Author Archives: Duane Vasquez

About Duane Vasquez

I have been married to the love of my life going on 35 years. We have 7 wonderful children and recently became Grandparents. God has allowed me to provide for my family through working in the Petrochemical Industry. I have an interest in nearly everything under the Sun. I've been told when posed a question that I always have an answer.

First World Problems

Around our house when someone starts to whine and complain about something one of the family members will say, “That sounds like a first world problem”. That usually puts an end to the complaining.
The idea is that we, in America have it easy compared with much of the world. We complain when we have to drink tap water when much of the world has no access to safe, clean drinking water. We complain when we have car trouble or when someone left the tank on empty and we have to take the other car. Most of the world walks or takes public transportation. We complain when our doctor’s appointment conflicts with something else. A great many people don’t have access to quality healthcare. The list goes on and on. We have it so good and we still complain.
Last night I was at the Easter Service at our church, it was at a local College in a massive auditorium. I attend a big church and Easter is a major production. It is an attempt to wow the C&Es, those who attend church only on Christmas and Easter. We know that this is one of the few chances to reach them with the gospel of Jesus Christ, so we go all out.
There is impressive music, and remarkable, high-tech lighting effects. Pastor Jeff delivers a powerful, clear and compelling message. And an altar-call is presented; people are invited to come forward and commit their lives to Christ as their Lord and Savior, and be baptized. That’s right, we do baptism on Easter. Large, blow-up pools are setup in-front of the stage. A large team of people are there to assist, so you can clear out your pockets, put on a, free tee-shirt (that says “I have decided to follow Jesus”), and help you out of the pool, take your picture, and give you a towel to dry off. There are also counselors to talk with you and make sure you understand the decision you have made and to get some information from you to help you plug in to the church. It really is a pretty amazing operation.
As I was listening to Pastor Jeff invite people forward, saying ‘come forward, accept Jesus and be baptized. Don’t put it off. We have taken care of all of your excuses, the pools are here. There are people here to assist you. We have tee-shirts and towels—come now.’ I heard that and went, ‘Wow, that sounds like a First World Baptism’. I saw the contrast between what we face in America when it comes to baptism and what much of the rest of the world faces. We sit there and ask ourselves, ‘should I go forward now and be baptized? I’m not sure. Who will hold my cell phone and wallet? I got all dressed up for Easter; I don’t want to get all wet. They are filming this, what if my make-up runs and I look awful on camera? We are supposed to go have Easter dinner after this. I don’t have a change of clothes and I don’t want to sit in wet clothes for Easter dinner.’ The mind swirls with a thousand different First World problems.
I thought of that in contrast to a young man, Omar, that I counseled with last year after he was baptized. He was a big, kind of tough looking guy. I thought I was going to counsel with him and explain what it means to be a follower of Christ. That is not how the conversation went. It was the other way around. He talked and I listened. He told me what it means to be a follower of Christ and what baptism means. He told me about coming from an Islamic country, and being raised to believe in Allah and follow Islam. I learned of his getting involved in drugs and crime, his time of incarceration, and his examination of the Bible and the claims of Christ. He went on to tell me of a dramatic encounter with the living Christ. I sat in awe. It was the kind of stuff that they write books about. I found myself wishing that my experience with Jesus was that powerful.
He went on to tell me what it means to be a follower of Christ. He had accepted Christ months earlier but had waited until that day to be baptized. His Islamic parents knew about his coming to Christ and were happy about the positive changes in his life. At the same time he was encouraged not to broadcast that he had become a Christian. If the news got out there would be severe consequences for the family. The family would be cut off from all of their family and friends. The support that they receive from their community would evaporate. That is assuming that it would end there and that it would not escalate to further harassment. The other choice would be for them to cut off their son and completely disown him. There is even more, because Omar was recently married, and she was not a believer yet. His marriage could be torn apart also.
To “counsel” with Omar was a great experience. It gave me a whole different understanding of First World problems, First World baptism, and First World Christianity. Omar lives in America, in the First World. When people in his home country decide to follow Jesus and get baptized, they may be killed, their house or place of business may be burned, and they will be ostracized. The problems and pressures will be enormous but it is worth it to have Jesus.
Every time I hear Pastor Jeff go through the list of First World problems that are preventing people from following Jesus, I want to stand up and turn around to the audience around me and shout, ‘Those are First World problems, stop your whining and complaining and get up there.’
I haven’t seen Omar since, our encounter last Easter. I often wonder about him and sometimes I even remember to pray for him. Pray for the millions of Christians around the world for whom coming to Christ is much more than a First World problem.


