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Biblical usury does not have the same definition as in modern times. Today, “usury” is charging more interest than is allowable by man’s law. Biblical usury is all interest. The basic law against usury is found in Deuteronomy 23:19, 20,
19 You shall not charge interest to your countrymen, interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. 20 You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countryman you shall not charge interest, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess.
“Foreigners” in this case refer to non-citizens of the Kingdom—the equivalent of unbelievers. (This includes modern banks as well, because they function under the laws of Babylon.) Such people live by a different set of moral laws established by another god. If one were to give them an interest-free loan, they would have no twinge of conscience in loaning it to someone else at interest. A Kingdom citizen has no obligation to provide such a person with an interest-free loan. In such cases, charging interest is optional.
Resident Aliens Have Equal Rights
Biblical law makes a distinction between non-Israelites living in Israel and those living elsewhere. Any non-Israelite who came to live in Israel was to be treated by the same laws as all others, even as he was obligated to abide by the laws of the Kingdom. Lev.iticus25:35-37 makes this clear:
35 Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. 36 Do not take usurious interest from him, but revere your God, that your countryman may live with you. 37 You shall not give him your silver at interest, nor your food for gain.
In other words, if someone is in need, whether an Israelite or a foreigner, he was to be treated without oppression. A foreigner’s labor was protected by law, because his rights were guaranteed by the law of God. This law is usually explained by the fact that the Israelites had been oppressed as foreigners in Egypt—so they ought to know how it feels to be oppressed. For example, we read in Deuteronomy 24:14-18,
14 You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your countrymen or one of your aliens that is in your land in your towns … 15 so that he may not cry against you to the Lord, and it become sin in you ... 17 You shall not pervert the justice due an alien or an orphan, nor take a widow’s garment in pledge. 18 But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.
Leviticus 19:33, 34 says further,
33 When a foreigner resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 34 The foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.
What immediately follows is the law of equal weights and measures. A biblical monetary standard, having no usury built into it, keeps prices stable. Money, including currency, would always have an equal weight and measure, disturbed only by occasional shortages, particularly in times of famine.
Jesus showed in Matthew 7:1, 2 that this law applied not only to literal weights and measures, but also to unequal applications of the law. In other words, we cannot measure men’s sins by different standards. We cannot judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.
Remembering Injustice in Egypt
In Leviticus 19, it is apparent that the law of equal weights and measures was meant to apply to Israelites and foreigners living in the land. To put it in more modern terms, there was to be equal justice for all, as Numbers 15:15, 16 says,
15 As for the assembly [kahal, “church”], there shall be one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the Lord. 16 There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.
The purpose of remembering our former slavery in Egypt is so that we remember not to enslave others. It is implied that this was one of the reasons God allowed the Israelites to be enslaved in Egypt prior to their deliverance under Moses. It was to show them by personal experience what it means to be treated with injustice and inequality, so that they would not treat aliens in the same manner when they formed their own nation. If we treat others by the golden rule, we will never oppress or enslave foreigners.
Deuteronomy 10:18, 19 not only mandates equal justice for all, but commands us also to show love for the alien:
18 He executes justice for the orphan, and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. 19 So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
These laws are some of the terms by which God allows us to live on His land. If we do not abide by His terms, He reserves the right to remove us from the land and even to put us under the authority of other lawless men in order to remind us of the consequences of lawlessness.
Traditions of Men
It is truly unfortunate that traditional Jewish thought has so often missed this lesson and has justified the oppression of non-Jews. Even today, this kind of lawless behavior permeates the Israeli state in their treatment of Palestinians. In New Testament times, the Apostle Paul was hated and persecuted by the priests of the synagogue, primarily because he treated non-Jews as equals, rather than as second-class citizens. (See one such story in Acts 13:42-52.) They accused him of being a law-breaker for going against the traditions of the elders, when in fact the Jews had destroyed the law by their traditions (i.e., interpretations of the law).
This lawless attitude of the Jews toward non-Jews was a big factor in later years when the Church rejected the law of God, instead of casting out the “traditions of men,” by which the Jewish leaders misinterpreted the law. Many Church leaders failed to receive a proper revelation of the law. They accepted the Jewish interpretation of the law and concluded that God’s law really was unequal and discriminatory. Hence, they discarded the law, considering it to be inferior to the love that Jesus proclaimed.
But no society can live without laws by which to judge bad behavior or injustice. The Church could discard God’s law, but as long as imperfect people were in the Church, they had no choice but to adopt laws by which to adjudicate disputes. Unfortunately, they ended up doing precisely what the Jewish leaders had done before them. They adopted laws that seemed right to men. These laws were their own “traditions of men,” their own understanding of right and wrong.
In rejecting the law of God, they inevitably legalized sin and injustice in various ways. They came to mistreat foreigners and to justify slavery and oppression by the same carnal mindset as was found in much of traditional Judaism.
When we violate God’s law, it is sin (1 John 3:4). But men later began to define sin as a violation of Church traditions. They did precisely what the Jewish leaders had done under the Old Covenant, which caused Isaiah to say:
8 This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. 9 But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” (Matthew 15:8, 9, quoted from Isaiah 29:13)
Most Christians no longer think that usury is a sin. Though the Roman Church borrowed money at interest very early in its history, it always officially considered usury a sin until recently. On June 27, 1942, the Church established the Institute for Works of Religion (the Vatican Bank), funded by the donation of Mussolini in 1929.
Most Protestants and evangelicals had already cast aside the law of God and saw no harm in usury. In fact, many justified it by misinterpreting Jesus’ parable in Luke 19. Because the Church discarded the law of God, many have come to sanctify theft in the name of Jesus. Because of this, we allowed the practice of usury in our modern banking system. And hence, God put us into bondage to Mystery Babylon through the Federal Reserve Act, which put the entire nation and the Church itself into captivity.
It is therefore important that we repent of our sin and obey God by faith. If we have faith in God, we will be obedient to Him and accept His ways, rather than accept the ways of our Babylonian masters. When we repent, then God will deliver us from Babylon and establish us in true prosperity under the laws of His Kingdom.