I know there is nothing new under the sun. People have been taking advantage of one another’s misfortune and debt since the beginning of time. Still, I was incensed yesterday to hear that Obama’s new plan to help homeowners who are “underwater” still only applied to a select few citizens; and you can guess that I’m not one of those citizens. My husband and I have been forking over money to refinance our 2 condos for years now, only to run into ridiculously low appraisals and very tedious guidelines.
Last night I kissed Zoe and Philip goodnight and slept soundly in my overpriced home, grateful for the roof over my head (Thank you Jesus), but when I awoke this morning, I received confirmation that there is nothing new under the sun. My morning Word recounted the story of Nehemiah and the Israelites rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. It depicted a people that were unified in their effort to rebuild the town’s wall and ward off enemies, yet simultaneously the nobles and officials in the community were taking advantage of their brethren by charging insane interest rates on debts. These leaders were indifferent to the fact that their rates were causing families to send their children into slavery to cover debts; during a time when they’d barely tasted freedom. Sound familiar?
By the end of the chapter, Nehemiah scolds the nobles and officials:
“What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let the exacting of usury stop! Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the usury you are charging them – the hundredth part of the money, grain, new wine and oil.”
“We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.”
(Neh 5: 9-12)
Following this the nobles and officials took an oath to do what they had promised. It sounds like a great end to a story, but you see there really is nothing new under the sun. Even as our government attempts to tidy up the mess of a war that threatened our nations safety, and despite each citizen banning together to support the weak structure of our walls, our leadership team continues to allow the manifestation of abuse and use upon its citizens.
I’d like to think that our story will end well too. That Obama simply needs to say “Stop what you’re doing if not for righteousness, then for fear of God and our enemies.” But the reality is that most people don’t fear God or retribution.
I thought that a young black president was something new under the sun…but its going to take a lot more than looks to change the heart of greedy men.
So where do we go from here?