We watched the movie the new Divergent last night. My purpose here is not to critique the movie as much as to look at the underlining story or philosophy.
It seems like there is always a story or movie out there about someone or some group engineering a utopia. These started way back with the ancient Greek philosophers and have continued on to today. There are some clear underlying ideas here. One is that there is an understanding that the world is a messed up place. It seems that everyone believes in their soul that the world is not the way it should be and there should be some way to fix it or to just start all over again. So we have all of these ideas as to what is needed to create the perfect society. In the more recent movies like Hunger Games and Divergent there is another theme. It is that all of these attempts at a perfect society fail. In some cases flaws in the system set it up for failure from the very beginning. In other cases that new society begins well but then deteriorates in some unforeseen way. Eventually it spirals out of control.
In the case of Hunger Games and Divergent the system is horrendously flawed and a unique individual rises to a position where they can change things. But the change in these cases means bringing down the corrupt system. The unrecognized problem is that this does not solve the problem. All it does is to clear the land and set the stage for a new attempt to create a new utopia based on a new set of ideas. But the basic ingredients in the recipe have not changed. The fly in the ointment is us—human beings.
It seems that no matter how good the idea or the structure; corrupt humans, corrupt the system. No matter what hero arises to fix the system, given time, it will still fall apart again.
This is quite a dilemma. We recognize that the world is not what it should be. We try repeatedly to fix the system, but no matter what we do, we fail. On closer analysis we see that we are the problem. Our savior cannot be just another human; He must be more.
Jesus seems to be the answer. He is human and can live and function in our world. He can relate with us and to us. But He is so much more; He is God and is not limited by our fragilities and our bent toward self-destruction. He does not just deliver us from a corrupt system and propose a new one. His goal is not just to deliver us but to transform us. Jesus offers us the ability to replace our sinful nature with His righteous nature. There is even more. He will eventually recreate the heavens and the earth and restore them to the perfect state that we all imagine they should be.
That is the solution we are looking for.

The March of Progress – Illustrating the Philosophy of Evolution

We are all familiar with the illustration of the evolution of man. We have seen it a thousand times. It starts with some small monkey like creature and works through a number of stages all the way up to modern man. Now you will see all kinds of comical renditions of it including a man in a business suit with a briefcase or a man hunched over a computer. The original was painted by an illustrator named Rudolph Franz Zallinger. The picture was titled “The March of Progress” and was produced for a Time Life publication in 1965.
The picture and its title tell a story that is much greater than the story of evolution. It reveals something that underpins all of science—Philosophy. That’s right, all science is built on philosophy. I know that, today that sounds hieratical but at the beginning of the scientific revolution it was a common understanding. Philosophy was considered the king of the sciences.
Sir Isaac Newton did his research based on a philosophical understanding that there was a creator God and this God was a God of logic, order reason and laws. Based on this understanding Newton developed a number of Natural Laws. As his research progressed his findings continued to reinforce his philosophical underpinnings.
Evolution is no different. It can be plainly seen in the illustration “The March of Progress”. The philosophy that underpins evolutionary theory is one of progress. It sees the world as continually progressing. It is especially true in biology where the “survival of the fittest” virtually guarantees that all life progresses.
There is another aspect to this philosophy that is also shown in the illustration. With most chart formats time runs left to right and progress runs bottom to top. The height of man should not be any indication of progress or superiority of modern man. Obviously a monkey that is small, lightweight, agile, and can hang from his tail is much better suited to the jungle than modern man. But the illustration helps to recreate a familiar chart curve that rises and progresses over time. The illustration reinforces the philosophical belief that we, modern men, are the most advanced and most important animals in all of nature.
The final aspect of the illustration is the march. Normally you would make an illustration like this by lining up the animals facing the illustrator, like a jailhouse line-up. That is not what is done here because it does not reinforce the philosophical understanding. The philosophy is not just that man is progressing but he is progressing through his own efforts. It is man that is stepping out and moving forward.
I really have to commend Rudolph Zallinger; he did an absolutely brilliant job of using Evolution to illustrate the philosophy of humanism. This is not the only evolution chart used to promote humanism. Nearly every evolution illustration does the same thing, but “The March of Progress” is arguably the best.
Next time you read an article or see an illustration, realize that everyone has a world view, a philosophic base that will affect their work and their reporting. Remember that philosophy and science do together, they always have and always will. Don’t make the mistake of viewing the science and missing the philosophical underpinnings.

