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Causes of Poverty

Wealth and Poverty

The Bible and causes of poverty

Two major causes of poverty, unrepayable debt and unfair trade, are dealt with clearly in the Bible:

Debt

The Prophet Amos was quite clear: God was not impressed with religious rituals, because outside the Temple they were cheating the poor. What God wants is justice!

They sell into slavery honest men who cannot pay their debts… .they trampled the poor, weak and helpless, and push the sick out of the way.”    Amos 2:6-7

God wants people not to be greedy, and cancel debts when someone cannot pay. These quotes can apply to the international debt situation today…

“At the end of every seven years…… every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbour…” (i.e. cancel any debts).    Deuteronomy 15:7-8

Jesus' first public statement echoed the words of the prophets when he claimed that he had come to 'preach good news to the poor' and 'release the oppressed'. This may include debt cancellation:

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has sent me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed….”                                            Luke 4:18-19

Trade

"The fields of the poor may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away." Proverbs 13:23

We often see developing countries as victims - of war, of the weather etc. However, the truth is that many developing countries produce 'abundant food' but unjust trade laws mean that they cannot sell their produce for a decent price. The Bible warned that it was wrong to cheat the poor out of money:

Don't cheat when measuring length, weight, or quantity. Use honest scales and weights and measures. Leviticus 19:35-36

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