Deeper in debt: Deuteronomy 28


(As of the end of 2018 the US national debt stood at over $21 trillion)

Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 28-29.

America’s debt keeps piling up so quickly that our minds can’t comprehend it. Our politicians seem powerless to address the problem. Right now the federal government owes over 17 trillion dollars, a debt of 150,000 dollars for each U.S. taxpayer. The deficit for 2018 alone was 779 billion dollars, which means we are not only failing to address the outstanding debt but falling behind by over three quarters of a trillion dollars each year. The yearly interest on the debt is 364 billion dollars.

The Israelites stand on two mountains to the east of Canaan as they prepare to enter the land. One mountain, Gerazim, is the mountain of blessing. From Gerazim God proclaims all the blessings that will come to pass if the people obey him. Look at the blessings related to borrowing and lending:

      The Lord will open for you His abundant storehouse, the sky, to give your land rain in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow. The Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you will only move upward and never downward if you listen to the Lord your God’s commands I am giving you today and are careful to follow [them]. Deut. 28:12-13

From Mount Ebal God proclaims all the curses that will fall on the people if they fail to keep the covenant and obey him. Again, look at the curse related to borrowing and debt:

The foreign resident among you will rise higher and higher above you, while you sink lower and lower. He will lend to you, but you won’t lend to him. He will be the head, and you will be the tail.  Deut. 28:43-44

God is not criticizing the foreigner, and I’m not either. As I read these words my focus is on God’s people. God warns them that their fortunes, financial and otherwise, will sink lower and lower if they abandon him. Now, modern Americans were not party to the covenant between the LORD and the Israelites. Neither were present-day Christians. Even so, I can’t help but look at our ever-rising mountain of debt and wonder.

Why can’t such a powerful country, full of resources, pay its bills? Why won’t our political leaders address the problem? Why are so many blind to the problem? Does the debt show that we are under God’s severe discipline if not his curse?

I’m not advocating for political action. I’m calling for believers to cry out to God, confessing our own sins and the sins of our fellow Americans. Let’s pray for mercy. Ask for revival that starts with those who know God. God is true to his word, and fortunately his word promises that he stands ready to forgive and renew.


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