Minimum Wage

Every so often Congress and the public begin a debate about raising the Federal Minimum Wage. The arguments in favor of it are based on two ideas. First is the statement, ‘No one can survive on minimum wage”. The second is that there is a great discrepancy between the lowest paid workers and the highest paid workers. Raising the minimum wage is viewed as a way of forcing profits to be shared with the lowest paid employees.
Are these ideas correct and will raising the minimum wage solve them?
First is it true that no one can survive on minimum wage. I would have to say that statement is true. The Federal Minimum Wage is ????. I can’t imagine anyone living or supporting a family on that income, but is that the intent of the minimum wage? Is it intended to be a livable wage or is it intended to be an entry level wage or a supplementary wage?
My youngest son is seeking his first job. He does not need a wage on which he can live independently. He only needs to pay for his schooling, transportation, eating out occasionally and some money for personal purchases and entertainment. That covers a lot of things but there are also a lot of things not covered. It would be nice for him to make even more money but it is not necessary. There is a place for an entry level wage that is not a livable wage.
There is another related question, “What is a livable wage?” I live in the suburbs of Los Angeles. The cost of living here is fairly high but it is not even close to the cost of living in New York City or San Francisco. On the other hand the cost of living in rural Mississippi is fairly low. It is pretty easy to see that a single Federal Minimum Wage cannot be a livable wage for all peoples across all of America. States and Cities corrected for this by establishing their own minimum wages. If various States and Cities need to set their own minimum wages then what is the purpose for a Federal Minimum Wage? I guess it sets a minimum below which no state can go but it has little if any affect on establishing a comprehensive livable wage. A livable wage must be set by each locality.
The second argument for raising the Federal Minimum Wage is a more equitable distribution of wealth. Is this a real problem? I think it is. There is a big problem with greed in America and it seems to be getting worse. People are not rewarded for their work in proportion to their labor, but will raising the minimum wage correct this? I think it will, at least temporarily. The problem is that when the lowest paid workers get a raise it is not long before those directly above them demand the same level of increase. This wave of increases will continue up the ladder until everyone has obtained an increase. But how will the companies pay for the increases? That’s right they will raise the prices for their goods and services. What happens when all of the companies across the nation raise wages and prices? Well we call that inflation.
The end result is that the cost of living has gone up; minimum wage is no longer a livable wage and the talk of raising the minimum wage begins all over again.
This sounds like we are back to square one but there are winners and losers when we have inflation. The winners are a few people who have borrowed large sums of money and been able to profit through the careful use of that money. They got the benefit and will pay back the loan with deflated dollars. The banks will lose on the deal, but the banks make projections for this and adjust their interest rates accordingly. The real losers are retired people who are living off of their savings. They did not get a raise when minimum wage went up. All they received was rising prices that eats up their savings.
Who else loses? There are a few companies that sell goods and services that are very labor intensive but do not have a high profit margin and cannot raise their prices. An example of this would be some recycling companies. The process is labor intensive. The profit is low. In some cases it is almost as cheap to by new paper as it is recycled paper. The new paper is a much more automated process and is not greatly affected by the change in minimum wage. A raise in the minimum wage could drive the recycling company out of business, and waste paper would end up in the landfills because it is not cost effective to recycle. This is just one example but it is a good one. In my area much of the recycling is done by people living below the minimum wage. They are living on the streets and making a living by picking through trash cans. There are many industries that would fall into this category. These industries quietly fold up and go away or they move to another country where wages are lower.
So who profits from raising minimum wage? The politicians do. The politicians are perceived by young workers and the working poor as caring about their plight. They effectively buy votes using other people’s money. They create a perception that the government is the place to turn to have your problems solved. Their power, authority and control grows.
There is another way in which the Government wins. By driving up wages they drive taxpayers into higher tax brackets. The Government gets to collect more taxes. Then they have more money to payout, further increasing people’s dependence on them.
In conclusion, obtaining a livable wage for a greater number of Americans is a worthy goal, as is a more equitable distribution of wealth, but raising the Federal Minimum Wage will do little or nothing to accomplish these goals.

