This should be a list of some of the most beautiful, impressive and useful things on earth. However, there is something quite terrible about this list. People desire such things so much that they will do some very evil things in order to get them. That strong desire is why these things are so important for trade.
Revelation 18:13 begins with some substances that have beautiful smells and tastes. They are powerful substances: a tiny quantity of them fills a whole meal with their taste, or a house with their smell. So, they bring pleasure to the senses. Nothing is wrong about that, of course. However, many people love such things so much that they only care to please their senses (1 John 2:15-16). That is an awful attitude; it causes all kinds of evil behaviour (Galatians 5:19-21).
People loved wine too, of course. They liked the soft bread that they could make from fine flour and oil. Poor people ate rougher grains and they could not afford much wine or oil. Rich people bought more expensive food, again in order to please their senses. Everyone liked meat, but poor people could rarely afford it. Rich people ate it much.
Powerful horses impressed everyone by their speed and strength. Rulers bought the very best horses for themselves. However, the most important use for horses and carriages was in war (Job 39:19-25).
Poor people could buy few or none of the things in Revelation 18:12-13. They could only earn just enough money to keep alive. When food became too expensive, their only choice was to sell themselves and their families as slaves. So, they too became part of this great system of trade. The traders looked at their bodies to decide their price; a strong man was worth much more than someone who was weak or old. However, they were not just buying that personís body. They were paying for control over that personís whole life.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.