Before we can understand our responsibility to others we must understand our covenant relationship with God and his command for us to establish dominion—righteous dominion. An essential to understanding the concept of “No Poor Among Them” is the concept of stewardship. In our modern western culture we often give lip service to the concept of stewardship as one who manages the property of another.
The Israelite concept of stewardship is much more intimate and familial. In Hebrew the phrase ben mesheq or son of possession is one term used to describe a steward. Unlike a hired manager who really cares nothing for his employer and embraces his duty only to the extent he is paid a wage, God is calling us to be a son (or daughter) of possession. In other words we are called to be a son or daughter of God and to watch over and care for the Fathers possessions. In Israelite culture a faithful son or daughter is one who embraces and embodies the character, attributes, and laws of the Father.
As a son of possession God created Adam and Eve in his image to establish his righteous dominion upon the earth. This authority is DELEGATED authority given to mankind for which they will stand accountable to God who granted it. In the very beginning God established this covenant of righteous dominion with the creation of man:
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26-28).
This same relationship of stewardship and dominion was made again in these latter-days:
“It is wisdom in me; therefore, a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall organize yourselves and appoint every man his stewardship; that every man may give an account unto me of the stewardship which is appointed unto him.
For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures. I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine.” (D&C 104:11-14)
God’s dominion spreads and covers the earth as we properly interpret and carryout his instructions. As represented in the endowment epic, we follow the pattern of strictly performing the instructions given by God (doing nothing more or less) and then returning and reporting our labors each day. In observing his instructions strictly we are found to be true and faithful servants or stewards of those things entrusted to us. As we prove ourselves true and faithful we added upon. If we fail to follow his instructions and render our due report, we may find ourselves diminished.
At the same time there is another kingdom seeking to establish its’ dominion. The Kingdom of the Adversary disguises itself as the kingdoms of men. It is also a kingdom established by covenant. This Kingdom offers dominion to men over the earth and by implementing its laws of dominion its ruler also makes promises, “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9)
Remember, we are being presented with the options that you can buy anything on this earth with money or living with sufficient for our needs.
Borrowing and Lending
Our Babylonian Society thrives on the creation of scarcity and lack. In order to maintain control, we are bombarded with propaganda and marketing designed to create a psychological need to consume. The science and lifestyle of covetousness is the rule of the day and rather than being made prosperous and free under the stewardship of God we are being led with flaxen cords of comfort until we find ourselves bound with the strong chains of debt.
The illusion of dominion through seduction, force, and acquisition has enticed many into following the economic laws of the adversary and as a result they are establishing the kingdom of an illegitimate ruler. He claims that which is not his own and entices men with power, glory, and security through the riches of this world. Using these riches he buys armies, navies, false priests, and political leaders and reigns on this earth with blood and horror.
At first glance the power of this false ruler appears to be awesome and overwhelming and we can find ourselves in shock and fear if we heed his message. The legitimate ruler, however, gives us a strikingly different picture and promise:
“I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine. And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine. But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low. For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.” (D&C 104:14-17)
As agents we are given a choice between these two opposing systems. The scriptures (Torah) delivered by Moses demonstrates this choice also in terms of credit and debt- blessing and cursing. Who is the lender, and who is the borrower? Moses declared:
“And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them “(Deut. 28:11-13)
“The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail. Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee” (Deut. 28:43-45).
By enacting God’s covenant relationship of stewardship we will find ourselves founded upon his rock and working to establish his righteous dominion. In doing so, we become the head and not the tail- the lender and not the borrower. For Israel debt is a mark of bondage and servitude.
King Solomon confirmed this principle. “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7). In our day God has reconfirmed his command, “Behold, it is said in my laws, or forbidden, to get in debt to thine enemies” (D&C 64:27)
We may find ourselves under the bondage of home mortgages, consumer debts, student loans, medical loans, etc. We can start practically today by beginning to implement God’s laws of righteous dominion by foregoing taking on more debt. After making this decision, we can then approach God and ask him to remember his promise, “And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good (Heb. that which leads us to fulfill his commandments), in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.” (Moroni 7:26)
Surely the Lord God gives no commandments to his children except that he prepares a way for them to fulfill his commandments. As we learn and approach God to enact his laws (even financial laws) in our lives, we then create the vessel of obedience for God to fill with his covenant righteousness and prosperity (both spiritual and financial).