DIY Church

DIY Church
Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend Christ’s Church of the Valley’s Classic Worship Service. It was a small group of mostly senior members of the Church. A member of the group played a simple accompaniment to the music on an upright piano. Another member of the group led the singing, in a booming voice and waving of his hands to keep the timing. The group joined in the singing. There was a joy in their voices. You could tell that these songs were meaningful to them from the days of their youth. After many years of living with Christ through joys and tribulations the songs are even more meaningful today.
One woman led the responsive reading and everyone participated. Another woman gave a short devotional meditation to go along with communion. A couple of men in the group passed out the bread and juice and we took it together.
We had an out of town guest speaker who seemed to feel right at home interacting with the group.
Near the end the leader took prayer requests, calling each person by name and praying for them all.
Nothing about the service was polished and professional, but the thing that struck me was the do-it-yourself approach. No one was an observer. We were participants. This was a group of long time devoted followers of Christ truly worshiping their God together. Communion was not the segment in the service that comes before the offering and announcements; it was a truly meaningful exercise of individual devotion somehow made even more meaningful because it was done among other believers.
There was a sense of ownership in the whole thing. We are here to worship our God. We will sing His praises. We will tell of what He has done for us. And we will do it together.
It may be do-it-yourself Church. It may be simple Church, but in its own way it was simply wonderful.

Sabbath Year Two

The Seven Year Itch
In my last article about the Sabbath Year I explained that God has given us cycles of activity and rest: the daily cycle of activity and rest, a weekly cycle with the Sabbath Day, and a seven year cycle of the Sabbath Year. The Sabbath Year is designed to let the land rest, and I talked a lot about what that means.
If you are a farmer and the land is resting then what are you going to do with your time? You can’t plow, plant or harvest so what do you do? As I said before, no one has ever practiced the Sabbath Year so we have no real life examples of what people do with their time, so we can only speculate. Here are some possibilities.
If I were a farmer and I had a year off from farming I would want to spend some time fixing up the farm. I would repair the fences and walls or build a barn. I would do the home improvements that had been piling up over the last six years. I would fix, repair or build new farm equipment.
There would be opportunity for other activities. I could pursue other business interests. Maybe I would open up a shop in town and expand into another business. There would be time for reading and study. We have a term for that. We call it a Sabbatical (based on the idea of the Sabbath).
The Sabbath Year would be a great time for a vacation. Imagine having a whole year to travel. Imagine the effect on the broader world had the Jews traveled the world every Sabbath Year and people throughout the world learned about the God of Israel?
There is one more possibility—get married. The Old Testament taught that when a man would marry that he should take a year off from work and “Cheer up his wife”. I don’t know about you but if I had to take a year off of work I think I would choose the Sabbath Year, I was going to take it off anyway.
What a great idea. The first year of marriage is the most difficult. Couples need to rearrange their lives. They have to adjust to each other. They have to come to an understanding of the unique roles. Not having the pressure of work should make that transition easier. I think marriages would get off to a much better start if the husband had one goal and one goal only, to cheer up his wife.
The interesting thing here is that the next Sabbath Year would fall on their seventh anniversary. Psychologists have found that for some reason, many marriages go through another rough period in about the seventh year. This concept became so well known that it was nicknamed “the seven year itch”. They even made a movie by that name about a man and women being drawn into an affair. Did God know that there would be a seven year itch? Did he design a system where at the seventh year of marriage the financial burdens would be lifted, the work responsibilities would be removed and the couple would spend a year reconnecting? In addition to doing the neglected maintenance on the house the husband would do the neglected maintenance on the home. He would revisit his original task of cheering up his wife.
What a great idea. God is a pretty smart guy. Imagine living is a world the way that God intended. Pretty good huh?

