Today’s devotion from Ezekiel 45-46. As God begins to cast hope of a return, He declares that some things have to change. When they get there, and they begin to make their homes, there will be a place for God and a city. With the establishment of a city, there will be government. In this government, the leaders will not oppress the people.
When we think about oppression, we, or at least I, think more about violence. This is not wrong, as God plainly states in Ezekiel 45:9 that the princes are to put away violence. However, God speaks much more about business practices. Honest scales for weighing out valuables and goods, standardization within the local economy, and fixed currency rates and conversions.
It seems there are many forms of oppression and injustice that anger God.
Often these practices take advantage of those most vulnerable. What’s worse, these dishonest practices are still alive and well today. We may not have unbalanced scales, but we have payday loans. It’s a harmless business, right? Here are a few facts to consider.
The rates are tricky. According to the Ethics and Religious Libery Commission, when a lender offers a $325 loan at 15% to two weeks, that’s actually a 390% annual rate. Statistically, these loans are rolled over multiple times (typically 8 times), which means the borrower will end up paying $793, and a loan that was for two weeks will end up taking 212 to pay back.
These numbers just reflect one aspect of the modern unbalanced scales. Rent to own operations aren’t much better. Here is an example. Say, you’re looking to get a new television for the big game. At one national rental agency, you can get a 65” Samsung for only $44.99 a week. In order to own this television, you will end up paying $2,449.98. I searched for the same model, and found that it can be purchased from Samsung for $899.99.
These practices target those who can least afford these items with promises of easy payment. The result is often a form of modern slavery that harms individuals and families. While no body is twisting anyone’s arms to enter into these agreements, believers should stand against this legalized form of exploitation.
All around us, families are being preyed upon. As believers, we need to embrace the equality desired by God, and pursue justice in our communities.