MONEY WITHOUT BREAD
It was madness for the Preacher or Solomon to think that money and wealth would satisfy. When riches multiply so do the people that sponge off the rich. Greed for wealth and money will not allow workers to enjoy sweet sleep (Ecc. 5:10-12). “At a feast, people rejoice and wine makes them happy, but money makes it all possible” (Ecc. 10:19). The Preacher’s philosophy was on target and money helped him build what no other king in Israel could do. Suppose, there was no bread to be had for any amount of money, what would he have accomplished? I have lived through two such periods when money could not buy a slice of bread.
In 1939, Poland fell into the hands of the Germans and the Russians and our Zlotys became worthless. Gold and silver became the properties of the invaders. The same thing happened to the German Mark in 1945. We, too, had lost our country, our land and our home and ended up in West Germany. We could no longer buy bread, but we could earn it with our horses, which had carried us away from the Russians. Then, the horses became our bread earners by hauling things for the local business and small farmers. I drove city people from the railroad station to farming communities, where they traded costly family heirlooms for bread. The Germans formed a new government and were allowed to issue new money. Every family was given one hundred Mark. For the farmers that was an extra plus, but for homeless refugees, like us with eight people in the family, it was a drop of water on a hot stove. We still had to find ways to earn bread without money because there were no paying jobs, even though the new money began to bring out bread over night. Due to the lack of money, it was not available to us and the bakers could not sell it for the same reason.
Money is the reason why family farming has disappeared in this country and even in Europe. The farmer could not financially compete with a simple factory worker or an office clerk. In a prosperous economy, bread and money have a mutual purpose. Bread is, next to drink is the most important commodity to life and money can increase production. The reason so many small farmers have given up farming was because of the low financial returns. They produced an overabundance of bread and reduced the demand for better pricing and income. The increase of the non-farming population, in urban areas, and the reduction of bread suppliers, have steadily increased the feasibility of the need to return to smaller mixed farming. Unfortunately, people no longer know how to farm the old fashion way and that will lead to famine and food shortages. Famine is the result of lack of irrigation and soil nourishment that nature provides and not chemicals. People with money are not willing to pay for refurbishing the soil. At the end, it will be money that robs us of our daily bread. When it concerns our life, it is bread and not money that sustains us. And the only way we can feed each other is by restoring our broken relationship with farmers, who take pride in their land and in their farming.
The food industry, in our day, is the biggest industry; but is it the safest and healthiest or the most enduring to sustain life? It is not like an airplane or an automobile, which can come up with another model with new gadgets. Bread remains bread and the land it comes from is producing less grain due to chemicals and government regulations. One of our sons and his family became involved with goats and they hoped to produce cheese. The regulations to build even a small facility, was financially alone out of their reach. We bought four and one half acres and proposed to subdivide the land into four small farms for gardening. The cost for a septic tank alone and the permits to allow us built and the time it took to obtain permits and all the feasibility studies made it impossible for us to follow through with our plans. But when the county needed revenue to pay their union workers, they raised our real estate taxes from $1,200 dollars to $10,000 and we were forced to sell to a developer. He built over thirty homes without subdividing. Our plans for small farming had no chance under our present regulatory system. Money talked louder than bread.
The use of money will decide whether we have enough bread to go around. Humans continue to gravitate toward cities and industrial places where more money can be earned or gained and away from the country where less money is spent. This trend will reduce the availability of bread, but it can be reversed by encouraging and assisting people to return to the land and teach them how to farm, when to farm and what to farm. Man is not born a farmer. It took my father twenty years to teach me how to farm and only five minutes to swing a hammer in his shop. It was not just I, but also two others, and the three of us would hit the red and hot iron intermittedly. I learned to read and write on my own in five years. At the age of twelve, my father sent me with a team of horses to cultivate a piece of land for seeding grain, instead a I cultivated a field already seeded with grain, which looked like it needed cultivating. We had a new farmhand and father sent us to work on a field away from home and we ended up preparing someone else’s field for seeding. The man appreciated our work and we were embarrassed because we were not able to identify the property we were to prepare for us.
We were brought and settled by the Germans by force. We were unfamiliar with the property that belonged to the farm we were to manage. What I am saying is, it takes money and time to become familiar with the land and the kind of seed and preparation before bread will grow. The Nazis, unlike the Russian communists, knew that they needed people, who knew how to farm. They did not have to teach our people when they bought us from Stalin and settled us on Polish holdings. Communist Russia, with a third of the land in the world, could not feed itself. Our small province, merely a dot on the Russian map, fed the whole German army. Our small farm alone produced wagons of food and even the Nazis did not restrict us with regulations. There is a Biblical principle that states, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain” (Deut. 25:4). Our authorities and land barons have muzzled the farmer and there are few left to tread out the grain at harvest time; but then we no longer need the oxen because our harvests are getting smaller and food more expensive. The high respect and value of money means less and less bread for hungry people.
Money has been the most powerful means to buy favors, pervert justice and gain wealth. It is more protected and sheltered than a human being, unless that human being owns that money. It is literally being worshipped and has even won out against God (I Tim. 6:10). Jesus, Himself, encouraged his followers to have a respectable relationship with people that have money. It can be a means out of a need (Lk. 16:9-13). The problem is that money does not grow on trees. It belongs to people who earn it. Many of us, invest, in the hope, that we can gain more money. I have learned, the hard way, that I do not always gain, but that I stand to lose and end up in debt and poverty. Even while I am in poverty, I am still required to pay for that portion of debt my collateral does not cover. For instance, if I made repairs to my property, on credit before I was forced to sell it, the sale does not cover the credit card, but I remain liable for the outstanding amount. This problem dates back passed the time of Moses and he was induced to write this law. “You shall not lend your brother your money for interest, nor give him your food for profit” (Lev. 25:37).
Usury was the cause of impoverishing and enslaving each other. It was an unjust way to treat the alien, the widows and the orphans. “If you take your neighbor’s coat as a pledge, return it to him by nightfall; for the coat is the only covering he has for his body” (Ex. 22:26-27). To profiteer off a needy brother Israelite or even an alien that lived among the Israelites was a curse (Deut. 27:19). No Israelite could impose interests on money, food or any other necessary items needed to live on. To foreigners, however, there was no limit a Jew could charge and this law has made many rich and caused unhealthy relationships (Deut. 23:19-20). The violation of this law became the main reason, according to the prophets, that Israel split into two nations and then ceased to exist. “The Lord executes justice for the fatherless and the widow and he loves the alien who lives among his people and gives them food and clothes” (Deut. 10:18). “Woe to those that make laws that justify their evil deeds and those that encourage oppression by refusing justice to the needy and deprive the poor of their rights, and live off the spoil of widows and prey of orphans” (Isa. 10:1-2). Jeremiah described his leaders as “well fed lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor’s wife” (Jer. 5:8). Ezekiel accused the rich from evicting people from their holdings with unfair balances (Ez. 45:9-12).
The picture of Micah 3:1-3 is to horrifying to quote. It is actually the picture of the “Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus” (Lk. 16:19-31). It is no longer about selling bread for money, but trying to feed the hungry that have no money. One of the first Christian leaders had this message for all of us, “A Pure and faultless religion that God accepts is this, ‘to look after orphans and widows, and do not become a problem yourself’” (Ja. 1:27). According to Revelation, man is unprepared to take care of the insurmountable increase in orphans and widows in the world before the fall of the world kingdom (Babylon) (Rev. 9:15-18).