Not Christian and Not Grey

We were driving down the street, as we came around a curve it came into view—this giant billboard. Not your averaged size billboard. No this was one of the truly gigantic ones, like you see in Hollywood. All it had was a big picture and a few small words. You couldn’t know for sure what they were advertising, but it sure caught my attention.
It was a good looking man, dressed in a suit, looking out the window of a high-rise building overlooking the city. You could tell he was good looking even though you could only see his back. His lines were clean and crisp. They communicated power and authority. He was looking at a grey city as if he owned it. Just the way he was standing said that this was a man on the cutting edge, he has it all together, he is in charge of his own destiny. It is the kind of man that women want.
Even without an explanation you could tell what the billboard was about. This billboard was geared towards women. They would be attracted to this confident man. I was attracted to him too. Not in the same way. I thought, that is the man I would like to be, rich, powerful, young, good looing, confident and in control. I would be the type of man that women would want, even my own wife would look at me with admiration and desire.
The only words on the billboard were “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I guessed that it was for a movie. The movie was a romance marketed to women. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is not about the weather. It is a moral statement. This movie will play on the edges of morality. My guess was that it would be sexual in nature although it could have to do with business. My mind flashed through all of the typical types of rationalization that a mind can do. I thought, I want to see this movie. It will be about sex. I can dabble in the grey zone and it will be alright. It won’t be overtly pornographic so it will be okay. It’s like those Carl’s Jr commercials, or the ones for Victoria’s Secret, or the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editions. I mean it’s not like I am downloading porn. Besides maybe my wife will want to see it. Then it will be her idea. This guy in the movie will get her all hot and I can reap the benefit. Maybe you didn’t know that this is the way guys think. Well it is.
It ended up that I was right. The billboard is for a movie, and yes this is a movie about sex. Later I learned that this is not just another romantic film. It is about a very controlling and abusive man. It is about deviant sexual behavior. It devalues women and distorts our understanding of romance and sex. The main character in the movie is named Christian Gray, but there is nothing in the movie that is Christian and what they portray is gray is just down right evil.
Even though my thoughts moved through that path of rationalization, the decision to not see the movie came pretty easy even before I knew the details. The movie is rated “R” and as a rule we don’t see “R” rated movies. I won’t say that we never have seen one, but they are the rare exception. There has to be a very compelling reason. We have probably seen less that one every two years.
So we won’t be seeing “Fifty Shades of Grey” on Valentine’s Day. Instead we will see a romance called “Old Fashioned”. I am hoping it has a strong male lead that is confident and takes charge rather than use his power to take advantage of a woman. I hope that he is patient, kind, gentle, not selfish but giving. I hope that he values his woman more than she values herself. I hope that he cherishes everything about her. That is the type of man I want to be, and I hope that it is the type of man my wife wants. I want a good Old Fashioned Valentine’s Day that celebrates romantic love the way that God intends it to be.

