I had some insights into Jacob 5 that I was interested in sharing, but they all have faded with new thoughts about how you and I could easily lose our liberty in these times of uncertainty and fear.
As a younger man, I vaguely recall being taught that the rise of the Soviet Union (which was important to know in the days when the USSR appeared to be the "other" world power and primary nemesis of the West, including the United States) came from a series of revolutions and food crises in Russia. Like in these times with a pandemic, there were general shortages and governmental efforts to prevent violence and disorder. There were certainly political groups fanning the flames of radical change, but it really didn't rise to a revolution until the Czarist system began to fall apart and beyond that, the ordinary men and women were facing a lack of food. When bellies are universally empty, previously "impossible" things can happen. It did in Russia and Communists channeled that discontent with monarchy to put themselves into a position of complete authority over every aspect of life in one of the largest nations on the earth for about 70 years.
I read not too long ago (not sure of the source), that the Genesis story of Joseph in Egypt had some dark undertones that the biblical record doesn't mention too much: slavery. I don't particularly mean the slavery of the children of Israel that we all know about, I mean the earlier slavery that Joseph might himself have instigated at the behest of a cunning Pharoah. Joseph interpreted two of Pharoah's dreams that predicted seven years of plenty and they seven years of famine in Egypt. The Pharoah installed Joseph as his leader to manage the collection (buying) of grain during the years of plenty and then distribute it (sell it) during the years of famine. We are familiar with the exchange of something like money for food, but we are not so cognizant of what happens when all the money is gone and yet our need for food (or shelter or health) remains.
Traditionally, the Egyptians had been a free people, much as we are. Yet, in the days of Joseph, when the famine became fierce and Egyptians had no more money or valuables with which to buy their needed grain, Pharoah was willing to take something else in exchange for food: liberty. When the money was gone, the people willingly sold themselves and their children into slavery for the sustainance they lacked. We view with deserved anger the capture and enslavment of groups such as Israelites or Africans, but how do we feel about those who begged masters to enslave them in exchange for full stomachs? Early in their wanderings, Moses brought the Israelites within sight of the promised land and they demanded that the prophet lead them back to Egypt and slavery because they wearied of manna and wanted a return to the "fleshpots" that Egypt's slaves enjoyed. Do we pity such slaves? Do they make us uncomfortable? Do we swear that we would never let ourselves be enslaved, certainly not willingly?
We shall see.
These days, we don't see much of people walked about in chains, sold to the higest bidder, and pressed into hard agricultural or household "service". The owned status of a person cannot be determined by the color of skin or the pucker of a brand, but there are plenty of people who are slaves nonetheless, far more than in any previous time, and many of them happy to be surrounded by the trinkets that slavery provides them. For some, it is not enough to have one master, but they solicit the bondage of a handful of masters, sad that they are not allowed to be bound to far more! These slaves proudly display their slavery in new ways, with fresh consumer goods and plastic cards that appear more "glitzy" as their commitment to their master deepens.
I have shed my financial slavery, courtesy of generousity and blessing and planning, and I hold only one card that bears the strange "debit" mark of one who is their own master. I find it laughable that others look at me with dirision, secure in their knowledge that my "credit score" must surely be lower than theirs (likely true). Most creditor masters have given up enlisting me to join their "happy" bands of credit slaves, trading "rewards" with excitement. In the present world of people who wear their credit worthiness as a badge of honor, I am some strange and incomprehensible creature - a man without a debt!
Banks and lenders are the new masters of our age. Though they don't demand labor, they certainly require a constant stream of money. If one thinks this new slavery is much different than older forms, one only have to consdier how much money must be "earned" and immediately transferred to their credit card or mortgage company. How many hours, weeks, and months do you work solely to satisfy interest payments, much less pay down loan principal? In an only slightly indirect way, you labor for those masters and most are glad for the chance! Again, should others pity you or feel uncomfortable? Captured slaves can claim some dignity, but can those so eager to throw themselves into slavery deserve anything short of incredulity?
Today (specifically), many of our trusted institutions are shaken by a virus and, moreso, by a fear of the cataclysm that virus might bring. Stunningly, many surround themselves with toilet paper(?!?!) as a shield (hedge?) against want that may come in the future (the almightly bum?). I see the logic of slaves here, assured that their government masters will rain down food and credit relief (believe me, they will try) but not the vaunted two-ply "rolled gold". Too many young ones already ignore the lessons of communism and embrace the siren's song of socialism, especially now in the face of some viral doom - we can surely shift pilfered resources or manufactured blame around enough to keep things lurching along.
Prophets warned us for years to get out of debt, to grow gardens, to acquire marketable skills, and to be prepared for difficult times ahead. It seems only a relative few listened, most instead trusting that governments and institutions and financial markets would always protect and profit them. We have faced no deep trails in a few lifetimes, but every prophecy warns of coming calamities that nothing short of God can overcome. We may very well ride out this particular wave and our lives may steady again, but it may not do so every time.
If markets don't recover, if too many people are idled by virus or death, the shelves will empty further and the food lines will form up. The majority of our citizens will demand that we jettison the last stretched roots of our nation, finally burn away the last of our Consitution with glee, and beg that the chains of slavery be secured upon us all. It will be fear, empty bellies, and the promise of salvation through government largesse that will win the day. The liberty for which our forebearers bled and died will be cast aside with cheers. Political promisers will be empowered to first confiscate and then spend all the national wealth in a few years of hedonistic abandon. Then, the hellish nightmare will begin. It was a very fun party with free drinks and pleasures all around, but the new masters will make their appearance to tighten everyone's shakles and make slave assignments.
Yesterday, we could choose where to live, where to work, the food we ate, and the entertainments we enjoyed. For those happy with credit slavery and desperate for more, the opportunity to sell themselves into permanent socialistic servitude in exchange for "free" food and living sounds like paradise. However, tomorrow, others will make all the decisions about you and only your complete devotion, unending "free" labor, and undying gratitude will be required. All of this for the promise of a bit of food and safety.
I do pity the slaves, now and in the future. So many eschewed liberty and embraced management from others, first through finances and ultimately in everything. They will trudge off to terrible jobs, live in squalid shacks paying heavy rents, eat vegetable ends and processed sludge and other "food waste", and be the hollow shells of humans.
Pity is not enough, we must help each slave be free. It is within every human heart to desire liberty rather than a comfortable slavery. God wants you to be free and to make your own choices. Jesus the Messiah has already liberated you from the largest chains that bind you: sin and death. You will live beyond death and you can avoid the consequences of sin by obeying Christ. We honor the sacrifices of Jesus by taking the smaller parts of our lives, things like finances and devotion, and never surrendering them to another but the Messiah. He has promised to share all he has and all he is with us if we follow him, but never as a slave.
There is much on this website to help you find Christ. Of course, the better source is Christ's own church. One concept you will constantly here is to put your trust in God and not to fear the things of man, such as a virus or a lack of money or leisure. As you turn to God and labor to serve him, he will provide the means to you and yours and magnify your efforts. You don't have to sell yourself to a collective or a master to feel safe - God is the true source of safety. Free yourself from the slavery of debt and come a step closer to the amazing future that God has in store for you. Hold onto the liberty that God gave you and never surrender it again.