case today under a system of exchange which tends to impoverish the laborer and increase the wealth of the rich.
A natural question which arises in this day and generation is, who will control or possess the great national wealth and resources such as the minerals in the mountains and the oil under ground? All this wealth belongs to the nation and in them all the people have an inheritance. Moses listed these national resources as follows:
1)The water, the rain and the sunshine from heaven.
2)The sea and the dew.
3) The natural production of field and forest, apart from man's labor.
4) The oil and the minerals in the mountains and the hills.
He declared that God's people had an inheritance in all this wealth and that these national resources are a national asset to be used for the benefit of all.
The administration of our national affairs in accord with the laws of the Lord would bring to the people the full benefits and blessings accruing from the developments and use of these resources. Unfortunately, this national wealth today has become the private property of financial combinations who through private ownership have acquired billions of dollars of wealth and holdings. Such are entitled to a return for their services in the development of such wealth but the people should have a vested interest in that which is a national asset. Private enterprise and industry should receive adequate compensation for the conversion of our natural resources into usable production, but into the national treasury should come adequate returns from these assets that all the people may have a share in our national wealth. Under such conditions financial interests will not be able to reap that which they have not planted nor gather where they have not sown.
This is not socialism nor communism but it is in accord with the law of the Lord and for the protection of the heritage of His people. We have allowed men to exploit and often destroy national wealth for selfish ends. By such methods they have amassed great fortunes out of the wealth God gave to the nation. With these fortunes, under our present system, power and control have come into the hands of the few to the detriment of the many. All this wealth of natural resources must be restored to the nation, but adequate remuneration will be earned by the workers, whether in management or labor, in the converting of national resources into usable wealth. But no one will be able to control that which belongs to the people to the detriment of national interests nor will private interests be able to hold as private property the real resources of wealth that belong to all the people.
All this will become possible through the passing of the inequitable and unjust system under which men labor today, for this Babylonian method of competition, with its monetary standard of wealth must give way to a just system of taxation and permanent ownership of property —with a perfected medium of exchange based upon our wealth in national assets and upon our production.
Of present conditions, the prophet Isaiah says, "He looked to see justice done, but found crime; and for kindness oppression. Alas! they add house to house, —wide farm to farm,— That alone they may dwell in the heart of the land! " (Isa. 5:7-8.)
Thus does God condemn the large land holdings of the few which has taken from His people their heritage!
OH WHAT A VASTLY DIFFERENT WORLD AND SOCIETY WE SHALL HAVE IN THE AGE TO COME. THE CRIMES OF THE BANKERS AND WALL STREET PEOPLE OF THE WESTERN WORLD, THAT CAME CRASHING DOWN IN 2008, WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO EVEN TAKE PLACE IN THE AGE TO COME. I LAUGH WHEN PEOPLE [ESPECIALLY MANY IN THE USA] GET UPSET ABOUT TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT IN THE LIVES OF PEOPLE. WHEN GOVERNMENT IS RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE CAN BE BLESSED BY GOVERNMENT LAWS. GET USED TO IT....FOR IN THE NEW AGE GOD'S GOVERNMENT WILL RULE ALL ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE - Keith Hunt