How Do We Know There is a God When There is so Much Evil in the World?

Many people struggle with the question of, ‘How can there be a loving God when there is evil in the world?’
Isn’t it funny how everyone can easily tell you when they see evil? How do they do that? I mean, how is it that they know what is good and what is evil? If God does not exists where do we even get the idea that some acts are good and some other acts are evil? It seems that we believe that there is some objective standard out there of good and evil. Not only do we think that there is a standard but we believe that it is obvious to everyone. Even more we believe that if the world were to work like it should that everyone should do the good all of the time.
We do make one exception. We believe that when we do evil that, well that is Okay. We really shouldn’t be judged too harshly.
So when we ask the question of, ‘How can there be a loving God when there is evil in the world?’ What we really mean is, ‘How can there be a loving God, when He allows other people’s evil to go unpunished?’ Well maybe that is not quite right, we really don’t want God to punish people for evil; we want Him to prevent them from doing evil. At the same time we don’t want a God that tells us what to do. We don’t want a God that is controlling and judging when it comes to our behavior.
Isn’t it odd that we would consider a judging and controlling God to be unloving, and yet we want that type of God for everyone else?
Isn’t it true that our ability to identify evil is an indication that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong, and God has written the standard on our hearts? Isn’t it true that even though there is evil in the world and in our lives we recognize that something is desperately wrong; it shouldn’t be that way? Isn’t it true that we yearn for a loving God that will not condemn us for our evil but rather fix the problem? Isn’t it true that the Bible is the only book that explains the problem of evil in a way that makes sense? Other religions fall short. Evolution has an explanation that is empty, unsatisfying and just doesn’t ring true to our experience.
The Bible explains a world as God intended; free of evil where all of creation lives in harmony with God the creator. The Bible explains why we have knowledge of good and evil. Satan coerced us into rebelling against God’s command and eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Evil entered into the world and everything has been out of whack since then. But God didn’t let it remain that way. God intervened into the world. He sent His Son, Jesus the Christ, to take our evil on himself and to put it to death. The death of Jesus ended the grip of evil on the world. Now redemption is available to all of us. We can experience the love of a loving God rather than the condemnation of a Holy God. The choice is up to us. We look forward to the day that God will create a new heaven and a new earth; restoring it to the creation that He originally intended.
Only Christianity has a reasonable explanation for the existence of evil in the world. But we don’t really want an explanation what we want is a solution. Only Christ provides a remedy to the problem of evil.

Sabbath Year

The Sabbath year is one of the most interesting and mysterious economic principles in the Bible. The Sabbath Year rests on a more basic principle of Sabbaths. The concept is simple, everyone and everything needs to have a regularly scheduled time of rest and restoration.
We have a regular daily schedule of wakefulness and rest. The Sabbath Day provides a weekly schedule of rest and regeneration. The Sabbath Year is a much more far reaching principle. Scripture says that the Sabbath Year is to let the land rest. The focus is on the land but there are other aspects that are focused on people.
During the Sabbath Year all debts are paid off or canceled. All slaves are set free. Note that most of these slaves are not slaves like we normally think of them. They are people who have been sold into slavery in order to pay their debts. When the debts are canceled the slaves are set free. The same would be true of those who are in debtor’s prison.
The year is kind of a reset button. Things go back to zero and people can start afresh. The Sabbath is a time of rest and restoration and the Sabbath Year accomplishes this on a grand scale. The biggest problem with fully understanding the Sabbath Year is that we have no examples of anyone ever actually following it. It is a sad thing but we can only speculate as to how it would work.
Ponder with me the possibilities. God promised that if the Children of Israel would practice the Sabbath Year that by the sixth year in the cycle they would have accumulated enough stored foods that they would have enough to get them through the Sabbath Year and all the way up to the harvest of the next year.
We know that land that is continually harvested ends up depleting the soil. In America we have dealt with this problem by letting a field lay fallow, or more often by crop rotation. In crop rotation we plant complementary plants that will pull a different set of nutrients from the soil and restore some of the nutrients lost by the previous planting. There is another strategy of companion planting where complimentary plants are planted side by side in neighboring rows.
The biggest mystery here is that we don’t know which works better. We do not have a long term controlled experiment that tests crop rotation against the Sabbath Year model. Such an experiment would need to happen over a very large area and over several cycles of Sabbaths. I would love to see a Christian college and some Christian farmers take up the challenge of such an experiment.
One of the limitations of science is that experiments focus on one variable at a time. It is much harder to identify broader effects. In this example so far we have talked about soil and nutrition, but there are many more aspects. During the Sabbath Year crops are not planted, and they are not harvested, but they are not plowed under either. Crops that sprout up on their own are allowed to grow. They are left for the destitute (widows, fatherless and foreigners) to hand harvest for their daily needs. The rest is left for the wild animals.
Imagine with me what that means. In American farming the focus is on crop production. We seek to eliminate any critters or pests from the equation. To do this we use fences, barriers and pesticides. The Biblical model is much different. It is a much more eco-friendly approach. You see, man is the guardian of all of creation. It is his job to create an environment where all of God’s creatures thrive in balance. God has given him the tools to accomplish this, and one of the big tools is the Sabbath Year.
Those who study agronomy (the study of soils) know that there is much more to healthy soil than basic nutrition. There is also soil texture and organic material content, which affect its ability to maintain a proper water balance and even oxygen and other gasses. They also know that there are intricately balanced interactions between microbes. We are just beginning to understand these balances. Even at that the studies are limited. For the most part we have no idea how these balances change when the activity of larger animals are introduce.
The whole area of organic farming is just now being explored. Could it be that God has given us an outline for a perfectly balanced farming and ecological system and we never tried it out? Imagine the possibilities. Imagine farmers and nature working in cooperation. Imagine producers, environmentalist and conservationist living in harmony. Wow what a concept!
As I said before the sad thing is we have never seen it put into practice. The Children of Israel came into the Promised Land and set up shop. They planted and harvested in continuous production for 490 years. During that time they experienced many droughts and famines. At the end of that period God sent them into Babylonian captivity. Their country was devastated. They remained in captivity for 70 years. God said it was to allow the land to rest. 70 years for the 70 Sabbath Years they had skipped. That was God’s direct intervention to enforce the Sabbath Year.
Have we ever experienced anything similar in the United States of America? I think we have. I was reading recently about the causes of the Great Depression. Most analyst, point to the stock market crash of 1929 as the event that began the downward spiral. They also mention a parallel thing that was happening in the agricultural world. We had been blessed with bumper crops. Because of an oversupply the prices for agricultural goods plummeted. In response, individual farmers increased the production to recoup their losses. This action simply made the problem worse. The result was that many small family farms went bankrupt. On top of this, bad weather conditions dried out the badly depleted soil and the dust bowl ensued. Soil erosion severely damaged farm land in the Midwest. The farms were abandoned and the land rested.
Imagine what would have happened if during the years of bumper crops we had stored it away as God had instructed. The prices would have never fallen. What if the next year the farmers had let the land take a Sabbath Year? The over production would have been sold off and the prices remained stable. Who knows what would have happened with the dust bowl? Would crops have sprung up on their own, and created a barrier against the soil erosion that took place? Maybe the whole dust bowl could have been avoided. At the very least we could have gone without one year of production. Maybe we would have had tons of food stockpiled to feed the unemployed. Maybe the Dust Bowl was God’s judgment. Maybe it was His way of driving the farmers out of the land and allowing the land to finally get its Sabbaths. We will never know for sure but it is interesting to ponder the possibilities.
If we had we followed God’s other financial mandates the Great Depression could have been avoided altogether.